Now Streaming on Netflix: The New Fave Among Anime Fans?
天才科学者に改造されてしまったモルカー pic.twitter.com/6WVQWBB503— 漫画家 大竹利朋／献身レシピ/がのラブ8月連載開始 (@ootaketoshitomo) January 20, 2021
In early 2021, I began seeing something from Japanese artists that grabbed my attention. For reasons unknown to me, they were all drawing little furry rodents that resembled cars. At first, I thought it was just another Twitter trend that caught on, but I eventually discovered the origin: a popular new anime that was capturing thehearts and minds of viewers. That title is Pui Pui Molcar, an unusual but endearing stop-motion animation style, tons of pop culture references, and an amazing sense of humor.
What the Heck Is a Molcar?
Despite what it might sound like, a molcar is not a mole car. Rather, it’s a car that’s also a guinea pig—which the Japanese call a morumotto. You may notice that this sounds just like “marmot” (large ground squirrels); the reason for this similarity is that when Dutch traders brought guinea pigs to Japan, they referred to them as marmots. The name stuck ever since.
“Pui pui” is like a cute squeak, which is a constant refrain throughout the show.
An Instantly Rewarding Show
There are many fine anime that encourage or require some kind of emotional investment. They might want you to get attached to the characters and their plights, or thrill at their awesome adventures that ramp up as the story progresses. With Pui Pui Molcar, however, you’ll instantly know if the show is right for you. Do you like adorable little critters with wheels for legs getting into absurd antics? Then you’ll never be led astray.
Come for the Cuteness, Stay for the Humor
All the cuteness in the world could potentially carry a show like this on its own, but the comedic elements of the series also hit amazingly well. While humor is famously subjective, Pui Pui Molcar’s combination of unpredictability (you really never know what the molcars are going to do next) and tons of loving jabs at Japanese and international pop has left my jaw hanging on multiple occasions. What’s especially impressive is that the show manages to do all this even though each episode is less than three minutes long.
A Must-See for Fans of Pop Team Epic
The series’ aesthetic, featuring knitted figures that move through stop-motion animation, might seem a little familiar to those who have watched the Pop Team Epic anime. That’s because the puppets are the work of Hana Ono, one of the artists behind the animation company UchuPeople. They're responsible for segments like “Let’s Pop Together,” a bizarre parody of Earth, Wind & Fire that also calls back to the video game Trials of Mana.