If you follow Scamp or me on Twitter, one of us (mostly me) will invariably mention Popee the Performer. What is this show? It is a 39-episode collection of CG shorts (all around four minutes) directed by Ryuji Masuda, whom I hope to meet one day so that I may have his hand in marriage. The show is a twisted mockery of children’s shows, where a clown, the titular Popee, plays deadly games with his wolf friend, Kedamono, and their circus boss, Papi. It’s a dark, messed up series, but while that leads to a lot of laughs, the show is burned into my mind because Masuda has a strikingly clever, imaginative way with visual and physical humor. This is important because there’s only one spoken line in the entirety of the series — the characters are for the most part silent.
I’m a huge fan of the series, but I realize it is offputting due to its visual style (it’s a cheap production, but it fits the tone of the series) and gruesome humor. That’s why I’m here! I’ve combed through the series and picked what I believe are the 10 best, most representative episodes of Popee the Performer. There will be many Veoh links (because the original YouTube links are dead, and other YouTube links are terrible and ruin the show), so you can watch ’em all here if you wish! Continuity doesn’t matter at all in this show, for reasons you’ll discover if you watch even one episode, but I’ll put them in episodic order for the sake of convenience.
Here we go!
Popee shows Kedamono how awesome he is at swallowing swords. The results are predictably bad. The way the pair tries to fix this is worse — this episode is an excellent showcase of Popee and Kedamono’s terrible decision making when solving problems. Perhaps the funniest pre-Papi episode, though the end of “Acrobatics” is hilarious, and “Gunman” is another good, weird episode. Much of the early part of the series relies on physical humor, with a few hints here and there of the surrealism that would come later.
The introduction of Papi. He is sufficiently terrifying in this episode. Papi shows Popee and Kedamono the true way to do magic tricks: with as much brutality and senseless violence as possible. Even Popee is horrified by Papi’s first go at the ol’ magician’s trade. The visual tricks in this episode are pure, hilarious magic and so silly despite the violence.
Kedamono employs an unorthodox method to stop Papi’s escalation of the old bullet catch magic trick. A great example of Popee taking a simple gag and piling more and more and making it weirder and more hilarious. This is the type of thing you can do when you don’t give a shit about “realism.”
Popee and Papi duel each other in a dangerous game of hypnotism. Perhaps the show’s most terrifying episode, because who in the hell would want either of these lunatics in control of your mind? By this time you should note that the pattern of Papi’s involvement is that he tries very hard to be a bigger bastard than Popee.
Popee and Papi take steroids and try to out-macho each other. Their dick wagging contest leads to the destruction of the world. Again, Popee is masterful at taking a basic scenario and going fucking bonkers with it.
Popee and Papi have a samurai duel that — surprise! — goes to some weird ass places.
Popee and Papi have a fun melon slicing contest on a hot summer day. Their fierce competition escalates into unforeseen territory. Includes what may be the weirdest conclusion in the series. This is probably my favorite episode, if only because I love the main visual gag and the ending.
Popee and Papi peer into Kedamono’s head via Looney Tunes gags, and then Popee looks into Papi’s head. This is basically what would happen if Charlie Kaufman had written an episode of Popee the Performer.
Popee falls into a mirrored version of his own world. A classic scenario executed in that way only Popee can do it.
Kedamono proves he has been watching too many cartoons by erasing Popee, who proceeds to fuck around with everyone. Papi comes up with a typical solution to this problem.
And there you have it! Those these are my 10 favorites, they are by no means the only good episodes in the series. If you like these, then check out the rest of the show! It’s not at all difficult to find online thanks to the efforts of great, great people. If I have scarred you for life, then please mention it in the comments so that I may laugh at you. Also, if you disagree with my choices, then I encourage you to start a bloody, eternal war in the comments.