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Anime / Pui Pui Molcar

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Pui Pui Molcar is a Stop Motion series of shorts created by Shin-Ei Animation and directed by Tomoki Misato (previously known for his Tokyo University of the Arts short films Atashi Dake wo Mite and My Little Goat). The series began airing during the Winter 2021 season, with episodes uploaded weekly onto the Bandai Namco Arts YouTube channel.

This series focuses on a world where Molcars, vehicles that look and act like giant guinea pigs, are the most common mode of transportation. Most episodes will follow them as they get through their day, but there will be plenty of wacky adventures awaiting them as well. Five Molcars maintain focus: the courageous Potato, the shy Shiromo, tomboyish Teddy, elegant Choco, and the greenhorn Abbey are the stars.

Netflix announced that they would be bringing the series worldwide in March. It made a proper television debut on the children's program Kinder TV in January. In addition, the DVD/Blu-ray home release announced two additional shorts that came with the original twelve episodes. Summer 2021 introduced a theatrical compilation film and a mobile game.


Tropes Present in Pui Pui Molcar:

  • Absentee Actor: Shiromo was not present for episodes 7-9, following his zombification. If the Zombie Molcar that shows up during that period is Shiromo however, then he makes an Unexplained Recovery come his cameo in Episode 10.
  • Action Girl: Over the course of the series, Teddy slowly became this. By Episode 6 she's willing to throw down with zombies, and in Episode 8 she's the main fighter of the two Molcar spies.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Episode 7 features vents big enough for two vehicle-sized guinea pigs to crawl through. Teddy and Choco successfully sneak into the villains' lair this way and get the drop on them.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The genders of the main Molcars are given in their descriptions. Potato and Shiromo are boys, and Teddy and Choco are girls. Abbey was unidentified, but was revealed to be male in an article in Animage magazine.
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    • All of the background Molcars have names and personalities as well, but they're explained away on the official Twitter and some merchandise.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Molcars come in all sorts of colors. Our main Molcars are more standard colors for real life guinea pigs, but more exotic colors (like purple or blue or chick yellow) show up quite often.
  • An Aesop: They sometimes work morals into the episode:
    • Episode 1's is a Safe Driving Aesop: don't text and drive and don't hold up traffic, because you never know who or what you might be holding up while you're fooling around.
    • Episode 3: Don't leave your pets unattended in hot weather. Not only did the cat suffer, but Abbey and the rest of the Molcars weren't doing much better with only one small awning to keep cool.
    • Episode 4: Don't feed your pets trash.
    • Episode 10: You don't have to look strong and tough to be a hero.
  • Animal-Vehicle Hybrid: The Molcars themselves; they're car-sized guinea pigs with wheels instead of feet, and humans can get in and out of them and drive them like regular cars. Episode 11 reveals that Molcars are descended from real guinea pigs.
  • April Fools' Day: 2022's celebration was a joke crossover with the Shonen Jump hit Jujutsu Kaisen. This gave way to an actual collaboration days later.
  • Art Shift:
    • Whenever the humans are in a Molcar, they're presented as stop-motion clips of real-world people rather than the plastic pieces they are everywhere else.
    • When Abbey imagines everyone laughing at his embarrassing new paint job in Episode 10, the humans and other Molcars are animated in 2D.
  • Bank Robbery: Episode 2 focuses on three goons who successfully robbed a bank, and use Shiromo as their getaway car.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Not alien per se, but Molcars can see inside their interiors by rolling their eyes back into their head and looking out through their dashboard.
  • Bland-Name Product: Molsan Restaurant is a pastiche of the Japanese restaurant chain Johnathan's. In Japanese, the names of both restaurants are sounded out similarly, and the logo of the former is the same color and style as that of the latter.
  • Blatant Burglar: The bank robbers in Episode 2 all wear black while covering their faces with balaclavas. When they force Shiromo to be their getaway car, they make him wear a black mask over his eyes just to show that he's working for them.
  • Bookends: Just as the first episode begins with Potato and his owner on their commute to work, the last episode begins with them coming home after a long day.
  • Brand X: The Animate parody in episode 10 is simply called "anime store".
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Shiromo seems to get the brunt of the series’ abuse, from being carjacked to being zombified. After all that he accidentally gets launched in the air during the big Molcar party, landing on the sofa where Potato's owner is sleeping, launching her in the air.
    • Abbey is next in line for bullying—from having a cat stuck inside of him, to having his share of a carrot stolen, to being blown up with rockets, and finally being turned into a Itasha on the day of his beginner sign removal.
  • Call-Back:
    • One of the obstacles featured in the Molcar race in episode 5 is the pool made from the giant Molsan Restaurant logo. The obstacle is even placed near Molsan Restaurant.
    • When Teddy's scouter locks on to the long-haired Molcar in episode 8, a picture of them at the molcar wash from episode 7 appears.
    • A zombie Molcar is spotted among the traffic in episode 8 and among the skating Molcars in episode 9. Whether it's Shiromo or not is unclear, as its concept art is merely credited as "Zombie Molcar".
    • Two of the bank robbers from episode 2 show up as hired goons in episode 8.
    • The otaku's room has a rocket from episode 5 on the shelf.
  • Cat Up a Tree: In Episode 10, Abbey is upset about being turned into a Morumi-themed Itasha until he notices a cat stuck in a tree. Abbey channels the power of Morumi to save the cat, growing wings and rescuing it when it falls out of the tree.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • The guy who plays DJ Molcar's owner is Tomoki Misato, the director of the series.
    • Likewise, his sister's pet guinea pig Tsumugi, who provides all the voice samples for the Molcars, shows up as the guinea pig on the DJ Molcar driver's phone and as the guinea pig ancestor of the Molcars in episode 11.
  • Delicious Distraction: The Episode 2 robbers narrowly avoid arrest during their chase scene because they threw carrots to the police Molcars to keep them distracted. It works, and the cars are left confused while having their fill of vegetables.
  • Depending on the Writer: Who drives in Abbey depends on the episode. In episode 3, it's a cat owner with a yellow polka dot apron. Episode 5 instead uses a racecar driver, while episode 10 features an Otaku man, though the rocket in the latter's room implies the two may be the same person.
  • The Dinnermobile: Episode 6 gives us a food truck Molcar, who has a giant hamburger strapped to their back to match its burger products. Unfortunately, they are at the mercy of both hungry civilian Molcars and even hungrier zombies.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In Episode 12, Potato's owner briefly wakes up during the huge party Potato is hosting. The other Molcars hide themselves, but they don't do a very good job of it. Potato's owner looks around and immediately goes back to sleep, since she's clearly too tired to realize what's going on.
  • Feed It a Bomb: In Episode 8, Teddy defeats the robotic shark pursuing her, Choco and the long-haired Molcar by pooping out a fusion bomb which the shark immediately eats. A moment later, the bomb blows up the shark from the inside.
  • Flashmob: Episode 9 has a fiance coordinate a Molcar ice show for his girl, in an effort to propose to her. She says yes, and they are somehow instantly wed and drive off into the sunset.
  • Flowers of Femininity: Choco wears small blue flowers above her ears, indicating that she's female and also girlier than the tomboyish Teddy.
  • Giant Food: Human food is normal sized, but vegetables made for Molcar consumption are several times larger than their regular counterparts. A single leaf of lettuce can get to the size of an average height adult man! Molcars associated with food also have giant food items on their backs, like the burger truck Molcar in episode 6 and the sushi molcar in episode 9.
  • Hates Baths: Episode 7 focuses on a Molcar who's covered in mud and dirt from pretending to be an Indiana Jones-style explorer, but refuses to go into the Molcar wash because they find it scary. The other Molcars and the Molcar wash operator convince them to go in by making a treasure map that leads to a golden carrot at the end of the wash.
  • Homage: Episode 11 is a sendup of Back to the Future, with its own doctor and spunky kid and a Molcar styled like a DeLorean (it lifts its curly hair to let people in and out, mimicking the DeLorean's gullwing doors).
  • Hot Pursuit: Like any good bank robbery, Episode 2 features one acted out by Shiromo and the police Molcars.
  • In Medias Res: Episode 6 wastes no time at all in establishing the zombie plot: it opens right in the middle of Teddy and Shiromo getting chased by a group of zombies.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In Episode 11, in spite of the mess the time travelers caused in the past, the only change to the present that occured is related to the sweater they gave to the giant Guinea Pig: all the Molcars in the present now wear a similar sweater.
  • Itasha: Episode 10 has Abbey getting turned into a glittery pink Itasha with hearts and a Morumi decal. If anything, he would have rather liked to get a Superman Substitute or a Batman Expy makeover. It also shows the implications of doing this to somebody against their will (potential mockery). Either way, he still ends up a hero of some sort by channeling Morumi's power and saving a cat from falling, even if it's not the kind of hero he was expecting.
  • Jump Scare: Episode 3 has one where the cat stuck inside Abbey pops up when the other Molcars take a look inside, freaking them out.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The driver of the purple Molcar in Episode 1 gets trampled over by all the Molcars behind him when he holds up traffic long enough. He's then dogpiled by the police once he's out of his Molcar (which quickly abandoned him after he fell out).
    • Teddy's driver, on a whim, decided to feed her all of his discarded trash. When that led to Teddy developing a taste for local trash instead, she gets so full from it that she has to poop it out, along with the driver, who sits in the pile of resulting pellets confused.
  • Magical Girl: There's a Show Within a Show called Magica Morumi, which is about a guinea pig-themed magical girl. Abbey's owner turns him into an Itasha with a Morumi decal, which Abbey is very upset about at first since he wanted more of a superhero theme. Later on, Abbey channels Morumi's power to save a cat from falling out of a tree, complete with Transformation Sequence.
  • Medium Blending: In Episode 11, the role of the giant guinea pig, ancestor to the Molcars, is played by a live-action guinea pig.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Pre-series trailers sometimes did this. One notable example had the more mundane scenes from future episodes play first, then abruptly cuts to a fast paced, explosion filled scene— and then immediately went back to cutesy antics.
    • The first episode is mostly kind of wacky and cutesy, until we get the Wham Shot of the ambulance Molcar showing Potato the critically unconscious woman and her grieving male companion inside of it.
    • The second episode takes a stark shift in tone when the bank robbers force Shiromo at gun point to be their getaway car, causing him to tear up in fear.
  • Motivational Lie: In order to get the Indiana Jones-esque Molcar to face its fears of the molcar wash, the others (including one of the molcar wash employees) make it think there's a golden carrot inside of the molcar wash.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Towards the end of episode 2, when the cops show up to arrest the bank robbers, Shiromo (who was forced to be the getaway car) crouches down in fear when the cops approach him, thinking he's in trouble. In reality, due to his role in their arrest (unintentionally pooping a money trail all the way to their hideout), the cops just wanted to give him a medal.
  • Once an Episode: You really can't go one episode without making the poor Molcars cry. Even when it's not due to stress or fear, they somehow work tears into the episode.
  • Otaku: Abbey's owner is a stereotypical anime otaku who's so obsessed with an in-universe Magical Girl show called Magica Morumi that he turns Abbey into a glittery pink Itasha with a Morumi decal. He later parks Abbey outside of a Brand X version of Animate, a Japanese anime store chain.
  • Out of Focus: Out of all the main Molcars, Choco gets this treatment. Each Molcar so far has had a spotlight episode to show off their personality and a designated owner, but Choco usually plays supporting roles despite having her own unique character description, and we've never met the people who take care of her.
  • Parody Episode: Starting with Episode 5, there is a series of episodes of genre parodies. Ep. 5 is The Big Race, Ep. 6 combines the Zombie Apocalypse with a side-helping of Mad Max, Ep. 7 is a Raiders of the Lost Parody, Ep. 8 is a Spy Flick, and Episode 11 is a time travel story.
  • Power-Up Food: The race in episode 5 had Boost Carrots, carrots with a yellow zig-zag stripe in the middle that grant super-speed. They seem to be literal power-ups, as one floats in the middle of the course like a Racing Game item box.
  • Production Throwback: Among other advertisements in this universe, Misato's previous award winning short My Little Goat has posters around town.
  • Punny Name: Molcars are in part named after the Japanese word for guinea pigs (morumotto, a corruption of Marmot) and a vehicle pun (the moto in morumotto sounds like "motor", and motors are used in cars).
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Defied: Abbey winds up winning The Big Race, but he doesn't care; he's too upset about not getting any of the spilled Boost Carrots to notice... and then it turns out the prize for first place is a giant salad-filled trophy. And while excited about the development, it takes seeing the other Molcars' shocked expressions to convince Abbey to share.
  • Raiders of the Lost Parody: Episode 7 is about a fedora-wearing Molcar that goes on pretend adventures looking for a golden carrot. The world looks like a big temple in its imagination, and it sees everyday occurrences as exciting obstacles and traps to overcome. The actual premise of the episode, however, is about enticing it to go to the molcar wash because of all the accumulated mud and crud on itself after all of those adventures and being terrified about it.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Come on, who doesn't love these giant guinea pigs?
  • Series Mascot: If any Molcar is the focus of marketing, it's Potato. He is front and center in the announcement trailer and in the opening animation, but he also gets the most consistent merchandise.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Occasionally, you will see posters with Molcars swapped for various vehicles. Among the most prominent are Molformers and MOLKIRA.
    • Abbey's brief fight with Choco over a carrot (and the way Abbey loses the carrot) is a near shot for shot remake of a popular viral video starring guinea pigs doing the same with some greens.
    • Episode 8's title, "MOL MISSION", is a reference to Sky Mission, the Japanese title of Furious 7. The Molcars dropping from the helicopter likewise references the deployment of the cars in the same film.
    • In Episode 10, Abbey hopes to get a superhero-style paintjob after his beginner's sign removal, first imagining himself as Superman and then as Batman.
  • Show Within a Show: A few in-universe productions get advertisements everywhere, like Molkira or Molformers, but a non-existing IP by the name of Magica Morumi, a Magical Girl anime, gets some spotlight too. Abbey becomes an itasha adorning Morumi on the day of his beginner's sign removal, which upsets him at first since he wanted a superhero theme.
  • Silence Is Golden: The series has music, the guinea pig noises the Molcars make, and some sounds from human characters like laughter or screaming, but no actual dialogue.
  • Snow Means Love: Episode 9 centers around a man trying to propose to his girlfriend on a snowy day.
  • Spanner in the Works: The robbers' otherwise perfect robbery was unintentionally foiled by their getaway car, Shiromo. His pooping out the money in stress left a trail for the police to follow, leading them to the robbers' hideout and allowing them to get Shiromo out safely while arresting the goons.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • Parodied: Episode 3 ends with a swarm of Molcars rushing into a restaurant and ramming into the soda fountains, causing a geyser of soda that turns into a makeshift swimming pool.
    • Episode 8 plays this trope straight with a giant robot shark shooting lasers, blowing up a helicopter, then getting blown up itself after it swallows a bomb that Teddy poops out.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Episode 6 nearly ends with the food truck Molcar getting Shiromo and Teddy to split the burger with the zombies, with the Molcars taking the veggies while the zombies chow down on the meat. This works out well... up until a zombie accidentally nibbles on Shiromo's ear, that is. Teddy and the food truck flee for their lives, the newly-zombified Shiromo chases his former friends while running off with the rest of the patty, and the zombies are now still hungry and in hot pursuit.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Episode 1 has the series theme kick in when Potato helps the ambulance and starts a stampede to clear the traffic jam.
  • Toilet Humor: Since the show clearly demonstrates that they're just large guinea pigs, there are some jokes about them leaving pellets everywhere when they eat. Episode 2 has Shiromo poop out the robbers' stolen goods in stress, and Episode 4 has Teddy get so backed up by trash that she has to go to the bathroom to eject it all (driver included). The climax of Episode 8 even has Teddy defeat a mechanical shark by pooping out a fusion bomb that blows it up from the inside.
  • Too Fast to Stop: When Teddy eats a Boost Carrot during the Molcar race, she goes so fast she runs straight into a wall.
  • Training Montage: Episode 10 begins with a brief montage of Abbey working out with barbells and a punching bag, hoping that he'll become a superhero once he gets his beginner's sign removed. Unfortunately, his owner turns him into a glittery pink Itasha instead.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Molcars, despite their size, are terrified of house cats. Abbey is shocked to learn he has a cat inside of him in Episode 3, but if Episode 10 is any indication, his experience saving Episode 3's cat allowed the Molcar to tolerate them.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Abbey eventually wasn't even trying to win episode 5's big race. His driver's rockets blew up on him, and when the other Molcars abandon the race in favor of eating stray carrots, Abbey's inability to get food causes him to absentmindedly wander off to the finish line in shame.
  • "YEAH!" Shot:
    • Episode 1 ends with Potato jumping at the camera after he caused a Molcar stampede in the hopes of getting an ambulance Molcar to the hospital.
    • Episode 6 also has a shot like this, but played much less positively; Teddy, Shiromo, and the burger Molcar jump just as they're being chased by the zombie horde and the newly zombified Shiromo.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Episode 6 focuses on Teddy and Shiromo navigating through one, and protecting a Molcar food truck from hungry zombies. Funny enough, you can actually see some zombies in crowd shots prior to episode 6.