If you haven’t heard of Milpom★ (Milpom or Milpom Star, either one seems to be correct), it’s a currently airing, stop-motion ONA that follows the comedic exploits of four fashionable girls living in a world in which wearing animal mascot heads is considered the norm.
Characters from left to right: Happy, Milpom, Silky, & Cacao
Even if you find that synopsis and above image deeply off-putting, I hope you’ll still join me under the cut as I
briefly cover the first two episodes and my initial first impressions of the series’ pilot. (Consider this a three-part piece for the price of one blog post!)
Part 1: The Pilot
The premise alone was enough to get me interested in checking out the Pilot, though if I had to be honest, I didn’t really know what to make of it at first. The dialogue between Milpom & Silky (then known as Milpom & PonPon) wasn’t exactly “ha ha” funny, and all they seemed to wanna talk about was boys and make-up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just that I had a hard time figuring out if this was a show “made for girls, by girls”, or if some studio was just trying to make fun of millennials
(or “vapid” teenage girls) like some old fogy political cartoonist. (The official art work had me hopeful that perhaps it was the former)
(Art Source: x)
Either way, it got me intrigued.
Part 2: “Pumpkin Pie is Hard to Say!”
After having watched the first “real” episode a couple of times, I think I’m starting to understand this show a little better.
Checking out their official website was a big help too, but only in figuring out what I assume to be the target demographic: people who like creepy-cute Harajuku fashion, and mainly girls at that. (This show is un-apologetically girly after all, yet undeniably creepy…because the creepiness is also cute!) My point is you don’t need the website to follow along with this show.
Episode one is more like a Halloween special, and it starts off how you’d expect it would. Three of the girls are hanging out and talk about various costume ideas, but this time around the dialogue is a bit more up to speed. You also get a better feel for the girls’ personalities*; Milpom seems to be the spontaneous one with random outbursts, and though Silky is always being passive-aggressive towards her (in a teasing sort of way? Maybe?), she seems to be generally laid back. Cacao on the other hand is sorta the cynical Lolita of the group- with an encyclopedic knowledge of the holiday’s origin. (or perhaps she’s just knowledgeable about things in general?)
*that isn’t to say their personalities weren’t present in the pilot, but I think bringing in a third party helps distinguish them even further, in a good way!
Also, can I just say how refreshing it is to see a “Lolita” character dressed in something that actually looks Lolita? Granted I’m not an expert, but…aside from the mascot head and super cliche rectangle headdress, her outfit actually seems to follow all of the lolita guidelines. I rarely see this in animation, but I guess given the Harajuku vibe and the nature of dressing up dolls, it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t screw this up. (Harajuku is where Lolita was born after all!)
seriously look at her freaking purse!! and those shoes!! omg-
er Anyway! Halloween- as we know it here in the states- is still a fairly new concept in Japan, and the ditsy nature of these girls ends up fueling the confusion all the more, leading to a humorous case of “the blind leading the blind”. I won’t spoil the whole thing, but there is this one joke(?) that only
kinda makes sense if you already know that Japanese style pumpkins (or kabocha / カボチャ) and American style pumpkins- (or panpukin / パンプキン) are two totally different things. (Thank you, Crunchyroll, for not even bothering to explain it! I’m sure that would have “ruined” the experience, somehow!! /sarcasm)
…Though I still don’t know how Paprikas fit into all of this? Milpom just sorta brings them up out of nowhere. Maybe it’s the Japanese pronunciation of Paprika? “Papurika?” “Panpukin?” Leonardo Di “Kapurio?”
Believe me I’m just as confused as you are, but maybe we’re supposed to be?
Silky certainly seems confused herself.
Either way, I’ve had it up to *here* with Jack-O-Lanterns at this point!
Part 3: What Kind of Bird is a Turkey Anyway?!
Episode two seems to take place close to Christmas time (Are they always going to do something holiday themed? or is it just coincidence?) but for the most part it’s just a trip to the Nail Salon. (Did I mention it looks like something from a kyary pamyu pamyu music video? Because it totally does)
This is also the episode where Happy is introduced, and true to her name, she is, well. Happy! So happy in fact that her eyes have little rainbows inside of them. If that’s not happiness then I don’t know what is!
Gosh that is stinking adorable. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I actually love how many jewels these people manage to fit onto these girls’ paper eyeballs. The colors are well coordinated and each one looks unique, it’s like a cutie mark for the iris.
Dry banter takes place between the four of them, and some nail-polish related chaos breaks out. (Now that’s what I call a sticky situation!) They play off each other well enough I guess, but it’s not really anything to write home about. (There’s also a visual gag that I missed on my first viewing- I won’t spoil it here, but pay attention to the snapshots Happy takes over the course of the episode!)
However, in addition to getting a new character, we also receive some nifty 2D sequences!
All gifs/screen caps are made by me btw, unless stated otherwise!
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this show use hand drawn doodles as a garnish for the stop motion visuals, but this is the first time we’ve seen them in the forefront and in full color.
Art is entirely subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I say this because the line work looks like a rushed mess and the hands seem poorly drawn, but the graphite texture to the pen strokes and the gigantic eyes of the characters remind me of something a middle schooler might scribble in her spiral notebook, and I think this aesthetic is entirely intentional. The second & fourth gifs seem to understand graphical perspective enough to draw Milpom’s head at various angles, and the third gif gives each character a unique “stance” with the position of their feet. Most amateur artists can barely even draw feet, let alone think about how each personality might stand when lined up together.
All of this combined with a matching pastel color palette leads me to believe that all of these artistic liberties are deliberate design choices and not just something hastily cobbled together.
(Art Source: x)
There is definitely a girly aesthetic about them with just enough edge that reminds me of how sharp-tongued teenagers can be.
Speaking of choices, Silky’s airy and “slow” sounding voice seems to be deliberate as well. I mention this because one of the complaints I’ve read in youtube & crunchyroll comments is how “she sounds annoying”. I don’t blame anyone for having that opinion, but it’s not like the voice actress talks like that all the time. Again, I think it’s a character choice; but whether it’s a good choice is entirely up to the viewer. (I think it’s kinda hilarious, but it can get grating at times)
I don’t think I’ve spoiled each episode per se, but I may have spent so much time talking about them that it might not even be worth watching them for yourself. Sorry about that!
Still, I felt the need to get my thoughts and feelings out there on the off-chance that maybe I’ve inspired other people to go check it out? Maybe even watch future episodes for themselves? (If nothing else, writing this blog post has been very therapeutic for me) Currently it seems like the viewers on Crunchyroll & My Anime List aren’t giving it so much as a passing glance, and those who do seem to be extremely put off by it; judging by the ratings and statistics anyway:
Dang, 4.88 out of 10? Harsh!
If you don’t know this about me, I am a huge fan of subjectivity; so I’m totally cool with people not liking the same things that I do, or just liking/disliking something for totally different reasons than me. It’s entirely possible that on the whole, most people think that the jokes are unfunny and the dolls look creepy, or that it just has poor production values.
Still though, I would hate for something to get negative reception just for doing something a little bit different from what we’re used to, or because a few jokes flew over people’s heads (like the kabocha/pumpkin thing).
If nothing else, Milpom★ seems pretty darn creative, and it makes me want to visit the next local art festival and make some cute arts and crafts for myself.