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Film Review Friday: Pui Pui Molcar (2021)

by Emily Nagle

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This week, I’ll be reviewing the Japanese stop-motion series “Pui Pui Molcar.” It’s a series of shorts, each one a little over 2 minutes, revolving around sentient guinea pig cars as they get into wacky adventures and help each other out of problems.

The show arrived on Netflix at the end of March, but originally aired on Japan’s TV Tokyo channel in the mornings beginning in January of this year. I watched the show on Bandai Namco’s official YouTube channel, where each episode was uploaded the day it premiered on TV, and remained available for a week. I’ve also seen other people re-upload the episodes after Bandai Namco took theirs down. After finishing its first season recently, the show has 12 episodes, so it’s an easy binge; you can watch the whole series in less than half an hour.

I did a little research on how this show was created, and discovered that it took a year and a half to produce the first season! It was created by director/animator Tomoki Misato when he was thinking about the annoyances that come with driving, and wondered what it’d be like if instead of cars, people drove around in guinea pigs. This is what sparked Pui Pui Molcar, which shows the misadventures of guinea pig cars including getting stuck in traffic jams, helping a friend overcome their fear of the car wash, and competing in a race.

Each Molcar has their own unique personality. The fuzzy cast includes tan-and-white Potato, who’s always willing to help out his friends, the tomboyish Teddy, who isn’t afraid of anything (not even a zombie apocalypse!), and white Shiromo, who’s always landing himself in sticky situations. There’s also a bunch of special characters that show up, like emergency services, a DJ, and even a time machine a la Back to the Future.

“Pui Pui Molcar” has a unique look to it, because the Molcars themselves are needle-felted. That’s something I haven’t seen a lot of in stop-motion shows, and I am 100% here for it. It’s cute and fun, and whenever I watch the show I just wanna reach out and touch the fuzzy guinea pig cars. The backgrounds for their crazy adventures are colorful and fun-looking, and it adds a lighthearted and playful feel.

As for the non-cavy characters in the show, like the drivers, they’re represented by tiny plastic figures when they’re not the main focus of the scene. When the camera zooms into the Molcars to show what the drivers are thinking or doing, they’re represented by real people (one of which is Misato’s sister), but they’re filmed in stop-motion to blend in with the rest of the show, which I absolutely love. It’s different, and it works perfectly.

There’s no dialogue, with the show consisting almost entirely of guinea pig squeaks and chortles (which are from a real guinea pig, not an actor) as opposed to talking. Although their eyes are black beads, the Molcars are super expressive. They show on their faces how they’re feeling, and will even cry and sweat to show emotion. This helps add to the easy-to-follow stories, and makes them even more engaging.

“Pui Pui Molcar” is visually appealing, and a short, fun watch. Not to mention it’s super creative; combining cars and guinea pigs sounds strange, but this show makes it work really well. There are so many fun adventures and stories to see. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes cute things, or has a guinea pig – I’ve heard stories of people’s guinea pigs squeaking at the TV when this show is on. I hope there’s a season 2!