Otaku USA Magazine
Is This Anime? Three of Our Favorite Medium-Bending Anime Series

Does Pui Pui Molcar count as anime? Close enough for us.

For as long as anime has been a thing, fans have debated over what the word actually means. Where does the show have to come from? How must it be animated? What language is it in originally? Well, for these anime series, we don’t care.

The shows we’re looking at today delve into alternate animation styles to bring their stories to life. From stop motion to puppetry, we’re intrigued by these shows in all their forms. What about you? Do you have any favorite anime that don’t seem to “officially” fit the definition?


Thunderbolt Fantasy

Thunderbolt Fantasy

Gen Urobuchi turned to Taiwanese glove puppetry to bring this fantasy anime series to life. And fans were receptive: Thunderbolt Fantasy is a beloved show, popular enough to bring about manga and films.

Urobuchi was inspired to make the show after seeing Pili, a glove puppet series made by Pili International Multimedia. (The show’s name literally translates to “Thunderbolt,” funnily enough.) You may even have seen some of it yourself: it came to Cartoon Network under the name Wulin Warriors.


Pui Pui Molcar

Pui Pui Molcar

An anime series hitting big right now, Pui Pui Molcar started life as a segment on a Saturday morning children’s show. The oddly adorable short, about a world where cars are also sentient guinea pigs, has become winter 2021’s best reviewed anime series.

There’s not a stroke of 2D animation in it, either. These furry little vehicles are stop-motion, with occasional photographic overlays to depict their human drivers. It’s an uncommon anime style, but one that works well for the sweet little show. And if the show’s Twitter isn’t enough for you, rest assured you can see more when it comes to Netflix.


Inferno Cop

Inferno Cop

Remember when Studio Trigger came along and teased their first anime series? We remember. They may have gone on to things like Kill la Kill and DARLING in the FRANXX, but Hiroyuki Imaishi’s brainchild started out with something a lot less complex: the YouTube series Inferno Cop.

The low-budget, cutout animation series was not at all what fans were expecting. But it did foreshadow the kind of energy Trigger would bring to the table. Voiced by a tiny cast and chaotically written and filmed, it wasn’t universally liked. But the flames of justice still ignited the hearts of some fans. And even now, we’re still hoping for the return of the unlikely hero.

Are you a fan of these not quite anime series? What about others you’ve seen?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.