A Guinea Pig Sensation


By S5TW(25) Tin Tsz Ying Chloe

What’s the most popular anime at the moment? Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer or even Cells at Work might have come to mind, but it might shock you when I say a show about a bunch of guinea pigs morphed into squatty little vehicles has been blowing up on the internet. Based on Japan’s media review company Filmark, the top anime of the 2021 winter season of Japan is a show by the name Pui Pui Molcar. These bite-sized videos on Youtube have become the talk of the town, and even found popularity far beyond its originally intended audience -- Japanese children. Instead, it has caught the attention of adults even outside of Japan. It’s now on Netflix and even got featured in a recommendation article by the New York Times. Of all of the amazing shows that have come out this season, who would’ve thought a stop-motion show made for kids would become a big hit? With that in mind, I was determined to dig into this piggy sensation.

In order to understand how these fuzzy pigs went viral, we need to understand the plot first. It was a rather simplistic show, with each episode lasting for 3 minutes. In the world of Pui Pui Molcar, humans also use cars to get from one place to another. However, the cars there are expertly crafted guinea pigs. Instead of having to charge your car with fuel, you now give your pig a carrot, their
main source of energy. In most episodes, the guinea pigs are just being their fuzzy selves, transporting humans from place to place. Occasionally, the episode will include car-related film references, such as zombie movies, AKIRA, and even Back to the Future. Looking back at the show’s title, the word ‘Pui Pui’ derived from the Japanese onomatopoeia for the “wheek wheek” sounds actual guinea pigs make, notably the only noises you’ll hear while watching the show. With absolutely no dialogues, no actors, not even real guinea pigs, how has it become the most talked unlicensed show of the year?

After binge-watching all 12 episodes on Youtube, I took notice of how smooth the directing was. By using various stop-motion film techniques, you can tell these molcars ‘move around’ by squashing and stretching the wheels. They also express their shock when a situation has gone wrong(like when a molcar was forced to help in burglary), through literally popping their button eyes out and “jaw-dropping” their biscuit-sized mouths. The directors often use props like water drops, hinting that the guinea pigs feel guilty or nervous. Not only that, but even the smallest movements like the twitching of the ears or the movement of the puffy cheeks are also emphasized,
making the guinea pigs look really authentic.

Coupled with a myriad of angles used, the visuals were also captivating to the eye, as the animation was directed in a way the videos felt wholesome. The guinea pigs are soft felt critters, each pig with a distinct color and pattern. Though this was just a kid’s show, I can tell this is a strenuous task to perfect each scene, and how detailed the director was at making the videos look seamless and vibrant.

The only problem I’ve had with the show, was it might have come across as “weird”. You don’t normally watch odd videos about humans squeezing themselves into micro-sized windows of seemingly life-sized guinea pigs, or watch animals get involved in bank robbery like in episode 2. Remember the ASMR trend a while ago? It was just people watching people eat large amounts of
food while whispering into the camera, yet MILLIONS of people were mesmerized by it. Likewise, as an outsider, Pui Pui Molcar looked unreasonable to me at first, but as I kept watching, I could understand why it had gone viral. The plot was actually relatable and easy to understand. There was no dialogue, that said, it could be easily understood by global audiences of all ages, making the
video more accessible. They’ve also used real life examples for their plot, like the delaying of a medical rescue because there was a “guinea pig” traffic jam. These similar situations relate to the audience, making the stories laughable. This was a slick move from the scriptwriters, as relatability causes more viewers to spread the video.

Something I’ve also noticed is how there are hidden morals in most of the episodes. In the episode ‘Pui pui racing’, the guinea pigs had a racing competition. Throughout the clip, the guinea pigs put up an example on how we should respect every competitor, how we should not cheat, as we would reap what we sown, and be confident in whatever you do. At the very end of the story, the winning
guinea pig shared it’s champion (a giant carrot) with the rest of the competitors, demonstrating how friendship should be more important than winning. This might have been another reason why even adults were captivated by the series, not only was it uplifting, but the messages they put out are so pure that they could feel nostalgic about their childhood.

I adore the fact that Pui Pui Molcar rose to fame even when many features of this animation were often overlooked: short and stop-motion anime, plus it was a small production from a small team after all. It was not hard to tell just how much dedication and time the directors have poured into the show. The molcars have charmed me from their cuteness and made me giggle after a tiring day of
school. Sometimes owning and caring for a car feels like owning a pet, and molcars captured that sentiment perfectly. If you ever need a break from reality, like coming home after a straining day of work, hopping onto these lighthearted videos brings a smile on your face. Pui Pui Molcar is a notable show to leave your worries behind, and to immerse yourself into the world of adorable guinea pigs.