With the merging of anime streaming service giants Funimation and Crunchyroll earlier this year, most new series can now only be found on the latter platform. Due to this, Crunchyroll has become the go-to place for watching anime, and many have dropped their Funimation subscriptions as a result. While many new series from 2022 have made their debut on Crunchyroll, one of them — Season 2 of the comedic Pop Team Epic — has recently strayed from that tradition.
Based on Bkub Okawa’s manga of the same name, Pop Team Epic follows the lives of two teenage girls, the irritable Popuko and the lanky, more levelheaded Pipimi and the chaotic situations they constantly find themselves in. The series gained a considerable amount of popularity in both the United States and Japan due to its random humor and pop culture references. Season 1 was a hit success, with Popuko’s and Pipimi’s voice actors differing in each episode. After three years, Pop Team Epic has just returned for its second season, but in the form of premiering on TikTok Live — something that has never happened before in the anime industry.
What Could Pop Team Epic’s TikTok Premiere Mean for Anime Streaming’s Future?
Prior to the Crunchyroll-Funimation merge, new and continuing anime series have been added to both platforms, and some have even aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block or become available on Prime Video. Other streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and HBOMax have their own share of anime. New episodes that air on Crunchyroll are sometimes automatically uploaded to Hulu as well.
Aside from Pop Team Epic‘s Season 2 debut, it seems that no other franchise has started its run on a social media platform — or been made available to view — and this decision has left anime fans wondering if TikTok and other apps will begin to rival the preexisting streaming services.
While some viewers have found this to be unconventional, it could shape the future of anime streaming. It is not uncommon for streaming services to increase their prices out of the blue or even include commercials. Not only would subscribers have to debate if they can afford the few extra dollars, but they would also have to consider downloading another streaming service that contains the content they want to watch. Because social media is generally free, those who are unable to pay for multiple services will have the convenience of watching the new anime at no additional charge without having to resort to piracy — assuming the industry decides to do this more often.
However, not everyone is fond of the strengthened relationship between anime and social media. Fans usually prefer to watch their favorite series on a computer or TV as they have a larger screen. While Funimation and Crunchyroll can be downloaded on nearly all devices, social media is rarely accessed outside the usage of smartphones. Adding on, watching a movie or an episode of a television series would usually allot less of the visual screen.
One more problem that could arise is the potentially growing popularity of Pop Team Epic‘s decision. If social media decides to play a role in the anime industry by directly streaming it, multiple conflicts could come into fruition for individuals. Either they might be busy during the anime’s scheduled live-streaming, or the difference in time zone may not work for them.
While waiting for an anime to be uploaded to Crunchyroll or another service so they can watch it in the comfort of their own home, fans would have to take the extra step to avoid spoilers — that is, to steer clear of social media. Fortunately, it seems like the current situation of anime streaming isn’t going anywhere, and Crunchyroll will remain as the most widely designated platform.