I’ve come to expect a lot of things from a show within the first few episodes, but for something like Mawarun Penguindrum to come along and offset that entire balance, that’s something worth watching, even if you don’t understand half the shit going on.
Mawarun Penguindrum premiered in the Summer 2011 block and wrapped up its run this past season, totaling 24 episodes. The story focuses on three young kids of the Takakura family, oldest brothers Kamba (Kimura Subaru) and Shouma (Kimura Ryohei), and their little sister Himari (Arakawa Miho). Together they live in a small home in Ogikubo. Due to poor health, Himari stays home most of the day, while the other two attend West Garden High School in Shinjuku-Gyoemmae. One day while visiting the penguin exhibit in the aquarium, Himari falls ill and is transported to the hospital where she dies. The brothers knew of this, as her doctor warned it would happen any day, but before they could mourn, a novelty hat bought for her at the aquarium appears on her head and magically brings her back to life, but the entity controlling the hat demands the two locate the “Penguindrum” an artifact of unknown power that once obtained, they can save her life permanently. The entity also extends Himari’s life, unbeknownst to her, while this task is underway, and the two must attempt to recover the Penguindrum to save her life, without her knowledge. On top of that, three penguins arrive at their door. They understand the family and help them perform tasks, but cannot be seen by anyone else, and often get into mischief while not being supervised. Their first target, is Ringo Oginome, a student of Ohka Garden Girls’ High School also in Shinjuku-Gyoemmae, who may possess the Penguindrum. The adventure they embark on will change the world around them, and the fates of their family, friends, and themselves.
You may recall Brains Base most recent offering, Kamisama Dolls, which was another excellent series that sadly only ran for a half-season, though we were teased with the prospect of more. The tricky part about Penguindrum is that it lets you believe it will be a series of lighter fare, judging from the first few episodes, and the need to replay the “transformation scene” over and over again. But as you go deeper into the series, you begin to find out that it is incredibly complex, full of psychological twisters and unexplained incidents, that do fortunately get resolved over time, but by then your brain feels like silly putty. In a nutshell, Penguindrum attempts to tell a story where the “one ring” can change a person’s fate, and when it was used that day , it altered a number of people’s fates so much that none of them realized it for a number of years. Due to a series of events in the beginning of the show, the main cast starts to unravel the sixteen year old mystery that shrouds themselves from the truth, of what happened that day. I don’t want to spoil too much, because it really is worth watching being as much of a Penguindrum-virgin as possible.
The characters and story are pretty top-notch, and coming off of Kamisama Dolls I’d hope so, because that was one of KD’s shortcomings, it had an excellent story but weaker characters. Penguindrum kept the characters in check with the story throughout the show with only a few deviations for light comedy. The use of the penguins also tries to distract you from what it going on and in some cases, add a light comedy act to serious business. The visuals are something not much unlike Bakemonogatari, it relies heavily on “stock footage” of entering the subway station, the flashback board, and some familiar scenes as the characters travel along. The did get creative with some of the stock shots by changing up the animations in them, mainly in the subway for the Double-H animations, as well as a few other shots here and there.
Overall, if you are looking for a good full-season show that offers a little mystery to your otherwise insane show about penguins, this should be in your pile of watching.
Title: Mawarun Penguindrum
Sub Group I Watched: gg
Rating (1-10): 8
Favorite Character: Ringo Oginome
Least Favorite Character: Keiju Tabuki
95: Take the year the show was based in, presumably 2011, and subtract the 16 years they said “the incident” occured. 1995. Mind = Blown.
You didn’t mention EVA: Evangelion is not the benchmark for mentally fucked up anime, and really, Anno did not want you to understand his fucked up mind. This show will explain itself, just not when YOU want it to.
Why Ringo? She was fucking nuts? It was hard to pick a favorite character from this show because honestly, I had a reason to hate every one of them at some point or another, including Himari. But redemption, in the end, came to Ringo, and you’ll have to watch the show to see what I mean.