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Mawaru Penguindrum (2011, Brain's Base)

Anime Reviews

Mawaru Penguindrum (2011, Brain's Base)

Mawaru Pingu Doramu

Worth A Watch

Shoma and Kanba Takakura's younger sister Himari has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. One day, while visiting Himari's favourite aquarium she suddenly collapses but finds her springing back to life. What's more, penguins visible only to them become part of their lives. It seems the hat they bought at the aquarium has extended their sister's life in exchange for them to seek out the "Penguindrum". Unfortunately for them, it wasn't going to be easy as obstacles including a stalker girl gets in their way.

Watched this after seeing a number of people praising it on Twitter (or should I call it X now?) due to the recent recap movie.

Don't let all the cutesy penguins and guys doting on the little sister plot fool you. On the surface, it's a mystery romcom mostly but it's also got a deeper theme about how hard it is to accept "fate" or fight against it. This is probably why the ghost penguins are mostly comic relief to balance out the heavier side of the show and might also explain the bold irregular colour scheme it uses.

The penguins end up doing some suggestive things that you'd usually see protagonists in harem shows "accidentally" doing like stealing underwear although you don't actually see anything graphic. There's no fairly much no fan service with the human characters but there are some very heavy suggestive scenes with our stalker girl, Ringo which is probably why the show is rated for adults (entire female cast are weird in some way really). Thankfully their actions don't get too graphic either such as sexual assault.

There's a fair number of layers to the story and it progresses a pretty good pace. It likes to lead you on then throw in twists and the more serious sequences are fairly much similar to the psyche attacks in Evangelion. It gets quite philosophical.

Art work's kind of odd. Rather than go for something plain or beautified like a lot of modern day shows, it's like a rough picture book. Often only the protagonists are given any kind of detail. Rest of the world has some irregular designs instead of using real world locations and colours. Studios re-use animation to buy time but there's a magical girl transformation sequence "Survival Strategy" that happens a bit too often.

It's quite odd hearing Jaian's voice actor Subaru Kimura from Doraemon playing a different role here... Theme songs are horrible. Well, apart from the second ending song sung by the characters. The second half of show has a variety of songs sung by Himari's "Triple-H" idol group.

It's an interesting mystery, romcom show that goes in a number of odd directions. Every few episodes it feels like it's on a new storyline. I enjoyed the constant twists it throws but I think the show juggles too much between fun romcom moments and heavy tragic, philosophical moments. I'm not a big fan of the characters either as fun as their weird personalities are to watch.

There's a different illustration after the credits every episode so be sure not to miss out. After this show, you'll know about "Curry Day" and why there are mostly photos of curry on Twitter.



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