Mawaru Penguindrum User Reviews

Mawaru Penguindrum is an anime series
Write a Review 3 user reviews Average score of 8.3 / 10 for Mawaru Penguindrum
Mawaru Penguindrum - Anime Review Reviewed by Donwun on March 8, 2013. Donwun has written 12 reviews. His/her last review was for Mawaru Penguindrum. 3 out of 3 users recommend his reviews.

Mawaru Penguindrum (2011) - Anime Review

This series is my introduction to the inspired mind of director Kunihiko Ikuhara who is well known for creating the popular fan favorite Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)

I admittedly am yet to see Utena so apart from the mostly glowingly positive reviews for this series I had no expectations or reservations of what to expect

Now that all is said and done, after finishing Penguindrum I am left asking myself is this a show where style and intention surpasses execution or is this series something that was intentionally created to get you thinking more about its various themes / subtexts long after it’s completion

Or does it actually accomplish ALL of these things exceptionally well

Hmm…

Synopsis

Takakura Kanba and his twin brother Shouma live together with their younger sister Himari in a small, multi-colour painted house. However, their parents are missing and Himari has been sick for many years and is close to death’s door. Kanba and Shouma resolve to make Himari’s last days happy and live a playful day to day life.

One day while on a trip to a nearby aquarium Himari collapses and is rushed to hospital, where soon after she sadly passes away. However, in a strange twist of fate, a penguin-like hat purchased from the aquarium’s souvenir shop magically brings Himari back to life. But this hat is anything but charitable. The penguin hat has now given their beloved sister’s body a new host that gives the brothers a virtually perplexing and impossible task in exchange for keeping their sister alive.

Animation

Whoa….Brains Base, the animation studio responsible for such visual delights as Madoka Magica & Durarara have once again produced yet another gorgeous looking anime series.

Lots of words come to mind for this show in terms of animation, to name just a few. Colourful, Vibrant, dynamic, playful, surreal, fresh…the list goes on

The animation is undoubtedly the strongest part of this series for me. There is just so much going on and so many different styles blended so well together for different reasons it’s just really captivating to see something done so well and look so clean and fresh.

Character designs are nice, with an overall more slender look to them opposed to other shows.

Opening and ending themes are great, particularly the ending themes which look like gorgeous paintings fused with fluid animation.

Backgrounds and surroundings use different styles which make the anime rather playful, for example sometimes things can look exceptionally well detailed and colourful while at other times things can look intentionally cartoony and fun with background characters drawn as simple outlines or shapes.

There is also a very notable magical girl transformation sequence throughout this series which is fun, colourful, playful and even has some cool CG elements to it

I find the animation on a whole to be refreshingly beautiful and dynamic, making this series particularly memorable for me in that respect.

Sound

Overall I found the sound to be very good, in particular the background themes which set the tone really well in the given situation. OP & ED themes are very good and are beautifully sung. The voice acting in Jap sounded fine – at the time of this writing there is an English dub available which I am yet to hear but I look forward to and I’d say everything else regarding sound is adequate / fine.

Story

Ehh, this is where I problems arise for me.

In its entirety I think the story is good and there are good ideas here I just have a problem with the actual execution of it.

I understand that the direction of this series may have been to give more food for thought about certain topics / themes but for me this series went about this in a way which just made the overall enjoyment for me difficult.

The series starts off with the brothers mission to find the penguindrum, then the story seems to shift for almost half of the core series to another related character and her weird crush on a teacher and then finally for the last half we slowly get revelations told in continuous (and at times extremely annoying) exposition which in particular, totally derailed the flow of the story for me.

The ideals and thought provoking plots in here are actually very good but for me the execution was just too erratic and purposefully unorganized to make this show an anime that “goes against the grain” in all aspects

If you want to be different from the countless vanilla animes out there nowadays I’m cool with it but sometimes simplicity in storytelling makes things that much easier to enjoy BUT in saying that I know there are people who enjoy a more complicated (if not convoluted lol) way of storytelling and to this animes credit I don’t feel like it was pretentious or fake about anything. I just think it does things in a way you are either going to appreciate / study or ultimately get a bit frustrated with

So, in a nutshell I’d say I enjoyed the core story itself but would have preferred a more simplified execution of storytelling, there was just too much exposition littered throughout the series filling in the majority of the core plot which for me is not on

Characters

On the whole I found this series to have a very likeable and believable cast of characters. However yet again the implementation of the story brings up some inconstancies with them

Notably for me, the character development for a lot of the characters are erratic to non-existent, based on the fact that as the series progresses you find out (through later revelations) that from the very beginning most characters were not being their true selves which means in the blink of an eye (particularly in the last quarter of the series) characters personalities just change abruptly and you just have to accept it based on the new story revelations hence no actual character development just characters showing their “true face” so to speak. This is not a completely negative criticism to be honest just a different way to portray characters in a story which I have mixed feelings about

Saying that though, the cast of characters are very likeable and I actually found them to be realistic in their motivations and reasoning’s.

There is alot of playful banter and honest emotions conveyed through the characters which I have to praise, but again it’s hard to say the characters actually developed throughout the show – its better if I just say I enjoyed watching the characters interactions and observing how they dealt with the issues / plots that went on throughout the series run which was handled well enough.

Yeah so, suffice to say this show does things differently with its characters so admittedly its harder for me to identify clear negatives / positives about them but for what it’s worth they are all portrayed very well and convincingly enough so I can’t say anything was done badly at all there

Enjoyment

Overall I’d say I enjoyed it okay. I do kinda wish the story was implemented a bit more linearly to make the overall story experience more fluid but to be honest all the aesthetics made up for a lot of my frustration with the execution and kept me watching through to the end which was decent enough

Value

It’s wasn’t exactly a masterpiece for me but it is a pretty decent anime with a lot to like. Regarding all the subtext and things most people love about this show….well for me I need a clear story to draw me into those elements more. Call me a lazy simpleton if you wish but I wasn’t really blown away by all the noticeable subtext this show had to offer, like with any anime I mostly just want a great story with all the bells and whistles attached and I could identify this anime certainly had all the ingredients. It just wasn’t prepared in the way I would have preferred for me to give it a much higher rating, which is a shame

I’d say check it out if you want see something beautiful with an interesting story done differently from the countless other meh anime series out there

Mawaru Penguindrum: High Watchable

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