Posted on 2 December 2011 with categories: Mawaru Penguin Drum



Omg plot twists!

I mean, where to start? I thought that the house was just a colorful whim of the designers. In this episode, the creators suddenly explained how the house looked so unique. We’ve now seen Himari’s childhood in about five different stages (the time with her biological parents, the point where Shouma saved her, the point where Kanba’s father died, the point where she was getting into fights with Shouma’s mother, and the point after which shouma’s parents left). All of them showed a different stage of how she changed as a kid, and that isn’t even with the regular character development added. She is by far the most developed character of the entire series.

Then, Natsume. Finally her actions make perfect sense. by going after Kanba’s former girlfriends, she was reminding him of his responsibility towards Mario. By getting him away from Himari she was trying to save her brother from getting further involved in the shady business of Shouma’s parents. (Who died in this episode?! What the hell?). Also, I can’t believe that it only took me until last week to realize that the creators are trying to turn “Oh no, I must crush them soon” into a catch phrase.

Ringo turned into an excellent support character, now that her main arc is over. She’s still great to watch, and yet she knows how to remain in the shadows. The pink haired guy? Excellent villain now that it’s been revealed that he was the mastermind behind the gas attacks. He’s like this omnipotent being in this series and makes great use of it. That also gives yet another meaning to the diary: it’s the thing that he has no influence over. The question now is: is that diary’s power really as vague as the past episodes have been hinting? Or was there a more concrete reason for its effect?

And christ, there are just three episodes left now. I can only hope that this was the incentive to get the shoujo genre out of its rut that it’s been in for the past years. I don’t include the Josei genre in this; that has been fine, with series like No.6 and Chihayafuru. But how many good shoujo that didn’t rely on just random bishies (like Hakuouki for example) have debuted since the start of 2009? I’d say around five, over three whole years (Penguin Drum, Heartcatch Precure, Uragiri, Kimi ni Todoke and Yumeiro Patissiere), and only two of them were really ground breaking (Heartcatch and Penguin Drum). And this used to be one of my favorite genres that had so many gems in it. To come with a frame of reference, that’s about the same amount of series that debuted in those days that had no way of making any profit whatsoever, like Hyouge Mono, Sarai-ya Goyou, Aoi Bungaku, Showa Monogatari. Yes, for some bizarre reason producers nowadays are less inclined in investing in an ambitious shoujo series than on shows that are bound to not make them any money. There is a market for this, people. The first Blu-Ray version of Penguin Drum has actually sold nearly 6000 copies. That’s about 1000 volumes above the break even point for your average series.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

17 Responses

  1. Snowolf says:

    So….just to make things clear- Kanba was hallucinating the Takakura parents (not his biological ones, Shouma’s) right?

    The mom’s face was supposed to be scarred if we remember: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvlfriEZ6I1qiqm72.jpg

    but in Kanba’s hallucinations, she has no scar. I’m pretty sure they’re dead, probably killed off by the PinGroup organization. Or maybe they WERE alive until this episode where they were….killed off and dumped behind the counter? I don’t quite understand.

  2. Snowolf says:

    Edit: I lightened up the picture to see what it was really like, and got this:
    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvligbZMzY1qaw84g.jpg

    Which means that they are actually quite dead. A long time ago. So Kanba’s hallucinating his non-biological parents.

  3. Scruffy says:

    The funeral .. was that for Natsume and Kanba’s dad?

  4. rufe says:

    Clearly Kanba is insane. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next!

  5. AidanAK47 says:

    “by going after Kanba’s former girlfriends, she was reminding him of his responsibility towards Mario.”

    Actually no. I believe it’s a little more personal than that. It’s clear Natsume is interested in something beyond sibling love.
    I can say it’s about time the series plot got moving. It feels like it’s been at a standstill for the last few weeks but finally we are getting somewhere. It’s nice to be able to enjoy Penguindrum again.

  6. Gary says:

    I can only hope that this was the incentive to get the shoujo genre out of its rut that it’s been in for the past years. I don’t include the Josei genre in this; that has been fine, with series like No.6 and Chihayafuru.

    I don’t really see at all how Penguindrum is supposed to be “Shoujo”, apart from maybe the Hoshino Character Design? It doesnt seem to target any particular market, except maybe arthouse otakus – if they exist.

  7. vertigo chateau says:

    psgels, his parents didn’t die this episode. kanba was just hallucinating conversations with them. the body, however, was there yes.

  8. Anca says:

    Talking about shoujo, it blew my mind a bit when I realised that the analysis in Princess Tutu applied to this series as well. The person writing Iwa ni Hana already pointed out that Shouma is quite princely, but it took the last couple of episodes for that to really sink in. Shouma is the prince to Himari’s princess, Kanba is the knight and Ringo/Momoka is the duckling-swan. What does this mean for Himari and Ringo? We’re not done with Ringo yet. Not while Momoka remains so mysterious.

    And Ikuhara even made this obvious when he made a different set (although flawed) set around Ringo, but it’s been so long since I saw Princess Tutu.

    …yes, my thoughts are a mess.

  9. Sapphire says:

    I am a huge shoujo fan and I don’t really see how Mawaru fits the genre. The Survival Strategy looks a bit “mahou shoujo”, but that’s all. However, I agree that shoujo should be getting a lot more attention, it sure has a loyal audience.

    I liked this episode, it was able to reveal a few things without looking rushed. Shouma’s the only true Takakura, Himari’s part of the family because he chose her and Kanba’s the son of a family friend who died, who’s also Natsume’s and Mario’s father. I don’t get why Kanba neglected his true siblings, though. Why didn’t he stay with them? Why hasn’t he fought for Mario’s life too?

    I can’t stop wondering what Shouma’s role will be like. He’s always been the good guy, saving Himari from the Child Broiler and Ringo from being run over by a car, but he’s been too passive. He must have something crucial to do in the end.

    I hope the blond woman (can’t remember her name) didn’t die. I feel so sorry for her, I’d like to see her end well. And yes, Shouma’s parents didn’t die in this episode, Kanba’s hallucinating because of a strong desire to see them again, as Himari’s previous doctor said.

  10. manlyflower says:

    I still don’t understand basically anything about the Survival Strategy, the penguin hat, or the significance behind the actual penguindrum. It seemed like the series went in the direction of their lives over this and completely left behind explaining that stuff. I don’t know.

    Maybe I’m just slow, or maybe nothing has been said explicitly and they will reveal something in future episodes.

    But either way, this anime is continuing to be amazing. I had a suspicion that the parents were his hallucination, but the truth was even beyond that. Great series, and I hope it finishes just as well.

  11. c160 says:

    Like you said, Himari’s characterization has been great even though she seems to be more like a plot item the first half of the show. And with those teddies appearing next to her in the end, I have hopes for her.

    But the most important thing is that it will be really sad if Yuri gets it in this episode :( No more fabulous showdowns :(

  12. Puran says:

    @manlyflower: I don’t know if they will be explicitly explained before the end, but they will definitely throw more clues around. As it is now, there is barely enough hints to even theorize about the meaning of survival strategy.

  13. hikaru says:

    Errr, the impression I was getting this episode was that Sanetoshi is Kanba, Natsume (forgot her first name) and Mario’s dad…? And that he’s dead.

    This is all going to end up hinging on that trip to the Arctic or wherever that photo was taken. I hate it when anime series do that…

  14. Kim says:

    As others have said Penguindrum is not shoujo. It might have shoujo aesthetics (because Ikuhara just likes that) but shoujo is a target demographic aimed at young girls and there is no way Penguindrum is aimed at that audience.

    I would say it is more aimed at the art house crowd.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh%C5%8Djo_manga

    Also Himari has grown on me over the course of the series but I am not sure if I would say she is the most developed character, I think there is more to development then showing a character’s past. For me development is more how a character grows over the course of the series.

  15. Puran says:

    @Kim: The same can be said about Utena though, and it is generally accepted as a shoujo.

  16. mulligan says:

    I have underestimated this show. wow.

  17. Kim says:

    @Puran

    Well I never felt fully comfortable with calling Utena shoujo either. That being said at least in Utena’s case the anime is deconstructing elements you would find in a shoujo anime (and I believe there is a shoujo manga for the series).

    Besides shoujo art designs for Penguindrum, I don’t see anything that makes me think shoujo about this series.

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  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:30 AM)
    anyways, Shaft’s pretty much built on that “stagnating” style, it’d be like telling Apple to stop being UI-focused and open their walled garden up and be more like Android. Change is only desired when you don’t like something.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:24 AM)
    oh, when I said “more or less the same,” I meant that it’s easy to tell when they did something because you can recognize their trademarks from other works.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:22 AM)
    You’re not going to see any sudden, steep climbs of improvement, they’re already past that stage and into the subtleties of mastery.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:22 AM)
    They all have a style that’s more or less the same. It improves, but it’s only noticeable if you follow them closely. We’re talking about pros that are getting better at what they do, not just in purely visual means, but output efficiency, layout design, frame rate control, etc, while still trying to keep two subjects happy: their dedicated audience and themselves.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:19 AM)
    and I still don’t understand “stagnating.” It still sounds like “more of the same old, just in different strokes” which would refer to progressing consistency. Hiroyuki Imaishi, Mitsuo Iso, Masaaki Yuasa, Yo Yoshinari, Masahiro Ando, hell, let’s even throw in Shinichiro Watanabe.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:17 AM)
    even without the edits, they employ a nice modern style, focusing on sharp, sleek designs with lots of symmetry and emphasis on form. “detail” is exactly what I think when I see their architecture and environments just spiraling with mathematical forms and stylized lighting.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:09 AM)
    @K-Off as for Shaft’s backgrounds, Rebellion is enough to blow any viewer’s mind, new or veteran. Their TV series undergo tons of BD edits (as sites like Sankaku Complex will lovingly detail with hundreds of screenshot comparisons). Granted many of them can seem insignificant, but that’s attention to detail, no mistake, even if it’s unnecessary attention lol.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:04 AM)
    In either case, South Korea doesn’t have strong enough support for the animation industry to launch series of their own (else they’d probably go through everything Naver has). Not much point when dramas and games are more popular, thus draw in more money, and people can get their anime fix from Japan. Although with more global successes, it seems like there’s some rumbling in the industry, but likely most of these series are going to be like weekend morning offerings in the US.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 10:01 AM)
    Although that could also be because of the shifting to digital procurement of media.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Wednesday, Apr 23. 2014 09:59 AM)
    @K-Off just like in the US or even in motherland Japan, the hardcore anime communities are a small percentage of the overall population. I said stigma, but it’s not solely present in Korea. Animation in general is usually aimed at a younger audience. You could even say animation is somewhat suffering in the US, compared to perhaps back a decade ago when animated cartoons were filling timeslots to the brim.

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