Posted by psgels 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:

    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:

    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.

    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:


    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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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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