Review: Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum

Alex: Well…this has certainly been one hell of a show. We’ve been through sad times, mad times, crazy times, hair-pulling-out-rage-inducing times, and some moments where you just think “what the hell is going on”. And then…we’ve been through some of the most epic, creative moments and plot twists to grace anime for a very long time. But much like it’s story, Mawaru Penguindrum is very much a show of two halves.

But, I think that’s all up to how you decide to view the story. The story could be split into seven parts, it could be split into two parts, or it could not be split at all. But what is it about? Well…it’s a tragic story of people fighting fate. It may not look like that from the screenshots, but that’s because some amazing artistic direction and creativity have been used to make this story come alive. A seemingly sad drama of a girl who was mocked by fate itself turns into an epic of people fighting for life after death, people coming back from the dead and fate transfers. Does that make any sense?

Well, let me ask this question. Did Penguindrum ever say that it would make sense? I think it’s like all true pieces of art, you can’t actually tell what the artist wanted to convey to you unless you ask them directly…you can only take your own views on it. Granted, it may be horribly confusing, it may be full of twists and turns and upside-down plot twists and episodes which don’t make any sense and things which are beyond your understanding. But we’re just a bunch of lowlifes who will never amount to anything if we don’t try to make sense of the ridiculous.

Don’t ignore the heart. Penguindrum’s heart is pure and made of diamonds, even though it may be covered by veils and whatever you can call some of the episodes. In terms of pure creativity, Penguindrum surpasses almost everything. Nothing can come close to the creative vibes that ooze from this show, and even the art and sound are one of a kind. The story is jaw-droppingly amazing if you can make sense of it, but your view of it will probably differ from mine. And because of that, Penguindrum jumps to around the top of a list of shows that i’d strongly suggest people watch.

Now, to close this in proper Penguindrum style…

Seizon Senryaku. Watch this show or you’ll get stuck in a dead end fate. 

Alex’s Score: 9.5 Meeps out of 10 (Great)

Dusk’s Score: 10 Meeps out of 10 (Masterpiece)


5 thoughts on “Review: Mawaru Penguindrum

  1. Well, this was something I never planned on watching, yet I got somewhat interested when I heard everyone saying how crazy it was (though some would mean it as a good thing, and others as a bad one).
    After reading your opinion on it, I’m pretty sure this is the first thing I’ll watch in 2012. After all, never once I got disappointed when I picked up stuff due to your (and Mimi’s) reviews^^

    • It wasn’t exactly the first thing I watched but… I finally got around to it this week. And I must say: I absolutely LOVED it. This series is probably the best directed thing I’ve ever watched, and manages to tell a rather coherent story without ever pretending not to be the concept artistic showcase it is.
      I loved the characters, it made me laugh and cry and, above all, it made me think and reflect both to make sense of the plot (which I agree it’s pretty good) and simply to reflect on more abstract questions provoked by the themes they touched. I love it to bits. The 5th 10/10 in my list (7th if you count movies) and the best out of the shows I only watched due to your reviews. (I might actually show you a list one of these days xD)

        • Sure thing, here is the stuff I watched due to the reviews I read in this blog:

          Tegami Bachi (8/10): Really heartwarming show. I thought an anime about delivering letters was kinda stupid but Mimi’s review convinced me to watch this. I was really surprised at how good it actually was at the beginning and I really loved both the scenarios (always night! such a wonderful blue tonality…) and the idea of a profoundly segregated society but that huge amount of fillers and the underdevelopment of the aforementioned idea which carried so much potential ended up disappointing me.

          Tegami Bachi: Reverse (9/10): Well, I’ve only watched the second season because I watched the first, so technically this is also thanks to your review. I thought this season had everything that I felt was missing from the first. They finally explore that potential I saw with the setting and go on with a more linear and exciting narrative. The character development here was also really good for pretty much everyone, and I planed on giving this a 10/10 but the ending made me change my mind. I was left wondering what really happened in the Day Of The Flicker, what Lag really is, what’s his mother’s role at Akatsuki and what were the government true intentions. It also pissed me off that Amberground continues on with that stupid hierarchy system and no one seems to care. But overall it was a great anime which made my Top 15.

          Shiki (9/10): A great horror. Some say it was slow, but I found it thrilling from beginning to end. I love how they didn’t portray either humans or vampires as being morally correct. It was simply a fight for survival, and showed how awful human nature can be in despairing situations. Both sides did horrible things and both sides did some really altruistic acts as well. It was something I truly enjoyed.

          Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (7/10): Here’s where I probably disagree the most with both of you. The mystery was really good, and I loved how it kept me thinking and guessing, despite the fact half of my guesses are still unconfirmed since I have yet to watch the second season. However, and despite how interesting the plot actually was, I found myself somehow bored by the show. First of all, I found most “stuff” more disgust-inducing than actually scary, though that’s not exactly bad. And then there’s the fact that any peaceful moments (most first episodes of each arc) were really boring since I didn’t like any of the characters besides Shion. The second negative part is the animation. Because I’ve seriously seen older shows with better animation. And I just raged at one scene where Rena was speaking on the phone and the wire lead to nowhere, being cut halfway through the floor. As illusions were a relevant topic in the series, I thought it was actually relevant and got quite annoyed when I finally understood it was just an animation mistake… Despite that, it was still a good watch, and I do plan on watching the second season soon to get my answers.

          Kuragehime (8/10): It was one of those shows I’d never think of picking up, but I guess I ended up enjoying it quite a lot. It was… different, for the lack of better words. I think they tackled a quite interesting subject of how external beauty can so easily be artificially simulated that it’s rendered a pretty much useless quality. I also believe this is a great self-esteem booster for some girls out there.

          Tiger & Bunny (9/10): When choosing my seasonal anime and looking at the poster and name, I instantly ruled out this from my line-up. I mean who would have seriously thought that behind the ridiculous name, over-the-top character designs, completely strange (albeit original) and full of ad-placement setting and ridiculous mecha, there was a well executed story, supported by an great crazy cast of characters and quite an amount of originality? It was your review alone that made me pick this up.
          Throughout the first half of the series, I saw only one thing wrong with it: the unbelievable amount of coincidences there was. So I was really please when that apparent fault turned into a pretty nice plot twist with the revealing of the Major’s alliance with Ouroboros. I loved the main characters, I liked that the heroes all got their little time to shine (except for Rock Bison, but he was my least favorite from the start anyway) and I loved how the themes portrayed reflected, most of the time, family-related issues.
          I still had some qualms with the amount of angst in Barnaby’s little arc and the lack of conclusion regarding Ouroboros. But that were simply minor issues in a otherwise pretty good series.

          Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (10/10): Unlike you, I don’t hate shounen anime (though I can barely stand the long-running ones), but your review got me really curious at how a shounen title could impress a shounen hater. A great adventure story with good plot and characters? Then it’s my thing. I totally don’t regret my decision of watching it, as it is still on my top 5 (watched it in June 2011).

          Then there was also a title I watched due to being on Mimi’s top list, which was Bokurano (9/10). I really liked it too, it had quite the nice plot that got better as it went on, but it was, above all, a great collection of short tales about what different people would do if they knew they’d be dying soon. Seriously, it made me think about what I’d do. Would I want to spend those days in peace (wtahcing anime xD)? Would I have something to correct in my life? Would I get into despair and simply cry? And the worst is that they have the responsibility of the fate of the planet in their hands and have to handle the unfairness of knowing that they’ll die whether they succeed or not. If anything, while it didn’t allow me to get too attached to most of the characters (because death would shortly follow their development), it was surely a clear and interesting insight into their psyche, and for that, it was also pretty good.

          And to finish this unusually huge comment (I’m sorry, but I always do this whenever I want to express my opinion on something. I hate it but it’s hard to avoid it…), there are also some things that I plan on watching specifically because of your reviews and/or presence in your top lists. That would be Last Exile, Mushishi, Ghost in the Shell, Towards the Terra, The Chevalier d’Eon, Michiko to Hatchin, El Cazador De La Burja, Otome Youkai Zakuro, Natsume Yuujinchou, and possibly also Inu x Boku SS.

          (This isn’t, of course, all that you’ve reviewed and I’ve also watched, but all I watch and plan on watching specifically due to your reviews and descriptions on your Top anime page, as in those were the things that picked my interest about the series for the first time.)

          Sorry about the huge and comprehensive list… ^^”

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