The three Takakura siblings Shouma, Kanba, and Himari are orphans who live together in a small house in Tokyo. Their parents disappeared several years ago, causing the three of them to lose faith in their futures. To make matter’s worse Himari is diagnosed with an incurable illness and the thought of her dying when they least expect it is a heavy burden on the family.
One day the trio takes a trip to the Zoo and Shouma buys Himari a strange penguin-shaped hat at the gift shop. Himari collapses shortly after and is taken to the hospital when suddenly her life is saved by a strange sprit that dwells inside the hat. The spirit gives Kanba and Shouma a mission. In exchange for extending Himari’s life they are to obtain an item known as the Penguindrum with the help of three strange Penguins that mysteriously appear before them.
Mawaru Penguindrum, directed by Kunihito Ikuhara who also created the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. It aired from July-Decemeber 2011. Penguindrum alludes to Utena and has the same sort of theme existing within both. Penguins are present almost everywhere just like roses are in Utena(used as symbolism and overall theme item of the anime). To me Mawaru Penguindrum is the successor of Utena, but it has its own tricks and charms that differentiate the two.
First of all, the characters and their likenesses are certainly one of the strongest points of the anime. Character designer Lilly Hoshino did a stellar job at breathing life into this complex and diverse cast. All three of the Takakura siblings form an excellent main cast, supporting each-other in good times and bad. It was heart wrenching to see Shouma and Kanba breakdown while Himari suffered from her decease, but the two of them have such strong chemistry that their wills to stay together as a family overcame the drama. All three of the penguins provide zany comedic relief even in moments of seriousness, much like Chuchu the monkey did in Utena. Then there was Ringo. Just your average 16 year old who harbors some of the strongest motives of all the cast. I was suppressed at the amount of dedication she showed early in the show to her mission. Overall, Ringo showed the most growth when it came to maturity out of the entire main cast by the time the anime was over. There were a few minor characters that did little for the show but that is to be expected.
Animation wise everything looks beautiful and colorful. Everything is detailed so nicely, especially all of the little trinkets in the Takakura house hold. In each episode there is a video on the subway train, featuring Hikari and Hibari of the idol group Double H that said, “Today’s Slogan. The viewer is treated to a cometic massage from these two girls that foreshadows upcoming mishaps. These actions that Double H preform are more commonly known as Greek chorus.
I do have one tiny complaint though… when the camera focuses on a group of characters from far away their faces tend to look less detailed. Its something you can over look and thankfully it didn’t hamper with my viewing experience. Still the ending sequences and most of the end of episode illustrations more then make up it.
Music and sound is top notch all through out the anime. The stories varied emotion is perfectly enhanced by its lovely soundtrack. So many different styles of music included classical, jazz, pop, and electronic. The coolest and most unexpected element in the series that pertains to music comes in the form of one of the insert songs called, Rock Over Japan, witch is a remake of ARB a Japanese 80’s rock band’s hits.
Altogether each of the elements mentioned above and many others make Mawaru Penguindrum an enjoyable watch. The plot is climactic and each episode kept me wanting more. Mawaru Penguindrum gets a 10/10.