_ Mawaru Penguindrum aired during the summer 2011 season and comes from the creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena which is reflected in this series. I’m of course talking about Kunihiko Ikuhara in his first series directing role since Utena and he hasn’t lost his, to put it politely, uniqueness. His usual themes are in play: question of fate, surrealism, and Takarazuka.
_ The story follows the three Takakura siblings, Shouma, Kanba, and Himari. In the first episode alone Himari dies, is revived, and then has a minute long, surreal, magical girl-esque transformation to a cover of ARB’s “Rock Over Japan.” Also the ending themes, aside from the first one, are covers of ARB’s songs by the in-series band Triple-H. While it would probably be funny hearing Paul Levesque singing at all, much more in Japanese, the series isn’t that weird. The possessor (known as the Princess of the Crystal in supplementary materials) uses Himari’s body to communicate to the Takakura brothers to set up the plot. The Takakura's also get three invisi-penguins, one for each of them, that help them out with various tasks. If you think I've dropped some serious spoilers I haven't, everything I’ve talked about so far happens in the first episode, but we’re not done yet because after all of this Kanba kisses his sister while she sleeps, that’s right we’ve got incest in play, thanks Ikuhara.
_ If you thought Mawaru Penguindrum started out crazy, nonsensical and strange, it gets even stranger adding in more characters like Ringo Oginome. Himari's Possessor told the Takakura brothers to follow her as she may have a hint to the Penguindrum. She has an obsessive desire with the Takakura brother’s teacher, Keiju Tabuki, and when I say obsessive I mean she wants to have his child by any means necessary. The problem is he has a girlfriend the Takarazuka actor Yuri Tokikago. Naturally a love triangle is formed and is just as weird as this series is and the solution in later chapters is even more unique than the triangle itself. Another character introduced is Masako Natsume who who has a laser-sighted slingshot and she has an obsession with Kanba. However, with those additions to the plot, the series takes a more dramatic turn, not by much, but it’s obvious to a careful viewer the show is not as nonsensical as the first episode suggests. To cover up this slight shift in drama the series has a musical episode which almost turned me off the series. The viewer can only suspend disbelief so much even if the episode is designed to set up a character trait.
_ Around the midpoint it seems like it’s one of those shows that justify why people think that anything from Japan is weird and/or crazy. However, the plot kicks in and the main plot centers on the Sarin Gas attacks in ’95 claiming the lives of thirteen people. The series was also timed to align with the convicted conspirators last appeals. As the story shifts to this darker turn the more nonsensical and humorous parts of the show are slowly filtered away leaving behind only dark surrealism. Earlier references to "super frog saves tokyo" (not to mention "after the quake" as a whole) and "Night on the Galactic Express" are expanded upon and explained.
_ I would love to give this show a full score, but I can’t do that. While the series is iconic, parts of its execution and content will turn some viewers away. This show wants to make the viewer question their perceived reality and scenes that are usually portrayed as funny are portrayed as horrific as they should be. Parts of the plot weren't completely tied together which is expected from a this type of series, but there were parts that bugged me because they weren't filled in. I personally loved this series despite its faults and it is my favorite of the 2011 year. I thought it was going to be between Madoka and Mirai Nikki. However, Madoka is much too dark for the average viewer and Mirai Nikki has a lot of problems with its background music. Overall I give this series 4.5/5.0 as it makes you cross cultures to learn about an event that effected the country. Further, it suggests reading material for the viewer to expand their worldview while taking it's time to make a interesting plot. The show even takes time to flesh out it's secondary characters.
_ Though, with trying to spoil very little, I want to say that the ending to this series was what the original Evangelion should’ve been like, or to put it this way it was Evangelion’s ending done well.
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