Mawaru Penguindrum Review — A

As my regular readers already know, I adored this show. Now that it’s over and done with, I still think it was the best show of the year. I won’t try to give a summary, as anything I could say would not do it justice and be filled with spoilers.

What I love so much about Mawaru Penguindrum is how it’s chock-full of symbolism. Indeed, it’s magical. The show lets you think. It doesn’t force you to: it’s a great show on multiple levels. But I like to think, and Mawaru Penguindrum lets you. The show explores some interesting ideas, particularly regarding free will and fate, but much of the interpretation is left to the viewer.

Plot-wise, Penguindrum is full of twists, turns and surprises. You’ll rarely be able to predict what will happen next. The characters are engrossing: my favorite is Ringo Oginome, who is thoroughly endearing yet thoroughly insane.

The animation is filled with an eye for detail: just check out all the objects and symbolism in the background. One creative touch that I especially loved was how they made background characters into cardboard cutouts of people. It sounds like they were just being cheap, but it was actually a thoughtful choice.

In conclusion, go watch Penguindrum, it’s awesome.

  • Plot / Script – A – Clever, chock full of symbolism, twists and turns.
  • Characters – A – A large, fascinating and lovable cast.
  • Production – A – Great eye for detail, and excellent soundtrack.
  • Overall – A

Recommendations – Revolutionary Girl Utena, Star Driver, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei

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13 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum Review — A

  1. “Penguindrum is full of twists, turns and surprises.”

    I think you and I loved this show for roughly the same reasons. The symbolism kept my brain churning, and every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on, a new episode came out that blew away my expectations. Characters switch from being sweet to psychotic to endearing to hilarious to pitiable to … it is quite an experience.

  2. The biggest issues I had was just not picking up some of the meaning/symbolism, and also whether the characters were behaving realistically. Ringo quickly went from crazy to normal, and Yuri went from normal to crazy to normal…the changes might have been too fast to seem realistic.

    It’s probably the best show of the year…rest of the top 10 for me would be Nichijou, Gintama, Yuru Yuri, Manyuu Hikenchou, AnoHana, Fate/Zero, Kaiji S2, Madoka, and…hmm…probably Dororon Enma-Kun.

    1. I know I missed a ton of the symbolism as well (or interpreted it in a different way) but I’d rather be overwhelmed than underwhelmed. You don’t need to understand every detail to get the gist of it. The changes were too fast with those two (I wish Ringo never changed) but eh, whatever.

      I need to finish Dororon Enma-kun… and you keep tempting me to watch Manyuu Hikenchou, but I am afraid.

      As for the originality, no stories are entirely original. I think there are actually seven or eight on my favorite anime list that had a similar ending (friends / lovers torn apart). Which one were you thinking of?

      1. Yeah…more symbolism than I can interpret isn’t really a bad thing…it even adds rewatch value eventually. It’s the same with Tatami Galaxy. The characters changing isn’t much of an issue, I could nitpick literally every show I’ve seen

        Dororon Enma-kun and Manyuu are both really dumb. Enma-Kun was risque back in the 70s (before the billions of harems), so I like the retro feel for it. I believe you said you didn’t like Queen’s Blade, so I’d skip MH since they are similar.

        The ending of Peguindrum reminds me of…

        Sola. It reminds me of that because nobody remembers the characters who sacrificed at the end. Like you said though, no story is entirely original. But that immediately came to mind for me.

        1. Ah, that was one of the shows it reminded me of most too. Aside from the ending they were very different shows though.

          I won’t watch MH then.

  3. Also, the ending wasn’t really that original. It had the same feel as the ending of one of your top 25 shows. That’s just minor nitpicking though.

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