Mawaru Penguindrum – 02 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 15 July 2011

“Which holes do her legs go through?”
“Fool, those holes lead to the Cosmos.”

-Shouma/Kanba @ a lingerie store

Good lord, that was an awesome, brilliant piece of entertainment. If anything, better than the first episode, since some things were already established. This just added more. More places, more people, more layers of story, more comedy, more mysteries; more lingerie and more stalking!

It’s all in the details: For instance, there’s a little animated PSA on the Sky Metro in which warns against groping in no uncertain terms…then Shouma is accused of just that, groping a girl on the train because his preguin friends (whom no one else can see) did so. That girl just happens to be friends with the person Shouma and Kanba are tailing – Ringo Oginome – the proverbial apple in the OP and ED. Ringo loves fate.

Hardly anything we’d seen from Ringo seemed all that suspicious, but it turns out she’s far from normal, compulsively stalking a teacher she’s fallen for (lying on a blanket under his house listening to him) as the brothers stalk her (with their penguins acting as their eyes and ears). While Himari is wearing her penguin hat, she has another “Incoming Message From The Big Giant Head” moment, ordering the bros to fetch the Penguindrum from Ringo. Problem is, she doesn’t tell them what it is.

So now, having followed Ringo, and learned the stalked is also a stalker, they have to gain possession of something they know not what from someone who is clearly unstable. Hell, she herself could be the drum thing. Who knows? All we know is, this episode was fantastic, and we can’t wait for the next one.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 01 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 6 Jul 2011 – Like Bakemonogatari, Puella Magi Madoka Magica immediately establishes itself as a very stylish enterprise. Very architectural, too. Ordinary settings like a house and a school are grand, impressive postmodern cathedrals. The polarizing Akiyuki Shinbo reminds me somewhat of Wes Anderson; with the tendency for his ‘camera’ to hang back and dwell on things and the careful attention to minute visual details. We like it.

We’ve never watched a pure “Maho Shojo” anime before, and it seems with Puella Magi, we still won’t; it’s obvious Shinbo wants to put a spin on the genre to shake it up a bit, while adding his signature (and very noticeable) style(s). The character design is simple, but clean. As discussed, the architecture is awesome and the entire world is bright and hopeful…until a witch shows up and starts bending everyone’s perception of it. The animation used there reminded me of the frenetic, freewheeling opening of (Goku) Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei.

Our protagonist Madoka (Aoi Yūki) and her friend Sayaka (Eri Kitamura) are faced with a choice right off the bat: continue their regular high school lives, or step into the world of magic. It isn’t for the faint-hearted: Homura Akemi (Chiwa Saito), who shows up both in Madoka’s dream and at her real-life school, warns her not to partake it if she loves her family and friends. But of course, she will enter the magical world. That’s what this is all about. We’ll see where this goes.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Mawaru Penguindrum – 01 (Retro Review)

Rather than posting nothing during the weekly gap between Monday and Thursday, we’ll be posting “Retro Reviews” of episodes we’ve watched in the past, cleaned up a bit and updated with our new ratings. We’re starting with three of our favorite series of the past couple years: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Shiki, and Mawaru Penguindrum.

Originally posted 8 July 2011 – Wow…very nice! we weren’t expecting all that. We like surprises, and with Mayo Chiki looking so disappointing, we picked this up series instead. We almost immediately liked it. It has such a bright, shiny, colorful presentation. Its characters are full of life…even if they die briefly.

Brothers Shoma and Kanba have to take care of their terminally ill little sister, Himari (Amazingly, she doesn’t sport white or silver hair). Funnily enough, their hair (blue, red, and yellow, respectively) is the same triad as Star Driver. Anyway, after a lovely day when she’s allowed out of the hospital, she suddenly collapses and is rushed back, where she dies. Shoma muses about the age old question of why God lets bad things happen to good people.

But then something happens he knew to be impossible: Himari wakes up. While wearing a creepy penguin headdress he bought her at the zoo gift shop, she seems to be possessed by some strange entity – which may be an extradimensional penguin. She’s good as new, so they go home, and a frozen package containing ominous ice eggs awaits them. Like the dragon eggs in Game of Thrones, these are valuable things.

When they hatch, they become adorable little blue penguin helpers that only the siblings can see. But the opening credits write some big checks that suggest the three siblings will have to pay those extradimensional beings back in exchange for the miracle of extending Himari’s life. What exactly that recompense is, we’ll learn more next week. Really fun and zany introduction. Major style points throughout. We particularly like how Tokyo Metro signage is used in all transitions, and the coaltar of the deepers ED rocks.


Rating: 9 (Superior)