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)

Advertisements

Hagure Yuusha no Estetica – 01

Ousawa Akatsuki is returning to the normal world after a long stint as a “hero maverick” in another dimension, after having defeated the Demon King Garinth. He has brought with him the daughter of Garinth, Myuu, who he passes off as his long-lost little sister as they undergo preliminary exams at Babel, a school that helps Akaksuki and other victims of “Samon Syndrome” polish and control the powers they gained in the other dimension. The student council president, Hikami Kyouya, takes an interestin both, as a prophecy states Ousawa will rise to become “True Hero” and “Supreme King.”

The concept of ordinary people who are transported to other dimensions and take on the persona of epic heroes, only to return to earth with the same powers – is not a terrible one. Where this series really falls flat on its face is in the execution, right from the start. An initially interesting-looking chase scene at the beginning ends with the hero relieving all his attackers (all maids, natch) of their bras, instantly eliminating any and all dignity and solemnity. Har har.

Visually speaking, the character design is dull, and many scenes are over-saturated or washed out by light, obscuring faces and details. The choice to mention and show Myuu’s boobs – purely for the sake of mentioning and showing her boobs – leads us to predict that future episodes will expand on this topic…and like Akatsuki’s cocky playa attitude and his albino rival Kyouya’s evil grins, we see that getting old fast.


Rating: 4 (Fair) (dropped)

Mawaru Penguindrum 1 – First Impressions

Wow…very nice! I wasn’t expecting all that. I like surprises, and with Mayo Chiki looking so disappointing, I picked this up instead. I 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 isn’t rail-thin and white-haired). In fact, 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. I particularly like how Tokyo Metro signage is used in all transitions. Oh yeah, coaltar of the deepers end music…nice.  Rating: 4