Well, this certainly was a rollercoaster ride.

Mawaru Penguindrum centers around the Takakura family, namely the brothers Shouma and Kanba and their sister Himari. One day while visiting the zoo, Himari drops dead, causing dismay for their brothers. A previously bought souvenir however, revives her, and in a dreamlike world, tells the brothers to find the Penguindrum to keep her alive. This is the beginning of an adventure to find said object, and while doing so they encounter various hindrances.

I'm not exactly sure what to write about the story and pacing of Penguindrum. It's mysterious, and every other episode ends with with more questions than before, while uncovering the exact amount of information to keep you hooked and not overly confused (if you can handle the massive intake of information). While the final episodes definitely amplify the amount of questions you'll end up asking yourself, that's probably what will keep you going.

Characters in Penguindrum aside of the Takakura family all play a certain role in the story, receiving attention in short sequences in episodes or sometimes side-arcs uncovering their personality, desires and reasoning for certain actions. Another huge part in personalities are the Takakura brothers and their care for their sister Himari, who is the only family they have left. This feels really authentic, not just in the way they act and talk to her, but also in the actions they are pursuing to keep their sister at their side, creating a feeling of compassion for the viewer towards the Takakura family.

Dialogue and representation of the characters is tied to their personalities, having a wide repertoire of shy and reclusive to very outgoing and direct. Depending on situations, certain characters will go out of character, like a switch being flicked, and their manic self is a suprise to the image they give away usually. Besides that, we are following high school students in their usual lively endeavours, love and past love, conflicts and more.

Visually, Mawaru Penguindrum is an ordinary anime, the style doesn't divert much from usual anime in it's general direction, what's special about it are the details outside of that. Non-relevant characters are displayed as simple and flat boldly-outlined silhouttes. Scenes that are playing in dreams or in the imagination can end up dazing, colorful and vivid, and sometimes scenes just radiate the dark mood they are meant to have with dark base colors and bright red lines and symbols. A lot of the iconography and design of Penguindrum and it's inserts is based on subway/trainline looks, so when characters travel between locations the viewer gets the exact station names shown. The progress through the entirity of the series is also denoted in a subway line, which is visible at the end of the first part of the episode. The several types of penguin illustrations combined with that very simply aesthetic give the series it's own look and flair.

In terms of audio, Penguindrum delivers a solid soundtrack accompanying the different situations our characters will find themselves in. Over the course of the 24 episodes, there will be a multitude of EDs that will sometimes reflect on an episode or foreshadow the mood of the next one coming up, tying us closer to just keep on going. One of the definitive highlights of the show is Triple-H's cover of the song "Rock Over Japan", which is used quite often over the course of the series, and you might just end up humming or singing along when it comes up!

While the huge flood of information, relationships between the characters, details to look for and the general upkeep of the mystery might not be for everyone, I'd definitely recommend Mawaru Penguindrum to the people that have been eyeing to watch it, but beware, it will not make it easy for you to stop once you're in.

Now, there's not much more left for me to say, except for maybe...


90 /100
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