Mawaru Penguindrum was the most recent anime I’ve had the pleasure of watching. With the girl wearing a “magical girl” style costume on the dvd cover, and the adorable penguins appearing shortly into the beginning of the series, you might be mistaken into thinking that this is a cutesy, fluffy light hearted anime that will make you feel good, but lacks any real substance.
I thought this to begin with, and I was definitely mistaken. One of the core strengths of Penguindrum is that it keeps you interested from the beginning. The show revolves around a family of three youngsters, Himari, and her twin brothers – Shoma and Kanba. In true anime tradition, their parents are conveniently absent, something which later becomes an important plot element of the show.
Himari, unfortunately, is ill. Her brothers do everything they can for her, but one day she collapses, her luck run out. Fortunately, a penguin hat she bought and wore from an aquarium saves her, as it contains the spirit of a mysterious and bossy woman. This woman commands Shoma and Kanba that if they want to save Himari’s life, they will retrieve the penguindrum.
But what is the penguindrum?
This is one of many questions that unfold through the show. Fortunately, Penguindrum knows what it is doing, introducing a plethora of characters with their own motives and desires. Although it dabbles in the realms of fantasy, science fiction and thriller in an intriguing and visually stunning way, the characters remain the heart of the show, with frequent sliding to flashbacks to deepen the viewer’s emotional investment in the show.
I would categorise this as the best anime I’ve seen this year, with a solid 5/5. If you’re an anime fan, you should definitely give it a watch.
(And yes, that adorable stuffed penguin you see in the image is mine!)