Mawaru Penguindrum Episode One, Three Days After

My thought of episode 1 of Mawaru Penguindrum is not too dissmiliar to my thoughts after my first run-in with FLCL: very entertained, intrigued, very intrigued, rather. It’s got your Ikuhara-style sexuality (both visually and baked in the story) laced with hints of confusion. I think sexy-confusion is pretty sexy. It’s like a drug. And for that to work, it’s gotta haul butts on the technical; Penguindrum is quite the visually engrossed work. Arguably, it’s one of the best looking anime this year thus far. The sexuality piece is exactly how it plays in Utena. The fairy tale angle, too, except I don’t think that is being the focus this time. It’s too early to say too much about themes, although there’s a lot of food for thought already.

I’m also curious as to what others have to say about it. Below is a link list to other blogs that talked about the first episode. If I missed someone, it’s because I missed someone when I combed animenano’s feed. I’m sure plenty of people are talking about Penguindrum, so that’s going to happen.

And here they are, in no particular order:

Note on SHAFT: I think it’s very good that people are picking up that piece. Some of the directorial tricks are indeed seen in recent SHAFT works, extensively, and people picked them up. I already have made an argument about SHAFT-isms and its timing. I think Penguindrum would, too, be even more awesome if it aired in, say, 2009. Just so it can get more mileage out of the tricks nobody was using (so much) back then. Out of this sample of 22 posts only one person talked in depth about the typography and the communication design aspect. I thought that whole thing was a big part component of its visual presentation, and it’s also a thing Shinbo x SHAFT employed extensively. It is not without purpose, but for us avid viewers, especially the newer types, it’s going to be what we’re used to. I mean, I thought it was kind of interesting how it keeps on showing us train stuff. I guess we gotta wait until a train otaku blogs Penguindrum.

On that note, the Galactic Railroad thing is pretty neat. Good to see it in detail already.

No Responses to “Mawaru Penguindrum Episode One, Three Days After”

  • Mira

    Hatchimitsu – Points out the obvious, tries to judge by cover and fails.

    If I were pointing out the obvious everyone wouldn’t be so damn confused about the first episode. It’s the first episode, it’s not particularly easy to pick out every single detail from one. I’m not really judging Mawaru by cover, I’m just judging how I see fit– by the first episode. I slammed [C] pretty hard until the 4th episode and I loved it even though it was such a convoluted ending. First impressions are what they are, first impressions. And yes, I wasn’t impressed. Different strokes for different folks.

  • wah

    maybe i’ll watch it then

  • omo

    you probably should.

    Also, I think everyone invariably points out the obvious at this stage of the game. I could’ve said only “tries to judge by cover and fails” and I don’t think it matters very much. You’re free to write whatever you want, just as I am free to observe what I read.

  • Arabesque

    the Galactic Railroad thing is pretty neat

    Apparently one of the major plot points in the story is about trains, so it’s not much of a stretch to say that train lovers might like this show as well lol :P

    Shinbo x SHAFT employed extensively

    But used differently. I spoke with some about this, and aside from the two using similar styles (though Ikuhara gives more focus on the symbolic aspect of the show, while Shinbo x SHAFT focus on the stylistic side of things) I honestly prefer Ikuhara’s method for many reasons, chief among them is that Shinbo x SHAFT is really difficult to tell whether or not they are being clever or are cutting corners (e.g. Bakemonogatari Episode 2, with the cut out hands assaulting Hitagi. Many thought it was a creative approach to the scene, only for the BD to roll out and show that wasn’t the case).

    I really need to learn how to retrieve my Pixiv ID and Password sometime later …

  • omo

    Cutting corners? They all do. Ikuhara not excepted.

  • Hogart

    It’s tough to be hard on something so entertaining. It’s like episode one of Kore wa Zombie Desu ka, in that you HOPE it will maintain it’s weirdness and energy, except that here we know it can because of the team responsible for it. It exuded a sense confidence that I rarely feel in an anime these days, even the best ones.

    I also think they’ve blown away Shaft, personally. This not only felt confident, but also well-edited and cued; Shaft usually feels like they’re trying to cover for a lack of budget, ideas, and editing quality.. their symbolism often feels gratuitous to me, like they’re afraid of just going for gold and want to appear deeper than they are. No so here.

    Since I favor like the multi-layered and open-to-translation approach to storytelling, I’m hoping that’s what we get here. Or we could get another Zombie.

  • Joojoobeesoobees

    @Hogart: I don’t see this turning into another Zombie for just the reason you mentioned: the talent involved. While we can’t know how it will turn out yet, I think there is a lot of reason to have faith in the team.

  • Vucub Caquix

    We aren’t featured on nano yet (just a few more weeks until eligible) but my partner and I wrote about the philosophy, visual aesthetic and motifs and symbolism, and literary allusions in the opening episode. Care to take a peek?

  • omo

    Wow, you guys wrote a lot on just one episode. But good observations.

  • Arabesque

    Did you mean Ikuhara isn’t excluded from cutting corners as well? I don’t disagree with that, since even the biggest visionary need to compromise some parts of their work to make it work (well, not all of them) but the thing is with Shinbo x SHAFT is that whenever I see a TV episode of theirs the question pops into my mind of whether what I’m seeing is actually visually innovative, or were they running behind schedule again?

    It’s almost like an artiest putting for sale an incomplete painting. Doesn’t really sit well with me.

    @Vucub Caquix
    Great write up.

  • ubiquitial

    @ Whoever you are above me

    Can’t it be both? Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. The two do not have to be conflicting, after all.

  • omo

    It’s usually both. I personally don’t really care as much about the motivation behind it as much as the functional results… In SHAFT’s case, it’s easy to tell just by checking the DVDs :)

  • ubiquitial

    Or the blu-rays. Those gorgeous blu-rays.

  • Arabesque


    (not sure why you referred to me as Whoever)

    Fair enough. I guess I’m simple burned out by seeing SHAFT making episodes looking like picture drama’s a lot of the time that it coloured my impression about whatever they do.

    I guess as long as the BD’s come out looking great, it doesn’t matter how it looks on TV.

  • omo

    Picture dramas are anime too…as long as they’re animated.

    I don’t hold such a bias, but I get where you’re coming from. Usually it’s a sign that you may have been watching too much anime. Or need a cup of perspective (see: 90% of anime in the 90s).

  • ubiquitial

    @ Arabeskee

    Personally, I find the flashing frames and unique atmosphere a welcome change from most anime.

  • Arabesque


    (… why did you spell my name wrong?)

    Right, and I like that as well about them. What I don’t like is stuff like Hidamari Sketch episode 1o for example, where they just write ”Here is Mt.Fuji” because they didn’t have enough time to draw it in, or Bakemonogatari episode 10 where they couldn’t animate the rest of the episode (and then proceed to go and blog about 2ch’s response in SZS -_-)

    So yeah. Making a unique atmosphere: Good. Not fully animating an episode: Not Good.

  • Sapphire Pyro

    “•Daydream Sanctuary – Night on the Galatic railroads, again. Characterization check, theme threading, too fab.”
    = I only mentioned it… but didn’t really talk about the Night on Galactic Railroad stuff much ^^;

    Yay to list *_* I think I missed a lot of them, ahaha.

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