5 Aug 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum - 05

Before I even finish writing the last (and-one-month-late) Summer 2011 Impressions, I HAVE to talk about Mawaru Penguindrum.

A little introduction:

Written and directed by Ikuhara Kunihiko (of Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena fame), it garnered attention for its staff list as well as the mysterious lack of information in the teasers and trailers. The synopsis for Penguindrum went something like this: The story centers around three siblings, twins Kanba and Shouma, and their terminally ill sister, Himari Takakura. It seems like the recipe for a perfect tearjerker as the brothers do whatever they can to save their precious sister. And then a teaser trailer was released:

Needless to say, people couldn't make heads or tails after seeing that. It seemed like a weird comedy/slice-of-life series. But there was so much potential for good drama that I resisted in believing it would be dumbed down like that. Moreover, lots of people were expecting a Madoka-style twist since it had a similar lack-of-information-in-trailers marketing tactic. We didn't have to wait long. The first episode blew me away. Probably the best first impression ever (or as good as Cross Game and FLCL). It had a good mix of weirdness and drama. The art and animation is good. But most importantly, Ikuhara Kunihiko did one hell of a job blending visuals, audio, and story into one tight episode.

Episode 5

Fast forward a few episodes and we have Ikuhara Kunihiko back on board doing the storyboard. He is credited in "Director", "Series Composition", "Script", and "Sound Director" every episode, but has only done storyboards for episode 1 and 5 so far. This is my only clue as to why episodes 1 and 5 were so much better than the rest (don't get me wrong, episodes 2 and 3 were quite good as well, but episode 4 was mediocre).

Choked full of little twists, references, and symbolism, it manages to be weird and confusing, but still very entertaining. The two mysterious girls in the hospital scene still eludes me; did I miss something somewhere? Nevertheless, they had me intrigued and at the edge of my seat as Kanba chased down the "GOOD-BYE" delivery truck to save his sister. Hmm... reminds me of a certain scene in Madoka!

Ikuhara-san is on storyboards again next week, so I can't wait to see this quarter-way point climax!

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