Monday, 15 April 2013

Mawaru Penguindrum Set 1
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 276 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: 6/5/2013
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Himari lives with her two brothers, Kanba and Shoma and as she only has a month to live, they try to make her existance as worthwhile and happy as possible. They take her to fun places like a sea life centre as she has told them before she wants to see the penguins and sea otters in as near a natural habitat as they can. The brothers know her conditon is serious, but are still living in hope they will find a cure for her soon.

When the brothers go to see the doctor again about their sister's condition, they are shocked and horrified that he can't do anything for her, the doctor goes on to say that he can only do what he is able, and that he is not a god and can't do miracles. This leaves the brothers unhappy, and that there is no god at all, or if he does exist, he must be as cruel as hell. On their last visit to the sea life centre, they give Himari a bit of time to let her hair down a bit before she resigns to her cruel fate, but when she faints through exhaustion part of the way around, the brothers don't know what to do. All they know is that when she wears the penguin hat the brothers bought her, she comes back to life - but not as her true self - she has been taken over by the Princess of the Crystal, a strange entity that tells them if they want their sister to be well all the time,  they must bring her the penguin drum to make it happen.

Kanba and Shoma are happy that they have their sister back, but also annoyed that every so often, she becomes the Princess of the Crystal., and what is more, they have no idea what the penguin drum is, or even if it exists in this world. They like it even less that they have a special delivery sent to them after this has all happened; a set of frozen penguins who have since thawed in the living room and act as helpers to the princess. Each penguin has a different set of personality traits, and they get given numbers so they know who they are at any given time; one likes eating, another likes spraying cockroaches and flies, while the other gets stuff stuck to him. One thing they all are is naughty. They are also helpers to the brothers, who find it harder than ever to locate the penguin drum, even going so far as to think it's a figment of their deluded sister's imagination.

The princess/Himari orders Kanba and Shoma to watch over another girl, Ringo, who she believes she can seek her destiny through another girl's private diary - she attempts to do everything this girl did and hopes that she can become the reincarnation of her one day. Ringo, unfortunately can't change what others do, or think and finds it hard to watch the man she sees as her destiny to meet getting engaged to another woman. Kanba and Shoma have to watch her, and are brought in to help her get her wishes at times and that can cause more trouble than they want.

For those who  have watched the show, they should by now remember a previous series, Revolutionary Girl Utena as the artwork style is almost identical - it should be, it was made by the same director, Kunihiko Ikuhara. There are several scenes that are too funny to miss; when one of the brothers are at the supermarket and he can't find anything in the aisles, then gets helped by a penguin; the brothers chasing a truck through town when the penguin hat has got stuck to it, and subsequently the penguins end up nearly getting injured trying to get it; the fact that no one else can see the penguins makes for a fun time as girls can't see them looking up their skirts or eating their bento boxed lunches! Penguin Drum Set 1 uses flashbacks to tell the story through past events from each of the characters. It is a comedy full of errors all caused by the princess and her penguins. Most of the story is funny, but there is one thing that is slightly annoying; and it's the overuse of Himari shouting "Survival testing," when she changes into the princess. This tends to happen in every episode, and can get on the nerves after the third time. If you can look beyond this like I did, then you are in for a great series, as a good part of the humour is Revolutionary Girl Utena based. There is something infectious about this anime that kept me watching. It's the music, the characters, the humour and most of all, the pesky penguins.

Bonus Material: Promotional Video, Opening Song, Ending Song.

Verdict: Two brothers, a sister, three penguins and a princess - go figure, you'll have fun finding out what this amazing anime is all about!

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