First Impressions: Mawaru Penguindrum

Cmon in, we’re all celebrating Himari Day!

Hello all! Oh man, summer animes are already here and so far it’s been a blast! I just finished going through the slice of life, adventure and action genre animes. So now I’m on to the psychological, magical and fantasy type! Indeed, I have no idea what to expect considering the little amount of information given on this anime. But hey! Expect some trippy stuff from the creators of Utena.
With little warning and only the slightest of hints, Mawaru Penguindrum had left otaku scratching their heads with uncertainty. It would involve penguins, we knew that much. Finally, everything has been revealed!
This show, no matter how many times I look at the PVs, is still really mysterious to me. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen, but I’ve caught glimpses of the art and it’s GORGEOUS. Needless to say, I am super excited!!!
Hi folks! Brains Base puts out their 3rd anime of the Summer season, and this one’s a real wild one to start! Kunihiko Ikuhara is back after a long hiatus to bring us this tale of 3 siblings… and PENGUINS!!! So, thank you my kawaii penguin nakama! Let’s get started with the episode!

The show has an opening narration by Shouma questioning “fate”, which leads into the opening, “Nornir” by Ruetsuko Yakushima Metropolitan Orchestra.

We’re introduced to our main characters, the Takakura siblings. Shouma (blue hair bishie), Kanba (red hair bishie) and Himari are enjoying a meal that the boys have prepared. The love these kids have for each other is gushing all over the place.

The first of two flashback scenes has the bishie brothers in the hospital with a doctor overlooking some test results. The doctor says that there’s not much they can do for her (Himari) and Kanba flips his lid on the doctor, wondering what doctor would say out loud that there’s nothing they can do to save her.

How nice of you to let me know a flashback scene is coming

As Himari declares that today is Himari Day, a couple of kids walking home from soccer practice are talking about the importance of the apple and that things aren’t over when you’re dead. And on Himari Day, the siblings go to the aquarium to see penguins. As they ride the train, Himari pleads with her brothers to do their impressions of the animals from the aquarium.

On Himari Day, we curl up on the couch and huggle pillows

As they enjoy the penguins waddling around, Kanba gets a call and the other two go to the gift shop. After looking at some dolls, Himari finds a penguin hat that she really likes, and Shouma especially approves! As Shouma is buying her hat, Kanba comes and asks Shouma where Himari went. Not knowing what happened to her, they run, only to find her laying on the ground unconscious. After they rush to the ER room, Himari apparently realizes not much can be done, says goodbye to Kan and Sho, and then flatlines.

Kanba – “Penguins aren’t so special.” Shouma – “Dude. you talkin shit about PENGUINS!!!!”


The bishie brothers stay by Himari’s bedside, and Kan admits that the doctor wasn’t a quack at all and starts to call their uncle Ikebe for help, which Sho-chan doesn’t take too kindly to and tackles Kan. Out of nowhere, Himari sits straight up and yells, “SURVIVAL STRATEGY!” with her penguin hat on. A possessed Himari explains that she’s extended her life, and before she can tell them how to save her, her penguin hat falls off and we see Himari return to her more common state. The siblings go back home and continue living in “bliss”, followed by another well-timed flashback scene with the doctor saying it’s a miracle that her condition has healed.

Nonononononono Himari, it wasn’t what it looked like!

A mysterious package arrives for the Takakuras in the mail, but before they can get past the ice and the blue metal blocks, Shouma has to leave. After running into a buddy, Shouma finds himself in annoying situations, from forgetting a bus pass to missing out on cabbage to not having an umbrella. A little penguin appears each time, giving him what he needs and then disappearing. Weirded out by the penguin and the fact that two people walking out of the convenient store can’t see it, Shouma runs home. At the house, the penguins are doing household chores, like knitting and using bug spray on some creepy crawlers.

It’s time for some FABULOUS! The penguin hat appears yet again on Himari, and after yelling, “SURVIVAL STRATEGY!” we get a trippy scene accompanied by the song “ROCK OVER JAPAN” by Triple H. Himari emerges from the mecha-esque machine in a whole new sexy outfit, trapping her brothers and explaining some more about how they are lowlifes and that there’s a price for Himari’s continued-past-expiration life. After Shouma gets the classic Mr. Burns’ send-off, Himari initiates the “SURVIVAL STRATEGY!” on Kanba, with her clothes coming undone and reaching into Kanba’s chest and pulling out what can be presumed as his heart.

Seizon Senryaku!

Just wondering. JUST WONDERING.

After SURVIVAL STRATEGY wraps up, it’s nighttime and Shouma is dreaming in his sleep and Kanba is sitting by Himari’s bedside looking over her.As the lights dim, he says, “just wondering” and then goes to give Himari what can only be assumed a kiss on the lips. Before we see lips touch, the scene cuts to outside the house. Cue the ending “DEAR FUTURE” by coaltar of the deepers.

Weekly Marching of the Penguins:

Might I recommend some cabbage to you. It helps fight cancer.

Penguin #3 is currently knitting Hato’s new scarf. It’ll look so cute on him!

Rejoice! For our kawaii imoutou has risen from the dead!

Shouma – “Yeah, you creepily rubbing my junk won’t impress the ladies.”

A little extra FABULOUS for ya

Just what the hell is this bear-like mecha?

Penguin #1

When we previewed this anime, we really had little idea what to expect. You would’ve had to dig real deep to find just character designs of the 3 siblings and the penguins. And even after feeling like maybe I can sense the rhythm of MP, it’s only up to “fate” as to where Ikuhara takes this show.

The artistic direction of this show looks to be just gorgeous and stunning to take in. Colors are so incredibly vibrant and the tiny details in the Takakura household and everywhere else are so exquisite and really filled with “bliss”. And the vibrancy of the house and how close the siblings are to each other are reflections of one another. I also really enjoyed the OST thru the episode, and the OP and ED themes are really good while not only just introducing new characters, but posing other questions (like who are the other two girls with Himari in the ending).

This episode really bounced around in genres. It starts off as a slice-of-life type show, then hits you with some dramatic tragedy, recovers and becomes a humorous comedy with the penguins, and then goes to a FABULOUS fantasy with Himari’s penguin hat possessing her, and then tosses in a bit of (potential) incest by episode’s end. It all has a really wild flow that I couldn’t help but be sucked into as the scene transition queues were interesting, specifically the flashback ones about the “miracle” of Himari’s health. And I swear, that conversation those soccer kids had while walking is dropping so many hints; the same can be said for the number 95 used in the OP and during the transformation sequence. It’s just that, brilliantly, I have absolutely no idea what’s to come of it and where things can head. Hop aboard the Ikuhara train and enjoy!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the incest display at the end of the episode. All things considered, the element of incest was bound to happen. It borders on sickening just how much they all love each other, and while they were generally just a happy family in a parentless household, something about Himari’s “Seizon senryaku!” has changed the fate of Kan-chan. Incest is a tricky subject, so hopefully you won’t mind some bro-on-sis action.

Penguin #2

Wow! I’m contemplating watching this episode over again. But I think I have the gist of it. Considering this is from the creators of Utena, I knew that this would be a mind blowing type of anime. With all the philosophy type of explanations, the random things everywhere and being shown characters that are needed to be seen while the rest of the people are just props, is so like it. The story itself is so interesting so far but there’s just some random elements that I’ve noticed that make me laugh.

Starting off a story with tragedy is just sad! I was like, “WTF, you don’t have such a tragic death in the beginning?!” But who would expect that there’s more to it? Those damn pengins were bound to have something to do with this after all. The opening theme was just awesome and I love the uniform designs from Utena and seeing such cools ones in this anime is a plus. As well, seeing that white haired prince looking guy totally gave me a Utena feel in the opening hah! Seeing that some mystical god has a play in the fates of the main characters was interesting.

But seriously, this takes magical girls to another level! Himari turned into a damn mahou shoujou! QB IS NOW A PENGUIN! BUWAHAHAH! And somehow the brothers are tied all into this. Yes yes, they are bishies, oh so yummy looking ones too. Did you guys totally notice that steal from Utena when magical girl Himari pulled something out of the oldest brother?! That scene make me laugh but it was still cool despite being a reused element. The animation so far in this is one of my favorites for the season. Totally matches and their house with all the random crap in it so looks like it belongs to kids who have no adult presence.. somewhat cool look. But oh man, the penguins! So awesome and cute! But what happened next with the sister being controlled by the god was just funny. Anyways, I have more to say but I’m sure the others will have covered it. I look forward to the next episode but I don’t think I’ll be posting with Jrow on this. Pengin #2 ~ Reporting out~!

Penguin #3

To put it simply, Mawaru Penguindrum is all kinds of awesome. The first episode managed to squeeze a lot in while not being rushed, something I tend to chastize first episodes for doing on a regular basis. The events unfold one after another, ranging from depressing, serene to holy incest in a penguin sandwich this is INSANE. I don’t know how the show manages to transition between all of these things so fluidly, but it does. As soon as I pegged it down as a fluffy, slice of life – the main girl died. As soon as I thought I was dealing with a drama, PENGUINS CAME OUT OF NOWHERE. This is quite easily one of the most unique anime of the season, one where you would give someone dirty looks if they don’t at LEAST try the first episode.

As much as I love the bright colours, the wonderful mishmash of genres and integration of adorable penguins, I do have a few gripes. Himari is a sweet girl, and there really is no reason to dislike her. Her penguin takeover mode is also awesome, if not just for the reason that the transformation sequence was so hypnotic I didn’t even dare to breathe for the entire duration. So far so good, right? But then incest happened. If this increases past my threshold of tolerance, it’s an instant drop for me. Some people don’t like gore, and some people don’t like incest. I’m one of those incest-haters. I can only hope she is magically not related to any of them by some convenient plot device.

Seeing as incest is my only real complaint, I can honestly say this is going to be a wonderful show. The perfect blend of everything you could ever want with the bonus of penguins. I watched this with my friend and we were incredibly distracted by the penguins. I don’t know how we managed to stay conscious during that insane spaceship transformation stripping sequence. I am curious as hell what this search for the Penguin Drum is and why Himari seemed to rip her brother’s heart out. This is one of my favourites of the season so far, you can bet I’ll be watching this every week~

Princess of Crystal

Oh god, where do I start with this one. Right from the first episode I am already hooked and this might just be my favorite show of the season. First off, those penguins – oh my GOD, I want one! They are the manifestation of ADORABLE. Hell, they give Yune from Ikoku Meiro no Croisee a good run for her money! Needless to say, from the cutiepatootie penguins to the colorful Takakura household, the art in Mawaru Penguindrum is simply GORGEOUS. I love it! Everything is so vibrant and upbeat and, when coupled with the very interesting story going on here, it makes for a masterpiece in its own right. An interesting thing to note is that the only characters that we really get any focus on are the siblings, the penguins and, to an extent, the doctor. All other people are smooth moving, grey stick figures and it sort of emphasizes the separation between the “real world” and the fantastic story at hand.

The story is just brilliant. Brilliant. So much happened in one episode and though, at times, I was at loss as to what was going on, it was still epic! When Himari died, I was quite shocked and thought that she had come back as a ghost at first. That she was possessed by the hat was really interesting and I’m really curious as to what on earth the entity within it is. Also, I wonder what “survival strategy” is? And the INCEST man! What’s with that?! It was odd but I’ll definitely give props because, with the abrupt cut off, the scene was executed perfectly. It certainly added to the shock value of the show. I love that I have no idea where and what everything is going to lead to.

We have a small cast of characters thus far, but I very much like what I see. Character design was by Lily Hoshino, who also did Otome Youkai Zakuro, and I’m so glad she did because it was absolutely lovely. Finally, the cherry on top for me was the OP. Etsuko Yakushimaru (who also sang the OP for Arakawa Under the Bridge and the ED for Yojouhan Shinwa Tantei) captured the whimsical feel of Mawaru Penguindrum perfectly with her soft, airy vocals. I loved it. I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Episode 2 Preview:

Slurpin’ on TP.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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33 Responses to “First Impressions: Mawaru Penguindrum”

  1. VucubCaquix says:

    I’m actually interested in the incest angle as well, because normally I’m squicked out by it but this time they tied it to the idea of fate and breaking away from it.

    But you guys brought up a good point, what was it that was taken out of his chest during the transformation scene? Was it his heart? If it was, maybe that explains why he was romantically interested in his sister at the end. Or were those feelings always there? Like how he said he’d be willing to give up his life for her at the doctor’s office.

    So much good stuff in this anime, it’s so dense. I wrote a tag team post with my partner too on my new blog where we talk about the philosophy in the show. Check it out!

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yeah I think either his heart was taken or maybe like his soul? Lol she could have just picked one of the brothers making him a slave or something random. But yeah something was taken out of him! We shall see how things play out I guess.

      Yeah I have visited a few times nice to see you doing tag posts! Have fun 😀

      • Jrow says:

        I like the slave angle, but I’m also trying to sell myself on the thought that Kan-chan always held those feelings for her. Shouma’s so much more outgoing than Kan is, and maybe even though Kan seems like the cooler bishie bro and apparently dates other girls, those feelings might have been deep down within him and Himari literally pulled them out of his chest.

  2. Metalsnakezero says:

    It has a teaching story with craziness and stunning visuals. Also Penguins are awesome.

    • Jrow says:

      Agreed! Penguins were my favorite animal as a child. I try my best to pretend the movie Happy Feet didn’t exist, though; weird political slant at the end.

  3. Karakuri says:

    I had no idea what to expect from this, I but certainly didn’t expect it would be so awesome! “Just wondering” indeed…

    The colors!!!! And the penguins. The penguins are adorable. Even if I wasn’t interested in the plot, I would be watching for the penguins.

    • Jrow says:

      In my opine, no doubt it’s the most diverse show of this season, maybe even further if I looked back at past seasons. I think there’s something here for everyone to enjoy (unless you’re like a first-person shooting game fan who only cares for a gray/black/brown palette).

  4. anaaga says:

    Hoshino LIly made the chara design? NO WONDER IT FEELS SO YAOI-ISH

    man, I have a feeling it’ll be one of my fav. Hoshino Lily’s art is love for sure. It’s so colorful, and there are so many varieties in this show, from humor, drama, fantasy, tragedy, implied incest, implied yaoi (later on might be implied yuri)

    definitely watching for the yaoi too, ofc :3

    • Jrow says:

      haha, yeah on the yuri with those other girls trying to tug at her bustier in the ending. Surely they’ll sneak in some yaoi/yuri for the both of us. :3

  5. Mad Chemist says:

    This was so crazy. I came in expecting some crazy stuff, but I wasn’t expecting actual plot and substance to go along with it! There are a lot of things I want to know right now (What is Nadine; why does Kanba think he and Sho were being punished; what happened to their parents; etc), but I think the thing I’m most interested in is just what happened to Kanba at the end. He did say that he would be willing to give his life for Himari, and then he gets his heart ripped out when she comes back? I don’t think that was a coincidence.

    I’m guessing that we’ll learn more about what the Survival Strategy and Penguin Drum are in the next couple of episodes, and that we’ll get more penguin shenanigans to go along with it. There’s a lot of potential for this to be the best show of the season, so however it goes I know I’ll be on board.

    • Jrow says:

      Since this show is gonna be 24 episodes, I’m planning on re-watching the first 12 episodes after they come out. It’ll be interesting to see all of the little details that are being dropped in this episode (and further) to connect the dots and go, “OHHHH, that’s what they meant by that. And that’s why this happened. Kan said this because of this reason!”

      I’d like to see something with their parents as well. It could surely add depth to their relationship and add to that sense of closeness they have toward each other.

      I feel like maybe they won’t have to explore the Penguin Drum point so soon. Heck, the next episode could be just a “Hangin’ with the Penguins!” kinda thing.

  6. Moni Chan says:

    i didnt watch this yet but im guessing the penguins took some crystal meth before shooting their scenes. it also looks like they comtinue using it in the 2nd episode 2

    • Jrow says:

      Haha, that preview picture with them on the toilet is just so weird. I wonder what a cool penguin like #1 could be spying on a girl for. And maybe more importantly, if that girl’s on the cell phone, why is she talking on the toilet! Everyone around her should flush the toilet to embarrass her.

  7. Oracion says:

    This show knocked my socks off. I was totally screaming WTH!!! when the whole trippy scene with Himari and the mecha came in. I really wanna know what the heck is Survival Strategy is. Not really liking the bishies, but it’s endurable since they’re pretty cool. The (maybe) incest surprised me. I was expecting blue haired bishie to be the one to do that, as he appeared to be the more doting one. All in all, I so cannot wait to watch this. Expecting to see Himari in her sexy outfit again!!!

    • Jrow says:

      I find it funny that you say you don’t like the bishies, but by the end of the same sentence, you come around on them. 😛

      Shouma would seem like the more likely candidate, but he feels much more “pure” than Kan. Kan seemed like the cooler bro, but perhaps that whole “SEIZON SENRYAKU!” was the catalyst that made him do what he looked like he was doing.

      Her outfit was sexy, wasn’t it? Her poses added such a sexy flare to it , too! 😀

      • Oracion says:

        Lol. Totally. Her poses were epic. And I have to say, I guess you’re kinda right about Kan and Shou. Plus, with Kan’s almost total breakdown makes it seem now more likely him. But I wanna know what the heck the heart and Survival strategy thing. Man, Japanese is so much cool. Seizon Senryaku is so cooler sounding than survival strategy. But I want more of the helper penguins!!! Them doing chores were so freaking BAHAHAHA!

  8. Foshizzel says:

    Woooooo! Awesome first episode so colorful and fun, well minus the sad death but hey shes back! Yay! And yeah the whole transformation thing was great even if it was a bit weird xD

    The cooking penguin was so funny watching him help in the kitchen and of course the stalker one lolol.

    Fun anime so far! Can’t wait to watch a bit more and nice tag review! 😉

    • Jrow says:

      The stalker penguin was so funny in just how casually he entered those scenes and then disappeared, or even just how he nicely put the umbrella in the corner when he got home. And yeah, the cooking penguin was pretty cool. He’s got a band-aid, so you know there’s a story about how he’s a BAMF and all.

  9. Hogart says:

    I felt like I was watching an anti-Madoka, kind of like how they made FLCL after Evangelion. But it’s not Shaft, no matter how much it looks like it, and it’s even more complex and subtle than the best Shaft, so I’m confused.

    And I love it. This is the first time in years that I’ve felt like I want to analyze an anime that’s trying to trick me into analyzing it. I whole-heartedly expect a good Shafting, so let’s see whether Brains Base has it in them 😀

    • Jrow says:

      I’ve yet to get back on Madoka and finish it (last ep I saw was 5). I’ve seen a few Shaft shows, and while I’m not bothered by the way they choose to shoot scenes sometimes, I think I saw all I wanted/needed to see from this episode of Penguindrum.

      I know exactly what you mean about thinking analytically about this show. We could be way overthinking on points or just straight up missing the point on some elements of plot. It looks like it’s gonna be a really fun show since it has that element of challenging the viewer on how to think about the series.

  10. Kyokai says:

    I love everything about this show. From the awesome background, animation to characters and the simple wackiness of it. My eyes from the moment go, just widened as the episode progressed and by the end, I was gaping like hell. DAT-ABOUT-TO-KISS.

    Penguins are cute little runts and I can’t wait to find out the whole changing fate mission that the siblings will march towards together. Plus, I like wincest.

    • Jrow says:

      The backgrounds were amazing. I was looking at almost every nook and cranny of their house to see the wall patterns and even spots where you could see how the house has aged. And of course that big ending scene with the techish-like backdrop and all the emblems of oil rigs, train tracks, etc. floating around.

  11. Hime says:

    This show is so weird…in the best possible way <333

  12. abscissa says:

    My first impression is also the penguins are also like Kyubey. They’re cute and heartless but not necessarily bad.

    The characters and the plot are also quite intriguing.

  13. jGLZa says:

    Oh I hope the penguins combine and transform into a super penguin at some stage.
    My heart will stop!

  14. Yi says:

    It took me a while after the episode ended to realize what the kiss implies. I was so drawn into the story; I kind of forgot Kanba kissing Himari is incest. Really interested in how that will play out.

    This anime is really impressive, potentially best of the season.

  15. Samantha Zan says:

    I really liked the colors I saw when I first watched it. Great visuals, and those penguins .O.M.G. they are so adorable :3

  16. tanukichan says:

    Actually, the one narrating at the beginning of the episode is Shouma. It looks like both brothers have the same view on fate, in contrast to Himari’s.

    • Jrow says:

      Ah shi— wrote the wrong brother’s name. Thanks for pointing that out.

  17. Ness says:

    The girl with the gun in the opening reminds me of Juri and the rich looking girl after reminds me of Nanami.. then we get the bishie long haired guy who looks like the Prince hahahah. xD

  18. […] “It’s just that, brilliantly, I have absolutely no idea what’s to come of it and where things can head. Hop aboard the Ikuhara train and enjoy!…Wow! I’m contemplating watching this episode over again…To put it simply, Mawaru Penguindrum is all kinds of awesome…Oh god, where do I start with this one. Right from the first episode I am already hooked and this might just be my favorite show of the season.” – Metanorn (4 reviewers in 1) […]

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