Orphaned brothers Shoma and Kanba Takakura, the heroes of the fantasy melodrama Penguindrum
(2011), are utterly devoted to their younger sister, Himari. When she mysteriously collapses and dies during a visit to the aquarium, a souvenir penguin hat revives her by summoning a supernatural being who uses Himari's body as a vessel. The being orders the brothers to find the sacred Penguindrum if they want to save their sister. The search brings Shoma and Kanba into contact with Ringo, a fussy girl from their school who's stalking the homeroom teacher, Mr. Tabuki. Ringo believes she's the reincarnation of her older sister Momoka: if she reenacts everything in Momoka's diary--and
conceives a child with Mr. Tabuki--she'll somehow fulfill her destiny. The plot is further complicated by the sinister Masako, who uses a laser slingshot to shoot balls that cause amnesia. The filmmakers often seem as lost in the tangled story as the viewer. At one point, an uncle announces he's going to sell the Takakura's house and separate the siblings. Kanba insists he'll get the money to keep them together, and someone on the subway hands him an envelope full of bills. But who? And why? The scenes of Ringo attempting to seduce a man twice her age--serving him drugged pastry and dressing up as his fiancée--simply don't play in America, where child molestation isn't considered entertaining. Director-cowriter Kunihiko Ikuhara was one of the principle creators of Revolutionary Girl Utena
, and Penguindrum
includes many similar elements: vaguely art nouveau framing devices on the screen, portentous dialogue about Fate, endless flashbacks and fantasy sequences, disturbing sexual elements, and an utter lack of coherent storytelling. Like Utena
will appeal primarily to high school girls, as it panders to the urge to inflate a gritty crush into a crisis of cosmic dimensions. Older and/or male viewers will dismiss the series as overwrought piffle. (Rated TV 14 D: violence, risqué humor, brief nudity, sexual situations, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
(1. The Bell of Fate Rings, 2. Risky Survival Strategy, 3. Then Devour Me Courageously, 4. Descension of a Princess, 5. That's Why I Do That, 6. You and I Are Connected by M, 7. Tamahomare Girl, 8. Even If Your Love Is a Lie… 9. The World of Ice, 10. Because I Love Him, 11. You Have Finally Realized It, 12. The Wheel That Spins Us 'Round)
Once you make a decision, does the universe conspire to make it happen? Is destiny a matter of chance, a matter of choice or the complex outcome of thousands of warring strands of fate? All twins Kanba and Shouma know is that when their terminally ill sister Himari collapses at the aquarium, her death is somehow temporarily reversed by the penguin hat that she had asked for. It's a provisional resurrection, however, and it comes at a price: to keep Himari alive they need to find the mysterious Penguin Drum. In order to do that, they must first find the links to a complex interlocking chain of riddles that has wrapped around their entire existence, and unravel the knots that tie them to mystifying diary and a baffling string of strangers and semi-acquaintances who all have their own secrets, agendas and "survival strategies." And in order for Himari to live, someone else's chosen destiny will have to change. From the creator of REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA comes a story of love, fate, life, death . and Penguins: PENGUIN DRUM - THE FIRST COLLECTION.