Warning Zone: Mawaru Penguindrum

penguindrumThe why:
Besides random scenes with near naked characters/let’s get down-and-dirty with our sister except she’s not really our sister so it’s chill cliché? Defiantly the attempted “rape” scene. Long story short: a girl thinks getting pregnant will keep this guy in her life and she attempts to get him drugged so he “rapes” her. Although, technically, he’d be the actual rape victim in this case?? Honestly, the reasoning the character uses for this is so messed up that trying to explain it is headache inducing. And disgusting. AND does a lot of damage to people who legit are rape victims as it perpetuates the idea that victims want to be raped or are straight up mental cases.

Personal thoughts:
This show is seven shades of fail for me. Now, keep in mind that I actually liked Utena. So my issue with this show is not planted in the fact that it had heavy amounts of symbolism. Rather, my main issue is that the symbolism had less of a purpose outside of looking nice or being vague. Where as Utena was a theme and story with symbolism born from that, this anime felt like the exact opposite. As if the symbols came first and they tried building a show around them.
Why do I feel that way when both shows contain around the same amount of vague symbolism? Simple really: I could understand Utena enough to fully enjoy it as a show, regardless of sometimes not catching the finer points of said show. What I caught enhanced my viewing. But if I didn’t completely get something, I could either figure it out myself later or simply move on. With Penguindrum, that wasn’t the case. I had to intentionally go looking for analysis to understand half of what was being thrown and when -not if!- I missed stuff, the show became a chore to watch.
And before some self-righteous otaku loser comments that I’m just not “smart enough” for it: I’m a literature major and an author. Analyzing is my job. If I can’t get something without serious amounts of research, the material is made for a very narrow audience.
Of course, if that’s what they wanted, cool. Writing/making art for a specific audience isn’t bad, parse. But most anime are not made for such a small group. They’re made for the public. Which is why finding a good balance between art/symbolism and more common/easy-to-understand story lines is a fragile one. Where as Utena seems to have found a decent spot on that scale (could have still used work in spots), I think this one missed it rather badly.
If you like stuff that requires research and essay reading, go for it. Enjoy. But if you’d like something a bit more coherent -not to mention something without a “rape” scene- skip this one. I know it looks pretty. Skip it anyway.


6 thoughts on “Warning Zone: Mawaru Penguindrum

  1. Weirdly enough, I actually liked Penguindrum well enough, whereas I didn’t like Utena all that much. Having said that, I have a lot more respect for Utena than I do for Penguindrum, if that makes sense? The former was seriously thought-provoking, the latter was better for me in terms of entertainment value. Regardless, I completely get the points you make here – and I surely hope I’d never be the kind of person to say something like, “Oh, you didn’t get the show? Clearly you’re just not smart enough.” I really can’t stand that kind of elitism.

    On the other hand, I neither liked nor respected Yuri Kuma Arashi. Novelty value aside, I got nothing out of that show.

    1. inrosegalaxy

      No worries! You’re one of my faithful readers whom I can always count on for wonderful conversation. While you don’t always agree with me, you always explain your position in a mature and respectful manner, something that is more rare than I would like in the anime community. I always look forward to your comments!
      Good lord Yuri Kuma…. I couldn’t make myself get past episode one. It was just… no. The elements in Penguindrum I didn’t like? Magnified by ten in that one. It had little purpose besides shock value and “sexy lesbian time,” which, quite honestly, is insulting to those in the gay community. I mean, I get that sexuality for women is, overall, kinda repressed in Japan. But in that show’s case, it was clearly all fanservice. It wasn’t there to “empower” women but just to appease male sexual appetites.
      At least, that’s what it felt like to me. Although, I diiid only see one episode, so that might be a hasty judgment. I just couldn’t make it through another one… >_>

      1. I watched the whole thing – primarily because I was waiting for that “aha!” moment where everything would fall into place, and I would learn that absolutely everything up until that point in Yuri Kuma Arashi had a deep and profound meaning.

        … Yeah, that didn’t happen. I won’t say that Yuri Kuma Arashi has no redeeming qualities whatsoever because I’m sure to many people it absolutely does. What I will say is that if you didn’t like the first episode, I highly doubt watching any more would make you change your mind. No false advertising there – it’s plenty more of the same the whole way through.

      2. inrosegalaxy

        Wow. Glad I skipped it over then. But, like you said, at least they weren’t hidin’ what they were sellin’. Though it seems like both of us weren’t keen on their kind of produce. xD

      3. Yeah. Personally speaking, I was of the strong opinion at the time (and still am now) that if just about anyone besides Ikuhara had been the main name behind the show, people would more likely have trashed it rather than raved about it.

  2. Pingback: KIZNAIVER Review | Risembool Ranger Anime Reviews

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