Monday, October 28, 2013

Penguin Drum Collection 1

Penguin Drum Collection 1Mawaru Penguindrum is a difficult anime to define... As another reviewer said it is art in the truest sense of the word. If you want mindless entertainment, look elsewhere. If you want something playing on the TV in the background while you are doing something else, look elsewhere. It is a series that requires and deserves your full attention. It is highly psychological and highly philosophical. If you don't care for analyzing literature or peering into the darkness of the human heart, then you probably won't enjoy Penguindrum.

That disclaimer out of the way, Mawaru Penguindrum is a philosophical masterpiece. The main topic is free-will vs destiny. There is also quite a bit of time spent on perception vs reality, and the meaning and nature of family. But to me the topic that distinguishes the series is the role of others in self-definition and self-worth... Namely, that an individual is defined by their contrast with others, and no individual can continue to value himself unless he is also loved by another.

Let me give two examples... The first is the animation of the background characters. Background characters such as random people walking on the street are depicted as white blob-figures--like what you would see on a public restroom door. At first I thought this was evidence of a low budget, but as I began to understand the series I realized that it emphasizes the main point. A person does not become truly human in the eye of the observer until the observer knows something about them. The background characters have no individuality, no motion, they are nothing but blank scenery. Since we know nothing about these characters, they cannot become truly human in our minds, and the series emphasizes this point by depicting them with no individuality.

The second example is a mild spoiler, so be warned... One of the most poignant aspects of the society in Penguindrum is an institution called the "child-grinder." Any unwanted child is sent to the grinder, where they are ripped to shreds and then reassembled into "invisible people." The thesis is that to be unloved is to be unappreciated for your individuality. If these unloved children are reassembled into generic people with no individuality at all, then they will have no reason to feel pain when they are unnoticed by others. It is frighteningly symbolic of our public education system, where in the name of "equal opportunity" or "no child left behind" our society has taken pains to ensure everyone gets out of school with exactly the same skill set... There is little acknowledgement of individual ability and aptitude. Through standardized testing and curriculum, we ensure our children enter society as generic.

As one last disclaimer, let me add that as in many psychological studies, there is quite a bit of sexual content in Penguindrum, and some of it is homosexual.

If you are looking for simple entertainment, Penguindrum is not for you. If you want believe that man is basically good, you will probably be offended by the series. But if you are open to gazing into the darkness of the human heart and the darkness of human society, Penguindrum is an excellent case-study.

I was so excited when I heard Mawaru Penguindrum was coming out in the US. It was something I had been waiting for. The series was one of my all time favorite anime series. Actually not just one of my all time favorites, it is my all time favorite. I was looking forward to seeing it on my big screen TV and eager to support it by buying it.

Now the reason for only 3 stars I really wish another company besides Sentai had gotten this series. One that would have done a better job. I was watching the subs and they really weren't good. At first I thought maybe it's just because I watched the fansubbed version so many times that I was used to their wording, but no. It seems like Sentai was really careless with the subs. At one point Kanba says "we gotta got hold of Uncle." Gotta got? Didn't anyone check these things? There are more instances where I found myself wondering "how careless were the people who subbed this thing?"

Aside from the errors, there were some changes to the script. The most notable change was changing the series' catch phrase from "survival strategy" to "survival tactic" in the subs. Another example I can think of off the top of my head is when Kanba (in episode 1) said his speech at the end; instead of saying "Dear God, is he really human? Just wondering," he says "could God...really be human? Yeah right." Uh, what? I won't post the whole speech, but I will say that doesn't even make sense in the context of what he's talking about. The first line does he's talking about if someone loved another person in spite of their DNA or fate, could that person cast those things aside and still be considered human? The second line has him asking a philosophical question about the nature of God out of left field.

It's just sloppy work all the way around. I'm torn now on the one hand I really want to buy the DVDs and support a series that gave me so much joy. On the other hand, I don't want to support Sentai's shoddy work.

Buy Penguin Drum Collection 1 Now

Kunihiko Ikuhara is best known for directing episodes of the "Sailor Moon" series but most notably for his work on "Revolutionary Girl Utena". While Ikuhara may not be known for having a long oeuvre in his animated career, Ikuhara has won over fans all over the world for his work.

In 2011, Ikuhara returned with a 24-episode series titled "Mawaru Penguindrum" (Penguindrum) produced by Brain's Base.

Directed by Ikuhara and also co-written along with Takayo Ikami ("Heaven's Memo Pad"), the series features the music of Yukari Hashimoto ("Mayo Chiki!", "Kanamemo", "Toradora!"), original character designs by Lily Hoshino ("Zakuro", "Mr. Flower Groom", "Otome Yokai Zakuro"), character designs by Terumi Nishii ("Casshern Sins", "Death Note", "Inuyasha") and background art by Chieko Nakamura ("Eyeshield 21″, "Azumanga Daioh", "Revolutionary Girl Utena") and Kentaro Akiyama ("Air", "Black Rock Shooter", "Steel Angel Kurumi").


"Penguindrum" vol. 1 is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It's important to note that when it comes to anime production, unlike major anime studios who are very busy developing several animated TV series, films and OVA's all at one time, Brain's Base (which is founded by former staff of Tokyo Movie Shinsha) is not one to put themselves in the situation of having too much on their plate. The good news is that because the staff are not in a major deadline while working on multiple series, they could focus on a series and give it the best quality, even though it's a TV series.

In the case of "Penguindrum", everything that you can hope for in a series with many locations, scenery, art backgrounds, characters in different clothing and great amount of detail and shading is featured. Colors are not subdued or soft, they are colorful and vibrant. I detected no banding issues, no artifacts whatsoever.

"Penguindrum" is probably one of the coolest anime series that I have seen in quite some time and goes to show that TV anime series can look fantastic and it does on Blu-ray!


"Penguindrum" vol. 1 is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Japanese and English). Both are the same when it comes to special effects and in terms of voice acting, both are well done. I typically listen to the Japanese soundtrack but this is one series where the English dub soundtrack is well-done. Lossless audio is crystal clear from the front channels.


"Penguindrum" vol. 1 comes with the clean opening and closing animation.


When I heard that Kunihiko Ikuhara was working on another anime series, like many anime fans who were stoked with the big news, for me, I felt like it was about time.

Having enjoyed his work for "Sailor Moon" and "Revolutionary Girl Utena", I don't know how many times I saw next to Ikuhara at an anime convention that I was covering, asking if he was working on any new projects.

There is this style and also creativity that he brings to his anime series, may it be the fashion aspect or even the Yuri elements and relationships which were pretty bold for an anime TV series.

With that being said, he's one of those directors that needs creative control to bring that high-level of creativeness and I know that some studios are hesitant unless it's someone near legendary status in the anime industry.

While "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is from the 1996-1997 (with the film in 1999), it has been over a decade until he got to direct again and this time, it looks like he has creative control with "Penguindrum". And his collaboration with Brain's Base turned out to be very effective as this is one of the coolest, stylish, freshest TV series that I have seen in terms of quality.

As mentioned earlier, popular studios are always working on multiple series and so art backgrounds are typically trees, skies and occasional buildings, but for "Penguindrum", this is a series that requires a lot of locations. Characters travel to so many different areas around the city and each background is detailed. Also, I like it when characters are shown wearing different clothes. With TV series, to make things easier on the animators for deadline, most often the characters are wearing the same clothes. But Brain's Base put a lot of time in making sure these characters have different clothing.

Character designs and art backgrounds are fantastic and on Blu-ray, this is one of the most vibrant TV series I have seen. If there is one factor that I wish the Blu-ray had was special features. May it be commentary, featurettes, Japanese commercials or promotional videos, something other than opening and ending credits.

As for the storyline, there is a lot of humor, a lot of flashbacks and twists and turns. At the beginning, we are often wondering why a character like Shouma is having to follow this crazy stalker, Ringo. But we slowly see each layer peel away to reveal Ringo's true intentions but also how her past connects with the Takakura's.

Suffice to say, when you get to episode 10-12, things get crazy and it leaves you craving for more!

Overall, "Penguindrum" vol . 1 is an amazing series. It's different from previous Ikuhara works such as "Revolutionary Girl Utena" and even "Sailor Moon", but with a solid storyline, cool and interesting characters and wonderful animation and art backgrounds, "Penguindrum" is an amazing series that I highly recommend on Blu-ray!

Read Best Reviews of Penguin Drum Collection 1 Here

First things firstThis is a wonderfully crafted anime, beautifully animated with an awsome story. Youd think Sentai would do their best to dub the series and tweak it just enough so it makes more sense in english, but not so much that it changes the entire meaning of the showNOPE! Insted we get an akward sounding dub, with not so great to terrible sounding voice actors. Youre probably saying "Oh, thats fine! I don't even watch the dub." Well the sub is no better, the intent of various scenes and the overall point of the series ends up not making sense... Let me put it this wayFOR ONCE FANSUBS ARE BETTER.

On to the product itselfthe blu ray is pretty bare bones so there isnt much to it, thats it really.

I wouldnt recomend this unless you can find a good deal used, much like im going to for part two... Sentai youve let me down again...

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this is a great anime and i couldnt be any happy. i will be buy from this again . and the price is not bad at all

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