Penguindrum Volume 2
With Himari at death’s door, a mysterious man named Sanetoshi offers Kanba a special medicine to revive her, but at a great price. As she slowly begins to recover, Kanba becomes increasingly distant and secretive, whilst Shoma continues to struggle with his parents’ grave actions from sixteen years ago. Meanwhile, the other half of Ringo’s diary is still missing and the penguindrum has yet to be uncovered.
The first half of Penguindrum, which I reviewed back in May, is a very different beast to the second half. The first twelve episodes were slow going; purely focusing on the Ringo ‘stalker’ love for Mr Tabuki with lots of silly penguin antics and outrageous penguin spirit visuals to draw you in, whilst having a dark mystery underlining it all. In the latter twelve episodes that is completely turned on its head; the word ‘penguindrum’ is used sparsely and the penguin spirit makes rare appearances. The penguins are still there for some nice visual gags but they are no longer the main focus. The darker themes brewing in the background are now forefront as the leads take more action, and the side characters that before seemed to be filler suddenly come into the spotlight to help weave the big picture that the series is creating.
The pace of the series also increases dramatically with many more revelations and character developments unravelling with every episode. Not a single frame or line is wasted in this series and it’s a real rollercoaster taking you from disturbing levels, to emotional ones. Admittedly the pacing can work against itself as so much is revealed in a small frame of time and doesn’t stop to let it sink in before moving onto the next plot point. It doesn’t help that at times the series plays a few cheap tricks in bringing up characters and/or story elements that were dropped a while back and expect you to remember at the drop of a hat why they were important many episodes ago.
To make things more perplexing, there’re multiple layers to the series, some scenes are heavy on the supernatural side, whilst others seem to be a metaphor for one thing or another. Nothing is painted clearly and it can be overwhelming trying to absorb and follow everything. Still, the multiple revelations thrown at you only make you even more intrigued by what’s going on and wanting to know how each episode plays out. Confusion will settle in at times as this series has multiple ‘layers’ and stories going on; you really have to pay attention to everything you see and hear, but in turn you truly want to see and hear what it’s trying to say. After the final credits roll, it’ll stay with you and demand multiple viewings so you can try and understand it more.
DVD extras continue to be lacking with only clean openings and closing provided; however subtitle quality has improved upon the first half of the series with important Japanese text translated, but the opening/ending songs are still not subtitled.
Like my review for the first half, it’s hard to go into further detail as a lot must be uncovered yourself and admittedly there are still many things I’m not quite sure I understand about the series. But the bottom line is that I did not feel bored, cheated or frustrated whilst watching. I was fully engaged, intrigued and entertained. It’s a series I would watch again and recommend to others who want food for thought after a series has finished. The second half was, overall, worth the wait.