Jul 312011

I’m at a complete loss as to what to say about Mawaru Penguindrum.

I think that’s why I’m digging it so much.

The actual plot of the series is pretty damn straightforward:

Siblings live on their own. One sibling has generic anime wasting disease. Said sibling dies, pulls a Jean Grey, and is now Pengoenix (That’s Penguin + Phoenix. I’m quite clever like that.). Chibi Jean Grey wants her siblings to find a McGuffin because of Mysterious Plot X. There’s also penguins and stalkers.

What baffles me about Penguindrum isn’t the plot. What baffles me is what, exactly, is the point of it all? There’s a bunch of rambling about fate and destiny and whatever, but we get mixed messages about all that. It seems like its destiny that the sister was saved (Finding that magical penguin hat most likely wasn’t chance. She was fated to have that hat save her. Probably.), and that’s a good thing in most peep’s books, but at the same time we have crazy stalker apple chick and her Death Note of Love scenario. She thinks she’s fated to do all of this stuff with her old man crush, but she’s clearly a messed up girl who’s one step away from becoming a murder-suicide statistic. She doesn’t paint a pretty picture of predestination.

So I kinda toss all of that out of the way for now. Fate’s good. Fate’s bad. Fate’s seriously fucked up either way. There isn’t much to speculate about because things seem like they could shift radically at any moment.

And it’s that vibe that confounds me and fascinates me. It’s like when I’m having a dream. I’ll be experiencing the dream and I’ll get to a point where I realize I’m dreaming. That’s the moment were some people will kick into lucid dreaming– they’ll start to manipulate their dream to suit their whims. I’ll do that as well, but there are times where I don’t. I’m fully aware that this is a dream, but I don’t wanna interrupt what’s going down. Sometimes, instead of lucid dreaming, I just let the dream keep going in its own direction. Or at least I trick myself into believing that I’m not actually manipulating the dream consciously.

That’s how Penguimdrum feels to me. I feel like I’ve come across some random dream of mine, and instead of sitting there and trying to twist things around to suit my fancy I’m just letting my subconscious screw around on its own. For now, I’m not the least bit interested in theorizing or predicting the direction in which Penguindrum will go. It isn’t because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed that the series doesn’t go the way I anticipate. Rather, I get the feeling that any of my guesses will be futile because Penguindrum doesn’t seem to be playing by any recognizable rule set. Thus far it isn’t even matching up with its director’s previous effort, Revolutionary Girl Utena. It has some of the same ritualistic tendencies, and some of the visual flourishes are the same, but that’s about it. Even all the talk about fate seems to differ, since Utena gave a pretty clear picture about its feelings on all of that from the get-go through Utena’s eyes.

And while we’re on that Utena tangent, I find it interesting that Penguindrum doesn’t have such a main character focal point. While we seem to focus on the middle sibling, he has yet to act as an audience cipher. It’s less a matter of “we’re experiencing the events through his eyes” the way we did with Utena (Or the way we often do in most other series.). We just happen to be following him along since many of the events just happen to go down in his presence. That lack of “main characterness” has made the whole experience somewhat impersonal, but I dig that. This isn’t one particular character’s story, it’s about all the shit that’s transpiring.

But yeah, Penguindrum is an odd beast. I have no desire to outguess it because I’m genuinely interested in seeing where its madness will lead us.

I guess you could say I’m stalking it, curious to see what it does when it gets home at night.

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