Mawaru Penguindrum

Genre: Drama
Rating: 12 for disturbing themes
Score: I… don’t know…

Himari is terminally ill, and when visiting the zoo with her brothers Kanba and Shoma she collapses. Later in the morgue, she sits up – to the surprise of her brothers and the doctor who’s pronounced her dead. She has apparently been revived by the power of a felt penguin hat she’s wearing. The family are given three penguin assistants – that nobody else can see – and charged with recovering an artefact of some sort, the Penguindrum. If they fail, Himari dies.

Japan have been the world’s leading net exporters of weird shit for a good while, and after a decade of absorbing it I have a pretty high tolerance for the things most other people can’t even parse. But even I found this series baffling. It lurches from serious plot to comedy and back again so abruptly that it’s practically impossible to place. The invisible penguin assistants seem mostly to serve as comic relief, making a complete mess of the school, hospital or wherever else they’re wandering around, and often acting out a comedised version of the main plot.

It does have some great elements though – such as the girl Ringo, whose relentless stalking of an older man (who happens to be Kanba and Shoma’s teacher) goes beyond creepy. Her total faith in the predestined path of their relationship seems to be completely unshakable.

If you’ve got the energy to cope with being baffled this series is worth a go.