Mikan Watch #144: Re:cycle of Penguindrum 1

Posted by DiGiKerot in Mikan Watch at November 2, 2022 on 7:24 pm

Arguably cheating given that I’ve done Penguindrum TV before, but now having seen the first of the new Penguindrum movies (twice), I can confirm that it is still present, and as such can be lazy and just reuse the same screencap. Hurrah for efficiency in posting!

The first Penguindrum movie is an interesting kettle of fish in that it’s mostly a recap movie, though it has a number of new framing sequences that position it as a sequel to the TV show, as child versions of Shoma and Kanba review a book detailing the events of the TV show whilst attempting to figure out why they seem to have been forgotten by the world. Also, most importantly, there’s a new Penguin. Much of this new content feels pretty Takeuchi Nobuyuki to my admitted untrained eye, though the fact it’s half riffing on visuals from the episode of the TV show he handled in the first place, and half mashing together photorealistic and animated elements is probably what’s leading me to that feeling.

As a recap movie, it’s… fine? Better than most, even? Most of the really interesting stuff is likely to be falling into the second movie that I’ve not seen yet, given how this one ends, though it does basically conclude at exactly the halfway point of the show in terms of it’s recap content. As someone who hasn’t really revisited the show since it broadcast, I at least managed to follow the events well enough – it’s obviously a recap movie, but it takes something of a sensible approach to it by arranging it’s content by character rather than strictly adhering to previously established chronological continuity. That said, given that movie a fair bit over two hours long, you are only really dropping maybe 2/3rd of the content of the show, which whilst sounding like a lot, is positively luxurious by the standards of many of these things. You’re still losing some of the flavour of the show, but it’s a pretty reasonable way to relive the story whilst being hyper-focused on a lot of the elements that are particularly meaningful about it.

Although the weird thing about going back to Penguindrum at this point is that, having watched a bunch of Ojamajo Doremi in the interim period, I end up seeing an awful lot of it in Penguindrum that’s probably not entirely intentional…

Anyway, as me having seen the Penguindrum movie may suggest, we’ve hit that point in the year where I’ve returned from having decamped up to Scotland to enjoy Scotland Loves Anime once again, which mostly means watching a whole bunch of movies whilst generally doing a bad job of being a tourist on the side. It’s been a bit of an odd year this year, not least because the usual venue for the festivals Edinburgh leg suddenly closed it’s doors just 10 days before the festival was due to start, leading it to relocate from the Filmhouse to the Cameo about 10 minutes further down the road. On the plus side, this did result in far more legroom, though I have to admit to missing the Filmhouses cafe-bar greatly.

In terms of the movies shown, it was a bit of an odd mix. There’s nothing that played that I’d particularly go out of my way to recommend people avoid, at the very least, so there is that, but a fair amount of the really stand-out things were either on general release already or are… available if you are inclined to go looking. So, there’s not really much for me to say about Evangelion 3.0+1.01 other than it was really nice to finally see that projected on the big screen, or regarding Cucuruz Doan’s Island other than the fact that I think that movie is great (though it’s pretty funny that it starts with the proclamation of being an adaptation of the 15th TV episode before immediately revealing that it’s actually in the Origin timeline with the appearance of Sleggar). Seven Days War is largely a fun if middle-of-the-road romp that’s elevated by a solid ending and the heroine (rot13)sevraqmbavat gur znyr yrnq va beqre gb pbasrff ure ybir gb ure orfg (tvey)sevraq. Blue Thermal is basically a speedrun of the same kind of girls sports genre-fair as something like Chihayafuru, which on the one hand is really refreshing to be done entirely within the space of a movie (particularly a movie with really funny faces in plentiful supply), but on the other hand jumps around a lot. If you like Aikatsu you should probably just go ahead and watch Hula Fulla Dance. I don’t think Her Blue Sky is a patch on Anthem of the Heart, but also I like that later way, way more than the average person, so that’s not exactly a slam on it, and I’m always up for anything that references Godiegos Gandhara (even if it’s not even the first time it has been in something Okada has written – did she just watch a lot of Monkey as a kid or something?)

There’s not really much I can be saying about Yamada Naoko’s new short film, Garden of Remembrance, as it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t really reveal itself until you can rewatch it after you’ve twigged on to what it’s doing, which isn’t exactly an option right now. I did enjoy the character designs being of a shape you don’t often see in anime. Kind of frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be a release plan for it yet, though.

Of the other new-ish stuff, Break of Dawn is a bit of a weird one – it’s based on a manga that was serialised in seinen rag Afternoon, but it very much presents itself as a kids movie… except the movie is basically all exposition. It’s incredibly wordy, has a habit of repeating itself frequently and, honestly, is fairly dull for a lot of it, yet despite all that, if feels like most of the character arcs go nowhere, and those that do go somewhere tend to pivot on things that feel unearned or just plain come out of nowhere. I would say that the Sato Dai of a decade ago would probably have known a little better and handed in a tighter script, but looking back at some of his catalogue… maybe not, though maybe I’m being unfair and a lot of this was coming directly from the manga. I have the kind of brainworms that make me want to go and read the source material for things which Don’t Quite Work, but given that path leads to adding an unlimited number of things to the unlimited backlog of reading material I already have, well, I’m trying to resist that.

That being said, it does at least have Yuki Aoi playing a floating sentient AI robot. Following on from that, though, does slightly connect to something that had me somewhat distracted through much of the movie the first time I sat through it – one of the characters is named Kawai Honoka.

This is, admittedly, the most intensely Me reason to be distracted by something – Kawai Honoka is the name of one of the heroines in the old Sunrise 8 show Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, which you may or may not be aware of being a particular favourite of mine. Of course, in that show, it’s a joke – Kawai is fabricated family name for a character who doesn’t have one, although with SkyCake being SkyCake, I was starting to wonder if between the name and floating AIs it was going one level of gag further than I’d expected as was actually referencing the Break of Dawn manga. That being said, Break of Dawn started serialisation a couple of years after SkyCake, so I guess it’s not.

Tunnel to Summer, Exit to Goodbye is the new movie from Taguchi Tomohisa, who I guess is presently also helming the triumphant(?) return of Bleach to the airwaves. It’s based on a light novel that has been published in English, though it’s not something I’ve read. I gather that the theatrical adaptation has been greatly streamlined, though – it’s one of those movies where you go and watch the trailer after seeing it and laugh hysterically at the fact that it’s introducing the voice actors for some of the side characters as if they are significant, whilst essentially containing every line of dialogue they have as the actual film is basically stripped down into a two-person affair.

It’s mostly a really great movie, actually, though it’s obvious early highlight is the heroine giving her bully a bloody nose (not unlike a certain show currently airing in that regard, I suppose). It is a fairly typical modern anime romance movie with One Weird Twist, and it’s full of things that’ll probably remind you other other movies from recent years if you’ve seen some of the things that at least feel like they’re chasing Shinkai, but at least the heroine feels like she has a significant amount of autonomous agency to her.

All that being said, I don’t particularly want to go into details for a movie that’s not really available to watch right now, but the ending is something that, as they say, will not leave you feeling indifferent. From my point of view, it had a ruinous effect on my evaluation of the movie, honestly, and feels pretty counter to the character development from the entire rest of the film you’ve just sat through. You probably need to watch it for yourself to see if it really bugs you.

Goodbye, Don Glees is just a good time, though. Which is a pretty funny statement to be making about a movie which, whilst not outright saying it, signposts immediately and with great frequency the fact that one of the characters isn’t going to make it to the ending credits alive. Sasuga Ishizuka for still making it fun and still managing to have something so obvious still ultimately come across as poignant, I guess.

In any case, whilst it’s mostly just a bunch of Dork Boys doing Dork Things, it was probably my favourite thing of the festival outside of the late screening of Inu-Oh in Glasgow (not that I’m complaining about that – aside from Yuasa being in attendance there, I also have Covid during the general release, so was happy to actually have the chance to catch the movie in theatres).

Anyway, it’s a Wednesday and I have a power tool propaganda cartoon to go watch. I suggest you do the same if you’ve not been watching it already, honestly.

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