Penguindrum Anime Collection 1, Disk 3 (English)

March 3rd, 2013

The first volume of Penguindrum comes to a close in Disk 3, by introducing two major plot complications, several new visual symbols and a twist of fate. Or should I say…destiny?

We learn in a most roundabout way possible why Natsume Masako is after the diary. We see that Himari has a separate history of her own, a story about which she carries guilt, regret and unhappiness in great measure. And at last, we learn what really binds all the characters together…but not why. Not yet.

Visually, we’re noticing some new symbols, most especially Tokyo Tower, which now appears in many scenes. The storytelling to come is so powerful that merely seeing the Tower made me shiver (with what emotions, I can’t tell you – that would be spoiling it.)  The appearance of repeated, unexplained visual symbols laden with inexpressible meaning is the very essence of a Ikuhara Kunihiko production.

I’m watching the DVD of the series, as opposed to the Blu-ray, (and I’ve previously pointed out, I’ve got an ancient TV and that I’m not a great judge of video quality) but I still think the video is crisp.  I can imagine that on Blu-Ray, especially on a good screen, the video’s saturation of color and play of light and dark would be quite amazing.

I haven’t addressed the issue of translation. Sentai is generally adequate. They lack a translator with nuance, but for the bulk of the story, nuance is left out of the dialogue. The words Sanetoshi speaks are not where the nuance is, it’s they way he’s saying them and where he is and what he’s doing when he does. Luckily for us, since Sentai is generally adequate.

The thing I wanted very much to bring to your attention today is this – the song being blasted by the speakers that deafen Kanba is a Welsh folksong called Ar Hyd y Nos, also known by the English title, All Through The Night.  It’s a pretty famous hymn and lullaby and I wanted you to hear and enjoy it in a non-distorted version. Here is Aled Jones singing it in Welsh and English:

Which makes me wonder, why Ar Hyd y Nos? Doesn’t it strike you as odd that Ikuhara and his team would choose a Welsh folksong to blast at Kanba? But then, Ikuhara likes odd conjunctions of mismatched emotions. So, yeah. ^_^


Overall – 8

Once again, thanks so much to Okazu Superhero Eric P. for his generous sponsorship of today’s review!

And welcome to the new Okazu. Hope you like it! ^_^


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9 Responses

  1. Eric P. says:

    “And welcome to the new Okazu. Hope you like it! ^_^”

    Sure took me by surprise, but it looks nice!

    About the subtitles–I heard they’re actually dubtitled. Did it seem that way to you?

  2. @Eric – The scene that everyone is whining about has to do with lingerie. Is it even likely that the fanboys at Sentai know thing one about women’s lingerie? No, and neither do the fanboys whining about the translation. Does it matter that they got that line wrong? No, not really. Their translation made a modicum of sense, although it was wrong, but for person who does not know what was being said in Japanese, it doesn’t change the point of the scene at all.

    So not “dubtitled” per se, they just generally lack subtlety and nuance.

  3. Dan says:

    Huh? I thought the song played was the second movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From The New World”?

  4. It’s a review of anime that mentions a song, as other reviews have mentioned art, music, photography, history and literature. It will not hurt you to learn about things that are not cartoons or comics.

  5. @Delicious Vodka DeBlair – You might remember I was recently diagnosed with MS. I’ve always been a crappy typist, but am, in recent days, having a slightly harder time with my hand-eye coordination. I have accidentally deleted a number of comments recently, not just yours. DezoPenguin and a few other commenters as well. Never ascribe to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity, as Napoleon said. ^_^ Or in this case, weirdly jerky hand motions.

    You’re welcome to continue commenting here and I hope you’ll consider adding value rather than finding things to be negative about.

  6. dm00 says:

    I hope it’s okay to come along months later and comment. I’ve just finished these episodes, so I came here to see what you had to say about them, since I value your insights, especially on things Ikuhara.

    The music Masako booms at Kanba is, in fact, from Dvorak’s Ninth (“From the New World”) Symphony. Dvorak’s theme was adapted into a spiritual-like song, “Goin’ Home” by one of Dvorak’s student. It’s used in From the New World (Shin Sekai Yori), too.

    So, instead of a Welsh lullabye, why should Masako be booming a song called “Goin’ Home” at Kanba? My memory from my first viewing of the series is a bit hazy, but I think Ikuhara is telling us something about Kanba’s past.

    Since (and because) I watched Penguindrum the first time, I’ve gone on to read Haruki Murakami’s Underground (his series of interviews with survivors of the 1995 sarin gas incident in Tokyo), and his After the quake (a collection of short stories loosely tied to the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which contains the story “Super Frog saves Tokyo”, the title Himari was looking for when she stumbled into L-space and met Sanetoshi). I’m a bit puzzled as to the significance of “Super Frog” and its placement in the series (though I suspect there’s an obvious Super Frog-Momoka connection). The interviews in Underground have a lot to say about chance and destiny.

    I’m sorry to read in the comments about your MS, Erica. Best wishes.

    • Yes, it is Dvorak and it was a Welsh folksong before that. Just as the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah” was a Hungarian folk tune originally. Composers re-use tunes, the way artists use visual elements.

      • dm00 says:

        Well, I don’t really hear the similarity between the Welsh theme and Dvorak’s “Goin’ Home” theme, but I’m pretty musically illiterate.

        The reason I brought it up was not to correct you, but to share a possible explanation for why the theme is there at that point in Penguindrum. I don’t know why Ikuhara would use “All through the night” at that point. I do think it might not be surprising for Masako might greet Kanba with “Goin’ Home”. (Shin sekai yori‘s use of the theme suggests that it might have a traditional Japanese use, just as (I think) “Toryanse” is used for crossing signals, so for Ikuhara’s intended audience it might not be that obscure a reference.)

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