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Anime: Mawaru-Penguindrum

I hate the word "fate". Birth, encounters, partings, success and failure, fortune and misfortune in life. If everything is already set in stone by fate, then why are we even born? There are those born wealthy, those born of beautiful mothers, and those born into war or poverty. If everything is caused by fate, then God must be incredibly unfair and cruel.

Because, ever since that day, none of us had a future. The only thing we knew was that we would never amount to anything.
The opening narration of the first episode

Mawaru-Penguindrum (Spinning-Penguindrum) is a Summer 2011 Anime First directed and co-written by Kunihiko Ikuhara, famous for his work on Revolutionary Girl Utena, and animated by Studio Brains Base. It has character designs by the manga author Lily Hoshino (Otome Youkai Zakuro), and the original series has also spawned a series of novels (written by Ikuhara and Kei Takahashi) that are being released alongside the anime. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the anime (under the name Penguin Drum) for release starting at the end of 2012.

The story follows the three siblings of the Takakura family: twin brothers Kanba and Shouma, and Ill Girl Himari. Their parents are gone, and they live in a small bungalow alone. Poor Himari dies during a trip to the aquarium in Ikebukuro; while Kanba and Shouma grieve over her death, she is suddenly brought back to life by a mysterious entity (one who apparently resides in a souvenir hat purchased at the same aquarium) who offers them a chance to extend Himari's life for a price: to bring her the "Penguindrum."

At the same time, they receive three mysterious penguins who understand the orders of the Takakura siblings. The only clue given to them by the Penguin Hat is to follow a certain Ringo Oginome, a girl the same age as the boys who also has a huge obsession with their teacher and tries daily to win his love by reenacting out the next entry of her (oddly accurate) diary...

Yeah. This show is very weird.


This show provides examples of:

  • Abuse Is Okay When It's Female on Male: Ringo beats up Shoma a few times, though as Character Development kicks in she stops doing it.
  • Abusive Parents/Parental Neglect: A major theme in the show; the majority of the older characters have a screwed up childhood because of them.
  • A-Cup Angst: Ringo, though it only comes up as a minor note in her introduction. (And considering her design, it's a sort-of informed flaw.)
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Masako loves Kanba, who loves Himari who cares for Kanba but doesn't show any sign of reciprocating (although the Princess of the Crystal does). Ringo starts out loving Tabuki, who is an engaged adult and her Big Brother Mentor and naturally doesn't reciprocate. She eventually moves on to Shoma, but Shoma is too guilty about how his parents killed her older sister Momoka to let himself love her back. Tabuki's fiancee, Yuri, would like to stay together to form a fake family that would eventually in her eyes be real, a hope that Tabuki abandons, and their true love was their common friend Momoka... who either died or disappeared from this world. Shoma's friend Yamashita is revealed in a audio drama to be in love with him. Later, it turns out that Himari sees Shoma as her soulmate, with episode 20 showing the two having sweet moments together as children that could be seen as familiar or romantic. The last episode (and the second novel) also shows that Shoma returns his feelings for Ringo, but he has to let her go.
  • All There in the Manual: The Mawaru-Penguindrum Prototype Manual Official Starting Guide reveals that possessed!Himari is called the Princess of the Crystal and that the bear mecha are called Teddydrums.
  • Alternate Timeline: The terrorist attack within the series was carried out by Penguin Force using bombs, whereas the real attacks were done by Aum Shinrikyo with nerve gas.
    • Momoka's diary can be used to create alternate timelines.
  • Animal Motifs: The "dark bunnies", who in Shoma's fairy tale are an actual pair of black rabbits. In the real world, they appear to simply be black-haired Creepy Twins. In episode 23, they are revealed to be the containers that sealed Sanetoshi away 16 years ago, which have been reunited and allowed Sanetoshi to manifest in reality.
    • Similarly, penguins. The three penguins are representative of the owner's personality, and the penguin hat is revealed in episode 23 to be one-half of the containers which sealed Momoka, courtesy of Sanetoshi.
  • Animation Bump: Episode 9. Episode 10 is horrendously off-model, presumably to compensate.
    • Also episode 21.
  • Arc Number: 95, as seen in both the logo and OP sequence. It refers to the series of subway bombings in 1995 that resulted in Momoka Oginome's death.
  • Arc Symbol: The penguin head logo, which in-universe is the logo for a corporation called Pingroup, which judging by his jacket, Mr. Takakura worked for. It also seems to be associated with the penguins' faction and appears on the envelope Kanba's mysterious house payment is delivered in and on the bullets that are used by Masako to erase the memories of Kanba's exes.
    • Three distinct variations of the penguin symbol have been revealed so far, standing for Penguin Force, Pingroup and Kiga Group. At least two of them are one and the same organization trying to confuse authorities with the new name.
  • Arc Words: "Survival Strategy" and the "Destination of Fate".
    • The words "never amount to anything" are also used abundantly. Comically when the Princess of the Crystal mocks those she summons, dramatically everywhere else.
    • The final few episodes seem to make "Let's share the fruit of fate" into these.
  • Art Shift: During Ringo's Imagine Spots with Tabuki, the characters are drawn like paper cut outs and in a much more 70s Shoujo style.
  • Attempted Rape: In episode 8, Ringo serves Tabuki a drugged montblanc and attempts to rape him so she can bear his kid and finish her Project M. Shoma's interference and Yuri showing up at home stop her, however.
    • And in episode 11, Ringo drugs Tabuki with a Love Potion that makes him lust for her, but when she backs off she barely escapes being in the receiving end of this at the hands of a Tabuki who is very much Not Himself.
    • In episode 14 Yuri attempts to rape a drugged Ringo because she looks a lot like her lost love, Ringo's dead sister Momoka. It is ambiguous if Shouma got there in time to stop it; her lines at first implies that he didn't, but later she contradicts it..
  • Babies Ever After: The point of Ringo's Project M, since Ringo believes that carrying and giving birth to Tabuki's child will be the corollary to her dreams of getting her broken family back together; however, as we see in episode 8, the lengths she will reach to be impregnated by him are NOT portrayed as okay, but as a sign of how unstable and desperate she is.
  • Back from the Dead
  • Badass Grandpa: Masako's grandfather was a Boisterous Bruiser Large Ham corporate CEO obsessed with manliness and power. His misguided attempts at getting frail Mario follow in his footsteps made him a decidedly abusive individual.
  • Bed Trick: During Ringo's Attempted Rape of Tabuki, she disguises herself as Yuri.
  • Big Eater: #2 is quite the glutton.
  • Black Comedy: You know how the series likes to turn comedic situations into dramatic ones? Well...
  • Bittersweet Ending: Himari and Ringo survive and begin to live happy lives, and Yuri and Tabuki seem to be moving on to be better-adjusted people, but at the cost of Shoma and Kanba vanishing from existence... or something.
  • Bland-Name Product: Kanba's computer has pTunes and puick Time. Practically everything seems to be made by companies with penguin-based names.
  • Book Ends: At the start of the first episode, two random kids walk by the Takakura house while discussing Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad. The series ends with the spirits of Kanba and Shouma walking by the house discussing Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When he appears to the Takakura brothers in the hospital, Sanetoshi uses the Princess of the Crystal's "Shall we initiate the Survival Strategy?" However, the existence of other Survival Strategies along with other "princesses" like Himari would imply that this particular catchphrase isn't very exclusive in the first place.
    • Another is "Let's share the fruit of fate." Despite it being only stated in the finale, it is what Kanba tells Shoma as he saves him from starvation, Double-H's newest album title (named with Himari in mind, as according to them she cherishes the phrase since it's the same thing Shouma said to her as he saved her from the Child Broiler), and Momoka's spell to use the Fate Transferal, which Ringo does use in the episode (and she learns of from Hikari and Hibari aka Double-H). Phew, that's one heck of a chain.
  • Butt Monkey: #2 gets into some of the most painful and humiliating situations of all the penguins, either through no fault of his own or sheer derp.
    • Shouma, very much so.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: This is heavily implied and ship teased, especially with Kanba kissing a sleeping Himari at the end of the first episode. As of episode 12, this is more or less canon, then in episode 19 it is subverted, as they are actually Not Blood Siblings.
    • In episodes 20 to 22, it is revealed that Kanba and Masako are actually Half-Identical Twins, which makes Masako a borderline case of this trope.
  • Camp: Turns into this a few times, Ala Utena and Star Driver.
  • Cain and Abel: After episode 21, Kanba is shaping up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist Cain with Shouma as a broken cutie Abel. There's a sort of subversion, too, as when this trope sets in, Kanba tells Shouma that they're not brothers anymore.
  • Cassandra Truth: Shouma tries to tell Himari's doctor and later Ringo about the powers of the penguin hat, with no success until Ringo sees that Himari's life really does rely on the hat's presence.
  • Casting Couch: What Ringo suspects about Yuri in her jealousy-fueled Imagine Spot in ep. 7.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: If the end credits are anything to go by, the pink- and blue-haired cartoon girls who have been appearing in commercials and on merchandise will make an entrance as actual characters and members of the same faction as Himari's possessor. Now revealed to be two childhood friends of Himari which shot to fame as a singing group!
    • There is also this small little girl in a brown dress with pink hair. Whom is Momoka Oginome. She is introduced as a seemingly minor character, but her presence and influence to the plot as a whole is hard to miss after her back-story is explained completely.
  • The Chikan: Yukina (Ringo's ganguro best friend) mistakes Shoma for one in episode 2.
    • 1 is prone to squeeze into skirts and has mastered the Floor-Level Mirror Technique.
  • Cerebus Retcon: There's strong evidence in the final episode that Penguin #2's constant eating is linked to Shouma nearly starving to death in a cage as a child.
  • Cerebus Syndrome
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ringo has things going on in her head that don't quite match the flow of normal people's perceptions. And she's the most sane character.
  • Color Failure: Kanba briefly suffers this in episode 10 after realizing that he unintentionally insulted Himari by saying that he doesn't like homemade sweaters... while she's knitting him a scarf.
  • Conspicuous CG
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable)
  • Credits Jukebox: 10 ending themes for 26 episodes.
  • Curtains Match the Window: The Oginome sisters.
    • Ringo (Hazel)
    • Momoka (Magenta).
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Episode 21 is occasionally desaturated to reflect the characters' moods. Also, a dying Himari in episode 24 is similarly desaturated.
  • Deranged Animation: Initiated when Himari shouts "Survival strategy!"
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The whole series BUILDS on this.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Episode 5. Ringo vs. Himari's possessor. PUNCH, Ringo wins. Sorta.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The activation of the Child Broiler, which entails the grinding-up of unwanted children and reforming them as identical, invisible nobodies, and the torching of Momoka's hand in the same scene are announced with generic cheerfulness by a factory floor foreman.
  • Distress Ball: Caught by Shouma in episode 10, then by Ringo in episodes 14/15, and last by Himari in episodes 18 and 19. (With Ringo also included in the first one).
  • Disney Death: Himari, halfway through the first episode.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Episode 10 features a cover of the ending theme by Yui Horie (Masako).
    • The ending themes from the second half of the series are songs from the band ARB done by Triple H.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Ringo at the beginning of episode 8.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: In the final episode, Shouma gives this to Ringo before succumbing to his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everybody has issues.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins:
    • Note that the Princess of the Crystal has two bear-shaped mecha; One white and one black. The black one is based upon the bombs used in the Kiga subway attacks.
    • Apparently Ikuhara couldn't think of any way to quantify his vision of the series to the staff at first besides saying, "Well, it has penguins in it!"
  • Expy: The red and blue-haired girls look like Tsubomi Hanasaki and Erika Kurumi untransformed.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The penguins eat plenty of things that penguins usually do not. Case in point, 3 eats a wig in episode 2.
    • 2 attempts to eat 3 in episode 4.
  • The Faceless: Shouma's friend Yamashita (only the back of his head is shown), Masako's grandfather (at least half of his face is usually blocked by a paper tag), Momoka (until episode 15), Yuri's father, Tabuki's mother (she's only shown as a painting with too little detail to make out her face), and the "tabloid journalist" (his head is never in frame).
  • Faceless Masses: They're big, unmoving, bathroom sign-style figures.
  • Fairytale Motifs
    • Pretty much any fairy tale involving apples has popped up in some form or another.
    • The Destiny Diary has an Urashima Taro design motif.
    • The tribulations of the Takakura siblings apparently fit the storyline of an in-universe fairy tale.
  • Fan Disservice: Ringo is a very cute girl, indeed, but seeing her in a black negligee when she's about to rape a completely drugged Tabuki so she can be the mom of his child in episode 8 is all but ACK. It's not much better in episode 11, when a Ringo in a very cute dress gets the guy to "love" her via a Love Potion, then backs off the sex deal... and Tabuki is so Not Himself that he starts making creepy Nightmare Faces...
    • Episode 14 takes the cake. Two cute young women ( Yuri and Ringo) bonding and spending a whole day together in an onsen? Oh yes, please. A mentally and emotionally broken Yuri drugging up Ringo, stripping both of them naked and then trying to rape her, while mentally repeating how much she hates herself due to her body issues and loneliness? While we have LOTS of Male Gaze directed at the unconscious Ringo's nude body as she's about to be raped by her dead sister's Unlucky Childhood Friend? Whaaaaaaat?!
    • Episode 15 has a quite bit of it, what with all the nudity of a young girl like a loli!Yuri who is about to be heavily scarred and possibly raped by her father.
    • The ending card for episode 17 features a very handsome-looking Tabuki, with his shirt open and his glasses off. The bad thing? He's actually leaning his head on a little girl's lap. And while we don't see her face, the little girl is pretty obviously Momoka. Aaaaawkward.
    • In episode 23, Kanba goes towards Shouma and hugs him rather tightly. Looks like Ho Yay unleaded, huh? Not when this happens after Kanba's Face-Heel Turn and when Kanba knocks out Shouma to take Himari away.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Upon learning of Himari's condition in the first episode, Kanba goes through the first four stages in about a minute.
  • Final Speech: In episode 22. After Masako chases after Kanba only for Kanba to get severely wounded while protecting her, Masako stands up and blames herself for not being able to save Mario, and then goes on to talk about the curse of the Natsume Clan and how Kanba saved her and Mario from being dragged into the terrorist group at a young age. Her final words are her catchphrase - "Gosh, I must crush them soon" - followed by gunfire.
  • Food Porn: A deliberate decision by the staff was to make all the food look delicious.
  • Forehead of Doom: Himari. In the final episode, she receives a scar on her forehead, which causes her to comb her hair in a way that hides her forehead.
  • Foreshadowing: At this point, it seems that the PSA's on the trains serve this role for the story.
    • In episode two, PSAs warning riders not to grope others play on the train right before Ringo's ganguro friend thinks that Shoma was doing just that.
    • In episode four, the PSA warns riders that falling asleep may lead to possessions getting stolen. Later in the episode, Ringo passes out after falling into a pond while attempting to get Tabuki to kiss her. Sho ends up stealing her first kiss while giving her CPR.
    • And onto episode five, where the PSA mentions to "borrow responsibly." This time, while he is ON the train, Kanba is seen being handed a good deal of money by an unknown man in an overcoat. The cash presumably helps him pay off whatever is still owed on the siblings' house.
    • As the series becomes more and more of a Mind Screw, the PSA warn riders become more and more aggressive. In episode 15, i.e, the girls are seen ganging up on an innocent white figure, tying him up from the "ceiling", using him as a swing, making a bonfire underneath him., and whipping him.
    • In episode 9 it's revealed that the labels on the bins the penguins were hiding in in episode 1 are marked 'Recyclable' (1) 'Flammable' (2) and 'Non-Flammable' (3). In the end Shouma gets consumed by the 'Cursed Fire' caused by the fate transfer spell. Both of the brothers get seemingly reincarnated as young children whilst Himari survives.
    • In episode 12's flashback, Kenzan calls Chiemi at the hospital and hears that "the baby" is okay, even though Shouma said both he and Kanba were born on that day. They were . . . but not to the same parents.
    • In episode 9's flashback, Chiemi shields Himari from a falling mirror and her face is permanently scarred in the process. When we see Kanba talking with her at the noodle shop, her face is unblemished . . . because she's just a hallucination.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus/Bilingual Bonus: The newspaper Masako's grandpa is reading in episode 16 contains an English language article about making paper from pachyderm excrement. The opening paragraph mentions a brand of colorful notebooks with animals on the cover as being manufactured with this process, which could mean that Ringo's diary is really elephant dung.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In episode 15, Yuri fights Masako while wearing only a Modesty Towel. Which ends up falling off in the end, right before she wins.
  • Funny Background Event: This show is absolutely made of this trope. The three penguins are responsible for it.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A little-known gesture of implied rape in Japanese culture involves the Shogun grabbing the waistband of his consort and ripping it off so hard that she spins several circles and falls on the bed with her clothes splayed open. #1 does this to #3 in episode 12, while they're both dressed as a shogun and his lover — and then #3 retaliates by tying #1 up in shibari (Japanese bondage). Made even funnier by Himari making some very... ahem, special comments as she cooks cabbages in the background.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Himari certainly does.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Kanba apparently wears pink boxers.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In episode 21, when Tabuki gets stabbed by Yuri's jilted lover.
  • Gratuitous English: Ringo's "Destiny" stamp. As she uses it, she also says "Destiny" aloud.
    • Tons of it in Episode 16 during a flashback sequence, as well. To Memetic Mutation levels.
  • He Knows Too Much: What happens to a very aggressive journalist that harrasses Ringo, Himari and Shouma in episode 21. Courtesy of Kanba and the MIB.
  • Hidden Depths: Kanba is apparently an expert lockpick, as can be seen in ep. 3. Where and how he acquired this rather peculiar skill isn't mentioned.
    • Tabuki has some of this going on as well, specially in episodes 6 and 12. And then both 17 and 18 came along... OH WOW.
  • Hollywood Science: Specifically Artistic License - Biology: Skunks don't work that way.
  • Honest Axe: Or rather, an Honest Erotic Novel in episode 17's stinger.
  • Hope Spot: The Episode 13 ending is one for Ringo as she resolves herself to stop trying to be Momoka and be her own person instead, then Episode 14 have her get rejected by Shouma and then almost raped by Yuri.
    • In episode 22, Ringo recieves half of Momoka's diary from Yuri, only to have it burned to pieces in episode 23. And then she's left to die in the flames. Oh, and Kanba burns the other half aswell.
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?:
    • Apples show up in both credits sequences; casual analysis would imply a "Snow White" allusion.
    • The apples in Penguindrum give the show a very strong connection to Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad.
    • Ringo's name also translates to "apple".
    • Sanetoshi appears in episode 12 carrying an apple emblazoned with an icon resembling one of his medicine ampules.
    • In episode 9 we see a flashback of Himari and a faceless boy sharing an apple. In episode 19 we see it again: the faceless boy? He's Shouma.
    • It is revealed in the finale that the apple is a metaphor for the Penguindrum, which seems to be Kanba's life, shared between the three siblings.
    • The fact that apples are the (forbidden?) fruit of fate brings Adam and Eve to mind.
  • Humongous Mecha: They're bear-shaped and called Teddydrums. In episode 22 however, it seems that these teddydrums serve a purpose for terrorist attacks, as directed by Kanba.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are called Stations.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: Something of a Catch Phrase for Masako's grandfather. All of them involve women, and some of them are rather disturbing.
  • Ill Girl: Himari.
  • Imagine Spot: Ringo has one before knocking on Tabuki's door in episode 3. She has another one while on the train in episode 4. And from then on...
  • Invisible to Normals: The mysterious penguins that the siblings receive.
  • It Only Works Once: The life-transferring scene from Episode 1, as revealed by the Princess of the Crystal in Episode 12.
  • It Was with You All Along: Final episode spoilers: The Penguindrum is the life, love and pain shared by the siblings, as represented by the apple that Kanba shared with Shouma, who himself shared it with Himari. When the Princess of the Crystal ordered the brothers to search for the Penguindrum, she only meant for them to find Ringo and thus be able to change fate - the Penguindrum itself was already within their reach, not that they could have known that.
  • Jerkass Gods: The goddess in Shoma's fairy tale only revived the Himari!sheep so that the characters' suffering can continue.
  • Jukebox Musical: With the exceptions of the openings and the first ending, all the songs in the show have been songs by Japanese rock band ARB, covered by Triple H.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Quite literally. It fits the trope so perfectly, you'd think Ikuhara reads this wiki.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: #1 has a... more extreme version of his owner's love of the ladies.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Ringo is trying to become her dead sister Momoka by coming on and almost raping Momoka's love Tabuki, who is married to the very shady and mentally/physically scarred Yuri, who also loved Momoka and tries to rape Ringo because they're so much alike. And then Ringo starts to fall in love with Shouma whose parents killed Momoka in the first place. The incestuous Love Triangle between Kanba, Himari, and Masako looks like an episode of Leave It to Beaver by comparison.
  • Love Potion: Ringo attempts one on Tabuki in episode 11; it works, but only for one night. And the effects backfire badly on Ringo..
  • Luminescent Blush: Kanba's whole face turns bright red in episode 10, after telling Himari (in a rather extravagant manner) that any man would be lucky to get a knitted gift from her.
  • MacGuffin: The Penguindrum that the siblings have been sent out to find. At first, it's thought to be Ringo's diary. It isn't.
    • Another one would be Ringo's diary, currently being sought after by the Takakura siblings, Masako Natsume, and Yuri Tokikago. By episode 15, it's revealed that the diary can actually alter reality, at the price of the user's life force.
  • Meaningful Echo: The opening narration in the first episode is narrated once more by Sanetoshi in Episode 12, and again by Shouma in Episode 13.
  • Meaningful Name: Sanetoshi Watase's first name means (if the kanji are anything to go by, Sane = truth/reality (present in the buddhist word "shingon" for "mantra", "words of truth"), toshi = clever/shrewd/crafty/cunning/guile...) something like Cunning Truth-teller. Kind of appropriate, one would say.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Slowly but surely showing up in the second half of the series. At times, Sanetoshi seems to be offering apples—but then they're medicine ampules in other shots. A similar phenomenon occurs with Sanetoshi's Creepy Twin tagalongs and a pair of black rabbits.
    • Similarly, in episode 15, Momoka and Yuri meet on a grassy hill to discuss how Momoka can change Yuri's miserable fate. In the next shot, they're sitting in chairs on concrete or asphalt painted with subway maps.
    • Anything related to the Child Broiler
    • The final episode, which is back to endgame-Utena levels of symbolism.
  • Mood Dissonance: Where do we start...?
  • Mood Whiplash: This show is very fond of turning comedic situations on their heads.
  • More Hero Than Thou: The final episode is the equivalent of a ten-car pileup. Himari has been trying to convince Kanba to give up on her so that he won't be killed, Kanba refuses point-blank out of his own feelings of love and obligation and insists on martyring himself, Ringo comes charging in declaring that she'll finish transferring fate despite the life-threatening consequences, Shouma coughs up his half of the Scorpion's Soul-slash-Penguindrum by tearing it out of his heart, Kanba dies saving Himari anyway, and finally, Shouma transfers the Destiny Diary's curse from Ringo to himself and dies declaring his love for her. Himari and Ringo survive. Whoof.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In a series that is otherwise pretty much devoid of sex-based fanservice, it seems Himari and the two mascot girls (Hibari and Hikari) are this, particularly in the first ending.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The whole sequence where possessed!Himari briefs the brothers on their mission.
    • The two fights between Yuri and Masako in Episode 14 and 17. Episode 17 even has feathers and rose petals fly about while the two engage in a verbal battle and later begin shooting at each other with weapons. With absolute glee.
  • Musical Episode: Episode 4, sort of. It involves Ringo's Shojo-tastic daydreams and three songs.
  • Nice Hat: Himari has one. It seems to facilitate possession by whatever entity is offering to extend her life.
    • Mario also has another.
  • No Name Given: Sanetoshi's Creepy Twins haven't been named in the show yet. The credits call them Shirase and Souya.
  • Not Blood Siblings: In episode 19 we learn that Himari is actually not Kanba and Shouma's blood sister, but a little girl rescued from the Child Broiler and adopted into the Takakura family. The next episode reveals that Kanba is likewise adopted, with episode 21 explaining exactly where he comes from.
  • Odango Hair: Himari's hairstyle in episodes 3, 8 and 11.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The hat usually gets on Himari's head this way.
  • Off Model:
    • Episode 10 has some very... bizarre-looking faces.
    • Episode 19 gives us Himari and Masako's horribly huge heads, disrupting the drama of their meeting.
  • On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase: "Shall we initiate the Survival Strategy?" Different phrases are not uncommon, but "Survival Strategy" always comes up.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Anytime the Princess of the Crystal does her "Survival Strategy" intro.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mr. and Mrs. Takakura are missing. The siblings' uncle saying he doesn't think they'll come back would imply that they're alive. By episode 12, it is revealed that they are on the run from authorities pursuing them for the bombings 16 years ago, and episode 21 reveals that they were Dead All Along, and Kanba meeting up with them in previous episodes was just a hallucination.
    • Prior to this, though, Kenzan and Chiemi were Good Parents. Episode 5 has a flashback in which Papa Wolf Kenzan takes a very ill tiny!Himari (alongside little Kanba) to the nearest hospital in the middle of a typhoon since there are no ambulances avaliable. And Kenzan does it by foot, carrying little!Himari on his back and with little!Kanba next to him, and he also shields tiny!Kanba from a falling lamp. And in episode 9, Chiemi suffers serious cuts on her face and arms to shield little!Himari from a falling mirror, and must be hospitalized due to her injuries.
  • Parents as People: Ringo's parents are separated. We only see Eriko Oginome keeping Ringo company at home, and episode 5 has Ringo "going out on a date with Daddy" during which Satoshi mentions visitation. And he actually remarried or is about to, as he's seen with another woman and a little girl in episode 8, but hasn't told Ringo anything. She sees him with his girlfriend anyway, which is the trigger to her planning to speed up her "Project M".
  • Perpetual Poverty: The Takakura house is very run-down, and there's the possibility that the siblings will be separated and taken in by others. Their concerned uncle is trying to get them to sell their old house so they can live a little more comfortably in a smaller place, but Kanba will have nothing of it. He does receive an apparently large sum of money in episode 5, and we later learn that it comes from the KIGA group, Kenzan's faction. Kanba is apparently not only still in contact with them, but can order them around, including fetching him large sums of money, as seen in his deals with Sanetoshi.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Ringo buys herself a pink toothbrush and Tabuki a blue one.
  • Prophecy Twist: Happens over and over again with Ringo's diary, but as long as everything technically works out she isn't too bothered.
  • Put on a Bus: Sanetoshi's debut in the real world as a doctor at Himari's hospital conveniently coincides with her normal physician, Dr. Washizuka, suddenly taking off for Germany.
  • Rape as Drama: The extreme lengths to which Ringo will go to accomplish Project M. And it is most definitely not okay.
    • And in episode 11 Ringo practically finds herself at the receiving end, when she hesitates into having sex with a Tabuki who's just been slipped a Love Potion and he won't back off due to the effect. Again, it's portrayed as rather screwed up.
    • Happens again in episode 14, with Yuri drugging up and attempting to rape Ringo after bonding with her. Many times, a female/female rape scene is depicted less rape-like, but in this one it's clear that Yuri is very fucked up too.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Appropriately enough, Kanba is the red and Shoma is the blue.
  • Red String of Fate: Appears in both ending credits sequences.
    • In episode 10, Masako makes Kanba wear an unfinished sweater that's trailing a long piece of red yarn. This might symbolize the state of their relationship, but then again 1 ends up entangled with the loose end, so maybe it's hinting at a potential romantic angle there, eh eh.
    • In episode 18, the red string of fate may have been represented with a ball of red yarn that #3 was knitting with. When Kanba says that he wants to live for Himari, the yarn is shown up close, slowly falling and unraveling.
  • Rescue Romance: Ringo invokes it when she decides to pretend she's drowning so Tabuki will save her. It fails spectacularly and she almost drowns for real, so Shoma saves her instead. Later played rather straighter between Shoma and Ringo, in an incident involving a speeding car, an inconveniently-timed Heroic BSOD, and a Diving Save.
    • Also, if you ship Momoka/Tabuki and Shouma/Himari, their scenes in the Child Broiler count as this.
  • Ret Gone: Appears to be one of the effects of Momoka's powers.
    • Also, what happens in the Child Broiler.
    • This is what happens to Kanba and Shouma in the end.
  • The Reveal: In episode 6, we find out that Ringo's diary belonged to her dead older sister Momoka and that Ringo's motivation behind fulfilling the diary entries is to "become her sister", which she believes will bring back everything she holds precious and allow it to continue into eternity.
    • Ringo's convoluted plan to get Tabuki-sensei for herself, Project M. The "M" stands for maternity.
    • And then there's the fact that the woman with the mind-wipe bullets, Masako Natsume, is also working on some kind of Project M... and has romantic designs on Kanba.
    • Every single episode from ep. 9 on has had some kind of revelation.
  • Rules of Orphan Economics: Kanba actively encourages his siblings not to worry about it, while he gets money from the Takakura parents' terrorist organization.
  • Running Gag: Penguin 2's hate of insects, which it always exterminates on the spot with a handy insecticide bottle. Which it apparently keeps in a Hammer Space.
    • Possessed Himari always has Shouma drop through the floor for talking back to her.
    • Shouma never, ever manages to save Himari or Ringo from trouble, typically either coming in too late, or falling over at a crucial moment. The only exception happens in episodes 19 and 20, where he suscefully rescues Himari from the Child Broiler, and when he takes Ringo's curse into himself in the Grand Finale.
  • Scenery Censor: In episode 15, when Shoma opens the door of Yuri and Ringo's onsen room, his head blocks the audience form the sight of a drugged up, naked, and shibari-tied-up Ringo and the very awake and naked Yuri.
  • Scenery Porn: Nearly every daytime scene is filled with detailed and lushly-colored backdrops.
    • Not to mention all the fantasy sequences...
  • Sexy Walk: Possessed Himari has this coupled with She's Got Legs and Sexy Backless Outfit.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Shouma tells this to Ringo's mother, and Ringo returns the favor to Tabuki and Yuri.
    • Masako-disguised-as-a-nurse refers to Ringo as Shoma's girlfriend in episode 10, and he denies it again.
    • And Yuri asks Ringo again if Shoma is her boyfriend in episode 11, which she also denies.
  • Ship Tease: Now has its own page.
  • Shirtless Scene: Shoma provides this in episodes 4 and 7.
  • Shout-Out: So many that they needed their own page.
  • Sick Episode: Episode 6 starts with Ringo catching a fever...
  • Significant Birthdate: While the exact date is never stated in-show, Ringo is said to be born on the same day (March 20, 1995) her sister Momoka died/disappeared - the date of the subway bombings headed by the Takakura parents that Momoka tried to stop. As it turns out, Shouma, Kanba, and Masako were also born on that day.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Most of the Takakura siblings trouble is due to this.
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: The extended sequence in episode 3 that ends with Ringo covered in curry counts.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Several times.
    • In episode 8, Tabuki and Shouma are both subjected to this via a mont blanc that Ringo prepared and drugged.
    • And then in episode 10, Shouma has this happen to him again when Natsume feeds him a drugged dessert so she can kidnap him.
    • And then in episode 14 Ringo has it done to her by Yuri, who spiked her drink so she can tie up and rape her.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Three teenagers living in a rundown shack after their parents go on the lam as wanted terrorists and the only adult who shows any interest in their situation is an uncle who stops asking questions after Kanba comes up with enough money to cover the mortgage. (Though considering it's Kanba, the uncle likely knew that it simply wouldn't work — Kanba is that stubborn.)
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Quite a few episodes have this, but episode 23 is by far the worst offender.
  • Spoiler Opening: It's taken over halfway into the series for anything to be revealed as a spoiler, but things alluded to in the openings (the endings are way too spoileriffic to bother listing items) include:
    • Ringo's flame motif: Momoka's payment to save Yuri from her abusive father was Spontaneous Human Combustion. In episodes 23 and 24, Ringo nearly burns to death, the former due to Kanba's and Sanetoshi's attempt to burn the diary, and the latter due to her using the diary to transfer fate just like Momoka did. Ultimately, it's Shouma who suffers this fate.
    • Tabuki's bird and elevator grate: Tabuki kept a pet bird as a child. A similar elevator is used when Tabuki decides to dish out a punishment upon the Takakuras for their hand in the bombings that killed Momoka.
    • Sanetoshi and medicine ampules: Sanetoshi poses as a doctor and gives Himari said drugs to keep her alive after Kanba's life force is no longer enough.
    • The black penguin: Her name is Esmeralda and she's owned by Masako, who is conducting her own Project M and Survival Strategy.
    • Glass shards: A visual used to represent the victims of the Child Broiler. They show around Himari because she was this close to becoming a victim as well, but was rescued in the nick of time.
      • During an out-of-reality moment in episode 24, both Himari and Shouma walk through a myriad of these suspended in midair to reach Kanba, letting the shards cut them in the process to represent the "punishment" the two are both willing and destined to go through because of Kanba's actions.
    • Penguin-shaped "rose petals": Actually stylized blood spatter used in the aforementioned punishment by Tabuki. Also seen in the Grand Finale..
    • The factory fan: The "Child Broiler", where unwanted children are sent to be forgotten about. Momoka saved Tabuki from here, and young Shouma took Himari as well..
    • The siblings running: Kanba runs in a different direction, symbolizing how Shouma and Himari are soulmates... but even more so, his upcoming Face-Heel Turn and abandonement of the Takakura family.
    • Masako's Ass Kicking Pose in the first OP: It is the last stance, or stand she makes while she acts as sacrificial bait to get a heavily injured Kanba away from the police.
      • Even the lyrics can be considered spoilers at least in hindsight). The second OP gives us "Boys come back to me." Both Shoma and Kanba have their existences rewritten so they are reborn as the kindergarten-age boys seen in front of the Takakura household in episode 1. Himari has no memories - at least conscious - of her brothers by the end of the Grand Finale, yet she's moved to tears because of a note they managed to leave her, prompting her to desire what is said in the lyrics.
      • What's more, Himari actually does say "come back to me" to Kanba. Since the title can also be translated "Boy (singular), Come Back to Me," the song may have been named for that very moment.
  • The Stinger: They're always of the penguins doing something while a Cryptic Conversation regarding the next episode plays over.
    • And in episode 21, another one shows how Kenzan and Chiemi took Kanba into the Takakura family.
    • In episode 22, young Shouma is seen in a cage with a penguin logo that is not from KIGA.
  • Stock Footage: Starts up once possessed!Himari shouts her "Survival strategy!". Except for episode 11.
  • Stripperific: Possessed!Himari loses items of her clothing as she Sexy Walks down the steps in her illusion world. In the first episode, she actually ends up completely naked at the bottom of it, and later she strips at least twice again.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: The Takakura siblings resemble their parents quite a bit, particularly Himari to their mother Chiemi and Kanba to their father Kenzan. Rather curious, considering Himari was adopted by the Takakuras after being rescued from the Child Broiler, and Kanba himself was a member of the Natsume clan also taken in by the family.
  • Talking To Herself: Finally happens in Episode 22 when Ringo talks with Double-H, since she and one of the Double-H girls are voiced by Marie Miyake.
  • Technicolor Eyes: When Himari is possessed, she has magenta eyes and pinkish sclerae. Same goes to Mario. Sanetoshi seen in the OP and named in Episode 9 has magenta eyes, but white sclerae.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: #3 has a pink bow and long eyelashes, but is otherwise identical to the other two penguins. The other girl penguin, Esmeralda, has longer eyelashes and darker coat.
  • Theme Naming: "Triple H" stands for the first names of its three members. Then there's Ringo (apple) and Momoka (peach blossom). Strangely there doesn't seem to be a theme to the twins, Shouma and Kanba. Although that's to be expected, considering Kanba was adopted.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Masako's grandfather thought there were only winners and losers in this world. This seems to be a recurring theme in character flashbacks: Yuri's father: The beautiful and the ugly, Tabuki's mother: The talented and the useless. Little!Himari: The Chosen and the Unchosen. Compare with Momoka, who believes that everyone and everything is beautiful.
  • There Are No Therapists: There's a girl who breaks into the crawlspace under a man's house every night while plotting to rape him in his sleep, because her dead sister's diary told her to. She's the most sane character in the series.
  • Through His Stomach: Ringo reads a magazine at a bookshop that suggests this in episode two. She goes on to try it in episode three, musing as she prepares it that curry must've been the first cooked meal and served this purpose to boot. Too bad Yuri was also making curry for him...
    • In episode 11, Shouma is seen cooking stuffed cabbage and his sister Himari notices it's a dish he only cooks when he intends to ask someone for forgiveness. She then speculates that he's had a fight with Ringo and says "I hope Ringo-chan likes cabbage!". In a subversion, Ringo don't get to taste it, as she knocks the dish down because when Shouma and Himari found her, the kid was in the middle of a huge Heroic BSOD.
    • Invoked again in episode 17, since Shouma and Kanba's takoyaki is so good that not even the Princess of the Crystal can resist their taste.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The cafe where Kanba meets his parents as revealed in episode 21. It's actually abandoned, has been for a while, and Kenzan and Chiemi's lifeless and rotten bodies are under a table.
  • Tokyo Tower: Very plot-relevant in this series. Apparently, it didn't always look the way it does now.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ringo (though she's not that tomboyish) and Himari.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Himari, possibly also coinciding with Demonic Possession.
  • Transformation Sequence: One that's more than one minute long. Accompanied by a bubbly Jpop version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jUgDe9lSvo of a stadium rock anthem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsa1ZyrFGj0
  • Tron Lines: The Princess's illusion starts with subway station gates made out of orange and blue lines. The Kiga Group's base is also decorated with a grid of green Tron Lines.
  • Visual Pun: In the third episode, after seeing Yuri at Tabuki's place, Ringo flips out when a cat carrying a fish in its mouth walks in front of her. She then imagines Yuri holding a fish with Tabuki's face on it in her mouth. This is because in Japanese the phrase "dorobou neko" ("thieving cat") refers to a woman who steals someone else's man, roughly analogous to the English term "homewrecker".
  • Wham Episode: Episode 11. Kanba talks to Masako and then meets Mario. Ringo attempts again to have Tabuki for herself, and it backfires badly again. She explains her full backstory to Shouma and possessed!Himari. Shouma pretty much screams "It's All My Fault" for only later disclosed reasons. The allusions to the Sarin Gas Attack in the Tokyo Metro are laid out at their thickest. Holy shit.
    • Episode 12. Himari dies again, seemingly for real this time, since even the Penguin hat stops working. And the Takakura parents are part of the group which organized the 1995 bombings on the subway. And then the legend of Black Bunnies and Sanetoshi's appearance in the end. Hooo leee sheeeeet.
    • Episode 19. Himari is not a born Takakura, but a Child Broiler prospect victim. Shouma is revealed to be Himari's fated person, specifically because he rescued her from it. Ikuhara's trolling knows no limits.
    • Episode 21. All of it. Kanba has a tabloid writer killed for digging in way too much. Somebody is stabbed, and it's either Tabuki or Yuri. Kenzan Takakura is revealed to be already dead as well as Chiemi. Sanetoshi is also revealed to have been involved in the 1995 bombings on the subway, and despite being dead, has every intention to succeed at destroying the world this time around. Shouma finally confronts Kanba. Kanba and Shoma fight. Kanba leaves the family. Himari declares her love for Shoma, but she then leaves him. Himari is still gonna die, so she joins Kanba — to save him. And we see how Kanba, a member of the Natsume clan, was brought into the Takakura family. This is a heavy episode.
  • Widget Series
  • World of Symbolism: Unsurprising considering the director. It's uncertain if some things, particularly the Child Broiler (a factory where unwanted children are sent to be forgotten about—i.e., crushed down and reconstructed into generic nobodies), are actual phenomena or are simply some kind of strange representation of something else. The Child Broiler has evidence for being a real place, but at the same time it's such a bizarre concept that it's difficult to suspend such disbelief.
    • The Child Broiler could be a strange metaphor for an orphanage or the emotions of abandoned children.
  • Yandere: Ringo has shades of this after meeting Tabuki's girlfriend. Played for Laughs almost completely, until we see that she has reasons for it, and until we see the extremes she'll reach.
    • Masako also seems to be this... for Kanba. It's specially shown via erasing the memories of Kanba's ex girlfriends (after apparently pushing one of them down a stair!) and later staging a whole Hostage Situation both to get Ringo's half of the Diary... and to steal a kiss from him. Though she seems to be less... unstable and more calculating than the standard yandere, and she also has other motives aside of him (re: Mario).
    • Tabuki's girlfriend/fiancée Yuri also veers towards this by episode 14, trying to rape Ringo because she resembles her older sister and Yuri's childhood friend/crush Momoka so much. She too has an extreme Freudian Excuse behind her actions.
    • Tabuki is shown to have some whiffs of this as well, as of the end of episode 17 and the whole of episode 18 — he actually tries to kill Himari to punish the Takakura family for the death of Momoka. Again, he has an extreme Freudian Excuse.
  • You Are Number Six: For the sake of convenience, Kanba labels the penguins with a permanent marker. 1. is his, 2. is Shouma's, and 3. is Himari's.
  • You Can't Fight Fate/Screw Destiny: The show is heavily associated with fate, though which theme it will take in the end is still up in the air. The theme is emphasized further with an in-universe fairy tale with characters that all the main characters correspond to. Will it be derailed, or will it stick to the storyline?
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Possessed!Himari's outfit has very, very high black boots.

A Little Snow Fairy SugarCreator/Tokyo Broadcasting SystemMayo Chiki
Kure-naiCreator/Brains BaseMazinkaiser
Puella Magi Madoka MagicaSeiun AwardSteins;Gate
Master KeatonSeinenMe And The Devil Blues
Mashiro-iro SymphonyAnime of the 2010sMayo Chiki!
Master of Martial HeartsAnimeMaya the Bee

alternative title(s): Mawaru Penguindrum
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