The Speakeasy #025: The Flying Penguin, A Revolutionary Girl Utena & Mawaru Penguindrum Discussion

Drink #025: The Flying Penguin,
A Revolutionary Girl Utena & Mawaru Penguindrum Discussion

Kunihiko Ikuhara is undoubtedly one of our favorite directors so it seemed only fitting for us to devote a podcast to two of his most recognizable masterworks. For each show we brought on a guest to talk with us a bit about the selected show. We started with Clarissa from the Anime World Order podcast to chat about Revolutionary Girl Utena. As she recently did a paper for grad school on the show she seemed the only logical choice for a guest to talk about pink-haired crossdressers. After that we talk with Patz from Insert-Disc about Ikuhara’s recently concluded work, Mawaru Penguindrum. With both titles we do an in-depth analysis of characters and themes and don’t hold anything back on the spoiler side of things. If you have not finished either series be warned that we give away pretty much anything that could possibly be. If you want a review just know that both shows are 100% recommended so you can just watch them and then come back and listen to the podcast.

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And now your helpful bartenders at The Speakeasy present your drink:

The Flying Penguin


Pour 1.5 ounces each of Vodka, White Rum and Gin into a highball glass over two ice cubes. Add a good spash (approx .25 ounces) of angora bitters and swirl with a metal stirring rod. Add 5 ounces of Pink Grapefruit Juice. Add 1.5 ounces of sugar syrup. Slice a fresh lime into a slice approximately 1/2 of an inch wide. Cut in half, squeezing one half directly into the drink (then drop the squeezed lime half in). Make a small nick 2/3rds of the way up the second halfof lime and use to rim the glass then as a garnish. Include a metal stirring rod.


9 thoughts on “The Speakeasy #025: The Flying Penguin, A Revolutionary Girl Utena & Mawaru Penguindrum Discussion

  1. wendeego says:

    Regarding the bears, etc:

    My theory is that Mawaru Penguindrum is basically a game played by abandoned children. Therefore, since it’s a “children’s game” it is played with teddy bears, penguin hats, adorable bunnies, and a Penguindrum that is passed to and fro like a hot potato. Also ties in with the lyrics of the second OP, which evokes children’s games as well. The leaders of the game, of course, are a literal child as well as a man who probably never grew up.

    Of course, this makes the fact that KIGA was attempting to slaughter thousands of people/blow open the walls/destroy everything/SOMETHING with what were essentially explosive children’s toys even more disturbing.

    Anyway I dunno if that’s really the case but I think it might explain a bit if true.

  2. SDShamshel says:

    Re: The discussion about why Shouma’s penguin seems to be so gluttonous, I think it has to do with the fact that food is connected to family in Penguindrum. Ringo’s family is (ostensibly) all about the apple curry, the Takakura siblings apologize using food, and dumplings are a big deal. Penguin #2 is always trying to eat but also to share his food, and I think it points to Shouma’s desire to keep the family together no matter what, which is a markedly different goal compared to Kanba, who is more about saving Himari herself.

    One thing that stands out to me in Penguindrum is the name Himari gives her penguin. She calls it “San-chan,” which we assume at first to just mean “Number 3,” only to find out later that she named that stray cat “San-chan” as well.

    • reversethieves says:

      He is definitely greedy for something but also will to share that same thing he is hording. Your interpretation is as good as any.

      The San-chan event is a good catch. It also shows how much Penguindrum will present something in a manner that makes you interpret something one way until you see the real story and its true meaning.

      Just wonderful.

      – Hisui

  3. Adam Wednesdays says:

    The idea that there’s a tonal shift in “Penguindrum” is something I can see people getting caught up on. Like you guys say, there is definitely a dark undercurrent from the very beginning, and if you’re paying attention it’s obvious how creepy a lot of the stuff that’s going on really is. But at the same time, the way some of even the most disturbing elements (see: Ringo’s obsession) are played in the early episodes is so goofy that it makes the more emotionally violent and somber parts of the latter episodes that much more affecting.

    You take the example of Ringo, and even though from the beginning there’s no denying that this is a girl nursing an obsession that is in no way healthy and goes all the way past creepy, in the first six or so episodes she’s played almost entirely for laughs, with slapstick routines and musical numbers, or from a perspective where the audience is made to feel sorry for her; she’s so utterly hopeless, and yet so chirpy and determined in spite of what seems like an unattainable goal and a completely f-ed up family life that you kind of start rooting for her, even though she is a creepy stalker…

    …which makes it that much worse when she then drugs and tries to rape the object of her obsession.

    And of course, the show is designed that way. The bright colors, the goofy sequences, the slapstick of the earlier episodes are all meant to disarm the audience. And it works. Some of the twists, in hindsight, seem almost inevitable after they’ve happened, but were jaw-dropping when they were unfolding.

    I LOVED the fact that I had no idea what the hell was going on most of the time in in Penguindrum. That was it’s biggest strength, for me: that it could explain so little so slowly, and take such surreal and/or off-putting twists, and yet not feel cloying or abusive to the viewer.

    I’m glad that you guys were able to point out all the allusions to other stories and products I had missed. I’d never heard of the stories you guys mention in the podcast; I didn’t even know that Superfrog existed outside of the world of Penguindrum. When I was first trying to wrap my head around the whole thing, it seemed to me like Penguindrum was riffing pretty hard on the subjects of Greek and classical myths, due to its constant reference to and obsession with destiny and fate, the same way that Utena has a very obvious fairy tale influence (shameless plug: there’s a link to my little article about it below ;) ). I knew it was very reductive example and was only hitting on a part of the whole, but I still don’t think it’s entirely off base.

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