Tag: 2018

Forest of Piano Review

Forest of Piano Review

Forest of Piano anime series cover art
Forest of Piano

Listening to Piano Music, the Anime

I hadn’t heard of Forest of Piano (Piano no Mori / ピアノの森) until Roman requested it for this month’s Patron review. Yes, if you’re a Patron at the Heika tier, you get an anime review of your choice each month.

Anyway, Forest of Piano is an anime about playing the piano. And it apparently has two seasons, which is what surprised me most about this series. How had I not heard of this series until now? It’s good and has multiple seasons. I’m a failure as an anime reviewer.

Though, I guess this isn’t exactly the kind of series I tend to seek out on my own. It’s a seinen drama, which I love. But, I have a lot of mixed feelings about music anime. There are certainly good ones. I gave both Kids on the Slope and Your Lie in April 9/10 ratings. But, there are also a lot that are just fine.

Kai Ichinose showing Shuuhei Amamiya the forest piano from the anime series Forest of Piano
Kai Ichinose showing Shuuhei Amamiya the forest piano

Forest of Piano isn’t as good as either of those series. At least, Season 1, which is all I’ve watched, isn’t. But I feel pretty confident saying that it’s better than most music anime I’ve seen. And I’m a little surprised to be saying that since it has a heavy focus on the music.

Obviously, the music should be a big part of any music anime. I’m not a musician, though. I don’t play any instruments. So, when series focus heavily on the music, I sometimes feel like I’m missing out.

For example, I often can’t tell when characters are playing poorly. The other characters say they are. But I can’t tell. That could have been an issue in this series since there’s a lot of piano playing. However, Forest of Piano managed to hit a sweet spot.

The Boy from the Forest’s Edge

The two main characters of Forest of Piano couldn’t come from more different backgrounds. Shuuhei Amamiya comes from a wealthy family. His father is a famous pianist who raised Shuuhei to follow in his footsteps.

At first, I thought this was going to mean that Shuuhei had a strict father who forced him to play the piano all day. But once we meet Youichirou Amamiya, it’s clear that’s not the case. Yes, he wants his son to become a great pianist and accomplish the things he couldn’t when he was younger.

However, he also recognizes that his son is an individual and supports him in whatever he wants to do. This is the one thing Shuuhei’s family situation has in common with Kai Ichinose’s, the other main character.

Kai introducing Shuuhei to his mother, Reiko from the anime series Forest of Piano
Kai introducing Shuuhei to his mother, Reiko

Kai is from a poor family. His father isn’t in the picture, and I’m pretty sure nobody even knows who his father is. That’s because his mother, Reiko Ichinose, works as a prostitute and gave birth to Kai when she was only 15. Even if Reiko knows who the father is, she hasn’t said anything.

Because of her profession, Reiko isn’t able to provide Kai with much. His clothes aren’t as nice as those of the other kids in his class. He lives in the brothel where his mother works. And, he’s even forced to work there as well, doing dishes and mopping the floors.

But, like Shuuhei, Kai has a parent who supports him in everything he wants to do. In Kai’s case, the thing he wants more than anything is the same as Shuuhei: To play the piano. Of course, he can’t afford a piano. However, he plays on an abandoned piano he found in the forest near his home.

Modern Day Chopin

If you like listening to classical piano music, you’ll probably like Forest of Piano. And if Chopin is your favorite composer, you’ll really like it. The majority of the songs played in this series are by Chopin, and there’s a reason for that.

Both Kai and Shuuhei want to win the Chopin Competition in Poland. As I’m sure you can figure out by the name, it’s a piano competition dedicated to Chopin’s work. So, while there are songs by other composers early in the series, the second half is pretty much all Chopin.

Now, could I name a single song by Chopin after watching this series? Absolutely not. I’m not a nerd. But they were nice to listen to. If you’re going to binge a series (which I did for this one), it’s at least nice to binge something with good music in it.

Kai Ichinose playing in the Chopin Competition from the anime series Forest of Piano
Kai Ichinose playing in the Chopin Competition

While I liked this whole season, the second half, which focused on the start of the competition, was definitely better. It made me want to watch Season 2 to see how things turn out. I don’t know when I’ll eventually get around to watching it. But I plan to at some point.

Will Kai or Shuuhei win the competition? At this point, I’m not actually sure. Kai makes sense since he’s a prodigy and really the protagonist of the story. But I also feel like it would be better for Shuuhei’s character arc if he wins.

Then, there are the other competitors who could win. In particular, there are Lech Szymanowski of Poland and Wei Pang of China. Those two are on par with Kai and Shuuhei in terms of skill.

Also, I hope Takako Maruyama returns as a more important character in Season 2. I liked her character.

Final Thoughts

Although Forest of Piano is a terrible English translation for the title of the series, it’s a good series. If you’re looking for a music anime to watch and have already seen the other two I mentioned earlier, I’d recommend this one. I ended up giving it a 7/10, and I hope the second season is even better.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up Review

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up Review

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up manga series cover art
I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up

Short and Sweet(?)

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up (Oya ga Urusai node Kouhai (♀) to Gisou Kekkon Shitemita. / 親がうるさいので後輩(♀)と偽装結婚してみた。) is a short yuri manga by Naoko Kodama. By short, I mean it’s three chapters long, plus an additional bonus chapter at the end.

It’s not a one-shot, but it’s close. You can read this in 30 minutes or less. In fact, that’s what I did this morning. So, it’s short. But, is it sweet? I don’t know about that one. I don’t think this manga is very good. And, there are a few reasons why.

The first thing is that the short length isn’t exactly a benefit. It hits all the major story beats that other yuri manga do, but within only three chapters. Like, imagine if Bloom into You‘s 50 chapters were compressed down into three. That’s what this manga feels like.

Hana welcoming Machi home from the manga series I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up
Hana welcoming Machi home

What are these major story beats? Well, there’s always one character who’s sure she’s straight (more on that soon). Then, you have the lesbian character “seduce” her, often aggressively. There are some arranged marriage shenanigans. Of course, they have to go through a rough patch and almost separate (often due to another girl). And, then they live happily ever after.

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up does all of that, which doesn’t leave much room for other things. You know, like the characters themselves. There is character development in this series. However, only one of the characters develops.

Short manga can be good. The premise of this manga could have worked in a short. But, it would have needed to cut out some of the tropes and focus on something more unique. If both women started out “straight,” that may have been something interesting.

Another “I Didn’t Realize I Was Gay” Yuri Manga

I guess turning a straight girl gay is the yuri version of power fantasy. The only yuri series I’ve watched/read that doesn’t include that (that I can think of) is Sakura Trick.

It happens in Bloom into You, Citrus, Gokujou Drops, and I Can’t Believe I Slept With You! It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure it happened in Love To-LIE-Angle, too. And, it’s even sort of happening in Whisper Me a Love Song, which is currently airing. I don’t remember if it happened in Adachi and Shimamura, though.

Anyway, this trope is the second issue I have with the series. Again, if I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up was a bit more unique, it could have been good. But, many of the longer yuri series do everything this one does, but better.

Machi patting Hana on the head from the manga series I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up
Machi patting Hana on the head

So, back to the whole “I didn’t realize I was gay” thing that this series has going on. Is it really that interesting of a concept? Like, does the fact that Machi has only had boyfriends in the past add anything to the series? And if so, for whom?

This is a genuine question, as I’m not a gay girl myself. Is the reader supposed to identify with Machi or Hana in this situation? Or is it both/either?

Hana’s the girl who always had a crush on her friend, but who was rejected because her friend is “straight.” And Machi’s the girl who always thought she was straight. But, she also always felt like something was missing from her relationships with boys.

Is this dual self-insert dynamic why these series are so popular? Personally, I’d much prefer a series in which both girls know they like girls from the start.

Anaerobic Love

I haven’t really said much about the content of this series yet. It’s about a woman (Machi) who’s tired of her parents sending her suitors. So, her best friend (Hana) suggests that they get “married” instead. They can’t legally get married. But, they can get a partnership certificate.

The two women go through with this arrangement and Hana moves in with Machi shortly after. They both need to be living in Shibuya for their certificate to be valid. And, Hana’s old apartment is under construction. So, it’s a win-win, you could say.

As you might expect, Machi’s parents don’t approve of their daughter’s “lifestyle.” But, that doesn’t actually end up going anywhere. It plays into Machi’s character development when she tells her mother off for insulting Hana. However, her parents never come around or anything like that. They’re homophobic until the end.

Hana reminding Machi that they're married from the manga series I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up
Hana reminding Machi that they’re married

Okay, but what’s Anaerobic Love? At the start of this review, I mentioned that there’s a bonus chapter at the end of the manga. That bonus chapter is Anaerobic Love. It’s a one-shot that follows two entirely different characters in high school. One’s a track star and the other is a former track athlete.

It was a little weird for this to be added to the end of I Married My best Friend to Shut My Parents Up. I would have preferred another actual chapter of the main series. And, Anaerobic Love has the same exact issues as the main series.

It’s too short for anything meaningful to happen in it and it has the same “I didn’t know I was gay” trope. It could have been a little more interesting if it was related to the main series in some way. But, since it’s not, why do I care about it?

Final Thoughts

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up is a 5/10. I have no strong feelings about it one way or another. It’s not a bad manga, but it’s not a good manga, either. If you really like yuri series, though, and you want a quick read, this might be the manga for you.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face Review

I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face Review

Intro to IyaPan

I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face (Iya na Kao sare nagara Opantsu Misete Moraitai / 嫌な顔されながらおパンツ見せてもらいたい), known as IyaPan, is a short-form ecchi anime. Just by reading the title, you should be able to figure out what this series is all about.

The series has 6 episodes that are each about 4 minutes long. So, you can watch the entire first season in the time it would take to watch a normal anime episode. And, each episode focuses on a different girl. In this review, I’ll be going through the series girl by girl in no particular order and giving my rating of each one.

Chitose Itou – The Maid

Chitose Itou is the viewer’s maid. Up until the events of this episode, she was a normal maid who had a good relationship with her employer — the viewer. However, that all changed when the viewer asked her to show him her panties.

What I liked about this episode is how it started off with the request and Chitose’s disgust. Then, it went back and showed how different Chitose’s demeanor was before the request. And, finally, we got the payoff of Chitose lifting her dress to reveal her panties.

Of the six girls, Chitose is probably my favorite. Her disgust with the viewer is the most visceral, which is an important factor. I’m going to give her a 10/10 — I want her to show me her panties while making a disgusted face again.

Chitose Itou smiling from the anime series I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face
Chitose Itou smiling

Yuina – The Idol

Yuina is an idol whose number one fan is the viewer. The viewer was one of Yuina’s first fans and is now the president of her fan club. So, in this episode, Yuina invites the viewer backstage after one of her shows to give him a birthday present. She’ll do something he requests.

Naturally, his request is for Yuina to show him her panties — and he doesn’t mean her show panties. When on stage, Yuina wears a second pair of show panties over her real panties. So, the viewer wants her to take those off and show him the real things, which she does.

I thought Yuina was going to be my favorite girl because she’s an idol. But, she actually turned out to be my least favorite. We got a nice scene of her pulling down her show panties. However, once you know they’re not her real panties, it’s not exciting. She gets a 6/10.

Misuzu Tanahashi – The Nurse

Misuzu Tanahashi is a nurse taking care of the viewer after he breaks his legs. She’s a fan of puzzles, so she brings the viewer a puzzle to keep him from getting bored in the hospital. And, she says that if he can finish it by lunch, she’ll give him a reward.

Now, if you watch this episode on AniWave, it’s completely different. For some reason, AniWave has a joke fansub up for this episode and it changes everything. The setting is different, Misuzu’s personality is different, and a lot of it doesn’t make sense. The subs are all wrong.

Going by the real subtitles, Misuzu is a high-tier girl in the series. Her swap from nice to disgusted is almost on par with Chitose’s. And, she’s voiced by Aoi Koga, who you may know as Kaguya Shinomiya. I give Misuzu a 9/10.

Misuzu Tanahashi taking care of you from the anime series I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face
Misuzu Tanahashi taking care of you

Maria Takayama – The Nun

Maria Takayama is a sister at a church. That setting alone makes her episode one of the spicier ones. However, her disgust with the viewer isn’t as extreme as I’d hoped it would be. Yes, she’s disgusted by his request. But, she doesn’t put up much resistance.

The framing of this request is that the viewer’s soul will be saved if only Maria shows him her panties. So, despite not wanting to show him and knowing it’s morally wrong of her, she does so. If it’s to save someone’s soul, then it’s her duty as a nun.

I’m going to give Maria an 8/10. She’s cute and the setting is good. But, if she had been more verbally abusive toward the viewer, she could have scored a 10. She was a bit too forgiving and accommodating of the viewer’s request.

Airi Sega – The Classmate

Airi Sega, like Yuina, is another girl I thought I’d like a lot more than I did. The classmate is a good scenario. However, with Airi, there’s way too much leadup to the part where she shows the viewer her panties.

She keeps on showing just a small portion of them. I get that it’s supposed to be teasing the viewer so they want more. But, it didn’t work. I wasn’t seeing that and looking forward to the full reveal. Instead, every time we got a glimpse, it made me think, “Is this it?”

In the end, we do get the full reveal, but by then I was kind of tired of her. I’m going to give her a 7/10. If there was less teasing, she would have scored higher. And, despite the setting being good, it was also pretty generic.

Airi Sega showing you her panties from the anime series I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face
Airi Sega showing you her panties

Iori Izumo – The Shrine Maiden

The final girl to talk about is Iori Izumo, the shrine maiden. But wait, she’s not only a shrine maiden. She’s also the viewer’s childhood friend. That’s right, we’re double dipping with this one! Though, the fact that she’s the viewer’s childhood friend doesn’t really matter.

So, in this episode, Iori mentions how when they were younger, the viewer said they liked shrine maidens. She then asks if there was a particular reason for this. It’s implied that the viewer says he likes shrine maidens because of her and he then asks to see her panties.

Now, Iori is a pretty good girl. I’m giving her a 7/10. But, again, the fact that she’s the viewer’s childhood friend didn’t actually matter. And, other than her outfit, the fact that she’s a shrine maiden didn’t matter, either. It’s not like with Chitose, Maria, or Misuzu where the setting mattered just as much as the clothes they wore.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I Want You To Show Me Your Panties With a Disgusted Face is a 7/10. It delivers on what the title promises. Could it have delivered on it better by including more ecchi content? Sure. But, I can’t really complain about what I got — only that I didn’t get enough.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

My review of IyaPan 2 is available now.

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Happy Sugar Life Review

Happy Sugar Life Review

Happy Sugar Life anime series cover art
Happy Sugar Life

Satou & the Sugar Girl

Happy Sugar Life (ハッピーシュガーライフ) is a shoujo ai (girls’ love) and psychological horror series. Those are two genres that you don’t typically see together. But, Happy Sugar Life attempts to combine them. And, I say “attempts” because I don’t think it did a good job.

I’ll get to my complaints about the series toward the end of this review. Before we get to that, though, what’s this anime actually about? What is a happy sugar life? At its core, it’s about the love between two girls. But, there’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s also very much about broken people. Almost every character in the series is broken in some way. And, the different ways in which these characters are broken are what bring them together. Some come together to support each other. And others come together opposing each other.

Satou hugging Shio from the anime series Happy Sugar Life
Satou hugging Shio

Our two main characters are Satou Matsuzaka and Shio Koube. These girls both suffered from family and abandonment issues. And, that’s exactly what brought them together. Satou has been searching for a healthy love, and in Shio, she found that. Shio has been without a stable home her entire life, and with Satou, she found that, too.

But, what’s a bit unique about Happy Sugar Life is that none of the characters are “fixable.” Yes, Satou and Shio have each other now. But, that doesn’t mean their past trauma is gone. All they’re really doing is helping each other cope.

So, I still haven’t answered the second question I posed. What is a happy sugar life? This is what Satou is seeking. It’s what she calls a life without all the unpleasant things she doesn’t want to think about. Her life at home with Shio is the happy sugar life she wants to protect.

Everyone Except Shouko Sucks

Shouko Hida, Satou’s best friend, is the only character in the series who isn’t broken in some way. I already mentioned why Satou and Shio are broken. But, there’s more to say about how being broken affects their lives.

Shio has a fear of going outside. When she was younger, her mother punished her for doing so. And, her mother also abandoned her outside. But, that works out perfectly for Satou, who doesn’t want Shio to leave their apartment. You see, Shio is a young girl and Satou is kind of her kidnapper.

If anyone found out that Shio was living with Satou, it could be a problem. So, to protect her happy sugar life, Satou goes to increasing extremes. She has no issues blackmailing, physically harming, or even killing. As long as it means keeping Shio all to herself, Satou will do anything.

Shouko whispering to Satou from the anime series Happy Sugar Life
Shouko whispering to Satou

I mentioned that Shio is a young girl — like elementary school age. I also mentioned this is a shoujo ai series. So, yes, Satou is a high schooler in love with a small child. And, this is a recurring theme in the series. Satou isn’t the only pedophile around.

One of Satou’s bosses who assaulted high schooler Taiyou Mitsuboshi fits this description. And, later in the series, Satou’s aunt does the same thing to Taiyou. There’s also Satou’s teacher, Daichi Kimaumekawa who’s obsessed with being dominated by Satou. And, there’s Taiyou Mitsuboshi, the aforementioned victim. He also has an unhealthy obsession with Shio.

Not every broken character has an attraction to children, though. Most do, sure. But, there’s also Sumire Miyazaki, Satou’s kouhai who wants to become her. And, there’s Asahi Koube, Shio’s older brother. He believes that reuniting with Shio will somehow fix their broken family and his life.

The Third Quarter Was Decent

My biggest complaint isn’t the fact that so many characters in the series are pedophiles. It’s the fact that the series tries to be extremely edgy. Of course, the pedophile characters are part of that. But, there’s more that goes into it.

Happy Sugar Life reminds me a lot of Angels of Death, which actually aired during the same season back in 2018. The entire point of both series is to be edgy. And, because of that, they’re pretty cringe, as well. But, I’d say Happy Sugar Life is the worse of the two.

The first half of this series didn’t have much in terms of redeeming qualities. It was all about setting up how terrible and broken all of the characters are. But then, the third quarter of the series gave me some hope. It brought the mystery aspect of the series back into the spotlight.

Satou's aunt committing arson from the anime series Happy Sugar Life
Satou’s aunt committing arson

From the very start of Happy Sugar Life, we knew that Satou had a dark secret. There were bloody trash bags stowed away in a locked room of her apartment. And, we didn’t know what was in them. The implication was that these were the remains of her aunt.

However, I never thought that was the case. And it’s a good thing I didn’t because it turned out to be wrong. I assumed these were the remains of Shio’s mother. My guess was that Satou killed her and assumed her role as Shio’s caretaker.

But, that was also wrong. I’m not going to say whose remains were in the bags because you can watch the series for yourself. But, this is also the point in the series when things begin unraveling for Satou. That was fun to watch until all the edgy action happened at the end.

Happy Sugar Life: 4/10

I don’t think Happy Sugar Life is a good anime. It had some interesting stuff going on with the mystery surrounding Satou’s apartment. But, aside from that, it was bad. And that’s why I have to give it a 4/10. It would have been so much better if it focused more on the mystery than the “edginess.”

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about supporting this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Penguin Highway

Penguin Highway

Penguin Highway anime movie cover art
Penguin Highway

The Great Penguin Conspiracy

Penguin Highway (ペンギン・ハイウェイ) is a sci-fi, fantasy, mystery anime about penguins in a Japanese town. It’s a weird movie and I thought it was going to be a lot better than it was. Unfortunately, Penguin Highway isn’t a very good movie.

One thing that made Penguin Highway watchable, though, was that I didn’t watch it alone. I watched it as part of the DoubleSama Discord server‘s monthly movie night event. Penguin Highway was December’s movie. And yes, I’m only now getting around to the review.

So, what’s Penguin Highway about? It’s about a conspiracy — at least, at first. You see, one day, Penguins appeared in a small Japanese town. Where did they come from? Why were they there? And, most importantly, do they even actually exist? That’s right, there are penguin truthers in this town who don’t believe the penguins are real.

Aoyama looking at the penguins from the anime movie Penguin Highway
Aoyama looking at the penguins

Now, you may be thinking that it would be pretty easy to prove the existence of some penguins. But, after their initial appearance, the penguins disappeared. Nobody knows where they went. So, it kind of makes sense that those who didn’t see the penguins themselves don’t believe they existed.

Naturally, the most popular theory was that they escaped in transit. But, that doesn’t appear to be the case. No local zoos or aquariums reported the penguins missing. And with that, most of the townspeople lost interest in the mystery of the penguins.

However, there was one boy who didn’t lose interest. Aoyama, a nerd, wants to get to the bottom of the mystery. So, he recruits the help of a local dental assistant with whom he has a questionable relationship. Together, this unlikely pair unravels the truth behind the penguins — and, as it turns out, the universe.

Main Characters

Despite being a nearly 2-hour-long movie, Penguin Highway only has 4 named characters. These are Aoyama, Uchida, Hamamoto, and Suzuki. But, there’s also 5th character worth mentioning, the Lady. We never learn her name, but she’s one of the 2 main characters, along with Aoyama.

Aoyama is a middle schooler at the latest. He’s a young boy who’s interested in things like space and chess. So, as I mentioned earlier, he’s a nerd. He also doesn’t have many friends. Though, this is likely due to his failure to pick up on social cues and the fact that he’s annoying.

Uchida is Aoyama’s one friend (of the same age). He’s also a nerd. But, he seems more well-adjusted than Aoyama. He’ll grow up to be a normal person. However, as he is now, he’s kind of useless. He’s afraid of getting in trouble and doesn’t want to get beat up, for some reason.

Hamamoto, Aoyama, and Uchida from the anime movie Penguin Highway
Hamamoto, Aoyama, and Uchida

Speaking of beating people up, Suzuki is the class bully. Of course, that means he picks on Aoyama and Uchida. Though, I have to say Aoyama kind of deserves it. Suzuki is also the leader of the penguin deniers in Aoyama’s class.

The last of the named characters is Hamamoto. Hamamoto is the popular girl in Aoyama’s class. Suzuki has a crush on Hamamoto. But, she’s more interested in Aoyama because they share similar interests — like space. As the movie progresses, Hamamoto inserts herself into Aoyama and Uchida’s circle.

Finally, we have the Lady. She’s a dentist’s assistant who befriended Aoyama at some point. They play chess together at a local cafe. But, their relationship is a bit worrying. Aoyama has also been to her apartment alone at night to “play chess.” And she even takes him on an out-of-town trip alone.

Pocket Dimension of the Sea

Are you thinking Penguin Highway sounds like a pretty good movie so far? Well, hold your horses. I haven’t actually discussed any of the weird stuff yet. You see, this is a sci-fi anime. And the sci-fi aspects of the movie make no sense.

Let’s start off by spoiling where the Penguins come from — the Lady. That’s right, the Lady is the one who created the penguins (without knowing it). She can turn random objects into penguins by throwing them. And, for some reason, this only works if she’s in direct sunlight.

In case you’re wondering, no, this is never explained. But, it gets weirder. The Lady also creates leopard seal-like monsters that can swim through solid ground. These, she creates while she sleeps. They’re the spawn of her nightmares — or something like that.

Aoyama, Hamamoto, and Uchida looking at the "Sea" from the anime movie Penguin Highway
Aoyama, Hamamoto, and Uchida looking at the “Sea”

Then, there’s also the pocket dimension known as the “Sea.” The “Sea” is a giant sphere of water in the middle of a field. And as we later learn, it’s a portal into another dimension. So, you may be thinking that this must be explained at some point. Well, you’d be wrong.

The closest we get is when Aoyama’s father uses his wallet to explain pocket dimensions. He doesn’t actually explain the “Sea.” He’s just explaining pocket dimensions in general, for some reason. And after this cursory explanation, he hops on a bus and skips town.

Oh, and then there’s another mystery involving the stream that surrounds the town. It’s a circle. It starts and ends at the “Sea.” Again, this is never explained. I assumed this was going to be important. Maybe the stream is a boundary of some kind and will connect back to Aoyama’s father leaving. No. That would make too much sense.

The Dentist’s Assistant Who Never Was

With all the weird stuff surrounding the Lady, it wasn’t much of a surprise when we learned she wasn’t real. Well, she’s real. But, only temporarily. You see, like the penguins and leopard seal monsters, she’s from the “Sea.”

And once the penguin energy (yes, that’s a thing) returns to the “Sea,” the Lady can’t stay around. The “Sea” collapses in on itself and everything from the “Sea” starts disappearing. By the end of the movie, the Lady is gone and Aoyama is only left with his memories of her.

This leads us to my favorite part of the movie. Well, one of my favorite parts. My first favorite part came early on because we watched a poorly translated version. We only realized the movie was available on Crunchyroll after it was over — I assumed that as a movie, it wouldn’t be.

Aoyama and the Lady riding the train from the anime movie Penguin Highway
Aoyama and the Lady riding the train

Anyway, back to my favorite intentional part of the movie. Throughout the whole thing, Hamamoto was flirting with Aoyama. And, as you might expect from Aoyama at this point, he wasn’t picking up on it. But, at the end, after the Lady disappears, he mentions that he still has someone special.

So, he must have finally recognized Hamamoto as a girl, right? Wrong. He’s talking about his memories of the Lady. First, Hamamoto had to compete with a mature woman. Now, she has to compete with the memory of a mature woman. She can’t win.

I’m kind of surprised Aoyama even remembers Hamamoto’s name. She seems so far off his radar that at times it seems like he forgets she exists. It sucks for Hamamoto. But the fact that Aoyama still unintentionally rejects her in the end was too funny to me.

Conclusion

I had to give Penguin Highway a 4/10 in the end. The movie looks nice. And the Lady is cute. But, the plot made absolutely no sense. There were so many twists and turns that ended up going nowhere. You’d think everything would get tied up at the end and make sense. But you’d be wrong.

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