Lesbian Bear Storm (Yurikuma Arashi). Let that title sink in for a bit because as titles go, it’s particularly on the nose. Especially so for director and writer Kunihiko Ikuhara whose previous directorial works - Utena and Penguindrum - relied on a slightly less blatant approach to themes and tone.
represents only the visible part of this Ikuhara iceberg
Blunt force is the order of the day here though because from the repeated character refrains through to the imagery and structure of each episode, this is a series that will bludgeon you with its message rather than hide it subtext and inference. What it lacks in subtlety then, as has become a trait of the director’s anime series, it makes up for in layers and symbolism.
Darling of the erudites and intellectuals, Mawaru Penguindrum is a series quite unlike any other. A visual and cerebral feast, it explores the ideas of fate, of families and, as the title would suggest, penguins. Its allegories and layers however are unfortunately but an enticing mask for a flaky and unsatisfying story beneath. Morsels of exposition are stingily doled out when not being secreted away behind monologues or incongruous character histories.
there is thought and care applied to every scene and word, and it poses complex and interpretive questions
By and large those back stories all boil down to child abuse, meted out by deranged parents. Parental sins visited upon their children is a theme that underscores each of the main characters and, perhaps because of that, every one of them is utterly reprehensible. Doing away with any chance of empathy, the spectrum runs from simpering do-gooder to austere ice-queen but results with a cast that is hard to like, but unique enough making them hard to hate.