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[Penguin Highway]
AKA: ペンギン・ハイウェイ
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Movie, 118 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by Shout Factory, also available streaming on Amazon Prime and Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mild violence, mature themes.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: You And Me, Season 2, Episode 12; The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Notes: Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida

Based on a 2010 novel by Tomihiko Morimi

Copyright: 2018 Tomihiko Morimi, Kadokawa/Penguin Highway Production Committee

Penguin Highway


Aoyama is a self-styled "genius" 4th-grader whose town is inexplicably invaded by Adelie penguins. He's soon shocked to learn that a young woman at his dentist's office that he's befriended, and who he knows only as "Onee-san", has a connection to this plague of penguins. Things get even more complicated when a classmate of his, a girl named Hamamoto, finds a strange object in the forest near the town. Aoyama is sure that it can all be understood through scientific observation- but can it? And will he be happy with what he discovers?

"The Goddess Mystery makes an appearance, perhaps" - SciFi author Fritz Leiber, describing one of his own stories.


And perhaps Mystery makes an appearance HERE, too. Despite Aoyama's enormous ego ("As you can tell, I'm not conceited, and that makes me great"), and his confidence in his application of the Scientific Method, at his age he basically only understands how to use observation to make connections between phenomena. The Greek philosophers like Aristotle were also able to make inferences about Earth and the cosmos with careful observations, but actual understanding WHY things happen (rather than just knowing "what" happens) had to wait; those ancient Greek observers didn't have the tools (mathematical and instrumental) to derive the deeper motivating forces of nature such as quantum mechanics or gravitational theory. Aoyama's going to have to spend some time learning more than just the basics of the Scientific Method if he ever hopes to achieve the understanding he pledges to get late in the show- especially since the occurrences here are all so outré. (Which is why I've classified this as fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.)

He's also going to have to do a lot of BIOLOGICAL growth to catch up with "Onee-san" too, no matter HOW precocious he is. (He puts all of his "studies" into their own notebooks. The one on HER is titled "Onee-san: A Study of the Geometry of Breasts." ) Aoyama's crush on this older woman (she looks like she might be mid-20's) reminded me of similar crushes in other shows; my own choice for the most poignant one is Kaname's long-smoldering desire for Shizuna Aida in You And Me. But alas, "Onee-san" seems about as unattainable by Aoyama as these older women usually ARE for the lovesick youngsters who fall for them; in fact, "Onee-san" might be even MORE unattainable than most.

There are several other classmates of Aoyama's that are major players in the story. One of course is Hamamoto, who we know really enjoys science, because she's recently read a book on Relativity. (You have to admit that's pretty impressive for a 10-year-old.) There's Aoyama's chronic nemesis, a bully named Suzuki (and his two sycophantic followers.) It's suggested that Suzuki is interested in Hamamoto himself, though I wouldn't think a smart girl would be his type at all. And finally there's Aoyama's "pal" Uchida, who's really not that loyal; like Monty Python's "Brave Sir Robin", he runs away at the first sign of trouble, and is pretty much useless in a crisis.

I've no complaint with the show's computer graphics, and the climax is just as strange as it should be. I can also perfectly understand why Aoyama fell in love with "Onee-san"; she's one of the most intriguing characters I've ever come across. I guess you could describe her as very sweet and patient, but very vague about a lot of things. (And yes, she DOES have big boobs.)

The Recs this time are that particular series episode that I thought perfectly captured the bittersweet quality of adolescent ( in Penguin, of course, even PRE-adolescent) crushes on people who are too old for them; the other Rec is ANOTHER show in which the Goddess Mystery seems to be at work.

Aoyama's just too young and inexperienced- chronologically AND scientifically- to achieve the things he really desires, and he seemed to me in danger of abandoning an easily attainable goal in favor of an elusive dream, but this IS anime, so I guess ANYTHING'S possible.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Some violence (mostly instigated by Suzuki) and peril. Mature situations. Rightstuf rates 13+; I'm cool with that.

Version(s) Viewed: Prime video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Penguin Highway © 2018 Studio Colorido
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