Schoolboy Aoyama is bright, inquisitive and a bit headstrong. He has a lot of brainwork to get busy with – after all, he'll be an adult in just a few thousand days. For the moment, though, he'll have to live life as a fourth-grader. Not that it's a bad life.
Summer has arrived and school's nearly out. He has a crush on an intriguing older woman he's met at his dentist's office, who's coaching him in his chess game. And a colony of penguins has materialized in the middle of Aoyama's sleepy little town. Where on Earth – or elsewhere – did these waddling interlopers come from? Aoyama and his friends embark on a research mission, applying rigorous scientific methods and principles. Their discoveries, however, only lead to ever more puzzling wonders...
"Penguins inexplicably appear in a suburb some distance from the sea, and a grade-school boy seeks to solve the mystery, in this humorous and at times philosophical novel for young adults that puts author Tomihiko Morimi's playful sensibilities on full display."
Adapted from the most finest work since Tatami Galaxy, The Night is Short, and The Eccentric Family
"As the wind blew, the grass sparkled, wet from the morning dew. There was a squeaking noise that sounded like the school’s floors creaking. In the middle of the huge empty lot, there were a number of penguins waddling around."
Going embark into superstitious child-oriented but with eccentric wholesomeness from
within every sense of direction and far detail like in most avant garde Satoshi Kon's films. The Mindsets of capturing the essence by it's captivating caricature can leaves a very own boundary. Visuals are usually vivid and featured through of such memoir abstract detail through surrealism.
Despite all the connections between the two, both The Tatami Galaxy and The Night is Short Walk On, Girl
Penguin Highway are also self-contained stories that can be enjoyed on their own. That said, they really are best enjoyed together. Each one provides its own nuanced perspective on the contrary between life and youth, and the fact that those perspectives are sometimes lightly contradictory just makes their insights that much saturated. The similarities are pretty obvious, and both stories arrive at similar places by the end, with the protagonists breaking out of self-precognition cycles and learning to live more emotionally fulfilling lives.
As if that wasn't enough, The Studio Colorido and his team went and recreated all of the stylistic flourishes and ambiguous format between providing the reluctant art for Morimi's original novels and often the lightning-fast absurdist monologues and ideologies.
A heaping dose of surreal imagery and cartoon exaggeration, matching and at times surpassing the visuals of the TV series. When watched back-to-back, it's probably the closest animation could get to the feeling of reading both books, in that the stories are different but the pacing, dialogue, and artwork all feel like they sprout from the same mind.
Penguin Highway is an anime film about a boy who is mature for his age but still has some things to learn as a growing boy. He is a genius kid who finds great interest in researching new and bizarre phenomena. The film is structured quite well and uses a lot of metaphors through the animation and storytelling to represent the coming-of-age of his character. This film does have a bloated run-time of about two hours and it compromised some of my enjoyment. The dialogue is poorly written and attempts at humour in the film don't quite cut it. I do appreciate the representation of
the mystery behind the penguins and the phenomena as a metaphor to discovery, exploration, and learning. This film is good to analyse as it presents metaphors in an effective way to tell a story.
The animation is decent for the most part. There are moments of extremely fast motion and travel that are depicted in this film which ends up being poorly animated. The animation in these select few scenes felt lazy and sloppily animated. The animation still deserves some praise.
The soundtrack is quite good. I liked the transition from the introduction to the opening theme. The songs used throughout this film fit the scenes' moods and added a sense of joy. I love the ending theme as the credits roll after a satisfying ending.
The characters were written and developed well in this anime film. The sense of the boy's determination and excitement of further developing his research is portrayed well. Some of the characters' actions felt a little forced but there was one scene where there was a conversation with the boy and his sister which tied up to the ending and connected all the dots. This film doesn't fully explain itself until the very end but it is satisfying to see the films ending scene nonetheless.
To be honest, there were moments that I didn't enjoy watching but I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. The lead up to the ending wasn't enjoyable and this film takes its time to fully explain itself. The humour in this film along with a lot of the dialogue didn't feel like it quite fit in the film which impacted my overall enjoyment of this film.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this anime to anyone but I do have to say that it's an anime film that has a lot of metaphors and imagery that can be analysed and interpreted differently to discover a completely different and beautiful meaning behind its message of growing up, the reality behind maturity, and overall life events that occur when maturing and growing up. You might like this anime film if you like interesting coming-of-age tales.