Pingu in the City returned in 2018 with more jobs, a more focused direction, and overall more heart. By better utilizing the strengths of its own quirks without overly distancing itself from the old claymation series, Pingu in the City has become a solid comedy, a great slice-of-life, and a proper successor to the original Pingu series.
Review in full:
Inevitably this review will see comparisons to this anime's first season and my review of it. To summarize, the first season clearly took cues from the old claymation series but was too formulaic and rigid (both in writing and in production values) to take full
advantage of its roots, its new setting, or its theme of urban exploration. There were moments when it took detours into more imaginative ideas and possessed a genuine charm, but much of the time it settled for being a fairly standard series of computerized shorts that only had stronger than usual characterization to separate it from any other kids' show.
Almost all of the above points are fully addressed in this second season. The whole season takes a looser approach to what it had attempted before, which is exactly what the silly yet charming kids' show Pingu in the City was trying to be needed. The cycle of "Pingu observes job, gets job, does job, has job-related conflict" is broken down and recycled into much more dynamic approaches in getting Pingu to explore the jobs in his city. Sometimes Pingu takes jobs upon himself to solve problems he encounters, or discovers that something he had already been doing can be a job. Some of his jobs don't have conflicts and it's just about him mastering a skill or discovering multiple facets of what appeared to be a single task. His sister Pinga and his friends occasionally join him too, giving Pingu in the City a sense of community to help fill in the emptiness the first season struggled to fill.
More importantly, Pingu takes on a much greater variety of jobs this time. A considerable number of his jobs, ranging from working an assembly line to hairdressing, are unique to their episodes, even with the complete absence of some of the more worn jobs Pingu took on last season. They often lead into one another too. In one episode Pingu becomes an artist, the next episode he becomes the art itself! (no, really, it's one of the funniest episodes of the series). Meanwhile the reoccurring jobs Pingu maintains enter completely different fields when they return, such as Pingu doing detective work, traffic directing, and patrolling during his stints as a policeman. This variety gives Pingu in the City the exploration aspect it was missing before. Now Pingu is everywhere he can be doing anything he sets his mind to, living out many a real child's imagination and dreams on-screen for them to witness. Jobs aren't the only thing Pingu explores either, and this season doesn't limit itself to the city for long. Pingu goes above, below, and all around his new home on what can truly be called adventures.
Robby the Seal is no longer the only non-penguin in the anime, as Pingu makes a few strange new friends on his little expeditions, some of whom even come to visit him later. They aren't the greatest characters to grace the slice-of-life genre or even just this season of Pingu, but they flesh out the setting just fine. Meanwhile the returning cast is as quirky as they were before, and Pingu & his family get a lot of touching moments that really show how close-knit they are, something slice-of-life anime is often lacking in. Entire episodes, like the one where Pingu's parents are sick, do more to flesh out the dynamics of Pingu's family than entire seasons of other anime in the genre. Through all of this, Pingu once again establishes himself as a strong main character who defines his show via his well-meaning impulsiveness; quite the feat in a TV Short series made simple for a young target audience.
I still wonder why the "city" was emphasized enough to be put in the title when the whole show could have taken place in Pingu's old village. Sure, it would be a little odd for there to be a fish cannery or the amount of cars & trams Pingu's city has, but it wouldn't break suspension of disbelief or anything close to that even if the trams were just swapped for buses. Pingu leaving the city frequently makes Pingu in the City seem to spite the city it names itself for, and the anime improving itself by distancing itself from said city still creates an odd thematic dissonance.
Even the production values got a subtle boost between seasons. Though the expressiveness of the original claymation series' animation isn't fully reached, this season of Pingu in the City gets closer than the last season by being looser overall and by using some of the old series' more popular model poses involving stretching while reaching for things and a squished physique for sitting. The coloring is also more saturated, making the CG visuals look more like the claymation aesthetically and giving the show a slightly more fun-loving appearance. While the sound quality is still merely passable, it is used more effectively. A number of episodes center around the sort of lively music that would be at home in a city (perhaps the one element of the show I'd say fits the city setting well) and other episodes noticeably present more fitting music/ambiance than the same three or so general-purpose pieces from the first season. I still wouldn't likely listen to any of it for its own sake, but it's still a step up.
Now, being a kids' show first and foremost, I'm not going to pretend that just about everyone 13 and older will have a blast with Pingu in the City (though I do believe most of you would like it more than you'd guess by the cover). The humor can be varied and quirky but is still largely simple and is sometimes predictable. The plots are also simple and, despite each episode being 6 minutes long without the OP & ED, flow rather slowly to ensure that kids who aren't experienced enough with stories to pick up on tropes & complex cues can keep up and easily digest it all. There are also a few dud episodes that are more comparable to the first season than the majority of this one (the jazz band episode was everything the idol episode should have been and wasn't). Yet most of the episodes in this season carry that distinctive charm a handful of the first season's episodes had. It possesses that warm, tender essence that only a well-made slice-of-life can offer. Pingu has been a celebrated claymation series, and now Pingu is also one of those rare slice-of-life anime that doesn't rely on moe schoolgirls and high school clubs to put a smile on the viewer's face, and that's something everyone could use a little more of.
Pingu in the City set out on a path of true discovery this season and in turn it discovered itself. At the same time standout and familiar, this season of Pingu in the City rises above the memes that saw it receive a bizarre 15 minutes of fame to become a hidden gem of a slice-of-life at a time when it seems those sorts of shows are stagnating away and being replaced with power-fantasy isekai and idol anime. There's some things it wouldn't have even considered doing as a kids' show, but overall I can recommend Pingu in the City in its entirety knowing that this season builds up upon the last and the anime as a whole delivers something you can't simply be too old to enjoy.
I feel like I've already put down enough paragraphs on what this show is back when I reviewed the first season, and to be honest, it was more of last year's hit, however, in honor of an honest series, another review is the least I can do to show my appreciation for a show that most people think of as a joke, but end up sleeping on a decent wholesome fest that doesn't get much recognition, if it doesn't have boobs it's not worth the watch, that's the phrase they live by, while agreeing as much as Dandy would himself, it's way too generic to
spit it overflows many good shows as victims of lackluster and low following.
Remember the thing about the futuristic civilization that will come to earth to find some copies of Pingu's first season and get a wrong idea on us as a capable life form? Well, scratch that, what if they ended up enjoying it as much as we did, and so as a tribute, they produced a new season of the show. Several millions of years later, yet another more advanced life form arrives at earth and manages to get by the remains of the last inhabitance of our poor planet, and ended up finding out about the new season of Pingu in The city. Actually, scratch that, I way off topic I should just stick to the review.
- Story (7/10):
Fascinating how simplistic but very reflective are the problems discussed in this show. The episodic nature of the show remains as strong as ever with this season with a better topic to discuss, stuff like stealing, lying and all sorts of basic bad habits that the kids should be aware of and avoid are all adapted into their own respective episodes that go ahead and with a great effort show numerous examples of their causes and consequences and always ending up with a wholesome wrap up at the end of said episode.
As we've come to know, all episodes are extremely short, spanning around 7 minutes including both the opening and the ending which leaves us with a limited content that at the end of the day doesn't fall short on delivering the message. The show really teaches a lot of daily ethics that we forget about most of the time showing examples of their effects on a personal side (Everything related to Pingu) and on one's surroundings (Everybody else).
- Art (7/10):
Beautiful spot motion that's simple enough to carry on the moral of the episodes. Its childish visuals still strikingly apparent but it was always meant to be that, you can't really complain about the fluidity of the animation of the alteration of the anatomy concerning body proportions, because at the end of the day, they are all just penguins that tend to have way more flexibility on their bodies than a world-class renowned gymnast.
- Sound (7.5/10):
I think at this point we can all live by their constant span of “NOOT” and would never take anything else for a replacement, even if it was legit voice acting with big names taking on the roles. The dialogue was never relevant as the moral of the story was always the message, the actions that we physically do will never be excused by simply spitting some words, perhaps that was the reason for having all of the Penguins noot all the time.
- Characters (7/10):
There was never a character that makes you go nuts on consuming all of those latest figurines the moment they show up, it's just Pingu, the dude that's all of the worlds is centered around. The show features a full sized city populated with a lot of Penguins of different treats and professions and never neglects a single one of them as all of them have episodes they shine on which is always appreciated. Writing up characters and never referencing again was always a bad thing, and “Pingu in the City” addresses that greatly.
- Enjoyment (8/10):
The joy of watching “Pingu in the City” was always from anticipating what's the next ethic the episodes are going to tackle, I don't think binge watching this series works in a good fashion as watching it weekly does have its effects if you're planning to live by the great advice the show provides, a week worth of time between every episode could also be an opportunity to adapt to the moral lesson you just learned from Pingu.
The factor of wholesomeness is also something worthy of mentioning, I'm rare to find a show that genuinely helps you relax, it doesn't require any extensive processing to get and is just there to entertain you whenever you've nothing else to do.
- Overall (7.3/10):
Recommending this to an outsider of the series might lead them to doubt your mental health in many ways, and it's sad to think that this is what the general public thinks of this show, no, it's not for a specific age demographic and was never meant to be, learning good moral is a great thing to live by and you could at least be appreciative to this new kid in the block that's willing to help up shape a genuine person out of you.
Guess who’s back, back again? Pingu’s back, tell a friend…
I guess we should start by addressing the elephant in the room. There’s a lot less hype and discussion around this second season then there was the first. This is by no fault of Pingu, but rather the fact that he’s seen as a “dead meme” among the majority. The “Pingu is 10/10” trend was misunderstood as a ‘meme’ by many who didn’t actually bother to watch the show. Once it ran through the traditional lifecycle of a meme, Pingu faded from public interest, despite the show itself not dropping in quality at all.
True Pingu fans
are watching and enjoying this second season, and I would highly encourage anyone who isn’t to jump in with us. While watching the first season is recommended, this second season is a rare thing for second seasons of anime—you can start here too! Pingu and his family and friends are very simple characters who often engage in episodic adventures—as such, the Pingu franchise is a hell of a lot easier to jump into rather than something like, say, the Fate franchise. (It’s also a lot more fun.)
A lot of children’s shows try new directions in later seasons. Some of them don’t go too well, such as when The Fairly OddParents introduced a useless baby, a useless dog, and a useless neighbor girl. Pingu in the City knows better than to try to fix what isn’t broken. Pingu is still exploring the world around him, taking the viewer on his daily adventures and exposing younger viewers to potential career options once they grow up. (That’s more than my school ever did for me.) Adult viewers are likely to smile and feel a sense of nostalgia, considering how well Pingu captures that familiar childhood exploration of an unfamiliar world where everything is new and exciting.
In conclusion, while some unaware anime fans may be bewildered by the second season’s spot in the top airing anime this season, I would be willing to argue that this is, in fact, an underrating. Pingu in the City has maintained its comedy and whimsical world, keeping it open for all ages to enjoy. I highly encourage any potential viewer to give Pingu the true recognition that it deserves. Don’t assume it’s a “dead meme” just because /r/animemes moved on.
I like memes. In fact, one could say I am some sort of meme connoisseur, shitposter with endless stamina, collector of rare pepes, and in generally aware of all sorts of obscure coaxed snafu/moviescirclejerk epic. However, when I see one of the goofiest cartoons from my childhood rebooted and then turned into some sort of beyond childish and completely dull version of the original, I am not calling it the best thing evertz for the sake of lulz. Especially when it not-so-obviously is not it. --- I asked 3 natives if this if grammatically correct way
to present what I want to express here, and all of them said a different thing, but basically: it sucks.
The story types are limited and highly similar to each others. Pingu is doing some newly discovered thingies that vary from painting to helping firefighters, and being very useful while doing so, but then he either a) fucks it up and tries his best to fix it, or b) alternatively some asshole appears and rekts his hard work in some way. Sometimes he himself is the asshole when he gets to boss around kids younger than him. It's pretty fun. Especially when watched once a week and the word "fun" being the opposite of what it really means.
Some of the episodes feel like the first cognitive psychology test made to a few months old toddler where he/she is supposed to make a triangle, ball and square go in the right holes. The story writing can feel braindamaging-ly cringe. Some other stuff is far more reasonable and occasionally even entertaining. Typically it is just overly childish nonsense that has no appeal or charm.
Pingu is just being a real nerd here, getting interested over nothing or mad because someone teases him, only to become happy and go "noot noot" 2 minutes later. Real mood swinger this guy. The original cartoon Pingu was totally different and much more reasonable than this kid.
Great many side characters are either teasing him "ho ho ho Pingu you nerd" laughing at him (not with him) when he does something stupid or alternatively laugh at him when he does an ordinary thing but doesn't fuck it up, unlike usually. Occasionally other characters get mad at him because he fucks something up, or just tease him until they change their mind and actually help him instead because friendship or something. Part of the cast exists for the purpose of cheap provoking just to eventually show that they are "good guys" after all. Nice lesson I guess, good thing it's repeated till nausea and has nothing new to say.
Some scenes are neato. I especially appreciate those scenes where our characters waddle away, waddle waddle. It's cute. The original cartoon was actually entertaining to watch and serves an adult audience as well with its animation trickies, but this one is just overly childish nonsense. It's real basic stuff, not fluid at all, really just a try hard attempt to stay inside a small budget and follow the safety route. Inferior version of the original in every way and offer practically no reasons to appreciate it.
Noot Noots, inaudiable dialogue. Outside the waddling, the sounds are pretty much filler, Noot noots are practically the only thing keeping the series on surface at this point despite getting old decades ago and being the most annoying thing already in the original cartoon.
I was team Pingu during the Shingeki no Kyojin opening wars in 2013 solely because this version of the cartoon didn't exist back then. Now I would have to choose something else. The original Pingu is still entertaining to watch and doesn't have nearly as shitty characterization. I am not going against that one, but this blows.