It was recently announced that Kunihiko Ikuhara's 2011 anime Mawaru Penguindrum will be receiving a movie remake for its 10th anniversary. The film, Re:cycle of Penguindrum, will be an edited version of the original 24-episode anime, but will also feature new scenes. With its condensed runtime, the movie has the perfect opportunity to fix the anime's biggest problem: its pacing.
Mawaru Penguindrum follows the Takakura siblings, brothers Kanba, Shouma and their sickly younger sister Himari. While on a trip to the aquarium with her brothers, Himari suddenly dies, but is revived by a mysterious penguin hat. The hat contains a separate entity that takes over Himari's body when she wears it, and this entity tells Kanba and Shouma that they can save their sister if they find something called the Penguindrum. Their only lead is a girl named Ringo Oginome, who owns a diary that she believes predicts her destiny.
The first half of the series consists largely of Kanba and Shouma trying to obtain Ringo's diary, which they believe to be the Penguindrum. These early episodes feel repetitive, going through the same story beats over and over: Kanba tells Shouma to get the diary, Shouma tries to convince Ringo to give it to him, Ringo refuses and stalks her crush in an attempt to fulfill her "destiny." While new information is revealed in each episode, it is always only a small piece of the puzzle, the result being that for half of the anime's runtime, the audience doesn't have much of an idea of what the story's true purpose is.
The second half, in contrast, moves at a quick pace, with many new developments in each episode. The siblings' complicated past and the crimes of their parents are revealed, a previously unhinted-at villain appears, the true purpose of the diary is explored, Kanba and Himari become more proactive and Ikuhara's signature surreal style becomes much more prominent. Compared to the first half of the series, the second sometimes feels like a different anime.
The movie has an excellent opportunity to fix this problem, since its runtime will be much shorter than that of a 24-episode anime. Its best course of action would be to condense the first half of the story, cutting down on the antics surrounding Ringo and her misuse of the diary. It could also introduce elements from the anime's second half earlier, so that they don't feel like they come out of nowhere; for instance, scenes hinting at the siblings' past and the presence of the true villain could be added.
Mawaru Penguindrum had a few other, more minor problems. Perhaps due to the anime's odd pacing, some characters' drastic actions had no real consequences, leaving their arcs feeling confusing and incomplete. The siblings' penguin mascot sidekicks occasionally contributed to the story, but usually had no real purpose. Some flashbacks near the end of the anime came out of nowhere with no real context, leaving viewers to wonder when and why they were supposed to have happened. It's unlikely that Re:cycle of Penguindrum will address all of these issues, but it has an excellent chance to polish Penguindrum's intriguing story so that it can finally live up to its full potential.