Well, here is another post that off handedly supports Jon Spencer’s Discord server once again! I suppose that I am apart of #TheJCO, so it is apart of my duty to do that in some way. So here we are, another thing that we watched on a random Friday. We watch a mixture of things on Fridays from the wonderful Birdemic to the excellent and brilliant game show Taskmaster to anime like Penguin Highway. Whether the content in question is good or bad, we always have fun on discord calls reacting to what is happening in front of us. In this case, we watched yet another good piece of anime. Penguin Highway is a film that somehow balances the world of science and exploration with the world of adolescence.
One day, a whole bunch of Penguins appear in a modern Japanese city. You know, a thing that doesn’t usually happen given the climate they like to live in. Automatically, there is something strange going on here. These penguins are discovered by a young boy name Aoyama, who figures out that penguins travel in these things called high ways. Through encounters with bullies, working hard with his classmates Uchida (a normal nerd) and Hamamoto (the smartest girl in class), and Aoyama’s encounters with an attractive young woman who can turn objects into penguins, it’s up to him to uncover the mystery and save the world from catastrophe.
While science is the obvious highlight of the film, it does an excellent job of capturing adolescence. It’s pretty clear that Aoyama is a smart kid because of the way he talks and thinks in a logical manner, but he isn’t flawless. Providing other interactions with kids his age show how flawed he is. Also, Aoyama’s theory of attempting to live without eating for a little bit goes wrong for him too. He also has very clear attractions towards the young woman in the dentist office based on her obvious assets as well and children having an attraction towards adults is normal as he tests her special abilities. I also like how Aoyama, Uchida, and Hamamoto have their science time with some mystical objects being framed like playing and testing with super natural things. I’m almost amazed how well it all works together to be natural.
Honestly though, the science aspect connecting the plot together is still the most exciting and intricate part. I mentioned how methodical Aoyama is and you can see him doing a good job of exploring everything as well as as a kid can do his age. His notes are incredible, his deductions, even if they are wrong, are well founded, and he does bounce off some of his ideas with his friends. I also like how Aoyama’s father is thrown into the mix too. While his father explains some of the scientific concepts played with in the film in an easy way before they appear, he always does it in a way that supports Aoyama and pushes him to do more. It’s also easy to get what is going on because of these good interactions. Like I said, very well balanced between adolescence and science.
The film is also gorgeous to look at. From an animation and art stand point, every single frame of this movie is gorgeous. Studio Colorido’s background art is incredible and is the setting point for this film already looking as great as it does. The character designs with their simple, yet wonderful designs that stand out from each other are incredible too. Easy enough to animated with while also giving them tons and tons of personality behind each facial and character movement. The transformation between cans and penguins is good too. In Penguin High Way, the super natural things on are obviously cg mixed with 2D animation and it allows them to feel alien in a way they don’t belong. I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say here. It’s a solid film you should check out.