Mawaru Penguindrum Novels

Mawaru Penguindrum Novels

In the past several years, I have been hoping Japan would soon get some traction with establishing an agreeable system with e-books. I have quite a few manga and light novel series which I want to read, but it just feels wrong when the product itself is not too expensive but the shipping costs nearly as much. In my mind, for such books the saving on shipping cost outweighs the lack of the physical medium.

Then I came across this 3-book Mawaru Penguindrum novel series which has such an extravagant physical construction, an e-book version simply won’t do.

Mawaru Penguindrum (輪るピングドラム) started as a 26-episode anime series running from July to December of 2011. This show created a bit of controversy even before it started because its main creator and chief series director Ikuhara Kunihiko (幾原邦彦) makes a return as an anime production director 12 years after the Shoujo Kakumei Utena movie (少女革命ウテナ アドゥレセンス黙示録). Utena was a highly polarizing show with some very unusual elements, to put it mildly, so the man behind it attracts a fair amount of attention.

I really like the Pengiundrum TV series and I heard on the Net that the novelization is quite well done, providing a good amount of details not seen in the TV series. So off to Amazon Japan I went. I was very surprised when I saw the price: 1,470 yen each. Okay, so it seems to be bigger than the typical light novels, but still, 1,500 yen? But since I heard quite a few people saying good things about it, I went ahead and ordered them.

When I opened the box and had them in my hands, the sheer printing quality of the covers easily convinced me they are worth the asking price.

Book 1 front cover

Book 1 front cover

Book 2 front cover

Book 2 front cover

Book 3 front cover

Book 3, front cover

When you look at the covers head-on, like the way they are shown in Amazon Japan’s product images, what you don’t see is the reflective material that is on the covers. They show when you look at them at an angle.

Book 1 from an angle

The golden reflective accent on book 1

Book 1 has gold accent against the light pink background for Himari.

Book 2 from an angle

The prism accent on book 2

Book 2 has prism effect reflective ink which shows rainbow colours on top of the light blue background for Shōma.

Book 3 from an angle

The red metallic accent on book 3

Book 3 is metallic red on top of Kanba’s ominous gray. But this metallic red actually has another trick when you look at it from certain angles:

Book 3 from a different angle

The sparkles effect in the red metallic accent

The title logo on the spines of book 2 and book 3 have the same metallic treatment. Too bad for book 1 it’s just black font with brown outline. The back covers, in comparison, are fairly ordinary, but the penguins make up for it.

Book 1 back cover

Book 1, back cover

Book 2 back cover

Book 2, back cover

Book 3 back cover

Book 3, back cover

These books are very finely packaged. The fabulous illustrations by Hoshino Lilī (星野リリィ) and the metallic accent surrounding them on top of the delicate pink, blue, and gray backgrounds all add together to really boost the perceived value of these books. In an era where e-books seem to be the way to go, these books give meaning to having the physical medium in your hands. It’s unfortunate that my photos don’t do justice for these books. More work will be done on the photos to better convey the exceptional quality of the work on the covers.

Mawaru Penguindrum book 1-3
Novelization by Ikuhara Kunihiko and Takahashi Kei
Published by Gentōsha
Cover illustrations by Hoshino Lilī