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Genre: CG Animation
Starring: Ei Morisako, Yuji Tanaka, Rica Matsumoto, Satoshi Kanada, Yoshio Kojima, Hikari Ota, Hiroshi, Akiyoshi Kawashima, Dandy Sakano
Director: Rintaro
Rating: G
Year Made: 2009







Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 16x9
Sound: Dolby Digital
Running Time: 1 hr 27 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Scorpio East




"YONA YONA PENGUIN" is a story about the adventure of Coco, a small girl who walks around the town night by night, always in the penguin coat that her late father had given to her. Through the meetings with those diverse types of people and those magical events, it tells the ingenuousness of the children everywhere and the importance and strength, leaving the heart-warming impressions to those who watch this animation.


"Yona Yona Penguin" comes from the minds at Madhouse, a Japan-based anime production outfit which is famous for churning out anime series, "Death Note" and acclaimed full-length features such as "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" and the recent "Summer Wars" among many others. And with Rintaro (Metropolis) at the directing chair, you expect nothing less from the first CGI feature from Madhouse.

Unfortunately, with all due respect to Rintaro, "Yona Yona Penguin" fails to live up one’s expectation in all aspects. Let’s talk about the story for a start. The anime opens with a young girl named Coco who walks around her neighbourhood dressed in a cute penguin costume in which we later learnt is a gift from her late father. The story plods on slowly and a little draggy. Over a span of seemingly eternity, Coco is being dragged into an alternate fantasy world where peace-loving goblins reside and not only she is dubbed the flightless bird, Coco also learnt that she is the chosen one who can saved the goblins from being terrorized by the evil Emperor of Darkness, Bukka-Boo and his henchman, the fallen angel Lord Zammy.

Apparently as the movie progresses, you can’t help but feeling that Rintaro seems to be trying hard in pulling off his version of ‘Spirited Away’. There are great resemblances to the way the story is steering however as compared to the latter, "Yona Yona Penguin" comes off as a pale cousin that lacks the academic level and the imagination to make it a worthy competitor.

Why is Coco the chosen one? And what is the main motive of Bukka-Boo? Who are the deities that comes across like the Eight Immortals? The dialogues comes off as fluffy and the characterization lacks a certain amount of believability and detailing that at the end of the day, it’s hard for the audience to really feel for the adventures of Coco and her friends. 

The animation which for the record is done by a French and Thai production company respectively adds insult to injury with its raw backdrops, rough rendering and it really makes us wonder why Madhouse didn’t chose to stick to their old-school, hand-drawn techniques. With the exception of a few colourful backdrops, the overall feel marks a stark contrast to their previous works.  

If there is a meaningful message hidden here, I would say it comes across as too little, too late and with a certain highly regard Studio Ghibli around, there’s no doubt that in terms of wit and charm, "Yona Yona Penguin" severe lacking of these elements make it a bitter pill to swallow.




The visual is clean and colourful, rather bare at certain junctures for the graphics. The dialogue is clear though there aren’t much fanciful sound effects to talk about.



Review by Linus Tee

Posted on 19 July 2010


. Yona Yona Penguin (Movie Review)

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Scorpio East


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