Minori Scramble

June 22, 2012

Who could ever hate cute penguins? They are so adorable. Just like the Madagascar quartet or those who dance or surf, you can’t hate them. Okay, maybe the one in Batman Returns is another matter but really, who among us hates penguins? For one girl, Tamaki of Minori Scramble does. So what happens if you live in a house with a pair of crazy parents who are obsessed on researching those flightless birds? Yeah, it can really drive you up the wall. When you watch this single OVA, all you need to know about the plot is this: Girl and penguin get into a lot of crazy rampage throughout town. Period. I mean, how can a cute little penguin bring so much action, adventure and drama? Well, you can’t have 39 minutes just watching penguins living their usual daily lives, do you? This is anime! Not a documentary!

Destructive Feet…
Tamaki wakes up in not a good mood. She’s breaking down everything that has to do with penguins! Whacking her way through the house to find her father, she finds him sleeping in his lab wearing a full body penguin costume! Tamaki complains she had a nightmare and reminds him her hatred towards those penguins he considers cute because she was left to be raised by them and also abandoned alone at their colony. Yes, it’s called trauma. Suddenly the lab capsule hatches a penguin egg and out comes a cute little penguin. Dad: “Wow! It’s so cute”. Tamaki: Scary sh*t! So why does this penguin has both the face of a girl and the flightless bird? Daddy explains this is a penguin android named Minori that he has worked on all night to help Tamaki overcome her fear of penguins. How? On the outside it’s a girl (Tamaki not afraid) but it’s also a penguin (now Tamaki is shivering in fear). So can you imagine the horror when Minori spins her head round depicting different faces? How not to send Tamaki crazy?! Tamaki goes to complain to her mom but she finds Minori cute since it reminded her when Tamaki was a baby. Suddenly her parents have to leave for a conference at Shirayuki City and leaves Tamaki to take care of the house. With Minori. Ugh… She didn’t like this idea since she has plans with her friend Akira. So daddy says if she doesn’t like it, she can press the switch inside Minori’s penguin beak to stop her. Does she have the guts with that penguin face staring at her?

As Tamaki eats her food, she is dismayed to see Minori rummaging through the fridge, eating everything she can get her hands on. Is this what penguins eat? Tamaki can’t bring herself to press the switch since the thought of getting close is already scary enough. Then the fresh food delivery guy delivers fresh and live lobsters as ordered by her dad. Once Minori sees this, she goes on an eating rampage! She’s devouring everything with power! Just as Tamaki sums up her courage and is about to push the button, Minori evades and accidentally steps on a tomato bottle. The sauce squirted out onto Tamaki’s shirt resembles a lobster as Minori shifts her target to her. Run! Tamaki makes a dash outside the snowy neighbourhood and she thought she had stopped Minori by throwing a snowball into her face. Minori imitates and throws back one but it destroyed the post box! OH SH*T!!! Don’t get hit!!! Tamaki runs for her life narrowly avoiding all the snowballs Minori fired back but in the process causing damage and trouble to property and other passers-by. Then Tamaki rolls down a snowball effect to slam into Minori. She thought she had the last laugh but the town folks are not amused by the ruckus she has caused. But no time to argue because Minori is back with a vengeance! She’s using her own snowball effect to roll in everyone! Including Akira and Tamaki herself. Katamari Damacy anyone? They crash into the shopping district as the district president and his assistant see how cute Minori is trying to climb onto the pole of their lobster statue. Oh no. That’s not good. Minori attacks the lobster and this is when all hell breaks loose. Despite Tamaki’s warnings not to show Minori any lobster, they really can’t do anything about it since today the district is promoting their lobster specialty. Yeah, lobster everywhere. Lobster all the way! Minori assaults anyone or anything that resembles a lobster. President calls for an emergency shutdown in order to contain any further damage.

When Akira wakes up, Tamaki knows hell is just beginning. Why? Akira has this terrifying reputation of becoming insanely strong and invincible when she sees cute things. And now Minori is one of them. What happens when you put 2 crazy and resilient characters head to head? An epic power showdown! Though Minori slammed Akira into the fish shop, Tamaki thinks she can rein in Minori using a lobster. As she throws one and Minori catches it, Tamaki is going to use this chance but the fish shop owner wants her to pay for using his high grade lobster! No time for that! Akira catches Minori and while she is obsessed with the penguin, she didn’t watch her path and gets entangled and falls unconscious in a lobster balloon. Looks like it’s flying away… Tamaki chases her via President’s van. He tries to hook his harpoon while letting Minori take control of the wheels! Dangerous! They almost hit a kitten! Once he manages to nail it, Tamaki has a hard time pulling it down. But watch out! There’s a tunnel ahead! Phew. If she didn’t let go, she could have lost her head. President steps the pedal to the metal and catches up. By that time, Akira has awakened and panics since she finds herself high up in the air. In a crazy attempt to bring the balloon down with her weight, President drives the van off the edge as Tamaki jumps off to grab the string! The paper rips. Minori falls onto Tamaki while Akira into the van. Although the snow covered leaves of the trees break their fall, it’s amazing that President and Akira survived the crash! Really!

Tamaki is floating away but this is the least of her troubles. Minori climbs up the balloon and bites the lobster inflatable. Pop! It’s free fall! Tamaki probably had her life flashing before her eyes to have enough time to note how much she hates penguins. Though she falls into the icy cold waters, I’m amazed she could still survive the fall from that height. I mean, it’s like slamming into a brick wall, right? Tamaki thought she’s doom as she drowns but before she passes out, she sees Minori coming to her rescue. When she comes to on the shore, she realizes that Minori did save her like how those penguins did. Again, penguins saved her life. Suddenly Minori collapses. Tamaki gets worried and rushes through the forest to find help. When she gets to the road, there is a sign that says Shirayuki City is 15km away. Heck, is she going to run all the way there? Luckily, there is an abandoned bicycle by the dump. So without giving up, Tamaki peddles hard with all her might. Say, didn’t Tamaki just go through something like a triathlon? Reaching the convention centre, she barges in right in the middle of her daddy’s speech. She panics and wants daddy to save Minori but daddy is so happy she is worried about a penguin. He tells her to push to switch in her beak and without fear this time she does so. Soon, Minori revives after Tamaki calls out her name several times. Daddy congratulates her for becoming Minori’s master and the switch was actually an imprinting button that will cause Minori to acknowledge the one who pushes it as her parent. Wasn’t it supposed to be the off button? Well, obviously a lie because daddy couldn’t figure out a way to make her press that switch. And daddy ends the conference with this ‘demo’. Everyone gives him a good round of applause.

Back home, Tamaki and her family celebrate (fried lobster on the dish, what else?) but Tamaki can’t help but wonder why did Minori save her while she was drowning. It was before she pushed the imprinting button, right? Then they realize, there was a lobster sticking on to Tamaki’s shirt at that time. Oh well. The party starts with Minori continuing her rampage gulping every lobster she can get her hands on. Including Tamaki’s share. I guess she has got to teach her ‘child’ a thing or two about table manners, eh?

Ms Tamaki’s Penguins
What else can I say? Unless you’re not into the cuteness of penguins, you’re not going to be amused with this one shot OVA anyway. Minori is both cute and annoying but it is because of this that this OVA is quite an enjoyable watch. You see endless carnage and rampage once Minori gets activated and you could say the ‘action’ never stops. Oddly I don’t really find Minori to look very much like a penguin and even her back penguin face. If I didn’t know, I thought she would be some little blue bird. Even though she is an android as explained, I can’t help feel that Minori is like a little kid wearing a penguin themed pyjama. Either way, the kid or the penguin is going to look cute, right? I don’t know whether Tamaki’s dad programmed Minori on purpose because when she catches glimpse of a lobster, she goes berserk. It’s like nothing will stop her. And why does an android penguin need to eat real lobsters anyway? Realism? So once the ‘action’ stops, then it is drama time and we see the sudden change of Tamaki’s behaviour of one who hates and was traumatized by penguins to a girl who at least accepts Minori. Maybe it’s her first step in curing her phobia on penguins. Since Minori doesn’t look totally like a penguin, I guess that is why in a way it works because it gives a soft approach to help Tamaki overcome her penguin trauma.

As mentioned, the action bits are fun and in a way make the crazy antics a little hilarious. But of course some of them are exaggerative on purpose like the van crash into the forest below and exploded. For me, nobody would have survived that impact but all we see Akira and the President just badly messed up. The van must be a total wreck seeing the duo are stuck on a tree and the machine nowhere in sight (President was just holding the steering wheel!). Since this OVA was produced by Aniplex and Ufotable, the drawings of the characters make them look cute. If you have seen their works such as A Channel, 2×2=Shinobuden, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight and Mitsudomoe, you’ll recognize that chibi cuteness. On a trivial note, the mid-intermission is slightly interesting because of the Rubik’s puzzle and sliding puzzle picture effect.

While I’m not obsessed into penguins, I still find them cute as before. But watching this series won’t make me go rush to a pet shop to buy one. Or even at least make a mechanical one.  Do pet shops even sell them? Think of all the air-conditioners you need to turn your home into an icy tundra. They may be cool birds but the cost will burn a hole right through your pocket. So making a half-girl, half-penguin android as a cure for those with penguin phobia? Maybe they should do the same for those with phobias on dogs, cats, bugs, etc. I bet it looks scarier than cute.