Pingu is Anime Now, and You’ll Like It

on October 10, 2017 by

Pingu is Anime Now, and You’ll Like It

Now that the first episode of Pingu in the City has aired, the internet has turned into a blaze of furious discussion as to whether or not Pingu can now be considered anime. But, airing on NHK for a Japanese audience, and animated by Japanese anime studio Polygon Pictures, there’s really no question. Pingu is anime now.


You may know Polygon Pictures from several other high profile projects. A Japanese animation studio, Polygon mainly focus on 3DCG works, and fit the style of classic Pingu perfectly.




Anime-wise, Polygon may be best known for Blame!, Ajin, and the Knights of Sidonia movie — as well as the upcoming Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters movie, and some sequences of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. They’ve also contributed animation to several video games.


Pingu is originally a British-Swiss collaboration animated claymatation TV show. Aimed at children, the programme had a slapstick sense of humour that anyone could enjoy, and the characters spoke an entirely made up language called “Penguinese”, making it accessible to all ages anywhere in the world.


The subtitles are very helpful.


Japan’s relationship with Pingu isn’t just starting here, there’s actually some history to the character’s popularity with Japanese audiences. Re-runs of the original show have been popular both as part of NHK’s children’s programming block, as well as being prominent on Cartoon Network Japan. Pingu toys were even included as part of Japanese KFC cross-promotion.


There have even been a few Japanese exclusive Pingu video games! Pingu: Sekai de Ichiban Genki na Penguin (Pingu: World’s Number One Penguin) for Game Boy; Fun Fun Pingu for PlayStation; and Pingu no Waku Waku Carnival (Pingu’s Wonderful Carnival) for Nintendo DS. There’s been no end to Japan’s Pingumania.



The first episode’s subtitles are entirely “noot”, with a couple of “Pingu”s, and another couple of delightful “itadakimasu”es (though still spoken in Penguinese). Pingu in the Big City features Pingu’s family moving to the city, where Pingu gets into scrapes while trying to help out the townspeople. Episodes have a 7 minute run-time, slightly longer than the traditional 5 minutes.


So, Pingu is animated in full 3DCG by a renowned Japanese animation studio. And, it’s been created specifically for NHK’s Japanese audience, with some Japanese sensibilities. Essentially, this is a Japanese anime adaptation of Pingu, only it looks and sounds almost exactly like the original. But either way you cut it, surely it’s anime, isn’t it?


The first episode of Pingu in the City was pretty fun. The show has a current run of 26 episodes commissioned, and airs Thursdays at 09:20 (JST) on NHK.

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