Someday I hope to be as driven and talented as Pen the Penguin. In Penguin & House, we get our first glimpse into the relationship between Hayakawa and his pet penguin, Pentaro (generally called Pen). Hayakawa is a university student who comes off as flakey and kind of oblivious. He lives in his own little world, and a lot of the time that world doesn't include Pen. It's not that Hayakawa doesn't care about Pen, it's more of an ignorance of Pen's actions. Which is pretty wild, because Pen is always in action.
There are fourteen chapters in volume 1 of Penguin & House. Each chapter is named "The Penguin _______." The recurring driving force in the story is Hayakawa mentioning something or forgetting plans he had made with various friends. These friends don't appear in every chapter, but their development is sprinkled throughout each appearance. The chapters don't move linearly, they feel more like sitcom episodes. The characters remember previous interactions (sans Haykawa) so they still grow, but the growth is in a wandering manner.
Something that I appreciate about Penguin & House is how author/artist Akiho Ieda uses panels and page space. Since Pen doesn't speak, Ieda packs the pages and panels with as much action as possible. There can be pages where there is no dialogue written, but you as the reader completely understand exactly what is happening. Every panel is packed! Pen doing a simple task like putting salt and pepper on a steak is drawn like an action panel would be drawn in a shonen series.
It is important to note how Ieda draws food. An act of service that Pen likes to do is cook or bake for Hayakawa. The process panels of the cooking/baking are entertaining and the reader can tell what the dish is supposed to be, but then when the panel of the final result is shown, the food is absolutely mouthwatering. Typically the image of the food would take up about a third of the page. I would be completely fine if it took up an entire page! Whenever Pen or any other character started cooking/baking, I would get so excited because I knew I was going to see an incredible dish.
Hayakawa isn't the only character who gets to enjoy Pen's food. He has two friend's, Seto and Ota. They make appearances in several chapters and have their own relationships with Pen. When Hayakawa is blissfully floating through life, unaware of everything Pen does for him, Seto and Ota are floored by the efforts. Their reactions bring some nice balance to the relationship with Hayakawa and Pen. It can be frustrating and a little sad seeing Pen put forth so much effort, but the validation from Seto and Ota make it worth it.
If you're a fan of slice of life anime and penguins this is the perfect manga for you. Overall I wish Hayakawa wasn't so dense, but he truly does love and care about Pen. I really enjoyed Penguin & House and really look forward to the next volume!
So I guess I'm reviewing another penguin manga again. If you're a regular visitor to our blog, you might recall when I reviewed Penguin Gentleman. What is it with Japan and penguins? I guess I can't argue that there's something endearing about the flightless birds. I suppose that's the reason I continue to read manga about them. Penguin Gentlemen was not what I was expecting, and I wasn't a fan. With Penguin & House, I got exactly what I expected, but was it all I hoped for?
The premise is simple. A young university student has a pet penguin named Pen that does household chores in his cute penguin ways. There's really no more depth than that; just a simple slice-of-life comedy with no specific plot. It got rather dull after a while. Sure, Pen is a cute little critter and it's especially fun to see him carrying objects much bigger than him. He also cooks a lot throughout the manga, which is mostly adorable except when he was cooking a chicken the same size as him. Would that be considered cannibalism? I prefer my manga with more of a story, but if you are just looking for illustrations of a penguin doing cute and humorous things, you'll certainly find that here.
Pen is a lovable character, but I can't say anything good about his owner, Hayakawa. This dude straight up treats his pet penguin like Cinderella. Pen is always cooking, cleaning, and even making gifts for his owner, but he rarely gets any thanks. Pen makes a steak for Hayakawa, but the ungrateful jerk says he's not hungry and goes to bed. Another time he cooks, his owner complains that it's too bland and doesn't have enough meat. He also sits on his freshly laundered clothes that Pen just folded while hot and sweaty. At least one of Hayakawa's friends appreciates Pen and thinks he's adorable to such a creepy degree that he follows him around town. If I were Pen, I would move back to Antarctica and find a nice female penguin who appreciates me for everything I do. And then we can slide on the ice and go swimming!
Wrapping up, Penguin & House is an okay manga. There's nothing game-changing or super unique about it, but it's a relaxing series of vignettes of a penguin doing chores and being cute. Unless you're like me and can't get past what a total tool his owner is. It's a lot more fun and has more charm than the dry, fact-heavy Penguin Gentlemen, but I probably won't read any of the future volumes. I don't mean to give the series the cold shoulder. I know I'm probably on thin ice with all the penguin fans out there for disliking two penguin manga. I'll go now. If anybody needs me, I'll be in Antarctica.
Penguin & House manga volume 1 features story and art by Akiho Ieda.
Pen the Penguin lives with his most favorite keeper in the world: Hayakawa the Human. But Pen's no ordinary penguin. He's a neat penguin! A proper penguin! A doting penguin! Pen loves to daydream of Hayakawa's smile as he flips pancakes and folds the laundry with his teeny-tiny flippers. If only his beloved Hayakawa would notice! It's too bad Pen's human keeper is a hopelessly lazy university student, but with a little nap and some helpful friends, Pen is ready to tackle the day!Add to CartLearn More