The Penguin Manju Go has finally set sail for Antarctica. Things rapidly become more challenging for the girls, as they try to build up their strength and stamina in preparation for landfall. The constant rocking of the ship leaves all of them exhausted and ill, but they are determined to harden themselves for the remainder of the journey.
This show just keeps knocking it out of the park for me. Episode 8 is yet another well-paced character-building exercise in a series packed with them. The challenges the girls face, their endlessly entertaining banter, and the quiet sadness of Shirase’s personal journey blend together once again for a truly solid delivery.
The focus this time is on how the quartet is adjusting to life aboard the icebreaker. We get to learn a little about the ship’s research role, and see neat details about how the crew keeps fit on the voyage. The girls also meet more of the crew, including two of the researchers and the lunch lady turned… I guess still a lunch lady, but on a science vessel bound for the farthest reaches of the globe, so rock on, miss. There are also a few cute moments of interplay between the adults that lend some chuckles, and yes, Shirase continues to be almost unconscionably bad at delivering their scripted video logs.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games. The currents around Antarctica are notoriously strong, and the waves begin to batter the ship. The crippling seasickness threatens to leave them unfit to work at the research station, not to mention profoundly miserable.
The show does a fantastic job of maintaining the sense of motion you feel on a large ship. As soon as the seas pick up, the camera is constantly moving and tilting to simulate the constant rocking of the vessel. It’s an awesome effect, though it may make some of you who are more motion-sensitive feel a bit queasy, so… mission accomplished? The girls do finally start to get their sea legs and begin acclimatizing themselves to the difficulties of ocean life, though the manner in which they kick this off was extremely unsafe. I honestly expected a moment of bonding and wonder to turn tragic at any moment, though thankfully, the show wasn’t ready to pull that sort of gut-punch. The silent, post-credits shot of Shirase does a fine job of keeping your emotions in swing, anyway.
With the icy shores of Antarctica finally on the horizon, this show has managed to keep me engaged through all of its adventures. As glad as I am to see the girls within sight of their goal, I’d almost be fine with just watching them go on random trips together. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a cast this well-realized and with such chemistry. As Su pointed out, all of the girls have fit into some kind of role, but haven’t become irritating stereotypes or bland archetypes. Their interactions with each other and the crew are great to watch, and I can’t wait to see what happens between them when they finally set foot on that icy shore.