When Utena Tenjou was very little her parents died, and a prince comforted her in her time of loss, giving her a ring with a rose seal. He so impressed her that she decided to become a prince herself one day. Now, Utena is a teenager at Ohtori Academy who's athletic and notorious for dressing in a boy's uniform. When a member of the Student Council humiliates a friend of hers Utena challenges him to a duel, and he accepts only when he sees she possesses a rose seal ring. She soon discovers that this is no normal duel - it's a bizarre and ritualistic battle that the Student Council regularly conducts. In fact when she wins, Utena finds to her considerable chagrin that she gets to have Anthy Himemiya, a rather docile student, as her 'Rose Bride'. If she wants to keep Anthy she'll have to win more duels against members of the Student Council and others. What is the ultimate purpose of these duels and Anthy's role as the Rose Bride?
Both of these animes portray the concept of 'Destiny' in a similar way and manner and in both of them the protagonists are fated to battle or compete with each other "for the bigger picture" in order to achieve a certain goal benefitial for their personal interests.The battlefield is set/the conflicts are caused by a mysterious figure with dubious motives whose true objective isn't clear until the very end.Plotwise they are almost identical.Another common trait they share is the dynamic and symbolic randomness which is used to give depth and impact to the psychological element prevalent in the story.Kunihiko Ikuhara directed both.
Aside from being directed by the same person, the concept of fate, its supposed inevitability and the ones who stand up against it and fight to change it, has a similar feel in it. Also it has a similar nice touch of absurdity one might remember from Utena.
Both of these series concern the concept of fate, play with shoujo tropes, have excellent characters/characterization, treat very serious subjects with an impressive amount of nuance and tact, and can go from goofy to dead serious at the drop of a hat.
Some series makes you think, they have plots that take cues from deep philosophical discussions. Some series take the philosophy and symbolisms one step further, forcing you to spend time thinking about what any of it actually meant. Mawaru Penguindrum and Revolutionary Girl Utena fits both of these categories. The nature of fate is mixed with vague backstories and large helpings of animations that obviously symbolise something. Both have interesting characters and lovely settings, if you like one of them you'll surely enjoy the other.
I think the plot/themes of both these shows get lost in excessive and obtuse symbolism, but both explore the workings of destiny and the power of humans to overcome their own fate.
It is the year 1983; and in the village of Hinamizawa, on the night of the cotton drifting festival and in the days following it, a series of deaths occurs. The only hope for the village and its inhabitants is the shrine maiden Furude Rika who, with the help of her invisible partner Hanyuu, is able to travel back in time and alter the events that led to disaster. Unfortunately, regardless of what changes are made, each voyage ultimately ends with the death of Rika and many of her friends. But when Rika’s friends start remembering things that happened to them in previous worlds and take steps to avoid the same outcomes, Rika realizes that their chances of survival have never been better. Can she really challenge and defeat fate itself?
Both shows have a concept around fate, if it is possible to change, and how they can change their fate. The decision to change fate is made by a repeating cycle of tradgedies in Kai, and In Mawaru Penguin Drum fate is questioned concerning Himari's life. Higurashi Kai is more of a horror series, though, but still has the psychological vibe that Mawaru Penguin Drum has. But the representation is different, be aware of that.
To attempt changing fate may drive someone insane. After all- if something is fate then doesn't that mean it's inevitable? But fate is cruel; so cruel that characters in these anime risk body and mind to try and break it.
Though the differences between these two are many, there still are some major similarities in the themes they deal with. Both series deal with everything between silliness and cruelty. Both have the plot revolve around fate and characters who try to change it. Lastly, both have a strong cast to relate to, where every single character are humanized by the problems they face and how they deal with them.
One night, Madoka has a terrible nightmare – against the backdrop of a desolate landscape, she watches a magical girl battle a terrifying creature, and lose. The next day, the teen's dream becomes reality when the girl – Homura – arrives at Mitakihara High School as a transfer student, mysteriously warning Madoka to stay just the way she is. But when she and her best friend Miki are pulled into a twisted illusion world and meet a magical creature named Kyubey, the pair discovers that magical girls are real, and what's more, they can choose to become one. All they must do is sign a contract with Kyubey and agree to fight witches that spread despair to the human world, and in return they will be granted a single wish. However, as Homura's omen suggests, there's far more to becoming a magical girl than Madoka and Miki realize...
Madoka Magica and Mawaru Penguin Drum have this dark, shrouded atmosphere that makes their worlds seem hopeless, unpredictable, and better off just letting the ''fate'' of their worlds take over. These shows have the power of taking people who seem so ordanairy and making their lifes a living hell, constantly fighting for what they want, even when they know that it may not come to light. The fate of the characters seems just about impossible to change...
The fantasy aspect, which usually makes a lot of shows more bright and loving, can make the worst darkness come out. The characters are out there for their own needs and won't stop to get what they want. While their causes seem reasonable, the boundaries that are pushed can be overwhelming, trying to change the outcomes of the people they care about. Also, the animation styles are both unique and bright.
Both shows have a similar theme: fate and what you would give up for the power to change it. They also both have interesting visual styles that set them appart from other series.
Both these anime are pretty similar in the way that they both deal with the philosophy of fate and magical things happening to change it. They're also both completely not what you would expect. Madoka Magica is about magical girls in frilly outfits with a cute little animal thing, Mawaru Penguindrum involves a anthro-ish penguin hat, a cute little sickly sister who loves her big brothers, and adorable quirky penguins. How is that similar at all? Because they both seem really lighthearted and happy and deal with normally cutesy premises, but are actually shockingly dark, however Mawaru Penguindrum has more comic relief and is A LOT weirder than Madoka Magica.
Koyomi Araragi is an aloof boy who holds a strange, supernatural secret which inadvertently leads him to others with similar stories. Gods, spirits and afflictions can be pesky things, taking important memories or causing unusual tendencies – a fact that Koyomi and others are unfortunately aware of. Using the help of an eccentric homeless man, Koyomi is able to help new friends he meets along the way with their own paranormal conundrums…
I only recommend these due to the artwork. They both use surrealist imagery to move the story along. In Bakemonogatari it's just art, nut in Penguin it becomes part of the plot.
Both series heavily emphasize visuals as a medium for progressing the story line as well as adding a comedic element.
If you're looking for something a little bit different, Bakemonogatari and Mawaru Penguin Drum deliver.
A young woman quietly falls to the earth, escorted by a solitary crow. This sort of dream, as many other before have dreamed, comes just before being reborn as a Haibane, a charcoal-winged angel. On the outskirts of the walled-in city lies Old Home, a haven for Haibane to study, live, and learn, while waiting for their chance to ascend to the heavens and escape the confines of their new world. Rakka is the newest inhabitant of Old Home who wants nothing more than to remember her past and discover the secrets of her kind. Together with Reki, Kuu and plenty of other new friends, Rakka will laugh, explore, and search for the meaning of their existence in the process.
Both are highly symbolic, focusing on themes such as fate and sin. Beginning with sweet, light hearted notes and ending with the dark night of the soul, in both series we watch characters atone for a past they don’t remember or that isn’t their own.
Both are heavy on the symbolism and includes a lot of mysteries due to that, many of which are never resolved in the series proper.
Both series contain themes of atonment for sins that the characters either can't remember, or aren't even personally responible for.
These two have very different atmospheres, but if you liked elements of one of them there is reason to at least try watching the other.