Man, when I dropped this anime and read several reviews in different sites, I felt like someone who could not comprehend why an Oscar-winning movie was worth the unanimous praise. Everybody was throwing around the "visionary" and "nothing like it" and "an excellent example of what anime can be" comments.
I just thought it was random, weird and silly. The story was compelling for a bit, until after 5 episodes or so, when it started getting really weird. At that point, I stopped to think if I cared enough to continue it. Then I said, no.
The animation is good. The characters are okay.
The story seems refreshingly good at first. It's about two brothers trying to save their terminally-ill sister from dying by any means necessary. That's interesting. That's emotional.
The only thing that resuscitates her and prevents her from dying is a penguin-shaped sentient hat. Okay, that's weird, but I'll allow it. This is anime after all.
The hat also comes with three invisible penguin minions that are often doing mischievous, funny things. Okay, that's weird too but most anime have cute, weird critters. I'll allow it.
The hat's sentience takes over the girl's personality in every single episode, showing a typical magical-girl transformation involving a rocket that converts into two giant mecha pandas, and the hat's entity berating the brothers for not recovering the "penguindrum" as dictated. This happens every episode. Every...episode. Okay, that's slightly annoying but somewhat funny and quirky and yes, weird. I'll...allow it.
But that's not all...
Then a new villainous character comes in, that has her own invisible penguin and shoots penguin bullets with a slingshot that have the property of erasing people's memories if they get hit on their foreheads. What?!
There's a surrealistic trip to a library that's sort of purgatory or heaven and it's completely confusing because it shows a new character and a new background story for the sick girl that really does not have much to do with the rest of the story. What?!
There's an aggressive, stalking girl that is willing to even rape the object of her affection because she is trying to fulfill her late sister's fate, which means she's not really stalking for her own misguided love but for a philosophical, identity-thieving reason. She's doing it 'cause her journal says so. What?!
Okay, so I was down with watching another anime that mixed serious stuff such as death, fate, sacrifice and obsession with inane moments of humor showcasing cute penguins often doing perverted or mischievous acts. But there's just too much weird stuff going on, and too many plot twists happening on every episode that instead of feeding my interest, it just annoyed me.
There's no firm ground to settle your feet in and say, bring on the weird parts. It's weird all the time. Maybe if it was more of a comedy, it would have fared better. In this case, I liked "Abenobashi Shopping District" a lot more, because it was first and foremost a very random comedy, with sprinkles of seriousness and musings about fate and the ability to change it.
This anime starts with the serious, pervades it with silly stuff, and tells you to focus on the ever-changing serious stuff. How? It's confusing! It's unfocused! It's just weird!
Maybe if you liked stuff like "FLCL" this would be for you. Maybe you can bypass all the strange aspects of the story and be able to follow the twists-and-turns provided in every episode. But I couldn't. I couldn't take it seriously when it tried so hard to not be serious then immediately go to dark-story-mode. It's just amorphous in its story structure.
You may very well have a different opinion. Most reviewers seem to think the opposite of me, but this "vision" wasn't for me.