Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Three

Yeah, seems like it was one of those kinds of days.

Oh, Ikuhara – will you ever tire of gags involving girls and cows? (Is it worth noting at all that Melody of Oblivion attempted to use the girls and cows thing to absolutely no effect at all but more over-the-top fanservice and pseudo-symbolism?)

So, only watched this episode twice, and not at all raw, which is odd considering I watched the previous two episodes at least three times apiece. But I’ve had work a lot since I first watched and wanted to get a post up, so twice shall have to suffice.

I don’t have as much to say on this one, other than to mention something which occurred to me, actually, while watching episode two. So, we’ve got a bit of a theme going with trains and train stations. We’ve got the references to Night on the Galactic Railroad. Himari has not been depicted on a train since she died and was resurrected… but the brothers have been. Maybe what we’re actually watching is the journey of the brothers to the afterlife, with the penguin drum somehow as the item necessary for them to get there. Recall in episode one that Kanba desperately said he’d give his life for his sister’s.

Going further with this line of thought, i.e. the one specifically of relation to Kanba’s declaration – Kanba would be our Campanella, Shouma our Giovanni. Campanella is the one who gives his life in the novella, diving into the river after a boy falls from a boat and cannot swim. Giovanni somehow ends up along with him on his journey, although Giovanni doesn’t realize that Campanella is dead nor does he know what the trip they are on is. While Kanba is just as much at sea on several fronts as Shouma is, Kanba is more seriously committed to their mission and is also aware of more details than Shouma, such as the fact that Himari’s possesor tears his heart out or something along those lines during every Survival Strategy session (perhaps, by the way, possessed Himari is tearing out a bit of his life force every time, which would go along with it being a risky strategy). Shouma may be on this journey with his brother but himself not be destined for death at the end of it. Kanba did tell him to save his innocence for their sister.

I found it interesting, by the way, that the brothers at this juncture expressed a belief that Himari herself has constructed the entire Survival Strategy world and the quest for the penguin drum herself. Well, or, rather, Shouma did, at least. Kanba was noncommittal for the most part; his statements during this scene seemed deliberately vague as to whether he agreed with Shouma’s words or not. In fact, I don’t think Kanba thought that at all; he knows what happens after poor Shouma gets dumped down the chute, after all.

Further asides about the twins:

  • the idol pair that is seen in the rule signs on the train and in the ED (amongst other places) is comprised of a woman with red hair and a woman with blue hair; I doubt that the shared hair colors with the twins is a coincidence
  • I see shades of Miki and Kozue from Revolutionary Girl Utena in the twins, probably in part because Shouma’s blue hair combined with his general character remind me of Miki, although Miki isn’t as habitually frazzled as Shouma; Kanba isn’t as reminiscent of Kozue, but they do have some shared traits, such as being quite good at loving and leaving folks all the while carrying a torch of sorts for their sibling (although with Kozue she messed around with others to spite Miki whereas Kanba may do it as simple misdirection)

Moving along, Ringo. Either her father is dead or her parents are divorced. I don’t have any basis for it, but I get this gut feeling that her father is dead for some reason, and has been for a good while. In the flashback, Ringo’s mother is crying and says its due to the fact that she’s so happy. Her father makes a statement about them always being a family. There was just something about the sequence of it – like Ringo’s mother is crying because she knows that the moment can’t go on forever, that her husband is sick and will die.

Maybe it is, too, because in the flashback to Tabuki eating with Ringo and her mother, her father is also absent despite it being, apparently, Curry Night.

Of course, this begs – what is Tabuki’s relation to the family? Is he a cousin or some other sort of relative? Ringo’s mother speaks with him in a way that suggests that sort of thing, like he is her nephew, or maybe a much younger cousin.

The shot of Tabuki’s presumed girlfriend, Yuri, in the OP, by the way, always makes me think of Rose of Versailles. She looks like a dead ringer for Antoinette there.

When Ringo was having dinner with the siblings, I was surprised she spoke so openly about her fate being things written down. It seems pretty clear she hasn’t mentioned this to her friends at school, so I found it curious, although they do say it is easier to spill your guts to strangers than to friends.

Ringo, by the way, used the English word “destiny”. To go back to my post on episode two, “destiny” is a much less negative word in the English language than is fate. It carries less baggage. Ringo speaks of having a mission in life and it being her duty to complete it, so it seems apt that she’d opt for “destiny” over the similar “fate”.

Also on Ringo: turtle on the back of her diary. Turtles in Japan are associated with luck and longevity. Eternity? Hey, can you tell me what eternity is?

Meandering along, I forget if I mentioned this in the first post, but Night on the Galactic Railroad was written by Kenji Miyazawa after his younger sister, Toshi, died. This would seem a fairly important detail to be cognizant of given that the start point of this anime is the death of a dearly loved younger sister.

Anyway, I’m having trouble with my contact lenses, so I’ll have to end here. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually take a closer look at the ED like I keep swearing I will~

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8 Responses to Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Three

  1. Blackholeheart says:

    The Japanese do love their red oni, blue oni metaphor don’t they? I’m trying to keep my personal speculation on what’s going on to a minimum to see how much of my initial thoughts pan out but the one theme beating me over the head is the idea of the amorality of love.

    If you really want to pick apart Ringo’s word usage, consider the etymology of “destiny” and we get “destination” which ties back to the journey theme whereas fate has more holistic connotations relating to the complete journey. Ringo doesn’t care how she gets where she wants to go as long she gets there which sounds like Kanba(as an aside Ringo is a red oni as well, Ringo meaning apple and what’s the color one associates with apples?).

    Anyway, great write up and I’ll go back to lurking now.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Aww, don’t lurk. I always love thoughtful comments, especially when it picks at a thread I hadn’t noticed yet – such as destiny and destination. So… what is in Ikebukuro, anyway?

      The amorality of love… its a curious thought. But is it love we’re actually seeing? Or is it adolescents mistaking their intense feelings for romantic love because they’re dealing with so many other things – Ringo’s absent father figure and lack of a sense of family given her mother’s work schedule, and Kanba’s having to face the prospect of losing his little sister after losing his parents?

      We could reference Utena again at this juncture, if we wanted to, as it essentially set up the same issue – feelings mistaken for romantic love in the absence of stable family environments, and in part borne out by immaturity (Nanami thinks she loves her brother romantically, only to feel totally skeeved out when he actually responds to her in a more sexual fashion, for example, set against a backdrop of distant parents and an unclear bloodline – is she adopted? is Touga? are they both? is neither?). But, well, we’re far from over here, so it could certainly go in another direction.

  2. That image is frickin’ perfect. The delivery of the monotone yet excited voice is perfect. I dunno who this actress is, but this character is crazy good. That burp was so stupid, it’s perfect. Do you know what I’m saying? Tell me you agree. This is a dead girl possessed by a penguin hat wearing a cow suit chugging 6 bottles of milk. If each bottle is 350ml, then that’s OVER 2 LITERS OF MILK. This is madness. The penguin hat altered Himari’s biology entirely… or she’s just a zombie and there isn’t really any digestion happening? BUT THERE IS. SHE FRICKIN’ BURPED!

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Well, although burping gives zero indication of digestion, really; its just indicative of the presence of air in one’s stomach.

      The actress is brand new to the business; Ikuhara’s always been pretty good on trying to bring new folks into the fold. Tomoko Kawakami, for instance, was in her first roll as Utena. Actually, Ikuhara in particular is good at giving talented women a chance in the business. Talk about a director I can root for.

      Personally, I found the total halt to the Survival Strategy world pretty brilliant. Its like she just flipped a switch on them. The flop on the ground stood out so strongly in contrast to the fact that she was dead again. I’m trying to say this in a way that doesn’t sound pretentious, and I think I’m failing. It was funny but in the context it wasn’t at all.

  3. omo says:

    Did you watch melody of oblivion?

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Yes, I did. I felt it was… largely a waste of time, in my estimation. It felt like JC Staff trying to have lightning strike twice; the OST sounded like practically a carbon copy of Utena’s, at least on the instrumental side. Star Driver actually reminded me pretty heavily of it, although I would grant that I think Star Driver did a better job, as it actually had solid parts (the entire Mizuno arc was actually startlingly well-executed). Melody of Oblivion just felt like a cheap imitation, with a lot of cheesecake and pretension with little to no depth. And the ending made me wonder what the point of it was at all.

  4. 8thSin says:

    gg translator here.

    I read your ep2 post, and I’m glad someone noticed the word choice “fate” over “destiny” for the subs. This was very much intentional, and I did spend about 10 minutes, which is a really long time to stop for speedsubs, researching the English language (lol) to make sure I was getting the right nuance and convey what the producer meant them to be, because every line in this show bears such significance. That “Nadine” mistake once again made me realize the responsibility in translation, since that single line confused pretty much everyone who used our subs… even some professional reviewer on ANN.

    Anyway, I picked “fate” for “unmei” because the brothers were clearly seeing themselves as victims, and they had this mentality that they were completely powerless to change their own fate. Ringo, as you have noticed, believes that everything happens for a reason, and she’s trying to steer the events into the way they are MEANT to be. I think that’s why the stamp and her (almost) catchphrase “Destiny” and “Let’s destiny” is very appropriate. I think all the occurrences for “unmei” translated as “fate” is appropriate so far, but we will be selectively mixing them up in episode 4, and most likely following episodes.

  5. Pingback: Mawaru Penguindrum Ep. 4: Not going according to plan | Moe Sucks

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