Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Four



Fair warning – this is not one of my better posts. I’m out of town at a wedding, and only got to watch the episode once =(

So our Juri lookalike is a Nanami actalike, as it turns out, complete with her own band of three henchgirls. So smells a bit more like Juri in the manga! This was a bit disappointing to me, as I was really hoping for this Juri lookalike to be a yuri girl, and it certainly doesn’t look that way yet. Although, then again, it may be simply that she is using Kanba’s ex-girlfriend’s for her own ends that have nothing to do with being a woman scorned or such. Actually, this does seem the more likely, doesn’t it?

Speaking of yuri, I hit the nail on the head when I said that yuri looked like Antoinette from Rose of Versailles in the OP. The Rose of Versailles references were heavy this time around, and quite funny given that Rose of Versailles itself was heavily influenced by Takarazuka… well, and Rose of Versailles in turn was a very heavy influence on Revolutionary Girl Utena. IKUFUCKINGHARA!

The sequence of Ringo sinking in the lake made me wonder about how real everything that is going on is. She sank for a long time, and she drifted past a piece of sealife that certainly would never be found in a small park lake in urban Japan. There’s a lot of questions about the reality of the “reality” we are presented, and this played further into that. The drowning person rescued also pulls us back toward Night on the Galactic Railroad and Revolutionary Girl Utena. The driving event of Galactic Railroad, after all, is one of the characters jumping into a river to save a person who fell in, and dying because of it. In RGU TV, Juri toward the end of the show relates an incident wherein her sister was rescued from drowning by a boy who himself ended up drowning (and she’s troubled by the fact that she cannot recall his name). In the movie, it is Juri who is the one rescued by a boy who himself drowns.

It kind of felt like Ringo reset herself somehow. She drifted way too deep for that to be taken at face value. And we’ve still got all that train symbolism farting around.

Spinning off from this, I’ve been wondering if everyone in the damn show is actually dead except for Himari. We’ve had a lot of nods to the sarin gas attacks on the subway system in 1995 – the line the kids have been using was one of those attacked, and the number 95 keeps showing up. The twins would’ve been born in 1995. My out there theory is that their mother may’ve been on the train during the attack, and been pregnant with them and miscarried as a result of her exposure, or they were only a few months old and were exposed and died. Himari, meanwhile, was born a few years later and never knew them, and is in a coma in the “real” world and is the one who has constructed the world we see on-screen. She is shown in the OP in her bed at the end of the sequence, after all, which would fit with a coma.

(I’ve been poking around, by the way, trying to track down any information about the victims of those attacks, trying to find anything to do with pregnant women who were on-board the trains, but I’ve been luckless thus far. There is an academic paper which apparently mentions pregnant women who were victims of the attack, but I’m having trouble finding a full copy of the paper. I’ll get back to you folks on this one.)

I actually hashed over this with E Minor a bit, and he suggested that Ringo is dead and stuck in a cycle of re-living the road to her demise constantly with no awareness of what is happening. Her sinking in the lake lends some credence to this idea.

I will say that, regardless of whatever crazy theories I generate, I am of the opinion that the twins and Ringo are doomed. I think they are unknowingly on-board the Galactic Railroad, so to speak, trundling their way out of the living world. Himari hasn’t set foot on a train since she “died”.

I was creeped out a bit by the gathering of the twins, Himari, and Ringo together last episode, something which was heightened when we saw her in the kitchen at the start of this one. It just feels like they’re forming a death cult of sorts; that isn’t the proper word for it, really, but its the visceral reaction I had to it. They’re forming their own little insular unit. There’s a very strong pre-occupation with death present. Himari’s dead, Ringo smells like murder-suicide, and Kanba has expressed a willingness to swap his life for his sister’s. It’s just very creepy.

I was a bit thrown to have such a serious thing happen at the end of an episode that included so much humor. It seems pretty clear to me that Natsume, the Juri lookalike, was the one responsible; I guess some folks are thinking it was Ringo, but the outfit was the one Natsume wears, so I’m going with that for now at least. I was especially struck by the image of the shoe clunking repeatedly at the bottom of the escalator stairs. It contrasted rather sharply with the running Takarazuka gags.

By the way… Ringo is attacked by a snake. Surely I’m not the only one who found that bit interesting? Y’know… apples and serpents? Hmm~

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10 Responses to Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Four

  1. DEAD, DEAD, EVERYONE’S DEAD. This is oh so fun. You know I shared this show with Mechafetish yesterday… I’ve been telling him about it but could not for the life of me explain what it was LOL

    We ended up watching all 4 eps and this ep was far more enjoyable for me the second time around, despite my initial complaints of lazy gags and the like.

    It’s probably because it now lends itself to crazy speculation like the ones you put forth here. OH YEAH DEAD PEOPLE. The Utena movie is pretty far out (and that’s saying a LOT), so I’m not going to be surprised if the twins turn into trains and shit.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I have to be honest – I found the metaphors of the Utena movie to be a lot more straightforward than for the TV series, even in all their bizarreness.

  2. Katherine says:

    “I was really hoping for this Juri lookalike to be a yuri girl” <- THIS.

    And I need to read/watch Galactic Railroad already. *fail*

    Ringo reminded me of Nanami in this episode, because of the episode of Utena where Nanami keeps trying to sabotage Anthy (complete with delusional daydreaming).

    Love the recaps, btw.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I really, really recommend reading Galactic Railroad. It isn’t very long, and its a good book, too.

      The Nanami comparison is rather apt; not sure how I overlooked that.

  3. inushinde says:

    You really can’t be sure with this kind of show where it’ll head. I hold the stance that Ringo and the twins are a bit whacked in the head, to the point of giving in to their delusions. They’re definitely on a different plane of existence from the people around them, mentally or not, so the Dead All Along trope might hold water.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I keep wondering if we’re gonna have an Ikuhara interview moment where he tells us that EVERYTHING WE THINK IS THE TRUTH.

      • inushinde says:

        That would sure give the show plenty of staying power, and would not be enough of a cop-out to cause a lot of hate wank. I’m counting on it.

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