Straightforward it ain’t.
Phew. I really was behind on this one. A few weeks of travel made me miss a few episodes as they aired, and then I’ll admit that the task of catching up seemed daunting considering that I’m committed to blogging this. But I’ve finally gotten back on track.
A lot of ground was covered here… which is putting it lightly. Ringo ran the full spectrum of the crazy train, and more was revealed about her family. I’m not going to hash over it much, as surely by now everyone else has done this to death, and I’ll admit that I’m not really a big fan of Ringo; I was thrilled that episode nine dealt exclusively with Himari.
However, one thing that stuck out on the Ringo front – in the overheard argument between her parents, her father talks about how they must dedicate all their love to Ringo and forget about Momoka. Yet it is Ringo’s mother who is the primary guardian and caregiver for her daughter, not her father. In fact, it seems very clear that Ringo only sporadically gets to even see her father. Additionally, while Ringo is the most important person in her mother’s life (barring any sudden appearance of a love interest or something of that sort), Ringo’s father has “moved on” from his family role in Ringo’s life. In a way, he has forgotten about Ringo as well as Momoka.
But of this set, episode nine was the standout, and not simply since it finally gave Himari her moment in the sun. We’ve certainly had some trippy moments within previous episodes, but Himari’s is a full departure from reality.
A lot of folks have been calling the pink-haired Sanetoshi an Utena lookalike for a while, but he’s actually pretty much a dead-ringer for Black Rose Arc’s villain, Souji Mikage:
And the nod is completed by his picking of Himari’s brain and his line about going deeper (in fact, he starts to say they’ll go further down, only to correct himself). So, too, is the implication that Sanetoshi offers people a chance to alter their truths, although his at least appears to be less violent than Mikage’s dueling scheme. And I haven’t even mentioned the elevator bit. I wonder if it is too ridiculous to think that they may actually be exactly the same character? After all, Mikage wasn’t originally that man’s name, either…
Moving along and keeping with the Utena theme, the scene with the little boy giving Ringo the apple was awfully reminiscent of the origin story for that show. At first I wondered if it was Kanba, although the obvious vocal difference between the boy and little Kanba set me off of that fairly quickly. A bit of research, and the boy is Mario Natsume, and based on surname he could very well be a sibling to Masako. He is also apparently the little boy in the penguin hat Himari saw at the aquarium. And I’m willing to guess that he is deceased, although I struggle to see how he fits into the whole scheme yet.
I’ll also go further and say that he may’ve drowned. The apple brings us back to Night on the Galactic Railroad, after all (and the clearly Italian given name certainly does, too). On the less definite side of the ledger, I don’t think that Himari knew Mario in her current life. The Himari in silhouette in the flashback has much shorter hair than the Himari in the flashbacks we saw elsewhere in the episode, and in flashbacks in past episodes. In Night on the Galactic Railroad, apples are given to children who drowned when the Titanic sank, but this sequence made me think of the Holocaust, honestly, with the people held in a corrugated metal building, and the sign reading ‘child broiler’ on the wall.
There also was a well-known hoax a few years back about a boy and a girl during WWII. Supposedly, they met when the girl would come by the fence of a concentration camp and toss an apple to a boy every day. However, one day the boy said he could no longer come see her, for he was going to be killed the next day. It was ultimately proven false, since the timeline made no sense and since prisoners in the camps weren’t told beforehand when they were going to be murdered, but during its time it did well enough to give the originators of the tale a book deal and a movie deal.
I also liked this episode a lot since it essentially rendered Himari, finally, as a character as opposed to an object. The demonstration of her selfishness as a child was very welcome since to this point we’ve seen Himari in much the way that her brothers do – as an innocent angel. A flawed Himari is a human Himari.
By the way, anyone thought of the penguindrum lately? My proposal is that it isn’t something Ringo owns, but Ringo herself. A drum is hollow, but can make a lot of noise. Ringo’s rabid pursuit of a normal family life sure seems to indicate she feels empty on the inside, and no one could ever say she isn’t a noisy young woman.
EDIT: In rewatching part of the episode, I realized that the statues in front of the library of the boy and girl have the same shape as the silhouettes in Himari’s memory; its the small ponytail which is the giveaway, although in the statues the boy is hiding the apple instead of offering it.
Well, this scene is also one of Ringo’s fevered delusions. For this reason, I don’t consider it very reliable. The poor girl is obviously deranged so there’s no saying what misconceptions she would have about her clearly less than perfect dad.
Oh, I wasn’t even really thinking about the bit in the aquarium gift-shop. The way in which Ringo’s dinner with her father was treated informed my assessment of the situation. She clearly doesn’t get to see her father very often – it is a special occasion to see him. And her father came across as not entirely present mentally during the dinner; he had other things on his mind (his intent to re-marry? maybe guilt over that when in the presence of his daughter? work-related items?). Sure, Ringo’s got this paranoid paradigm through which she views her father’s new would-be family, but even setting that aside, the man doesn’t look to be much of a presence in her life.
So, of course, she idealizes him in a way that she doesn’t her own caretaker, a.k.a. her mother.
No, I agree with you. The man doesn’t look like a very good dad. I was actually referring to the dinner table scene actually. In her feverish dreams, I think she mistakes her father for a saint and her mother as a villain. As I’ve mentioned to others, I think this totally fits the Hansel and Gretel theme we’ve got going for Ringo, but in a deconstructionist way. The fairy tale just assumes that the mother is evil, but what if the kids are just paranoid nutjobs like Ringo?
Yeah, one area in which I was really struck by episode nine was in how it treated childhood. A lot of popular media sugarcoat it as a golden period populated by angels, but I think that Himari taking a bat to a koi fish pretty much put an end to that way of looking at things. It wasn’t that she intended to cause pain–she was doing it to help her mother, after all–but then again it’s those little heartless acts that people either find absolutely hilarious later or conveniently forget about. Reminded me a little bit of that scene in Utena where Nanami throws the kitten-in-a-box into the river, actually.
To be frank, I was getting a little tired of Ringo too, so it was great to see an episode that exploded the status quo. Now that the idol girls have been defined as Himari’s former friends (or are they???) where do we go from here? Is Himari or Ringo the key for this particular puzzle-box? Or is it more of a combination of the two?
(Also, the mirror falling on Himari’s mom. A mirror fell on her father, too. What does it mean???)
The koi scene was shockingly horrific, as the children clearly had no conception of the gravity of their actions. Good point on the Nanami part, that hadn’t occurred to me.
I’m also glad you pointed out the bit about the mirrors. I had suggested that their father actually died at that juncture, given that the scene cut off before we could actually see what had happened. The same happens here, actually – we don’t see their mother immediately after the fact, but later at the hospital. Maybe this is the key to their alleged disappearance?