Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes Eleven and Twelve

I’m not really cut out for this episodic blogging stuff.

Legit. It isn’t so much of a problem when it comes to a show like Uta no Prince-sama, because practically no one else was blogging it anyway, and there was no real urgency to hashing over stuff week in and week out. It was a silly show with a silly premise and the depth of a teaspoon.

It also isn’t a problem when it comes to shows that have truly lit me on fire (see: Shiki… which I didn’t even pick up for blogging until halfway through, when I felt I couldn’t resist the need to blather on and on about it somewhere). I do like Mawaru Penguindrum quite a bit. In fact, it is easily the best show I’ve followed this year, and it convinces me that Ikuhara hasn’t lost his edge. However… this isn’t the same as being on fire about it.

There is additionally the very simple fact that it is exhausting to blog Mawaru Penguindrum. Before I do my episodic posts, I have watched each episode anywhere from twice to four times, often the first time raw or, in an accidental case, with Korean subtitles. It is a fairly complex show, and many times the “blink and you’ll miss it” moments fly by in spades. This is very time-consuming, and it makes a chore of following the show. I have taken to putting off watching episodes because of this. I don’t like this.

So what does this all mean? I might drop Penguindrum for episodic blogging. I say ‘might’ because I don’t want to put a definite end point here for it; I just want to make it so that I am not feeling an obligation to blog it on a weekly basis. Sort of like how I did one episodic post about No. 6 halfway through its run, although probably with more frequency.

Anyway, with that said, episodes eleven and twelve of Penguindrum.

So the Takakura parents were involved in the Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system. Or, rather, they were involved in an incident which is clearly meant to represent that incident – I say this because of the line at Momoka’s funeral, where one of the attendees says that all that was found was her diary.

Aside: Could I also point out that letting your newborn chew on your recently-deceased daughter’s diary doesn’t seem like particularly good parenting? Nevermind that an infant chewing on paper materials seems like a great way to end up with zero live children – it certainly seems that Ringo’s neuroses were wired in by her parents from a very, very young age. The argument between the parents in a flashback in an earlier episode lends credence to this, as well; her mother was apparently over-focused on her dead sister, while her father wanted to completely forget about her and use Ringo as a Replacement Goldfish. Neither are terribly healthy approaches, and its hardly shocking to have Ringo be so unhinged as a result.

I digress, though. Momoka’s body wasn’t found, so the implication runs. The victims of the sarin gas attack didn’t vanish in a physical sense. This is more like the Rapture took place on a mini-scale and at the prompting of humans.

Another odd item popped up in connection with this. On the phone with the hospital, Mr. Takakura several times says that it is a boy who was born. A boy. Not twins. A single boy. Curious. There are a lot of options here, ranging from one of them not really existing to one of them being adopted. In flashbacks, Kanba directly interacts with his father… as does Himari, for that matter. Both also have flashbacks themselves about the time prior to the parents’ disappearance. So if anyone is an illusion here, my money is on Shouma.

Shouma’s story about the sheep, Mary, the apple tree, and the goddess was, initially, baffling, but afterward it was pretty easy to suss out a few options. It reminded me of Adolescence Apocalypse because of that – another piece which looks on its surface to be very obtuse, but which was a very simple metaphor at its heart. The brothers committed a taboo – they brought their little sister back to life. It wasn’t her fault at all, so it does seem unfair that she is the one who is punished for their transgression, but one could argue that she should’ve been dead anyway.

Other interpretation: the person depicted in the story is a man’s outline, despite the name ‘Mary’… the outline also loosely resembles Mr. Takakura. Mrs. Takakura is the tree. Mr. Takakura made a deal because something happened to his wife to bring her back, and so Himari was afflicted.

Third option!: its a story told as reminder of Kanba’s sin, his lust for his sister. This really isn’t so much a distinctly separate option as the previous two. We had a bunch of reminders again that Kanba has a crush on his sister in these two episodes, as well as a pretty strong visual allusion to incest when he’s trying to revive Himari again. Himari is dying again because Kanba staked his life to resurrect her because of his incestuous feelings.

Actually, speaking of the attempted Survival Strategy moment with Kanba and Himari, I was struck by the fact that Himari is the one penetrating Kanba. Yes, we have seen this before, but it was a lot more graphic here, in that we didn’t simply see her plunge her hand into his chest in silhouette, but saw them in full detail, with Kanba clearly… suffering? orgasming? physically reacting in some manner.

And then in strolls Lucifer. No, really – if the devil is meant as a tempter, so that the temptee is sinful and then must be given some punishment, Sanetoshi is clearly our Lucifer. Based on Himari’s flashback, it at least looks that he set Himari’s revival in motion himself, and he comes with two black rabbits as did the tempter of Mary. Deals with devils always come home to roost. Is he coming once again to offer another dangerous deal? And is this a regular habit for him, given his appearance at the bedside of a person who goes from flatlining to heartbeat as he stands watching?

Lot of stuff floating around. The apples keep appearing – the reward for those who give up everything for love… maybe faith, too. Or the item handed over when one yields to temptation. A fairly interesting potential dichotomy.

In closing, I think Himari knew on some level what was going to happen. Her behavior when parting with Kanba in the hospital during Shouma’s stay there was very motherly, and there was a sense of potential finality to it. Her behavior in the kitchen with Kanba, too, in episode twelve had the same feel about it. Why is she making so much food? Well, she might not get to make him any more, so… She also urges Kanba to make up with Shouma, as she had urged Kanba to keep an eye on Shouma in the hospital. I don’t think she had an exact idea of what was about to happen, but I do think she felt she didn’t have much time left despite the apparent clearance of her illness.

By the way… if Himari’s life was prolonged, and the tumor was removed (as shown by the x-rays after she comes back), why does she die now? The tumor, the reason for her death, is gone. Is it that the tumor was removed post-mortem, so it doesn’t make any difference?

Anyway, my ship was blown to smithereens today. These things happen, I suppose. Hope we get more about Mario’s circumstances next week. I’m surprised they pulled the plug on Himari so soon, since there is still another half-season to go. I still am convinced that our adolescent cast is all doomed, for whatever that is worth.

Maybe more speculation to follow after I hash over the tale of Mary a bit more. I have someone talking at me, so I think this ghost will just have to be given up for the evening.

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8 Responses to Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes Eleven and Twelve

  1. TWWK says:

    Thanks for the great commentary on the episode. I try not to think about what could be coming next…but certainly, the dad only saying that one boy was born makes me wonder. What a loopy cool show.

    By the way, I can attest that you’ll let your child chew on almost anything, I imagine particularly so when you’re in a daze from having a newborn while also having to bury a child. My son chomped on paper a lot as a baby and I know of parents whose kids ate LOTS, bit by bit. You’re just too tired to fight that battle. 😛

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I think I just also find it odd that they found let their newborn chew on the only ‘remains’ they have of their elder daughter. Surely they are in a daze, but you’d sort of expect that to make them cling to what little they had left all the more.

      I did go back and re-watch the scene with the call from the hospital just to make sure that the subtitles and the dialogue matched up… the phrase used was ‘男の子’/’otoko no ko’ which is ‘male child’ or, more simply, ‘boy’, there was no ’二つ’/’futatsu’, which would’ve implied twins.

      • TWWK says:

        Well, yeah, if you put it that way, their newborn chewing on sisterly remains is a little weird. 😛

        Thanks, too, for clarifying about the diction used. Very interesting…the evidence does seem to suggest that Kanba is “more real” than Shouma, though I’m very attached to Shouma’s character and hope that he’s no illusion. Kanba…eh, whatever.

  2. ojisan says:

    Don’t whip yourself about episodizing – you picked a super hard series to episodify, and you’re still doing a good job. Just as Ikuhara is doing a good job playing us like fish on a line –

  3. E Minor says:

    Aside: Could I also point out that letting your newborn chew on your recently-deceased daughter’s diary doesn’t seem like particularly good parenting?

    Ringo munched on it for like a whole three seconds. It’s not like parents could watch their kids all the time.

    The brothers committed a taboo – they brought their little sister back to life. It wasn’t her fault at all,

    But she came back to life on her own. They were just arguing at the hospital around her deathbed when she popped up. If you’re referring to Himari taking a part of Kanba’s life, how does that absolve the girl from responsibility?

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