Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Twenty

Mawaru Penguindrum: Clannad as done by Ikuhara.

What makes a family?

The Takakuras are a family. Although Masako challenges Shouma’s assertion that this is true, implicitly since the three siblings are not related by blood, this does not matter. Quasi-incestuous feelings or not, they have existed as a family for several years now, and even with revelations of their lack of biological basis as a family, they will never be able to fully escape the truth of that even if they are to suddenly cease to exist as a family, as siblings.

So: what is a family?

Its interesting that it should come to this, after everything about fate and destiny. It may be that this is the true core of the story, that everything to do with fighting fate or trying to alter it may just be subordinate to the question of family. To look at Mawaru Penguindrum, expecting something Revolutionary Girl Utena-ish and to find that it may just be a stranger version of Clannad is fairly surprising. Although, curiously, wasn’t Clannad itself about fighting fate to an extent? Granted, it was much more explicit in the game versus the show, but Tomoya does somehow manage to set off the trigger that saves himself, his daughter, and his wife from death – his wife after the fact.

Although, where in Clannad this was a good thing, it remains to be seen if this will be the case in Penguindrum.

So Himari was a street child destined for death, and Kanba was a son of the Natsume family. So we’ve scratched out one incest case with another, in the form of Masako. Although, this is somewhat questionable – Masako isn’t making a case for romantic love, exactly, when she explains her philosophy of love to Kanba several episodes back. She wants to possess him wholly, its a matter of strength of wills. Despite the sweaters and the cakes, Masako’s interest in Kanba doesn’t come across as terribly romantic. So what is it? Is it even what you and I would consider love anyway? Although she does kiss him. I can’t quite parse this yet.

Given that Kanba and Masako are siblings, we come to the matter of how Kanba ended up in the Takakura household himself. This, taken with the obvious absence of Mrs. Takakura during the episode, leads me to believe that while Masako and Kanba’s (and Mario’s!) father died due to his involvement with the Kiga Group, their mother did not… and is the woman we know as Mrs. Takakura. Look at the scenes with Shouma and his father; the lack of a mother in those scenes is a fairly glaring lack.

To shift back a bit to the question of family and lend it more credence, consider Ringo’s story. Ringo didn’t really think she had a family… or, rather, she thought her family was ‘broken’. How to fix it? Get pregnant with Tabuki’s child because it would somehow bring Momoka back – through incarnation, perhaps? The details don’t really matter in this case, just that Ringo didn’t think her family really made a family. There’s never been a moment where the show has directly told us that this is no longer the case, but she’s completely dropped her plans, and also acknowledged that her father’s re-marriage isn’t invalid and doesn’t somehow destroy her own family. What makes a family?

Masako hated her grandfather, loved her father, loves her brothers, and hates Himari because she has “taken” one of her brothers away from her. Her family is broken; she cannot get her father back, but she could retrieve her elder brother, thus fixing the family. What makes a family?

Himari’s mother abandoned her to the streets. What makes a family?

Sanetoshi is, as usual, creepy as hell when with Himari, although more obviously so here with his looming over her and discussion of kisses. When he tells Himari that her love may come to fruition if she continues to chase, its interesting because of course, as she rightly points out, the corollary is that it may not. It seemingly violates the rule of apples – apples are the reward for those who give up everything for love. If she continues to give chase, is she not giving up everything for love? But, then, is it really love if you ignore the other’s wishes and feelings?

Shouma’s declaration that the three siblings are the Takakura family, and that no one else is, is rather interesting, especially when you toss in Kanba’s agreement with the statement, and Himari’s implicit agreement by remaining silent. If Shouma is the one who, so far, appears to have constructed the family (although this is admittedly only based on his drawing in of Himari to the family), does this mean that his words are the ultimate authority on the matter? What makes a family?

This may be the point at which the wheels fly off. No, not for the Takakura family. I mean for Shouma, and Shouma’s reality. We don’t truly know what is real and what isn’t here. We are accepting the reality being presented to use since we lack the context to tell otherwise. Although I wondered a long while back if we were operating within Himari’s reality, it seems more likely that its Shouma’s. Shouma’s father wanted to save the unwanted children of the world through violence. Shouma saves an unwanted child through, well, not violence. He also believes his father and the Kiga Group’s actions were wrong.

If the diary is finally reunited, I think Shouma is our most likely user, and I can easily see him taking an action similar to Momoka’s – “save” the world with his existence as the payment. Or, even more specifically, “save” Himari and Kanba.

What makes a family?

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3 Responses to Mawaru Penguindrum Episode Twenty

  1. kimalysong says:

    To look at Mawaru Penguindrum, expecting something Revolutionary Girl Utena-ish

    Nah Penguindrum is reminding me more of Utena every day. Not that I am discounting the concept of family in the story (which I do think is important) but there is more to the series than that.

    After all there is the whole thing about changing the world to make it a better place where all people are “chosen”. I hardly think it is just about abandoned children either but it goes deeper than that. I think Ikuhara is talking about Japan or even the whole human society here where we have people who feel they are chosen and people who feel they are un-chosen (I think the viewer can decide what that means for themselves). Hence why we have references to Aum Shinrikyo who also believed their terrorist activities were to “fix the world”.

    However I expect ultimately the story will be about not saving the world (which is what Kiga wants to do) but perhaps choosing one person is enough or even just choosing yourself (which actually is similar to the theme in Utena about not changing the world but revolutionizing one’s self).

  2. kimalysong says:

    I just remembered this post and what I said before and you know after episode 21 I might have to take back what I said & “family” might actually be the key to everything after all. 🙂

  3. inushinde says:

    I was surprised by the sudden turn toward wondering about the value of family, but I think it went in a pretty good direction. It introduced something to think about that wasn’t just the utter battiness of the plot, and that’s something Penguindrum needed for awhile.
    Either way though, as long as Sanetoshi continues to be brooding and vaguely evil, I’ll be entertained no matter which direction it takes.

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