Now that Mawaru Penguindrum is finished, the characters were who we thought they were (or were not), and the symbolism-heavy ending has everyone loving or denouncing the series with all of their heart, it’s time to make good on a promise. Here are some interpretations of Double H’s train slogans from episodes 19 through 24.
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ajthefourth: Towards the end of Revolutionary Girl Utena, director Kunihiko Ikuhara and his writer Yoji Enokido decide to re-introduce the audience to its Greek chorus element, The Shadow Girls, by showing them briefly out from behind their customary screens and shadow puppetry, talking to the main character, Utena Tenjou, in class. The Shadow Girls then proceed to put on a play for Utena and the two other main characters. In doing so, they present what has come before and recontextualize it a bit; setting the stage for the series’ final arc, The End of the World.
This next series of episodes, specifically Episode Nine, mark a tonal shift in Mawaru Penguindrum‘s presentation. Much of this is owed to the closing of Ringo’s story arc. As we discover just exactly what Ringo’s been up to, it leads us into a whole other universe of speculation and conflict involving the Takakura and Oginome family pasts, and a certain horrific event in Japanese history.
“What’re you gonna do when you graduate?
I’m going to high school, of course.
No, I mean in your future.
Haven’t decided yet.
I wanna be an actress.
Do you really believe you can pull that off?”
-”The Shadow Girls,” Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 39
One of the signature elements of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s direction is the borrowing or adopting of classic stage elements and putting them to work within his series, giving the audience a grander presentation of the story. One of these key elements is the idea of a Greek chorus: an informed perspective on the story being told that often hints to overall thematic elements presented in the performed piece.
“Like I said, the apple is the universe itself. A universe in the palm of your hand. It’s what connects this world and the other world.”
“The other world?”
“The world Campanella and the other passengers are heading to!”
“What does that have anything to do with an apple?”
“The apple is a reward for those who have chosen love over everything else!”
“But everything’s over when you’re dead.”
“It’s not over! What I’m trying to say is that’s actually where everything begins!”
-Mawaru Penguindrum, Episode 1