ajthefourth: The phrase above, in addition to being humorous, is a tagline for this second episode of Mawaru Penguindrum given to us by the blue and pink haired girl icons on the train. It encapsulates the entire episode as a whole, which begins as a seemingly harmless romp where the two twins follow a girl from a different high school, Ringo Oginome, having been told that she may have the penguindrum.
As the episode progresses, things take a turn for the dark when the twins discover that Ringo is stalking their homeroom teacher, Tabuki. The twins’ stalking of Ringo was a bit harmless and playful, giving the episode punches of hilarity, while Ringo’s stalking of Tabuki has a bit more of a dangerous edge. This is compounded by the fact that she possesses a diary where the future has supposedly already been written down.
The tagline that was used to begin this post suddenly takes a far more ominous meaning when considering what Ringo is doing to her teacher. It will be especially interesting to see if these two train icons will continue to bring us key phrases that add to the episodes’ overall themes, performing a role similar to that of a Greek chorus in a play, or the Shadow Girls in Revolutionary Girl Utena. (The only additional information given to the audience about the girls themselves is that they appear in the ED along with Himari, and that they are, according to a magazine within the world of the series, icons of the idol duo Double-H.) If so, this also means that the use of train imagery and trains themselves as a means of transportation for the characters will also continue to be used in every episode.
vucubcaquix: There’s one thing that I noticed about this show, and that is that it has a remarkable mastery over its tone. The general air of this episode was one of levity, until the weight of Ringo’s actions was made clear to the brothers, and the audience, when the show saw fit to reveal her particular inclinations through a single shot of her face. There were other isolated moments where the tone of the episode was being manipulated by a line of dialogue, such as Kanba’s retort to Shouma’s inquiry about the morality of their actions. Shouma is disinclined to act in a way that can be perceived as immoral, whereas Kanba states with absolute conviction that the end justifies the means.
The craft with which this show is constructed is no accident, as was shown by our analysis of the symbolism in our first colloquium, but so too is the audience’s perception of the precarious swings of mood and tone. The first episode ends on a somewhat dreamy note pontificating about the nature of fate and destiny, only to shock my partner and I out of our sense of resignation to it’s ending with that now infamous shot of Himari and Kanba.
I feel these manipulations of tone serve as a type of foreshadowing. There were very subtle hints of it on display in the first episode in the hospice scene and during the transformation sequences, but the second episode cements the idea that there may be a significant conflict in the future between the brothers and how they approach the problems that are presented to them. They both reject the idea of fate, but one brother in particular seems willing to compromise quite a lot of himself in order to ensure their sister’s future. A risky survival strategy, if you will.
ajthefourth: The success of this survival strategy could be hinted at by the continued use of the number 95 within the series. It appears as one of only three icons beneath the title in the OP (the other two being a penguin and a train). It appears again in the OP surrounded by the same two red arrows that encircle all of the destination numbers on the train station signs; the benign penguin icons quickly turning into slightly more ominous emperor penguin icons in a ripple effect radiating outwards from the number.
In statistics, 95% is a significant and desirable benchmark of success. Put simply, a 95% or higher confidence level indicates that the probability of the specific result in question is near fated to occur. Of course 95%, as it is with many statistics, is easily manipulated and, when taking other factors into consideration, the actual confidence that one can have in any study is usually far less than 95%. What’s most interesting about this is that it reflects the series’ conflicting views on fate that it presents through its major characters. If one chooses to believe in fate, like Ringo, they can bend the meaning of various life events to fit within the parameters of “fate.” If one chooses to reject fate, as the brothers claim to do in episode one, they too can bend their experiences to fit their own interpretation; that they have somehow managed to escape the shackles of fate and extend their sister’s life. Much like the 95% confidence level in statistics, it’s all in how you choose to parse the results.
vucubcaquix: Ringo has in her possession a diary that reveals to her what will be. She parses the information given to her in such a way that the ideas of fate and destiny are not ones of shackles and constraints, but rather ones that imbue life with purpose and meaning.
Even her name is significant: Ringo is the Japanese word for apple. The apple is a famous representation for human knowledge, and if this show is heading in the direction I think it is, her diary may serve as a symbolic representation of the dispensation of knowledge. It may not be the Penguindrum itself, but who’s to say that it’s not the roadmap through which the characters find the item that can affect their fates? Ringo’s Diary, as the vehicle through which knowledge is dispensed to the characters, will become an integral part of the narrative of the show, as a symbol for the wisdom that the characters strive for in pursuit of their various goals.
vucubcaquix: You know Emily, we haven’t even touched on all of the underwater imagery regarding Ringo and the scenes she’s in.
ajthefourth: Not to mention the role that Tabuki could possibly play within the series, as well as delving a bit more into what Himari would think of all of this should she find out that her brothers may already have, “turned into delinquents.” However, we only have a limited amount of time, and wouldn’t want our posts to become too unwieldy.
vucubcaquix: Haha, well that is something we’ll need to work on. Have a good night.
ajthefourth: Have a lovely night, David.