“But how are you going to be normal again if you keep playing with these illusions?!”
ajthefourth: In an episode that focused mainly on Ringo and a bit of her background story, it was this quote above that stood out the most in this latest Mawaru Penguindrum episode. Up until this third episode, the series has focused solely on the brothers through their quest to save Himari’s life. We’ve managed to learn a little about Kanba and Shouma, all through off-handed remarks or seemingly throw away lines that have slowly begun to divine their separate characters.
Their individual relationships with Himari are also slowly coming to light, which is where the above, very pointed, quote comes in. It manages to shed a whole lot more light on Shouma and Kanba’s relations with Himari, and a lot of it seemingly isn’t pretty (incestuous kissing aside). The quote is very dismissive, insisting that Himari is “playing at illusions” because she is “bored at home alone.” While it’s true that she is sick, and seemingly this is the reason that she doesn’t attend school, it also suggests that the brothers don’t think much of what Himari chooses to do with her free time, and write these incidents off as ploys for their attention. Worse still, we don’t know if they always had seen her that way, since their initial “Himari Day” treatment of her in episode one can also be seen as a bit patronizing; they take her to the aquarium, make her breakfast, and buy her what ends up being an incredibly important penguin hat.
In fairness, these are also things that one who dotes on their younger, sickly sister would do, especially if they also knew, as Kanba and Shouma did, that said younger sister’s life was going to end at some point in the near future; the aquarium acts as a “Make a Wish” day for Himari. Still, it’s hard to ignore the dismissive nature of the brothers’ attitude towards Himari following her life extension. Yes, everything they do is now for her; however, it makes the extension of her life more of a goal than anything else, especially when the hat makes it abundantly clear that Himari’s life is in her hands.
vucubcaquix: This possibly dismissive attitude that Kanba displays towards his younger sister stands in stark relief to the increasingly brazen actions he takes in her stead. His morality becomes more negotiable as the episodes advance, as in this situation where we have a clear case of breaking and entering and unlawful entry. Younger brother Shouma is still reticent about the path that Kanba is seemingly taking, but is reluctantly pulled along as he’s reminded that everything they are doing is for the sake of finding the Penguindrum, the object through which Himari’s life may yet be saved.
The Penguindrum itself has yet to be revealed. It has not been revealed to us whether it is Ringo’s Diary, or just a symbol to propel the characters forward or even if it is indeed some other finite object. What we do know, is that it has irrevocably altered the brothers’ actions through the mere knowledge of its existence. Shouma has become more timid since the scene in the hospice where he threw his older brother to the ground for acting so coldly regarding their sister’s death. Kanba has become more scheming and aggressive in his actions, grasping at the potential to circumvent fate to extend the life of his younger sister. This role reversal is indicative of the instability of all of their previously established relationships, further sowing the seeds that future conflict will reap.
ajthefourth: More than likely, this future conflict will not be limited to the brothers disagreeing with each other, but Himari disagreeing with them as well. In episode two, there was a seemingly throw away line where Himari posed the question to her penguin, and the audience, as to what she would do should her brothers become delinquents. This line is in regards to their skipping class; however, it also poses a larger question: What would Himari think, should she discover what her brothers are up to?
Through the hat’s machinations, we learn that Himari is, in fact, dead. Her own life hasn’t actually been restored; instead, she is in a sort of suspended animation thanks to the penguin hat. Now that it has been established that her life now depends on the hat’s whims, it has ignited a new fervor in the brothers to fulfill the hat’s wishes at whatever the cost. The question that looms over their current, oft-suspect, actions is whether Himari would want for them to do this for her in the first place.
ajthefourth: We know very little of Himari herself, other than the fact that she has apparently been sick for quite some time, which caused her to stay inside and be cared for by her brothers. Towards the end of this episode, we are able to peer more into her character; she is a kind, caring girl who loves her family, and also loves inviting others into her home and sharing a meal, or a bit of herself, with them. One has to wonder, based on the character of Himari that the series has introduced thus far, is this the type of girl who would want her brothers to be so fixated around prolonging her own time to die? Taking this one step further, one would also have to wonder at what the brothers would do if they were to find out that their actions are actually contrary to Himari’s wishes.
vucubcaquix: Himari even went so far as to invite Ringo into her home. The situation at the Takakura household struck me as the most interesting scene in the entire episode since there were a lot of little actions that spoke loudly about the characters present, what with Kanba turning down the photographs of their parents on the shelf, or Shouma nervously trying to redirect the conversation when Ringo’s mother was mentioned by Himari in passing, betraying the humanity they still have. But most interesting of all is Ringo’s steadfast commitment to the idea that every thing went as written.
Krizzlybear brought up the interesting idea of comparing Ringo’s devotion to her diary to the idea of a believer and his scripture. I couldn’t not think of that as I heard Ringo rationalizing the events of the day, trying to dismiss the details that were not written down in advance, and interpreting everything in such a way that it readily fits into her pre-established dogma. Given the dangerous nature about her character that was established in the previous episode, I was reminded of religious groups that willfully misrepresent their scriptures in order to further their own violent agendas. No religion is exempt from this, Christian, Islamic, or Buddhist, so this isn’t a commentary on any particular one, but rather this is an allegory for the dangers of extremism with regards to the misrepresentations of scripture in general.
I said in the last colloquium that the introduction of the Diary as a roadmap for the characters will affect the overall narrative and direction. Now in this episode, we learn that the Diary is not omniscient. Some details will be omitted and other extraneous ones will be included, such as the cat with the scary face, possibly at the expense of the perfect execution of what’s been written. With this revelation, we see how pliable Ringo is in her interpretation of the Diary, enabling her obsessive need to fulfill what’s been written. From here on, we may see the characters plumb depths not yet previously seen, all in order to place their respective stamps on fate and destiny.
vucubcaquix: Lots to think about this week, right Emily?
ajthefourth: Definitely. And we both seem to slowly, but surely, be trending towards our own interests: you with the possible philosophical and religious allusions and me with imagery and emotional relationships between the characters. I’m really happy that we chose this series to watch together, since it’s not only a wealth of allegories, but also a ridiculously fun series to watch. Every time I see that transformation sequence, I get giddy, and the penguins themselves are delightful, aren’t they?
vucubcaquix: Agreed. I was in stitches (and also slightly mortified) hearing penguin #2’s whimpers as he couldn’t breathe for all of the plums in his mouth. I look forward to this show and watching it with you every week. Have a good night.