Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 3

“I know you get bored when you’re home alone…”

“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.

"She's not breathing..."

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.

The ends, of course, justify the means…

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.

"We're a family, after all!"

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.

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.

24 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Mawaru Penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum

24 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 3

  1. I just noticed this but the penguins of the brothers are a subtle reflections of the characters themselves.

    No2. which is Shoma’s mostly does is just spray repellant on insects. While this is fun to watch, that’s the most noticeable thing the no.2 does, aside from wandering around and doing mundane stuff in this episode. For me, its a subtle extension to Shoma’s current timid personality.

    On the other hand, No.1 which is Kanba’s is more active and readily assists Kanba in his dirty work. Throwaway dialogues in the episode reference Kanba as a lady killer who can date and dump women as he pleases. No.1’s action of picking up the panty (and Kanba throwing both No.1 and the panty in comical fashion) while raiding Ringo’s house is a perfect but subtle reflection of Kanba for me.

    Kinda out of topic but I just want to point that out. Great post as always, by the way!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: Not out of topic at all! That’s pretty interesting to bring up, and supports the idea that Kanba is a very dismissive person regarding his siblings, even if he purports to be doing these things *for* them.

      ajthefourth: Hn…interesting. Thinking back on it; however, Shouma is used more often for comic relief than either of his two siblings, much like his penguin often Raids insects at random points for comedic effect and to contrast the different tones that are so confidently executed within the series. Also important to note are the way that not only do the penguins’ characters reflect the siblings, but the siblings’ treatment of their penguins also reflect bits and pieces of their respective characters. It’s just another fantastic way to learn more and more about our main characters. Thanks for the insight.

      • I think that the spraying of the insects by no#1 shows the infatuation with morality and purity Shouma has. Think of it: insects are dirty things that are to be wiped out. And yet it’s the exact same penguin that ravages food here and there- he’s greedy and not so pure as he wants to think and show. He’s another Miki. Kanba’s penguin is also the deliquent with the plaster on his cheek, doing dirty things under girls’ skirts…As for Himari’s, No #3 is a coquette. At least until now.

  2. Ringo is the most absurd of the characters. The job she gives herself is absurd: to enforce destiny. She is the most fatalistic, and yet behaves as if it fate can’t take care of itself.

    Destiny is such that it doesn’t matter what one does or thinks. The outcomes of one’s life are fated as they are written, etc. Instead one devotes the self into predicting fate by interpreting what’s written. But no, she HAS to enforce what’s written. Absurd.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: You bring up an interesting point in that what Ringo does is absurd, her every action is meaningless if it’s already fated to happen regardless. It makes me think even harder about where (or who) she recieved the diary from. Does she truly believe in the diary’s words? She says yes; however, her actions say no. It makes me wonder that if this penguindrum that the hat is after is something else (or someone else) besides Ringo who is somehow controlling her actions. Or, if not controlling, then highly influencing.

      vucubcaquix: I had to take a moment to differentiate between Absurdity and Absurdism, and yes you are absolutely correct if we take Ringo to be in the Absurdism school of thought and if the Diary in its new-found fallibility turns out to not be the end-all be-all roadmap for the characters’ destinies. I like that, it fits into the overall conflict between existentialism and determinism that I posited this show to be about from the first episode. Now let’s see if it decides to follow Camus’ advice and to accept the Absurd for what it is, and to live in spite of it.

  3. animekritik

    I don’t think Kanba’s morality is becoming progressively more questionable as the show goes on. I think his morality is totally questionable from the beginning, and we are simply getting more and more evidence of that as we go along. He is a (good-looking and charming) monster.

    I wonder what would happen if Shouma or Kanba donned the Penguin Hat…

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Those would be some transformation sequences. ^ ^ You’re bring up interesting points about Kanba. As early as the first episode, he is the one pleading and begging saying that he’ll “do anything” to preserve Himari’s life. He’s also known as a bit of a womanizer, and, you know, there’s the incest. It’s been nice, however, to see even more sinister facets of his personality surface in these past two episodes. I’m actually hoping for a bit of a conflict between the brothers when Kanba goes too far for Shouma.

      vucubcaquix: I agree with Emily here. I guess I just find it interesting that I didn’t pick up on Kanba’s extremism from the outset, given how charismatic he is I suppose. If he can do that to me, then I can believe his characterization as a womanizer.

  4. Now that I have finally gotten around to watching this fantastic show, I have also finally been able to read your posts about it!

    Firstly, back when Star Driver was airing, I’m very glad a friend of mine forced me to sit thru Utena with the reassurances of “it gets better”, as I found the first arc a tad too sluggish for my liking. I much preferred the later arcs and tbh I didn’t really like the Nanami joke episodes, but overall, it really was a brilliant “you have to be there” series. I think to fully appreciate Penguindrum, you (David) would definitely do well to hurry up and watch it yourself! :)
    Thus, coming off the back of that (and my beloved Star Driver) I was already hyped for this show before it even began! And so far, I have been pleased to find that it has surpassed my expectations!
    ( ゚д゚)<生存戦略ぅーーー!

    Anyways, I must admit that having read some spoilers from the first novel plus the fact I watched the first 3 episodes together, I read your thoughts with a slight bias and as such, I don’t think it fair to judge you against my more informed conceptions, so I won’t go into any more depth in regards to your actual content.
    Basically, I just want to thank you for providing some interesting things to think about that I missed, and that I look forward to seeing what you have to say about future episodes!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Kiraboshi! I am about to do with David what your friend did to you in regards to Utena, but please continue to badger him about it. He needs to watch it soon! That being said, since you know spoilers about the show, now I’m really curious to see how well our predictions, or discussions regarding what we think are the main thematic elements of the series, play out. I bet we’re wrong about a great deal of it, but I’m glad that we gave you some extra things to think about while watching. Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: A little thought about what we all watched is really all we could ask for. I’m looking forward to watching Utena, but the summer is totally packed with shows for Emily and I to watch, so it may take a bit to get there. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. “the brothers would do if they were to find out that their actions are actually contrary to Himari’s wishes.”
    = I think they already expected Himari not to wish for them to go that far for her sake, that’s why they’re hiding it from her.

    “this is an allegory for the dangers of extremism with regards to the misrepresentations of scripture in general.”
    = I see that too. I also think that she’s forcing herself to believe that what’s happening is exactly what’s written. Blinding herself from the truth for the sake of her ideals. Ah… extremists.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnn…my thoughts are a bit different on the matter. I see their attitude towards Himari as far more dismissive, especially since, to me, they seem more obsessed with keeping her alive than what she would actually think. In fact, the way I see it, they have been so self-absorbed within their own machinations that they haven’t even considered her thoughts or her feelings. The reason why they’re “hiding it” or rather not telling her what they’re up to is that they don’t want her to know that she’s dead. Then again, next week will probably prove me wrong, and I’ll happily make other predictions! ^ ^ Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: If there’s one thing that history has taught us, is that these particular individuals are among the most dangerous around. They are the ones that can negotiate with their morality in order to ensure that their interpretation is the correct one, and violence is typically employed as a means to ensure it. I’ll be very curious to see where this character heads…

  7. Fun episode! Course the penguins are always doing random and funny things like the flypaper and the candy xD

    Now that you mention the brothers extending Himari’s life without really asking of that’s what she wants sounds interesting, almost like they can’t live without her ever. Hopefully we do learn more about her illness and what she really wants, not that I expect her to want to be dead of course.

    And Ringo does seem to believe anything she writes going to some extremes! I figured the teacher had someone else now we have to see how far Ringo will actually go to gain her teachers love.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I know! Penguin No.1 is my personal favorite.

      Himari’s motivation, thoughts, etc. are what I’m looking forward to finding out the most in the next few episodes. As I said in this post, we only have a vague impression of her personality (as a fun, “nice girl”). I also wonder what her relationship with her brothers was prior to her illness. As an aside, I’m curious as to why she doesn’t attend school now that she has been “cured.” Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: No doubt. Ringo seemed like such a level-headed character at the beginning of episode 2, but things got super out of hand by the end of that episode. We’ll see how far Ringo goes, because if my observations are right in any way (and they may be totally wrong!), then she has a long way yet to fall.

      Thanks for stopping by pal!

  8. jreding

    Flattered by your replies on my last comment I rewatched episode 3 today looking for meaningful but yet-to-be-discovered references.
    While doing this I couln’t help but notice the fact that four shots of this episode were devoted completely to Ringo’s stocking-clad feet ( http://bit.ly/ngOTZV , http://bit.ly/qm1gCB , http://bit.ly/roLS0r , http://bit.ly/pgz4nR ). This has to a certain extent already been a feature of episode 2 with Ringo’s classmates shoe being stuck in the poor penguin.
    Not that I would mind this! On the contrary, the opening shot ( http://bit.ly/ngOTZV ) showing the unconscious movement of Ringo’s feet while she concentrates hard on decorating her slice of bread reminds me of my favourite shot from the entire K-ON!! series ( http://bit.ly/pDwp4y ) which shows a similar unconscious feet movement highlighting that Yui is completely absorbed by her stage performance.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: There is something very mischievous about stockinged feet; you know that they’re supposed to have shoes to go along with, and yet they’re not completely free and barefoot. Yi from Listless Ink made the excellent point that the loss of Ringo’s friend’s shoe on the train was a nice fairytale reference to Cinderella. Thanks again for the comment, keep digging! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Honestly, I didn’t even think too much about the presence of feet here. I do know that Shinbou from SHAFT has a notorious foot fetish and tends to lavish attention and detail on his heroines’ feet. I’ve heard scuttlebutt around the net about how Penguindrum felt similar to a SHAFT production, and I’ve heard retorts saying that Shinbo and SHAFT drew a lot of inspiration from Ikuhara and Utena.

      Circle of life.

  9. A Day Without Me

    Actually, in the scene in the Survival Strategy world, what I was struck by is that while Shouma seems rather convinced that what is going on is somehow an illusion constructed by Himari, Kanba is rather non-committal. He never says anything concrete about it; his remarks are vague enough that they may seem to go along with it, but where Shouma is straightforward Kanba is not at all. Kanba is more aware of what is going on anyway, as he’s the one who gets his heart torn out or something every episode by the possessed and naked Himari. He may possess a tiny corner of doubt, but he comes across as much more convinced overall than his more excitable brother. He may simply go along with it in order to satisfy that last tiny bit of doubt and also since to have demonstrable proof of Himari’s possession will be more persuasive for Shouma to go along with the more extreme efforts for the penguin drum.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Excellent point! Despite pointing out their differences, I still seem to have a nasty habit of lumping the two together in certain instances. We still don’t know how much Kanba knows in comparison to his brother, and it would be especially interesting if Kanba was more “in” on the matter than Shouma. It would definitely tie in to my desire to see the brothers’ differences come to a head in some sort of conflict.

      I suppose what I’m really interested to see is what the brothers’ attitudes towards Himari were before her illness, as that entire scene still comes off as very dismissive to me. Please continue to comment, I really enjoy your perspective on this series particularly, since you’ve paid such close attention to Utena as well.

      vucubcaquix: Emily, you’re such a sadist.

      As for Kanba, animekritik brought up an excellent point about how the show is subtly elucidating that he has not changed all that much, but was in fact a handsome monster all along. The image of the non-committal Kanba can possibly lend itself to this aloof atmosphere he’s tending, as though everything he’s doing is through a cold and calculating veneer.

      I’m glad you stopped by Day, you’re always welcome here.

      • A Day Without Me

        I think calling it “a cold and calculating veneer” really does get at it perfectly, because I don’t think Kanba is nearly the cool businessman he likes to pretend to be. He is the one, after all, who broke down when the two were meeting with the doctor, not Shouma. I think it is very much artifice, and that Kanba is actually ultimately the more delicate of the pair, not Shouma as it may seem.

        I wouldn’t call Kanba a monster, exactly – I’d probably opt for him being more… well, he’s projecting an image of himself as cool, calm, and collected, but he isn’t really, so I can’t quite settle with monster. I’d just say very, very human, but also fueled in the way that martyrs are.

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  11. Yi

    Hm… That’s interesting. I’ve never really considered that the twins were dismissive and patronizing to Himari. And now that I think about it, it’s a really good point. I think it’s also interesting to note that the brothers have never asked Himari at all about the whole penguin thing. They simply assumed whatever it is they thought was going on. They also never talked to Himari about her life and things. Maybe it’s just their form of doting and protecting their sister, but it does beg the question if this is the best way to approach things. After all, it is Himari’s life.

    • I feel that the series, through their dismissive attitude, definitely gave me a longing to learn more about Himari, aside from her illness and cute wardrobe changes. ^ ^

      It certainly makes me wonder specifics, as you mention, of their previous interactions with Himari. After all, they do a lot of talking about her, but not really a lot of conversing with her, and this is juxtaposed with her, “We’re a family, after all.” line towards the end of the episode. Thank you for commenting, as always!

  12. Pingback: Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 19 | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

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