Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 11

"Who would've thought the curse from 16 years ago would take this form? What drama, what a fate!" -Masako Natsume

ajthefourth:  Okay, now we’re going to need everyone to take a deep breath, scream, do whatever you need to in order to get over that “HOLY SHIT IKUHARA ACTUALLY WENT THERE ASDGHJKL#*#$^@!!” feeling.  We’ll wait, we had to get over it ourselves after all.

Got it out of your system?

Good.  Let’s talk about the eleventh episode of Mawaru Penguindrum.

This episode took in the idea of love as its focus, and it was most interesting to see what various characters in the series had to say about it.  Take Masako for example; her idea of love is a possessive one, devoid of feelings of romance.  From her exchange with Kanba, it would seem that she truly was an ex-girlfriend, or possibly, from Kanba’s muttering mentioning a stupid promise that he had made when he was younger, a childhood friend of sorts.  She is a very dangerous childhood friend at that, since she not only is obsessed with Kanba, but also knows his deepest, darkest secrets, including his supposed nefarious ties to the 1995 Tokyo Sarin Gas Attacks.  She describes her love as one without messy emotional ties that are triggered by hormones in her brain.  Her love is a hunt for (and against) someone whom she considers an equal.  Since Masako is seemingly embroiled in this as much as Kanba and his siblings are, she sees him as a true equal, and even mentions them going to the same place (presumably related to the Kiga Group). She relates this place to an iceberg, where penguins sway, waiting for one of them to accidentally fall in, in order to test the waters for seals.  I can’t help but relate this to Kanba, Shouma, and seemingly Himari, Masako, and Mario’s predicaments as well.  If they are all penguins, and their families all have ties with the gas attacks, then they are all waiting for one of them to somehow take the fall.

Ringo’s idea of love is influenced by the idea of destiny.  She’s taken with this idea because she believes that it will allow her to somehow bring her estranged parents back together, and they can be one big happy family again.  In her opening lines of episode two, Ringo talks about how much she loves fate, even if sometimes it brings her sorrow, it’s all a part of her destiny.  Interestingly enough, this is repeated by Tabuki right before he’s about to rape her.  He says, “If future and despair are the will of fate, then everything has meaning.”  It comes full circle, and finally Ringo finds the courage, even before she recognizes her own feelings, to break away from her so-called destiny by spurning Tabuki’s advances.  What follows is a nightmarish scene where, once again, Yuri mysteriously appears in the nick of time to save the day.  She points out that Ringo has fallen in love with Shouma without even realizing it (this gave me a very pleasant fangirl moment) and tries to help Ringo to understand that even if she concedes Tabuki to Ringo, Ringo will not be happy because she doesn’t truly love him.  We don’t know what Yuri’s idea of love is yet, and I’m still not buying her relationship with Tabuki; however, what she says to Ringo is probably the soundest advice that Ringo has heard in a long time.

"You just haven't realized your feelings yet, silly."

vucubcaquix: I have to take back what I claimed in episode 8. Masako was not the mysterious biker who stole half of the diary away from Ringo in the rain, from the revelation in this episode that Masako is only in possession of the front half of the diary, since the biker from episode 8 managed to secure only the back half. This means that I am looking squarely at Yuri’s direction.

There were other moments that occurred in this episode that calls her character into doubt, namely her behavior towards Ringo after the very tense near-rape scene. As Yuri walked in (in a very conveniently timed moment), Ringo was fighting off the crazed advances of her teacher who was under the influence of a concoction that she brewed from a recipe acquired from the same website featured in episode 8. Ringo still sought to take advantage of the situation by claiming to Yuri that Tabuki has declared her intentions for her, wanting to become her “beloved birdy”. What should be suspect to anyone is Yuri’s very cavalier response: “Sure.” An optimistic interpretation of this scene would be that through intuition, she calls Ringo’s bluff on her desires for Tabuki by redirecting the focus onto Shouma Takakura. If we are to remain optimistic about Yuri’s character, she only says sure to Ringo’s threat because she knows on a more fundamental level that Ringo is in love with Shouma and won’t actually make good on Tabuki’s advance.

But I’m feeling a mite cynical tonight. As Yuri was explaining to Ringo her feelings towards Shouma, the camera kept cutting to images of the website where Ringo grabbed the love potion from. Giant letters of warning that kept flashing exclaimed that the potion will last for one night and should be used as a last resort only. My mind kept leaping to the conclusion that Yuri called Ringo’s bluff because she knew about this potion and it’s limitations beforehand.

I have to give credit where credit is due. My partner and I both were duped by the storytelling sleight of hand in episode 8, and were convinced that Masako was the person on the bag. However, one astute commenter brought up an interesting suspicion. Yuri’s presence and location is extremely convenient to her ends at any given time. She was the one to break up Ringo’s plans to bring curry to Tabuki in episode 3. She also plays a hand in thwarting Ringo’s plans in episode 4 when she diverted Tabuki’s attention to a minor injury that she suffered while Ringo attempted to drown herself which resulted in a much more serious situation. Yuri also announces her engagement to Tabuki at a social gathering where Ringo also attempted to curry Tabuki’s favor and attentions. But prior to this episode, the biggest intervention that Yuri enacted was to suddenly return home due to inclement weather which prevented Ringo from being able to rape Tabuki. Given Yuri’s physical proximity in that scene, it’s now no longer a stretch of the imagination to see that Yuri was the one indeed on the motorcycle to steal away Ringo’s diary.

Yuri is a character that is shrouded in a devious amount of convenience. She can not be ignored any longer whenever there’s a moment when the plot takes a turn.

This is the only time we ever see the Princess look sad, or remorseful.

ajthefourth: If Yuri is more suspect than we had previously thought, and in cahoots with the Pingroup, then seemingly, she has been trying to push Ringo and Shouma together from the beginning.  More specifically, she’s been pushing the Oginome and Takakura families together in order to force them into divulging their secrets to each other, all of which seem to stem from the 1995 Tokyo Sarin Gas Attacks.  We’ve been searching for the link between the families for a while now, and this episode gives it to us with shock and style.

Kanba and Shouma both seemingly have been carrying a large amount of guilt and in this episode we learn that it’s directly related to the attacks.  Shouma admits to Ringo on the train, when she mentions that Momoka was a casualty of the attacks, that it is all his fault that her destiny is so messed up, and that her sister died.

I know I’ve mentioned this previously in comments on last week’s episode, and episode nine; however, I can’t help but think that the twins’ and Himari’s guilt over “that” the mysterious incident that ties them to the attacks, directly ties in to their parents, and why they are currently nowhere to be found.  I’m hesitant to say that the Takakuras are somehow responsible directly for the gas attacks (I’ve been searching for a name connection between them and some of the actual perpetrators for weeks and have come up with nothing).  If we’re assuming that Momoka Oginome died on the Marunouchi Line (which makes the most sense since it is the train line with a direct stop to where her family lives) then, as I mentioned previously, she would be the only casualty on that specific train line.  The Takakuras live at the Ogikubo station which is one of the ends of the line.  If you remember, in episode 6, Ringo’s mother pauses a minute while speaking with Shouma, giving off the impression that she recognized his family name.  This would tie in to the theory that the Takakura parents are somehow infamously connected with the gas attacks.

One of the themes that is brought up by both Night on the Galactic Railroad and Super Frog Saves Tokyo is the idea of sacrifice without reward.  Giovanni decides to keep working hard for his family even if he is teased or looked down upon by his classmates because of it.  Katagiri is still filled with a sense of pride at his accomplishments of saving Tokyo from destruction with Frog, in spite of the fact that the entire incident may all be in his head, or at the very least, will never be recognized by other people, since the battle takes place in Frog’s realm.

Throughout Mawaru Penguindrum, we have seen the idea of sacrifice pop up again and again.  The brothers, specifically Kanba, seem to be sacrificing themselves for Himari’s sake.  Shouma sacrifices himself to save Ringo from being hit by a car, and then attempts to lie to Kanba about it in order to defer the blame from Ringo.  No one would have known of his sacrifice had Ringo not told Kanba the truth.  We see Mr. Takakura step in front of a piece of glass to save Kanba, Mrs. Takakura shield Himari from a falling mirror, and Himari’s childhood friends, Hibari and Hikari, take the blame for something in place of Himari.  We don’t know the circumstances under which Himari left school; however, they had to be devastating, and I can’t help but think they are directly related to Himari’s parents and their connections with the gas attacks.  The sins of the parents are now transferred to the children.

That being said, with all of these ideas of self-sacrifice, specifically sacrifice with no reward beyond your own conscience, it seems plausible that the Takakuras may be taking the fall for someone else.  They are the penguin who slipped into the ice to test the waters and found themselves devoured by seals, leaving their children behind.

The elephant parent and child.

vucubcaquix: Masako seems to be criticizing the concept of Eros, or erotic love. She dismisses it as a physiological process that’s at the whims of chemicals in the brain. Rather, she believes that:

“True love that seeks naught return. It’s about possessing true form of the object of one’s affections.”

I first believed that she was clarifying what true eros was, but I couldn’t shake the idea of agape from my mind. Agape is one of the Greek words for love, not just specifically, but also refers to the kind of love that one feels for their child or family, and is known to be self-sacrificial in nature. Eros refers to a longing that one has for another, usually in a sexual context, and explains the imagery of the hunting rifle and the hunting of the parent elephant in the background as Masako speaks to Kanba. But I saw something a little different that doubles back to the idea of self-sacrifice. The elephant that was shot falls over, leaving the child alone to fend for itself. It sacrificed itself to make sure that the child lived on. The semiotics of the elephant sign in the background, along with Masako’s musings on love, along with literary allusions to stories of self-sacrifice with no reward, and exemplified by the actions of the characters in the show thus far, paint a very interesting and new idea about what the show is trying to say about love in general.

Thus far, eros, or erotic love, as a concept has been a very negative force in the world of Mawaru Penguindrum, what with some heinous actions like attempted rape being committed in its name. I suddenly feel that through the revelations of this episode, we’re going to see a lot more exploration on the idea of agape, or sacrificial love, as a force within this universe. Whether or not it’s ultimately inconsequential and without reward remains to be seen, but the second cours seems set up to pit the notions of eros and agape against each other to parallel the conflict between destiny and existentialism.

ajthefourth: Watching this episode and its revelations to us, the audience, certainly validated and invalidated a lot of the speculation that’s out there.  It also, in its first direct reference to the gas attacks, has made it clear that it’s going to explore the fallout a bit.  This revelation brings with it a whole other slew of questions.  What is it that Shouma and Kanba are both so ashamed of that they feel responsible for the attacks?  Will Ringo, who has just learned of her own feelings towards Shouma, be able to accept Shouma once this is revealed?  Also, what is with all of the frog imagery that keeps repeating throughout the series?  Will it tie in with the traditional Japanese play on words, “to return?”  It’s also worth noting that of all three main “factions” (Ringo, the Takakuras, and Masako) it is only Masako whose ties with the attacks are still unknown.  So many questions, I can’t wait to watch this again next week!

vucubcaquix: Me neither. Shouma’s penguin at one point was getting a bit too distracting and broke the flow of a certain scene, and I also hope that Ringo lets up on the violence towards Shouma now that feelings have been laid bare.

ajthefourth: Yeah, Ringo’s violence towards Shouma was a bit annoying.  Good night everyone!

45 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Mawaru Penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum

45 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 11

  1. treeofjessie

    “She relates this place to an iceberg, where penguins sway, waiting for one of them to accidentally fall in, in order to test the waters for sharks.”

    seals, not sharks. ^^

  2. random person

    One pet peeve. The word is cours (with an s) and not cour.

  3. Neriya

    Such a surreal episode. Ringo’s mad plan worked? Today’s delusion was largely rooted in reality? Shouma’s influence awoke a conscience in her? The Princess was content to be a bystander?

    Yuri’s nonchalant reaction to events was fantastic in it’s own right, but it also propels her from being largely a bystander to someone who is very much in the know about what’s going on (I’d assumed she was Masako was talking to on the phone, but it seems she’s on her own side). She freely offers Tabuki to Ringo, but asks if that’s what she really wants. If she was the motorcyclist, the scene where the diary is snatched could be interpreted in a similar way. She gives Ringo the option not to pick the diary up off the ground first, before snatching it away. There’s something… big sister-like about those actions, protecting Ringo from what she thinks she wants. I think if anyone has ties with Momoka (be they from while she was alive or after her death) it’s Yuri rather than Masako. But there’s still a lot of questions to be answered about Masako.

    The ending was also amazing. I loved the cursed train imagery, how Ringo and Shoma ended up arguing each others points, and the cliffhanger that the Takakura brothers were somehow to blame.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I wouldn’t say that Shouma’s influence awoke a conscience within her, I believe that Ringo knew all along, on some heavily buried fundamental level that what she was doing was “wrong,” both for Tabuki and Yuri’s relationship as well as herself. As for the Princess, I hardly saw her as a bystander. Her acquiescing to Ringo’s momentary emotional outburst and explanation was both empathetic, and to some degree a display of power. The Princess/Himari knows exactly what’s going on, including the brothers’ past and what they are trying to atone for (or at the very least, accepting and framing everything within the idea of a punishment). She also seemingly knows Ringo’s past, and has the entire time. Recognizing that Ringo is at a very low emotional point, having the reason of her existence (within Ringo’s mind anyway) taken away by the fact that she loves Shouma (again, love is not necessarily a good thing, or the end all be all). The Princess, who is also Himari, can empathize with her on some level, since her own family is somehow involved with the attacks; however, this is also her display of power over Ringo. She allows, no, orders Ringo to cry, saying that she’ll permit it this one time, the indication being that she’s been in charge the entire time she’s known of Ringo.

      Yuri also has her own display of power over Ringo (poor Ringo, this episode really kicked her butt!) and Tabuki by saying that she would “give” Tabuki to Ringo. The implications of this are twofold: the first being that Tabuki is something that Yuri can freely give away, like an object, and the second being that Yuri will always have more power over Tabuki than Ringo, even with Ringo’s mysterious love spells. The fact that they kept cutting between Yuri’s dialogue and the computer screen is also very ominous…possibly an indicator that Yuri has a hand in this website that Ringo is consistently going to for bad advice.

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: I honestly didn’t think about this episode in that context at the time, but there is a definite display of power on the part of several characters over others as well. Since we also have Masako asserting herself over Kanba, and pretty much dominating him throughout the conversation. It’s reflected in how their penguins were completely mismatched despite how much #1 prepared for this encounter. Seems as though Penguindrum may be concerning itself with issues of power struggle as well.

      The ending scene was indeed incredibly fantastic. This ranks with the end to episode one as one of my favorite moments in the entire anime. In truth, and this may be recency bias speaking here, I think this is my favorite moment of the series thus far.

      Ah man, good stuff.

  4. Cadentia

    Agape is one of the Greek words for love, but specifically refers to the kind of love that one feels for their child or family, and is known to be self-sacrificial in nature.

    Wrong. The love for children or family is Storge, not Agape. Agape refers to self-sacrificial love as a whole, towards anyone, even towards a total stranger, or worse, an enemy. In the Christian tradition it’s also God’s love for His creation and His creation love for God.

    In PenguinDrum it seems the apple is a symbol for Agape, and the show so far has been full of said love here and there. So I wonder, what if Momoka died out of Agape to somehow save Chiemi and the twins? It seems possible, but something tells me things are more twisted than they seem.

    Also, the way they talked about Eros here seemed more like what C. S. Lewis described as Venus. In his theory, Eros isn’t a negative form of love. Yeah, the sexual aspect is still important, but more than that is the emotional connection between two people in love.

    So far in the show we have Storge (family seems very important), Phileo (Himari and her friends), Eros (Masako towards Kanba -although maybe this one is Venus, after all-, Ringo towards Tabuki, and maybe towards Shoma?) and Agape (so many examples so far). On another note, it’s interesting to note Kanba’s incestuous feelings toward Himari make Storge and Eros enter in conflict with one another.

    The sins of the parents are now transferred to the children.

    If the bit about Agape made the Theology lover in me go wild, this one awakened the Ancientfag inside of me. This bit about parent’s sins getting transferred onto the children is very common within Greek mythology and Greek… everything.

    Lastly, the episode was superb. I knew Shouma had really delivered the final blow when he told Ringo she was her own self, not Momoka.

    • Cadentia

      Wait, Phileo also can refer to the strong bond between family members, as much as Storge (which is more about the natural affection one feels towards any familiar). Jesus, this is pretty complicated, especially because the four loves mingle with one another. But, anyways, we should add Ringo’s relationship with Himari and Shouma as both Storge and Phileo for now.

      • hikoboshiandorihime

        ajthefourth: It’s all over Christian theology as well, beginning with the greatest sin, Original Sin. This is interpreted in a variety of different ways; however, the most interesting and the most applicable to Penguindrum is the idea that humanity is still trying to atone for Adam’s sin, when he figuratively received an apple from Eve.

        Using allusions to Night on the Galactic Railroad, Penguindrum has established the apple as a reward for those who choose love over all else. It’s a universe in and of itself, and the entry point for the beginning of the rest of your life/afterlife where everything begins. This is in direct contrast to the meaning of the apple within the context of Original Sin where Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden because of their sin, and their sin is passed on to their children, in spite of the fact that the children had nothing to do with the sin themselves.

        Even more interesting is when one considers Augustine of Hippo’s (often controversial) interpretation of Original Sin which states that unbaptized children go to hell (him only having two potential resting places in the afterlife: Heaven or Hell). The theory of Limbo, although not an official church doctrine, can in some ways be seen as a response to this, especially when one considers Jesus’s love of children. I can’t help but view the “child broiler” scene in Episode Nine within this context. The child broiler is where Himari and her soulmate/possibly Mario share the apple, and others have speculated that it is some form of Limbo, or perhaps some representation of children before they are initially conceived.

        Either way, very interesting, no?

        vucubcaquix Thanks for the clarification. Where I originally learned about eros, philos, and agape was back in sunday school, which was a long time ago indeed. I only performed a quick wikipedia review to make sure that the point I was trying to make wasn’t being undermined by false memories. But you’re right in that agape isn’t specifically limited to the love of parent and child, but rather (if my understanding is correct) includes an aspect of it as one of it’s tenets.

        Luckily, I feel that even after the clarification I think that my overall point still stands, in that the show seems to be slowly alluding to a commentary on the differences between selfish and self-sacrificial love based on the actions of all of the characters that have been presented thus far. I still think that a conflict based on that difference may not be too far off in the future. My partner is not as comfortable as I am in applying these concrete labels to what this series is trying to say, but that’s a difference in how the two of us interpret and parse this show.

        But I do believe this show has Something To Say.

        • Cadentia

          @ajthefour Interesting point you have got there about the Original Sin. I have tried to stay away from Judeo-Christian mythology and theology, but at times it’s too difficult not to make a connection.

          vucubcaquix So far I think the show is trying to show how immature, unhealthy and dangerous are the different ways the characters express their love, and I mean all four: Storge, Phileo, Eros and Agape. So far, no one is worthy of the apple.

  5. elle

    I have tons of things to say in my mind, but I’m very short on time at the moment, so I’ll only write this one line that came out after reading your amazing discussion.
    Self-sacrificed love vs. Survival Strategy – what’s the actual relation in that “vs.”?

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: In my mind, the two are in direct conflict with each other in most cases.

      Survival Strategy, whether it’s Himari’s own survival, the survival of the penguin race, or the survival of the victims of the sarin gas attacks, or natural selection implies a large degree of self-interest and self-preservation. This usually indicates a willingness to possibly hurt others in order to secure your own survival. The strong evolve while the weak become prey and die out. Self-sacrifice on the other hand, throws this out the window, the assumption being that you would eschew your own survival for the survival of another. Shouma pushes Ringo out of the way of an oncoming car, completely unconcerned with his own survival. In that moment, he is only thinking of Ringo’s life.

      If you have the time, please come back and share those other thoughts! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: One of the most delicious ironies about that, is that while in this show there definitely seems to be a direct conflict between Survival Strategy and self-sacrificial love, in nature a survival strategy usually entails some sort of reproductive strategy. Afterwards, ensuring a successful survival strategy usually involves a lot of self-sacrifice on the part of the parent.

      I’m not sure where exactly to go with that, but the irony is delicious.

  6. Yeah, this episode did talk about different loves *_*

    “Thus far, eros, or erotic love, as a concept has been a very negative force in the world of Mawaru Penguindrum, what with some heinous actions like attempted rape being committed in its name. ”
    = Hmmm… if you only look at Masako and Ringo, it seems that way. But if you look at Yuri, Tabuki, even Kanba… hmmm.. not really.

    Though Yuri might indeed have an evil side. xD Totally won’t be surprised if she does know about that particular love potion, or is involved in the penguindrum business.

    Anyway, I think this series will explore all kinds of love, not just eros and agape. I like it that it’s including even the crazy types of love, haha.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I don’t see Yuri as being a good representation of a positive force of erotic love within the series, possibly because I still don’t buy into her relationship with Tabuki. I elaborate a bit further on this in an above comment, but to sum it up: this episode showed that Yuri has power over Tabuki or, at the very least, sees herself as in control of Tabuki, which doesn’t exactly point to them having a great relationship. Tabuki seems fairly detached from Yuri, possibly due to still having feelings for Momoka, and also seems very easily manipulated or controlled in a way that speaks to his not particularly caring about his own well-being. These individual personality traits between the two of them don’t speak of a successful relationship. In addition to this, we rarely see them actually interact with each other.

      I would disagree with Kanba as well. Seemingly, he hasn’t been the nicest person to his ex-girlfriends, and recently he had multiple examples of his past transgressions thrown back in his face by Masako. The only person that Kanba apparently “loves” in that way is his own sister, which isn’t exactly healthy.

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: Yuri being evil? I’m not sure yet, but I do know for sure that she is not a good person. Especially not with regards to being a representation of erotic love. It’s even written into her name:

      “時籠ゆり – Tokikago Yuri: Last name “time” + “cage” kinda creepy right off the bat.”

      I cribbed that from Good Haro’s penguindrum wiki, but it shows that Yuri is not the gleaming example of Fabulous righteousness that she presents herself to be, and her diminishment of Tabuki into that of a mere possession is written into her character. Tabuki is her pet bird that she keeps caged up for her own purposes.

      That is not a good love.

      • @ajthefourth:
        I was referring to the “raping in the name of love” thing. I don’t see the three mentioned doing that yet. (I can’t exactly count what happened between Kanba and Himari in ep. 12 as rape)

        @vucubcaquix:
        If Yuri’s gonna be true to her name… that’s really creepy O_O

  7. It’s funny–since the beginning of the show, people have been trying to decide whether or not the show takes place after death. This was probably due to the references to Night on the Galactic Railroad, the Sarin gas attacks, etc.

    But what if this show is about reincarnation rather than the afterlife? When Ringo was saying that she was a reincarnation of Momoka, the broken circle appeared–a symbol I’m almost certain we’ve seen before. Assuming that it is meant to represent the circle of reincarnation, how many other characters in the show might have been different people in past lives?

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I’m still not certain whether some parts or pieces of this series (or the entire series itself) don’t straddle the line between life and death.

      The symbol you refer too, which almost resembles a recycling symbol, appears in the OP with a 95 in the center of it in an apparent reference to the 1995 Tokyo Sarin Gas Attacks. It also appears, sans 95, in the backgrounds of Ringo’s and Masako’s individual pieces in the OP, as well as a giant one around Sanetoshi in the OP and again with the 95 in the center at the very end of the OP, with emperor penguins radiating out from it. In addition to this, it is reinforced by sculpture in front of the Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro (it’s a real life sculpture), as well it’s eerie, wallpaper-like representation in the train sequence at the end of this episode.

      Interestingly enough, it does imitate the recycling logo, which could reference reincarnation. It’s also amusing to note that the penguins themselves first appear in recycling/trash bins:

      1, Kanba’s-Recyclable
      2, Shouma’s-Flammable
      3, Himari’s-Inflammable

      I honestly had only taken Ringo’s words, in this instance, at face value with the implications being that she was the reincarnation of Momoka within her own mind only. However, if this theory of yours pans out, the more interesting question to ask would be: Who exactly are the twins reincarnations of? If they are, say, reincarnations of the perpetrators of the attacks or something of the like, then this idea could have a great amount of weight.

      Thanks for, yet again, giving us something different to think about! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Jeeeeeeez, those are some heavy implications right there…

      But like my partner said to me, not only are these implications pretty heavy, but honestly so is linking an anime with a lot of slapstick comedy in it to one of Japan’s most vulnerable and (and in their mind, shameful) moments.

      It calls to mind how certain audience members in Japan have been referring to how it’s “indiscreet” to talk about the Sarin Gas Attacks (look at number 8 ) which in turn reminds me of several conversations my partner and I had about possible differences in societal attitudes between Japan and the U.S. with regards to how we talk about tragedies in our recent respective histories.

      As if we weren’t already off the deep end, the idea that there’s an actual literal validity to the claims of reincarnation is helped along by showing how Ringo’s delusions in this episode were grounded in reality, after we had brushed off all previous instances of it before. Similar to how we’ve been brushing aside her claims that she’s an actual reincarnation of her dead sister.

      Giving weight to these ideas has a macabre sort of power when viewed in the context of the ’95 Sarin Gas Attacks, but seeing the brass tacks that Ikuhara has displayed thus far, I wouldn’t put it past him to go further still.

  8. Molly K.

    As I previously thought in episode 9, it seems the Takakuras were directly or indirectly involved with the Sarin Gas attacks (or more specifically, their parents were) and thus it falls on the children to bear that burden for the rest of their lives. Its not a concept that’s strictly Grecian (as one commenter pointed out), but Japanese as well. In Japan, if the father/mother are bad apples, by definition so are the children in society’s eyes.

    One thing that struck me, though, about this whole episode was the idea of the hunter/self-sacrifice of a parent. The parent-elephant getting shot so the child can survive struck me as odd because of a poem (one of my favorites) that deals with such a topic. La mort du Loup (Death of the Wolf) is about a group of hunters that track a family of wolves. The father wolf stays back to lure the hunters to him so the family can get to safety. He stands there and kills one of the hunting dogs (thus getting rid of the best way the hunters can find the rest of the wolf family) and is shot/stabbed to death by the hunters while holding onto the hounds’ throat. If you read the whole poem a lot of things (keywords in particular) jump out at you that relates to Penguindrum. At the very end, ‘Destiny’ is mentioned.. capitalized, of course… and talk of souls and secrets of life and so forth—even mentions of Rome. I’d recommend reading the whole thing because it’s quite beautiful and it definitely sparks some recognition towards Penguindrum. Though, I could be wrong…

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: That’s the assumption anyway, and the one that I’m adhering to as well (until the next episode surely proves me wrong ^ ^). I speak more about the sins of the parents being passed on to their children here. The sticking point becomes how exactly does the birth of the Takakura brothers tie in to Momoka and others dying in the Sarin Gas Attacks?

      I’m not as convinced that the Takakura parents were directly involved in the gas attacks as much as they are/were taking the fall for someone else, as I mentioned in the post. That poem is very interesting, along with beautifully written. It also pinged something in the back of my mind that I hadn’t voiced an opinion on yet, but will now. In the poem, the father wolf takes the fall for his family. I had written off the fact that Shouma and Kanba somehow feel responsible for the gas attacks because, really, how could it be their fault? They were children quite literally just born. However, if the circumstances of their birth somehow had an incredibly adverse effect (and I still can’t wrap my mind around as to how, and it would be irrevocably dark to go this route) resulting in certain specifics around the gas attacks, somehow, their parents may have taken the fall for them so Shouma and Kanba at the very least wouldn’t have to bear the stigma for the rest of their lives.

      Although, this hardly explains Himari’s highly publicized departure from school…

      …so many things to think about…

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: I would be very interested in reading this poem you mention, but my French isn’t exactly the strongest language (as in, I really don’t know French in the slightest). I’ll look into a translation somewhere, because the ideas that you’re bringing up about self-sacrifice and destiny sound very interesting and relevant indeed.

      I was thinking, the idea of the children suffering for the transgressions of their parents is not only Grecian and not only Japanese, but has a history in Semitic tribes as well, as it found itself written into the tenets of various Islamo-Judeo-Christian religions. I find the idea to be completely bunk, but that’s just it: it makes me wonder if I feel the way I do because I’ve been brought up in a primarily individualistic society as opposed to one that’s more collectivist or tribal in nature. In those situations, you do find yourself being your brother’s keeper more often than not, which I’d theorize would have something to do with the relative scarcity of resources in which these societies find themselves developing in.

      But hey, who knows right?

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  10. As usual, you guys see things completely differently from me. Very interesting. :)

    One thing about both Masako and Ringo’s loves is that they both seem fake. Ringo doesn’t actually love Tabuki, even though she pretends to, and I get the feeling that Masako, perhaps, actually does love Kanba, even though she pretends not to.

    And I have to disagree with your take on eros / agape. First, what Cadentia said. Also, Masako claims to seek nothing in return, but she seeks to possess Kanba. A possessive love is not agape. “Love is patient, love is kind,…” blah blah blah. I don’t think I would describe Masako’s idea of the hunt as love at all, actually.

    Same thing with Ringo. She doesn’t try to rape Tabuki because she loves him. She does it because she wants to restore her family. So I would attribute her actions to stoge towards her family rather than any form of erotic love.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I like that we see things so differently (along with E Minor, he has fantastic posts on involving the fairytale angle).

      Honestly, applying eros and agape to the series is definitely more of David’s thing; however, I disagree with you on Ringo. Ringo is a girl who is ridiculously confused about who she is. Believing that she is her sister, Momoka, she also believes that she *should* love Tabuki, and therefore has tricked her own mind into believing this as well. It isn’t until Shouma starts to crack her veneer that Ringo begins to show her true self: a girl who is terrified of her parents splitting up permanently, and who has little to no self-worth due to the fact that she only feels of value when she *is* Momoka. Had she never met Shouma, she possibly never would have known what it was like to have someone like (or love) her for who she truly is, in spite of how psychologically damaged she is. Had she never met Shouma, she would have continued believing that her “love” for Tabuki was real.

      Anyway, I’ll end this on a lighter note. Isn’t Shouma fantastic and adorable in this episode? As a fellow Shouma/Ringo shipper, I hope you also approved of how he offered her those curry rolls, which of course was the catalyst for her big revelation. I hope that Shouma’s revelation (whenever it comes) is something that Ringo will be able to accept, just as he has seemingly accepted her, crazy and all.

      Thanks for commenting as always! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix You’re right, agape is not a possessive love at all. I’m looking over what I wrote and I think I see where you misinterpreted what I said, since I don’t believe that Masako is a true representative (nor even a proponent) of agape despite the dialogue that comes from her. What Cadentia was clarifying as far as I can tell, was not my use of the idea of self-sacrificial love, but rather my assertion that agape was specifically about the parent-child dynamic. It is indeed much more multifaceted than that, but the commonality between all of those facets is the idea of self sacrifice.

      Masako’s monologue is paying lipservice to the idea of agape, but her motivations are squarely eros. That’s what she was equating the hunt to, since from the perspective of the hunter towards the hunted it’s true to a degree. But just looking at the imagery of the elephant dying in front of its child is what conjured up the idea of self-sacrifice in my mind which jogged the memories of all of the other instances of it in the show thus far.

      It’s the show itself that seems to take up with the idea of self-sacrificial love as a counter, or at least a contrast, to more possessive and selfish erotic love, since most of the actions and consequences occurring as a result of the more selfish love have made for the most tense moments in the series so far.

      • aj: I think we’re actually saying the same thing (I must have worded it poorly). Ringo believes that she loves Tabuki, but this is a mask in the form of Momoka that hides her true self. And yes, I’m still thoroughly enjoying all the shipping. :)

        vuc: Yes, that’s mainly what Cadentia and I meant. I can definitely see the show itself using the idea of agape, it was just Masako I was unsure about. One more thing to point out is that eros and agape aren’t mutually exclusive at all: agape often grows from the lesser loves.

        Thanks for the reply: I really like how you guys put so much thought into replying to comments. :)

  11. Woooow this was such a great episode! So much information and nice to see Ringo back to her old self, well crazy old self and finally realizing she doesn’t actually like Tabuki but possibly Shouma! I sort of figured she wouldn’t go through with Tabuki, and turned him all crazy…

    I did laugh the first time Ringo beat up on Shouma, but I am with you AJ! It got really old fast after the second time around. Damn I lost it around the time Ringo brought out that frog…and of course watching those penguins always cracked me up.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Yeah, I’m kind of at the point where seeing the stereotypical “girl doesn’t know what to do so she inflicts bodily harm on the guy because emotions…yeagghhhh!” is super old. It makes me want to punch things…

      I’m really interested in seeing how they develop the Shouma/Ringo relationship. I don’t expect it to end in romance, however, I love how the series is exploring their influences on each other. Shouma is seemingly learning to look outside his own family and be more assertive and outgoing while Ringo, through her relationship with Shouma, has come to realize her true feelings about a few things. I like where they are going together.

      Thanks for commenting! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Woooow you’re such a great commenter! Seriously pal, I love you.

      I was reading somewhere that it’s important to not forget to laugh when watching this show, since that’s an important part too of how everything is being put together. Those penguins crack me up, and the craziness that Ringo gets herself into gets me laughing too.

      But yeah, the second time she was beating up on Shouma I was getting pretty mad too.

  12. Thaddeus Caroway

    “Love is the poetry of the senses.” ~ Honore de Balzac

  13. FV

    The direction and writing in this episode were really surprising. They presented us with some of the supposedly biggest events of the show (Tabuki “falling” for Ringo, Masako and Kanba meeting and the revelation of her motivation for wanting the diary) in an unusually quick way, masterfully delivering interesting reactions from the characters and giving the show a substantially new horizon. And of course, finally setting on stone the connection to the 95 Sarin Gas Attacks is the boldest move of them all.
    One of the qualities of Mawaru Penguindrum’s execution definitely is the way it defies it’s apparent goals, moving it’s story in ways that are always unexpected in a way. Such a nature is especially beautiful considering the overall theme of fate.
    I think Mawaru Penguindrum will turn out to be a show about defying fate. Ringo tries to live a life that’s not hers and the Takakura brothers are full of guilt, and all for a fate that doesn’t even have anything to do with their actions, since all three were powerlessly born on the day of the attacks, making them mere vessels of the fate dictated by the death of Momoka and the possible involvement of the Takakura parents on the incident.
    One thing I’d like to note though. If the twins were born on the day of the attacks, the mother most likely didn’t participate directly in the attacks, since she was giving birth (unless she did that afterwards, which I find a little unlikely). Also, the parents were around until Himari was in elementary school, so they weren’t arrested right after the events. I still think there definitely is a direct connection between the Takakura parents and the attacks though. Ringo’s mother’s pause, the Takakuras’ uncle treating them with a distance that seems due to embarassment, Himari’s seemingly shameful departure from school (due to the ammount of people looking through the window), and, most of all, the parents’ scratched names on the house’s nameplate, which, to me, is a striking act of shame. If there was nothing fishy regarding their parents “disappearance”, they would have either left the names or would have changed the nameplate eventually. But scratching their names seems more like a quick fix meant to shield them from the shame their parents brought the family, it’s quite sad actually. Or it could just be an act of sadness since their parents aren’t there anymore, who knows. Either way, I think the parents are most certainly involved since the theme of suffering a certain fate due to someone else sticks out, and no one in the family except their parents was in condition to strongly affect anything (unborn/just born children are pretty powerless).
    Also, a quick note: I don’t think the frog means “kaeru” here, but instead stands for the fairytales’ frog-turned-prince. Ringo’s delusions about Tabuki always bring out things from the fairytale imaginary, from the visuals to the roles of the characters (the prince, the princess, the castle…). Therefore, I think the frog stands for the dreamy yet paper-thin love that is as simple to attain (just kiss a frog) as it ultimately is shallow. The frogs are Ringo’s quick fix that allow her to bring a hollow love into her fantasy, one that she quickly realizes she doesn’t want.

    Overall, fantastic episode as usual. I only had two gripes with it. First, I thought that the last scene shouldn’t have had any music whatsoever (or only minimalistic music). It was such a serious scene, and it was already so powerful, that the soundtrack only turned it more mundane.
    Second, the penguin farting in the subway was just a big nuisance. Unless the fact that the penguin was farting between Shouma and Ringo, flying in front of their faces, is some kind of distasteful reference to the fact that the 95 Gas Attacks are what stands between them, I don’t see any point in it being during such an important scene.

    Whew, sorry for writing so much. I just had to get it out of my system. Also, congratulations on the blog, it’s always an interesting read. I should’ve started by saying this.

    • Neriya

      About the gripes – personally I thought the normal dramatic music with the increasing chanting undertones really added to the scene, and this wouldn’t have been a place where a sudden silence would have been effective. But I fully agree about the farting penguin. It really interrupted that scene.

      • FV

        Oh, I didn’t notice the chanting undertones before. Looking at it now, they do add an interesting layer to the music. I still wish the music was a little more different from usual.
        But I’ve got to say, I love how it turns mute for the Princess/Himari’s last line, it ends the episode perfectly, so maybe the segment is better not being quiet after all.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      to fv
      ajthefourth: It definitely is a very bold move. It’s my understanding through my research on the gas attacks that the general Japanese populace doesn’t speak about it all that much, which makes this a most interesting choice of topic for an anime series.

      Also interesting is the criticism that the Japanese government received in their response to the attacks. For example, nearly all of the trains continued on their way after the sarin was discovered in various cars (usually for only one or two more stops, but still, the effects were in some cases fatal, and in all cases increased the amount of people who were exposed. Along with the train authority, both the media and emergency services were criticized for their sensationalization and slow response to the attacks, respectively. The Murakami book, Underground, is a direct response to media sensationalization and a way of putting a story of the attacks together using a variety of different perspectives, from those who were directly affected to those who only heard about the attacks indirectly. The ripple effect from an event such as this changes the fabric of a society, and I’m really curious to see where Ikuhara is going with this. Why address the gas attacks now?

      I too am confused as to how the twins are directly related to the gas attacks and why they feel so guilty.

      The farting penguin was a bit much. I had assumed it to be an irreverent (if not a bit distasteful) reference to the gas attacks themselves.

      Thank you for this comment and the compliment! Please comment again!

      vucubcaquix: There’s not much I can add, since I agree with everything my partner has stated, and with most of what you mention as well. But there’s something about the family nameplates.

      I don’t sense sadness, and shame to a degree yes, but what I sense the most is anger. Think about it, if you used a knife or a razor to actively scratch out a name, that’s an aggressively permanent action on your part that can be achieved just as easily by making a new nameplate instead. No, a sharp implement was used, which can speak volumes about the mindset that was the context for this action.

  14. Knee House

    Love is The Most Dangerous Game

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      “Thank you for coming. I have purchased the Springfield YMCA. I plan to tear it down, and build a nature preserve where I will hunt the deadliest game of all – ”Man.'”

      -Rainier Wolfcastle, “The Simpsons”

  15. Mad Chemist

    It’s really interesting for me to see that the show is really tying the events of the series to the Sarin Gas Attacks, too. The show so far has been a character study of broken people and the events that made them so, and now that the Gas Attacks are being heavily referenced if not outright mentioned I wonder if the show is going to use its cast as a microcosm if Japanese society in some way. The Takakura and Oginome families both have direct connections to the attacks, and it isn’t a stretch for me to assume that this applies to other supporting characters as well. Because of this, everyone involved seems to be weighed down and I’m interested in seeing if the show tries to work as an examination of the lingering psychological affects of the attacks on society as seen through the cast of characters.

    This episode had so much in it, and as much as I want to talk about the explorations of love and changes in the dynamics of the show, there’s a lot to process and I still don’t have my thoughts entirely together. I get the feeling that a lot of things about the show, and maybe its presentation of love and guilt, are going to become clearer after next episode, though.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: It really is isn’t it? I spoke about this several weeks ago and then later touched upon it when the Murakami book, Underground, was referenced in episode nine. I believe that the most interesting thing to see would be to have the series, as you say, use its cast as a microcosm for Japanese society and the after effects of the gas attacks, both in direct and indirect circumstances.

      The dynamic shifts in tone definitely catch my attention, mainly because the are so flawlessly executed with confident direction that the viewer never feels lost, only exhilarated by what the series is trying to say. Take the ending of this episode for example. It begins with a ridiculously cute moment between Shouma and Ringo, but quickly turns into a deadly serious plot reveal. On top of this, the series manages to reveal seemingly so much, and yet ends on such a highly effective cliffhanger. The direction in this series thus far has been fantastic.

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: There’s not much I can add on to this, honestly, since so much has already been said. The idea of the the characters being a microcosm of the reaction to the attacks is especially interesting, since I feel that the fallout is acutely felt in how the characters perceive what love is and what it means to love another. Eros has so far been selfish and destructive, while agape has been un-selfish but not exactly constructive.

      Of course, the actual implications for any of this won’t be made known to us for an episode or two yet…

  16. tsurugiarashix

    The show is trying to say a lot in the most edgiest of fashions. I’ll save much of what I have to say, until I watch the next epsiode, but their was quite an interesting bunch of things I was able to pull from this. Some of trivial value I noticed was with the regards to the eyecatch, the train usage, and the actually attack that was diagrammed in the 1995 incident: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/23/Marunouchi-ogi_map_sarin_attack.png

    It looks similar to the eyecatch from the view, only difference it is shifting upward it seems like an evaluator. However, the signs that are displayed during the parts when the characters are traveling are interesting, since it might have some underlying meaning. I was not paying close attention to the signs, so I might have to rewatch an ep or two to see if that actually has anything to do with it.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I’m not sure if you’re speaking of the signs where Double H imparts some sort of nugget of wisdom upon us; however, if you are, then yes, they’re definitely important. They seem to be similar to the Shadow Girls in Revolutionary Girl Utena in that they offer up a picture and a few key words that frame themes presented within the episode. I may or may not do a post at the series’s midpoint addressing themes presented by each of these placards and how they help address specifics in their respective episodes.

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Definitely. We’ve been seeing this sign quite often when we research the specifics of the Gas Attacks. What I find pretty interesting though, is if you rewatch the eyecatch in the first episode, the title moves from the 1st stop to the 2nd. If it continues this way with every episode for all 24 episodes, the title will end up on the last stop on the line which is Ikebukuro.

      Ikebukuro, if you remember, is where the aquarium is, and where everything began in the first place.

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