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.
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.
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.
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!