Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 12

"Because punishment has to be the most unjust."

ajthefourth: In all honesty, in spite of the fact that I mulled over the idea last week, I did not expect for this series to make the Takakura parents higher-ups responsible for the subway attacks in the Mawaru Penguindrum universe.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that it had to be something else a bit more minor, that would make us sympathize even more with the protagonists.  I was wrong, and after having watched the series directly confront and portray the execution of the attacks through Kenzan Takakura, it’s becoming apparent (if it wasn’t already) that this series is afraid of nothing.

Where Kenzan brings darkness, his children bring light.

So let’s talk a bit more about Kenzan, this story’s “Mary.”  In a bit of an info-dump crossing no fewer than five different myths and fairytales Shouma, as he watches Himari die, seemingly tells the story of his father, Kenzan, to Ringo.  It begins with Kenzan having three little lambs, three children, Shouma, Kanba, and Himari, who bring joy to him and everyone around him.  Unfortunately, Kenzan’s other treasure, which is said by Shouma to be the first tree in the world that bore golden fruit every year, one day withered and died.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Kenzan’s other treasure in this story was his wife, Chiemi.  Perhaps she fell ill with a condition similar to Himari or, in an even darker circumstance, perhaps she somehow never recovered from shoving Himari aside to protect her from the falling mirror, but at some point, Chiemi fell ill or was on the brink of death.  Kenzan was no longer concerned with his children, who had once represented a brighter future (as Shouma says, “The lambs’ consolation fell on deaf ears.”).  He was consumed by the presumably unavoidable death of his wife, and now saw a world “shrouded in darkness.”

Here’s where things get a bit hairier.  In the story that Shouma tells, “Mary” is tempted by two black bunnies, which we see in the beginning of this episode with Sanetoshi, both represented as bunnies and as two children who act as his stewards.  The bunnies tell him to take ashes from the Goddess’s torch in order to revive his wife.  At first, Kenzan refuses, since touching the Goddess’s torch is taboo.  He is further tempted and eventually steals the “ashes” in order to revive his wife.  The attempt is successful.  This obviously wouldn’t stand without eventually paying a price, and the price that Kenzan, and his family, pays is Himari’s life.

It’s very important to note that this punishment takes place well after the 1995 attacks, since all three of the Takakura children have been born at the point where Shouma’s story begins.  It’s also worth noting that Kenzan actively chooses the life of the tree, presumably his wife, over all else in his life, including the lives of his own children.  We once again see the symbol of the apple repeated over and over, both in Shouma’s story and in Sanetoshi’s hand (with an odd little vial symbol on it.  In kooky theory of the week territory, we could say that Sanetoshi represents someone even higher up on in chain in the group that perpetrated the attacks, a direct reference to this cult).  The apple remains a reward for those who have chosen love over all else; however, it’s never specified as to what kind of love the person being rewarded is choosing.  Kenzan chose the love of the tree over the love of his children, which could simply mean the love of his wife, or a deeper more metaphysical love that comes from universal knowledge.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note that in these shots, it’s Shouma who comes first before Kanba.  I had always assumed that, since Kanba’s personality was more akin to an elder child, and Shouma called him “aniki” or “older brother” that it was Kanba who was the older one, if only by a few seconds.  The screenshot above would suggest otherwise. In addition to this, on the phone, Kenzan only hears of one birth, the birth of a baby boy; however, if the boys are twins, they would have been born on the same day.  It’s at the announcement of this birth that Kenzan initiates the survival strategy, the terrorist attacks.  This could tie in to Shouma’s deep seated guilt if he is the firstborn son that Kenzan initiated these horrible actions for, supposedly in order for him to have a brighter future.  If this is the case, where does this leave Kanba?  I doubt that they miscounted, or were unaware of Chiemi giving birth to twins, so perhaps Kanba is from another family related to Kenzan and has been brought up as Shouma’s twin?  (This would bring up that seemingly unavoidable, “It’s okay because we’re not actually related,” excuse for Kanba and Himari, I suppose).

"It only works once."

vucubcaquix: The relation between between Shouma and Kanba is definitely called into question, since official promotional materials have all pointed to them being twins, but with the revelation that there was only one male child born to Kenzan, I’m of the opinion that it was Kanba who was born to him rather than Shouma because of the similarity in their eyes. So I don’t believe that this show is going to be half-baked in its allusions to incest, since as Emily says, this show is afraid of nothing. The show may have stopped short of depicting actual copulation, but there was no doubt in my mind that what transpired was a metaphor for incestuous intercourse.

I am confused about the status of the Penguindrum, however. Through Shouma’s fairy tale, we learn that Mary (who may be a stand-in for Kenzan) stole the ashes from the torch of the Goddess in order to revive the First Tree which brought her happiness. The ashes worked, since the revival of the Tree is tantamount to breaking away from the fate that binds all living things in this world, which is death. The ashes in this fairy tale, are a metaphor for the Penguindrum itself, since it’s been outright stated by the Princess of the Crystal that it has the ability to derail fate.

Shouma assumes that Momoka’s diary is the Penguindrum, but that is the source of my confusion as it throws a lot of people’s actions into strange context. If Kenzan used an item that is tantamount to the Penguindrum to save what was most precious to him other than his children, then if Shouma’s (and the audience’s) assumptions are correct, Kenzan should have had the diary in his possession at some point after the 1995 incident when what was most precious to him withered away. I can’t quite make (or can no longer make) the connection between the diary and the Penguindrum for this reason, because it was shown to be in Ringo’s possession since she was a newborn and the show has given no hint to Ringo having lost possession of it prior to the motorcycle incident of episode eight. Either Kenzan didn’t acquire the Penguindrum as we know it, or Shouma is wrong in assuming the diary is the Penguindrum. Either instance makes Shouma out to be a bit unreliable a narrator for me all of a sudden. What adds to my confusion however, is that if we take Shouma’s allegory to be more or less true, then the ashes which are the Penguindrum come from the Goddess’s torch. Every single image in the OP has now been accounted for, but not the fire. There is only one character I know of that is associated with fire, and if the metaphor holds up that means that character will be the means through which the Penguindrum is revealed/acquired/manifest.

So is the diary indeed the Penguindrum? Is this what has the ability to derail fate? If so, did Kenzan use the diary to heal that which was most precious to him? Has it not been revealed to us that Kenzan possessed the diary for a time? Or is Shouma becoming an unreliable narrator? The coveted diary itself was found on the Marunouchi line, but not a trace of Momoka was to be found. The diary is now an object of contention amongst several factions, including Momoka herself.

Momoka wrote the diary. Momoka never diedMomoka stole the diary. Momoka is Yuri.

ajthefourth: I touched upon this earlier, however, after this week, it’s clear that the series is directly implying that Momoka is representing the one death on the Marunouchi Line; her and Tabuki get on at the Higashi-Koenji station (near the Oginome house) to go to school.  This, above all else, is what puts Momoka’s death under suspicion for me.  Piggybacking on what my partner covered, it’s extremely interesting that the series would choose to focus on this one death, when other lines had more casualties.  Singling Momoka out in this way, and the fact that there were no traces of her left, only the diary, calls her death into question more so than her obstructed face in her funeral picture.

Other real life tie-ins include Kenzan’s actions, and the environmental group, Penguinforce, which matches the stickers on the boxes in Kenzan’s factory, representing the cult Aum Shinrikyo, the group behind the real-life 1995 Sarin Gas Attacks.  Later on in episode five, he is seen wearing a Kiga logo on his jacket, which is also on the apple in the OP.  This could be assumed that Kiga represents a watered-down version of Penguinforce (it’s real-life equivalent could be Aleph, the current form of Aum).  Aum Shinrikyo was a cult so devoted to their actions to “revolutionize the world” that they seemingly initiated the gas attacks with the express purpose of bringing down the Japanese government, and installing their own leader in the Emperor’s place.  This gives us context for Kenzan’s actions in initiating his own survival strategy at the announcement of his son’s birth.  Going by the screenshot from the Mary allegory, it would seemingly be Shouma who is the elder, not Kanba (which places me in direct disagreement with David).  This means that Shouma would be the one that Kenzan’s actions were for.  In order to establish a better life for Shouma, Kenzan initiated his misguided survival strategy, wounding hundreds, possibly thousands if the series is mimicking the actual numbers.  No wonder Shouma believes he’s worthless, and consistently believes that things are his fault.  Quite literally, the misguided sins of the father have been passed on to his children, albeit not in the bright future that Kenzan had hoped for.

If Kenzan did this for Shouma, then who did it for Masako?  If we’re assuming that Mario is indeed her brother, then is he being kept alive in the same incestous way that Himari was?  If Shouma’s tale holds water, then the actual act for which Himari’s death is a punishment occurred after the horrors of Kenzan’s attacks.  This would also point to Mario’s family having done something, seemingly in order for his death to also be a punishment, giving a bit more weight to Mario being Himari’s soul mate, and the person she shared an apple with.  After all, these two were taken away from the people that they loved only because the people that they loved did something so taboo that they had to be severely punished for it.  They both would be truly innocent victims, their deaths being punishment for others’ actions.  Sanetoshi hints at this in his conversation with Himari, asking her why something like “that” happened to such a sweet girl.  Running parallel to the brothers’ act of trying to preserve their sister in spite of the fact that she is dying/dead is the undercurrent of the fact that she perhaps was not “supposed” to die, had her family members not performed such terrible acts.  The wheel that spins us ’round; are the brothers by attempting to preserve their sister committing as grave of a taboo as their father supposedly did?  Who decides who lives and who dies?

The "fate" of Himari Takakura?

vucubcaquix: Their father committed a taboo. Kanba is committing a taboo. Mary is forever being punished for committing a taboo. Other than the similar physical characteristics to his father, what leads me believe that Kanba is the son mentioned is precisely the incestuous potential of it. It lends itself to the idea of “taboo” that the show has taken up with in these episodes. The act of incest is seen as a negative marker in societal consequences as well as biological ones, and seems to be the act which perfectly exemplifies the defiance of one’s fate to be apart. It is a love that has some of the most institutionalized resistance to it, thus it is a love that has the most inherent momentum and energy behind it since it needs to surmount so much for it to become possible to begin with.

The show has concerned itself with love as of late and has showcased various types of it, and seems to use the concept as a force or energy that is the primary means through which death is staved off. It’s metaphorical, but heavily implied that Kanba and Himari did indeed have sex during the initial Survival Strategy in order to transfer a portion of Kanba’s life to Himari. In effect, giving her some of the “seed” of his life force. But it isn’t necessarily the act of copulation that is what sustains her life, as her death here was not prevented by his initiating another Survival Strategy as she laid down.

“It’s no use. It’s akin to love. Akin to the first kiss. It only works once.”

-the Princess of the Crystal

The parallels to virginity are obvious, but I was struck by another concept that I learned about a few months ago. The idea of limerence. What is love in its most energetic form? It’s the type of intrusive love that invades your thoughts as you go about your day. The kind of love that intrudes upon your thoughts as you work on a project, sit in a lecture, or lie awake at night. The heart beats at the thought of the feel of her body, the scent of her perfume, the weight of her life on you. Your mind races as it imagines the possibilities of your fates becoming intertwined with each other in such a fashion that they can no longer be untangled. You and her. She and you. Hearts beating faster. Breath drawing quicker. Eyes seeing each other. Thoughts seeking each other.

Limerence is a powerful, yet temporary, love that is a driving force in this world. Art has been commissioned in its name. Wars have been fought in its name. Taboos have been committed in its name.

ajthefourth: As we end this post, I can’t help but think that the feeling that Tabuki holds for Momoka seems equally obsessive, if not all-consuming, addictive, and powerful beyond words.  Tabuki describes Momoka as someone who he couldn’t imagine a world without.  When he speaks of her in episode six to Ringo, his words are not only wistful but borderline reverent.  In this episode, we see him completely unable to accept her death as he looks down on his scarred right hand.  What exactly happened between Tabuki and Momoka?  Why does he continue to worship her so, even to the present day events of the series, seemingly stuck in his emotional development.  And if Yuri is Momoka, I’d like to throw out another crazy, off-the-wall theory: Yuri also represents the Goddess.  It was her diary that Ringo was left with upon her “death.”  Whether the diary is the Penguindrum or not, it is seemingly a powerful, near-mystical object.  David, you mentioned the ashes coming from the Goddess’s torch, and how Ringo bursts into flames in the OP, right?

vucubcaquix: The Goddess’s torch, Momoka’s Ringo, bursts into flames to signify something. It’s the last piece of vital imagery that has yet to be either explained, or even referenced as even Sanetoshi’s ampoules have made their appearance on his apple and the form of the cases of his child assistants. If the ashes are what Mary committed the taboo for, Ringo is the torch that burns forth the Penguindrum that can alter the fates of those who possess it.


Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Mawaru Penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum

61 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 12

  1. If only one of the Takakura brothers is their parents’ actual son, or if one of them was the firstborn, it raises the question: does the Princess banish Shouma and do secret things with Kanba because he’s not Himari’s brother, or precisely because he is? Is the incest vital to the process? Kanba has shown a kind of reverence for Himari which I only noticed as being so intense after the first Survival Strategy, but he might just be a passionate and protective brother. Incestuous love seems likely, though.

    The other thing I wondered is, wasn’t Ringo born on the day that Momoka died? Hence her reincarnation belief. That would make her and at least one of the Takakura brothers born on the same day, and possibly connect them from birth, especially if the birth of a Takakura son was somehow a sign to their father to initiate his ‘survival strategy.’

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: That is precisely the question. I wouldn’t put it past Ikuhara to make Kanba and Himari true siblings (like, for example, Akio and Anthy in the Utena television series); however, I also wouldn’t put it past him to present a relationship akin to Touga and Nanami either. Incest may only be vital to the process precisely because it is so taboo. (Although then one has to wonder, regardless of whether or not Kanba and Himari are actually related, since they both believe it to be taboo, does it hold the same weight?) Also, I’m still not sold on Kanba being completely innocent of the proceedings before Himari’s death at the aquarium. I speak a bit more about why in this comment on the tenth episode.

      I still believe, regardless of whether they are twins from the same parents or not, that both Takakura brothers and Ringo were born on the same day. Himari/Princess of the Crystal hints at this when she calls them “cursed children of fate” and suggests that the only way to save her (Himari) would be to regain control of the Penguindrum.

      Thanks for commenting!

      vucubcaquix: As strange and icky as it sounds, I do believe that incest is necessary because of the reasons I stated in the post, meaning that the taboo nature associated with it gives it a certain power that isn’t necessarily present if they weren’t related. Even if for some reason they aren’t related but believe they are, I’m not sure if it’d have the same effect, since this particular taboo is also informed by biological constraints as Mother Nature herself isn’t so keen on the idea of sustained incestuous relationships over generations. The royalty of Europe (and specifically the Hapsburgs) are an example of this.

      Can’t remember where, but I do remember it being mentioned that Kanba, Shouma, and Ringo were all born on the same day.

  2. Neriya

    I’d expected something a bit more… involved for the reason Shouma blames himself and Kanba. Like holding the newborn babies hostage to force Kenzan to carry out the act, rather than Kenzan taking the birth of a boy as a sign of some sort.

    It’s interesting that people are thinking Shouma may be the singular child mentioned, leaving Kanba’s place in the family uncertain. That never occurred to me, both because Shoma and his faceless friend from the first 2 episodes treat Kanba as the big brother, but also Kanba and Kenzan are very similar are both in features and their do-or-die temperament. Kanba seems very much his father’s son, and Himari her mother’s daughter, but where does that leave Shoma? Him being first in the sheep story just seemed like narrator’s bias to me.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Honestly, I think that the series’s implications from making Shouma/Kanba Kenzan’s reason for initiating the survival strategy is far more dark than holding the newborn baby hostage. It implies that Kenzan legitimately thought that his actions would make a brighter future for his child. That kind of conviction is the stuff that initiates all sorts of actions, regardless of whether they are ultimately deemed “good” or “bad.” Also, imagine trying to explain your parents’ actions to people when it inevitably came up in conversation.

      Which brings up another interesting point that you somewhat address in the second part of your comment. Why do Shouma and Kanba get treated so normally by their peers? If Himari’s departure from school was due to her association with her own terrorist parents then why do Shouma and Kanba get treated so normally. Also, and he may address it further in his comment section, David addressed Shouma’s physical resemblance to Chiemi, where I addressed his personality similarities with her in this post a while back. In regards to Kenzan and Kanba’s similarities, there is also a sense of indignant and righteous anger that
      can be quite dangerous. It could be narrator bias, it could be a prompt to
      throw into question who the “real” brother to Himari is. The only thing
      that’s certain is that, as a narrator, Shouma has been thrown into doubt by this episode. What parts of his story are true? What parts of his story are false? No story is objective.

      Thank you for commenting!

      vucubcaquix: Yes, the physical similarities are striking and deliberate. Kanba and Kenzan share an eye type that’s known as tsurime, whereas Chiemi and Shouma have tareme eyes. I never doubted anyone’s parentage in this show until this episode, but then again this episode dumped so much information on us that we’re still reeling a bit from a lot of the implications.

      The idea of him having a narrator’s bias when relating the story enhances my feeling a bit that he’s becoming somewhat unreliable. Emily and I (but a bit more Emily) have been talking about how in the beginning of the show there seemed to be a setup for a conflict between the brothers. I think Himari’s second death may make for catalyst to that, especially if Sanetoshi offers to help Kanba in some way while Shouma received strange warnings from the Princess of the Crystal about “Dark Bunnies”.

      • Neriya

        I didn’t actually say dark, but “involved”. A reason why Shouma would feel so strongly at the end of episode 11 that he and Kanba were personally involved and responsible. This episode didn’t really answer that in a more than general way – though your theory that Kenzan did it as he believed it would make his child(ren?)’s future better could easily be the correct one.

        That is true about Shouma’s resemblance to his mother. What’s more, his reaction to waking up in hospital and asking Ringo if she was hurt was virtually identical to his mother doing the same for Himari when she smashed the mirror. From a quick look it seems it is possible for twins to be born with a 20 minute plus interval between them – it’s possible we only saw Kenzan being called after the first, and the second was delivered sometime after he’d set off. If he treated the birth of one boy as a sign, I wonder what he’d have made of hearing about the second.

        I’d wondered about the brother’s accepted position in society as well. My conclusion was that the Takakura parents being terrorists wasn’t Himari’s reason for leaving school. If the gathered crowd for her leaving was because years after the event the Takakura parents were discovered to be the culprits I’d expect the same spurning treatment for the brothers, but they seem to fit in with society well enough. Ringo’s mother seemed to recognise Shouma’s surname, but she was happy to talk to him, and she’d have more reason than most to resent him. Natsume threatened to reveal Kanba’s secret (and hinted it would get out anyway) – and while he undoubtedly has a lot, could she have been talking of his parents’ involvement? Of course that still begs the question of why Himari had to leave school – her illness would explain that; a childish grudge about the illness causing their trio to split up why her friends held it against her; but not the crowd that gathered to see her off.

  3. Blackholeheart

    The idea of twins representing duality seeking unity is threaded through the entire narrative, Sanetoshi with the black rabbits who show up as the child servants later is one example, the diary torn in two another. Most of these constructs like the diary or the Prince and Princess of the crystal are torn apart by fate and are struggling to come together or to be brought together. This made me think of a way for Shouma and Kanba to be “twins” from different family’s, but it’s in the way out there category. If Kenzan was a twin married to a twin and his child was born on the same day as his brother’s child, biologically they would be no different than fraternal twins. This would cover how we see a photo of of the family at the zoo and only Kanba seems unhappy, he was taken in by Shouma’s parent’s after his were mixed up in the attack and why the Kenzan we see in the subway incident flashback seems harder than the one in the typhoon flashback. It could explain some of the oddities in the timeline as well. I honesty don’t think this is whats going on as there is so little evidence for it but it was a fun idea to play with.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Oooh…that’s definitely an interesting point that they biologically would be no different than fraternal twins if they were born to brothers and sisters who ended up with each other (twins marrying twins).

      I’m going to go full-out in crazy speculation mode here, so please bear with me. It has been brought up elsewhere that the last kanji for Chiemi’s name on the Takakura family sign is different than the kanji “ko” that appears to have been ripped off of the sign when the children are older. Interestingly enough, Masako Natsume’s name would seemingly match the kanji that have been scratched off. She does seem a bit older, and Kanba does know her from somewhere…

      Interesting, no? Thanks for indulging me in my crazy and wild speculation ^ ^.

      vucubcaquix: Oh man, answering crazy with crazy. What happened to you Emily?

      But yeah, that’s a fantastic idea you brought up about the idea of duality seeking unity. The examples you bring up support your idea really well, and honestly make me a bit jealous that I hadn’t brought that up myself. I was all about the idea of duality of themes in Tiger and Bunny. but how did I not see it here?

      Good show, ol’ chap.

    • “This made me think of a way for Shouma and Kanba to be “twins” from different family’s, but it’s in the way out there category. If Kenzan was a twin married to a twin and his child was born on the same day as his brother’s child, biologically they would be no different than fraternal twins. ” = this is a very interesting idea *_* They’re still twins that way *_*

      “the Kenzan we see in the subway incident flashback seems harder than the one in the typhoon flashback. ”
      = But I don’t think he changed his name? Or maybe the Kenzan twin pretended to be him.
      But ah well, Kenzan might be nicer when it comes to family, but deadly serious when it comes to “work”. Hmmm x_x

  4. Aberrantapple

    Just a note regarding the brothers and the speculation as to why Kenzan only says boy, implying (?) that there was only one child born that day.

    I found it interesting that the Princess of the Crystal, when taking to Shoma, referred to Himari as “your sister” when telling Shoma he needed to save her. But, when talking to Kanba, she only says “this girl” and tells him that she cannot be saved. I’m not sure exactly what this is implying, if anything, but I do think it relates to her distinctly different treatment of each brother as well as their reactions to her.

  5. I don’t think that the presence of the three bunnies at the beginning of the story necessarily means that the entire story takes place after the attacks. It feels more like a myth, where fantasy and reality blur. Besides, the children could have been Kenzan’s most precious things even before he was born.

    I have to agree with vuc about who is actually Himari’s brother: Kanba seems the more likely choice. Solely because I think they would make the choice which creates the most controversy, so I can’t see them doing away with the incest angle.I don’t think that the presence of the three bunnies at the beginning of the story necessarily means that the entire story takes place after the attacks. It feels more like a myth, where fantasy and reality blur. Besides, the children could have been Kenzan’s most precious things even before he was born.

    Also, I’m not sure sure than Kenzan’s actions are specifically for Shouma (or specifically for his children, although they certainly played a big role in motivating him). The arctic defense expedition makes me wonder if his goal was based on protecting the environment for his children, although I’m not sure how blowing up subways would play into this. (but really, how is that a good strategy for anything besides killing people?)

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Yeah…I think more people agree with him, but oh well. ^ ^ I’ll stand by my prediction (until proven wrong, haha).

      I like what you have to say in regards to children being the most precious things to Kenzan even prior to their birth. However, the reason why I believe the allegory to take place after the birth of the children is that they actively tried to console Kenzan after the death of the tree. (Although it’s also true that it could be the idea of having children that could no longer console him, and perhaps I’m taking this too literally.)

      On the flip side, I have an attitude similar to yours in regards to the incest angle, albeit with a small difference. As long as the two parties involved (or even just one of the parties, Kanba, since he is seemingly more in the dark than Himari/Princess of the Crystal) believe that what they are doing to be incest, doesn’t it hold the same social connotations as the actual taboo of incest itself?

      This ties in the whether it’s the actual action or the meaning behind the action that will be deemed more important in the long run (i.e. what Kenzan did was horrifying, but I wonder what the series has to say about the meaning behind his terrible actions). Interestingly enough, the environmental defense force’s real-life equivalent, Aum Shinrikyo, have yet to completely divulge one true reason for initiating the attacks, although most theories point to an attempt at bringing down the government in order to install Shoko Asahara, their leader, as the new leader of Japan. Other theories include hastening the apocalypse, or the always boring protecting their own interests.

      Thank you, as always, for the thought-provoking comment! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: The arctic defense expedition seems to be a bit of a reference to a movie called Nankyoku Monogatari which was released in the 80s. Many of the names of the characters in the show seem to be puns on names from characters in the movie according to wabisabi. She draws interesting parallels between the expedition to the south pole and traveling across the galaxy on a milky way train.

      As to the idea of protection or achieving peace through violence… it reminds me a lot of the plot to Watchmen. I don’t know how familiar you are with it, but the basic gist of it (slight spoiler warning?) is that a megalomaniac is trying to achieve world peace through a nuclear exchange between the US and the USSR. There’s some commentary on peace through violence and other things and is widely recognized as a very good deconstruction of the superhero genre. Check it out if you’re interested.

  6. Gust

    In the first episode, when Shouma is yelling at Kanba for his reaction toward Himari’s “death”, he initially yells “How could you do this to your own sister!?”, but quickly corrects himself with “our own sister”.

    That, to me, is the biggest indicator of who the adopted sibling is.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Ah…so we have another nuance in language that supports Kanba instead of Shouma. Interesting…

      Thanks for commenting! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: I want to remain steadfast to the idea that Kanba is the biological son & Shouma the adopted one, but knowing this director, anything’s possible.

  7. “Ringo bursts into flames in the OP”
    = for some reason that made me fear that Ringo’s gonna die… burned to death O_O

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I’m also a bit afraid that Ringo’s going to die. Going against popular opinion a bit here, but I’ve personally become quite fond of her, that is, if she’s not dead already. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: You know, I don’t think she’s out of the woods just yet. I also got the impression from the OP that she was going to die somehow, possibly through some kind of self-destructive behavior based on her actions. But we’ll see!

  8. Rita

    The whole “which twin was first” thing reminds me of Fatal Frame 2. In Fatal Frame 2, the second twin to be born is actually considered to be the first twin that developed in the womb. It’s the stronger twin, so it helps its sibling out first before being born itself. No idea if that was ever real – it could of course be something that was just made up for the game.

    • k

      No, it’s actually a common belief in Asia, from what I understand, though I heard the explanation differently – it’s more like “first one in, last one out”. It’s an easy enough explanation for why Shouma may have been born first but calls Kanba “aniki” instead of the other way around.

      • hikoboshiandorihime

        to k
        ajthefourth: Ah…I see. I suppose I’m more interested in who Kenzan was referring to while on the phone (which would presumably be the first born) who he then initiated the survival strategy of the attacks for. Thanks for the information!

        vucubcaquix: Thanks for the corroboration, k. You seem to have a bit of insight into Asian culture, so if you ever have anything to contribute feel free!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      to Rita
      ajthefourth: Oooh…that’s quite interesting. I’m still not sure if Shouma and Kanba are true siblings; however, if they are, that’s an interesting personality commentary should Shouma turn out to be the “second born” or stronger twin. Up until recently, Shouma was more of an audience entry point than anything else, and a slightly feminine one at that, so I’m very curious to see where they go with his plot development following his recent long narration in episode twelve. Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: There’s not much I can say to that honestly, other than that’s pretty interesting…

      Oh! I could never play Fatal Frame II when it came out because I was too much of a chicken. My friend and I had to double team Silent Hill 4 when we were 18 and still end the night with some Conan O’Brien in order to decompress. Yeah we suck.

      Seriously though, that game is scary as hell:

  9. E Minor

    I always need some kind of bookmark to read your posts on Mawaru Penguindrum, but I guess this is a bit like the pot calling the kettle African American.

    Kenzan chose the love of the tree over the love of his children, which could simply mean the love of his wife, or a deeper more metaphysical love that comes from universal knowledge.

    The tree in this story sounds like a big deal — the very basis of the world, even. I can’t reconcile something so significant to a man’s wife, even if she is, so to speak, his “world.” Also, I don’t know if I’d say he chose his wife over his kids’ lives. Could the father have really known that his youngest child Himari would be punished as a result? And in a way, is it really all that unjust if Himari dies? She’s the reason her mother was in a life-threatening situation to begin with. In a way, Himari’s death restores karmic balance.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: You’re right that the story does say that “the apple tree’s light had once been the source of the world’s love, future, and dreams” but I still can’t help but think of it in a narrower context within the series. As in, if the tree is Kenzan’s wife, then to him the tree would represent the light, love, and dreams of his and his family’s future.

      It is the very fact that this line is so broad that makes me think that I may be wrong, and the tree represents something even greater than any one person. A universal knowledge, perhaps, or a state of enlightenment. However, one thing that is pointed to over and over within this series is the idea of sex as a possible “final stage” of being with the end result being Project M, or maternity. Kanba, in spite of the fact that it is socially/morally wrong, seemingly uses sex to revive his sister, and attempts to use it again when it fails over time. If not the end all be all, sex is still being presented in a way that gives it power. The idea of apple trees in the Christian tradition is irrevocably tied to both the idea of sex and the overwhelming guilt/blame that resulted from the Original Sin, or sex. The recent emphasis on sex, paired with some of the imagery, is another reason why I haven’t given up on the idea of the tree being Kenzan’s wife. Through sex and through love, a wife could very possibly be the light of someone’s world. It’s also worth noting that he initiates the survival strategy at the announcement of the birth of his child, which is another nod to the importance of family/procreation.

      You know, Charles over at Beneath the Tangles had a really interesting take on this within a christian context in that the major complaint over Himari’s death is who was killed not that someone was killed. Of course, Kenzan was unaware that Himari would be killed as a result, just as anyone who does something that’s supposedly “bad” is usually unaware of the specific consequences until they are fully revealed. However, Kenzan’s initial hesitation and refusal to gather the ashes until further tempted by the bunnies speaks to how he knew that his actions would be seen as *wrong.* In spite of this, he steals the ashes anyway.

      Bleh…sorry for the long convoluted response. Hopefully I managed to make some semblance of sense. Thank you for commenting.

      vucubcaquix: Congratulations on making me nearly choke with that opening line. That’ll teach me to never drink something as I read something you write ever again.

      I waffle a bit between the idea of the tree as something that’s of personal import to Kenzan or something much more all encompassing, but I wonder how much of my uncertainty stems from the notion that won’t escape me now of Shouma being somewhat unreliable in his narration either through the shock of the proceedings or for ulterior motives.

      I don’t entirely agree with Emily, so I don’t think you should conflate the idea of Mary retrieving the ashes as a sort of refutation of his children. I doubt that it’s within his character to do so given that he ran out into a storm to help Himari and quite literally put his life on the line to ensure that Kanba wouldn’t be scarred by an errant pane of glass. Their consolation may have fallen on deaf ears, but I doubt that Mary expected one of the lambs’ consolations to disappear entirely as well.

      But… I’m not entirely sure, either.

      ajthefourth: I suppose my thoughts that he eventually chose the love of the tree (whatever that may be) over the love of his children, were that the consolations fell on deaf ears, and we also hear nothing about Mary’s feelings towards the lambs following whatever happened to the tree. Even at the mention of Himari’s death (the smallest youngest lamb) only the brother lambs cry out in protest. When the tree is revived, Mary dances around blind to the three lambs. Seemingly, after whatever it was the Kenzan lost, be it his wife or something else, nothing else mattered after she/it was revived, including the lambs, his own children. Although, as David says, this is seemingly from Shouma’s perspective, therefore he may feel abandoned by his father and this is seeping into his narrative.

  10. theorangeeggplant

    Well, when first deciding how to go about finding the Penguindrum, the Princess of Crystal did seem quite unsure to the nature of the penguindrum since the beginning, telling the boys that it was “probably” the penguindrum, letting them take hold of their only lead and following it whole-heartedly.
    So, i wouldnt think that they are necessarily trying to mislead us in any way.

    Ringo’s association with fire in the OP lead me more to belive that in her obsession with the diary/”fate” she was destroying herself, but yeah, the ashes theory is interesting as well.

    • theorangeeggplant

      Also, about the flame, i was thining that it could be the “Scorpion’s Soul”,whatever the princess took from Kanba, as she even commnted that it was “burning red”
      I also felt that the Godess was ment to be Sanetoshi, and if Sanetoshi represents Fate, it would be Fate’s Soul? and since that’s achived by performing taboo, could it be that the essence of fate, fate’s soul, is the breaking of the chain of fate itself?? …random thoughts… sorry if i make no sense…

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnnn…yes, the Princess did say that Ringo “probably” had the Penguindrum, and then tells them that they lost it as she dies on the train. Presumably that would point to the diary being the Penguindrum; however, I just can’t believe that Ikuhara would make things that easy for us.

      The Scorpion’s Soul burning red is another Night on the Galactic Railroad reference. While traveling on the train, Giovanni, Campanella and two other child passengers see a burning, ruby-red flame on the horizon that they deem to be Scorpio’s fire. As the story goes, Scorpio was caught by a weasel and was about to be eaten. Scorpio tries to get away, falls into a well, and just as he is about to die begins to pray. He thinks back on the creatures he had eaten and killed in his lifetime, and wishes that, upon his death, he would at least be eaten by the weasel so that the weasel would live another day, instead of his dying in vain in a well. He tells God to look inside his heart and ensure that in his next life, his body will be used for good and happiness. He then turns bright red and becomes a flame that lights up the darkness of the sky.

      As to what it means for Kanba, I think it’s hinting to the fact that, while Shouma is wallowing in guilt, and possibly stuck in one place, Kanba is actively trying to give his life meaning. He has something that he’s guilty or ashamed of, but wants to rectify it by making the rest of his life count, i.e. giving his life up for Himari’s.

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: This may be my sleep addled mind playing tricks on me, but I’m not 100% sure on ascribing the role of the Goddess to an actual character. I also initially thought that it could be a reference to something like a concept. That Fate itself was angry at Mary for stealing the ashes from her torch. I think it was through conversation and speculation of the nature of the torch itself that brought up the possibility of the Goddess being Yuri.

      Then again, if my speculation is correct (emphasis on IF) that would also imply that Momoka is the Goddess. That may not necessarily mean anything, but IF the diary is the penguindrum then how perfect would it be if the author of the book that can supposedly alter one’s fate was in fact, herself, a Goddess?

  11. samoholic

    Gust: In the first episode, when Shouma is yelling at Kanba for his reaction toward Himari’s “death”, he initially yells “How could you do this to your own sister!?”, but quickly corrects himself with “our own sister”.

    That, to me, is the biggest indicator of who the adopted sibling is.

    Oooh I like this point!

    I also had a strong opinion about something that I wanted to point out. While everyone is seemingly distracted with figuring out who is Himari’s REAL brother, or not or which TWIN was born first or not, and even the fact that either one or two BOYs were born to the Takakura is now a mystery.

    I’ve notice few people pointing out the fact, that regardless of all these possibilities being true or not, Kenzan or even the theorized Kenzan Twin focused solely on the child(ren)’s SEX. If it in fact was not for the word BOY I don’t feel it would a far fetch idea to say his particular Survival Strategy would not have been carried out. Vice~versa could be said as well if it were under different circumstances.

    That or maybe an entirely DIFFERENT plan would have been initiated.

    My point being however, overall is that it seems like Kenzan (his TWIN & organization) rather strongly believe in FATE in order to base such destructive actions on a (purposely?) unknown child(ren)’s sex.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: “That day- The room where it all started- Incident and its turbulence- A boy was born in the Takakura family. And he commenced the operation. It was their Survival Strategy.”

      You know, it’s honestly not something that I had given much thought to, but you’re absolutely right, and it’s a fascinating point, especially when one takes into consideration Ringo’s Project M meaning maternity to her. The survival strategy of any race relies on procreation, and it’s interesting that both the title card of the flashback and the conversation on the phone point to the fact that had the baby been a girl, this may never have happened.

      Or perhaps Shouma/Kanba would have become another Lady Oscar and been raised as a boy. Shouma is rather feminine after all. ^ ^

      Thank you so much for pointing this out! I’ll definitely be keeping it in mind for the future.

      vucubcaquix: Hmm, honestly the thought hadn’t occurred to me at all. It’d be interesting to think about in the context of the group that Kenzan works for if they are indeed obsessed with the idea of fate. Now supposing that the boy in question is Kanba, if the group enacted all of this and the consequences led to other consequences which led to eventually the rearing of a young man who has a righteous anger about him due to the circumstances he was brought into, would the group’s survival strategy be tied into the actions of a young man who is actively trying to defy fate at all costs?

      Reminds me of what I wrote about in our first colloquium about the main struggle of the show being that between determinism and existentialism.


      • samoholic

        ajthefourth: The survival strategy of any race relies on procreation . . .

        It’s incredibly amazing that you’ve said this, because it’s actually mentioned by Kanba at the end of Episode One and it got me thinking.

        If a brother & sister were the last two people on Earth, they have only two options; stick to societal (a dead one at that) morals and let the Human race die OR Multiply.

        As it is, the idea of such closely related people fornicating is troubling and TABOO, but under such circumstances (if the persons involve choose so) the Taboo is lifted and the action thus seen as necessary.

        Much like Adam & Eve who were made from the very same materials, though at the time of creation Eve was made simply to keep Adam company and at exile their roles were not defined by “go forth and multiply” it just simply became so.

        Which brings me to say that a majority of what vucubcaquix had to say got me thinking quite like a mad woman. This is going to be a bit of a story, but please bare with me.

        A female Preacher once spoke of GOD not allowing Adam and Eve to have children in the Garden of Eden, because GOD being all-knowing knew they would soon slip up.

        I have to say I was very convince by this when I remembered that GOD said Eve would now have (increased) labor pains in exile with Adam. It also makes me think of whether or not she could even conceive/give birth before their banishment, but that’s a whole other thing.

        Now in Mawaru, if we indeed have a BOY whose sole purpose to defy Fate is a consequence of another choosing to let his (Kanba) life be a Fated purpose for their cause. Then again I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he is somewhat “reinventing” himself or suppose purpose – if his life should even have purpose since he does not believe in Fate. Does purpose depend on a belief in Fate anyways?

        Also, could Kanba not be trying – with the relationship he and his “sister” share – to clean his family name/history by recreating them as people (or even erase the idea of Fate from Human minds by creating a new race) whose sole belief is that not one person’s life/choices is predetermined or otherwise orchestrated by Fate? Just a theory.

        Plus, I think it’s quite funny how Himari is a person who actually believes in Fate – while the mystery of whether or not her and Kanba’s relationship is actually intimate still remains. It makes me wonder just how much (if their relationship is intimate) she is actually okay with it – if it is incestuous, because it’s by Fate that she was bestowed a Fatal illness and will live a short life, and as Fate will have it, they live in a time when incest is TABOO and PUNISHABLE.

        If it wasn’t a surfacing of information about her parents that drove her to withdraw from school, then what was it? Her boast about the deranged fantasy that she and her “brother” would one day marry and spawn offspring together?

        Another point I would like to argue is Kanba (active) vs. Shouma (inactive). I feel it’s actually the reverse. My supporting evidence being Kanba’s nonexistent reaction to Himari’s first death (“It’s not Fate, that just happens to people who are so sick”) is what it said to me. His actions from there on are just to find a more concrete reason for why his sister received a life-prolonging item. Albeit, while other actions just simply support my idea that he is willing to put a bit of faith in Fate (and is not just humoring the Princess), I mean it’s his only back-up anyways.

        I think of Shouma as the more Active one because he has ONE, chosen a course of action to take (obtain Diary) and kept at it quite well. Two, he has affect actions and obtained information about secondary characters which both the audience and himself know very little of.

        Yes, the Tsurime & Tareme eye designs could mean something about their basic character and how they conduct themselves a majority of the time, but I like to point to how some people figured Yuri would be a very small effect on things, just because of her plain background in the OP. Which allows me to employ the whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover” phrase.

  12. Mad Chemist

    The more I think about the Mary story, the more convinced I become that the apple tree is some great, shared goal. I agree that the birth of his son (personally I’m on the Kanba side of that debate, since he looks more like his father than Shouma does) motivated Kenzan to go through with the attacks, and him sending a message to his accomplices in Penguinforce makes me think in addition to them being privy to his planned Survival Strategy, the Strategy was the mission they were planning to undertake that day. Kenzan’s comments on bringing world peace through the attack makes me think that he was trying to either revive something huge and important or simply keep it alive, though I’m not sure what it is as of now. Of course, my theory rests entirely on Kenzan’s Survival Strategy and Penguinforce’s motive in initiating the attack being one in the same, but the Strategy seems fairly grand in scale to me from this episode and I don’t think that Penguinforce would limit its goals to Kenzan’s family if this is the case.

    Thanks for a great post, like always! There’s a lot to take in this episode, and reading through what you two have to say always helps me get my own thoughts in order.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnnn…this is presuming that the attacks are the taboo, metaphorical stealing of the ashes that eventually resulted in the revival of the tree and Himari’s death, which I disagree with. In spite of the fact that the attacks being the taboo event also fits to some degree, I still believe that the attacks were a separate Survival Strategy, and that the withering and restoration of the tree came after the attacks had already been executed.

      The Strategy is fairly grand in scale, and there’s certainly no reason that Penguinforce would limit itself to the lives of one particular family, unless that family or a member of that family was Special. This is pure, unadulterated, crazy speculation; however, if Himari’s death is a direct punishment for the attacks, and she is a truly extraordinary person as The Bride of Fate, then perhaps the dark bunnies tempted Kenzan into initiating the attacks in order for Himari to be killed later on.

      Yes, I realize that this is completely crazy. Thank you for indulging me for a moment, and thanks for the comment and the compliment!

      vucubcaquix: No problem. Honestly, we’re usually as bewildered as anyone immediately after an episode is over and it’s only through our conversations with each other that they begin to take on any semblance of order. Our thoughts are only further clarified, reinforced, or challenged through conversation with the comments on our posts. Basically, you and everyone else are helping us as well.

      I was never under any doubt that Kenzan and Penguinforce share the same motive, primarily because of presumably how highly ranked he is within the organization. It was through his beeper message that action was taken, and that denotes quite a degree of authority.

      That’s the assumption I’m making until there’s information revealed to us otherwise.

  13. Luni

    I’ve been reading your blog posts on Mawaru Penguindrum for a while, and I’ve found them very interesting

    What came to my attention this week most was probably the theory connecting Momoka being the goddess and the diary/penguindrum being the ashes. Alternatively, I thought of something different with the connection between Fate and the goddess (although similar to a comment posted somewhere above). In my point of view, the goddess may be fate/god/sanetoshi but god/Sanetoshi sounds much more correct, since in one of the CMs for Mawaru, Himari asks “god” to save someone. and Sanetoshi is the one to reply. Perhaps the person she wants to save may be Kanba, who decided to save Himari with his own life by doing their little Survival Strategy, even though Himari must die as punishment.

    The torch seems to definitely be Ringo, as seen in the opening, but I think that the ashes represent Momoka (If Momoka is really dead) and that the tree may be the universe of all the universes (since it’s an apple tree, and the apple represents a universe), or a brighter future for one of the twins (maybe both). I think this because Shouma said that Mary (Kenzan) took the ashes from the torch (emphasis on torch) and use them to save the tree. Maybe Kenzan kidnapped Momoka’s body (kind of funny in my point of view) and used them for some purpose. Or perhaps, more simply, killing Momoka, or separating her from her family, somehow supported his cause. In the end though, Mary (Kenzan) took the ashes (Momoka’s life) away from the torch (Ringo’s life) and from the goddess (god). Mary taking the ashes (taking the life of Momoka) is a great taboo.

    Another way to connect Momoka as the ashes is that to Ringo, becoming Momoka is her life. A flame’s life relies on its fuel, and the fuel will eventually become ashes. Also, since Momoka also means “peach” which also represents “immortality” which I think was addressed in one of the previous blog posts. then maybe later, Momoka will give some kind of immortal life to Ringo (actually, that’s getting a bit far fetched).

    • Luni

      Just realized that there’s a mistake on this theory. :/
      Momoka died before the three siblings were born together :/ Sorry about the long post

      • hikoboshiandorihime

        ajthefourth: Hnnn…your second comment on your post addresses my main counterargument that, in my opinion, the children were born and immediately afterwards, the attacks were perpetrated by their father. The brighter future for the twins, the “wool” so to speak in the allegory, I think is what Kenzan eventually eschewed in order to save the tree. The survival strategy seems to have been tailored around ensuring a brighter future, or at the very least “peace” as Kenzan himself says immediately before entering the train station. I’m of the opinion that the efforts to revive the tree came far later in their timeline.

        As for Momoka, I am having fewer and fewer doubts that she is Yuri, but more and more doubts that she is the Goddess, although you bring up some interesting information in regards to Momoka in that her life was something special. If they’re going parallel to real life events closely, then Momoka would be the only casualty on her line. In addition to this, they mention that there was “none of her left” which seems very suspect (if you were wondering, it’s not at all a consequence of sarin poisoning either).

        Thanks for bringing up these interesting points and commenting! Please continue to do so! ^ ^

        vucubcaquix: Honestly, the idea of the Goddess being something more similar to a concept or an idea was what struck me first. I liked the idea of the Goddess being Fate itself, and the very first draft of this post will back me up. But that first draft was also littered with a million other more crackpot theories from me (including the idea of the Princess of the Crystal and Sanetoshi working together in cahoots for a group known as the Destination of Fate).

        But of course, I had to pare down what I said eventually, and the circumstantial evidence for Momoka/Yuri being the Goddess began to pile up through conversation so we went with that tack. As to where the series is eventually going to go with this, we can hazard all the guesses we want (which is incredibly fun for us) but we’ll just have to wait and see.

  14. Damn, this show.

    Whole lot of firsts in this episode–the incest angle finally explained, BLACK BUNNIES introduced, Antarctic Penguin Expeditions, the Takakura family as terrorists, one of the brothers as a possible adopted child…it’s kind of mindblowing frankly! I guess reincarnation hasn’t popped up as a major force in the story after all but those recycling symbols continue to persist, so maybe there’s something to them after all? If they aren’t recycling symbols, what are they???

    Fairly put out that Himari died, though. I really wanted more character development for her, and her potential passing may have taken away any chance of her becoming more three-dimensional. I’m hoping that the show will continue to reference memories of her so that she becomes someone more fleshed-out, a la That Girl from Cross Game; but I guess we’ll see. (For what it’s worth, I was kind of depressed the entire day after episode 12, so maybe I was more affected than I thought I was?)

    What really struck me, though, was the reversion of Kanba and Himari’s incestual life-sharing technique. It looked for a moment that Kanba was going to sacrifice himself for his sister, but the fact that it didn’t work I think proves that while the idea of incest plays a role in the show’s themes–as what distinguishes human love from the mindless copulation of animals who aim to reproduce–Ikuhara doesn’t necessarily support it. Another anime might super-fetishize the whole scene, but in Penguindrum it’s weird and disturbing and borderline necrophillia, and when push comes to shove Kanba’s incestuous love is totally ineffective.

    Actually, on that note–writing on the seat of my pants here! If the distinction between human love and biological love–as established by Kanba’s speech at the end of episode 1, Shouma’s penguin diving for the fish while Shouma saves Ringo in episode 4, etc.–is a major theme, than could that be the major difference between penguins and bunnies? From what I’ve heard, penguins meticulously raise only one or so chicks each mating season, while bunnies breed much, much faster. Could this mark some sort of distinction between the two?

    Also, from what I’ve heard there’s actually a whole lot more character detail in the novels than what has appeared in the anime as of yet–Shouma being unexpectedly pessimistic, Himari finding the aquarium visit in Episode 1 incredibly boring and so on. Maybe Ikuhara aims to blow everything open in the next twelve episodes and expose the characters, warts and all? A cynic might say it would be giving him too much credit, but I’ve seriously stopped putting anything past Ikuhara at this point!

    • On second thought, that was REALLY LONG. Apologies!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I know, right? ^ ^

      I’m also put out, as you say, that Himari died for the same exact reasons. Since episode five or six I’ve been clamoring to know more about Himari and what makes her tick. Seemingly, everything we know about Himari has been told to us by someone else. Shouma and Kanba both reiterate constantly that Himari is a kind, good girl; Sanetoshi reveals her story to us through flashbacks in the library and, in spite of the fact that these are supposed to be Himari’s own memories, I didn’t feel that they were coming from her, or being told to us by her. Even if she continues to be developed much like the fantastic job that Cross Game does with [name removed ^ ^] through flashbacks, it will still be others telling her story. I want to know about Himari from Himari, especially her feelings towards Double H and why she was seemingly forced to leave school.

      I like what you have to say about the penguins, and I do think that this is somewhat addressing biology and sex; however, Wabisabi brought up another excellent point here, in regards to the way Shouma’s penguin dives for the fish, but Shouma chooses to save Ringo. This marks a turning point for Shouma and his penguin, since after this moment Shouma’s penguin would seem to no longer represent Shouma’s true will or innermost desires. (Interestingly enough, Kanba’s and Himari’s penguins would seem to continue to represent them, although in this latest episode the implications are a bit damning).

      An aside: I would caution against relying all too much on the novels if only due to the fact that, with Utena, the manga, movie, and television series have incredibly drastic differences between them. As for Ikuhara blowing everything open in the next twelve episodes, exposing the characters’ both good and bad points, I think that’s actually a pretty safe bet. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: Yeah, This episode was nuts.

      The idea of characterization stopping at her death I don’t think carries a lot of water, honestly. There is the issue that it may no longer be from Himari’s perspective, but like the example you stated, or even a more recent example in Ao no Exorcist with the character of [REDACTED] in that they were further characterized well beyond the episode of their death. Also, coincidentally, my favorite character in the entire series.

      Emily and I argued about this, but I felt that the notion of incest is something that nature inherently abhors which may support your idea of it being something that’s somewhat more human in nature and origin. I’d say the jury is still out on which of us would be right in this case since it require a lot more research on our parts, but it’s still an incredibly interesting topic for Ikuhara to address without fetishizing it in that strange way that fanservice anime tends to do it in.

      But the difference between human and biological love is an interesting idea indeed…

  15. Anonymous Coward

    One thing I want to note is that in the Japanese dialogue, it was not explicitly stated that there was only one boy born. In any normal context, Kenzan’s conversation on the phone with the hospital could be reasonably interpreted that way, but the dialogue was in such contrived language that it seems as if it was left purposefully ambiguous, which I certainly would not put past Ikuhara.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnn…I was taking the idea of only one boy being born from here, the blog of the translator for Penguindrum, since my own Japanese language comprehension is nonexistent. I also wouldn’t put it past Ikuhara to leave the idea ambiguous, although the emphasis on “boy” brought up by this astute commenter, is now one that I will certainly keep in mind.

      Thank you for commenting.

      vucubcaquix: Yeah, honestly I could see how it can work either way with regards to the ambiguity of the language, but part of me is just kind of excited by the notion of this being another PLOT TWEEEST for us to mull over.

      Ikuhara is nothing if not cagey when it comes to divulging this kind of information.

  16. FV

    I honestly hope the incest isn’t the fuel to the Survival Strategy. Not because it makes me uncomfortable, but because being required just for being taboo seems like a disappointing oversimplification which removes all layers of complexity from incestuous love. Also, although the show certainly takes incestuous tones, I still can’t agree that what we are witnessing truly is incestuous love. The situation between Kanba and Himari seems more complex than that. The way I see it, Kanba, acting as the older brother, was the one who felt the angriest towards his parents when they were “found”(and went to jail, possibly), because not only had they jeopardized his future, but also the future of the siblings he was so protective of. Their parents had fated them all to nothingness, which lead him to hate fate. At the same time, he became even more protective of his siblings, especially Himari, the youngest and most vulnerable of the three, especially since she was sick. This brought them closer, and Kanba’s (fraternal) love for Himari grew stronger.

    And one day, Himari dies. Kanba, however, gets a chance to revive her by giving him a “part of his life” (whatever this ends meaning, literal or not). He was literally able to save someone he loved deeply, bringing them that much closer. Besides, the death of someone dear makes you look back at your relationship with them. This miraculous second chance opens all possibilities again, and it is indeed a miracle for the brothers, especially for Kanba, who loves Himari so fiercely. For me, the kiss in the bedroom is the first moment in Kanba’s life in which he considers the possibility. His hatred towards fate (as evidenced in his speech) and the turmoil of emotions caused by Himari’s resurrection make him wonder “What if?” (he even says it in his speech). I don’t interpret this moment as flat-out incest, but as a vulnerable Kanba letting his mind wander between his love for his sister and his defiance of fate.

    Consequently, I don’t consider the Princess’s Survival Strategy an act of incestuous sex. It feels more like a ritualistic event. The show, as has become evident by now, heavily references Adam and Eve, from visual cues to similar themes. The apple, the sacred tree, the taboo, the defiance of fate, and, most of all, the inherited cursed fate – the original sin all mankind carries because Adam and Eve ate the apple. Looking at the show in this light, Himari’s nakedness is not only acceptable but appropriate. The naked body is the original and purest form (the first thing Adam and Eve did after eating the Apple was to cover themselves), the raw of the human being, and it makes sense for Himari to show herself in such a way for an essential act such as resurrection. Even if I disregard this far-fetched theory, the act of resurrecting is something so remarkably monumental, so miraculous in it’s essence, that there is no greater way to show it than to bring the characters to their most essential form and have them reach the core of human existence. Our view on resurrection has become incredibly tepid, since in movies and anime it tends to be nothing more than a deus ex machina tap in the head. In Mawaru Penguindrum, I think it’s treated with the flair it deserves, making a much-needed impression both visually and psychologically.

    Regarding the act of Survival Strategy itself, I didn’t find it to be very sexual, despite Himari’s nakedness and closeness to Kanba. The act isn’t pleasurable or “enlightening” – it’s a painful, excruciating act of self-sacrifice. Kanba doesn’t do it because he desires to, he does it because he must do it to save Himari. Even the Princess (in a brilliantly sorrowful state) seems to show some pity on him, telling him to stop because it won’t work – I actually think she is trying to spare him the pain since she already know it’s useless, which is a surprising sign of emotion on her part.

    Therefore, I think the Princess doesn’t necessarily need incestuous love. What she needs is someone who loves Himari enough to give her a part of their life. Who better than Kanba, the brother who loves her so deeply that all other girls seem to pale in comparison (as skillfully shown in episode 10)? In fact, the only hint at incest I got from this episode was the image of the Princess and Kanba’s embrace (which was really beautiful by the way). The Princess’s defeated look and Kanba’s “please, give me hope” look were very powerful, and that’s what makes me wonder what feelings are hiding behind their eyes. Maybe it’s a love other than fraternal, maybe just the despair of someone who only has his brother and sister to cling to. Or maybe it wasn’t a moment between Kanba and Himari, but between Kanba and the Princess. The connection between Himari and the Princess is still vague, but this episode was the first time I felt some other motivation behind the Princess, a voice that spoke with emotion. Whether it was hers or Himari’s, I don’t know yet.

    Well, in the end, my point is: from what I’ve seen so far, there may or may not be incest ahead. It really depends on the route the story decides to take. Either way, it can be really interesting.

    By the way, everyone seems to be focusing a lot on the “fake twins” theory. I do think there’s something strange in the way Kenzan speaks about the birth of “a boy”, but it’s too vague and I don’t want to enter any overcomplicated theories when there is so little to run with. For all we know, he might be talking about the twin that was born already, while the other one is still in the womb. Multiple births can be minutes, hours apart. Maybe the sign for the beginning of the attack was only the birth of the first baby. This would provide an additional reason for him to want to get to the hospital as soon as possible (to witness the birth of his second son). In fact, I’m curious as to why no one has talked about the black bunnies yet. Not only are they curiously twins like the Takakuras but they break the mold of animal symbolism so far – they’re neither aquatic animals nor birds. Personally, I’m really intrigued by what they represent, especially after the Mary story. I think they may stand for the “quick fix”, the easy way to change fate that, in turns, hurts the fate of many other people. In the story the ashes were easy to get, while the Penguindrum is proving to be quite hard to get. Also, “Mary”(Kenzan) follows a self-centered path, while the Takakuras’ defiance of fate seems much more focused on self-sacrifice. In this way, I think the bunnies may become an antagonistic force (something which was already a bit obvious from the way they were presented), although I don’t think the Mawaru Penguindrum world is as simple as to be dividable between good and evil.

    I’m really curious to see how it develops from now on. Every character has shown a level of depth that shows there’s a lot to be explored, although for me Shouma is the most intriguing. I think that, although quiet, he loves Himari as much as Kanba does (no incestuous tones though), and is putting as much effort as him into keeping her alive, albeit not in such a flashy way. His quiet support out of the frontline has made me respect him somewhat. I’m really curious to see where they take his character.

    Whew, sorry for writing such a monumental wall of text. I actually had to rewrite all this because I accidentally lost all I wrote when I finished. Browsers are evil.

    Also, a nod to the series’ creators for the amazing writing and timing of the line “Because punishment has to be the most unjust”. It hit me deep.

    • FV

      Oh, and I was surprised by how frontal they were with the subject of the attacks. I expected them to go there, but they really went there. Not only did they (partially) show it, but they nailed some details such as people thinking it was an explosion at first. This really is a fearless show.

      And a last note, it seems like one of the most interesting misteries of this episode has been completely forgotten. Who is the dead person in the beginning? Is it the Himari from the ending of this episode? Is it Mario? Is it the twins’ mother? I think it’s likely that it’s the Takakura mother, since the librarian setting the picture on the doctor’s table feels like the beginning of it all to me.

      • katarius

        I’m really happy to read your comments on how the Princess began to show her emotions towards Kanba. It makes me wonder who is the Princess herself? She only declares herself to be some kind of a superior being (alien? kami?) as compared with twin brothers/Ringo…

    • I’m leaning more towards incest, myself. Kanba kissing Himari in the very first episode is too much of an indicator to be otherwise, and there are quotes from the novel I’ve heard that make it a bit more obvious.I wouldn’t say that it’s used just to be taboo, though. Kanba’s speech at the end of episode 1, after all, is all about how human love is able to transcend the simple survival strategies of animals in order to become something else–I think you could say that incest is this form of love’s most extreme manifestation. On the other hand, you could also say that Shouma saving Himari from drowning in episode 4 qualifies. There, his penguin came up after catching a fish, but Shouma did not stop until he knew Himari was safe. Is this how humans differ from animals (probably)?

      Maybe you could say that it is this kind of love–all-consuming love for a person with no care for social norms or restrictions–that allows people to defy fate. On the other hand, it could also be this kind of love that forces people to stick to the path. Kanba’s strange affection for his sister allows him to prolong her life, but at the same time it blinds him to the fact that bringing the dead back to life is fundamentally unnatural. In fact, I would be totally unsurprised if Kanba ends up turning against Shouma for the next half of the series for this very reason–if Ringo is the torch, maybe Kanba will want to use her, while Shouma will want to keep her safe? Maybe Momoka is the torch, and Ringo/Yuri its living manifestation?

      The black rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper…and on the note of the black bunnies, asking what they are is a pretty valid question, but what on earth was in those suitcases they were carrying? Sarin gas ampules? Money? Idol girl costumes???

      • FV

        Don’t get me wrong, I do think there is incest. However, I think it’s still a blurry ground for Kanba and Himari. Sure, there are incestuous feelings layered on top of an overprotective fraternal love (after all, Kanba probably did have the sudden responsibility of taking care of his sister, causing this disproportionate feelings to occur), but it’s still too vague to be flat-out called “incest”. Not to say it isn’t there, but so far the show has mainly focused on the intensity and loyalty of Kanba’s love for Himari (which is not a result of incestuous love, but instead what causes it to surface), and not on its incestuous undertones, which arguably haven’t so far made another impression as strong as the kiss in the first episode.

        In sum, there is incest in my opinion, but it’s still not strong and focused enough to justify being so easily labeled as such, or to stand up there as a main theme of Mawaru Penguindrum. I see it more of a consequence and somewhat of a twist of fate. I have no idea how they are going to explore it, but to me it makes sense either way – going full-bloom or making those emotions vanish (or sort themselves out). That’s why I don’t consider it a matter set in stone yet.

        Oh well, this is a situation more complicated than expected, but it’s the sort of thing that unveil itself as the series progresses. All we can do is wait. One thing I’d like to know is whether Kanba’s incestuous feelings are reciprocated in any way by Himari. That would be a really interesting viewpoint to explore.

        P.S: Yes, I agree. The human love able to transcend simple survival strategies is the one that is strong enough to defy fate. That’s (as I’ve said in my textblock) what leads the Princess to choose Kanba in my opinion – the strength of his love.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      to FV’s first comment
      ajthefourth: Hnnn…the way I see Kanba’s giving himself to Himari, I compare a bit to the story of the Scorpio’s fire (or the Scorpion’s soul burning red, as Himari says), which I explain in greater detail here, the gist of it is that Kanba feels like his life up until this point has been worthless, and therefore would readily give up his life for his sister in order for her to live even one day longer.

      As for diminishing complexity because of the incestuous angle, I hardly think that’s the case; however, I also don’t think that is only because of the taboo angle that incest is adding character development. We don’t know much about Kanba, but on the surface he would seem to have been fighting these feelings towards Himari for quite some time. Perhaps this is where part of his guilt comes from. Suddenly, an opportunity presents itself not only to help prolong Himari’s life, but seemingly, also fulfill the forbidden sexual desires that he’s been harboring for quite some time. In this way, he gives up a part of himself to extend Himari’s life, which gives his life meaning. On the other hand, it’s a double-edged sword that preys on his supposedly taboo desires. This goes hand in hand with what you had to say about Himari choosing Kanba, although, I’d disagree that she isn’t without curiosity towards him. Their most recent obimawashi play between their two penguins would certainly suggest that she’s at least considered his feelings (especially since Kanba’s penguin ends up in a kikkou shibari thanks to Himari’s penguin. You’re right, nothing in Penguindrum, or life for that matter, is all good or all evil. I’m not ready to fully comment on the black bunnies since we’ve been given so little about them; only that they apparently tempted Kenzan (Mary) into doing something taboo.

      Shouma is the character to watch for me as well, and the one that I’ve been paying the most attention to. I’m now beginning to suspect that there’s a lot more going on underneath his depths than we may have realized, and that, although initially Kanba was presented as the more decisive brother, it may be Shouma who is actually the most active of the two.

      Never apologize for a wall of text. We love ’em! ^ ^

      Yeah, I continue to be of the opinion that this is going to be a bit of an anime equivalent to Murakami’s Underground; exploring the ideas and facets behind the effects of a terrorist attack from multiple angles.

      I had assumed that the dead person in the beginning that Sanetoshi visits was Himari; the heart beginning to beat again symbolizing that there still may be a chance for her…

      vucubcaquix: Wall of text nothing, I submitted this to ghostlightning’s Ghosts of Discussions.

      I do take issue with your assertion that taboo as a force is an oversimplification however. The idea of incest in any context (outside of the previously mentioned strange fetishization of it in this medium) is an incredibly complex notion that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I was careful to note that I don’t think that this series is in any way justifying the idea of incest, but that it just so coincidentally is a perfect example of a type of love that is so contrary to established norms of what love means and is in both nature and human society.

      But man, the idea of Kanba feeling as though his parents fated them all to nothingness is freaking gold. So is the idea of resurrection requiring nudity in a sense because it’s the purest form that a human can take. We enter this world in the nude, with nothing but our bodies and our voice and the first thing given to us (besides a towel) is our name. You’re right in that I don’t think there’s an appropriate amount of flair given to the idea of resurrection in media, since it’s approached as a lazy form of storytelling in most instances. It doesn’t seem to be given an important enough sense of weight/consequence/gravitas and one of the few recent examples that manages to pull this off to a degree is a video game called Mass Effect 2 (spoiler alert I suppose, though the event in question happens during the prologue).

      Also, the idea of the Survival Strategy not being very sexual is also something I have to disagree with. Sex and pain have had a long history with each other and is also tangentially related to ideas of power. I don’t just mean BDSM play (though I don’t dismiss it either), but even through traditional intercourse the first several instances of it are extremely painful and uncomfortable for the receiver. That in no way diminishes the desire for intercourse, because if it did we would have died out as a species long ago. So, it’s painful for the receiver, and even though the Princess is indeed the one receiving the most benefit from this exchange, she is also most decidedly the one doing the penetrating. Thus Kanba would feel the full extent of their actions, and still desire to partake in it over and over again.

      Though I have wondered how much of the first Survival Strategy played a hand in Kanba’s overall feelings…

      • FV

        @vucubcaquix: Oh, thank you for submitting it! I feel kind of honored.

        Looking back at what I wrote, I think I did go a little too far by saying the act of Survival Strategy isn’t that sexual. It does evoke sex. Pain and sex go hand-to-hand, especially in the way Japan depicts sex – it seems to always be a painful and intense, especially first times. Also, I overlooked that the act itself is similar to sex/love. If not two people making themselves one, it’s at least a person giving herself to another, voluntarily becoming her most vulnerable.

        Yes, it’s undeniably close to sex. I think I went as far as to overlook this because of my fear that this will be another example of Japan’s constant fetishization of incest. I shouldn’t be afraid of this though, I’ve already been given enough proof that the series is being treated with respect and has a bigger agenda in mind.

        Also, sex is the original act for bringing people to life. Why shouldn’t resurrection have a sexual component too?

        @ajthefourth: I thought the comparison to the Scorpion’s story was great. It does fit very well. I also think Himari has more feelings for Kanba than we’ve been shown (I briefly introduced the possibility in response to a comment above). I think much of her obliviousness is only apparent.

        I’m still a bit stuck on the Survival Strategy. Although I admit the possibility of Kanba fulfilling his desires, sacrifice and pleasure are things that don’t go together all that well. If there is pleasure, is it really sacrifice? It’s somewhat contradictory, yet I think sacrifice is necessary for Survival Strategy. Maybe Kanba’s pleasure comes not from the act itself, but from the knowledge that he performed it. He might be the one who sees it most as sex, The Princess does not seem that concerned with the nature of the act herself.

  17. Whaaaaa I am so late to this awesome penguin party! Well I have suffered a few tech issues T___T Hopefully I can fix them soon! Anyway this was a great episode lots of stuff revealed and of course more mysteries! I think the other girl with the penguin hat might be Ringo’s sister, well I don’t remember to much about her looks but she had short blond hair of course I could be confused.

    Lol random incest! Or as some on Metanorn call it WIN-CEST! Lolol

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Late or not you’re always welcome!

      Hnnn…by short blond hair and penguinhat could you be referring to Mario Natsume? If so, he’s a guy and Masako’s (Kanba’s stalker’s) brother. ^ ^

      Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen “incest” mentioned on Metanorn…only “win-cest” hahaha.

      Thanks as always for commenting! I hope your tech issues are fixed soon as well.

      vucubcaquix: Sucks about your computer, I have a case sitting here but I think the motherboard is fried. I’d try to fix it up and send it to you but I’m a bit low on funds…

      But yeah, you’re always welcome here pal. No matter when.

  18. katarius

    I’ve been also reading your Colloquiums on Mawaru Penguindrum for a while, so keep going, you made my days!

    I’d like to draw your attention to the beginning of this episode, especially to “the Doctor” character. It seems to me that the fact that Sanetoshi put that photo on his desk also has some meaning. I wonder if he (the Doctor) also has something to do with the events of the series (part of Pinguin Group/force)? And it’s rather suspicious to me that he stopped the nurse who’d been trying to prevent Kanba from rushing to Himari. It was like he knew something (just like Kanba when Himari died for the second time) only small group of people knew. Maybe it’s just my imagination, and he’s simply a good psycologist/doctor/caring person… The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there’s no cat. :) But nevertheless.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Thank you for commenting! Comments make our days (even if it takes us a few to get back to all of them).

      I too was wondering about that. In addition to introducing us to Himari’s death before we even find out that it is in fact her in the hospital, we see the flatlines on the heart monitors and then a small blip resembling a heartbeat begins, letting us know that whoever has died (which turns out to be Himari) may still be alive.

      It’s highly possible that Sanetoshi was putting the picture on the desk to remind the doctor to record that Himari is dead instead of alive. If the doctor is somehow related to what happened with Penguinforce, perhaps Sanetoshi is hinting that it is necessary for the doctor declare Himari dead in spite of the fact that she may still somehow be alive.

      Also, if we’re going along with the theory that Kanba was a bit more in the loop than Shouma was going into Himari’s first death in this series, it would stand to reason that the doctor was in on this as well. Interesting…

      Thanks for commenting! Please continue to do so!

      vucucbaquix: You know, I honestly haven’t given much thought to the doctor myself because it’s so hard for me to get a handle on him. He seems like such an incidental character, but that may very well bite me in the butt later on.

      “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room,”

      What an an awesome saying! Consider it stolen…

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