ajthefourth: Please disregard a few of the speculations I made on Tabuki’s character last week. Although I still see him as partially representing that equalizing sort of attitude that I described from a few interviews in Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, it goes a bit deeper for Tabuki personally. I was wrong in saying that he has completely shut down emotionally, for there was still one thing that could stir Tabuki’s heart: Momoka.
Let’s travel back to Night on the Galactic Railroad, shall we?
There are many in this series who could step into the role of protagonist Giovanni, this story does revolve around multiple characters’ inability to “move on” from death in one way or another; however, for this exercise, I’ll choose Tabuki to play our lead. Tabuki, like Giovanni in the story, grew up isolated and alone. In Giovanni’s case, it was because he was attempting to provide for his poor family in the absence of his father. In Tabuki’s case, it was because he was pressured by his mother to be a pianist at the exclusion of all other things, including friendship with others. While on the mystical Milky Way train, Giovanni builds his relationship with classmate Campanella (the only classmate who was nice to him) to the point where he says that he wants to travel with Campanella forever. Unfortunately, the ride on the train marks their last moments together since, from the time they boarded, Campanella had already died.
An early version of the story has Giovanni stumbling across a man while he is still reeling from Campanella’s death. It is this man who points out to Giovanni that anyone can be Campanella if you only bother to get to know and befriend people. In a way, Giovanni can travel with Campanella forever by simply reaching out and loving others, answering Kenji Miyazawa’s question of, “What is true happiness?”
Tabuki is Giovanni had Giovanni chosen to ignore this message and instead, focus on the fact that one specific person had died over all others. By emotionally closing himself off to the world following Momoka’s death, he is missing the point of Momoka’s sacrifice. Momoka wouldn’t have wanted for Tabuki to wallow in the pain of her death, but instead live his own life of happiness with others, free from the cage that he had built for himself thanks in large part to the pressure from his mother. He recognizes this briefly when he sees the determination in Kanba’s eyes, leading to the (ill-concieved and ill-blocked) redeeming act of his saving Himari at the last minute.
The brief scene with Ringo and Tabuki in the elevator is also interesting, where he tells Ringo to not end up like himself. In an earlier post I had Ringo briefly play the role of Giovanni. If we continue with this track of thought, Ringo represents the Giovanni for whom the journey resonated with. Ringo has chosen to open herself up, not only to Shouma, but to Himari as well, and has become an infinitely better character for it.
vucubcaquix: There was a moment in this week’s episode where my suspension of disbelief was tested. During the climax of conflict between Tabuki and Kanba over Himari, Himari took it upon herself to bear the punishment for the Takakura family and was ready to commit an altruistic suicide against Kanba’s wishes. Through several quick scene cuts and anguished off-screen cries, we suddenly see Kanba on the floor and Tabuki holding Himari in his arms, passing her off to Kanba as he walked by. The blocking of the scene made no sense. The positioning of the characters was confused, and their actions to end up where they were even more so. It was a strange moment for me, since up until that moment the characters’ movements in physical space never strained credulity for me. If I were to abstract an interpretation from this, I’d say that the movements of the characters in the scene weren’t what were important, noting that Tabuki had ultimate control throughout the entire encounter and only relented the moment he either had an epiphany or was satisfied by the proceedings. The issue I have with that is that in a series that has been criticized at times, this is the first time where I clearly and distinctly witnessed a deus ex machina. It was not a well planned confrontation.
I love Penguindrum best when I’m free to focus on the why of an event or an action, and not the how. I disliked having to give pause and address the inconsistencies that this episode brought up in how Tabuki staged and planned the confrontation, but I am incredibly interested in why he did it. As Emily said, Tabuki has closed off his heart to all save for one person: Momoka. His image of her furthers solidifies what the show has been implying, in that she is a Jesus Christ figure who has sacrificed herself in order to save both individual people, and humanity as a whole. This gives me an interesting view of Tabuki’s motivations as a character.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
I’ve written about him before as a comparison to Sanetoshi’s character, but Tabuki’s actions in this episode also remind me of Simon Peter. Before his three denials of Christ, Peter was one of Christ’s most ardent followers and defenders, so much so that when the Romans came to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus Peter took violent action to defend his teacher. He was immediately reprimanded by Jesus Christ who then went forward to heal the servant who was attacked in his name. Jesus said there that he has accepted the fate that was given to him by his Father and that he would not abide violent acts in his name, for all who live by the sword, shall die by the sword. Tabuki is still distraught by the death of whom he considers his savior, his personal Jesus Christ. He lashes out violently against those he perceives as having wronged Momoka, the children of the perpetrators of the attack that took her life. Momoka would not approve of his actions in any way whatsoever.
Kanba’s selflessness reminded Tabuki of the scenario in which he found himself in the child broiler with Momoka refusing to let go of his hand. The similarities in the actions between Momoka and Kanba awakened Tabuki to the cruelty and absurdity which he was pitting the siblings in. The contrast coming from the difference in how Tabuki and Himari both accepted their deaths also exacerbated the shame he began to feel. Himari’s attempt at suicide arises from an altruistic motivation, a love for her family, where Tabuki’s acceptance of death comes from a sense of self-loathing, the idea that no one will love him. The scene in the child broiler was a turning point in Tabuki’s life, in that it was an abstraction for a moment in time where he was faced with his imminent death and Momoka saved his life. Outside of any unrevealed scenes or moments from his childhood, I took the child broiler scene to be an abstruse representation of the moment when the attacks on the Tokyo subway system took place. Tabuki was originally supposed to be the victim on the Marunouchi line, but Momoka through the power of her diary and her remuneration saved his life instead. It was that moment when he was saved, that Tabuki felt as though he’s lived his life in a kind of superposition, similar to Schrodinger’s poor cat. It was there where he recognized that because of Momoka’s changing of his fate, he was both alive and dead.
ajthefourth: Due to their earlier characterization, we had initially thought that the Takakura brothers’ marked differences and slow drifting apart throughout the series had been pointing to the fact that the brothers would eventually be pitted against each other due to their differing opinions. This seemed especially apparent when the siblings reverted back to their original characterizations in Episode 10, where Shouma woke up in the hospital following his accident. Kanba immediately returned to bossing him around, Shouma immediately returned to being a subservient doormat, and Himari smiled throughout their arguments, quietly keeping them in line (although, her actions seemed far more weighty after events in Episode Nine).
As it would turn out, this was hardly a nod to how the brothers would find themselves on opposing sides of an argument, but instead, another piece of characterization that lends itself to the puzzle that is the Takakura Family; not only has Kanba been covering for Himari, but he has also been covering for Shouma as well there were even visual allusions to it in Episode 17, where Kanba’s penguin is being doused in ink, the implication being that he is dirtying himself for the family so that Himari will be saved, and Shouma will remain “pure.” Last episode we also saw Shouma complaining about how he always gets the “lame” duties, like watching at the door of Himari’s hospital room, while Kanba teases him. This week, Kanba teases him still, telling him that he’s late when he eventually arrives at the scene.
I believe this is Shouma’s true turning point. Even when he was saving Ringo from being hit by a car, he was still held back by a sense of guilt. Every action that Shouma has taken in the series has been hampered by his own self-loathing and crippling fear (often represented by his penguin getting in the way). Now that he’s finally seen how much his brother has been through to preserve their family, I’m interested to see what Shouma does next. Seemingly, he still has a strong sense of morality, so I doubt that he will dirty his hands as readily as Kanba has. Nonetheless, I’m excited to see where Shouma goes from here. It’s no secret that he has been one of my favorite characters (along with Ringo) and I’d love to see him step up to the plate wholeheartedly.
As an aside, did anyone else find it interesting when Tabuki pointed out that it was Kanba’s father who is spearheading the remnants of the terrorist organization? In Episode 16 we saw Masako remark that her father was also part of the same organization when Sanetoshi was attempting to make her join them. We also see Kanba and Masako together as children, with Shouma nowhere in sight. Thinking back to the possibility of it being only one boy born to Kenzan Takakura as the catalyst for initiating the survival strategy, the fact that Masako’s father had been missing since the incident, and that the two may recognize the same man as their “father” I can’t help but wonder if the series is trying to tell us that they’re related. It’s a shot in the dark, but it would be an interesting development, especially in regards to what it would mean for Masako’s feelings towards Kanba and Kanba’s feelings towards Himari.
vucubcaquix: The final scene of this episode struck me hard. Shouma once again rages against the whims of fate that continue to punish his family, proclaiming that they never asked for anything special. A sliver of happiness in an unfeeling and uncaring world are all that any of them ever desired, and the machinations of the world see fit to see what they beseech and to deny them fully and truly. From his point of view, they will never find happiness because fate itself opposes them, and he despairs. Kanba may have been the existentialist that ascribes his own meaning to life contrary to fate, but Shouma was the nihilist who believed life was just meaningless. What was wonderful about this scene and this episode, was that in where we see Shouma making an effort to save his family there was no hesitation or sense of self-loathing on his part. He acted purely out of his love and desire to protect his friends and family. This purely protagonistic action with no hesitation on his part is representative a burgeoning existential mindset that is supplanting his formerly nihilistic one. Just as Kanba said, Shouma now wishes to live for his family above all, they are his meaning, his purpose, and he will willingly suffer for them.
Ringo coming up to him and crying onto his back is the single most romantic scene of the year. She again says that everything in the world happens for a reason, that there is meaning in the suffering that everyone goes through if it’s fated. Shouma and Ringo, through their wholly differing worldviews in Existentialism and Determinism, resemble star crossed lovers who should be thwarted by their own philosophies. But the warmth through which Penguindrum has treated Ringo’s growth as a character, coming a long way from the pathetic girl who loved fate and tried to enact it in a misguided manner, to the lovely young woman who finds enough comfort in it to forgive those who’ve transgressed against her, indicates to me that this burgeoning relationship is one that is wholly sincere and beautiful. The philosophically minded have for centuries tried to find a way to reconcile the idea of free will with the Determinists, but this show elegantly alludes to that idea in a very moving scene.
ajthefourth: Lastly, a quick thought about the painting featured in the opening of this episode: “Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and her Son” by Claude Monet. The painting is of Camille Monet, Claude Monet’s wife, and their son, Jean. Camille and Claude had an apparently tumultuous relationship. She was a model of his and became his mistress. Monet’s parents threatened to cut him off if he married her, and when they did marry Monet’s father did not attend, disapproving of both Camille and his son’s choice to be a painter. They were said to have been deeply in love with each other, but also had several marital issues, often brought on by a lack of money, or pressure on Monet to paint. He even was said to have attempted suicide around the same time that their first son was born, due to their dire financial straights. Further strain was put on their marriage by Monet’s apparent affair with family friend Alice Hoschedé, and Camille’s deteriorating health.
As to what this means for Tabuki, it’s probably yet another reflection on how his upbringing was less than ideal, and his parents’ relationship with each other was probably similarly tumultuous.
25 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 18”
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Great dramatic episode this week and a new side to Tabuki and his past with Momo I thought that was really great and a sad to learn about his parents…damn! And was there was a huge animation glitch? I mean Tabuki somehow caught Himari when he was above her? LOL Yeah that is something small to worry about but still weird.
I am with you both! Ringo was awesome in this episode <3 it was a very touching scene to watch with her and that other touching scene with Shouma, Kanba and Himari together again. I can't wait to see what Shouma does next like you said AJ it will be interesting to see what he does soon.
ajthefourth: Yeah, I feel that one key takeaway or assumption that we can have about any of the main characters is that none of them had happy upbringings (with the apparent exception of the Takakura siblings before their parents were forcibly taken away from them). I wonder if this is some sort of social commentary on parenting in Japan as a whole, especially with the child broiler representing a system that supposedly converts unwanted children into something that is uniform and makes them indistinguishable from each other.
There’s some funky physics going on in that scene, perhaps they’ll fix it for the blu-ray? Otherwise the production values, especially the lighting in many of the scenes, were fantastic throughout this episode.
It’s Shouma’s time to shine! Let’s see what he does! ^ ^
vucubcaquix: Yeah it was weird because I was totally in it, biting my nails, Himari was about to bite it, then it got weird and she was safe. It threw me off because even though the show is pretty magical a lot of times, it never got so crazy that I questioned the physics like that. It might be because it was a different director who also did the storyboards, so maybe it was his style that we weren’t used to, but there haven’t been major glitches in the show like that before.
It’s fine though, because even with that one problem, the rest of the episode was really amazing and it looked really pretty with the new style.
The Child Broiler scene must have happened prior to the subway attacks because Keiju didn’t know Momoka at the time. We also saw that Keiju wasn’t caught in the subway attacks because he overslept that day (unless this is a fate alteration due to Momoka’s diary but I doubt it).
ajthefourth: Hnnn…I think that Ikuhara is leaving it purposefully vague in this case. I don’t disagree that it appears that the child broiler scene would happen well before the attacks (after all, as you said, Tabuki didn’t even know Momoka prior to her appearance in the child broiler and saving his life) however; with Momoka switching between different time lines, we no longer can be certain of what happened when, and if he remembers a previous timeline as his childhood even though the world was changed by Momoka (Yuri remembers what the world was like before Momoka changed her life, so I’d assume that Tabuki retains all of his memories as well).
The sticking point here is that the child broiler, like the library, isn’t an actual physical place. Himari spends time in the library at the time of her death and returns with the penguin hat to initiate the survival strategy. Making that comparison to Tabuki and the child broiler, one has to wonder if he too, wasn’t hovering between life and death at the time Momoka saved him. The only major event in his timeline that we’ve been presented with is the day of the terrorist attacks, where we see that he is coincidentally late for the train that day, but this could have been due to Momoka’s machinations and her changing the timeline.
I actually argued with David a bit on this myself (taking the side that you present), and we couldn’t come to an agreement. I was unable to disprove that Tabuki’s time in the child broiler didn’t happen at the time of the attacks, and he was unable to prove that it definitely did happen at that time.
As always, getting into any sort of time travel or “changing train lines” as Momoka coins it, is always a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey mess. ^ ^ Thanks for the comment!
vucubcaquix: Yeah, that part is honestly really difficult to parse. The reason why I trended toward it being an abstract representation of the attacks is because I don’t see any other time in Tabuki’s life where he was in mortal danger or peril of any kind. It was hinted that he was unloved by his mother as a child, but was he ever in direct danger as a result? Was there a moment that allowed for Momoka to somehow arbitrarily introduce herself and state that she loves him, who according to him was a total stranger at that point?
And like Emily mentions, how have his memories been affected by the changing of fates by Momoka? It must’ve changed the landscape somehow with him still remembering, but would it have affected the amount of time they spent together as children without altering his memories as a result?
It seems too vague to be certain, and I think I can give that I may have been too definite in my interpretations. Stuff like this gets messy when we’re dealing in abstract, even more so when you add timeline jumping into the mix. Messing with time never makes things simple…
I think there is one thing unmentioned and worth mentioning in this episode, and that is the appearance of Yuri near the end, where she slapped Tabuki when he said they were strangers bound merely by the notion “Momoka” after all. This actually may be hinting Tabuki’s inner thoughts. I think he might not have intended to kill Himari at all, but instead wanted to unleash Yuri from her hatred for the Takakuras. Remember how the two of them differed in their opinions at first? It was Yuri who was plotting revenge on the siblings. Despite his apparent clinging to the long dead Momoka, he may be far more sapient than we thought, or even more than what he himself thought.
ajthefourth: I was wondering at that myself. Tabuki claimed that he had no desire for revenge, and I think this remains the case, although instead of being emotionally dead as I had once thought, he’s singularly focused on Momoka and bringing her back at any cost. The question that would remain is why did he wait so long? More than likely, he knew that Ringo possessed the diary and that she was “in love” with him in the first arc, so why did he wait to act until now?
Among other reasons, “saving” Yuri does come to the forefront. Tabuki may consider himself too far gone, but says to Ringo in the elevator not to grow up like him. He then goads Yuri into slapping him by saying that they were a fake family. Either he wanted to ensure that Yuri didn’t become as dark as he had, or he simply wanted to beat Yuri to the punch; when he saw that Yuri was going to make her move on Himari, he swept in first in order to carry out his own plans. I’m actually leaning towards the latter, only because I see Tabuki as someone who wallows in self-pity and self-loathing to the point where he can’t think of anyone but himself. In spite of the flashbacks where the three were playing together as children, it’s hard to see Tabuki wanting to share Momoka with Yuri.
vucubcaquix: Honestly, I didn’t give much thought to the potential dissolution of Yuri and Tabuki’s relationship at that moment. Thinking on it, it seems rather momentous doesn’t it? Emily believes that Tabuki is inherently very selfish for affection which would explain why he broke his hand on the piano out of the fear that his brother was a prodigy, since it could’ve been a way for him to accrue pity from his mother in some misguided attempt.
Taking that a step further, that may explain why he allowed Ringo to “love” him when she was still deluded into thinking she could become Momoka. If his goal was to also bring about Momoka’s return in some fashion (even if indirectly) then he wouldn’t have minded and would suffer the delusions of a harmless high school girl in his eyes.
If Tabuki is incredibly selfish as Emily suspects, than perhaps the union between Tabuki and Yuri isn’t one out of cooperation, but maybe convenience. We’re never given any indication that they have cooperated together with regards to Momoka, and there’s still the wildcard of those ridiculous love potions that Ringo assembled that I suspected Yuri of knowing about. Seems like this may be a end that has yet to be tied now that I think about it…
My big OH MY GOD symbolic moment of realization for this episode was when I realized that the spinning blades of the fan in the child broiler (scoring Tabuki’s despair) matched up with the spinning blades of the helicopter flying overhead when Yuri’s father was “sculpting” her. Makes you really wonder exactly how prevalent the child broiler is in this show: how does it manifest in the world? Why haven’t the Takakuras, who were abandoned by their parents, or Ringo, who has “lost” hers, ended up there yet? Is it that they refuse to give up? That would definitely set them apart from Yuri and Tabuki, who were only saved through Momoka’s help (granted, their pasts were significantly more screwed up…)
I was initially a little unconvinced by Tabuki’s sudden change of heart in this episode, but when I realized that Kanba played the role of Momoka here I was completely fine with it. That scene at the very end really sold this episode as well. I’m a little disappointed that Ikuhara didn’t place Shouma’s moment of realization in this episode (as it happened in the novel) but the way this episode ended was basically perfect so I guess I’m fine with it.
Overall, this show hasn’t been as emotionally intense as Utena, but this episode definitely gave the latter a run for its money. Since the next episode apparently goes into detail about Momoka’s fated one, I guess dark times are ahead! Looking forwards to it.
ajthefourth: The rotating blades also appear above Himari in the hospital (during her first “Survival strategy!”) and above Shouma when he is in the hospital (following his car accident in episode 8). They also appear above each of the attack sites during the subway attacks (as we see through Tabuki’s eyes). A few people on the Penguindrum livejournal community pointed this out as well. It would be very interesting if this represents the child broiler at work, since there were indubitably children killed during the attacks, and the fans only appear above people who have been through an ordeal in the hospital. If all of these instances represent changes in the timeline where a child is either saved, or fed to the child broiler…well, the implications are certainly interesting.
As for the child broiler itself, I think it’s a figurative representation of the Japanese education system. The idea that all of the children will become “indistinguishable from each other” and Tabuki’s use of an “invisible entity” points to this serial killer who blames the Japanese education system for turning him into an invisible person. The important thing of note here is that it ties into Murakami’s thoughts in Underground as to why someone would turn to killing or terrorism. What is it about the social climate that makes it so people commit acts like these? Instead of writing off these people as crazy or “not like us” a deeper examination of society is vital in understanding these events and preventing them in the future.
I don’t think Tabuki had so much of a change of heart as much as he finally realized how dark of a person he had become and how Momoka wouldn’t have wanted for him to do this. I still think that Tabuki believes that it is too late for him to change; however, perhaps he sees saving Himari for Kanba as a way to ensure that the Takakuras and Ringo don’t end up like him.
Does Shouma have a larger moment of realization in the novel? I thought that his change of heart was portrayed very well here, both visually and verbally. Visually, he holds his two family members in his arms and the lighting spotlights the three. He also, instead of wallowing in sorrow at his parents’ crime, asks why something like this would happen, since they never asked for anything special. It’s subtle, but I think that this definitely marks a turning point for Shouma. I don’t know what happened in the novel though (I’ve been trying to avoid novel spoilers).
vucubcaquix: This is the portion of the novel as translated by Good Haro:
I’m assuming that the main difference between the show and the novel is Shouma’s statement that he’s no longer going to run away from fate or from Ringo. Neither of us had read the novel, and I came across this excerpt after we had written our piece, but I’m of the opinion that the anime did a splendid job of conveying Shouma’s thoughts and feelings to the audience without the use of an internal monologue. Effective enough for Emily to infer that this was a turning point for Shouma in that he’s going to be more assertive, and effective enough for me to recognize the incredibly romantic moment the two shared as well.
We all knew and saw Shouma’s rejection of Ringo several episodes ago, but his gradual melting to her was apparent enough for us to see just how well they are together, and how much they truly care despite the role that fate has played in pitting their families against each other, and the vastly differing worldviews they hold.
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I don’t even know where to start and begin with the commentary of this episode but I’ll start with saying that I’m a little disappointed that we never got to see the rest of the Yuri vs Masako fight. XD
That being said though, Tabuki saving Himari was really a momentary suspension of disbelief for me as well but at the same time, I find it a little hard to put aside the fact that staging has been quite a strong point for this show (even if the style of it drastically changes from episode to episode) that I can’t help but wonder if it was intentional. In my last post I made mention that I feel as if every episode focusing on specific characters cause the episodes to change their pace/tone/style. I kind of wonder if the the disjointedness of this is actually used intentionally to express to the audience how disjointed Tabuki’s own intentions are. As if he does shifts from one end of the pendulum to the other within a matter of minutes and seconds. Still the random shunpo is quite a stretch.
I really need to read the novel to get more of this though. Hopefully my Japanese is sufficient enough to tackle it. If not, does anyone know if anyone is doing any summaries or covers of the novel itself?
Am I the only one who found that Himari’s lack of panic considering that she was the one being dropped very interesting? Its as if somehow or rather she was just waiting, as she always seems to do for the outcome before making the final call/sacrifice. I don’t see her as a whiny sort of girl but the lack of worry in her actions and her penguin’s actions makes me sort of wonder. At the same time, I think it gives a sort of odd reflection to her character because it shows perhaps her motivation in the whole thing. I feel as if she somewhat knows that she IS the sacrificial lamb and her choice to stay out of school etc while Kanba and Shoma keep going is a sort of… halt persay she put on her life (literally). Perhaps she saw it as a moment for her to end that halt she put on it.
I loved the imagery of the colours of yarn in this episode. The pink symbolizing Momoka and the red symbolizing Kanba and perhaps the allusions of the fated one. A thought came to my mind with all the scenes of Momoka. Her perfection kind of strikes a worrisome cord with me because there is something rather… I would say unnatural about it? This little girl without flaws being the paragon of virtue. I can’t help but feel like for all the good she does, for the individuals at least, perhaps she isn’t seeing the bigger picture. A different mental imagery came to mind for me when I was watching too. We’ve been making allusions to the fact that she is like Jesus, whereas, though i know she did not burn to death, perhaps she has more of a Joan of Arc role? As if she were a messenger (not unlike Jesus I guess but albeit a more human and perhaps questionable one).
Poor Shoma, I too am really interested to see where his character goes from here as he really didn’t do much this episode and the last scene really made me tear up. Perhaps because it was the first time in awhile since Kanba returned from getting back the penguin hat, that he has seen the lengths his older brother would go for their family. Ringo’s lines were also extremely brilliant. I have to say she’s come so far and I really like her character right now. In more ways than one she has become someone so like and so unlike her sister in more ways than one.
Tabuki’s life related in the style of Monet’s painting really hit a cord. That scene with the child broiler, I wonder if its more of a mental state rather than a physical one as most people seem to think it is. Very much like how I believe that the David statue in Yuri’s lifetime was perhaps more of what her mind’s eye saw rather than what was truly there. I am very interested in how Yuri reacted to Tabuki telling her that he used her. Their reasoning for marriage are beginning to nag at me as I can’t entirely say that they were ever on the same page of wanting to do in the Takakura’s. What her reaction tells me is that she perhaps really believed in the fact that he wanted to do away with the siblings as well and she feels used in that sense but it was made perfectly obvious in the previous episode that they never agreed on it much either. So it makes me wonder what two adults who are so accustomed to using and portraying themselves to people in the light they wish to show, what need was there for them to tie themselves into matrimony.
This also puts something else into perspective. It seems as if almost everyone asides from the Takakura’s all had severe family conflicts whereas ironically the Takakura’;s themselves don’t have this issue with their parents. I find this rather interesting considering the fact that their parents are portrayed as the ‘antagonists’.
Can’t wait for the next episode *_* As always thank you for sharing all your thoughts on the blog!
ajthefourth: I believe GoodHaro over at her blog has been translating the light novels, or at the very least, sharing the interesting parts of them as she did with Star Driver. I’ve been trying to avoid them myself (as I mentioned above ^ ^). A few people in the Penguindrum livejournal community have also been translating them, I think.
I think Himari’s lack of panic is due to the fact that she was ready to die in Episode Nine, barring the one last thing that she needed to find: the story of Super Frog Saves Tokyo. With Momoka acting as Frog in Super Frog and secretly attempting to save the world without the world knowing it, I’m interested to see what the implications are of Himari seeking out this specific story.
As mentioned above, I’m comparing her to the character of Frog in Super Frog in that she attempts to save the world from the subway attacks and succeeds moderately. She can never completely erase the attacks, and nothing comes without a price, just like Frog can never truly vanquish Worm (darkness belongs in all of our hearts, after all) and pays the price of stopping Worm’s earthquake with his life. That being said, Momoka, like Frog, is more capricious than Jesus, because she straddles the line between doing things for an altruistic motive, and doing things that directly affect her personally.
Heehee, I pointed this out about the Takakuras in a comment above. ^ ^ It’s definitely a bit of social commentary on parenting where the “best” parents in the series are also wanted terrorists.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! ^ ^
vucubcaquix: You’re right about the unnaturalness of Momoka’s presentation. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is also similar to how Jesus is portrayed and perceived in real life. Jesus is a real, historical figure, but it’s been long past since there has been anybody with firsthand experience with what he was like as a person. As a result, his renown has grown to mythic proportions and most records of him have him deified into the figure he is now. What we have in Momoka here, is someone whom the audience hasn’t had a real chance to get to know, but rather we’ve been given second and third-hand accounts of what she was like as a person, and even written accounts that are generally regarded like scripture.
Momoka was a real person, but she’s been elevated to a near mythic status by people whose experiences with her have been simultaneously softened and heightened by their memories of her. She doesn’t seem like a real person anymore, but rather an archetype of an ideal to those she affected.
Ringo’s moment at the end made the entire episode for me. I think if it weren’t for that, a few of the logical leaps and tests of my suspension of disbelief would’ve given me a fairly negative impression of the episode as a whole. But that moment… I have a difficult time being affected by anime and manga romances since there are conventions that I find bothersome and/or annoying, but the rare few that do affect me, oh man do they rock my world. Renton and Eureka in Eureka Seven, Emma and William in Emma, and now Ringo and Shouma. There’s a certain kind of earnest sweetness to these relationships that cuts through my big, soft, cynical exterior. To see them express their feelings for each other after having been through so much, which is also true for the other relationships I listed, really cuts to some of the idealizations that I’ve held about love since I was a kid.
It’s naive, and I may not necessarily believe this anymore, but it speaks to the idea of love, or at least the expression and reception of it, as some kind of reward for effort and tribulation that the participants must endure. Man and woman, going to the ends of the Earth, all to let the other know that they like them.
Gets me every time.
I’m taking the child broiler in both a metaphorical way as a physical one. I had lots of flashbacks to The Adolescence of Utena movie during this episode.
Agree that Ringo resting her head on Shouma’s back was very romantic. Ikuhara has a way with romance few directors have. But just the whole group hug was heartbreaking.
ajthefourth: I loved the group hug. I thought it did a fantastic job of showing both Kanba and Shouma’s perspectives in that moment. Kanba finally realizes that he may not be able to do it on his own, but is still resolved to save Himari at any cost. Shouma, arriving on the scene late, finally realizes what his brother has been doing for him and, while holding his two injured family members in his arms, also realizes that he now has to act in his family’s name. Amazing.
vucubcaquix: I’m on the same page as you about the child broiler. I lean toward it being metaphorical and in my response to Son Gohan above I give that I may have been to definite in my interpretation of it in this episode, but it being metaphorical also means that it can be interpreted in a multitude of ways.
That scene… it really hit me pretty hard. I detailed to @carneaglariel above how the romance of the scene really hit me, but the love between the three siblings was another aspect to it that I absolutely loved. The sincere emotion that Shouma displays as he holds his injured brother and ill sister as he wonders why they aren’t allowed a life of unhappiness is incredibly affecting, and is a wonderful example of one of the kinds of love that Penguindrum has been talking about as of late.
That group hug at the end was adorable. D’aawwww.
Ringo believes in fate, but I’m not sure I would label her as a determinist. She wouldn’t say that every moment of her life is predetermined. For her, fate is more like witchcraft: if she can meet the preconditions, a certain fate will take place. But whether or not she’ll meet those preconditions is up to her.
If Kanba and Masako have the same father… crap. Although in the flashbacks, Kanba’s father didn’t seem like the kind of person who would abandon his children. He did abandon them eventually, but I would guess there’s a reason for it.
I saw Tabuki as similar to the disciples as well, although I went with Judas rather than Peter. Peter gets over the role he played in Jesus’ death; Judas doesn’t. So, do you two accept Momoka as your personal lord and savior?
ajthefourth: Kenzan Takakura was also presented as a person who would act on the behalf of, and do anything for, his family. This would mean that, if he felt that it was in his family’s best interest, he would have left, i.e. if he thought that leaving the Natsume Group would be in the best interest of his family, then he’d probably do it in a heartbeat. We also see that he is communicating with Masako in her childhood, so he didn’t necessarily abandon her outright.
This still brings up the question of why would Kanba also be shipped off along with Natsume Junior (possibly Kenzan) instead of Masako? It also raises many other questions, like if Masako idolized her father as a child, would she have been aware of his horrific actions if he is the same person as Kenzan Takakura? Seemingly, she recognizes the event, and that it ties her and Kanba together. It also hasn’t been explained as to why she still uses memory-erasing projectiles with the Kiga logo on them. Did she get them from her father? She vowed to Sanetoshi that she would never “get on that train.” Presumably this meant the terrorist group that Kanba and her father are both a part of, so why would she still use Kiga paraphernalia?
Let’s just say that there’s still a lot that has yet to be explained about Masako, Kanba, and just how they’re related. The most frustrating part is that I’m sure that the hints are all there, and I just can’t piece them together properly. ^ ^
I do not accept Momoka as an actual savior of the world, although I do think that she did want to help others always, no matter what the personal cost to herself was. The thing is, as I mentioned in a comment above, her actions are seemingly all tied in to events that directly affect her and people that she herself cares about.
As an aside, it’s interesting to go back and look at the way that the diary is presented when it’s in Ringo’s hands. Remember all of those seemingly random occurrences, like the woman with red shoes? What if these were “bad” events that Momoka had wanted to stop? Or, if she was all-knowing, did she know that Ringo would one day possess the diary? Did Momoka even know of Ringo’s existence?
So many questions. ^ ^
vucubcaquix: All these questions dancing in our heads to a tune that we can’t quite hear…
I keep leaning on Determinism as an idea for Ringo because the end result is similar to how she idealizes how the world works. It doesn’t necessarily address her reasoning in why she believes that nothing happens without a reason and everything is interconnected, but I think the idea of the Teleological Argument covers that up to a point. Also related, Fatalism approaches all this from the idea that everything is “fated” to happen (which is similar to the language that she uses) regardless of human intervention, whereas Determinism allows for varying degrees of interpretation and leeway to allow for wildcard factors like “free will”, like the Compatibilism that I mention at the end of the post. It may not cover Ringo’s characterization 100% when examined thoroughly, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce the idea of Compatibilism as an idea that reconciles how the different characters regard fate. It was just too perfect.
You know, after talking with Emily and reading Charles’ post on episode 18, it struck me that you and I do focus on similar things when we watch this show. We both immediately see the religious allusions, but I think the further comparisons to the different disciples may speak to how optimistic we are about Tabuki’s character. I’m thinking that if you see him as a Judas figure, then he is beyond redemption and a figure of pure contempt. I saw him as someone similar to Simon Peter who also betrayed Jesus, but was eventually forgiven for being penitent enough. I don’t think Tabuki is beyond redemption, especially given how he relented at the last moment and recognizes the darkness in himself as he says to Ringo not to grow up like him.
Maybe I’m just being optimistic in his case?
@vuc: I think you’re being more *pessimistic* than me in regards to Judas, actually. :)
Judas is a tragic figure: he betrays Jesus for altruistic reasons, because he is spending money on perfume instead of giving it to the poor. (let’s ignore John’s petty accusations about him pinching from the purse) But he repents (much like Tabuki did), throws the money on the ground and goes and hangs himself. Read this essay by Borges, it expresses this much more eloquently than I ever could.
Awsome episode and awsome review as usual!
I’m also looking forward to see Shouma’s starring in future episodes (but Kanba is still my favourite). And Ringo’s development is trully something (such drastic changes in her character don’t bother me at all, they appear to be quite logical and natural). Love can do anything! ;-) I assume that Shouma was some kind of ‘Momoka’ for Ringo, because I believe he somehow showed her absurdness of her actions and therefore saved her. Now it’s Ringo’s turn to save him.
Above all I wonder of Tabuki’s brother. What happened to him? Will he be another background character in the series (like previous Himari’s doctor, not Sanetoshi, still is)? Maybe he’s Himari’s fated one, assuming a silhouette in episode 9? It’s just my vague speculations, like a ‘Deux ex machina scenario’. Emily, David, what’s your assumptions on Himari’s fated one identity?
Thanks again for your post!
ajthefourth: Hnnn…I think that Shouma is a bit of a “Momoka” to Ringo; however, one thing that Ringo accepts about Shouma is that he has flaws. He has flaws, he has many of them, and Ringo admittedly loves him regardless (which only speaks more to her strength of character). Momoka is presented to us as a savior because Tabuki and Yuri see her as such. Does Momoka have flaws? We don’t know one way or the other because the way she’s been presented has been very one-dimensional; whereas Shouma, nearly all of his characterization has been flaws. ^ ^
You know, I hadn’t given a second thought to Tabuki’s brother, but it’s an interesting point. What of Tabuki’s brother?
I still think that Himari’s fated one is Mario Natsume, who is presumably Masako’s brother. I think they are supposed to parallel the fated relationship of Momoka and Tabuki.
vucubcaquix: Ringo’s changes only seem drastic because we have the benefit of being able to see the long view of her transformation so far. It’s easy to flip back to the first few episodes and see just how sad and kinda pathetic Ringo acted, and contrast it with the wonderfully mature and level headed girl we see now. It’s a real testament to the show’s attention to subtle characterization, even if overall the characters and situations aren’t exactly meant to be subtle.
Tabuki’s brother… that’s interesting to think about. Even the doctor. Although I honestly feel like the show is kind of done with them, as they were functions of the plot or as an aspect of characterizing our main players. Kind of like how Shouma’s faceless friend doesn’t really have anything going on with him, other than how he’s a convenient tool for shuffling the main character, Shouma, around for where he needs to be. It makes me feel like the doctor was only really present to let the brothers know about Himari’s condition and to set them up for their reactions and moving the plot forward, and Tabuki’s brother is an entity that was meant to give us context on why Tabuki feels the way he does and why his mother treats him how he does. I’m much more interested in the Takakura parents and possibly Masako’s father as well. THEY seem like “main characters” that have yet to be given full exposure. I’m placing bets right now that the final arc of the series is going feature them heavily.
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This is about a year and half late so I’m not sure if you two will even ever respond to it, but I’m just watching Mawaru Penguindrum right now. I’d just like to say thanks for your awesome interpretations—they’ve really helped make me look at this more critically.
I wish you guys had focused more on the idea of “agency” within MP. It struck me when Tabuki was being held on by Momoka. If he really wanted to die, he could have made her save him. If he really wanted to live, he would have gotten up. Instead he was stuck in a permanent state of indecision, and consequently he didn’t have any real power. In a story about “fate” it’s telling that Momoka, the one who challenges fate, is the one who actually does something to change it.
Going into this episode, it was apparent that Tabuki had no agency, even in the scene where he was in control. He was still reliant on Kanba calling his father to get his revenge, and he had no control in making Kanba stop his efforts to save Himari. The only time he had agency was (the DEM) when he saved Himari himself. I might be reading into this too much, but it struck me that the DEM, as result of the blocking, might have been the point. The writers are clearly competent at what they do, and there is no way they wrote themselves into this DEM (because the setup occurred within the episode), so it doesn’t seem a stretch to say the DEM was intentional. Of course the significance here is that it took a DEM for Tabuki to redefine his fate and give himself that agency.
Furthermore, it’s evident that the other character clearly with no agency is Shouma. Beyond self-sacrifice, there is nothing Shouma has done so far that shows he controls what happens in his life. My original thought was to say it’s what causes his whining, for lack of a better term (“Why does everything bad happen to me” versus actually trying to make things better for his family like his brother), though now I think it’s the other. In other words, that Shouma is always complaining (“Why do I always get the boring job” or some variant of that) causes him to have no direct power in his life. Considering Tabuki and Shouma share facial designs that are somewhat feminine (and keeping in mind that femininity has often been historically associated with a lack of agency, such as a princess waiting for a white prince to save her instead of saving herself), I wonder if this is foreshadowing that it will take some sort of divine intervention (the diary, perhaps?) for Shouma to step up in the way it took a DEM for Tabuki to step up.
Either way I’m excited for the next few episodes (and a little disappointed I didn’t watch this when it aired and have this blog to bounce my thoughts with others).