Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 19

"I remember now...the person who shared the fruit of fate with me was..."

 “Am I not good enough?”

-Seiya Kou, Sailor Moon: SailorStars

ajthefourth: When one wants to talk about fated romance, there is no shortage of anime or manga to choose from (never mind the fact that every other medium has an additional wealth of references). However, upon watching this most recent episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, I couldn’t help but think of Sailor Moon: SailorStars. Bear with me, because I do have a point in all of this.

Sailor Moon is a franchise that takes the idea of fated love and makes it the centerpiece of its story. Usagi Tsukino and Mamoru Chiba are not only students (the latter far older than the former) who pass each other and tease each other on the street mercilessly, but they are also (spoilers!) reincarnated fated lovers, whose love was destroyed by a dark force that, in the first season of the anime series, has returned to wreak havoc. Of course Usagi and Mamoru end up dating, and of course you find out that they will be married in the future (and have the most annoying pink-haired child in existence). It’s all fantastic because it’s all fate, so of course they must be in love with each other, right?

One thing that never sat right with me was Mamoru’s treatment of Usagi in the anime (I’m going to leave the manga out of this because Mamoru is a far more empathetic character in that). He never acted like he wanted to be around her, with the exception of when it was convenient and necessary for the plot to move forward. I was well aware that Usagi and Mamoru were fated, and it was all supposed to be terribly romantic, but I could never get behind Mamoru as a love interest, especially when Seiya Kou came along. Seiya, a woman disguised as a man, falls in love with Usagi not because they are fated and it’s all supposed to be terribly romantic, but because Usagi was Usagi: warm, nurturing, clumsy, selfish, a crybaby, you name it. Seiya accepts and loves Usagi for who Usagi is, not who she was or who she was going to become. The above quote comes when Usagi has reached her breaking point, having not heard from Mamoru in months (as it turns out, lest you think Mamoru is one gigantic you-know-what, he was actually dead the entire time). My answer as a viewer was, “No, Seiya, you’re not ‘good enough,’ you’re better.”

Not a "fated couple."

Let’s bring these concepts into the many relationships and relationship possibilities that we’ve been presented with in Penguindrum. The above screenshot comes from what I considered a highly romantic and charming scene shared between Ringo and Shouma. The romantic feelings swirling in this moment are building upon prior interactions between the two; it’s what makes their relationship, the things they say to each other, the things that they do for each other, all of their previous mutual encounters are leading up to this moment, just as any moment in a relationship is building upon ones prior. Remember very early on when Shouma saved Ringo from drowning in Episode Four? Remember when Ringo realized her true feelings for Shouma in Episode 11? Remember when Ringo confessed to Shouma and was turned down in Episode 14? There are various other interactions I could bring up as well, the point being that we’ve been shown this wonderful relationship development between these two characters through their interacting with each other in the series. In Episode 19, we are told that Shouma is Himari’s fated one. Similarly, we have seen Kanba repeatedly sacrifice himself for Himari. We have seen implied sexual relations between the two. We have seen Himari’s alter ego both caress him tenderly and look him up and down, oozing sexuality. Last episode we saw Himari ready to sacrifice herself so that Kanba wouldn’t have to suffer any further. And yet, we are still told that Shouma is Himari’s fated one.

I am not bringing these examples up to start some sort of “relationship war” between different fans of various relationships. The point I am trying to make is that, in the series so-called fated relationships, we’ve only been told that they are fated, whereas with the more realistic developing relationships we have been told nothing. In addition to getting the fandom in a tizzy over the relationship that they personally back, I wonder if Ikuhara doesn’t mean to fly in the face of fate with his relationship pairings in this series (if the ending of Utena is anything to go by, we’re in for an interesting remaining five episodes). My hope and expectation based on the character and relationship developments that we’ve seen thus far, is that the characters whose relationships we’ve seen grow, will continue to grow and contradict their so-called fate. Seiya won’t have to acquiesce to a greater love that we’ve been told exists this time around.

There are other relationships swirling the drain of fate that interest me in addition to Shouma and Himari’s, the main one being Momoka and Tabuki. What requirements must be met for one to be saved from the Child Broiler? How does one end up there in the first place, and why does it take a “fated one” to escape?

"Where am I?"

vucubcaquix: I should’ve been more careful in the language I used in my section dealing with the Child Broiler in the last post. I went on to describe that I believed it was an abstract representation of the moment that Tabuki faced his mortality, as in the day he was on the subway when it was attacked by the Takakuras and Momoka switched the rails of fate in order to bear his burden. After clarifying myself a bit in the comments section, I should stress that I don’t believe that the Child Broiler is limited exclusively to that event in 1995, but rather is an abstract representation of any moment that a character finds themselves in a mortal scenario, possibly one in which they’re willing giving up their tether to the living. Through what we’ve been told in the storytelling thus far, we can infer that this has occurred to Tabuki as a child, and we know that Himari has experienced this through being sickly and frail while being ostracized from the community. In my (sometimes overzealous) attempt to make sense of everything in this show, the visuals of that set and the presence of “unwanted children” kept calling to mind the notion of the popular cultural representation of Limbo. But there’s the added element of everyone who’s spent time in this broiler do so because they are willingly giving up their hold on the world. They’re on the cusp of giving up. If not exactly committing suicide, these characters see no reason to continue the struggle to live. There’s a meaninglessness to the world that they feel they’ve encountered, so the idea of being ground up and being made into an invisible entity as a method to cope seems just as logical and tenable as any other.

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide].”

-Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Several philosophers have broached the idea of suicide, including Kierkegaard‘s embrace of religion, but it’s Camus’ particular idea, that one must live in revolt, that I feel is the most relevant. Himari and Tabuki may have been resigned to their fates at that point, but Shouma and Momoka were not. It’s an incomplete comparison, but there’s a comparison to be made regardless, in that in order for these characters to escape the clutches of the Child Broiler, they both had to be led out by someone who clearly and distinctly rejects the system and perhaps has their own ideas over what kind of meaning to ascribe to their existences. The Child Broiler in the end, may be a manifestation of the absurd realization that life is inherently meaningless, and represents an abstract scenario in which the characters who find themselves in it have to decide whether to give up, or live in revolt.

"This room is so cold."

The comparison is incomplete because the suffering characters who have spent time in the Child Broiler didn’t necessarily come to the epiphany necessitated by this realization and surmounted their problems on their own, but rather depended on an external source to quote/unquote “show them the way.” For Himari it was Shouma, for Tabuki it was Momoka. To be led out of this situation or line of thought by another person is inherently very risky, because your worldview becomes somewhat dependent on the person who saved you, I feel. If Ringo is an allusion to a Giovanni for whom the journey on the Galactic Railroad left a positive impression, this is further confirmation that Tabuki is an allusion to a Giovanni who gleaned the wrong message from his experiences. Tabuki received a new lease on life and a renewed vigor for living because Momoka saw fit to intervene and incite him to revolt against the malaise brought about by his realization of the meaninglessness of his life, but it was incomplete because Tabuki became wholly dependent on Momoka for guidance. Thus when Momoka was no longer a part of his life, he festered and deadened himself somewhat inside.

Something similar happens to Yuri when Momoka is no longer with them. This episode confirms that Yuri, and to a certain extent Tabuki as well, seek superficial material comforts to alleviate the ache of their missing purpose in Momoka. We see Yuri and Tabuki sharing curry on Curry Day (which blunts a lot of the implied menace behind Yuri’s introduction in episode three, though reinforces an idea of facade) and in the superficial act of eating curry as reminiscence, Yuri brings up the idea of marriage as another possibility to balm the ache. The superficiality in the gesture was given voice by Yuri herself by saying that their marriage will be them pretending at the idea of family at first, but like the Double H placard of the day states, that truth will be born from lies. She continues at this wholeheartedly, as we see in the visual metaphor in the screenshot above, she buys curtains to protect against the cold.

But it doesn’t work. Tabuki leaves her. The room is still cold. In a scene that lasts approximately a minute and a half, we see the actress who embraced the superficial and material strain under the hollowness that those comforts provide and let slip the mask of her calculated veneer. Yuri now supplants Ringo for being the most ironic character in the show, and is hurtling headlong into being one of Penguindrum’s most tragic.

Another savior, or bumbling idiot?

ajthefourth: To say that I’ve been paying close attention to Shouma’s character development is an understatement. I’ve been following the twins’ (especially Shouma’s) characterizations with rapt attention since the third episode, and Episode 19 provides a stark contrast to all of the previous buildup we’ve seen in Shouma’s character. Interestingly enough, the scene in the child broiler was the most confident we’ve ever seen him in this series.

Just who is Shouma Takakura?

In the Child Broiler, Shouma rescues Himari from being assimilated by offering her “the fruit of fate,” a Kiga apple, much like Momoka uses the spell in her diary. This would point to Shouma being the baby boy whose birth heralded the terrorist attacks that the Takakuras enacted on the Tokyo subway system, Kiga being the symbol that appears on Kenzan’s jacket, and the money envelopes that Kanba receives. If Shouma was, or is, a special entity like Momoka, was his birth prophesied, and therefore was a catalyst for Kenzan’s organization?

One of the more interesting things in all of this is how the bold, confident, child Shouma of the past ended up as the hesitant, mopey, and guilt-ridden Shouma of the present. The answer, most likely, lies with the parents. When Shouma tells us his allegory in Episode 12, he blames his parents fully for the punishment enacted on his family. When he looks back on his family in Episode 13, it’s obvious that the revelation of who exactly his parents were was extremely emotionally scarring for Shouma. We see the ripple effect in this previous episode while Shouma and Kanba talk on the train with Shouma blaming his parents for their misfortune and Kanba telling him to be quiet.

Even more interesting is the fact that Kanba so obviously backs the Takakuras against the growing suspicion that he may not even be their biological son. From his startled reaction to when Masako said that she was going to take back her past and her truth, one could assume that if he is Masako’s long lost sibling, he may be unaware of it. Himari’s role in all of this has now become very interesting as well, what with her no longer being of the Takakura family biologically either. This would remove the physical taboo between her and Kanba; however, the social taboo would still remain a murky issue.


Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Mawaru Penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum

26 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 19

  1. Lagi

    Regarding the reveal at the end of the ep, I’m not sure the show is implying that Himari is in love with Shôma or “should” be with him by fate’s decree. We don’t even know what “fated person” means in the context of this show. It may not have anything to do with romantic pairings.
    Anyway, beautiful episode. It was apparently storyboarded and directed by Keiji Gotô, like episode 10. The Himari/Masako scene was amazing, and a good showcase of MP’s masterful use of multi-layered dialogue and great visual storytelling (Esmeralda stealing 3’s wig : funny and yet spot-on; the Natsume group literally invading the Takakura’s playground/Himari’s childhood, cornering her so that she has no choice but to go back to the child broiler…). Suspension of disbelief is a weird thing, by the way : I still feel cheated that they never explained how Tabuki caught Himari before she falls in the previous ep but the giant metal balls rolling back and forth in the playground don’t bother me one bit.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I know right? I was completely okay with the Masako vs. Himari chase scene, complete with the Indiana Jones-style atmosphere, but the Tabuki thing still bothers me…it is odd how that works.

      It’s also odd how I didn’t have a problem with Keiji Gotoh’s previous episode, although many people did. I recognized that the characters were off-model however, I was so wrapped up in what was going on, especially the back and forth between Kanba and Masako along with Dvorak’s 9th Symphony. Hopefully, for those who didn’t like that episode, this most recent episode redeemed him in their eyes.

      For the record, I don’t think that the show is implying that Himari is in love with Shouma; however, I do think that the show is playing with the perspectives and assumptions that we bring to the table as viewers when we think of a “fated person” or “soulmate.”

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Hmm, I have an idea regarding the effectiveness in events maintaining the suspension of disbelief in a story. Both what happened to Tabuki and what happened between Himari and Masako in the playground/yard were contrivances, but the Deus ex Machina that saved Himari in the previous episode hurt our suspensions of disbelief because the resolution of it saved the characters from a scenario when I believe we feel that it may have not been merited in the storytelling. Whereas it’s pretty darn convenient to have that truck crash into the side of the house at that specific moment in time and have a pretty specific cargo that ignored the laws of the conservation of momentum, it didn’t bother me too much because its presence wasn’t meant to resolve a conflict that the characters were presented with. In fact, it served as another surreal and abstract (hyper-literal?) representation of the obstacles that the characters are being faced with. The crux of the suspension of disbelief I feel is most vulnerable when a resolution is being presented in any conflict in a story.

      So basically, these next few episodes are going to be crunch time for Penguindrum as a series, though i’m pretty excited!

  2. your comment on seiya and usagi (in which i completely agree) reminded me of a comic I saw:

  3. DESTINYYYYYY!!!!! Shouma x Ringo!!! Shouma x Himari? No, wait, screw destiny! Shouma x Ringo!!! XOXOXOXO

    I’ve been wondering for a while now if Kanba isn’t actually in love with Himari but in love with the penguin hat (possibly Momoka). The way he talks to her alone during the survival strategy is not like how he talks to Himari. Not to mention they get naked together. And he kissed Himari only right after the first survival strategy.

    And you read the Myth of Sisyphus! Hooray!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: RINGO X SHOUMA ALL THE WAY!

      But I’m with you. I brought this up in a comment in the first episode post over at Metanorn and I was musing over the nature of the love between Kanba and Himari. I didn’t know just how deep that well ran within Kanba, or if it was more a result of a kind of meddling on the part of the Princess of the Crystal. Does he love Himari carnally? Or the idea that is the Princess. I think there have been subtle hints both ways, such as in episode 12, but I think it’s still vague enough to be interpreted either way.

      And yeah, The Myth of Sisyphus rocks. Read it almost a decade ago. Wow. Time for a reread.

      ajthefourth: Hnn…I like the point that you bring up, and would say that it’s either exactly as you say OR Kanba is in love with Himari, but is also caught up by the more taboo aspects of their relationship.

      In spite of the fact that they are more than likely not related by blood, it doesn’t seem that Kanba is aware of this as he appears to regard Himari as a sister and sees his feelings for her as decidedly “wrong.” His actions with the Princess of the Crystal are obviously dripping with sexuality, providing him an outlet for all of his “wrong” feelings that he has for his sister without it actually being his sister.

      Kanba toes the line in regards to his romantic feelings for Himari. He’s not weak-willed enough to fully give in; however, he’s not strong enough to completely bury his feelings either. As a side effect for hiding the more forceful, sexual feelings he has for her, I feel that he puts Himari on a bit of a pedestal partly because any relationship that they could have would (in his mind) have to be an innocent and chaste one. It’s true that he hardly regards the Princess as Himari; however, as one alternative to Kanba being in love with the Princess of the Crystal, I would say that he’s naturally drawn to her as the closest he (in his mind) can get to having a sexual relationship with Himari, in spite of the fact that their penguins’ actions, would imply that the both of them have “improper thoughts” about one another.

      Sorry, I don’t think I’m making my point very well, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that rather than being in love with the Princess, Kanba may just see her as an outlet for his “impure” feelings because he is trying to separate the two in his mind in order to justify certain actions towards Himari. I don’t disagree that he may be in love with the Princess/Penguinhat/Momoka(?), but this is something that has popped into my head on more than one occasion as an alternative. Thanks for the comment!

      P.S. I have also read the Myth of Sisyphus (along with The Stranger and The Plague ^ ^) Also Shouma/Ringo forever.

  4. Agreeing with Lagi above I think, I interpreted the Child Broiler scene to mean that Himari was ‘fated’ to join the Takakura family as Shouma’s sister, rather than a romantic connection. It’s possible that the twins’ parents had some use for Himari in mind, but we’d need to know more about why their son’s birth was the catalyst for their attack. I do wonder where Shouma got that apple though.

    I wonder if Mario is Masako’s brother by blood?

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Agreed, I don’t necessarily think that it means that Himari and Shouma are fated to be together romantically; however, as I said to Lagi above, I do think that the series is playing with the preconceived notions of fate and soulmates that we inevitably bring while watching the series. After all, in Episode Nine, Sanetoshi uses language like “the bride of fate” and refers to the penguinhat as a wedding veil. It’s immediately after this casual teasing that he throws Himari a Kiga apple (which was what Shouma gave her in the Child Broiler) and Himari remembers being in the Child Broiler, saying that she had someone precious to her and that he was her soulmate. There’s an artful positioning of the concept of soulmates against the scene in the Child Broiler and Sanetoshi’s language that is meant to make us think a certain way. It sets the tone for the rest of the series to follow. It’s actually because it was presented to us this way, because Shouma and Ringo’s and Kanba and Himari’s, relationships have been so well-developed, that I think the series means to prod at this entire concept.

      What of Mario? He remains a mystery. Masako certainly seems fiercely protective of him, like an older sister would be, but we hardly know anything of him with the exception of the fact that Masako has already sacrificed something significant in order to preserve his life.

      vucubcaquix: Hmm, you know, in your questioning of whether or not Mario and Masako are related by blood, you bring up an interesting idea about the nature and composition of families in Penguindrum. The Takakuras, as was hinted before and nearly confirmed here, may not be related to each other by blood, by they consider each other their most precious family as seen at the end of episode 18 in that absolutely wonderful scene. They even saw fit to include an extra member into their fold in Ringo, so their flock is increasing.

      However, we have an example of a “pretend” family in Yuri and Tabuki. They may have begun it under a dubious pretense, but I also don’t doubt Yuri’s sincere best intentions to fight back against the encroaching loneliness of the world. The result? Not so successful.

      Then we have Masako and Mario. We presume them to be related by blood, but we also presumed the same thing about the Takakuras and we’re now doubting that. We see Masako in a similar role to that of Tabuki in the she engaged/es in not so savory actions at the behest of Sanetoshi perhaps in order to procure salvation for their younger sibling. Are there incestual motivations there as well? We can’t say, but I lean toward no. But is their family unit considered a successful one? I believe the Natsume siblings to genuinely love each other, despite the dearth of characterization for Mario. But it seems to me that the more successful examples of family in the Penguindrum universe have a measure of selfless, self-sacrificial love in them that seems to be a very robust foundation. Kind of like agape. Whereas Yuri’s and Tabuki’s family had a foundation of despair and deceit that poisoned the earth from which their family never had a chance to flower.

  5. Neriya

    Interesting, after the child broiler scene I was left with the impression that Himari may have been being an unreliable narrator. Initially the boy appears shadowed, only becoming clear after Himari’s “the person to share the fruit of fate with me was… Sho” line. It seemed more like a deduction based on a hazy memory than a true recollection. Factor in the fact that Natsume blames Himari for stealing Kanba, plus Kanba’s devotion to Himari, and it does seem like the link should be with Kanba instead. I do wonder whether it would have been a different scene should Natsume’s blue pellet have hit, rather than the recollection being triggered by seeing the fan.

    My perception of Kanba was really shaken up by the scene at the start.
    Suddenly he seems a lot weaker and more insincere. Shoma and Himari bravely continue without their parents, but while Kanba says he’ll protect the family, he knows he’s just looking after it until their parents come back. Throughout the show he’s said he’ll do anything for Himari. But his repeated heartfelt answer to Tabuki about Kenzan’s whereabouts last episode turned out to be a complete lie. Unless this was their first meeting (unlikely), he had the means to save Himari from harm or trauma, but he persisted in the lie. Was it because he couldn’t bear to reveal the truth to his siblings that he alone was in contact with their parents? Or because he’s completely under his fathers thumb in one way or another? Certainly he seemed very happy being daddy’s boy in the restaurant when being praised, and happily accepts the talk of their “mission” which keeps them away from home and their children, but evidently not random noodle bars.

    Finally on a less analytic note; loved the Shoma and Ringo scene, Yuri missing Tabuki, and “your forehead is mine”.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnnn…I don’t see it as Himari being an unreliable narrator. I suppose that this is due to the fact that I believe it’s necessary for Shouma to be Himari’s soulmate in order for the story to make (what I think) will be one of its points. For that to happen, it’s also necessary for us to bring our preconceived thoughts of what a soulmate is, along with the wonderful character and relationship developments we’ve seen between Himari and Kanba as well as Shouma and Ringo (which you mention).

      Kanba is an interesting one. Another way to see it is that Kanba’s participation in his parents/Sanetoshi’s organization is another thing that is keeping Himari alive. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that, in that moment with Tabuki, he weighed his options and found that attempting to save Himari himself was the best one. Had he revealed his parents location, in his mind, he may or may not have saved Himari (I do think that Tabuki would have let her go in this scenario, by the way), but he definitely would have jeopardized his ability to care for Himari in the future. His monetary fund would have completely dried up, meaning that his ability to pay for Himari’s medicine, and pay the price that Sanetoshi is asking for would have vanished as well.

      Yeah, the Shouma and Ringo scene in the kitchen had me “Daww~”ing the entire time. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Weaker and insincere is an interesting way of putting it, as it does show him relying on an outside source not just for financial support, but emotional support as well. What I think this adds to his character, more than just a commentary on weakness and sincerity, is a measure of ruthlessness that we may not have perceived before. On my end, I see a Kanba who has become willing to exploit all of the resources available to him that are colored in shades of gray. The intentions at protection and support towards his siblings may still be there, but the idea that he was willing to gamble the life of his sister on the chance that he could save her under his own power without divulging the location of his parents bodes rather darkly for him…

  6. Theory: remember the story of Mary in episode 12? Everybody assumed that the child that was sacrificed was Himari, but what if Shouma was the one that was sacrificed? Remember the image from the first OP, with the silhouette of one of the brothers falling through space and causing all the KIGA symbols to switch to Penguin Force symbols? Maybe that’s representative of the 95 incident, where Shouma was the prophesied child meant to activate the Survival Strategy. There are, of course, a ton of questions that come up–where Kanba came from, how Momoka was involved, why it is that Shouma appears so powerless in the present day.

    Having rewatched the first couple of episodes, it is pretty funny how in just about every episode the main characters say things like “did you see that curry? could it be the penguindrum?” or “that triple-lace lingerie could have been the penguindrum!” Now nobody seems to be commenting about what the Penguindrum could be, though. Could it have been hiding under their nose the entire time?

    In unrelated news: the whole shining forehead gag from earlier was worth it for the Battle of the Foreheads in this episode. Also, did anyone notice that the eyecatch subway map turned the corner this episode? The aquarium is in sight!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Oooh, I really love that theory. I’ll definitely be keeping it in the back of my mind during these last few episodes, so thanks!

      I read a really fantastic theory in the Penguindrum Livejournal thread about this episode (coincidentally, by an intelligent fanfiction writer whose writing I adore) who compared the prices that Shouma and Momoka may have chosen to pay. Basically, the theory is that Momoka sacrificed her body as part of her punishment in order to enact whatever spell or fate transfer on the day of the attacks, while Shouma chose to sacrifice his memories as his punishment. This would support the small Momoka running around the Hole in the Sky Library, unable to actually be in a corporeal state, along with Shouma’s existence as a person but cluelessness and loss of memory/thought as an individual. You should read the comments, they’re really interesting and certainly gave me a great deal to think about.

      I think the penguindrum thing is due to the fact that Shouma and Ringo now believe that it may be the diary, and Kanba seemingly has been told what the penguindrum truly is by the Princess of the Crystal. It’s great to go back and watch those episodes, though, isn’t it? I loved going back for the slogans posts that I wrote and there’s no doubt that there will be more things to glean with each re-watch! ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Hmm, your idea about the OP is pretty fantastic actually. Emily and I were going over it, and while she’s not quite sure about it being Shouma (she thinks it could one or either of the Takakura brothers), I can’t help but think the hair is pretty suspiciously similar to Shouma’s, in the same way that Shouma’s outline in the child broiler hinted at his reveal ten episodes later.

      As for what it means? Honestly, your theory is one of the better ones I’ve read so far. I don’t know why it didn’t even occur to me.

  7. Whooaaa this episode! So many shocking reveals around Shouma, Kanba and Himari! I can’t believe the parents are still around and hiding, but I can see why they are wanted….and yeah I can really tell Kanba might not be related to Shouma or Himari big time. I loved the reveal of Shouma being Himari’s special person, they tried to trick us when that hair style shot and some cleaver shadow effects it looked like Kanba then switched at the last second.

    So did anyone get a feeling Himari might think Ringo is in the way? When she was chatting to the doctor she wanted things to get back to normal with the three of them at least that’s what it felt like to me, even thou I don’t think Himari really hates Ringo but I could be wrong.

    @AJ I have been following Shouma too! And I am quite pleased to see him grow a bit even his odd ball relationship with Ringo has been fun to watch, fingers crossed for them getting together well…eventually xD

    @Vuc I like your thoughts on the Child boiler and the relation to limbo it was verry cool, I didn’t understand some of it but still great stuff :D

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Shouma has become especially interesting for me to watch after this episode. If you read the above comment, I linked to an interesting theory on Shouma and yet another reason why his character has been presented as dense, clueless, and incapable of real action.

      As for Himari thinking Ringo is in the way, I definitely caught that too. I don’t think it’s that Himari hates Ringo; however, I do believe that Shouma and Ringo’s little scene in the Takakura kitchen definitely sounded a few warning bells for Himari that may not have been there before. Up until now, nothing has seemingly posed a threat to the siblings’ relationships with each other. Himari has been locked in the house, unable to have romantic feelings (outside her own family, it seems) Kanba very obviously has been portrayed as not caring about any of his romantic exploits (and therefore none of them were threats to the siblings’ closeness) and Shouma doesn’t appear to be eager to interact with anyone (with the exception of his dopey friend when it’s necessary for the plot). Ringo is the first sincere “threat” to a member of the Takakura siblings having a meaningful relationship outside of the family. Note how I’m not including Himari’s friendships with Hibari and Hikari, because they happened before the siblings discovered the truth about their parents. More than Himari disliking or liking Ringo, for the first time, Himari is seeing a threat to their family’s happiness and insular relationship.

      vucubcaquix: Fosh, you are totally on the ball with this comment. You called what happened with Himari and Ringo the same way we did. It’s true, Himari doesn’t hate Ringo, but like Emily says Himari senses that something’s off. She wants things to be like they were in the first episode, but all three of the siblings did a lot of living since then, and they really aren’t the same. And since they’re not the same, they’ve got different dynamics in their relationships to each other. Himari doesn’t hate Ringo, no, because Himari isn’t the type to hate anyone really, but I do think she kinda resents her and what she represents. Ringo is a symbol for the new distance between her and Shouma that she didn’t know would bother her so much.

      Ahaha sorry about the child broiler part being confusing. I tried to write it straightforwardly, but it still kinda came out confusing, huh?

  8. AoiHime

    Kanba seeing his parents again seemed very ify to me. Not only were they both wearing the same outfit that they wore years ago from a flashback, chiemi was supposed to be scarred for life and that kenzan snap is awfully reminiscent of sanetoshi’s style…? but if it is them, then woah, kanba that was some impressive acting skills you’ve got there. On another note, oh Shoma, just what have you done? >_<' The "fated one" was wearing the green sweater kanba wore as a child during masako's flashback. He referred to himself as "I" then "we" in "we have magic", while his voice seemed to change. Such that, I have to wonder whether the memory himari recalls can be considered completely true… maybe something/someone is changing things (maybe sanetoshi, the magician) -unless somehow shoma replaced kanba, or kanba and shoma were one entity…or if a reset/transfer fate was pushed..kanba part of masako's family originally loved himari and sacrificed himself and became part of shoma's+ himari's family…gah there could be so many parallel timelines and possibilities, I just dont know what to think. I know i'm babbling, but Shoma being my favorite -if he ends up becoming the all important penguindrum, that can test or change fate, and the PotC/momoka needs him somehow, I just hope he will have a "good end". Well more from himari next episode, just who gave her that scarf and what happened to shoma after his smooth entrance, is he really her fated one? Hope we get some answers, till next week!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Ah…I feel bad responding to your comment so late since I feel that the majority of your questions were at least somewhat answered in this past episode…whoops! Sorry!

      Anyway, I really like your catch that Chiemi was supposedly scarred for life following the mirror incident in Himari’s childhood and yet seems to be unscathed in this flashback (and subsequent flashbacks in Episode 20). Makes me wonder…

      vucubcaquix: Yeah like Emily said, we’re sorry it took us so long to get back to you and a bunch of your thoughts and speculations were answered this week haha!

      But you know what? Kanba had a chance to show off even more impressive acting skills in episode 20 too. There was a scene where the three siblings were having a meal and Himari talks about how the soup tastes just like mom’s, but Shouma immediately says no, that their parents do not exist. Kanba right after that turns his head and agrees with him, lying about them.

      That’s some shady stuff that Kanba’s pulling, and it doesn’t look good for his character.

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  10. katarius

    AJ, Vuc, I agree with some of the above people: you’ve done another great job by drawing parallels between this show’s and Sailor Moon/Utena’s idea of fated love vs true love (i.e. real feelings) and considering Child boiler as Limbo.
    I prefer to remain speechless after this episode, because Ikuhara brilliantly teases and plays with the audience.
    I only want to say that I’m sorry I haven’t replied your last comment during discussion of episode 18 before 19 was released. Sorry guys! Nevertheless while reading your reply I was hit with the thought that this show is not “Deus ex machina” show (I suspected minor characters too much). Everythig happened here remains logical in penguindrum world. Even those giant rolling balls!
    Still there are even more questions this episode arose. I’m afraid we’ll have some timelines mind games later on. I sincerely hope that we’ll get some answers soon!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: There’s no need to ever apologize for not commenting, especially when we ourselves are slow in our responses. That being said, we always love the comments, so keep ’em coming! ^ ^

      Thank you! I’m certainly curious to see where Ikuhara goes with all of these concepts floating around the series: fate, love, soulmates, etc. If Utena is any example, I think that he will at the very least, challenge our views on these concepts. Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: Yeah we’re sorry for such a late reply, we’ve been a bit busy with the holidays and traveling and writing more Penguindrum posts :).

      I’m with you too, I like that feeling right after an episode where everything just kind of washes over me. It’s a good sense where I feel I’m kind of just floating along, letting the meaning, if any meaning, come to me through talking. Some other times I’ll go chasing after it specifically, and that’s when I get all bogged down in ideas and wikipedia articles and I need someone to whip me into shape.

      But thanks always for taking time out to comment!

  11. TheVoid

    I’m not sure that episode 4 when Shoma saves Ringo can count. As #2 ignored and didn’t care that she was drowning. A clear sign that if it wasn’t for his morals he would have let her drown that day.

    Ringo has also done jerkish things to Shoma earlier in the story. Like having a frog give birth/whatever that was done to it. Which isn’t exactly a case of true love and her tsundere violent actions aren’t exactly something I like which applies to all violent tsunderes and not just her. Though I do like Ringo . I just wish she didn’t turn into a tsundere when it comes to Shoma.

    Likewise I’m not sure if Himari’s alter-ego should count towards her and Kanba either. As I don’t completely trust the alter ego and there’s enough evidence that she’s an completely different entity who is probably using Himari’s body to her advantage since she knows how Kanba feels toward her.

    That quote you used in a earlier episode post from Super Frog Saves Tokyo has the Frog say that the him inside himself is his own enemy. I’m beginning to think this might apply to Shoma as both times that he has tried to save the girls recently he has failed thanks to none other than his penguin(tossing the bottle he slipped on, causing Shoma to fall over him this episode).

    Someone pointed out that the photo album in this episode had the picture from episode 1 which showed the three siblings when they were younger and at the beach. It has Shoma holding two frogs and Kanba wearing a lovefrog shirt. It’s just something I wanted to point out.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: It’s certainly one of the scenes that made me sit up and really begin to scrutinize their relationship, in spite of the fact that you’re right, he didn’t necessarily save her because he cared for her more than he would have any other person in that situation. It’s precisely because of his penguin’s actions that day, which by catching a fish instead of helping Shouma save Ringo, are in direct contrast to Shouma’s eventual act of saving her. Wabisabi remarks on it more eloquently here. That’s why I included it as a development in their relationship.

      Ugh, you reminded me of one of my least favorite moments by remarking on Ringo’s sometimes ill treatment of Shouma; when Ringo hits him repeatedly in Episode 11. Ugh.

      I had noticed the allusions between Shouma and Frog. Thanks for listing the pictures here as well. Unfortunately, taking into consideration what happens to Frog in Super Frog Saves Tokyo, and also the fact that Shouma/No. 2 have also been alluded to as burnable trash, it doesn’t bode well for his continued existence.

      vucubcaquix: Yeah, Ringo was a jerk to Shouma, wasn’t she? She bossed him around, physically abused him, berated him, and led him on in believing that he’d have access to the diary if he helped her in her goals. By all accounts this is a relationship that I wouldn’t be all that comfortable with, so why do I support it?

      Ringo’s growth has been absolutely phenomenal. The Ringo I see in these latest episodes is almost a completely different Ringo from the one I saw in episode two. She came to certain realizations about herself and the world that seemed completely natural and authentic, and she grew to accept herself as a person which helps her in accepting Shouma as a person as well. My love for the pairing coincides with my love for Ringo’s development as she became the mature young woman we see now.

      Now, let’s see whether or not Shouma’s development is going to sour my thoughts on this whole thing, because I am so far decidedly Team Ringo.

  12. Congratulations on you guys for continuing to blog about the series every week! I think I tried to start around episode 4, and then missed out an episode or till until episode 12 where I eventually gave up.

    I want to know your thoughts about Kenzen and Shouma’s Mum’s appearance in the first scene of the episode. The whole thing had a very haunting feel to it, especially when Kanba was handed the mysterious package but the organisation member.

    It’s possible that the scene took place inside of Kanba’s imagination, he seemed very pleased when his parents complimented him, almost too pleased, and it came off as if he was almost fantasizing.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Yes…it’s amazing but also exhausting…and exhausting…and did I mention that it’s exhausting? ^ ^ Tons of fun though, so thanks!

      My thoughts are that it can’t be good. In the episode prior to this one, we saw the Takakura siblings united. Now, the return of their parents, particularly the fact that they appear to have had a close relationship with Kanba this entire time, doesn’t bode well for the brothers’ relationship. I don’t think that he was imagining them; however, I do think that the standard he holds them to is reflected in how they are presented when he is around. They seem cool, and Kanba seems overly pleased at their praise because Kanba has an idealized view of them, unlike Shouma who appears to despise them. Certainly does not bode well…

      vucubcaquix: Thanks for sticking with us! There are times where I feel right after an episode is done where I think “what do I even say to that?” but I always manage to come through after chatting with Emily.

      That scene with Kanba and his parents did feel a bit ominous to me. I mentioned in a comment above that it makes it seem like Kanba is more ruthless than recent characterization led us to believe. Like, he seems a touch more opportunistic than what we were led to believe. The willingness to gamble Himari’s well-being on his own abilities in episode 18 as opposed to the supposed guarantee of her safety if he had disclosed information about his parents. While I don’t doubt his affection for Himari, this implies a sort of zealous fanaticism in what his parents espouse, since I take from these events that he has more faith in their capabilities and ideals implicitly than perhaps even his own.

      I leaned away from it being a construct of his imagination since I didn’t see too many visual indicators that would lead me to believe that, but you do bring up a really interesting point. The look of satisfaction on Kanba’s face looks almost uncharacteristic since we’re accustomed to see him with either a scowl or a smug grin on his face. I think, if anything, this supports my idea that Kanba is almost in thrall to his parents and their ideas.

  13. Pingback: Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 21 | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

  14. Pingback: Fated Shouma – aloe, dream

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