Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 20

“You’re practically transparent. I can’t see you. I’ll share all of your punishment with you.”

-Shouma Takakura

ajthefourth: The above quote is taken from the second teaser trailer for Mawaru Penguindrum. Prior to this episode, I had seen it as a reference to the Child Broiler, the idea of invisible children, and this serial killer, reinforcing the idea of lost people in a somewhat restrictive society. This would also be in line with a few of the questions posed by Murakami’s Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (discussed further here and here): mainly, what exactly causes people like Aum Shinrikyo, or people like Kenzan Takakura and Penguinforce/Kiga, to enact the “survival strategies” that they do?

“Maybe they think about things a little too seriously. Perhaps there’s some pain they’re carrying around inside. They’re not good at making their feelings known to others and are somewhat troubled. They can’t find a suitable means to express themselves and bounce back and forth between feelings of pride and inadequacy. That might very well be me. It might be you.”

-Haruki Murakami, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

“Those two accepted their punishment. To live is punishment in itself.”

Himari’s words here, and in her conversation with Sanetoshi in his doctor’s office bring with them an even more interesting layer to the conversation. When about to be shredded in the Child Broiler, Himari remembers Shouma, and the fact that at least one person will remember her existence. This is what saves her from the Child Broiler (which I still see as a state of being), not Shouma riding in on a white horse, or leaping through conveyer belts of unwanted children crisscrossing an endlessly large incinerator to offer Himari an apple just as Tabuki’s rescue wasn’t Momoka bursting through a wall, saving Tabuki in grand, dramatic fashion. The saving of unwanted children occurs when one of them simply remembers that they are wanted, needed, or will at the very least be remembered by someone.

Prior to remembering Shouma and his friendship, Himari recalls that she lied to him when she said that she didn’t know the story of Adam, Eve, and the apple. Her interpretation is that Adam and Eve accepted their punishment; however, in Himari’s mind, the punishment is not a forced exile from paradise but instead, the fact that they had to go on living. This reflects an interesting twist on a commonly accepted interpretation of the fall of man, where part of God’s punishment is the fact that Adam and Eve will no longer be able to eat fruit from the Tree of Life, or be as close to God as they once had been, presumably giving them eternal life. Instead, they would have to work endlessly throughout their lives only to “return to dust” or die. In Himari’s mind, continuing to live is more of a punishment than death. The idea that Shouma is sharing his punishment with her could possibly mean his simple presence around her. After all, Himari accepts life, even if it’s entirety is a punishment, provided that she can spend it with Shouma.

The wonders that the love of a family can do. The “girl who lived.”

vucubcaquix: There were interesting calls to the Child Broiler in this week’s episode. Several characters referred to it by name, including Himari, Shouma, and Kenzan, but I’m still not entirely convinced that it in itself is a discrete and concrete place. The key is in Kenzan’s language when describing it. He describes it as something akin to a “Frozen World”, that is language that Kenzan was using in the beginning of the episode to describe the state of the world and why Penguinforce needed to take action. It’s language steeped in metaphor: the accepted and the unaccepted; the Flame of Hope; Survival Strategy.  Like Emily, I too believe that the Child Broiler is more of a state of mind than a physical place and wrote as much explaining it and the connections to Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus in last week’s post.

This week a had a few visual indicators that I felt confirmed this. The Child Broiler, while not necessarily a uniformly physical place that disparate children can go to, definitely is a place that one can find themselves in if in a desperate enough situation. Anyone who is pushed hard enough, begins to wonder if living is really worth the effort. To go to the Child Broiler, is to signal that you really are about to give up on any tethers you may have had to the world. The administration that populates this Child Broiler that facilitates the grinding of children still resembles to me a representation of a mortal scenario. Whether self-inflicted, such as in a suicidal ideation, or through some external factor, like succumbing to hypothermia, the Child Broiler represents the death of children.

From the Latin nihil, meaning nothing, to annihilate is to make into nothing. The Child Broiler isn’t just the death of children, it’s their complete and utter annihilation. They’re there in this place knowing not only they they are about to die, but that they are doing so in a state in which no one will remember their existence in any capacity, because no one bothered to care. They were deselected and unchosen out of existence, as if there was no consequence to their being born in this world. They will become truly invisible entities, never given the chance to amount to anything. The only two characters we’ve seen enter into this were both saved by the exact same thing.

Love.

Color returns to the Takakura ‘family,’ if only for a brief moment.

ajthefourth: Much like in Episode 10, where we saw the Takakura children return to their respective established characterizations following the descent into Himari’s psyche and our introduction to Sanetoshi, we see a return to the opening of the series in this week’s episode, only with the knowledge that we now have regarding the Takakura parents; all seems calm until Shouma tells Himari that they are the only members of the Takakura family, breaking the spell of contentment over the scene. Kanba agrees, but obviously under duress, while Himari looks away. The important piece of this scene is actually what we bring to it as an audience. When watching that first scene in this ramshackle colorful house that seemed to be bursting out onto the very street it sat on, with two brothers caring for their ill sister, we never could have anticipated the events that had already happened (and were to happen) to this particular family unit. As an audience, the direction in this scene while paired with our own memories is what makes it alternately nostalgic and heartbreaking. We now bring to the table our innocence from the first episode as well as everything that has happened to our characters thus far, knowing that they can never go back to that ideal family unit again (if they ever could in the first place).

In addition to this nostalgia, the comparison of our own interpretation of the two scenes is a fantastic way to set up what we had potentially seen as an inevitable conflict growing between Shouma and Kanba due to their diverging personalities; they always appeared to be heading down different paths, and it’s apparent in Episode 20 more than ever, in spite of events two weeks ago with Tabuki where we seemingly saw the Takakura family strongly united. This past episode we see Kanba openly agree with Shouma regarding their parents (for Himari’s sake, no doubt) but inwardly disagree. This is reinforced by his overall attitude towards the end of the episode, where he reiterates to himself that he is the only one who can procure Himari’s medicine; he is the only one who can save Himari. Following Episode 18, we had (incorrectly, I’ve now come to believe) interpreted Kanba’s actions as self-sacrificial not only in Himari’s sake, but to save his brother from getting his hands dirty as well. Although that still may be part of it, knowing what we know from this episode, and Himari’s true feelings for Shouma, there may also be some lingering resentment towards Shouma that Kanba is housing, especially if he knows that it was Shouma who “saved” Himari initially.

A determined Kanba.

Frozen World.

vucubcaquix: Kenzan spoke out in the beginning of the episode against the corruption of the world, sorting between those who are chosen and those who are unchosen. We spoke above about how being chosen and being remembered is the equivalent to being saved from abandonment, thus Kenzan and his organization style themselves as the advocates for the abandoned. With this in mind, I found the location that Penguinforce was holding it’s meetings in to be very interesting. It was by chance that I was reading an article in Cracked.com about supposedly haunted places, and I came across a section referencing a placed called Hashima.

Also known as Gunkanjima, Hashima is one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki prefecture, and is regarded as a holy grail for urban decay. Given the very generic and nondescript facade of the building that Penguinforce used as their hideout, I would’ve thought the visual allusion to be tenuous at best. But the strong presence of the themes of abandonment in this episode make the connection a lot more tenable. The visual direction of the episode serves to reinforce that the terrorist group truly believes wholeheartedly that they are in the right and that they are the advocates for the abandoned in the “Frozen World”.

The fact that the setting of Penguinforce’s hideout lacks any discernible distinguishing features, works to its favor as it connotes a sense of anonymity, an invisibleness, that lends to the disposable nature of people in a corrupt world according to their beliefs. The irony I see in this however is that Hashima, with its nondescript and generic architecture falling into ruin after decades of abandonment, is a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, effectively making it so that it will never be forgotten in an official capacity.

Hey, maybe that’s the point after all, huh?

34 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Mawaru Penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum

34 responses to “Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 20

  1. I like your thoughts! The idea behind Himari’s perception of the Adam and Eve story along with the thought that the Child Broiler is more of a state of mind than an actual place really caught onto me. Also, a nice catch with Hashima- I can totally see the similarities there.

    Just a few thoughts of my own: Kenzan mentions the world is “Frozen”; It’s interesting that the subbers capitalized it, which i’m assuming means that the term in Japanese is formal or refers to something of importance or a higher order. either Ikuhara is alluding to Dante’s Inferno where Hell is actually revealed to be a cold, lifeless place, and then speaking of the “Flame of Hope” as man’s first tool in evolution (though he does say “Thy Holy Flame” which might be in reference to either the Holy Spirit or something else). It would go with the whole clash of divinity vs science that has been subtly alluded to in this show. This is almost jokingly in contrast with the fact that Kenzan and Co are a bunch of environmentalists. I also loved that particular shot- it’s at the very beginning when Kenzan mentions the Holy Flame, and we see a bunch of shoes neatly lined up inside the apartment. I love this shot of the shoes, because I feel it gives a very interesting portrayal of this cult group of terrorists. The people who have come to listen are of various types- we see boots, stilettos, dirty sneakers, etc. Small kids shoes are included as well, which gives me the idea that the ideals the PinGroup is fighting for are applied to a large and diverse population. They are speaking of world revolution and yet the people who are participating are normal, day-to-day human beings we see every day in our life. This seems to tie in with your quote from Murakami (I still have yet to read his books, but I do plan on it!) where he directly says that “they could be you, they could be me”. The representation of these ideals are faceless but at the same time represent diversity. The fact that they are also lined up reinforces the strictness and respect of Japanese values, which is even more intriguing because (apparently) the PinGroup is against the social norms of Japanese society.

    Also, just for kicks- I strongly felt that the “Takukura” family is not just a family. I felt that there’s a very strong hint that it’s actually some sort of cult. A cult of terrorists whose ideals are to reform traditional Japanese society. In that regard, it’s very similar to the ideas that Utena’s “revolution” had to change the world and the concept of love and fate. For one thing, the way Kenzan alluded to the state of society as being driven by cold people who would “amount to nothing” gave me the idea that Ikuhara’s main criticism of Japanese society is that it is extremely work-driven. Parents focus on work to the point where they neglect their kids and pursue a materialistic goal of happiness, and it’s here where the Child Broiler comes in and really takes on a terrible meaning. Not only are children unwanted by their parents, who think they are failures in life and will not succeed in the way and hopes that they wanted, but they are also crushed in a factory. The Child Broiler, while metaphysical (I personally believe it is metaphysical- the process is very much real but I don’t think it’s an actual place), does examine a real sort of parental abuse. Not just one of neglect, but one of personal strife. Children are the symbols of love, purity and happiness. But they are incredibly fragile (hence them turning into shards of glass as they become physically, mentally and emotionally broken down into a formula of stagnancy, of similarity, of sameness). The idea is almost that of Orwell’s 1984 where there is a sense of paranoia and stagnancy despite the facade of happiness. The way the man announces that the children will literally ‘die’ and be crushed from gears and other terrible machinery is one that’s almost happy, if not apathetic. Himari very rightfully says that in this world, you are chosen, or you are unchosen (once again alluding to that “there are only two types of people in this world concept” that’s been brought up again and again in the show). If you are unchosen, you die. Which brings me to think that in choosing Himari, one who was originally unchosen, Shouma also unwillingly put the illness on her. She is supposed to be ‘dead’. But Shouma chose her into his family (or whatever it is) and the price is that she is forever marked as an Unchosen- her illness is actually terminal, so she should be dead.
    I don’t think Ikuhara says that it’s the fate of all unchosen children to die however. Tabuki was also in the Child Broiler but Momoka saved him. I think the reason why Tabuki never had an illness is because Momoka perhaps might have transferred or changed his fate in some way rather than just taking him out; Shouma used the Fruit which while it can temporarily save someone, cannot last forever. All apples go rotten at one point. But what marks something as boring to one person is another’s greatest gift (see: Train Station ID #20 in this episode) For Himari it was the simple moments she shared with Shouma. For Shouma, it was Himari. As the motifs of trash cans/recycling bins have been reinforced, just because something is thrown away does not mean it is lost forever. It can become anew, and change. Ringo was also unwanted as a child in some ways, but she fought her own destiny and overcome her troubles, ‘renewing’ herself in the process.

    This episode was obviously very much like a ‘calm before the storm’ episode, and I’m curious on your thoughts and in general as to how it will end? With only four more episodes left, and plenty of stuff to wrap up, I admit I am concerned, but I have enough faith in Ikuhara to pull it off. Hopefully. Either way, it was a pleasure reading your thoughts!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: My goodness what a comment! ^ ^

      Let’s see, where to begin…

      The Frozen World (I think) is only capitalized due to the fact that it was an episode title. If you read this blogger’s fantastic translation notes (he is also a translator for the Penguindrum fansubs) he alludes to the title there.

      I really like what you had to say about divinity vs. science. ^ ^

      I also loved that, following the attacks (Shouma’s childhood) there were less shoes to represent less people. Interestingly enough, a few days ago the last of the Aum death sentences were handed down, effectively making it so all of those death sentences are now able to be carried out. This may go a bit towards answering the “why now?” question that Ikuhara inevitably faces for addressing the attacks at all.

      If you’ll allow me to address your thoughts on the Takakura Family, my response is a bit long, so please bear with me.

      Himari has quickly become a far more interesting character than I had thought. To me, the Takakura Family is Shouma, Kanba, and Himari, regardless of their blood relation to each other. Shouma chose her to be in his family which, in a way, openly defies the way his father (Kenzan Takakura) goes about his business of saving the unchosen (through violence) before he is even able to comprehend what his cult family (Kiga/Penguinforce) is trying to do. With all of his lofty goals of a survival strategy and his scrutiny of the Child Broiler, Shouma does what his father could not, simply by getting to know Himari. All the unchosen, or “losers” in Grandpa Natsume’s mind, need is for someone to recognize them. (As an aside, this also ties in to themes from Night on the Galactic Railroad and Underground. Everyone can be Campanella if you only bother to get to know them. “They” could be me, “they” could be you.

      See the above themes for what I think Penguindrum will continue to focus on. Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: Lots of interesting ideas on what the idea of family means from this episode all around. A good friend of ours, Day, just wrote a post on some of her ideas regarding family in Mawaru Penguindrum and how it’s perhaps a response to Clannad’s ideas on what constructs a family or a family unit. Blood? Birth? Effort? Intention? Circumstance? What makes a family and what doesn’t make a family from the perspective of the different characters we’ve come to know seems to play a much larger role in the meaning and message of what Penguindrum is trying to convey to us.

      We’ve touched on several aspects of the meaning of family on several posts here and in many of the comments, but they’ve either been mostly limited in scope within the grand framework (the role of fathers, the interaction and characterization of the siblings, competitions between various characters for affection); or in a much more abstract and philosophical sense (the roles of agape, eros, and philos); but perhaps as ironic as this sounds, maybe we weren’t looking at the themes generally enough. I know that I specifically can get bogged down in the minutiae of details of ideas in an abstract sense (which is dangerous for someone such as myself with an addled attention), but my good friend 2DT gently rapped me on the knuckles for not taking a step back and enjoying Penguindrum for the wild ride and spectacle that it is.

      …But before I break old habits just completely, let me go out on a limb and say that while the meaning and essence of family does seem like it’s going to play a huge role in the closing of the show, I’m still hopelessly (or perhaps not?) attached to the idea that Penguindrum as a whole is a rumination on the idea of Existentialism vs. Determinism (via the Teleological Argument) on just exactly how the nature of fate is meant to be taken.

      Basically, is the show saying “FUCK DESTINY!”? Or is it saying that in the end, you can’t fight fate?

      That, is Penguindrum’s ultimate question from this humble blogger’s point of view.

      • Ugh, it took me so long to come back and read this comment due to wonderful exam period, but I love your thoughts; I’m ashamed that I didn’t come here sooner to rant about Penguindrum :)

  2. Wooooo! Awesome post you two and I am so with you on the child broiler being just a state of mind vs a real place, that idea works really well after all I couldn’t see Shouma running and jumping all the way to the bottom just to save Himari! I could see Kanba doing that thou…And what was with flash back of Masako calling Kanba brother?! Are they siblings or is that part of the “cult” thing like calling everyone your sister/brother.

    I noticed right off with Kanba, Shouma and Himari eating there was some tension between the brothers big time. I don’t think things will ever return to the original days with them getting along cracking jokes.

    @Vuc that wiki page on Gunkanjima, Hashima so awesome! And I saw on one of the shots they have one called The stairway to hell ( Third picture on the right side ) pretty interesting! And of course it’s the perfect hideout :D

    @AJ I am starting to think we might see Shouma and Kanba fight each other eventually! Mostly due to Kanba’s big secret about the parents.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Oh definitely. I wonder what exactly Shouma will do once he discovers that Kanba has not only known the whereabouts of their parents for seemingly a long time, but is also helping them in their/Kiga’s cause.

      I wonder about the Masako/Kanba connection as well. We’re definitely meant to believe that Masako and Kanba are siblings with the man known as Kenzan Takakura as their father (especially the way he reiterates that there are winners and losers in this world, much like Grandpa Natsume). Whether it’s actually that simple…well, only Ikuhara knows. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: Whoa, I didn’t think about how in some cults people refer to each other as brother and sister. Heck, they do even do that in my parents’ church. Now I don’t know if it has a really strong pull in the story but it’s still pretty cool to think about.

      But yeah, that tension… This show is really good at kinda bringing back some scenes or ideas or words from earlier on in the show and having them mean something completely different because of everything we’ve experienced so far. Especially with words. The Penguin hat version of Himari has been saying the brothers would never amount to anything during the Survival Strategies since the very beginning, but in this episode we learn that children on the brink of dying in the Child Broiler will also “never amount to anything”. Even the phrase “Survival Strategy has a totally different meaning now. At first it was a really trippy transformation sequence where everything was completely surreal super colorful, but now we know it’s actually the code for an operation by a group of terrorists to kill a bunch of people on the train for the sake of a better world.

      This show, it’s crazy.

      And yeah isn’t that island crazy? I’d love to visit it one day and see where that Stairway to Hell leads to… Probably a super creepy abandoned underwater coal mine!

  3. Thanks for pointing out that abandoned island, that’s really cool! Ruins are fascinating. I guess that’s the appeal of the entire genre of post-apocalyptic fiction.

    I don’t really get everyone’s obsession over whether the Child Broiler is “real” or not. Is the penguin hat’s survival strategy with spaceships real? Is Sanetoshi’s library real? Himari certainly goes to the Child Broiler, what does it matter if it is a figment of her imagination? Does that somehow make it less “real” than the things she can touch? It’s a splash of the magical realism that Murakami is so fond of.

    I agree that Himari’s take on the garden of Eden story is quite interesting. It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways this simple story can be interpreted. Many see it as a curse, in the straightforward way. Some see it as a blessing in disguise, a necessary part of God’s hidden and omnipotent plan. Others see it as a spiteful yet futile act by a tyrant.

    Despite what she claims, Himari still seems to see death as a punishment, because it will end her time with Shouma. She had life originally, that wasn’t part of the exile. And despite calling life a punishment, she still wants to live. So I’m not sure how much of a punishment that is.

    • Niko

      Well, I don’t think we should take any of what Himari said as face value. It’s clear her outlook on life is as misguided as the terrorists’, who think society is inherently cruel and is divided between chosen and unchosen, etc. It should be noted that by saving little Himari, Shouma validates her misguided point of view somehow. He chooses her, and so she ends up ascribing her entire self-worth to him.

      That’s why she tells Sanetoshi she doesn’t want to “chase”. She knows if she does, there’s a chance she won’t get the fruit. Basically, she knows that if she chases after Shouma, there’s chance she might lose him, and she’s dead afraid of that because Shouma’s the only thing that gives meaning to her life.

      It’s interesting how Ringo provides a very stark contrast to Himari’s misguided logic. Shouma risked his life for Ringo, but it’s not like she was really “chosen”. Yet this experience was enough to inspire her to pull herself together and become stronger on her own. Unlike Himari, Ringo as she is now doesn’t need external validation, she’s her own person. And ultimately, isn’t that the only way to live a healthy life?

      If there’s something the ending of Utena left me, is that the “revolution of the world” is an inner revolution. It’s not about literally changing the world, it’s about changing oneself. Or like Ringo would put it, it’s about “accepting your fate and becoming stronger”.

      • hikoboshiandorihime

        to Niko
        ajthefourth: I disagree with the fact that Himari has ascribed her entire life’s worth to Shouma, and this is where I find her relationship with Hibari and Hikari particularly interesting (as I hinted at above). Sanetoshi refers to them as “precious companions who shared the same dream; the three girls made each other shine like stars bound by gravity.” The fact that she once had friends and had a dream after Shouma saved her but before she became ill would hint at the fact that Himari, at one point, did eventually find her footing as her own person. In spite of her subconscious leanings towards Shouma, she didn’t even remember that he was her savior or soulmate until recently. I wonder how long the shadow of his actions extended out over her actions/life.

        Ringo is absolutely fabulous. The hardest thing to do in life is to consciously change one’s self from within and she’s done it. ^ ^

        vucubcaquix: It’s dangerous to conflate different entities with similar or the same outlooks, because in many cases extremists or terrorists will share many of the same outlooks and points of views as many more mainstream groups and religions. What really differentiates them in my mind are their actions based on those ideas.

        It’s a point that I try to remind myself of oftentimes, that an idea or thought should be judged on its own merit. It’s difficult to do when you see the extreme ends of any sort of ideology: the Tea Party, the Occupy protests, Salafist jihadism Islam, Fundamentalist Christians, nearly every creed and belief system has an extremist contingent that exists outside of the mainstream. I feel that shouldn’t invalidate the idea or the thought or the outlook in itself inherently.

        For instance, I like some of the writings of Martin Heidegger. He was pretty hung up on some questions on what it means to be, to exist in a basic sense. He wrote some stuff later on as well that influenced the French philosophers that I’m really fond of, (even if Heidegger himself is super dense and hard to parse on his own). But the thing is, Heidegger was a Nazi and ultimately an unapologetic one at that.

        As deplorable as the Nazi’s actions were in my mind and in the face of history, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Heidegger was a pretty important thinker in the 20th century. His thoughts and ideas, while often times still viewed through the filter of the context of the times he lived in, were still viewed as important enough to be taken seriously by many other thinkers of the century despite his despicable ties.

        Where am I going with this? How Himari feels about society should not be discounted based on the fact that the Penguinforce cult professed some or many of the same ideas. I don’t think it’s misguided solely based on the fact that Penguinforce feels the same way, I instead feel that it’s her honest assessment of what it feels like to come up in this society that values concrete worth and productivity above all. Winners, and losers. It’s a vital aspect of Himari’s characterization that allows us to understand her as a character better, and an interesting worldview whose merits should be judged and validated on its own terms.

        • Niko

          “ajthefourth: I disagree with the fact that Himari has ascribed her entire life’s worth to Shouma, and this is where I find her relationship with Hibari and Hikari particularly interesting”

          Wait. Aren’t you forgetting that Himari most likely lost her memories of Shouma when she became part of the Takakura family? Probably has something to do with one of those kiga balls. In any case, scraping her memories is most likely what allowed her to develop as a normal kid with goals of her own and so on.

          She remembers now, though, so her actions from now on are going to show whether she’s dependent on Shou for self-validation or not. The fact that she’s afraid to “chase” if she’s not sure she’s going to get the “fruit” seems to point that way at the very least. She herself claims she’s going to become “empty” is she doesn’t get the fruit (Shouma’s love?).

          “vucubcaquix: It’s dangerous to conflate different entities with similar or the same outlooks, because in many cases extremists or terrorists will share many of the same outlooks and points of views as many more mainstream groups and religions. What really differentiates them in my mind are their actions based on those ideas.”

          I’m not sure if it’s dangerous but let’s put that aside for now. It’s the idea itself what interest me. The world may be divided between “chosen” or “unchosen” (or maybe not) but the series shows the ones who ultimately decide whether we are “chosen” or “unchosen” are ourselves (you go to the Child Broiler voluntarily, you decide you’ll never amount to anything on your own, etc). That’s why, to believe that you are either one of them seems like complacency to me. I can understand little Himari thinking of herself as an stray cat that needs to be “chosen”: she’s a kid in a very extreme situation. But even if I do understand, it doesn’t mean I don’t see the problems in her thought process. Specially if she ends up being as dependant on Shou as Tabuki was on Momoka. Hope next episode will make that more clear.

          • Yay! I love comments like yours. Okay, let’s go!

            The important part to me isn’t whether Himari lost or regained her memories, but what she did with her life regardless. You had said that we shouldn’t take any of what Himari said at face value because in that moment her outlook had been influenced by her experiences as a small child, which she then forgets due to being “shot with a Kiga ball” or something else, and this is an excellent point.

            However, my point is that, whether she had those memories of being a small child or not, what followed was not her ascribing her entire life to Shouma, but her seeking out her own life with her then unbroken family and two best friends. Perhaps losing her memories was what caused her to develop as a normal kid, but the point is that she did develop, instead of making her entire life about Shouma. I too am especially curious to see how she reacts to Shouma and Kanba from this point forward.

            The scene with Sanetoshi has all sorts of different implications and interpretations. Here’s mine, which may or may not be completely wrong. ^ ^

            I think that the fruit is Shouma’s love while the kissing is Kanba’s. She’s already been through quite enough kissing and says that “kisses are perishable” and that they will be consumed, much like she is consuming something from Kanba to stay alive. If we’re dividing people into runners and chasers, you’d have to put Kanba, Ringo, and Masako on the chasers side, while Himari and Shouma would be on the runners side.

            The wild card in all of this is Sanetoshi. Why is he pushing Himari so? His ending line of “maybe kisses are the only real fruits” is very ominous, implying perhaps that the love/advances that Himari has been receiving from Kanba is the only thing that she will ever be able to obtain (whether this is due to the fact that Shouma doesn’t love her “that way,” Shouma isn’t “fated” for her, or that Sanetoshi is implying that the concept that Himari sees as love or the “fruit” is just that: an unobtainable concept, I hardly know). Thank you for the comment! ^ ^

          • After reading your clarification, I don’t necessarily disagree. Like you, the crux is on whether she does indeed become as dependent on Shouma as Tabuki on Momoka, and the next few episodes are going to be key in finding that out.

            Those deciding who are chosen or unchosen being ourselves is pretty interesting indeed. I don’t know if complacency is the word I’d use, since I think it’s pretty intrinsic to how we regard ourselves as human beings. Like I said in a comment below to wendeego, how we select ourselves into groups of the “in” and the “out” is unfortunately tied into how we act as people. But as to whether this is going to develop into a problem for either Himari’s characterization, situation, or decisions and actions, that is going to be something to pay attention to.

            Thanks for the discussion!

          • Niko

            “ajthefourth: I think that the fruit is Shouma’s love while the kissing is Kanba’s. She’s already been through quite enough kissing and says that “kisses are perishable” and that they will be consumed, much like she is consuming something from Kanba to stay alive.”

            I prefer a more abstract interpretation myself. The “fruit” might very well be the love you’re chasing after. In this case we assume it’s Shouma’s love what Himari would seek, although we can’t be sure of that yet. As for the “kiss”, I don’t think it’s something as specific as “Kanba’s love”, specially because I doubt Himari knows how he feels about her. Literally speaking, if you chase and the one you’re chasing after doesn’t stop running away, you not only won’t get “love”, you won’t get any “kisses” either lol. But Sanetoshi did say that you would get to kiss in that situation. That’s why I think “kiss” probably refers to that fact that if this situation keeps on going, you’ll end up empty like Himari claims. Something like “kiss” = “love that never comes to fruition”.

            “ajthefourth: If we’re dividing people into runners and chasers, you’d have to put Kanba, Ringo, and Masako on the chasers side, while Himari and Shouma would be on the runners side.”

            I’m not so sure about this. The only one who is clearly a chaser, IMO, is Ringo. I think that to be a chaser you gotta be prepared to lose, and the only character who is willing to face this fate (right now) is her.

            In the case of Masako… can we really say that she’s chasing even though she seems to be running away (from fate I mean)? Is she really “chasing” after Kanba, or is she just refusing to accept the fact that she already lost him? Masako reminds me of the former Ringo. The Ringo who wanted to get back the family she had lost. And much like in Ringo’s case, what Masako’s doing is a fruitless exercise. Well, maybe she IS chasing after all, and Sanetoshi is right and love is always ultimately doomed to be fruitless (Sanetoshi is such a cynic in disguise lol). But I don’t think so. I think she’s just misguided: she thinks she’s chasing but she’s just is a sore loser.

            As for Kanba. He’s in the same situation than Himari. Both have decided to hide their romantic feelings and play house, although for different reasons I think. In the case of Himari, I already said that she’s afraid of getting rejected. Kanba on the other hand, seems to be turn between being a brother to Himari (because he probably believes that’s what Himari wants) and pursuing her romantically. For now he has settled on the former option, so he’s clearly not chasing.

            And last we have Shouma. This guy’s running away from everything and everyone lol. I understand his guilt. He introduced Himari into the family and so condemned her to live as the daughter of terrorists, with everything it entails. He didn’t have any choice about his parents being terrorist. That’s something outside his control. But Himari being part of the family was entirely his responsibility, so that’s the core of his issue. I do wonder if that’s all though. I’ve got the feeling he might be in love with Himari too, and has been hiding it even better than Kanba.

            BTW, note that nothing of this explain Himari’s illness, and I’m beginning to think it’s just a normal illness and there’s no relation between it and the terrorist attacks (oh, the irony).

            Overall, I gotta say that I’m a little frustrated with this series lately. I sort of understand the themes and social commentaries but I don’t know where the hell the plot is going. And it doesn’t help that I beginning to feel all the “magic” going on has been just metaphor and misdirection. Maybe Momoka didn’t have any magical diary to begin with. Maybe she was just a very special kid who managed to “save” Tabuki and Yuri by becoming their raison d’etre. If that’s the case I don’t expect Himari to survive the ending. And I gotta admit I’m kinda hoping for this… I hate magical solutions to real-life problems.

          • to Niko part duex
            Haha, you’re right, I really need to watch my exact language around you. Sorry, I don’t meant to imply that “kisses” meant Kanba exclusively or “fruit” implied Shouma exclusively. What I should have said is that they represent the types of love expressed towards Himari by each of the brothers. I suppose I see a “kiss” in this context as something consumable and perhaps a bit more carnal, where I see the “fruit” as something deeper, more lasting, and something that is reciprocated.

            I agree with most everything you say about the siblings in this, with the exception of Shouma. While I certainly believe that he loves Himari quite deeply, I don’t see that same kind of sexual excitement between the two of them that has been presented to us in brief flashes between Himari and Kanba (and their penguins/alter-egos in Himari’s case). I certainly believe that he feels guilty though, especially for what his parents did (undeserved though it may be) and perhaps some of this guilt comes from feelings towards Himari that have yet to be shown to us).

            As for the direction of the plot, as I said to other commenters, the only thing we can predict with any semblance of an educated guess are overall themes, not actual plot developments, which is one of your criticisms of the series. I’m hoping for a bit of a showdown between the brothers (perhaps over Himari). I’ve also perceived (probably incorrectly) a large amount of death flags surrounding Ringo and Shouma. I think one, if not both, of them will die before the series ends.

            We’ll all find out in 4 episodes’ time. ^ ^

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      to draggle
      ajthefourth: The short answer is that it doesn’t. What’s important are the feelings that surround one who ends up in the Child Broiler.

      You know, I thought about bringing that up when addressing the Fall of Man; the idea that God’s punishment could be taken as a blessing or a curse, whether it’s descriptive or prescriptive, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to fit it in (and didn’t want to make the post too long ^ ^).

      Hnnn…I wonder if Himari sees death as a punishment. As I said above, her characterization has been particularly interesting as of late (although it still relies on telling Himari’s story primarily through others). As early as Episode One, she appears ready to die (during Himari Day at the aquarium) and this is reiterated during Episode Nine. This isn’t to say that her thoughts are suicidal; however, especially from her words in Episode 18, she seems to be ready and accepting of death, not as a punishment but as a natural end (that she is well aware is coming soon). Instead, she seemingly feels lucky that she was able to spend time with both Shouma and Kanba (although, honestly, I’m still a bit interested to see if they address her relationship with Double H again, since it seemed to be so important to her).

      As an aside, there’s a poem (I think it’s by Yeats, but I can’t remember) that states that even one who claims to want to die will have a body that will fight death to the last. It’s a bit horrifying, but what you said reminded me of it. I wish I could remember which poem…

      vucubcaquix: Hmm, I suppose I’m a touch removed from majority opinions and speculation when it comes to Penguindrum, since while it did occur to me that the Child Broiler can be viewed as a specific place with a discrete location, the show is much too metaphorical to be that straightforward and I didn’t give that idea much mind as you’ve seen in my sections of the post. What is “real” or not, isn’t as important as what all this means for the characters that are experiencing these things. Whether or not any of that can be quantified in concrete terms, ultimately pales in how the characters feel as a result.

      But yeah, that abandoned island was like one of the first things to pop up in my head. The building that Penguinforce/Kiga was housed in is pretty anonymous and generic so it could really be anywhere, but the way the shots in the episode were framed seemed to be deliberately modeled on specific photographs from the island.

      And heck, even if it’s just a coincidence in the end, the themes in the episode matching up with the history of Hashima would be a very fortunate coincidence indeed.

  4. Pingback: colloquium: colloquia « 755.45

  5. lurusamui

    I love Himari’s very much.Thanks to post and sharing to us. :D

  6. Luni

    I wonder what the invisibility of children in the Child Broiler really refers to though. I like the idea of it being a place between life and death. However, if the Child Broiler is actually about becoming invisible in the eyes of society, then I remember the phrase “Imagine” that the Princess of the Crystal uses during the Survival Strategy. Maybe the imagination is a driving factor to making a person more of an “individual”.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajtheforuth: Thanks for reminding me of the “Imagine!” during the Rock Over Japan transformation sequences. I had completely forgotten about that, and now am going to keep that in the back of my mind. I feel that imagination is key to making any one person an individual, although I hardly want to go down the road of what an “individual” is (my friend and I had many the argument over this in college when we were pretentious students in our respective Philosophy/English classes.

      Perhaps it’s not so much about being an individual, but about having your efforts or your existence acknowledged by someone or something, whether it be society at large or just one special person (i.e. Momoka or Shouma).

      vucubcaquix: I’m a little hung up on the idea of the Child Broiler being a place between life and death that makes children effectively invisible, or if the Child Broiler being the state of mind that I believe it is, is itself a consequence of having been invisible or feeling invisible from society.

      This invisibility that the series discusses is something akin to an existential despair that one feels when they feel fundamentally alone and disconnected from people. The Child Broiler we’ve seen thus far seems like an abstract representation of the struggle that a character goes through in surmounting that sense of isolation, and either remembering that they too were remembered and loved and chosen, or being reminded of that fact by an external entity.

      Imagine… perhaps a call to mind what it is that tethers you to to the mortal plane? Well, who knows…

  7. Quoted from Kunihiko Ikuhara’s liner notes for episode 14 of Revolutionary Girl Utena:

    “I saw a certain horror movie when I was in middle school. There was a secret mortuary in an underground chamber, and the dead were electronically transmitted (!)…to the “other world,” where they were forced into slavery.

    The movie’s story was utterly absurd, but the division of the world into opposite poles of “living” and “dead” felt real to me somehow.

    Our world has been spoken of in bipolar fashion for ages.

    In my student days, there was a popular book that compared the “affluent” with the “non-affluent,” and sorted everything into categories called “loaded” and “broke…” years later, the phrase “the winning side” was popular in the media. I thought it was horrid. And sure enough, people started using the opposite phrase “the losing side” as a masochistic joke. I still couldn’t laugh, though.

    One day, a girl I saw on TV said, “There are only two types of people in this world: the ones who are chosen and the ones who aren’t chosen.”

    That gave me a start.

    “To not be chosen is to die,” said the girl.

    I decided to try my hand at that.

    The Black Rose arc.”

    Ikuhara’s girl on TV doesn’t give me much hope for the morality of Double H. Unless he’s changed his mind in recent years! We’ll see.

    On another note, looking back at episode 9 knowing that Himari was not actually the daughter of Ms. Takakura casts a pretty different light on things. Even after Shouma gave her a loving family and a new start at life, that didn’t stop her from lashing out at her new mother in frustration, or from feeling bereft when her two friends became idols and she was left out in the cold. Idols are loved by everyone, after all. Himari was chosen by Shouma (not that she remembers) but how does that hold a candle to being chosen by everyone in Japan?

    Obviously, the love that Shouma showed his family (and Momoka to her “family”) was immensely powerful, and still is. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after becoming a Takakura, Himari turned her attention towards becoming an idol. Even one who is chosen can still feel loneliness, I guess. I can identify.

    • Himari’s desire to become an idol reminds me of Yuri becoming an actress after Momoka “leaves” her.

      • hikoboshiandorihime

        to adamantineheart
        ajthefourth: Again, fantastic insight. Yuri even says herself that she’s chosen to live her life “fabulously.” It would seem that, in an attempt to fill the gaping hole that Momoka left upon her departure, Yuri decided to become an actress. When that didn’t fulfill her desires, she joined up with Tabuki in order to bring Momoka back, but also to perhaps try and grow to love Tabuki himself (in a romantic way or no).

        vucubcaquix: I don’t have much to add, but I’m with Emily when I say that is indeed a really good catch. Thanks for the comment!

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      to wendeego
      ajthefourth: Oooh…that is fantastic. It’s also in line with something that 8thsin said over at his blog in regards to the Seven Social Sins and the overall polarity of the series, with everything inevitably separated into two categories; winners vs. losers, chosen vs. unchosen, etc. which were shown on a plaque outside of the Hole in the Sky Library. Thanks for sharing!

      It’s also an excellent point that you bring up regarding idols. From everything I’ve heard and/or seen, being an idol actually seems like an incredibly lonely profession off of the stage. Being forcibly happy when you’re not, being everyone’s inspiration when you yourself feel tired or downtrodden, it seems like off-camera, being an idol would be the loneliest profession in the world in spite of seeming like one of the least lonely. Thanks for the insight.

      vucubcaquix: That, is a fantastic quote. It reminds me of a some basic psychological principles that dictate that people inherently want to form groups, and those groups are organized many times by an Us and Them mentality. It’s so ingrained into our notion of what makes us human, that even though we play at the idea of unity on a grand scale, true unification of the human race is an utterly alien idea.

      Remember Instrumentality from Evangelion? If not, I don’t mean to spoil you, but it’s one of the most salient examples I can think of that attempts to portray or represent what true universal unity means to humanity. In short: we don’t like it.

      One of my favorite bloggers, chaostangent, wrote a post on these recurring themes in certain anime:

      “The dismissal of [grand unification] is most always portrayed as an acceptance that part of individuality is the pain of miscommunication and the burden of emotions.”

      Loneliness is a companion to us, it’s a feeling that will never leave us, since it’s a reminder to us that it’s a price to be paid to be individual and separate entities. Loneliness is also what drives us to seek out others and form groups, but it’s an imperfect process, since when we create an Us, we also form a Them.

  8. Blackholeheart

    My second most favored thing about reading these posts and the ensuing comments is seeing how often others are thinking along the same lines as I and making or refuting their case more eloquently than I could. My first is reading an idea that hadn’t even occurred to me but seems so right once I read it. I was working on the assumption that the mechanics of the story are driven by the many worlds theory and that Momokas last intervention had placed us in a world with an authoritarian euthanasia state. The thought that the Child Broiler is purely metaphorical suggests it’s driven by the Copenhagen interpretation however, which is far more deliciously ambiguous, at least till the waveform collapses.

    Great catch on Hashima, I thought it looked familiar and out of place with the rest on the architecture in the show.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: That’s funny, because my absolute favorite thing about writing these posts is reading the commenters’ thoughts and the way they eloquently express their own points as well as refute or challenge ours. ^ ^

      I think that everything will remain deliciously ambiguous, even after the series ends.

      vucubcaquix: You may have been one of the folks that Draggle was talking about who were trying to figure out what was “real” or not. If I’m not mistaken, I believe you said you were a fan of sci-fi and that’s a genre that’s pretty taken with the idea of concrete explanations, fanciful as they may be sometimes. It’s not wrong at all, since that method of storytelling is also wonderful for illuminating certain aspects of our condition or our society through allusion and comparison, but I never really took sci-fi to be friendly to abstraction and metaphor.

      Basically, it’s just training yourself to use a different filter when consuming a story. Part of our little colloquium project here is to highlight a few of the differences that Emily and I have when watching something, and reading and responding to the commenters who bring all of their own unique and respective filters to whatever story we are discussing.

      You said it yourself, the comments section of this blog is fantastic, and I love each and every comment left here.

      Also, Hashima is nuts, isn’t it?

  9. Carnacki

    Not much to add to your extensive and impressive speculations on MP. My 20 cents by pointing out, if it hasn’t been done yet, that Sanetoshi’s Library could pretty much be modeled on the Centre Beaubourg in Paris, France :

    It is a museum of modern art, but it also includes a library, and is situated not far from the historical building of the National Library.

    Also to note that the theme of incestuous relations semme do drop out of the picture after having been a rather tempting red herring !

    Cheers,

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Yes! The inner shelving of the library, but more importantly the outer shots of Sanetoshi’s hospital bear a striking resemblance to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. In addition to this, the Hole in the Sky Library also appears to be modeled on the Wall of Knowledge architectural concept for an addition to the Stockholm Public Library in Stockholm, Sweden.

      As for the incest thing, yes, it’s looking more and more like Kanba and Himari aren’t blood related siblings, and Ikuhara has played with this (are they/aren’t they) concept once before with the sibling pairings of Nanami and Touga Kiryuu and Akio and Anthy Himemiya in Revolutionary Girl Utena with some very interesting results (I won’t elaborate in case you haven’t watched it). Perhaps what will become more important for Kanba and Himari isn’t the blood relation but the fact that they were raised as siblings and believe their relationship to be taboo.

      vucubcaquix: Ah yup, we came across these images and concepts when the episodes aired and saw how the series used them, but I myself wasn’t too sure what to say about them. However, I’m all for people bringing these things up in the comments section because anyone reading along could see what you link and be illuminated by the connection as well.

      • Carnacki

        This show inducing in the viewer a quasi-paranoid tendency to ferret out hidden meaning, and at the risk of over-determining things, I may mention that one original architectural concept of the Centre Beaubourg was to “relegate” all the technical infrastructure on the outside of the building (hence it’s unusual look that led to the parisian nickname “the oil refinery”) in order a) to preserve pure, unadulterated volumes inside for the contents, and b) to make the maintenance invisible from the inside, yet accessible from the outside.

        Would it be too far-fetched to read something here about the workings of the world being hidden in plain sight, “invisible” to the “chosen ones” inside the building concentrating on the “nobler activities” (the content, the library) ? And the workers on the outside, the toilers, those who, socially, won’t ever amount to anything, being kept without contact with the contents that the chosen, the privileged within the system, can enjoy without interference ?

        …ahem, I should better shut up and take my dried frog pills.. ;)

  10. katarius

    Recently I became a bit frustrated when a new episode of the series was on the horizon. I don’t know why, but still it is. Moreover I had an idea not to watch the rest of the episodes while they are airing, but wait for 4 weeks to be able to swallow them at once. (Un)fortunately I can’t supress the temptation. OMG, I’m doomed! ;-)
    Now I just need to stop complaining and put on the screen my decent 5 cents. It migth be discussed all over the fandom, but nevertheless I want to mention some observation of the (latest) ending. I’ve noticed in the secod part of it when penguines arrive the screen is devided in two: No.3, No.1 and Esmeralda (like a satellite to No.1) are on the left side, No.2 is on the right. Still we have 3 red “fate” threads. But at the end we have six (three for each “party” or side of the screen) threads and the last (true one?) – Himari in PoC’s costume holds it – in the middle which leads to two hands (Shouma’s and Kanba’s?). So what does it mean? I try to interpret let’s call it “3 left” and “3 right” threads as possible options/”story lines” for Shouma, Himari and Kanba (and Masako): first is to be chasers, second – to be runners, third – another option (but I don’t know what is it, maybe to change fate, because having two options means rather poor selection). As for the middle thread, I assume that it’s the way how the story will end (somehow losing one of “brothers” or maybe it’s a symbol of another kind of sacrifice) and it all will depend mostly on.. Himari (?).
    Oh man, I promised myself not to speculate with Penguindrum anymore, but I failed. So I also (as Carnacki above) strongly request for my dried frog pills. :-))

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