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Anime, Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum 09 – TL Notes, Observations

Japanese blogs and boards have been hyping this episode as an upcoming 「神回」 (godly/epic episode) for weeks. I guess those who read the novel knew it was going to get an art house treatment. Long story short, it delivered.

Storyboard, episode direction, animation direction, key animation all by Takeuchi Nobuyuki, who was the visual director for Bakemonogatari (listed as my favorite anime series of all time). If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time all these roles are handled by one person. I will talk about how fucking beautiful this episode is later.

TL Notes:

Floor 61B. The Aquarium is located in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine 60, a 60-story building. Obviously, it doesn’t have that many basement floors, much less the 61st floor.

The Seven Social Sins according to Ghandi. The order of the last two in typesetting is messed up in a mistake. “Politics without Principle” was the last entry.

This is unique “road sign”. The “Ka” line includes the letters “Ka”, “Ki”, “Ku”, “Ke”, “Ko” in Japanese. “Super Frog” (“Kaeru-kun”) starts with “Ka”, so Himari heads to that direction to find her book.

My ass has been saved by my “editor” who’s translating the Penguindrum novels. I would’ve never guessed “Super Frog” for “Kaeru-kun”. Apparently, it’s a book written by Murakami Haruki (the Japanese book title is deliberately altered to katakana and kanji for copyright reasons). I’ve always thought of myself as a heavy researcher, but it seems I still have a long way to go. Obviously, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t help you on what it’s about…

Parody of real books, The Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami Haruki (author of Super Frog Saves Tokyo) and two volumes of Christine by Stephen King.

Barefoot Gon is the parody name (for copyright reasons etc, as previous books) for Barefoot Gen, a manga about a Hiroshima survivor. I haven’t read any of these books, someone help~!

These are chapters from the manga. “Unpatriotic Son  (*deliberate misspelling)”, “Froggy Son (*deliberate misspelling)”, “Upcoming Upheaval (*deliberate misspelling)”, “Roomless Bard (Begger Bard)”, and “Second Horror (*deliberate misspelling) were the only ones altered from the original for some unknown reason. 「鯉の生き血」”Koi’s Fresh Blood” was not in the original manga.

Note: Typesetting goes from left-to-right, while Japanese goes from right-to-left.

Koi’s fresh blood is believed by some to have healing effects and increases a person’s lifespan (not scientifically proven, a myth). This is most likely derived from the Mermaid’s blood.

Parody of Tombo Mono erasers. These are almost iconic Japanese erasers. Everyone has one of these. If you want to be Japanese, you have to buy one too.

Trolling (foreshadowing?) by production staff in last line of small text in 2nd screenshot. “Penguins are raw meat.”

The conveyor belt wheels say 「ここどどもも」. 「こども」 means “child”. I guess in this episode, it represents her childhood memory being sent to her? A “Child Broiler” symbol is also seen in between.

This is a serious episode. I don’t fuck with serious episodes, and this is not a troll translation. Penguindrum staff does enough for everyone.

I have no idea what “Child Broiler” is. The picture looks like someone’s trying to broil a child, but an optimist might say broiler refers to the chicken breed and its fast growth, as in fast forward to today…

“Super Frog Saves (insert random words here)”. Couldn’t be bothered to translate + typeset these. Most, if not all of them, are not relevant to the story as far as I can tell.

Be wary of the translation in this line. She literally just said “Thank you for choosing” without a subject in the typical Japanese manner. I chose “me” in this sentence because it made the most sense, but it could’ve very well been “the apple for me”… We’ll have to see what happens.

The title is literally “World of Ice”. I guess one can make the connection that penguins live on ice, so it’s the penguin world etc etc, but watching this episode, it was all about Himari’s memory. I interpreted this title as her memory, past, or maybe even herself, is frozen in time. “I just wanted to make sure it’s in the past” line would make a lot more sense with this interpretation. The penguins also arrived frozen to the Takakuras… This is too deep for me.

The Insert Song was 「灰色の水曜日」 “Gray Wednesday”, once again originally sang by ARB. The translated lyrics are included in the release this time 🙂


The avant-title (section before OP) was a partial recap of episode 1. I already knew it was going to be a directional masterpiece by the time OP started playing… and I didn’t even know who was handling practically all the visual works in this episode.

Teh perspectives + teh reality.

Teh angles.

Teh surrealz.

Teh lights, teh palettez, teh compositionz.

Teh WTFs.

I don’t think it really needs words to explain. This episode is visually stunning.

This episode has some really corny lines mixed in, but I would’ve never noticed it if I wasn’t translating this series. It was that well-directed.

The end was what the Japanese call 「夢オチ」 (dream punch-line). Quite cliche, but it summarizes the episode nicely and connects smoothly back into the main storyline. I would actually argue this entire episode was not a dream, that it really happened.

Other Observations

We get to see what happened in the first episode from Himari’s point of view. It explains why she disappeared into the courtyard on that day while shopping for the penguin hat.
I think she was taken into another plane of existence, and the time she spent in the “dream world” is when she had actually died. Therefore, only the chosen guests are allowed in the annex, with “hole in the sky” possibly meaning a gap between the real world and the heaven/netherworld. The next time she became fully conscious was when she yelled “Seizon Senryaku” for the very first time, that’s where she returned to the real world after spending time in “hole in the sky”.

The annex’s name seems to be a reference of Akashic records, which means “sky” in Sanskrit.

The biggest and most obvious clue, of course, is that the book was packed into the frozen penguin package, and that Threetie was lying on top of it in the real world at end of the episode. It was not a dream.

Threetie already has #3 on its back. Maybe the concept of time doesn’t exist in this frozen world.

Man hiding the apple, with the woman reaching out. Foreshadowing of Sanetoshi and Himari? Tabuki and Ringo?

Too deep for me, somebody tell me what these birds mean. I don’t think it has anything to do with Tabuki.
This scene does work effectively as an introduction to the annex. “Hole in the sky” where birds fly.

#28 as the handle? What’s the significance of that? It appears to be the a reference to 28 days of menstrual cycle.The bottom half of the puzzle looks like Pingroup logo. What’s the top half?

The pink-haired man from OP has a name. If he really is the master of the heaven or even the gap between real world and netherworld, would that make him the God?

March 20th again. I can’t recall the significance of Oct. 15th at the moment… Oct. 15th is the day Penguins were delivered. A possible foreshadowing here that the story will end on March 20th (penguins will be returned to Sanetoshi on that day?), the anniversary of Momoka’s death (and the ’95 Sarin incident).

“Returns” sign is in a hippy font. Trippy travel to the underworld?

Blue >>> Yellow >>> Red >>> Black. This is a full cycle of traffic lights + the void. The big question is, are those book titles done randomly, or is Himari’s mother Kaeru-kun? That would give “Super Frog Saves Tokyo” a whole new meaning.

Cherry pattern on the ribbon.

There’s some weird pattern on the mirror. Is that the train stations on a map? I think the lines look too straight to be broken glass, and those patches don’t look like tape.

As previously discussed in my episode 1 review, there’s always light shining down on characters when they face the harshness of fate.

What the hell are those things on top of the school? Lighting poles and lights?

Are you kids serious? I guess “ends justify the means.”

More questions than answers in this episode. The producers of this show are very careful at concealing the background of all the characters. We still don’t know why their parents are gone, or why Himari started to get sick.



Utena? Utena? Utena???

P.S. She literally said “My fated person”, which was also used frequently in Revolutionary Girl Utena. As much as I wanted to keep “fate” going, it simply sounded too dumb.

The elevator descension also reminded me Utena’s “Black Rose Arc”.

Just what the heck is this? Does this mean Himari is an anomaly? A defect? I thought we all knew that already… Must mean something else.

This is a strong supporting evidence for the “Ikebukuro is the destination of fate” theory. Himari does know that place, the penguin hat is acquired in the aquarium there (“I have come from the destination of your fate.”), and Ikebukuro being the final station of the subway line.

“Penguin Force” (it actually spells out “Ping Force” in Japanese) and “Pingroup. inc”. Bad guys and the good guys?

“Don’t forget this.” What? That apple in OP actually exists as a plot device?

 This entire episode is, as Himari says in the library, “tracing her memory”. The library functions almost like her brain, with her memories stored inside. Sanetoshi acts like the navigator of her memory… This entire episode seemed like Himari’s visit to a shrink, going “deeper” into her memory each time, reliving her childhood trauma. I really like how this episode kind of shows why she’s being such a good girl now, as her selfishness had severely injured her mother, and represents the loss of her greatest opportunity in life thus far.

As I have said on many occasions, masterpiece anime and movies always come with equally wonderful music, and this was certainly the case. The BGM in almost the entire second half was in perfect harmony with what’s going on in the screen, and the insert song’s lyrics also fit the the story to perfection.
Mawaru Penguindrum Ep09 – Frozen World
raised more questions than it answered, but it’s an excellent flashback episode that finally shed some light to this show’s background setting.
As much as I loved Ringo, it’s good to see there’s finally some progress in the story.

Episode rating: 10 / 10 – 神回

About 8thSin

Addicted to fansubbing!


63 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum 09 – TL Notes, Observations

  1. Anyone else noticed in the last sequence before ”Seizon Senryaku” when Himari says Huh? her eyes movements make it look like she is looking at Kanba. Did she recall him?

    Posted by DSK | September 14, 2011, 12:47 pm
  2. Well, as a woman, I’m kinda worried about the “no-marks” of Himari womanhood…we need that because without the slightest reference of her being a woman (I totally agree with the 28 and the period, the handle at the 28 tile has 3 circle marks, the last one can be seen as an stylized ovum, plus the elevator is all red and going down…)then we have a child becoming a bride. Of course, all men would be happy with that and won’t see any problem…except that, that’s really a problem. So…no, the episode is not about Himari being a woman, is about her past and her not being a porcelain doll, she’s a human being with a body of her own (that’s why she rejects Sanetoshi). I really wish that the hat is just another side of her, that would be liberating in a world where anime girls are just furniture of a Harem…

    Posted by Kirina | September 14, 2011, 9:10 pm
  3. Regarding those penguin marks that we see everywhere…

    I think that all of those black/white yingyang penguins link together their fate circle. On the box with the three frozen penguins you first had a seal with the emperor penguin (PENGUING FORCE!) which then came off. As I see it, it was something that wasn’t supposed to happen (induced by an external force), but then became a part of that fate.

    Natsume’s slingshot isolates them from the circle, hence why Kanba’s past girlfriends lost their memory after being shot by the red bullet.

    What do you think?

    Posted by Tetraoxygen | September 15, 2011, 11:24 pm
  4. 日本語でコメントするけど許してね。

    わたしを離さないで カズオ・イシグロ


    この物語はイギリスの小説”Never Let Me Go”の日本語版タイトルで、患者を救うために作られた人権のない臓器提供用クローン達の物語なんだけど、この本の内容ははオウム真理教の地下鉄サリン事件と同様にアニメのテーマとしては衝撃的なので、「カエルくん東京を救う」のようにはいかずに意図的に背景に隠したんじゃないかな。




    Posted by ひじ | September 20, 2011, 5:28 am
    • 正直、そのカバーだけだったらちょっと微妙だけど、確かにクローンの肝臓提供を「こどもブロイラー」と例えるのもありですね。
      原作の小説は未読だけど映画版”Never Let Me Go”を見たので今思うとアニメの男の子が陽毬にリンゴをあげるシーンが映画でカセットテープを選んでくれたのとちょっと似てる。


      Posted by 8thSin | September 20, 2011, 4:25 pm
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