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Anime, Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum Ep17 – Observations, TL Notes

The second novel was released last week. I don’t intend to ever be ahead at the time of writing episodic posts, so all speculations made will remain spoiler-free.

I want to focus a bit on the presentation first. The composition in these scenes are absolutely remarkable.

The bottle and the Tokyo Tower divide the screen/canvas into two halves. Tabuki side is balanced by two low objects to each side and hanging lamps even out the bottle (this might be easier to see if you covered half of the screen).

Left side is not balanced against the bottle, but against the right side. The couch takes up more screen/canvas space to cover for the lamps, and is balanced by Yuri sitting farther to the left than Tabuki. Few scenes later, this scene is repeated, only with Yuri standing up. Notice she is now placed a bit more to the right in order to compensate for the extra height, still maintaining the compositional balance.

Attention is paid to the tiniest details, and that’s why I say this is one of the reasons I say it’s quite possibly the best directed anime series ever in terms of visual presentation.

Some other examples of deliberately placed asymmetrical balance in this episode.

The final screenshot with the bottle is not balanced in still-picture (label and tower on the left side, far away from the center even though there’s only a few semi-transparent water drops on the right). However, the motion of water drop moving down gives the right side more attention, therefore “weight”, and balances the animation.


The pink drum washing machine made its first appearance in Ep14. In this episode, we have another ad for the identical product. This could very well be the Penguindrum that they were searching for. I have mentioned the inconsistency in Japanese title and the official English title of this anime a long time ago. It’s very possible the Japanese pronunciation “Pingudoramu” is a hybrid of “pink”, “penguin”, and “drum (washer)”.

This whole thing reminds me of a 2007 movie: Bubble e Go!! Time Machine wa Drum-shiki (lit. Go to the Bubble era!! Time Machine is drum type).
The protagonist in the story travels back in time to 1990 in a washing machine that turned into a time machine from an accidental research discovery. She was sent by the government to stop the Japanese economical bubble burst.

It’s impossible to tell if the movie will be parodied for this show, but given what we’ve been shown so far (transfer to another timeline, 1995 tragedy, pink washing machine), it’s certainly a possibility. It should also be noted that the term “Binary (0 and 1) World Line” was in the first OP.

As for the movie, it’s a decent comedy flick starring Hirosue Ryouko (who also starred in Academy Award Best Foreign Film Okuribito (2008), which I subbed a while back). Someone uploaded the entire movie on YouTube, so it’s still not too late to check it out.


This episode will probably remembered as the “Takoyaki Episode“.

If by some miracle you’re new to Japanese culture/anime and don’t know what “takoyaki” is, it’s a healthy junk food in Japan (they’re most commonly sold in stalls at festivals).

1. Slice octopus legs into pieces.
2. Wrap them in a blend of takoyaki powder (mostly wheat flour),
3. water, and eggs.
4. Cook, and finally add flavors 🙂

Takoyaki is popular in Osaka (and many famous takoyaki shops are located there). The end card comment was said in Osaka dialect in case you care.

Kanba’s pretty set on doing everything by himself and tells off Shouma.
Meanwhile, his penguin is getting soaked in octopus ink. Hmm… he wants to keep Shouma pure while he gets tainted doing all those things needed for the family.

You’re pretty lame, so fate wants to keep you watching in the sidelines while Kanba gets all the action.

#3 is strong as hell unlike Himari from what we’ve seen so far. I wonder when we’ll see the true power of the princess.

Himari being dense as usual, and Kanba is like, whatever…

Then, she drops the bomb, and Kanba is like o.O

Ep1 slogan, remember?
Garbage and waste etc have been getting a lot of emphasis lately. I’m still thinking environmental protection was Pingroup / Kenzan’s motivation behind the attack.

Sanetoshi-sensei agrees.

The most unexpected attack of the penguin hat.

It just never gets old.

Now, I’m not sure if Sanetoshi’s medicine is capable of keeping her alive forever. She would probably need regular injection if it only replenishes her life force like Kanba’s “heart”.

She clearly has access to fate, but refuses to tell them what the Penguindrum is. Maybe because it wouldn’t be pure if they knew about it?

I really hope it’s not something corny and predictable like “love”, but everything is pointing into that direction.

Just like Utena, Ikuhara knows how to break the patterns so we don’t get bored from repetition. Once again, all the action occurs after Shouma is gone.

Maybe it’s Kanba’s red glowing heart. Anything tangible would be nice.

Gosh, Kanba must be crushed soon in fabulous max survival strategy. Isn’t it electrifying? Nothing in this world is pointless, and one must be punished for their crimes. Destiny!

Crazy symbolism going on. Tokyo Tower is presumably the David Tower in this world, which Momoka had changed. This symbol of fate transfer (and perhaps Momoka) is contained in a bottle. I don’t think this was done just for aesthetic purposes.

Perhaps Momoka is being trapped by someone (i.e. Sanetoshi or the “Goddess”) or something (between spacetime or Penguindrum).
It could be foreshadowing for Penguindrum that has the power to change fate inside.
Or maybe it symbolizes the “world tree” as mentioned in Mary had a Little Lamb story in Ep12, once again contained by something. After all, the glowing Tokyo Tower certainly seems like the source of light in the dark night.

It also divides them in the middle… Their opinions clash, but attachment to Momoka is one thing they share in common.

Another beautiful scene.
Now that I think of it, this line could’ve been smoothened out a bit with “meant the world to me during” instead of “were my world”, but I just had to have the term “world” instead of just “everything” in this line to reflect what Sanetoshi says next…

Memories are often beautified in the human mind, but the wording here is especially intriguing in that Sanetoshi is supposedly a superior being, and he’s talking about the “lower” world of humans.
In addition, (assuming “transferring to another fate” means going to another parallel universe) there are many worlds existing in this show… literally making Yuri’s “world during childhood” a different world.

Yozawaya is a parody of Yuzawaya, a large chain store for handicrafts. They went to the Shinjuku store.

As seen from Penguin’s Coffee, SANY, and Ponasonic etc, pretty much every single brand/logo name is a parody of the real thing.

Awesome “gun” fights coming up! Also, the Takakuras are targeted for punishment.

Of course, there’s the possibility of the curtain being nothing more than a plot device to get Yuri in the same store as Himari and Ringo later, but I interpreted it as a display of Yuri’s loneliness.

There’s no way such a luxury condo isn’t well-heated. She feels cold because they are on the other side of the light. She said Momoka was her light amidst darkness in one of the previous episodes, and she’s unreachable with the glass (some obstacle) in the way. In addition, getting a curtain to block that faint light shows her refusal to accept this world line, the world given to her by Momoka.

Also note that the key term “curtain” is in the current OP as well as previous EDs.

Against the humanity? Momoka? …Tabuki?

Like, dead bad.
Remember, Sanetoshi, that troll puppet master gave Himari the permission to leave.

Hahaha! And she’s in love with him.
I guess being around when they’re vulnerable really is best way of seducing a girl 😛

That’s one fabulous gun. By the way, possession of unregistered guns are illegal in Japan, and that certainly doesn’t look like a hunting rifle.

Fabulous bow gun. It may be possible to register this one as a hunting weapon lol.
Anyone want to venture a guess on what “HSK” stands for?

Verbal fights between two women are pretty scary.

Then it escalates into gun fight with feathers and rose petals blowing and stuff. Verbal fight at the same time, of course.

And yeah, 465MB on gg release ain’t for nothing. This episode is absolutely beautiful. So awesome that VLC died on me when I was taking the Natsume pic (and no, I’m using MPC only to take ones I forgot).

Sure is Utena elevator reference.

Remember “whimsical God” (Ep1)?

It didn’t seem like Tabuki was lying when he said those lines. Also said those things won’t bring Momoka back. But by end of the episode…

Remember “Goddess” handing down the punishment (Ep12)?
Tabuki is so evil now.Shouma has been whining forever. And nope, they were not forgiven. The Takakura Family just can’t get a break.

The pacing for this episode was rather slow, but it’s visually impressive (three people credited for storyboard), and it seems like Tabuki finally shows his true colors. I have a feeling the next episode will be a special one.

Episode rating: 9.0/10

About 8thSin

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28 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum Ep17 – Observations, TL Notes

  1. “Memories are often beautified in the human mind, but the wording here is especially intriguing in that Tabuki is supposedly a superior being, and he’s talking about the “lower” world of humans”
    Don’t you mean Sanetoshi?

    Posted by Kosmit | November 4, 2011, 6:35 am
  2. “Anyone want to venture a guess on what “HSK” stands for?”

    Himari Shouma Kanba?

    Himari Shojo Kakumei (wrong word order, right?)?

    (Haven’t watched with the subs yet).

    Posted by Hisoka | November 4, 2011, 12:15 pm
  3. The rose petals during the fight remind me of Utena as well – maybe a hint that Natsume is on the losing team, since the loser’s rose always exploded into petals? Amazing episode and amazing notes as always!

    Posted by KBr | November 4, 2011, 2:31 pm
    • I thought Yuri’s “angel feathers” symbolized light, and black rose was used frequently in Utena, so it kind of represented darkness.

      You made an interesting connection though. I guess we’ll see!
      The story certainly would be more interesting if Yuri and Tabuki gets full control of the diary.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 4, 2011, 8:53 pm
  4. What’s up with Tabuki and the champagne glasses?

    He has two of them. One is identical to Yuri’s but the other one is a bit more elaborate.
    Maybe it represents Momoka somehow? Why does he drink from the second glass as well?
    (Look carefully at him right before Yuri says the room is cold).

    Maybe it has something to do with his contradictory attitude of rejecting revenge, yet deciding to punish the Takakuras?

    Posted by Nhlrtkl | November 4, 2011, 8:38 pm
    • I noticed how the camera was focusing into the champagne glasses as well, but I had no idea what they were supposed to represent.

      Those two glasses could be the choices he was facing…

      *Edit: I just re-watched that scene, and you’re right. He drank from that fancier, second glass.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 4, 2011, 8:56 pm
    • I think they poured the third glass (the more elaborate one) out for Momoka as an offering of sorts.

      He drinks from it to show that he thinks of himself as carrying out Momoka’s will, instead of his own – he will punish the Takakuras for her.

      Posted by zenzo | November 5, 2011, 9:19 am
      • The problem with that interpretation is that he said himself that “Momoka probably wouldn’t want vengeance”. I think he was sincere, and punishment wouldn’t have been his course of action if he was carrying out her will.

        Posted by 8thSin | November 5, 2011, 3:35 pm
  5. The brown sweater was for Kanba, but when he didn’t like the color, Himari lied and acted like it was for some other man.

    If pure maidens can’t revolutionize their world like Yuri said, will the crystal princess force Kanba to get with Himari, in turn giving her the power to revolutionize the world? :/ Seems like that’s where some of this thing is going.

    Posted by Hisoka | November 4, 2011, 8:38 pm
  6. Why does everyone hate Shouma? He’s clearly the more trustworthy (and balanced) of the brothers. Besides, unless your name is Himari Takakura, Kanba is pretty much guaranteed not to care one piddling bit for your sorry ass. Not a particularly attractive personality, imho. Or is this just the “bad boys are cooler” thing again…?

    Posted by joeycrunch | November 4, 2011, 10:46 pm
  7. I don’t remember her getting permission to leave… When was that?

    Posted by Yuumei | November 5, 2011, 12:02 am
  8. I’d like to point out the armillary sphere (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillary_sphere) that often makes appearances whenever fate is being talked about; which seemed to get a special notice in this episode.


    And here:

    While I’m not heavily leaning towards it actually being the Penguin Drum (more really as a way for the owner to keep tabs on whomever those spheres represent), I am actually wondering whom those spheres represent. It seems logical that they represent people (possibly the 3 siblings being a given with the 4th position being debatable), but what threw me off was the fact that the glowing red spheres bear striking resemblance to Kanba’s glowing red heart. Which means that the other 3 might not be the most obvious choice, and that there are another possible 3 who have that same ability.

    Whatever it means, the nature of the device shows that whomever the spheres represent are all similarly bound together by fate.

    Posted by Linksysruler | November 5, 2011, 1:19 am
    • Yeah, this was discussed in one of the previous episodes.

      I think it’s very possible that the Penguindrum was “right there all along”, and the way those dots shine certainly are strange. It’s also one of the symbols in OP/ED, so it’s probably important in some way even if it wasn’t the Penguindrum itself.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 5, 2011, 3:25 am
  9. Thank you for doing this!

    Oh, this episode. Directly saying war is brewing, the tension building, and finally, Tabuki. Though it was inevitable that he’d have an ominous turn, I was still fooled until the elevator – given his earlier talk of rejecting revenge, I was relieved for a moment in the coffee shop, thinking, oh, he’ll save them from Yuri! Then, nope. “Whimsical god” and punishing goddess indeed. Which is interesting because, thus far, even with the expected shadow, he’s just been a relatively normal human affected by Momoka. Is he just an agent of fate’s punishment, or is there something more to him? (As this is Ikuhara, I doubt Momoka affected him so much only because they were good friends / childhood crushes. Can’t wait for more of his background). Also, why is it Himari that gives Yuri and Tabuki such sudden bursts of hate? I mean, I know why in the sense that Himari was randomly chosen by the goddess. But, Tabuki taught the brothers and Yuri put up with Shouma, despite having ample opportunity to hurt him. Obviously could be (and probably were) fronts. Introduce “the daughter” and we’ve got full on weapons, evil elevator abductions, etc. Simply knowing that she’s ill or means the most to the brothers, thus would hurt the family the most to hurt her, or simply still the one chosen for punishment (in this case because of naughtiness encouraged by Sanetoshi), or…

    Posted by Jules | November 5, 2011, 1:53 am
  10. Somehow, I feel like Himari’s life was bought by the death (disappearing) of Momoka…

    Posted by Baś | November 5, 2011, 7:11 am
  11. Doesn’t the shape of the wine bottle resemble Sanetoshi’s medicine vials?

    I was watching episode 1 with the commentary track, and saw one of the trinkets in the Takakura’s home was a model of Tokyo Tower. It would be a chore to catalog everything they have. Well, Ikuhara mentioned that it’s all based on stuff in his house.

    I like when Kanba assumed the sweater was for Sanetoshi, then threw the box at the trash can. He missed both ways.

    Posted by Telliamed | November 5, 2011, 11:50 am
    • It does, but wine bottles are all shaped like that, and Sanetoshi’s vials were pretty standard in design.

      It’ll be fun to re-watch this series when it finish airing for sure! We’ll definitely catch a lot that we’ve missed.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 5, 2011, 3:38 pm
  12. I’d like your take on the reappearance of the washing machine or dryer (last time in a magazine ad with Yuri, this time on a billboard). Weird comment, right?

    I was thinking a while ago that a penguin drum was a drum inside a machine, in this case some kind of fate apparatus. The reappearance of a washing machine would seem to establish it as a symbol, and since a washing machine has a drum, might that lend itself to also suggest the penguin drum is part of a fate machine? Other drum symbols: the armillary sphere mentioned in the comment above, the pink circle symbol that’s also a (re)cycle symbol, and a lot of Rock Over Japan including the pod that gets launched.

    Posted by Nanika | November 5, 2011, 12:52 pm
    • I was thinking of posting something about that, but forgot because I didn’t download our release (which has TS unlike the script I was using) when I originally took the screenshots.

      That drum washer ad reminded me of this Japanese movie called “Bubble e Go!!” (2007). I will write more about it in this post later.

      Thanks for reminding me!

      Posted by 8thSin | November 5, 2011, 3:48 pm
  13. Would it be presumptuous to think that the Penguin Drum is Momoka encased within a drum? Yuri did say Momoka isn’t dead and Tabuki even went on to agree with her. At the end of the episode it sure felt like Tabuki was going to take them to a facility that held Momoka.

    It would make sense if Momoka’s consciousness that resided in Himari’s hat could do nothing without her body. Tabuki and Yuri plan to bring her spirit back with Himari as a sacrifice, which also serves as the punishment for the Takakuras.

    Posted by geassed | November 6, 2011, 5:04 am
    • That would explain the “tower confined in bottle” as well. Although, Tabuki’s tone sounded like he didn’t really believe that Momoka is not dead yet in that scene.

      I also can’t really see Momoka’s personality changing so much from a girl who wants to help everybody to cynical and irresponsibility one of the “princess”, but I guess personality could change when you’re stuck as a hat for years 😛

      Posted by 8thSin | November 6, 2011, 6:39 pm


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