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Anime, Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum Ep18 – Observations, TL Notes

So, it’s finally that I’ve been waiting for. Tabuki episode.



It’s been quite a while since I saw the painting, but it’s unmistakable. A direct reference to Claude Monet’s Study of a Figure Outdoors (Facing Right). It seems like those art history classes in university weren’t complete waste of money 🙂

Music notes, however, is not my strong suit, so if anyone recognize the piece in the background, please let me know.

kaz: As far as I can tell, the sheet music in the background is the same as the piano piece Tabuki’s little brother plays, albeit possibly missing some notes.
S_: The notated music on the top line is from the song the baby is playing. The other lines appear to be different and don’t make a clear tune. 


As is this one. Woman with a Parasol (Camille and Jean Monet, his wife and son). It’s sort of interesting that both Tabuki and Yuri flashbacks are heavily influenced by European art.
Read altairandvega for more information about the piece and how it relates to Tabuki’s background.

Also, we discover how Tabuki became who he is now, as well as “meaning of my life” he mentioned in the previous episode. Once again, it’s a parent issue during childhood.

Telliamed: They’re mirror-images of each other. A father whose wife abandoned him, and a mother who walked out on her husband.


The bird given to him by his mother. The way that purple shadow extended was a  bit disturbing. The bird is black too… I wonder if this bird was somehow the harbinger of misfortune.

I guess this is the reason Tabuki is the “Prince of Birds”. I will touch a bit more on this subject later.

The obvious question is, where is his brother now? Perhaps he’ll show up later as Double-H’s composer or something.

There’s some really demented child mentality disorder going on here. He badly miscalculated the course of his life so early on… the obvious and perhaps better choice for such demented mind would’ve been orchestrating an accidental death of his brother rather than self harm. Obviously, this is the scar that’s been the topic of speculation for the past few episodes.

One could say that Tabuki’s heart was still somewhat pure at this stage in life, but chaos is starting to build up. Notice the purple background as well, just like the shadow that grew from the birdcage.


I am very confused by this scene. The bandage was spiraling out of his hand, when the logical direction would’ve been towards his hand, trapping his hand – therefore his talent, to cover the injury. If it wasn’t his talent/potential, then what was rusted shut inside, and what does the spiraling bandage mean?

The spinning motion suggests fate, but this is a strange presentation that stood out for me.

The lighting in this scene is quite incredible. I’m once again impressed by the distribution of production budget in this show.

I think I’ve seen this scene somewhere before… it’s cool as hell. Is it from Utena?


Why did Tabuki think Kenzan (Takakuras’ father) would know about Momoka?

This could be a metaphor for what he will feel like after punishing the perpetrator of (supposedly) Momoka’s death, but given the fact that the organization is handling things like Natsume’s memory-erasing ball, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they knew about Penguindrum and Momoka as well

This is almost identical imagery seen in Ep9, “Himari Episode”. Remember, this is where Himari and (supposedly) Mario met in Himari’s “dream”. I think this is a place between life and death (human world and the netherworld). What happens here does not seem to be real as you will see in following screens.

This place can’t possibly be an actual, physical place, like an orphanage…


Tabuki actually says later that “I’ll become an invisible man”, which I am pretty sure he misinterpreted since he was a kid, so we chose a less derpy “I’ll become invisible”.

I have a feeling we will never get the true meaning of this line, other than perhaps turning into a spirit and their bodies will no longer exist. I doubt all those kids would turn into ethereal creatures.

A certain fabulous librarian: I took it as a social commentary- since Tabuki is no longer talented, he is now no longer useful in his mother’s eyes. So the child broiler imho is basically somthing that strips you of all of your creativity and talents, brainwashing you into turning a completely common person with no remarkable traits- thus, “invisible”. Maybe this is Ikuni’s way of criticizing the educational system? 

ひじ: {Translated} [“Invisible entity”…] This term is another buzz word, one of the top 10 in 1997 Neologism/Buzz Word Award’s top 10 winner alongside other words such as “Mononoke hime (Princess Mononoke).”
It was a word frequently used by the teenager who was responsible for the serial killing that year, and it spread, starting with student councilors and educational staff.
Concepts like “dysfunctional family” and “the seven basic roles” were brought into the public mind as a result, as well as the importance of child psychology and counseling.
Taking that into consideration, it can be speculated that Ikuhara wanted to depict Momoka as savior of Tabuki from turning into “The Lost Child” in the “seven basic roles”, as the culprit of the serial murder incident was.

The serial murder in 1997 is known as the Kobe Serial Child Murder Incident.


This is not a real place exhibit 1: Momoka turns into Superwoman. A figurative “breaking the cage” here.


Corny line.
Right: There’s a LOT of attention paid to color and light in this episode. I’m not the expert in this TBH, so some input on it about all these deliberate allusions would be great.


Of course, Ikuhara is not just going to let a corny line like that slip.
Exhibit 2: Notice again the dark color similar to what we’ve seen in “Himari Episode” Ep9, Ringo in the “wedding episode” Ep7, and Natsume episode Ep16, just to name a few. Ep9 and Ep16 are literally hovering between life and death, while Ep7 was a psychological one.


Exhibit 3: The Child Broiler Administration guy’s announcement scene is pretty surreal. That sure sounds scary as hell to me, and of course, no one panics because they’re all children in despair.

Literally, a giant child shredder. Don’t you get your hair stuck in there! It’s only for children.


I’ve been skipping OPs, and to be honest, I didn’t even notice these glass shards for Himari scene in the new OP. These shards are shown again after shredder scene.

Are those crystals? That would explain how she’s the “Princess of the Crystal”.

On the other hand, it may mean Himari had actually gone through the shredder, which caused her illness. That would apply to Mario as well. Maybe their life force was taken?

Hisoka: The shards in the child broiler shredder scene are also like shards of a CD or DVD after going through a disc shredder, like the kids are data (or music) that’s being obliterated.

I really love this scene. They are almost on a horizontal line, but the perspective point for the “back wall” really creates a sense of depth to this scene.


Of course, it could be the lighting effect, but her eyes  are noticeably redder here. The color of fire?

This is almost by pure coincidence, but Momoka’s line translate into “come back to me”, the title of the OP song (although those are completely different lines in Japanese). Not sure if it was intentional.

The bandage spiral here again, it’s leaving his hand as it should this time.


The cage is opened, and the black bird flies free and turns into a white bird.

This is some serious symbolism going on, but I can’t really connect the dots at the moment… It could be his state of mind, but remember, the bird was given to Tabuki before his little brother was born, and then there’s the purple shadow thing.


I originally interpreted this as a matching scar, but it was changed at the editor’s discretion for the final release. This could very well be the “bond” that ties them together as destined persons/soulmates.

Exhibit 4: Clearly, she had initiated another fate transfer to save Tabuki. That flame scene must have only happened in Tabuki’s mind, since that’s not the way it burns from what we’ve seen.


The elevator’s line was blown up, and it goes into free fall before it suddenly stops. I don’t understand how the yarn ball goes up. It seems too elaborate for just setting up for “red thread of fate”.

Newton’s Law of Motion (Galileo Galilei’s Law of Falling Bodies) dictates that objects of different masses would fall at the same pace. With #3 located inside the elevator, air friction shouldn’t cause the yarn ball to fall slower unless #3 threw it outside. There’s some really funny physics in this elevator shaft that makes me wonder if the law of physics is different in this Pingroup building.


Evil Tabuki.
As we have thought all along, wherever Kanba’s getting the money from, it’s from an illegal source. However, the organization is not powerful enough to control the police yet.



How does Tabuki know so much? This can’t be just from photos sent to him by Sanetoshi. He either had been in contact with him for quite some time, or getting his info from other sources. It’s hard to imagine he would be working with Sanetoshi, who seems to be the true leader the organization that “stole” Momoka from him though.

He feels like a victim himself, which might be the reason he decided to seek revenge despite it not being “what Momoka would’ve wanted.”


Momoka might have been Super Frog after all. She saved Tokyo if what Tabuki is saying is true.


It seems he really doesn’t know. His tone in the end, “If I did…” really bothers me because it sounds like something important was about to be said.

Crime and Punishment again. This show is all about duality



and history repeating itself.

Tabuki-sensei knows!


Also notice the “rose petals” in OP and ones falling in screen 00086 above. Those appear to be stylized blood. Does that mean Shouma will face a similar ordeal?

Just as in “Kanba Episode” in Ep5, #1 turns into a hero again and saves the day somehow. I have no idea what it did, and the glass breaking in its eyes must mean something. Could that be the life force from Child Broiler used here to power him up?

Another funny physic going on in the elevator shaft. I thought maybe #1 tied the rope to his leg, and that was how he was keeping it from falling, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here (and the rope was pulling up in one scene). The only explanation then, is that #1’s glass-breaking eyes caused it to weigh as much as the elevator, which balances the weight on both sides of the rope.


Could that monster be the darkness brought by the black bird? If so, these screens are another “history repeat” from his childhood. His heart wasn’t pitch-black after all.

Also, how did he save her? Can he really fly like a bird?

Some serious symbolism again here, with abstract trumpet angel from Hmari’s room in the background. Help me out here.

nhva: I’d assume it’s a representation of Israfel/Raphael, who sounds the trumpet twice during the Judgement – the first blow ending all life, the second reviving everyone to be judged.

Shouma shows up too late again, as usual. This is getting old, but it’s really well-executed here with animation when he stops.


Really simple use of penguins, yet so effective. I really love the elegance of the presentation of emptiness of Tabuki in this scene. Tabuki has truly lost the meaning of his life now that he realized Momoka is truly gone, and he almost turned into a monster just like Kenzan.

The penguins never cease to amaze.

The colors! These paint streaks appeared throughout the episode. Representation of chaos and conflict in Tabuki’s mind?

No longer pure evil. The coldness is still there, but it also seems like there’s resignation, that Momoka really is gone.

There was real love there from Yuri? Their “fake” marriage is still a mystery. Just what were they trying to achieve together that they couldn’t do alone? Even then, why did they have to get married in the first place?

Beautiful ending using the episode title, and character development. The episode title can be the obvious “be there for me”, in contrast to how Shouma had been saying they weren’t meant to be together because of their family’s history, and Ringo more learned about their past, but still wants to be with him.
The Japanese title is phrased in such way that it can also be interpreted as “So Please Choose {Think About/Do Things for} Me”. Notice how Shouma is holding Himari in his arms as these words are said by Ringo. Shouma had come for Himari and not for her. She realizes that she’ll always be number two, but she still wants to be his number one.

This marks the end of major character flashbacks (unless we’ll actually get a Sanetoshi, Double-H, or Shoma episode). Every flashback was really well done, and really, they get me to sympathize with the character in focus each time. With all the main character backgrounds finally revealed, the story should finally be heading for the conclusion starting next episode.

Episode rating: 10/10

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Discussion

57 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum Ep18 – Observations, TL Notes

  1. I found explanation to the “How the hell Tabuki catched Himari and so on…” problem. Here:
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/833/mawaru2.png/

    Posted by BananowyJE | November 13, 2011, 5:31 pm
  2. 毎週ここの考察を楽しみにしています。
    そして読んでいて思ったのですが、今回は手が印象的なエピソードでしたね。

    登場人物がそれぞれ、愛する人を繋ぎとめるために左手を犠牲にする。
    タブキは自分で左手を傷つける→桃果も左手に火傷をおう→冠葉は左手でワイヤーを繋ぎとめる→陽毬は冠葉ために左手を離す
    現在のタブキが左手に爆弾のスイッチを持っているところは皮肉でしたね。
    桃果の「私のために生きて」と、陽毬の「自分のために生きて」の対比も気になる。
    この四人の流れが意味深で、思わず書き込んでしまいました・・。失礼しました!

    Posted by モル | November 13, 2011, 6:29 pm
    • コメントありがとうございます。

      今週は明らかにそれぞれの左手が強調されていたけど、確かに全てが「愛する人のため」にやった事だと言えますね。
      爆弾のスイッチでさえ桃果への愛がゆえに行った行動かもしれません。

      桃果の「私のために生きて」と、陽毬の「自分のために生きて」の対比は完全に見逃してしまいました。鋭い観測です!
      今後もぜひ気軽に書き込んでください 🙂

      Posted by 8thSin | November 14, 2011, 3:02 am
  3. Like you said, the use of lighting in this episode was brilliant. You briefly skimmed over how Momoka’s eyes were redder in that scene, though in my opinion, it was the lighting around her whole body in general. At the same time however, Tabuki’s surrounding lighting was a bluish-purple to balance it out (http://i.imgur.com/Uq37Gh.jpg).

    And then what I absolutely loved, was how the same lighting effects were used again in the scene where Kanba was trying to save Himari, but with the effects swapped, showing both the similarity between the situations, but also the role-reversal.

    Here: http://i.imgur.com/ETq66h.jpg

    And here: http://i.imgur.com/NuVM4h.jpg

    Posted by Linksysruler | November 13, 2011, 10:35 pm
  4. Yuri and Tabuki seem to have no interest in punishing Shouma, strangely enough. Yuri could have hurt Shouma when he was knocked out…actually, they both had plenty of opportunities to hurt him, but they didn’t. When Tabuki made the phone call, he called Kanba and not Shouma. Then, when he’s talking to Yuri at the end, he says “what would you have done with those two?” Why not “those three?” Why just Kanba and Himari?

    Posted by Rita | November 15, 2011, 11:49 am
    • Tabuki meant “those two” as in Himari and Ringo.

      Remember, those two were the ones she invited for “dinner”. Tabuki tricked them and then called in Kanba after.
      Yuri only had the intention of hurting Himari though.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 15, 2011, 2:55 pm
  5. You didn’t mention that just before leaving in the elevator, Tabuki told Ringo to “not grow up like him”,probably she was heading the same direction before meeting Shouma and Himari, what do you think?

    Posted by Carlos Sánchez Balta | November 16, 2011, 1:46 pm
    • I believe that line was just to show that he regretted about what he’s done, and what he’s become. Although, Ringo was obsessed about Momoka at one point in time as well. Maybe Tabuki didn’t know she got over that already.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 17, 2011, 12:49 am
  6. I’ll bet the penguins are invisible to most people because the penguins are made of invisible children.

    Episode 9:

    Episode 18:

    Posted by Joe | November 16, 2011, 10:19 pm
    • Oh, those conveyor belts are almost the same. I can’t see the characters on the second screen though.

      It’s very possible that they’re made of “hopes” or “dreams” etc of children. That “glass shattering by #1’s eyes” certainly suggest a connection between them and the Child Broiler.

      Posted by 8thSin | November 17, 2011, 12:51 am
      • If it helps, they’re all flipped as well as rotated. I flipped the picture upside-down and tried to trace them:

        Part of ど is covered up (see the episode 9 screenshot), so my tracing isn’t exactly what you’d see in a less-blurry screenshot.

        Posted by Joe | November 17, 2011, 2:10 am
      • Oh, those are identical then 🙂

        Posted by 8thSin | November 17, 2011, 7:00 pm
  7. I think the child broiler thing is like the place you go after you die. It probably has something to do with reincarnation or nirvanha. I think all souls get mashed up and then sent into new babies or something. I’m guessing the “fate” that is being fought is death in general. Someone (used to be Momoka) has the power to avert death. The Takakura parents and their organization were either trying to use the power for the own ends or restore the natural order.

    PInk-haired dude, rabbits, and the penguin hat kids are most likely the administrators of this whole death-soul mashup-redistribution scheme. Some are angry that the penguindrum is messing up the world, some probably want to use it for ther own ends.

    Posted by Diss | November 18, 2011, 12:15 pm
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