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Anime, Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum Ep21 – TL Notes, Observations

Some mysteries solved, and I feel there’s a lot of story development in this episode.

Ayamein this week’s opening the scene where we have the shadow of penguinhatter and a man ‘dancing’ gets some vines behind it. reminded me of utena and of the tree of life… what’s up with this symbolism?

No idea what this is, but the producers sure went out of their way to add this BG effect.

Hisokait originally appeared as background in the first episode when Penguin-Hat Himari pulled the flame-heart out of Kanba-kun, closing the first Rock Over Japan of the series. 

Himari and Kanba(?)’s positions are reversed from Ep1. In retrospect, that flame-heart pulling scene gave her life. Is this a sign that Himari will somehow receive another source of life? Instead of being taken, he will give her life this time?

This week’s slogan. Pretty straight forward.

It seems Pingroup and Penguin Force / Kiga Group are fighting each other behind the scene. Pingroup and Momoka’s relationship is still unknown, but given the fact that Momoka supposedly “won” against Sanetoshi, it may be a group Momoka helped create, and that’s why they’re ruling the world.
Pingroup is most likely the “greedy men” mentioned by Kenzan last episode and later in this episode in Kanba’s hallucination.

Himari already met the tabloid journalist at this point and reacts to it.

There was an “Elephant’s Egg Manjuu” in Ep5, I don’t know why it’s Panda now. Maybe it’s an endangered species theme…

I’m sure many of you were wondering why their home looked so conspicuous. It appears to be the effort of the brothers to cheer up Himari.

Her fear comes true later in this episode.

Fairy tales. Not sure if these are based on real ones.

It wasn’t a coincidence Himari’s room and bed looked so dreamlike. Himari is almost like a princess in a fairy tale.

Remember, Seizon Senryaku Himari comes out of the white bear’s stomach in the transformation scene. I don’t know what this means, but it’s probably not a coincidence.The penguin hat may be powered by love or caring etc after all.

I hope there will be an explanation episode for Survival Strategy transformation scene too.

As I suspected, Kanba was imagining things. This creates a lot of problem for previous episodes, such as why Tabuki believed the false information that Kenzan is leading the group, or the identity of the person leading the group now.

This reminds me of the radio show in Utena. Similarly, it doesn’t seem to occur in the same realm (it’s like characters are expressing their motives to the viewers, just like in Utena).

The doctor sounds like he’s spot on. But once again, maybe it’s just Ikuhara trolling us again. Sanetoshi is supposedly dead too, and he still exists (he calls himself “ghost” as well). Maybe Takakura parents became supreme beings too, or temporarily brought back to life by Sanetoshi.

Alternate reality. Obviously, he would recognize walking into his own office lol


The photo changed in this sequence. Of course, Sanetoshi wasn’t there in earlier photos as well. Could it be the fate transfer that changed the photo in the “real” world?

Because curses are scientifically proven… wait, it’s not.
Still, this may be the same curse Shouma and Natsume seemed to be obsessed with in previous episodes.

Like showing up as a ghost and brainwash Kanba? Hallucination or not, Sanetoshi is probably behind the parents’ appearance.

The brown box at the center of shrines are there to collect money. A typical visitor would toss few coins inside as donation/offering and make a wish. This kind of mirrors what Kanba is doing now: paying money to a supreme being in hopes of curing Himari. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that Sanetoshi is a troll and never intended to cure Himari in the first place.

This is a male Chinese Guardian Lion. I would imagine the focus on this object symbolizes Kanba acting as the protector of the the Takakura home. Interestingly, Kanba matches the Wikipedia description of male lion while Shouma has the characteristics of the female lion.

P.S.:  I’ve never heard of the “Japanese adaptions” mentioned in Wikipedia, and quick search in Japanese turned out nothing too, so it can’t be trusted. Also, Japanese Komainu look different and typically don’t hold a ball with their paws.

Himari realized something by Natsume’s line and I don’t think it’s her impudence, as Natsume suggested in the next line. I guess we’ll see in the remaining episodes.

The end justifies the means. Kanba appears to be pretty high up in the rank, to get people to execute something like this for private purposes. He may even be the leader of Kiga Group now (as Sanetoshi suggests with “my will passed down”), but the way he’s getting money doesn’t look like something a leader would do, and Natsume’s concern about his life taken by the group wouldn’t really apply.

This is a pretty messed up way of storing someone’s body. The abandoned ramen shop’s doors aren’t locked either… Maybe it’s some kind of deceptive scheme. They even make exchange of money here on a regular basis.

Tabuki was almost certainly stabbed here to protect Yuri. The way Yuri showed up in this timing is pretty suspicious too.

Shouma uses the term 「不幸」 as straight up “never find happiness”, but Himari replies in present tense. It should be noted that Himari’s usage of the same term in Japanese means “misfortune”, that she doesn’t think she’s a misfortunate child and doesn’t share Shouma’s pessimistic view of fate.

“Unhappy” was chosen here for better flow and consistency.

I really like the way “crying inside” was presented here. It’s 100 times more powerful than forced tearjerker like Ano Hana ending IMO.

Physical and symbolic parting right here.

The way it’s phrased in Japanese, the missing part is “love with you”.

Shouma noticed something in this picture. I don’t see anything strange with it other than Himari holding an apple… possible plot device for something in remaining episodes.

Literally, this line is “I’ll follow you”, meaning “I place my trust in you to take care of me”. The (sort of) middle of these two options is chosen.
This line kind of shows that Himari is trying to make Kanba think that she had chosen him instead of Shouma. She’s willing to give up her life to save him instead of staying with her “fated person”, so in a sense, she did choose him.

Just boxes -> Black teddy bears.

Duality again? White bear in Survival Strategy appears to symbolize life, then these are premonitions of deaths?Remember last episode’s flashback text? I would imagine this is Kanba’s decision to sever ties with Shouma and Himari’s decision to save him.

Family is the major theme of late, and it sounds like Kanba’s biological father is saying he had choice in picking children to be his son???
He also refers to “family” as if it’s a game or code name for a mission  that he had failed. This is a clear cliffhanger and may be explained in the next episode. I wonder if it has to do with the Child Broiler.

The father’s face is being hidden as usual…  I’m starting to suspect Sanetoshi is Kanba/Natsume’s father (maybe with normal hair color when he was alive etc). Kanba and Natsume are the only ones who know his “real” identity and has business dealings with him, Sanetoshi was the leader of this organization and died (according to the doctor), he was in the Antarctica picture, and Natsume said Kenzan was “going to talk about their father” (which could’ve been a tribute to his accomplishment or a mission that got him killed etc…

“Protect you” is the missing part in this line, it was also in the flashback text.
It’s been 21 episodes, and this is the first time we see “to be continued…” text. Next episode is probably going to be a Kanba episode, showing why he’s become what he is now.

The term “Embrace” has sexual undertone in Japanese when it’s used this way. The line probably means “have sex with me once more”.

The use (sound editing) of BGM was amazing in this episode. The climatic singing n the previous episode was toned down for a sorrow piece and the entire episode had a really nice flow with the BGM matching perfectly to what’s happening. I actually got teary eyed near the end.

Episode rating: 10/10

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Discussion

40 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum Ep21 – TL Notes, Observations

  1. Uh… I think this is episode 21, although the title says episode 22. Typo?

    Posted by me | December 2, 2011, 6:30 pm
  2. I think I’m just reading it too much, but you know how Shouma has the bandage over his eye after their little scuffle? And how in the photo Kanba has one over the exact same eye? I think it shows that Shouma had completely rejected her afterwards and she knows that she can’t make him feel better, whereas with Kanba, actually made him happier. After the ED, there was that one little scene, right? Next to Himari, Kanba’s colouring looks extremely muted and it stands out when her hand is putting the bandage on his. She is sort of the brightness in his life.

    Kanba severed ties with Shouma, and Shouma severed ties with Himari. Look at the height thingie on the door again, I think that was sort of forshadowing that. Take away the top, and it just all falls apart.

    what am i doing

    Posted by ciaobuu | December 2, 2011, 7:28 pm
    • Good catch with the bandage. Although, this happened after Himari’s departure… maybe he realized how much Himari cared for him, just like when they took Kanba in? Although Himari went to Kanba’s side, Shouma doesn’t know that, and it’s not like he kicked her out because he was jealous.
      As a story, he’ll probably try to get her back, maybe even try to save her life his own way later.

      As for the height bar, it’s something commonly done in Japanese families. I think it’s sort of an emphasis of their happy time as a family.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 2, 2011, 8:31 pm
      • I, too, assumed Shouma’s reaction to that photo was regarding the bandage, but in the sense that he had just then realized where Himari had gone off to.

        Also wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your notes/musings every week. You’re clearly having a great time working on this show.

        Posted by Kirin Lemon | December 2, 2011, 11:41 pm
  3. I just assumed that Sanetoshi wasn’t in the ice station photo before because putting him in the picture earlier in the series would give away a plot point. It’s like we are only noticing him now, and he wasn’t in the photo before because he wasn’t in our field of recognition. But it could be more literal like you suggest.

    I also felt like Kanba seeing his parents had less to do with Sanetoshi’s plotting than it did with the idea S. talks about, about memories persisting as a presence (“ghosts”). In that way, Sanetoshi might be more hands-off than we give him credit, more like a manifestation of the character’s wishes. Himari may be alive because Sho and Kanba want it, and their wanting appears in the form of a doctor’s medicine, this rather than Sanetoshi actively showing up at the hospital with a cure.

    Thanks for the run-down!

    Posted by Hisoka | December 2, 2011, 7:37 pm
    • Yeah, that’s another way of interpreting it. However, these photos weren’t particularly seen from anyone’s POV, so I don’t think not noticing is the reason behind it.

      Sanetoshi being manifestation of their wishes is an interesting idea, although unlike their parents, he doesn’t seem to be granting any wishes… in fact, he’s making things hard like Kanba having to get dirty money lol

      Posted by 8thSin | December 2, 2011, 8:35 pm
      • But it wasn`t Sanetoshi that suggested money in trade for the cure. It`s been a while, but I think Sanewtoshi asked for something valuable and Kanba suggested money for it.

        Posted by Jun | December 3, 2011, 2:01 pm
      • Yeah that’s true, but he did ask for a price, and he seems to be making things hard for Kanba.

        Posted by 8thSin | December 3, 2011, 7:24 pm
  4. I love how they play with the saturation levels in this episode. The interior of the house was always shown as really vibrant and colourful when Kanba, Shoma, and Himari are together (like in episode 1). When they show the house after Kanba and Himari depart, they desaturate the colours so that everything is grey and dull. It was also very dull before Kanba and Shoma paint the house to cheer Himari up. The once lively, vibrant, warm relationship between the children has since devolved into cold, dull nothingness. I just thought that was really clever.

    Posted by FootBallHead | December 2, 2011, 7:37 pm
    • Yeah, this is a very common cinematic presentation technique, but they’ve done it magnificently. I especially liked that painting scene that started almost monochrome, but then extremely highly saturated colors from paintbrushes filled the screen.

      They are very careful with use of colors in this entire series. I agree that the saturation of their home reflects the liveliness of the time they spend as a family. There are other scenes in previous episodes with distinct hues… unfortunately, I’m not an expert at it so I can only make guesses, but the flashback with Kanba hanging in blue hues, for example, could mean the desperation of the situation they’re in.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 2, 2011, 8:51 pm
  5. Powerful episode, as always. The BGM and sound effects were really amazing. Sometimes, I still can’t believe this airs on TV.

    The parents being “ghosts” should’ve been obvious, nevertheless I didn’t see it coming. Chiemi’s missing scar was rather noticeable, though. I sort of hope they disclose the Takakuras end, as brutal as it may be. Were they murdered there and left to rot this entire time? Did Kanba find out, and became so unhinged that he hallucinates them?

    I’m with you on Sanetoshi probably having to do with Kanba’s hallucinations, though.

    If Shouma is going to be in a depression leading into episode 22, I can see Ringo stomping into the house and being horrified at its emptiness, forcefully prompting Shouma to go into action like she’s been doing this entire time.

    The next episode being titled Beautiful Coffin leads me to think it’ll be either a flashback explaining Kanba and the Natsume father and/or someone’s death.

    Posted by R | December 2, 2011, 8:39 pm
    • I didn’t even notice Chiemi’s missing scar before. In retrospect, it sure was a glaring hint that they were idealized in Kanba’s mind.

      I’m kind of suspecting Yuri to have set the whole thing up… Her sudden appearance was way too convenient and so is the stabbing. Maybe it’s fate, but it’s also too much of a stretch for Kiga Group to just leave their former general‘s corpse there (if there was a coup d’etat, they would’ve killed Kanba too) and still use the abandoned shop as a meeting place.

      And yes, I miss Ringo. She’s taken Himari’s position in the first half of the series and only makes cameo appearance now. I need my stalker girl back in action!

      Posted by 8thSin | December 2, 2011, 9:04 pm
  6. Oh yeah, any significance to four black bears at the end (four horsemen) with “four” related phonetically to “death”? Seems unfortunate …

    Posted by Hisoka | December 2, 2011, 10:14 pm
    • I doubt they would use numeric symbolism here (it’s generally considered to be pretty corny). However, “4” is the number of red dots on armillary sphere in doctor’s office, which I think represents the fate of the main characters: Kanba, Shouma, Himari, and Ringo.

      I really hope that’s not the case, but you never know. True Japanese classics always end in tragedy.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 2, 2011, 11:17 pm
      • Why Ringo? She doesn’t have a penguin. Masako does.

        Posted by j4c06 | December 5, 2011, 4:18 pm
      • You’re right. I keep thinking Ringo because I initially connected the dots to the main four characters in the first half (when the globe first appeared).
        Now that you mention it, Masako as the 4th dot makes a lot more sense.

        Posted by 8thSin | December 5, 2011, 11:04 pm
  7. thinking about this episodei arrived to the conclusion that probably Sanetoshi wasn’t there because he has never existed. Sanetoshi can be Washizuk’s alter ego, and the only reason that we notice him now is because this is the first time that we see that picture from his perspective. I think that this is also pretty consistent with every other moment that we have seem Sanetoshi appear in the world and that’s the main reason for him to be in contact with Kanba and Natsume (as the doctor of both Mario and Himari)

    Posted by Knightrider of Doom (@TKoTD) | December 3, 2011, 1:04 am
  8. I thought the episode as a whole was a good homage to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

    Posted by Onomarchus | December 3, 2011, 1:19 am
    • I’m not familiar with that story. Can you elaborate?

      Posted by 8thSin | December 3, 2011, 10:20 am
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Doll%27s_House

        I know, a sort of cop out to link to Wikipedia, but it does give some sense of how influential the play has been. Maybe not many Japanese would know it, but I think it fits too well for this to be a coincidence and moreover perfectly telegraphs how the episode absolutely had to end. On top of making the doll’s house metaphor literal, the episode also has a false family life, dysfunction underneath the surface, and above all people walking out for good at the end.

        Having said that, I have to think that now the show can’t end with the three of them getting back together without it losing something important.

        Posted by Onomarchus | December 8, 2011, 7:36 pm
  9. Things I’ve noticed:
    1. in this week’s opening the scene where we have the shadow of penguinhatter and a man ‘dancing’ gets some vines behind it. reminded me of utena and of the tree of life… what’s up with this symbolism?
    2. i think there’s an inconsistency with the decoration of the house. if it was painted after the parents were arrested, then why in a previous episode when we are shown that the kids were having meal and then the police took them into a hotel their house was decorated? (if i remember well)
    3.ringo’s cell phone that she dropped in tabuki’s room, when he drank the potion, isn’t used again… a gap?
    4. we still know nothing about Mario. i guess we might get it in the 3 remaining eps?

    I must say I’m very confused. About the apples, about the real relationships behind the characters, about the purposes of the groups, about the penguinhatter and the penguindrum… i feel like the series was written a bit arbitrary. a storyline begins then the characters are deserted or sidekicked for another storyline to emerge…and i can’t decide which is the main theme of the series? it changed from fate to family? isn’t it a bit irrelevant?

    Posted by ayame | December 3, 2011, 5:51 am
    • 1. Good catch! I totally skipped the OP this week lol. I have no idea what it is though.
      2. That was at the end of Ep13, and it wasn’t painted yet.
      3. I found this to be strange too. She was using her cell phone when Tabuki put her in elavator… I guess we were fooled.
      4. That’s almost certainly to be explained later.

      There sure are a lot of loose ends still. Hopefully they can sum up everything well in the end.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 3, 2011, 10:45 am
  10. > Kanba and Natsume are the only ones who are in contact with him

    This is actually wrong, as even in this episode Shouma was talking to Sanetoshi, and was revealed that Himari is going to die really soon. Also, if I remember correctly, some previous episodes with Himari being in hospital showed us Sanetoshi talking to the all three (and probably even Ringo was there, need to re-watch for this).

    Posted by _Neesan (@_BishoujoSenshi) | December 3, 2011, 8:22 am
    • What I meant was as a underground/business contact. They’re the only ones who know that he’s not an ordinary human being, whereas everyone else think he’s just a doctor.

      Didn’t phrase this very well.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 3, 2011, 10:47 am
  11. “Ayame: in this week’s opening the scene where we have the shadow of penguinhatter and a man ‘dancing’ gets some vines behind it. reminded me of utena and of the tree of life… what’s up with this symbolism?”

    I had to LOL because my stream kept freezing thru the intro when I watched the ep so I skipped the OP and missed the new sequence entirely.

    Those are feathers, and the animation was recycled as it originally appeared as background in the first episode when Penguin-Hat Himari pulled the flame-heart out of Kanba-kun, closing the first Rock Over Japan of the series. (I spent some time with it when I AMVed ROJ so I recognized it right away — also, FWIW feathers flying around appeared at the end of the second ED from Utena).

    Posted by Hisoka | December 3, 2011, 12:03 pm
  12. What I’ve noticed: red dots were spinning in pairs, upper two were half the circle before lower ones.

    If I remember correctly, before they used to move independently, or w/o easy to find pattern.
    Maybe, they were synchronizing for some time and… let’s say… the moment all of them make one line, Sanetoshi will start his action.

    Posted by Baś | December 3, 2011, 4:42 pm
  13. It says K. Takakura on the name tag of the jacket on the skeleton
    Maybe K is either Kanba or Kenzan.
    Or both?

    Posted by TheSheepman | December 3, 2011, 5:48 pm
  14. I meant that in a more metaphorical sense, though that may just be over analyzing at this point.
    In that he’s throwing away his life in the illusion of his parents.

    Posted by TheSheepman | December 3, 2011, 8:53 pm
  15. I think the dead bodies are bullshit to be honest. The guy who attacked our Fabulous Max couple could well be him. I think Sanetoshi and maybe even Momoka “Cheated Death” in away, perhaps due to fate transference, but had to drop off the face of the earth because of the incident. Death might not be a literal thing here. It might also explain the idea of Momoka getting “More powerful” after death; her magic becomes stronger when she’s in hiding, and she controls Pingroup from behind the scenes. The Emporer hats are how she communicates with the outside world, as they have her magic in them. They are basically like the diary, capable of fate transference, but on a more limited scale.

    The duality pointed out earlier with life vs. death, the white and black bears could have something to do with this too. It’s possible Pingroup are trying to achieve revolution through life, and Kiga through death. I’m thinking something kind of similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution here. Maybe Kiga believe that the Child Broiler is used to power Pingroup’s magic/tech.

    I also don’t think watch guy is actually “dead” either. Something was too sudden and suspicious about it.

    Fuck I don’t trust Penguindrum anymore.

    Posted by Takeshi & The Kid (@takeshinthekid) | December 3, 2011, 10:31 pm
  16. I’m starting to suspect Sanetoshi is Kanba/Natsume’s father (maybe with normal hair color when he was alive etc).

    Does the timeline match up here? I thought Sanetoshi died in the incident on March 20, 1995 (when Kanba and Shouma were born), judging by how Momoka got in his way. But the funeral of Kanba/Natsume’s father is way after that.

    Also, I remember Masako mentioning how the group used her father, and she doesn’t want them to use Kanba too, which makes me think the father isn’t the leader of the group.

    Why did Kanba leave Natsume and Mario to go with his father? I thought his father saying “I shouldn’t have chosen you” meant figuratively, like choosing Kanba as his successor or something.

    Posted by MapleRose | December 5, 2011, 1:34 am
    • Dr. Washizuka didn’t give a exact date of Natsume’s death. Just that he caused the incident and died.

      Although, your argument about father’s life in danger does make sense… I guess we’ll have to see what happens in remaining Eps.

      The way Kanba’s father’s speech was phrased did sound like he was talking about choosing Kanba for family (or as his son), which is pretty strange but then again, making a 6 year old to join a criminal organization is too 😛

      Posted by 8thSin | December 5, 2011, 10:58 pm
  17. I’ve been looking at Mario in the same light as Himari. A rescue from the Child Broiler, as done by Masako (or maybe her father). Thou the character design doesn’t make it obvious, it is possible he is the same age as Himari, maybe a little younger.

    Speaking of rescues: “I shouldn’t have chosen you”. Successor perhaps, but if Kanba is also a refugee from the Child Broiler, than it might be easier to swallow. The idea of the created family permeates this show, and might be a way to make your own fate. But we see with Shouma, perhaps saving someone from a cruel fate only means we prolong the immediate, and make the suffering that much worse. “I shouldn’t have chosen you” is a regret that he going to make Kanba suffer even more, and thus the world around him.

    Posted by Tyler Childers | December 5, 2011, 11:38 am
    • I think rescue from Child Broiler could be it. Although, the line in the end followed by “I’ve failed in family” sounds like the regret is about his own death rather than Kanba’s prolonged suffering.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 5, 2011, 11:03 pm
    • I think rescue from Child Broiler could be it. Although, the line in the end followed by “I’ve failed in family” sounds like the regret is about his own death rather than Kanba’s prolonged suffering.

      Posted by 8thSin | December 5, 2011, 11:03 pm
  18. It seems that you missed the Licca-chan reference…? Or not…?

    I tried looking for the said bed on Google, but the closest I could find is this. I guess it was just a generic fairy tail bed.

    Posted by AR | December 7, 2011, 4:47 am
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