Mawaru Penguin Drum – 11

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Cry, Monkey Bitch…

This was certainly an episode that’s everything glorious and maddening about Mawaru Penguin Drum.  It was a fascinating muddle – hilarious and infuriating and confusing and mysterious.  And it seems pretty clear Ikuhara isn’t keen to give away many of his secrets just yet.

There’s a certain sense of disappointment in learning that Masako appears not to be a supervillain or a terrorist, but just another stalker.  Most of her actions can more or less be traced to her obsessive love for Kanba, at least in terms of motivation.  The zapping of the girls memories, the kidnapping of Shouma, the bizarre gifts…  If you imagine what Ringo could do if she had the seemingly limitless funds Masako does, that’s pretty close – except Masako seems to have even more twisted and fetishistic impulses (and horrific artistic sense) than Ringo.  There’s also the matter of the emperor penguin Mario, of course (“he” still looks like a girl to me) and that’s the other half of her motivation.  It appears she needs the diary for the same reasons Sho and Kanba do, and it appears to be connected to a tragic event with Mario that occurred 16 years earlier – though we still don’t know the details or even who Mario really is.

Ah, 16 years ago – that infamous day in 1995 that clearly provides the dramatic spine for this series.  It was a bad year for Japan – the Kobe earthqauke in January (referenced in episode 9) and the Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in March.  That (March 20, to be precise) appears to be the key date in this story, as we learn a whole bunch of new information but not how to piece it together.  Not only did Ringo’s sister Momoko die on that day, but Ringo was born.  That certainly explains her conviction that she’s the reincarnation of her sister, but fate has an even more unlikely interest in that date – Kanba and Shou were born on march 20th as well.  For reasons that aren’t clear to me, Shou even uses that as evidence that the two boys are responsible for Momoko’s death – though perhaps he was merely being symbolic.

While psychotic Ringo was indeed back in the saddle this week, the episode at least benefited from the fact that the focus was spread out amongst all the major characters, and she’s a lot easier to take in the recommended dosage.  Her repeated beatings on Shouma weren’t funny and were beneath the dignity of this show, but hopefully they were a one-time misguided comic choice by Ikuhara – other than that, there was some meaningful movement in terms of Ringo’s character and her relationship with Shou.  It was he who confronted her about her misguided sister-fixation, and it was that seed of doubt that he planted that probably caused Ringo to have second thoughts when she’d finally maneuvered Tabuki into bed.

And yes, about that.  Did that whole frog thing actually happen – and actually work?  Even for Ikuhara that’s out there and I was half-convinced it was another fantasy, but it appears to have actually occurred – Ringo’s continued experimentation with the 16-year frog (at least she used herself as the test subject this time) yielded a very gross but effective love potion that made Tabuki mad with desire for her.  But in the end she couldn’t go through with it, and even when she ran into Yuri when fleeing the over-amorous frogman the older woman told her she was in love with Shou.  He certainly doesn’t deserve that, poor boy, but it’s not as if the series hasn’t been pulling that way almost since the beginning. 

Also of special note this week was a strong comic performance by the penguins.  Starting with Esmeralda’s sexual conquering of Penguin #1 in samurai garb and moving right on to the sight of Penguin #2 (still my favorite) using his butt as a microwave and then using his farts to launch himself into flight (though as pointed out below,this is likely another allusion to the Sarin gas attack), the penguins were a steady source of laughs this week.  And is it me, or has this been an especially strong couple of weeks for yanderes and generally batshit crazy girls in anime?  Preparing the field for the impending arrival of Yuno Gasai, I suppose – though all will bow down to her when her luminous insanity is revealed to the world this fall.

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  1. A

    So many questions and still no answers. Like everyone else is thinking is Shouma and his brother really responsible for Momokos death? If they are in what way? Guess we need to keep watching to find the answer. Also penguin#2 gas attack on the subway was funny but was it also a refernce to 3/20/1995?

  2. Ooh, good point Anon!

  3. d

    I said it once and I'll say it again. Batshit crazy is the new Tsundere. Feel the love of insanity. *goes off to read soul eater*
    But it is nice to say Ringo realizing her feelings for Shouma. After all the things she made him to do, she better be doing such extra love service for him.

  4. S

    Those forehead flicks… EPIC! And you just know Shouma was lovin every single one of them ;P
    Mawaru Penguindrum probably suffers from the HanaIro syndrome. Quality has been pretty volatile and this week was one of the good ones. With the first cour ending, hopefully they'll give us some big revelations next week.

  5. A

    I still don't really think that Natsume actually loves Kanba – her love of Kanba seems more like Ringo's love for Tabuki – manufactured due to "fate"

  6. d

    We can only pray that the crazy yanderes will get crazier and crazier.

    Not sure about Ringo's beatings being beneath the dignity of the show— she has already had him server as a spawning pool for frog eggs…

  7. True, but the egg thing was so gross it was like an "only Ikuhara" moment. The forehead flick was like, "Is this a ZEXCS show?"

  8. A

    Meh, beneath the dignity of the show may be a bit of an over-reaction.

    It's not like it was a Love Hine-esque punch that makes the guy fly off into outer space…or a hammer pulled out from thin air to smack him with…

    at least the forehead flick was something that could've been done in real life

  9. Not for 30 seconds…

  10. d

    @Enzo: why is not possible? Yanderes have always done weird things to do people they like.
    Take for example "tricking a guy into going into a train ride with you and he ends up tied up in his underwear"
    Anyway it was not 30 seconds of flicking (my fingers would break), please include head slamming and bashing into the equation. The guy is even more hardy then Keitaro.

  11. A

    If you add up the time that the guy tends to get beat up in a show like those with the girls with the hammers and the super punches (or the girl gets super strong for no good reason, and only to hit guys with) it'd equal way more than 30 seconds an episode easily – and it'd be in every episode without fail.

  12. And that still wouldn't make it good anime, IMHO.

  13. A

    Doesn't make it a good anime or a bad anime, though that has nothing to do with the conversation, lol.

  14. m

    Hmmmm I just realized that all the frog references make sense if you see the RingoxTabuki subplot as a perversion of the Princess and the Frog story.

    The Princess (Ringo) scared of being disowned by the King (Ringo's dad) decides to fulfil the promise(Dream Diary) made with the Frog (Tabuki) by living with it, eating with it, sleeping with it so that the curse from the Witch (Yuri) will be broken and Tabuki will become her Prince.

    However this is not successful because Ringo's Prince isn't Tabuki, it's Shouma, who she abuses just like the Princess abuses the Frog. So far they're bound together by a promise(Dream diary) and they've shared a meal. I'm gonna guess if they ever get to the point of sharing the same bed some kinda transformation will happen to Shouma…

  15. Interesting – yet another literary reference to factor in? My brain hurts…

  16. d

    Some of out point thing but just learned yesterday that Vincent Van Gough was born in 1852 but he died when he was young. The following year in 1853, another boy was born on the exact same day to the same parents and he was also named Vincent Van Gough. As everyone knows Vincent ain't the most normal of people. Just feel that the pressure of growing up while filling someone else shoe's can dry you insane.

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