Mawaru Penguin Drum – 13

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One, two, three black kittens sitting in the park, eavesdropping…

Ikuhara is a real bastard.  It’s not enough that he has to weave enough mysteries and obscure references into MPD to make my head explode, but now he’s actually using a character to taunt the audience directly with non-spoilers.  Seriously, Man?  It’s funny, I admit, an acknowledgement that he’s fully aware of what he’s doing and it seems like a blatant breaking of the third wall, too.  But it’s interesting that Sanetoshi made reference to speaking to “the two of you” during that speech.  Just who are the two of you, anyway?

We seem to know a bite more than we did before, anyway.  Confirmed: the Takakura parents were the suspected terrorists who were behind “the incident” of 1995.  The police moved in three years ago when the boys were 13, and it seems to me that the parents fled and are at large, rather than having been arrested.  Uncle was helping the police with their investigation.  The two boys who were with Sanetoshi last week are the two black bunnies, and indeed represent temptation.  Natsume Masako wasn’t the figure on the bike who stole half the diary from Ringo, because she only has half – and Sanetoshi tells her (but not us) who has the other half.

What seems obvious but isn’t confirmed is that Momoka is Sanetoshi’s “fated one”.  He describes himself as being the only one who can see the things he sees, until his fated one came along 16 years earlier.  He also says his fated one “rejected him”, and we see scenes of a giggling girl about Momoka’s age at the time playing hide and seek with Sanetoshi in the library.  Somehow, Momoka’s soul – or some essence of her – appears to be in the penguin hat that initially revived Himari.  Does that mean it’s Sanetoshi himself who embodies the other hat, the one that initially revived Mario?  For sure, Sanetoshi is in league with Masako and is using the same “serum” – derived from the apples of fate – to keep Mario alive.  And what’s with the now you see them, now you don’t scars on Tabuki’s hand?

What may be the critical question is, just what is Sanetoshi’s ultimate motivation?  He describes it as an experiment of sorts, to see if he can manipulate fate, but I don’t think he’s a being that can be taken at his word.  In reviving Himari again (that’s two fake deaths for MPD already, three if you count Himari twice – Ikuhara’s repeating patterns again) Sanetoshi obviously makes a Faustian bargain of sorts with Kanba.  The most literal interpretation would be that Kanba is trading his life force for Himari’s, but I think that’s too easy.  Shouma implies that the Goddess in his “Mary” fable has simply decided that the Takakuras haven’t been punished enough yet, and it stands to reason that what Kanba is doing is only compounding their crime.

I still find this series more engaging intellectually than emotionally, though there’s nothing wrong with that I suppose.  It’s interesting to see how the Takakura brothers and Ringo are evolving in terms of their worldview.  Kanba is angry, defiant and a schemer – he wants to find a way to beat the system and refuses to accept the (seemingly) obvious truth about his parents.  Ringo embraces fate, or pretends to – first as regards becoming Momoka, then in terms of meeting Shouma.  Of course she’s kidding herself, but she clearly needs to believe things happen for a reason or else her head just can’t process reality.  And Shouma seems to be something of a fatalist, with a hint of self-loathing.  He sees the dark side of things, embraces not just his parents’ guilt but his own complicity in it just by nature of his birth, and assumes that the terrible events in his life are a result of divine punishment and things will only get worse.

Fascinating stuff.  I’m enjoying Ringo a lot more now that it’s become clear that Ikuhara did indeed – thank goodness – have a plan to bring her back into balance with the rest of the cast.  Her POV is needed as a point in the triangle with the brothers, which is interesting because in theory, Himari should be the third point.  But she’s still more a plot device than a character, someone who acts as a catalyst for events in the lives of Ringo and the boys but doesn’t actively participate or display a distinct perspective very often.  Given all the speculation that the sibling relationships in this series may not be all they seem, I wonder if there might be something even deeper here that we’re not privy to yet.

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ED3: “Ash-Gray Wednesday” (灰色の水曜日; Haiiro no Suiyoubi) by Triple H

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  1. I

    I have to admit that I absolutely loved this episode. Not only is there so much going on intellectually, but the emotions somehow seemed so much more potent and heartfelt: the whole flashback to 3 years ago just tore me up. I think I've finally fallen in love with the series instead of just liking it.

    I also think that it's kind of interesting the way that Ikuhara is playing with traditional (at least traditional Western) symbolism here. Normally apples represent temptation, but here he's chosen to have temptation symbolized by black rabbits, while the apples seem to symbolize fate. Actually, considering that rabbits are prolific breeders and capable of surviving in many different conditions, does that imply some type of deeper connection between temptation and "survival strategy" than just the fact that Sanetoshi seems to be initiating both of them?

  2. You know, Indigo, I think there's a deeper connection between apples and fate in Japanese folklore. Certainly, that's an analogy he's lifted pretty directly from Night on the Galactic Railroad.

  3. d

    Hmm, what do the 3 black cats represent?
    Voice of Goddess sounds like Himari more than Sanetoshi.
    What do you mean by now u c them not u don't? they are there on both pics.
    I think it is not really life force but emotions. Kanba is sacrificing his emotions/feelings for Himari.

    It seems that your Penguin Drum reviews are taking the longest to come out. The degree of confusion must be rising.

  4. No, the subs just usually hit pretty late West Coast time, and sometimes I feel like staying up to watch and sometimes I don't…

  5. S

    It seems like Sanetoshi might just be the "final boss" and I certainly didn't expect our pink hair friend to play such an important role. Now that we've gained insights into the Takakura's and Ringo's back stories, we'll probably learn more about Masako/Mario's as well soon enough. I suspect Sanetoshi would make them choose between saving Himari, Mario or maybe Momoka at some point. That would definitely be an interesting turn of events.

  6. It would be ironic if Shouma developed feelings for Ringo, and then found out they were actually siblings. Then everyone would be attracted to their sister.

  7. S

    One big happy incestuous family. Ikuhara is one messed up bastard ;D
    Now that you mentioned it, they do have the same eyes

  8. M

    The series SEEMS to start from after the OVA (the picture we see comes at the end of the 3rd OVA), it's just that Fuu is having a flashback of the time she first moved back to her father's hometown.

  9. M

    Damnit, the browser posted my reply to the wrong tab. Sorry Enzo, that reply was for the Tamayura post.

  10. A

    ''I’m enjoying Ringo a lot more now that it’s become clear that Ikuhara did indeed – thank goodness – have a plan to bring her back into balance with the rest of the cast.''

    I don't want to say told ya so, but … ^_^

    I sort of fell out of the loop with the discussion and speculation about the show, but to be perfectly honest, I think that might be for the best now. I'm enjoying this show way too much to the point where not only my faith in Ikuhara reached an unshaken point. Wherever it goes, I'm sure I'm going to love it.

  11. A

    ''I’m enjoying Ringo a lot more now that it’s become clear that Ikuhara did indeed – thank goodness – have a plan to bring her back into balance with the rest of the cast.''

    I don't understand why someone would've thought that Ikuhara did not have such plans….

  12. m

    "It would be ironic if Shouma developed feelings for Ringo, and then found out they were actually siblings. Then everyone would be attracted to their sister."

    Bwah, that would be hilarious. :>

    I just watched 11-13 and I'm excited at how much the pace of the storytelling sped up. Can't wait for more, but it's already late over here, so first some sleep. :)

    I've also finally seen the last ep of Natsume. You were right, it's great and I'm glad I didn't wait longer. :>

    I have no idea how I stumbled upon your blog but I'll surely keep it bookmarked. I quite enjoy reading your series summaries! :) (the Blood-C one made me crack up a lot, I've dropped it after ep 2 or 3.. XD)

  13. Thank you! Means a lot to me to hear feedback like that. Did you watch the first two seasons of Natsume as well?

  14. m

    I actually started with the manga a couple of years ago, but for various reasons stopped reading scanlations and then suddenly the anime got announced so yeah, I've watched the first two seasons as well. I just love Midorikawa's style of storytelling! :)

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