If I cared to, I could rattle off a laundry list of major – major – issues I have with this series. And really, a lot of them are the same ones that have been present since the beginning. But as flawed as it is, there’s no denying it’s captivating and I guess that’s the purest sign that Ikuhara is a genius. Really, his mistakes and mediocrities are more interesting than most writer/director’s successes. He can’t not be fascinating, and he’s managed to get me emotionally involved to a fair degree, so whatever else I may think about MPD I can’t say it isn’t one of the most involving series of the year.
One thing that really does irritate me, though, is the ridiculous number of fake deaths this series serves up. Honestly, I’m at the point now where I’m desperately hoping someone meaningful dies in the last episode. Himari has had at least four fake deaths that I can remember, Shouma and Ringo at least two each, Tabuki, Kanba, Masako at least twice… To be honest, it sucks out of the drama out of the series because no matter what happens, Ikuhara has fallen in love with the reset button and you know it probably won’t stick. Hell, even Momoka and Sanetoshi – revealed beyond a reasonable doubt now as the two top bosses of their respective camps – are dead, yet not dead. Enough is enough – kill someone already and make them stay killed.
Again, the character I’ve really come to feel for is Ringo. For a girl that was so much in love with the notion of fate, she seems to have been little more than a tool in the hands of it. I’m not ready to say that the diary was a red herring, but it does appear that all the focus on the diary was an intentional ruse on Momoka’s part to distract Sanetoshi’s eyes away from the penguindrum (whose nature, of course, we still don’t know). With both halves of the diary destroyed (and the Ringo on fire scene from the OP explained) we have to assume the diary itself is going to be irrelevant to the final resolution. At best, someone (Momoka) will know the spell by heart, and not need the diary to use it to save the world again – but then what’s the penguindrum, and why does she need it?
If we’re to take events at their most obvious (HA!) interpretation, it appears that both Momoka and Sanetoshi were “killed” 16 years ago, with Momoka attempting to use the diary to stop Santeoshi’s plans to destroy the world he’s come – for mysterious reasons – to loathe. He managed to fight her to a standstill with his “curse” – the disaster was terrible but the world survived, she was split into the two penguin hats and he into the two black bunnies. What this doesn’t answer is just why her “Penguin of the Crystal” persona chose both the tactics and behavior it did, as they seem very antithetical to who Momoka was as a person. It also doesn’t tell us why Mario is important and what the role his half of Momoka plays in all this – unless, of course, Mario was simply a distraction all along. We do know he’s alive, “resting in the next room” after Masako’s latest fake death.
As it always was, it looks as if the series will climax with a showdown between Kanba and Shouma. Himari – whose human doctor says she will die within the day – is begging Shouma to save Kanba. Momoka – through the Penguin Hat which is suddenly speaking with Momoka’s little girl voice – tells Shouma that both brothers are needed to save the world. But it can’t be that simply, not after all Kanba has done – I simply refuse to accept that as a viable ending. I’ll allow that Kanba’s actions in the hospital room can be taken in a number of ways. Obviously, he could have killed Shouma and didn’t. Did he “always want” to hug Shouma – or to shoot him with a Kiga ball (or a bullet)? Is there any love between them, or has it always been hate and jealousy? In a sense, it almost doesn’t matter – whatever his feelings towards his step-brother Kanba has treated him abominably, and whatever influence the “Black Bunny” has had over him, Kanba has been a willing participant in perpetuating the atrocities of his parents. He’s forfeited the right to a clean slate, though I don’t doubt he has some role to play in seeing all this resolved.
Perhaps most difficult of all is the question of Himari. She’s been pulled back from death by Ikuhara so many times it’s become a sort of self-parody, and she’s being used as a premise to commit terrible crimes and waste many lives. She’s ready to let go, and I think Shouma is ready to let her go. Ringo seems to believe it’s her destiny to pull Himari back from death, but somehow I feel it’s Shouma she’s actually going to save. Though she’s kind and pure of heart and has committed no wrong that I can see – a lamb, indeed – I think the truest ending for this story is if everyone stops trying to hold onto Himari’s life and lets her move on. One of the themes common in many of the other works MPD alludes to is that death is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed, in the Buddhist view it’s a perfectly natural part of existence. It’s the unreasoning attachment to the flesh – both that of the soul who doesn’t want to let go, and of the others in their life who refuse to let them go – that creates bad karma and unhappiness. I’ve come to like Himari very much, but I hope the lesson of the final episode is that of acceptance, and that everyone she leaves behind makes peace with that – as she already seems to have done herself.
Perhaps you noticed, as I did, that there’s an “extra” stop on the subway line in the eyecatch – the one where we’ve taken our last bend. Whether this 25th stop has meaning for the series itself, or is simply a reflection of the last stop on its real-life counterpart the Marunouchi Line (Ikebukuro, for the record) I don’t know, but I’m still operating under the assumption that next week’s episode is the final one. If indeed it is, Ikuhara has certainly left himself a gigantic knot to untangle in 22 short minutes. Ironic, then, that he chose the arrow-straight lines of a subway map to illustrate the navigation of his series, because in reality it’s one of the most convoluted and twisting that you’ll ever see.