Posted by psgels on 11 November 2011 with categories: Mawaru Penguin Drum




Yeah, this episode was another one of those “batman having tea with superman”-episodes. This episode was just amazing, as it combined the talents of two wildly different directors, Kunihiko Ikura and Shigeyasu Yamauchi, into one. The result was an episode with a ton of weird twists, strong character development and a ton of symbolism, combined with a style that is masterful at getting genuine emotions out of the characters and terrific at subtle pacing.

I can’t believe how well the two blended with each other. Tabuki really got a wonderful episode through this. Ikuhara even gave Shigeyasu Yamauchi the freedom of handling the background art much different from usual, and that too resulted in a ton of eye candy. Tabuki ended up as a great villain through this. On top of that Momoka also got a lot of depth, and the main cast also got much closer to each other. Especially the aftermath of this episode felt very intimate.

Also, the eye-catch. It just revealed another turning-point, as expected. Right now we’re in the background arc, in which all of the side-characters get the chance to show their stories and backgrounds. At the moment the only ones left are Tabuki and the parents who set everything in motion. I can only imagine what the creators have planned for after that. It’s that final arc where they really have to show that they know how to use their build-up.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

32 Responses

  1. Alec says:

    This episode really got my attention. It was intense.

    There is only 1 thing that bothered me was the semi-predictable scene in the end, which the mass probably wanted (not gonna spoil)

    Also, I would’ve preferred if we actually saw the events in Tabuki’s past rather than seeings scenes about symbolism. Not that I hate it or anything

  2. ojamajo_limepie says:

    Speaking of eye candy, Umakoshi Yoshihiko, character designer of Heartcatch Precure and Casshern Sins, animated key parts of this episode.

  3. DmonHiro says:

    I’m just curious how Tabuki saved Himari at the end. What the hell did he do? Can he fly?

  4. jzar says:

    **some spoilers**

    I really like the show but I have to say this episode was the least enjoyable for me so far. The parts of it that needed to be very believable just didn’t work.

    How could Tabuki could do what he did without a whole team of experts to back him up. It was so annoying that it ended up really getting in the way of the story.

    Didn’t he just run into the girl by accident?
    …Locking the girl in an elevator?
    …How did he have all those remotes and high grade plastic explosives ready for a spur of the moment decision?
    …Grabbing a moving steel cable with your bare hand? that would not just damage your hand it would be like sticking your hand into a high speed cheese grater.

    If Tabuki had photo’s of the black hats why didn’t he follow them back to the man who really did kill his lover?
    …. I could go on and on, it really was that bad.

    I would have much rather seen the mentally unstable Tabuki hold a knife to the throat. Just something spur of the moment and simple.

    The other background stories were really good and worked so well. I suppose it made the flaws in this one stand out to me.

    Just my take and it is a realitivly small thing because the acting and the animation was really good. They have some high standards to maintain and this episode was a bit of a letdown.

  5. hurin says:

    #jzar.

    Kanba also shouldn’t have been able to walk away from getting dragged after a truck, and Shouma should have died from the car crash.

    But of course it is also not logical for dead people to be revived by penguin hats.

    I hope the mystery as to the brothers invulnerability will be explained later. Maybe penguin 1, 2 and 3 are absorbing their damage somehow.

  6. Son Gohan says:

    @jzar: This show is highly symbolical. You shouldn’t think about how Tabuki saved Himari. What’s important is that he changed his mind after seeing the sibling’s love for each other.

  7. jzar says:

    Son Gohan-
    This show is highly symbolical. You shouldn’t think about how Tabuki saved Himari. What’s important is that he changed his mind after seeing the sibling’s love for each other.

    I totally agree…..it saved the episode for me…that was a great moment.

  8. Snowolf says:

    I really enjoyed Tabuki’s backstory- while I felt that it was the most abstract out of all the ones we’ve seen in some time, I did enjoy all the symbolism (the child broiler was really intense!) and you could definitely see how he really bonded to Momoka. It’s interesting how both Tabuki and Yuri view Momoka as some kind of God who came out of the heavens to change their life imminently, instead of just a faithful friend. Their lives revolve around her. Of course, I only have this fear that Momoka, like almost all of the characters in this show, is not what she seems, and that a much more sinister motive lurks behind that innocent smile. Her way of saying “Live for me!” and “I love you” seem almost stand out amongst a sea of almost too-dramatic sayings somehow. I mean, how did these two even really meet? Tabuki, unlike Yuri did not even know Momoka existed before this; of course, this is all figuratively speaking, so Tabuki may have had some knowledge of Momoka’s existence and the POV that we saw was at the specific time when Tabuki was at his lowest point. Tabuki’s parents also reminded me a lot of the parents in this show, and the theme of high expectations passing down from one to another. The Takakura’s unconsciously passed down their sin to their children; the Oginome parents passed down the strain of their relationship onto Ringo, who tried turning into Momoka to save that relationship, Yuri’s father physically abused her (and raped? I’m still not sure and I kind of don’t want to know) and now we see Tabuki’s mother as one who forced her own ideals of perfection (just like Yuri’s father had his ideals of perfection- Yuri and Tabuki almost mirror each other in terms of their parents and how they were treated) onto him and his little brother. Which resulted in him purposely crushing his hand so he could have an excuse not to play piano.

    While it’s kind of sad, I still in no way have any sympathy for Tabuki’s actions, which seemed to be more out of self-loathing and self-pity than actual revenge. Tabuki laments the fact that he wasn’t able to do anything about Momoka’s death, and immaturely puts that blame (in quite a gruesome and heart stopping fashion) onto Kanba and Himari. In the end, he finally grows weary (or gains sympathy, realizes his actions?) and saves Himari, but nevertheless, we were really able to see how desperate he had become. Which leads me to wonder- while both Tabuki and Yuri met Momoka for the better, they have only turned out to be vicious monsters of their own grim fate. As Ringo rightfully (ugh, I love this girl!) says at the end- she won’t grow up hating the family when it was her own sister who died at the hands of the Takakura parents, not just because she loves Shouma, but also because she realizes that grief, loss, and happiness all play a part in one’s life, and it’s up to us whether to accept that or not. But Tabuki and Yuri have grown haunted, almost into corpses reeking of self hatred, shared by their bond with Momoka. Of course, it seems that Yuri is a little more mature than Tabuki, slapping him in the face (damn straight!) after seeing what he did and his patheticness at doing it.

    I’m still annoyed that this show isn’t making full use of Shouma’s character- he’s my favorite, despite his inherent uselessness and lack of tack and coming on time, but that’s not his fault- I blame the show. Shouma is the only character in this show who isn’t fucked up somehow/has shady intentions and thus I really want him to play a major part in the end, if he can. I have a feeling he’s connected to the Penguindrum, considering that the show’s focus on Kanba and his countless sacrifices (as Himari said rightly- enough already!) might just be a little red herring so that we don’t think about Shouma. If that’s true, that would be excellent; I’m just dying for Shouma to actually accomplish something, though I feel like his relationship with Ringo is really going to amount to something important in the end, rather than him actually doing something.

    Going back to the Himari/Kanba scenes- damn, that was intense. I was literally clutching the end of my seat. Damn you Ikuhara! But oh boy, the use of music during that scene was fantastic. A major problem I have with this show is its lack of good BGM- which is actually a bigger factor in creating/evoking emotions than people think (think horror, folks, and all those violins) but this episode did a nice job of using the BGM well.

    Also, Shigeyasu Yamauchi directing this episode was a dream come true. I could totally spot his signature styles of shooting things in different ways and adding a lot of gorgeous visual feasts to the action scenes as well as the flashback scenes. HEARTS IN MY EYES, I’m telling you.

    I’m still a little concerned about how this show is going to wrap up in only eight more episodes, but that’s still enough time. It feels like this is more of a 50-episode show, but now that we have formally introduced everyone (except for Sanetoshi, whose random 2 minute scene was just…weird- what’s up with that rabbit fetish, I would like to know) hopefully we’ll start moving toward a good climax. It’s been a fun train ride, and now it’s finally time to wrap up all of these loose strings and tie them into a grand finale!

  9. nodbgp says:

    I think we will still get a lot of background on the family, I still don’t believe any of the three are bound by blood, we still have to get what the parents and consequently the organization reasons and goals are. The episode in itself was awesome in what it turned Tabuki into. Looking forward to the answers and to the ending, hoping they are able to wrap it up the best way possible, which I have no idea how should be.

  10. AidanAK47 says:

    And the Tabuki flashback as predicted. Thankfully shorter than I expected. Alright, I did enjoy some of it but that this point I sighed at yet another back story which included a parent forcing unreasonable conditions on a child. There are issues one can gain that don’t involve terrible parenting! On top of that we have the highly nonsense plan of Tabuki which I really don’t see the point of. Tabuki previously stated that he didn’t want revenge and now he suddenly does and portrays himself as a dark individual despite being shown as a pretty ordinary and reasonable guy beforehand. So yep, this whole thing stank of an act. I didn’t believe he was going to kill any of these kids for a second. That sort of killed the tension.
    And for the love of god. Himari, pulling the fake death card again? I can’t give a crap any more. I know you are not going to die. Nobody ever dies. Drama = completely pointless.
    “On top of that Momoka also got a lot of depth”
    Yes, she changed from a character who saved a disturbed child to…she changed from a character who saved two disturbed children. Wow. That’s deep.

    “This show is highly symbolical. You shouldn’t think about how Tabuki saved Himari. What’s important is that he changed his mind after seeing the sibling’s love for each other.”

    Just because a show is symbolic does not mean it has the right not to make sense. Besides that a pretty poor overused plot twist.

    Ahh…why oh why can’t I just shut of my brain and ignore this nonsense crap. I can do it fine for Mirai Nikki but maybe that’s because I know what I am getting.

  11. wendeego says:

    Interesting thing about Shouma…from the end of the corresponding chapter in the novel:

    “I have to be stronger too. No matter how unfair it might seem, if this is our fate, then I have to accept it and become stronger. I dried my tears on my sleeve and stopped lying to myself. I’m never going to run away again, not from fate and not from Oginome.”

    So I’m guessing that by the next episode he will be playing an active role in the plot. We will see!

    As for parenting issues and the sense of disbelief…well, Ikuhara loves illusions. The crux of Utena was a fairy tale that turned out to be a cage, and I’d guess that Penguindrum is structurally similar–an inescapable train en route to Death, for example. The conflict of the show comes from breaking out of the restrictions of society and finding a path towards happiness and understanding. That can only come about through sacrifice and enormous love, and I’m guessing that’s closely associated with the Penguindrum.

    AidanAK47, I’d agree with you that it’s a little strange that everybody’s issues appear to come from terrible parenting, if it wasn’t for the fact that carrying the sins of the fathers/mothers is so obviously key to the themes of the show. Just about every main character in the show except for Momoka and Sanetoshi are hanging above the child broiler by their fingernails: Himari on the brink of death, Kanba and Shouma abandoned by their parents, Yuri and Tabuki the product of an abusive mother and father respectively, and even Ringo in a situation where nothing she can do will ever bring her family back together.

    If you think about it, this entire show has been haunted by those recycled children in the child broiler. Remember the OP, with shards of glass flying by as Himari falls? After this episode we know that those are the remains of children who have been abandoned by the world. Think about it that way, and the great majority of the cast of Penguindrum are perversions of fate, somehow maintaining their existence in the world when they shouldn’t even be alive in the first place. Yuri and Tabuki were saved by Momoka, but Ringo and the Takakuras have been getting by through willpower alone (if only barely.) Is it any wonder that they are to be punished?

    So yeah–I think the emphasis on parent issues is more of a thematic choice than evidence of a lack of imagination. As for the strangeness of the plot, think of it more like a Haruki Murakami novel–where momentous things are happening under the surface but are never fully explained–and it becomes a bit more understandable. If you just aren’t digging it than I guess there’s not much anyone can do, though. I think it’s obvious by this point that Penguindrum is definitely not for everybody!

  12. Minnako says:

    @ Snowolf: Exactly!

    Momoka isn’t (at least I think not) a deity – she couldn’t possibly save everyone, even within the realms of plausibility of her powers it would just be too much for her to bear. Yet, instead of taking what she did for them and living on, the people she saved were never really saved – they never got over the darkness in their past, and the minute she’s not there to provide validation for them they turn into warped people intent on revenge. As if saintly Momoka would want that. Which makes me feel that in some way Momoka didn’t really ‘save’ them at all – instead of being turned into powdered glass or whatever, they just became something worse because they never learned how to live for themselves. I don’t know what that’s trying to say about what it means to try to ‘save’ those you love – should you do it? Maybe that they need more support? No, I can’t really condone his actions, either – losing one person, even if it is the first person who gave you validation, doesn’t mean that 16 years later you get to enact revenge.

    I’m not sure that Yuri slapped him because he did something pathetic (she did try to rape Momoka’s kid sister, after all), maybe for having the audacity to lie to her, to take her prey? Maybe for having the guts to realise what a broken individual he currently is, and for not taking it to the conclusion he planned?

    Interestingly, even though Himari could be Momoka’s reincarnation, I think in some ways it’s Ringo now playing her role – trying to validate people who feel they just aren’t good enough through no fault of their own. She’s not saintlike, but at least she doesn’t pronounce undying love for everyone in some selfless obsession for saving them all. I’d be very interested to see what the psychological effects of her power are, though. People in the position to save others (rescue workers, healthcare professionals, etc) can suffer from really bad burnout from getting too involved and literally feeling like they need to save everyone because they can. I’d like to see what the deal is behind her facade, because right now she’s just too perfect.

    It’s not Shouma’s fault he’s late and never the one to save Himari – it’s not like Kanba gives anyone that chance. Kanba’s always been the morally ambiguous one willing to do things normal teenagers just wouldn’t think of, and keeping it all secret from Shouma. So I feel it’s unfair when people think this implies Shouma cares less about saving his sister. He just doesn’t know what to do, and we know he has normal scruples, that he’s had to put aside plenty of times. I’d argue that he’s had it harder than Kanba, because Kan feels that he NEEDS to go to ridiculous lengths, he’s almost masochistic, and he’d be worse off if he didn’t – bearing the brunt of the cost is less of a punishment for Kanba than doing nothing.

    Sanetoshi evidently took the pictures of Kanba at his leisure and then told Tabuki at this particular time – why? Does that mean Himari wasn’t fibbing when she said she had her doctor’s approval? After all, we only saw the rabbit boys talking to her brothers. What is this dude scheming, I wonder?

  13. Kim says:

    @Snowolf,

    I expect Shouma to start playing a more active part in the final 6 episodes…which will also cover the final novel of the story.

    I think the novel does a better job than the anime of defining what Shouma’s role will be. He’s been inactive on purpose because of his own self doubt & feeling of worthlessness. That is definitely going to change.

    @Weendeego

    Completely agreed! And I can’t believe people are actually complaining that everyone had messed up parents…it’s called tying things together by singular theme? Didn’t Sanetoshi say it in a previous episode: children are supposed to love their parents no matter what? The entire theme of the series has been putting the sins of the parents onto the children.

    And I always wanted to say that people who complain about Penguindrum better never read a Murakami novel so I am glad you brought him up. Not that I think Ikuhara is on the same level as Murakami (who is one of my favorite authors) but the way they tell a story is definitely similar. Of course Ikuhara references Murakami in Penguindrum so it’s obvious he’s a fan & I highly approve.

  14. Snowolf says:

    @Minnako, Kim: You’ve captured my thoughts exactly! I mean, the way everyone portrays Momoka, it sounds as if she’s some kind of magical, divine goddess, combined with her ability to change fate (I am still not sure about this ability, but I have a feeling it will be brought to light soon enough). And yet, everyone who has met Momoka has never actually gotten over their dark past. Yuri ironically becomes an actress to prove her self-worth, and to show that she is beautiful. Tabuki becomes a teacher in the hopes that he will actually be able to contribute something toward other people’s lives. And yet they are fundamentally, two broken individuals who are only married due to their shared connection with Momoka and their shared belief that her Diary will somehow bring her back. In that way, Momoka really hasn’t saved anyone, and I have this terrible feeling that this is the way she wanted it to happen- that she’s the mastermind behind some of this, somehow. Instead of becoming independent, they have grown shallow and lost, more desperate than ever.

    Which really brings me to the main interest behind Penguindrum- the fact that so far, the adults are the ones with childish, immature dreams, while the children are the ones acting mature and trying to realize the reality of their situation. Neither Kanba, Shouma, Ringo or Himari at this point are hopelessly lost or idealistic; even Natsume is working hard to achieve her dreams rather than be dragged back into her past, hopelessly wandering. Tabuki and Yuri however, are ghosts of their own haunted pasts, and are lingering in some kind of limbo where they can’t progress forward because they’re afraid of change, and they are afraid of progress in the first place. Their lives were validated by Momoka, and without her they are empty souls. It’s similar to Utena’s genderswap, but it’s more of an…ageswap in Penguindrum.

    I’m really loving Ringo- she’s my favorite character (and has always been) because out of all the characters in thsi show, she’s the one who has recieved the most development. While I don’t think she’s becoming a saintlike figure, I do agree that she’s definitely gathered up the courage to move on and fight destiny, despite saying that she accepts and loves fate. I don’t think she’s become too perfect- I mean, heck she was a creepy stalker only 10 episodes ago, but I think by meeting Shouma she’s become self-aware and has understood the consequences of her actions. However, the two openings of the show display Ringo being wrapped up in flames- does this mean that she will become the next Momoka and end up saving the Takakura family (how ironic would that be?) and end up sacrificing herself? This kind of ties back to my idea that rather than being an active participator, Shouma’s relationship with Ringo will bear fruit to something more powerful than Kanba’s countless sacrifices. I definitely agree with you on Shouma- just because he’s not there on time doesn’t mean he doesn’t love Himari any less (well he might, considering that Kanba is actually in love with Himari) Shouma has definitely gone through a huge personal identity crisis in this show for the most part, but with the novel/this episode, this suggests that his time of strife has finally come to an end, so hopefully we’ll see something good happen! Kanba irritates me slightly with his lack of self-worth; in a way I feel Himari is HIS Momoka, as she is the person who gives HIM validation to live (as he said when he was saving her life- his life means nothing without her). Which brings me back to thinking- will he end up like Tabuki, if Himari is to truly die?

    I…honestly don’t know what to think of Sanetoshi. Part of me is terrified that he’ll become the next Akio, and then another part of me thinks that this guy is just some sort of hidden plot device. But the fact that a.) he TOLD Himari (or rather, he approved) to go out knowing quite well that she needed the medicine before midnight and b.) took pictures of Kanba and then gave them to Tabuki is definitely devious to me. I don’t know what he’s up to and that scares me.

    Also, some food for thought; The whole “invisible entity” idea? Think back to Sakakibara Seito, the then-juvenile perpetrator of two vicious child murders in Tokyo back in 1997.

    On June 6, a letter was sent to the newspaper Kobe Shinbun, in which Sakakibara claimed responsibility for the slaying and decapitation of Jun Hase, and threatened that more killings would follow. This second letter, delivered in a brown envelope postmarked June 3, had no return address or name. Enclosed was a three-page, 1400-word letter, also written in red ink, which included a six-character name that can be pronounced as “Sakakibara Seito.” The same characters, which mean alcohol, devil, rose, saint and fight, were used in the first message that was inserted into the boy’s mouth.

    Beginning with the phrase “Now, it’s the beginning of a game,” the letter stated that “I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game… If I’m caught, I’ll probably be hanged… police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me…. It’s only when I kill that I am liberated from the constant hatred that I suffer and that I am able to attain peace. It is only when I give pain to people that I can ease my own pain.” The letter also lashed out against the Japanese educational system, calling it “compulsory education that formed me, an invisible person.”
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seito_Sakakibara#cite_note-1)
    Wikipedia translated the phrase “透明な存在” (toumei na sonzai) as “invisible person”, but the translation “invisible entity” is also suffice.

    This might be a long shot, but it was one of the first things that came to my mind after I watched the show. But considering that Ikuhara has stuffed this show with a lot of allusions back to the many dark secrets of Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  15. kero says:

    Interesting to read the comment on the possible link to the child killings. Hard to say if it is intentional or not, as I think the idea of feeling invisible as a child isn’t unique.
    ___

    My reaction to this episode was that I like it more last weeks episode, and now at least I know about Tabuki’s hand.

    I think the connection being made to Murakami is probably quite apt in various ways, considering how you could flip it and not be saying that it is as awesome as Murakami, but that it is as overhyped/overrated as Murakami.

    [I sit in between, I have a bit of a difficult relationship with Murakami, he has some great turns of phrases and there is a interesting something about the settings he creates, but there's also a bit a weird creepiness to the recurrent theme of disappearing/broken women, and more than a hint of misogyny in the way he writes women]

    I was able to watch the flashback and accept it for the symbolism, especially with the whole child broiler thing, I loved the sound of the fan going in the bg.

    As for Momoka, she’s just coming across as a bit creepy? Not sure what her deal, and I’m inclined to agree with others that she’s not what she seems.

    I realise I don’t particularly like the girl with the black penguin, she just repeats over and over again the same phrase, like she’s got some OCD, which I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. They’re all psychos on this show XD.

    Agree with others that it’d be great to see Shouma finally step up and be an active agent.

    I loved the end shot where, he is cradling both his brother and sister. I would love it if he ends up being the one to save everybody!

  16. Kim says:

    @Kero,

    I know this is not a post about Murakami but I found your comment interesting so I had to reply.

    I never really thought of Murakami as misogynist although from what I’ve read so far (and I certainly have not read everything) he does mainly look at things solely through a male perspective. Of course he is a male writer so I am not sure if I can fully fault him for this.

    Ikuhara on the other hand I feel does have a more compelling approach to gender roles than Murakami. This can be easily seen in Utena but I think even in Penguindrum the females are all well written & unique characters.

    However my comparison between the two wasn’t really in terms of content (although I will say both Murakami & Ikuhara can take us to dark places) but more in terms of storytelling style.

  17. Minnako says:

    @Snowolf: Mastermind Momoka is a terrifying thought! Definitely more behind the scenes there, especially when she made THAT face…

    I really hope Ringo doesn’t end up sacrificing herself, she’s spent long enough playing second fiddle to a sister she could never compare to in anyone’s eyes, and now that she’s finally the emotionally stable one in the series, she goes and falls in love with a guy who refuses to believe he’s worth loving (his Momoka indeed).

    I’m not sure what the deal is with Kanba and Himari – both as to how far his feelings go, which entity exactly he is in love with, and of course if they’re even siblings (Kanba being a Natsume looks like sense), but I’d argue that doesn’t mean he loves her more, only differently.

    Taking the ‘transparent person’ references in mind, could the child broiler be symbolic of those who’ve given up, who see no worth in existing, and who feel and are treated as being completely isolated from society? That seems fitting as we don’t see how Momoka got Tabuki out of that colourless place – perhaps because he had to wish himself out to be free? And when Momoka is injured, perhaps that reflects his defensiveness and lack of desire to see any worth in himself at first (not that it’s much better to live for someone else – that’s still obviously depressed.), his defenses against letting himself out of that prison. Momoka may be doing nothing more special than trying to let people out of the emotional cages they’ve put themselves in.

    @ Kero – It would be interesting to see exactly what Masoka (the girl with the black penguin) means – evidently she has a very important part to play, and I’m really wondering why Sanetoshi lets her get away with defying him…

    Shouma saving everybody FTW, now THAT would be a turnup for the books!

  18. c160 says:

    @AidanAK7 In the novels, there’s an excerpt (I think it was either right before or right after the elevator scene, and it was not included in this episode, so I suppose its no longer a spoiler) where Tabuki had an inner monologue where he said that he tried his best to keep his desire for revenge to himself, and not even telling his partner Yuri but he is also reaching his breaking point. Or something like that.

    Himari also had some inner monologue while she was dangling in the air in the novels, which was also not in this episode. The novels is a little bit better in explaining the characters I guess, but I think Ikuhara is holding back some things to make a big bang latter on, especially with Himari and Shouma’s character.

    @Kim I too agree with how there’s similarities in Murakami’s and Ikuhara’s story telling style.While I haven’t seen all their works,I think the surreal but yet not overtly supernatural or magical feel of their stories is definitely similar.Or how they just refuse to explain everything. Or how they like to throw in some really out there hilarious but yet still somewhat dark scenarios(think Nanami cow incidents for Ikuhara and the short story about the fast-food robbing couple from Murakami) ^^;

  19. kero says:

    @kim

    Sidetracking into a Murakami discussion.

    I’ve not read everything by Murakami either, top of my head Norwegian Wood, South of the Border, Windup Bird Chronicle, Wild Sheep Chase, and Hardboiled Wonderland (but only one part of the story and not the more fantasy part).

    The misogyny is not out and out, but most of the women are either broken or not there, and maybe I never got how all the MC’s could be so cold/distant, but never have any problems finding enough women who want to sleep with them.. it borderlines some sort of fantasy/ wish fulfillment on Murakami’s part. I can’t really think of one main female character who didn’t end up sleeping with the MC or wasn’t mentally ill of sorts(Norwegian Wood spring to mind because it’s the one I read most recently). I couldn’t really read those parts without pulling out from the story and going ‘come on now!’

    On him being a man, and ergo, not his fault if he can’t write women properly. I don’t think gender should play into it, because there are plenty of men who write great female characters, and plenty of women who write great male characters. So I can’t agree with cutting him some slack because of this. I do want to say again I don’t dislike his works completely.. I enjoyed Wild Sheep Chase, and there is still something compelling about them.

    Anyways, back on track. I was mainly trying to say that MPD seems to get the same kind of reaction that Murakami does, aka. “he’s awesome!” or “why does everyone love him? He ain’t all that!”
    Pretty divisive!

    But like you and C160 say, MPD and Murakami give off similar feelings, with their surreal/normality setting although MPD goes a lot lot heavier into symbolism (but if I recall correctly, Wind Up Bird Chronicle was full of it too, read this years ago so can’t say for sure).
    It is a different medium after all, so as a visual form MPD can play with disjointing or synchronizing the dialogue with the imagery, which many people have pointed out.

    @C160
    I didn’t know that it was originally based on a novel! After MPD ends I’d like to hear more about the where they are the same and where it deviates.

    Out of curiosity, does the anime follow the novel closely, with the things that happen (what is it that happens to Yuri in the novel with her dad? Does Ringo still put a frog on her face? How are the penguins portrayed? Are there penguins???!!!

  20. Kim says:

    @Kero,

    I kind of agree with you that some of what Murakami writes might be a little wish fulfillment since the main protagonists always seem to have these “wild nights” lol

    I also don’t disagree with you that there are men who write good female characters but I just think Murakami in general writes from a singular male perspective, perhaps that he is most familiar with. I also don’t know if I necessarily agree that all the female characters are “broken” per say either, but maybe there is one too many like this.

    However that being said I am not sure if I would say “characters” male or female are Murakami’s strong point. I think it’s more the “way” he tells a story & the themes that run across his stories that are so engaging.

    As for the Penguindrum books I haven’t been able to read every chapter (just what is translated) but yes the Penguins are definitely there.

    I feel the anime does a better job at the surreal/symbolic part of the story. However the novels do a much better job at characterization. It’s almost like the best way to experience Penguindrum is to watch the anime & read the novel. So that is actually one fault I do have with the series.

  21. c160 says:

    @kero
    MPD is not based on a novel, its more of a simultaneous release, the first novel released after the first few episodes were aired. MPD is still an anime first :) The latest novel only reached till the point where Ringo called Shouma in this episode I think. The final novel will be released after the final episode airs. So far, the novels follow the anime almost exactly, only omitting certain monologues which I think doesn’t really change much at all.Maybe except for Tabuki’s apparently sudden change of heart in this episode is better explained in the novel.

  22. imredjimmy says:

    I love you all for comparing this to Murakami’s novel! XD I just love his novels! I do agree that they have some similar elements especially in the atmosphere and the universe they create. Awesome episode! I hope they’ll be able to answer the majority of the big questions, I don’t mind if they leave some little details out as long as they manage to wrap it up well in 6 episodes! You can do it Mawaru Penguindrum!!!

  23. marktheknife says:

    This Murakami talk is quite relevant to my post from last week(and thanks @wendeego for replying, I hope I’ll get to respond to that more at some point). I think one of the big reasons I prefer MPD to Utena is this Murakami connection…the plot’s more off the rails, but at the same time there’s a definite real world with a highly symbolic (but in many ways real) magical system running under the surface. It’s really a great system for combining the symbolic depth of abstract/non-literal storytelling with the grounded-ness and satisfaction of a more traditional narrative.
    ——
    As for something more relevant to MPD, here goes:

    I think this week took the Momoka as Christ idea (“the savior of the world”) into an interesting new place. Momoka’s actions, like Christ, were truly selfless and well-intentioned. Both wanted to save people from their current miserable fates (in the Bible, from eternal death), by dissuading them from following their innately bad human nature/fate.

    But in their absence, the followers of both Saviors quickly fell astray, into hypocrisy, using the name of their savior to commit terrible acts. Perhaps, one might say that neither savior was successful in their mission – those they “saved” ended up in just as much pain, and behaving just as wrongly (but perhaps in a different way). The attempts of saviors to change fate for the better did not, and could not, work.

    This idea adds another facet to Sanetoshi-Momoka connection as well. Sanetoshi noted that they both wanted to change fate, but that Momoka did not agree with his methods or perhaps goal. I was thinking that perhaps Sanetoshi represents science/secular thought as an attempt of salvation/overcoming fate. (After all, he is playing the role of a doctor, he is a librarian, and he is constantly involved with technology and strange devices.)

    This might even point out a difference in their methods – Momoka worked to change fate with miracles, self-sacrifice, and faith things would work. Sanetoshi on the other hand seems to be playing the role of a controlling scientist, setting up an experiment to determine how he can alter fate, or if he can at all.

    I might be projecting, but I think Sanetoshi may have realized an issue with the idea of “changing fate” that I have – what if your succesful “changing of fate” was itself fated? He may have also realized the way I noted Momoka failed (not truly changing fate for the better for anyone).

    This series of thoughts has turned me in another direction – why does MPD contain the themes/motifs it does? Family, religion, secular thought, penguins…What I’m currently thinking is, at its most general sense, MPD’s about a person’s identity and its clash fitting in with the world/fate. The series discusses
    (1) the challenge that creates (penguins – flightless birds awkward on land, graceful and “itself” only in one situation. The child broiler), and
    (2) the ways you can attempt to “fix” the clash (many of which – religion and secular thought – do not work).

    Anyhow, I’m exhausted and done ranting. Night!

  24. Suumire says:

    I think Shouma has to be the one up next for this coming episode. He’s left in the pit of this episode where absolutely everyone was involved in some way but him.

    I’m sorry, but while I agree with comments that he’s the most normal character since he isnt as extreme, I think always being left out of the action has to have given him a SERIOUS complex. Kanba always seems to just tell him to smile and be good while he takes all the damage, but he was never that character really. He acts goofy here and there but he’s also always the one worrying. And like Himari it’s got to hurt to do his best to do something as well but always get there late or be left out.

    I’m expecting him to emotionally lash out or break down, and soon. Especially in the wake of almost losing his siblings. Even the doctor preluded about how he missed out again on something important.

  25. wendeego says:

    @marktheknife: So much stuff there I don’t think I can respond to all of it. But, what you said about Sanetoshi got me thinking.

    For all he says that he and Momoka are connected, they really are very different, aren’t they? Momoka reaches in and literally sacrifices herself in order to save those she loves, at great personal cost. On the other hand, I don’t think that Sanetoshi is giving any of himself at all. He manipulates things from the sidelines, and gives people cures that can delay, but not change, fate. But to me it appears that rather than change fate for others himself (and burn away by doing so) he tricks others into changing fate for him. That’s probably why he needs people like Kanba, who perhaps does contain seeds of sacrifice in himself. Shouma might not be powerless either, since he saves Ringo from drowning in episode 4 at the risk of his own life.

    One of the crazy theories I’ve heard recently is that Momoka’s potential “attack” on the subway bombings split Kenzan’s son into two, creating the Takakura brothers. What if both of them once had Momoka’s ability, but by being split into two they lost the ability to use it properly? Kanba might be able to wield a semblance of it in keeping Himari alive, but Shouma might hold the rest without knowing it. Unless I’m barking up the wrong tree altogether?!?

    Finally, regarding Penguindrum, Utena and realism–I think you’re right in that the setting of Penguindrum is more grounded in the real world. Personally, though, I found Utena a bit more “grounded” than Penguindrum. Utena was very heavily entrenched in the shoujo genre, and so engendered a whole bunch of impressions and archetypes right off the bat. When the show later broke those archetypes to pieces, it had already given time for the viewer to be firmly established in the show’s world (even though most of it was, as Akio said, an illusion.)

    Penguindrum, on the other hand, doesn’t really fit into a genre. It vaguely fits into the kind of shoujo well that Utena exists in, but otherwise it borrows from all kinds of other places, and innovates a lot of its own stuff as well. I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people find it a little unapproachable–it’s so out there that it requires real dedication to bridge the gap and see the wonders on the other side. I think this might have to do with the fact that Utena came right after Sailor Moon, meaning that Ikuhara and Yojo Enokido and everyone else were still using mahou shoujo lenses. Penguindrum, on the other hand, came ten years afterwards, and is all the stranger for it.

    Actually, I wonder what difference not having Yoji Enokido on staff makes? Is that why Penguindrum’s a relatively colder show than Utena? How would Himari or Shouma have been handled if Enokido involved? Ikuhara picked up a lot of the slack (I think it’s pretty obvious by now that he played a huge role in the formation of Utena, since so many of its themes resurface in Penguindrum) but by how much?

  26. Cryptic says:

    I would read the comments but the giant wall of text are kind of intimidating ._.

  27. Guest says:

    I just want to drop in and throw out that you really should read the fantasy half of Hardboiled Wonderland if you’re going to read it at all. It is boring at first but is the thread that ties everything together by the end, and a lot of the fun is seeing how the two stories parallel each other.

    Murakami’s women are almost uniformly plot devices and hollow, though. I don’t think he’s a misogynist so much as he doesn’t use women as real people in his stories.

  28. kero says:

    @guest

    I think the msg is directed at me?

    “Murakami’s women are almost uniformly plot devices and hollow, though. I don’t think he’s a misogynist so much as he doesn’t use women as real people in his stories. ”

    In my opinion, the way you are describing how he uses women is what I would term as being misogynistic: the inability to see them as ‘real’ or being anything other that plot devices. Again I want to reiterate that I don’t think it’s full blown hate of women, but to consistently write women as non-entities does disconcert me.

    I’m not sure I’d go back to read hard-boiled. But I might read a few more of his books, I do want to check out the one about the underground attacks.

  29. marktheknife says:

    @wendeego: Yeah I wrote a shit-ton there, so no worries! Just went off on my excitement on thinking of a new theme.

    I agree that there is a huge moral difference between Momoka and Sanetoshi (barring some horrific plot twist). Furthemore, Sanetoshi’s exact role in the show and his exact plans are still a bit of a mystery. From where it stands though, it does seem like he planned the train bombings to “derail” fate, while Momoka sacrifices herself to mostly undo this damage (and thus push things back onto track). What this means thematically is kind of hard to say at this point.

    And re: Utena v. MPD’s genre “grounding,” this is actually really interesting to me as to its affect on anime watchers’ viewing habits.

    My basic question is, why do anime viewers even feel a need to squeeze MPD into a shoujo? For one thing, shoujo is a demographic label, and there’s something bizarre in how it has pretty wide applicability as a genre label (complete with its own tropes). Another is, why aren’t anime viewers more willing to view MPD as the genre mish-mash it is? Fight Club for instance was a decently-received comedy/drama/psychological thriller with extremely unusual plotting (non unlike MPD).

    This in turn has also made me think about a much broader question: how different communities use different methods to “form” genres, and how that affects the resulting art output (as, after all, genres create the base vocabulary most people use in understanding art). This would also be related to how certain genres are particularly gifted at exploring certain themes. Maybe once I finish getting this together in a grand essay I’ll post it.

  30. wendeego says:

    @marktheknife: One quibble–I think that Sanetoshi stated in episode 16 that what he (and KIBA by association?) is trying to do is put fate back on the right track. Right now my theory is that on the day of the 95 attacks, Momoka performed a track switch and drastically changed the world for better or for worse. Whether returning fate to its proper path is for better or for worse, though, is hard to say (although Sanetoshi’s resemblance to Akio, coupled with his actions so far, makes me think that he isn’t trustworthy.)

    I think that Mawaru Penguindrum is as polarizing as it is simply because it’s just so out there. Anything can happen, characters suffer grievous physical pain and continue to function, and so much is left obscure or hidden in background details for the viewer to parse. We’ve compared Penguindrum to Murakami’s works, but it strikes me that Murakami’s protagonists are generally a lot simpler/more sympathetic. The cast of Penguindrum, on the other hand, is almost uniformly emotionally fractured, and are often hiding their true feelings, to boot! It’s possible to find people to latch onto (though the novels might be more likable in how they give more insight into the characters) but the whole process is very difficult.

    I think it’s also worth saying that Fight Club is a lot tighter than Penguindrum, simply because it’s only two hours long while Penguindrum is about twelve. Penguindrum covers a lot more ground, true! But that amount of sustained, genre-busting weirdness is probably enough to turn people away who aren’t willing to do a lot of the work themselves. I mean, I like Penguindrum a lot, and think that it’s probably the best anime to air this year. But in terms of metaphor, cliffhangers, references to art and literature and willingness to spend time on seemingly inconsequential things (that turn out to be TOTALLY CONSEQUENTIAL) the show is borderline abusive to people who just want to know what the hell is going on.

    It’s a lot of fun too, though! I can just see why it might not be as much fun to everybody. Then on the other hand you have excellent shows that comment on tropes and genres like Madoka Magica, that half the fanbase reviles as overrated, explotative pap. So I guess you can’t win!

  31. Kim says:

    @Weendeego

    But a lot of people DO like Penguindrum. Of course not everyone likes it but that’s true for a lot of things. I don’t think the series is all that polarizing. No more than anything else that gains some popularity really. I do admit a surreal type of series like this is not going to be for everyone but well I can say that about a lot of things.

    As for Murakami’s characters VS Penguindrum’s. I would say the difference for me is I care more about the Penguindrium characters but I relate more to Murakami’s characters. Or to put it another way I feel more invested in Ikuhara’s characters but when I read Murakami I identify with that POV. Then again there is also a different medium at work here so it’s hard to do a direct comparison.

  32. Kim says:

    Oops sorry spelled your name wrong. I hate that you can’t edit on blogs. :(

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  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 05:39 PM)
    Well well well….Death Billiards is getting a full anime. The short was a great and does have potentail. I like. I like a lot.
  • Syndrome
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 04:23 PM)
    Ok, fourth episode of Psycho Pass was really good. I was afraid of what this second season would looks like, I’m strating now to get hyped.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:25 PM)
    @Realist: Stereotyping is intrinsic to human beings in too many ways, so much so that even when a “safe”, “attractive”, “normal” looking person is caught out they still become surprised at the revelation, even if they admit that stereotyping is wrong.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:14 PM)
    I think I’ve got a good handle on Yamaguchi Mikoto as an author now, I also read the first volume of Mayonaka and as I thought, it began deceptively and that maybe there wouldn’t be too much to it, but turns into something surprising, far more interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 01:38 PM)
    @Trass, I can sort of understand that. Though as you likely noticed, psgels isn’t as active as he used to be. So rather than let this blog die a slow death it would be better to see something done with it. We ain’t prefect but well people improve over time.
  • Trass
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 12:47 PM)
    I came back here after a long while and saw how the blog is active again. I was really excited but then found out it’s not psgels who are writing the posts anymore… I’m happy but really sad at the same time ;w;
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:31 AM)
    *this time
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:28 AM)
    @K-off: it wasn’t the most visually impressive episode anyways, so it’s alright is time.
  • k-off
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:19 AM)
    @Bam I know you’re going to point it out, so yes, I know the screenshots aren’t very good…But it was very difficult for me to find a decent clip that wasn’t a spoiler in this episode.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 06:42 AM)
    I’m shocked by the news that Jian Ghomeshi has been an evil rapist this entire time. I listened to his show for so long and he always seemed like such a teddy bear. Just shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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