Posted on 25 November 2011 with categories: Mawaru Penguin Drum



Yeah, this was the “calm before the storm”-episode of Mawaru Penguin-Drum. After this there are only four episodes left, resulting in God knows what kind of ending. This episode meanwhile was very different from the others: it was slow-paced, actually linear, and it was meant to flesh out the existing plot, rather than advance it.

Thankfully though, this avoided the common pitfalls of the usual calm before the storm episodes. Most of the times, these episodes are boring because they are just trying to delay the inevitable. This episode took its time to explain what happened between Shouma and Himari, it revealed why Shouma and Kanba’s parents did the things they did (that child broiler!), and this episode did actually have a solid build-up and a climax. The aftermath of this climax in its turn, built up this very effective atmosphere for the final four episodes.

Now, the big question will arise again: will this show have a great ending? It’s Kunihiko Ikura, so he’s bound to have something planned. In general, I don’t really care if the creators don’t answer every single question they ask explicitly. Not answering any question is of course also bad, but I disagree with people who dislike series, simply because they “don’t explain everything”. There are plenty of things in this series that can be better left off to the imagination.

Instead, what I want to see from this series is it using all of the build-up that the previous 20 episodes put into it. Take the current series, and push its story and characters to new levels. Pulling enough interesting twists without overdoing it and rushing through the final four episodes. This is a delicate balance that many shows fail to hit, but let’s wait and see whether this series knows what it’s doing.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

19 Responses

  1. Rhysfel says:

    I’m still waiting for the subs of this episode….but This Child Broiler thing takes me back to Utena’s Mokushiroku (End of the World) thing,I wonder if Child Broiler it’s as metaphysical as Mokushiroku was…

  2. troy says:

    that’s the problem if its as metaphorical as it seemed before this episode,then its one thing, if its as literal as it could be interpreted in this one …..no wonder some people are ready to do some pretty extreme things to stop it.

  3. esha25 says:

    I almost cried a little bit during this episode. Things got answered beautifully. I am still a RingoXSho shipper though. I think the family should stay a family.

    I feel like Sho taken over Momoko’s fate? He saved Himari from the child boiler and figuratively, though Ringo had her sights on the teacher, saved her from a similar fate with her parents.

    Which leads me to Kanba? What is his motivation? What the hell happened with his sister, and why did he abandon the family. Why do I feel like Kanba has drunk the “koolaid” and is apart of the parents plan?

  4. wendeego says:

    This episode pretty much confirmed that Penguindrum’s soundtrack is god tier. The music that played when Shouma rescued Himari from the Child Broiler? SO. BEAUTIFUL. There are no words

  5. Hara says:

    For the first time with this show… I got bored. Really deceving :(

  6. Snowolf says:

    I feel split on your ideas of a good ending; one hand hand I completely agree that since this show has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be an anime-heck, a show in general- the ending should be focused on that solely and the buildup that has happened for the past 20 episodes.

    At the same time though, I desperately want Ikuhara to answer every little detail in this show. Hear me out- it’s not because I’m the person who likes things to wrapped up in a nice pink bow (I am quite the opposite) but the idea that Ikuhara has stuffed SO MUCH into this show only to actually never even give a HINT of what those things meant or how they were related does frustrate me. It’s like sticking beautiful bits of candy into a box, and never letting anyone actually know what they taste like. While part of the candy’s appeal is how it looks, the real deal is the taste- something I feel that can be compared to Ikuhara’s work figuratively. And I think four episodes CAN pull it off, but barely, and that really worries me. If the show had been set for 26 episodes I wouldn’t have had a problem, but 4 episodes is really cutting it close.

    At the same time though, I don’t want a very definitive ending; I want one that tackles the themes and ideas this show has been presenting since day one. At this point, I honestly could care less about the Penguindrum (much in the same way that I care less about Madara obtaining the Book of Friends in Natsume Yuujinchou); I just want a resolute ending for our characters, but not the themes itself. This sort of contradicts what I said before (but that refers to metaphors and allusions and hints) but I would prefer the question still being raised in the end of the story- albeit a different way- as it was raised in the first episode. To me, that would be an amazing ending. But we’ll see. I’ve really come to enjoy this train that’s Mawaru Penguindrum for the past five months, and I’ll be sad to see it go. :(

  7. Kim says:

    I am definitely sure there will be some questions unanswered or at least open to interpretation. I think most of the major questions will be answered. And actually think most have been answered already if you really look back.

    Will it be a satisfying conclusion. Well I don’t want to jinx it. But it better be because I bought a calendar of the series and will have it up on my wall for 2012. Make it worth it Penguindrum, you haven’t disappointed me yet!

    @Wendeego Agreed, I loved the music that was playing during that scene!

  8. Snowolf says:

    @Kim: Basically- I want somethings really set in stone in terms of plot, but the themes don’t necessarily have to have a solid conclusion to them. Either way, I still have that uncertainty that four episodes isn’t enough to cut it, but I may be entirely wrong; we’ll just have to wait and see! (I don’t want to be heartbroken over a fast rushed ending, to such a wonderful series, that’s all).

  9. Snowolf says:

    Speaking of which, I just listened to the first two soundtracks that came out with the Blu Rays and you can really tell the diversity of the arrangement. There’s all sorts of influences that can be heard- from Western to traditional Japanese music. While I still think that Penguindrum’s BGM could have been used better for the most part, I think it’s a great soundtrack overall and there have been scenes where the music alone has moved my heart (as Wendeego said).

  10. rufe says:

    Anybody wonder if there’s some political message behind this considering the timing of the series?

  11. Chris says:

    Wasn’t Utena’s final arc paced the same way? The conclusion only took up the final 3 episodes. Everything before that was character development and revelations. I think Ikuhara knows what he’s doing and if he keeps it up the ending may be just as beautiful as Utena’s if not better.

  12. wendeego says:

    On second thought, you know what’s really heartbreaking?

    Looking back at Himari in episode 9. Thanks to Shouma’s interference, she has friends, siblings, and parents who really love her. But when her mother gives her the wrong ribbon, she lashes out at her anyway, despite the fact that she was so desperate for love and companionship earlier. Whatever Shouma tried to give her obviously wasn’t enough.

    You could say that everyone in Mawaru Penguindrum are intensely tragic, actually, given enough thought. Yuri is a beautiful actress convinced that she is the ugliest person alive. Tabuki is a man desperately seeking to recover his days with Momoka, only to prove to be a monster in the process. Masako is a girl who in attempting to defeat her grandfather became just like him, and whose attempts to get her brother to acknowledge her is likely doomed. Ringo is a girl who embraced becoming her sister so wholeheartedly that she nearly drowned out her own self. Shouma and Momoka are two individuals who sacrificed everything for the downtrodden, only to have their sacrifices go sour.

    Everyone is forced to constantly lie to each other, and to themselves, in order to stay sane. The majority of them were saved from the Child Broiler and brought back to reality, only to live artificial, disappointing lives. There’s flashes of light in the pan, sure. Ringo’s grown a lot, and Masako’s resolved not to “jump on the train.” But the world is corrupt. And Sanetoshi’s black rabbits laugh.

  13. mica says:

    i hope it won’t be like utena’s ending >_

  14. ljf says:

    I love how this show manages its plot twists! lol. Whenever they reveal something totally and utterly important, they show it like, hey no big deal dude – thought you knew. Lol when they officially revealed Kanba not being a relative it was treated like absolutely nothing new was being shown.

  15. ahelo says:

    I think I have a complaint with your Penguindrum posts as of late. Since you keep praising everything about Penguindrum; instead of always keeping praising the produstion team or talk about how good the story is without actually mentioning the story, why not ACTUALLY talk about the damn story and your opinion about it? But what do I know its still your own blog so whatever.

  16. vertigo chateau says:

    I agree with ahelo. psgels just keeps jizzing over the episodes but his posts aren’t worth reading because he doesn’t write any of his thoughts about the episode down. Just “omg the story is great” and “omg the production values were amazing”

  17. Whisperer says:

    well, writing your thoughts about something implies having such thoughts in the first place. I’ve seen few anime bloggers who actually post eye-opening stuff anyway – there was one for Dantalian no Shoka and one for Penguindrum, can’t remember the names…
    Such quality “newspaper article” posts can only be done frequently if you’re a “deep” or extremely analytical chap. (Keep in mind that heavy trolling can also influence the way someone writes about a show they liked – just read all the superficial reviews on AniDb.) And anyway, psgels is known for speed, for being organized, smart (he blogs some obscure shows when nobody else touches them) and for and his rather strict views on “entertainment” (views that mirror my own, to a degree). I appreciate him for introducing me to great shows like Phantom, Baccano and Kemonozume (I appreciate him less for praising the godawful second part of Red Garden, but hey…)

    PS. psgels does fall, like most bloggers, into the “overanalyzing enjoyment” and “gushing about shows you like” tropes.

  18. kero says:

    @whisperer does fall? or did you mean doesn’t fall?

    __

    Great episode! It’s answered some of the major questions I had, and there is even a good justification for what the Takakura parents are trying to do in changing the world [even if their means are dodgy]

    I’d thought that the child broiler parts were a metaphorical [?] story, so to find out that it actually exists in the MPD world was a cool twist. I like how they have mixed up fantasy and reality to the extent that you can’t tell what’s is real and what is illusory within the world.

    I guess that’s one of the pluses of the medium!

    Mini Sho chan was very cute, I loved the scene of him playing outside with the apple, such an innocent kid!

  19. ShyBlue says:

    Now I realize the important of Himari’s penguin being “San-chan” QnQ. Geez. This episode really screwed with my feelings a lot. Especially when Shouma gave Himari the apple. [btw, I'm a ShoumaxRingo shipper to the end of time, but I loved that moment.]

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 12:29 PM)
    I just read the book. Never saw the films.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:18 AM)
    Lolita is one of my favourite films of all time.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:17 AM)
    It is easy to see however how people would wander to seeing lolita herself as a victim as people traditionally see the child as the victim in that situation.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Aidan: My opinion of lolita matches yours. However I would like to ask of the film adaptations which one worked better for you, the one with James mason or the one with Jeremy Irons?
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    I didn’t like how people tended to degrade the characters just to match their view and forcefully paint black and white over it. It ain’t that simple.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    For example I read Lolita recently. In my opinion it was about two remarkable flawed indivuals. Horrible in there own ways. However when I looked at reviews of it I couldn’t help but notice that people tended to take sides. Either Humbert was the naive man taken in by a succubus or Lolita was the poor stupid girl abused by a monster.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:40 AM)
    One of the reason I feel we hear about world war 2 far more than world war 1 is that it can be so easily be portrayed as good vs evil. Hitler was a perfect supervillain. Maybe even birthed the supervillain in fiction. It wasn’t like world war 1 which was not just one countries fault and was mainly boring trench fights. Moral complexity isn’t really what the masses like. They have a tendency to paint things black and white.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Friend, heard of it. No real interest in playing it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Mikey, I know apocalypse now was based on heart of darkness. It’s just that the man who made spec ops said it was based on Heart of darkness but he took way more from apocalypse now than he did from Heart of darkness.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:25 AM)
    @Ninjarealist, I had a peak at the congo free state. Damn. You gotta wonder how someone pulls shit like this off and look in the mirrior and not think “Man, I am such an asshole.” Surprising that you hear bitching about 9/11 all the time and yet barely anything about this.
    It’s surprising the kind of unbelievable stuff that went down in history. For one I never knew Columbus was such a monster.

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