Mawaru Penguindrum – 12 Review
Episode 12 – The Wheel The Spins Us ‘Round
Oh my god, what an episode.
This was amazing, after watching this episode I am still not sure if I full comprehend what had just happened. This episode was like an explosion of information which my slow brain has yet to process. I am so tempted to re-watch the past 11 episodes just to see what I had missed out the first time around.
The thing about this series is that one would probably have to do their homework if they really wish to decipher all the hints left behind by the show, but as you probably know, I am not a person who loves to research every little detail of this show. Simply said, I am lazy. So whatever you are about to read is me, as a simple minded person, watching the show and telling it as I see.
The episode was amazing in so many ways. The first half was amazing in the way the revelations were executed and the second half turned me into an emotional wreck. There was a moment or two where did I feel like some of the situations were a tad lame, but those were a flicker of a passing moment and it ultimately does not detract from just how great this episode was. (I am saying that I really love this episode despite having not yet fully understand the revelations.)
The last couple of episodes were plague by sub-par animation quality that were below what one would expect out of Mawaru Penguindrum. However, this episode was the best episode since episode 9. The creative direction for this episode was done so well that there was not a single boring moment. I am sure that I am not the only one tempted to re-watch the episode due to the extensive amount of information and visual entertainment presented to us this week.
The Opening Scene
This scene was a really nice way to start the show. It was a mixture of philosophy mixed and hints that ties everything back to Mawaru’s story of fate. I am still unsure of what to make of this continuous appearance of the Hospital in the show and if there is any deeper meaning to it but seeing as to how the hospital is owned by the “good company” (Pingroup), there is probably something to it. Another pleasant surprise (apart from Himari’s doctor) in the episode was reappearance of Sanetoshi in the real world. It is starting to look like the show is about to build to an amazing climax with Himari finally “having the need” for Sanetoshi, and Sanetoshi seems to be playing the role of the bringer of life. Like in the images above, Without Stanetoshi = Death. With Sanetoshi = Life.
My question though is whether the opening scene of this episode is hinting that the rest of the episode is simply a flashback whilst that scene is the only one that is currently in the “present” time. After all, the whole scene is essentially about reminiscing the past and usually an opening scene sets the mood for the rest of the episode, thus it would make perfect sense if that were the case.
The continuation of the scene with Ringo and Shouma from the last episode was also interesting to watch. The flashback revealed plenty of back story regarding the situation with the subway which, was kindly pointed out to me by a few people last week, is related/parody to the Sarin Gas Attack in 1995 in Japan. It was nice to see a flashback scene tying everyone together. It also answers enough questions, whilst presenting news ones, to make it worthy of a mid-series episode. (We don’t want to start down the path of resolving the story too soon now do we?)
What I found was odd during the flashback was that Papa Takakura stated that Mama Takakura had a baby and it was a boy. Singular. Weren’t Shouma and Kanba meant to be twins? If that were the case then what happened? It was also very curious to see that the incident that happened 16 years ago was called the Survival Strategy, the same as the whole Penguin Queen situation with Himari. Also, the scene really showed the impact of the loss of Momoko on Tabuki and the use of the “white shadow” of Tabuki splitting from his real self seems like his personality/self had split during that moment.
What the whole flashback manage to bring forth was the use of the distinction between the “good”(Pingroup) and “bad”(Penguin Force) companies with the logos of the penguins. The hospital is being run by the “good” company whereas the company that the Takakura’s worked for were the “bad” ones (as stated by Shouma). This really pushed the importance of the two different sides.
There was one lighthearted moment in this episode and that was with the Penguin Queen “can’t be bothered” attitude. I found that hilarious but sadly, that lighthearted mood was short lived when she suddenly collapsed.
There has always been one thing that has been constantly hinted at during the series, and that was the presence of an unknown group. This episode once again does the same thing when they hinted at it through Kanba’s conversation with the mysterious psychic on the phone.
Who is the black dude that Kanba has been getting money from? Who stole the other half of the Diary? Are they an “intervention group” of fate? Perhaps they are related to Sanetoshi? After all, all these unknown forces seem to try and deter what is meant to happen by sticking out their hand to help.
I really like the terminology used in this series. One thing that this series does really well and is a contributing factor to it’s success is it’s ability to stick to the format/branding that they have created; be it through visual means or through the language.
The wheels of fate, that is seemingly like karma in this episode, is one thing that is constantly stated throughout the series. The use of circles is also nothing new and this episode’s talk about karma and fate has brought more meaning to this circular element.
Another thing are the trains. The talk of the “derailment” of fate in this episode, which inadvertently links fate to the subway situation in ’95, also links the idea of fate to the idea of being stuck on tracks that are set on a fixed path which one has to follow. I really appreciated how nicely these elements were executed.
The Survival Strategy
I have to say that I am still confused by this part. What we do know is that the Survival Strategy was what Papa Takakura had called his mission as he entered the subway. We also know that the Survival Strategy is what the Penguindrum/Penguin Queen situation is called. The name itself makes sense as they all seem to be about keeping one alive through any means possible, but as to what it really means…? I guess we would have to simply wait and see.
All we know is that with Himari, the cost of her extended life had come at the price of Kanba’s “life force”, whilst it seems like the survival strategy of Papa Takakura had come at the cost of other people’s life.
The Sexual Innuendo
This is not a series that is light on the sexual innuendo. The incestuous relationship on Kanba’s part was made apparent at the end of episode 1 and once again appeared in episode 10 with the knitting scene between Himari and Kanba. This episode however brings it even further with their talk about the vegetables and the “revival” process. After all, when one says “I can see your privates”, it really does not take much imagination to assume what Himari might be referring to.
There were many inferences of twins in this episode.
First would be the question of the Takakura Twins as I have mentioned above.
Second would be Papa Takakura.
There was already a van sitting outside a station when the pager message had arrived about activating the Survival Strategy. This made it seem like Papa Takakura was the one doing the paging. That coupled with a newly arrived van which had Papa Takakura step out off made it seem like he had just arrived at the scene. To top it off, we have that double take scene of Papa Takakura, one from the left and one from the right. The whole situation was set up in such a way that it made it seem like there might have been two Papa Takakura’s yet the following scenes were cropped in such a way that either answer could be possible.
Naturally, we also have the 2 black bunnies which were identical apart from their bows, and the two kids that followed Sanetoshi into the room to visit Himari at the end of the episode (that seem to mimic the look of the bunnies)
Whether this is trying to push forth the idea of cloning (especially with the curious behavior of the animators with the censoring of Momoko’s face. It begs the question of wether Ringo looks exactly like Momoko?) or simply hide some deeper darker secret no one knows.
Mary Had 3 Little Lambs
Now this scene was cryptic yet simple (an oxymoron, I know, but that was how I felt). The story telling style by Shouma created a really nice surrealistic atmosphere and Shouma’s state of mind was highly questionable during that scene. The story itself made me feel confused with the amount of unknown factors that have yet to be explained, yet the obvious connection between the lambs and the siblings cannot be ignored.
The animation in this scene was suitable but probably not one of the most enjoyable moments of the episode for me. I did like the link between the nursery rhyme of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and this Story since it an obvious relation to Childhood would come to the viewer’s mind.
Anyway, I would probably have to re-watch the episode to see what hints other cryptic were dropped during that scene.
The Overall Impact
This episode was high in tension and very emotional. I felt so anxious watching this episode play out wondering what would happen next. My mind could not stop thinking about what was being said and the revelations left me baffled at times. This series proves once and once again that it is no light-hearted fluffy show. You had better be prepared to think while watching this show or you would have to suffer the consequences. The show itself is not really too taxing on the mind (if one does not try to assume or find out more of what is to happen in the near future) but neither is it a walk in the park.
I appreciate how this whole episode reminded us of the fact that we are mid-way through the series and it is about time that we were given answers instead of simply being fed question after question. It makes me want to know what will happen next and it also makes me want to re-watch they first half of the series. In essence, it makes me want to re-evaluate my take on the whole show. This just goes to show the impact that this episode had on me.
Episode Rating: 9.5/10 – Simply Stunning
There are simply too many unanswered questions in this series to list out but the one thing that I would really want to know if what happened with Tabuki’s fingers? He looked like a Frankenstein project.