Mawaru Penguindrum – 18 Review
Episode 18 – So Please Be There For Me
Wow, that was one tense episode.
I really love how the title of the episodes are always so nicely named with it being the theme that the episode revolves around. It is always so fitting that the title is actually able to represent all the situations that happened in that episode and the relationship between the different characters. As such, I am sure that you are able to garner the fact that this episode is going to be an emotional one.
The episode had done well in once again pushing the plot forward with more revelations and we are now able to see some lose ends being tied up.
Self Sacrifice – The Road To Redemption
I was really close to tears when Himari had decided to jump off and sacrifice herself in order to save Kanba. I was pretty much screaming “shit, shit, shit, don’t let her die” in my mind since I had remembered the discussion in last episode’s review about how Himari’s death would screw with the twin’s minds. Although it wouldn’t make any sense and seem like a cop out of having to tie up many lose ends by killing Himari off, I wouldn’t put it past the writers to do just that. =P
On the other side, we have Kanba who is willing to sacrifice himself for his sister. This is nothing new since we have already seen this multiple times through the series. His sacrifice was once again to atone for his parent’s sins and in hope of saving his sister.
Then we see more self sacrificial behavior through Momoka’s actions. It has been quite obvious through the series that everyone’s actions is always backed by some reason. Masako is doing everything for her brother, the twins are doing it for their sister, and the married couple and Ringo is/were doing it for Momoka. Every sacrifice that has been made (physical or emotional) were all for a reason. My question is what was Momoka’s reasons behind her actions? I find it hard to believe that someone could be so self sacrificial and not have a reason behind it, especially since her character seems more complex than a simple “save the world” stereotype personality.
We already know of her “Savior of the World” tendencies through her trying to help Yuri and Tabuki. However, I find it highly unsettling to see the lengths to which she goes through to do what she thinks it right, and all of that were done for people who were not really that close to her in the first place. There has got to be some reason behind it as her character comes across as being somewhat selfish since she asserts herself in a very strong manner. Although her behaviour can be justified by good intentions, I am not ready to believe that that is all there is to it.
So Please Be There For Me
I love this theme in the episode. We actually get to see every major player/pawn (minus the mysterious man in black and Sanetoshi) at one location and each one of them have their own versions of this episode’s theme of “needing another”.
We finally get to see Tabuki’s past and the animation for that scene had reminded me of the style during the story of the 3 lambs that Shouma was telling Ringo a few episodes back. I also like the way the narration was coupled with the sharp notes and loud silences to bring across the mood of each main occurrence in that story. It had created a really nice and somewhat despairing atmosphere. Also, we now know that Tabuki’s fingers were essentially caused by a piano lid slamming down on his hands as he was playing it,
although I am not sure if that was done by his brother out of jealousy or if it was an accident. It really makes you wonder what had happened to his brother past that story.
Whilst I am kind of sad that Tabuki had turned out to be such a twisted character, what was weirder was the way he saw Momoka in Kanba’s actions. The whole change of mind when he had decided to help Himari was a bit abrupt and that scene had made me feel like the change in his personality had left as quickly as it had came. It had also reminded me of Yuri’s scene with Ringo in the ryokan and how Yuri’s personality had seemingly changed back and forth between being an evil character and a nice character. It makes me question if all of this was a mere setup to test the siblings. However, the difference between the execution of Yuri’s story and Tabuki’s story is that at least Yuri’s arc had span across 2 episodes as oppose to one which meant more time for character development and more time to adjust and understand the new “behaviour”. What this change in behaviour at the end of the episode illustrated was the amount of influence Momoka had on Tabuki’s personality – Just by simply seeing a reflection of Momoka in Kanba’s actions, Tabuki changes his mind and decides to save Himari. Can I say that I feel like Momoka reminds me of a witch that is bewitching everyone and twisting them around her finger? The only difference is that she seems to be doing it unknownngly.
Another illustration of the theme was the way that the Takakura Household had needed one another and how Ringo had made her way into the whole group.
The way Ringo had sneaked into the “family moment” was really nicely done. She had always been close to the Takakura family, but this is the first time I feel like she is actually part of their family with the way she was worried about them and how she had forced her way into being part of that emotional bonding session at the end of the episode by simply saying that she doesn’t want to be left out of Shouma’s life (of course she didn’t explicitly say those words).
As for the revelation about the mysterious man being part of a group that is currently controlled by the Takakura Father, I was definitely surprised about it and have plenty of questions. Does Kanba really know know where his father is? Did Kanba know that his father was the head of the group? What is the group meant to be and what is the reason behind why all the transactions takes place on board a train?
Then we still have issue that Sanetoshi is constantly the observer. What exactly is he and what is the fixation behind the twin black rabbits that he is constantly surrounded by? I would really want the next episode to explain either Sanetoshi’s existence or the men in black. I think it is about time we get a resolution to that since this point in the story is set up in such a way that a break from the main “pawns” can take place and the focus can be shifted to the actual players of the game. (If you ware wondering why I had referred to the characters that are related to the penguindrum as “pawns”, it is simply because their efforts seem futile and I feel like are being controlled by characters that hold the actual power in the series. If I had to pick, I would say the real main powers would have to be the Takakura Parents, Sanetoshi, and Momoka)
Of course there is still the untouched subject of Double M. I doubt that we will be getting anything out of them apart from being signs and idols of that society. I think that their purpose was merely to illustrate the fact of Himari’s lost dreams due to her parent’s actions. It would be too late to introduce some other element unless Double M is part of the mysterious man in black group.
Surrealism, What A Weird One
The whole flashback about Tabuki’s past with Momoka was filled with methaphors and was done in a pretty surrealistic manner. Everything was simply like a metaphor used to represent the real intended message, and the whole setting of the child broiler, although nicely done, was very surreal.
I am glad that we have finally revisited the Child Broiler notion and I am sure that the real answer behind this broiler was not what many had speculated it to be. The whole idea that it is a dump for unwanted children was really fun to watch and definitely not what I had expected since I had thought it was something more complex, however, it had turned out to be somewhat straightforward in it’s representation. The funniest (and my favourite scene) of the episode was when the administrator of the child broiler had said this:
“We will be crushing you to pieces now, no need to be afraid. You will just become indistinguishable from another. You will just become invisible entities.”
Lol! The lack of care and bluntness of the speech had really added to the situation and the way the children were reduced to being mere things was definitely a job well done, not to mention the fact that the comedic manner in it’s execution was also entertaining to watch. I mean, forget the administrator scene, even the scenes of Momoka breaking in and coming to the rescue was somewhat comical to me and had created a detached from reality atmosphere.
What I would like to also mention is that I feel that this is the first time things were done in such a surrealistic and unbelievable manner. I find it hard to believe that that situation and location is anything more than an artistic interpretation of the theme. Sure, there were other instances/settings in previous episodes that were pretty out there and unbelievable but this definitely took the cake, because at least with the rest of the places, it was merely a visual change in the location to aid the theme (referring to the Kanba x Masako moment with Shouma kidnapped for the diary) whereas this had started off as an unbelievable reality even for the Mawaru Penguindrum world.
But since everything was so surreal, my issue is what is the real truth behind the situation? Did Momoka become the savior simply through saying that she cares about Tabuki? It doesn’t make sense since the whole sacrifice idea with Kanba and Himari was what had reminded Tabuki of Momoka, thus Momoka must have sacrificed something, which meant that she had to do something in order to sacrifice something. (Sorry if I am confusing you) So did she kill off his mother and his brother by using the diary and thus sacrificing a hand? I wonder…
Then we have the use of the yarn in this episode. I am assuming that the red thread is mean to represent Himari whereas the pink thread is Kanba. (Why pink? =_=”) I am not sure if there is anything more to it than being simply just a creative visual element. However, it is a fact that the thread has been used in other parts of the series such as the ED, and the scene where Kanba had worn the sweater knitted by Masako and a red thread (of fate?) was coming lose.
- I had really liked the animation in this episode and the colourful textures used in the scenes.
- The buildup of the tension in the atmosphere was nicely done and effectively made it an emotional episode of Mawaru. I also love the background music in this episode as it had really helped with building the tension and conveying the dire situation.
- We understand that Yuri had managed to hold on to the diary and can infer that no one had won the match since Masako had also held onto hers. However, since we were never shown what had really happen, we don’t really know the truth.
- Yuri had dropped the diary on the ground when she had slapped Tabuki. Perhaps this is a sign that she has started to move on from holding a grudge against the Takakura siblings.
- How did Tabuki manage to save Himari? Last I checked he couldn’t fly and that was a pretty impossible situation. =/
- Although we have learned more about the mystery man, the writers are still eluding to the truth behind what Kanba’s sacrifice is and what that group is meant to be about.
I want to know the answer to that too
Episode Rating: 8/10
Overall, this episode was a tense and emotional episode filled with plenty of revelations and plot progression. I really feel for the Takakura family and all the other characters/pawns in this series who are suffering due to their parents. Tabuki had proven to be another casualty of kids suffering due to their parent’s actions.
Mawaru Fun Question of The Week:
[Question has been edited and is inspired by Son Gohan (the commenter)]
If you were forced to pick one set of parents from this series as your parents, which would it be?
Personally, I think that although all of them are screwed up, the nicest set of parents would have to be Ringo’s parents =_=” Turning out to be like a crazy reformed pyscho is better than the rest I would think.