Mawaru Penguindrum – 24 (Final) Review
Episode 24 (Final) – I Love You
The series finally comes to an end on a nice sentimental note.
Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this ending lets the show down, this last episode wasn’t as satisfying to watch as I thought it’d be.
Perhaps it was the way the episode had unfolded on a different plane of existence with it’s cryptic messages, or perhaps it is the fact that the progress of the show had felt like it had amounted to nothing with everything turning out to be somewhat forgotten. Or maybe it was the way the show had left all the thinking up to us to connect the dots instead of making what they were trying to say come across in a clearer manner. Whatever it was, it had left me feeling like I hadn’t gotten the “epic” ending that I was hoping to see.
I had only realised how compact the episode was when I was making the screen captures for this episode. If we were to blink for too long, we would miss out on some form of information.
I guess one could say that the show had a “happy ending” where none of the characters are truly “dead”. The way things had unfolded wasn’t the real issue for me, I think the bigger problem for me was the decision to have everyone live on happily whilst they are conveniently allowed to forget the sacrifice that was made in order to help them achieve that happiness.
The episode had started off diving straight into the scene on the train with Shouma confronting Kanba about Himari whilst Sanetoshi silently observes. For the most part of the show, none of the scenes had taken place in “reality” but rather on an alternate plane of existence. Filled with an extravagant amount of unrealistic occurences, the series had tried to tie up as many loose ends as they could. Since I am not a cold blooded person, I have to said that the ending did leave me moved. The theme of fate, love and sacrifice being the ultimate bottom line to the story was nothing shocking since that was essentially what the show was building up towards. In that aspect, the show had done well in integrating all it’s key themes through the resolution created in this episode.
But what as the end result of such a solution?
I couldn’t keep the idea that “nothing actually happened” out of my head towards the end of the series. Through the sacrifice of their lives, the Takakura brothers had managed to wipe their existence off everyone’s minds (but for some reason Tabuki and Yuri still seem to have remembered what had happened whilst everyone else had forgotten). As I had mentioned above, I don’t really like how characters like Masako had written everything off as being a dream, whilst Himari and Ringo have it suppressed within them in some manner.
I have to be blatantly honest with you, I am rather confused over what had happened how everything had manage to connect with one another. I would have preferred for the episode to have taken on a more “straight forward” approach to things instead of being all cryptic and metaphorical through the use of apples and mirrors and what not, but since it is Mawaru, it is no surprise that the show had decided to revisit it’s roots of explaining things in the most indirect manner possible in this very last dash to the end.
One of the more cryptic situation in the episode was the existence of Shouma and Kanba. This is what I had understood from what was shown:
Kanba and Shouma were stuck in a box (am still wondering what the box is really meant to be), and the both of them were suffering under the sins of their parents. Somewhere along the way, one of them was meant to die whilst the other was meant to live. Due to the appearance of the magical fruit of life (the apple), Kanba had shared his fate with Shouma thus allowing Shouma to live (or you can see it as Kanba having shared his curse, the curse called life, with Shouma). Since all transference of fate would result in some sort of sacrifice, I am going to assume that the exchange of fate had caused Kanba the life of Mario (his sibling) and Himari (his soul mate). Thus in order to put things back to the way they were, they had decided to sacrifice their lives to save the ones that they love the most. As for Ringo, she had managed to grasp a hold of what the magical phrase was through hearing the stories that Shouma had shared with her.
Now, I could be totally wrong in my understanding of the episode, but that is what happens when things become too deep for their own good. It turns into a mass of questionable situations that may lead people down the wrong path. Although I love the multiple layers in the plot of this series, it does get a big tiring when things are explained simply by dropping clues and leaving us to connect the dots. I don’t want the show to spell everything out in a blatant manner, but it would be nice if things were not so metaphorical and had connected with reality a big more instead of being so surreal.
Now moving onto some of my other issues with the episode:
- I had really found Mario’s character to be pointless. The only use behind his character was to create a motivational force behind Masako’s actions. (What was with Mario and the grandfather possession during the Masako flashback episode?)
- I understand that since they had sacrificed their lives, Shouma and Kanba’s existence had to be removed from the earth. But honestly, why did the letter the brothers had written to Himari survive this huge memory/existence wipe? Is it because that doll is special like the penguins are? =/ (What are the penguins anyway?)
- Then we have the fact that Kan and Sho are roaming the earth like ghosts in their child form carrying a soccer ball whilst singing to a different tune saying that death is when everything begins instead of ends. I have no clue why they are still alive and aren’t totally gone. It would have been better and more emotional if the show hadn’t tried to end things on a “happier” note just to lift the atmosphere of the series.
(Am I the only one who thinks that this sound like a promotion for teenage suicide pacts? As if we don’t have enough stressed out people in the world trying to kill themselves, this show is telling them that being alive is a curse whilst death is essentially the beginning of life. =P)
- I am still wondering who killed the Takakura parents?
- Since it was revealed that the Penguindrum was Shouma and Kanba the whole entire time, why couldn’t Momoka just come out and say it instead of sending them on those crazy adventures. Was Momoka unable to say it outright and need the characters to realise it for themselves the same way Sanetoshi is unable to lay a hand on the diary?
- From what I had gathered, Shouma had basically transferred fate when he had saved Himari as a little kid. This is sweet and all but I was wondering what the cost of doing so was on Shouma’s part? What did he have to sacrifice when he had done that transfer?
Some random thoughts on what had occurred:
- I love the translation that was done for when Sanetoshi had cursed the fact that Ringo said that she knew the phrase.
Sanetoshi: “you gotta be shittin’ me.”
LOL! That was probably not what he had said, but I definitely laughed at that translation of the phrase.
- Although I don’t quite understand what the whole idea behind the exploding Kanba was, nor the fact as to why everyone bleeds penguin faces nor how the two brothers had either disintegrated into mirrors or burst into flames… The look was visually engaging and I am sure if someone would like to hypothesise the meaning behind each visual element, there would be some explanation to it.
- I did like the way the concept of twins was tied into the story in this episode. From the way I see it, the use of the twin rabbits was an association to the sharing/splitting of fate between Kanba and Shouma.
One question though, why rabbits out of everything? =P
- Shouma loves Ringo. =D
I would love to jump for joy but it was sad that the moment Ringo finally attains love, he gets ripped away from her and wiped from her memory.
Tsk tsk, evil evil writers.
- Kanba is the real person Himari is meant to end up with.
It is nice that the only two people who had me disliking them through the span of the series ended up being fated to be together.=P
- I am going to assume that the person Sanetoshi had referred to many episodes ago was in fact Momoka.
It is nice to see that the theme of fate doesn’t simply stop at the people who are alive but is also related to the characters that no longer hold a proper existence.
I feel the same way about this show. It was such a fun journey.
Despite the ambiguous nature in the way the connections between the characters are explained, the show had managed to answer most of the questions without letting the rest of the series down. I would have much rather for everything to have played out in reality instead of a surrealistic plane of existence, but I shall be thankful that the episode was still nonetheless a solid one. Overall, the series had started out on a rather lighthearted and insane note and had slowly transitioned into taking on a darker and more emotional state.
Personally, I felt that the show had started to lose some steam as we got down to the stage of the series where questions needed to be answered.
The great thing about this series are the amount of things that are left up to the viewer to mull over even after the series has ended. To add to that, the re-watch value for the show is really high as I believe that if one were to re-watch the series, we would be able to discover many connections that we would have missed the first time around. The art and creative direction in this series had never really faltered too much from it’s high standard, and this makes for a visually stimulating show to watch. As for the downside, well, the show tends to lean onto the darker side of ambiguity at times and one can interpret this as being a good thing or bad thing. It can be good as it stimulates your mind, but it can be bad since it can leave people confused at times.
Episode Rating: 7.5/10
Series Rating: 8.5/10 – Definitely the best series of the season
Now that this series is over I am feeling nostalgic and might re-watch this series over this new year holidays.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
(and if you don’t celebrate Christmas… Happy Holidays to you!)