This week, Mawaru Penguindrum just got a thousand times more bizarre, yet is somehow finally starting to slowly come together. We have a good idea what the Penguin Drum is, or at least have a lead, while further exploring the symbolism through means of apples, penguins, and cryptic planters. As we all learned in English class, everything is symbolic, even when it’s not.
At the start of this episode, a girl named Ringo is rambling on about how much she loves fate while walking out of the girls’ restroom. Once more, a nod to the symbolism of apples. Then, not two minutes after the OP, Shouma and Kanba are whisked away to the penguin hat’s world yet again to be told the whereabouts of the Penguindrum. It’s almost an exact repeat of the previous episode, but the bright visuals of the stock footage haven’t lost their charm on me. Call me easily placated on that front, I know I am. It’s the music, I know that’s the only reason why I liked the gratuitous Utena stock footage.
The possessed Himari tells the two brothers that the Penguindrum lies with Ringo, and that they must acquire it from her or risk Himari dying. The two embark on a quest to find Ringo and learn exactly what the Penguindrum is, leading to them learning that there’s more than meets the eye with Ringo, through multiple failures using their penguin voyeurs. Namely that she can apparently predict and control the future through means of a diary, embodying fate itself. Also, she stalks a teacher, which isn’t cool.
Symbolism Summary Thus Far
If the importance of apple symbolism wasn’t made readily apparent in the previous episode, it should be now. The presence of apples in the episode, the girl who Shouma and Kanba are stalking for the penguin drum is named Ringo (Apple), and her cell phone charm (A penguin holding an apple) all support the theory of her playing a part of larger importance than is made aware of at first glance, and of relation to the possessed Penguin Hat.
With the apple and its associations also comes a further exploration of fatalism vs determinism, a fine line that Ringo is walking through use of the diary. She doesn’t consign those around her to the whims of the universe, instead making them obey her.
Ringo is obviously instrumental to the Penguin Hat in one way or another. Knowing this show, she’s probably going to be the Penguin Drum, the final catalyst needed to give the Penguin Hat a corporeal form, and an immortal one at that. Her personality also brings to light the apple representing deception, its negative symbolism. Ringo herself comes across as a fairly normal, chipper Japanese schoolgirl with an odd liking for the ocean, or at least having it associated with her to an odd degree, but we saw just how unhinged she was after stepping onto a ledge to photograph a birds nest.
And really, those are the only two things set up so far: That the two brothers are trying to keep their sister alive for as long as possible to bypass the fate that lay in store for her, and there’s a metric fuckton of apple related hijinks.
The penguins aren’t showing their true colors yet, I can tell. Despite obeying Shouma, Kanba, and Himari, their loyalties definitely lie with the Penguin Hat and whatever bizarre entity dwells within. However, their invisibility does give them the potential to be utilized past occasionally groan-worthy comedy for less lighthearted tasks, so… yeah.
As for the episode itself, I enjoyed it. It felt surprisingly urgent, considering it was about two brothers stalking a girl and rifling through her belongings using diminutive penguins of unknown origin, and the end, while not terribly surprising, definitely allowed for a good setup. I may have gotten carried away with the speculation earlier, but there’s already a little bit to dig my teeth into.
The animation is great, the 3D feels superfluous, and the character designs leave a bit to be desired as far as consistency goes. The stock footage hasn’t gotten old yet, though it’s a bit early to say whether that’ll be the case later on.
In short, Penguindrum’s still solid, but not enough has been built up yet to allow for much in the way of prediction. As such, for a few episodes, the word count will be relatively light. I enjoy it, and if you haven’t watched it yet, at least give it a glance. It’s interesting, to say the least.