One thing was quite off in this episode, and one thing only. It was as interesting a watch as always that further proved how far removed Ringo was from reality, the penguins were excellent as far as slapstick comedy goes, and it ends on a note that raises many questions that I hope are answered or at least acknowledged in the next episode. But… no Survival Strategy. It would’ve been out of place since this isn’t a Himari-centric episode, but I was looking forward to it. Okay, with that minor gripe out of the way, moving on!
This episode mostly reflected on Ringo’s detachment from the norms of reality, and the role of a roaming skunk in snapping her out of her delusions when any of the events of her diary were slated to pass. I’m going to try this in a different format, because writing plot synopses about series that I do like immensely without sarcasm isn’t any fun. So in this episode, Ringo gets progressively more unhinged as she gets closer to her goal, to the point of imagining the events of the episode as a play, advertised on the train with Tabuki’s girlfriend playing the lead.
Ringo sees herself as a pauper, somebody ultimately unworthy of Tabuki’s love and affection without putting in the work for it. In other words, she sees herself as the protagonist in her story working against the machinations of the vile princess. Yuri, on the other hand, is seen as somebody entitled to it, who has him at her beck and call without a second thought. Her blurring of reality with this bizarre fairytale world, and its ultimate unraveling at Shouma’s inadvertent hand, show how imbalanced Ringo really is. Mawaru Penguindrum was already a fairytale of sorts, heavy on the fantastical elements and whimsy amongst the themes of mortality and fate.
Whenever she’d imagine something written in her diary that was about to happen, it’d often be in the context of the play. She eventually gets so overconfident that she makes a ploy to fake drowning to get Tabuki to kiss her through means of CPR. Naturally, this doesn’t work out nearly as well as it could and she consigns herself to a fate in the rather unrealistic depths of the pond, and thus loneliness, before being brought to the surface and resuscitated by Shouma.
The skunk is assigned the role of making Ringo’s destiny more difficult to achieve, forcing her to seek alternate means of getting Tabuki to notice her. It’s a neutral, yet antagonistic party that ultimately might have a purpose as nature’s way of throwing off the premonitions of the diary.
The requirements are fulfilled for Ringo’s destiny to pass through extremely indirect means, before we cut away to a woman involved in some kind of conspiracy being pushed down an escalator to her presumed death, as the diary dictated.
Despite not being as enjoyable as previous episodes (Again, no Survival Strategy), this was still very solid and set the arc of Ringo’s diary up as more of a means to an end, rather than being the end. The penguins were in top form as far as physical comedy goes, Kanba’s only role was, to channel Franziska von Karma, being on the end of a foolish fooling for a foolish fool who couldn’t fool the foolish fool girls that he foolishly dated foolishly. It was an arc that didn’t have much bearing on the overall plot, if any, but at least gave Kanba something to do this episode.
The Rose of Versailles comparison for Ringo’s imagined play sequences has been made with little observation, both by the creator and the audience, and it’s rather apt as a starting point for Ringo’s further descent into madness. There are far better posts on that tidbit than mine, so keep an eye out for them if you want to learn more. Having only read two chapters of Rose of Versailles, I can’t properly judge.
If this were just an episode to show that Ringo’s losing it, and maybe abiding by the diary a bit too much for her own good, that would be fine by itself and would allow for a neat segue into the next part of the story with little foreshadowing.
However, with the death of the woman in the red heels after discussing that bit about an organization on her phone… that’s something to be thought about. Could these people have an idea where the Penguindrum is, or is Ringo hiding it from them as well? With many more questions raised, I believe Ringo’s time in the spotlight is over as we make room for this mysterious group in the grand scheme of things.