Note in advance: I apologize for the disjointed nature of this post. It was written on and off over the course of three days, and I felt that each point was good enough to stand on its own without further elaboration. With that said, enjoy!
Out of all the characters in this show, Ringo seems to be getting the shortest end of the stick. Yes, Himari has died twice, but at least she gets to live somewhat happily as her vital functions fluctuate between deaths, like a less funny Kenny. Kanba and Shouma have to face the mortality of their sister and possible eviction, but at least they’re together while they do so. And everyone may suffer some inordinate amount of guilt about Momoko’s death, but they’re not very well adjusted people.
In the past few episodes, Ringo’s really turned herself around. She’s learned not to be so bitter toward those around her, she’s learned to not stalk Tabuki, and most importantly, she’s learned how to behave like a decent human being. And what’s the thanks that she gets for it? Being drugged, bound, and held down by Yuri and told that she should become her sister. Does she get metaphorically screwed over by fate many times over the course of this series? Absolutely. Does it work out well for the spectacle-loving audience? You’d better believe it.
Thankfully, we have an episode dedicated to one of our important side characters that has thus far been almost entirely neglected: Yuri.
Yuri, who formerly appeared to be somebody entirely on the level, albeit with a major superiority complex over Ringo, has been revealed to be as big a nutjob as every other character in the show, if not more so. Much like everyone and their mothers, she was and still is enamored with Momoko to an unhealthy degree. So much so that she had been having a tryst with her co-star presumably in order to fill the void, only breaking it off when she has the means to bring Momoko back: The other half of her diary. Unfortunately, this development is coming from practically nowhere, so I wouldn’t know how to write an analysis of Yuri at this point past her apparently being a user.
So for those keeping score at home, the name of the game now is an indirect battle of attrition between Yuri and Masako over who’ll end up with the other half… or a heist by the Takakura brothers to save their sister. It seems this post is going to come out a bit short unless I pull something else out of my hat, so here goes nothing. If Mawaru Penguindrum could be summed up in ten words or less at this point, it would be “Obsessive loves battling for the right to control their fate”.
The only character who hasn’t had his goals developed much thus far is Kanba, which is kind of odd considering the out of place and rather telling kiss with Himari at the end of the very first episode. Despite Himari constantly being on the verge of death and Shouma being the useless sod he is, he’s making the greatest sacrifice for his love. Masako and Yuri remain ambiguous in their aim, with Masako seemingly only going after Kanba to satisfy some kind of bizarre desire to have him fall in love with her. Honestly, I don’t know at this point. There’s nothing more to possibly glean in this context, except that everyone’s screwed up to some degree.
Penguindrum continues to succeed in cultivating an unparalleled sense of wanting in the audience, slowly and subtly deepening the mystery that surrounds the Takakura family while making the characters all unsettled in some way, shape, or form. If it continues like this, it’ll be one of the best series of the year. Even if it doesn’t, it’s already one of the most talked about, and will most likely keep making quite the stir.