So it looks like the majority of our flashbacks are over, and we’re back to the meat of what makes Penguindrum such an interesting watch: Namely the penguins being the comic relief to balance out the otherwise dark direction of the plot, and developments that you really could not have seen a hundred miles away if you had a really powerful telescope that could somehow measure the distance of plot points as if they were physical manifestations. It’s difficult to say whether it’s holding up though, considering that Sanetoshi still has that vague sense of doing ugly actions with good intentions. Despite everyone else’s more immediate importance, I believe that our pink haired villain will be the glue holding everything together.
I could comment on how the episode completely turned my expectations around, about yet another expected yet infuriating cliffhanger ending, or whether I think it’s going downhill just for being one man’s vision… but the octopus relentlessly attacking that Takakura penguins gave me pause for thought a few times, so I’ll be doing this post on that.
In the episode, you may recall one other water-based critter alongside the three penguins: the aforementioned octopus. Presumably taken home in order to make the takoyaki (Fried octopus balls), the octopus put up quite a fight as the penguins made an effort to cut off its tentacles to add to the bunch about to be fried and consumed. Hilariously, they were immediately disarmed and forced to fight off the cephalopod as it made an effort to strangle the life out of them. And just like a corny slasher film, as soon as they thought it was gone it just kept coming back.
Despite the outright silliness of this continued subplot, yet another well executed one that doesn’t need many words to get its point across, it’s rather plainly analogous to what the Takakura brothers have been through in order to keep Himari alive. Just as soon as the brothers (the penguins, unsurprisingly) think that they’ve dealt with whatever unfortunate situation has come their way to end their search for the Penguin Drum, another situation (the octopus) comes their way to attempt to stop them.
In the past, the octopus was a great many things: A crazed stalker, Himari’s own fickle life signs, a flamboyant looking representation of death or unnatural life, another crazed stalker deadly with a slingshot, and now two childhood friends out to ruin the Takakura family for past offenses that the children had, in no way, any ability to commit what with being just born. Yes, prepare to be surprised, Yuri and Tabuki are back to their old selves, and looking for revenge against the brothers and Himari despite Tabuki admitting they’re innocent and no grudge should be held.
The details are rather sketchy as to how he came around, but it’s either bad characterization or Tabuki’s the biggest hypocrite in the damn show. By the transient property, that makes all octopuses hypocrites.
So what else is worth mentioning about this episode? Well, Masako continues to prove herself a worthy psychopath to rival Yuri’s twisted designs, her more grounded motivation being offset by the off the wall manner with which she carries out her tasks. It just gets more and more entertaining seeing both of them fight it out for the diary, while the brothers are still left on the sidelines scrambling about with no real sense of direction. But really, it’s good to see the story back on track, the characters’ flashbacks no longer taking up the majority of the screen time. While they were all entertaining little asides, I felt that the overall goal was being lost in a sea of them.
If there is any criticism I can level at this point, it’s that it seems to be reveling in what it is. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but there comes a point where it comes across more as wankery than anything artistic or progressive. While Penguindrum hasn’t reached that point yet, it’s skirting dangerously close. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice seeing little flourishes, those are what give the show life and differentiate it from the pack. It isn’t much of a criticism as of yet, but it very well could be if things continue as they are with absolutely no resolution.
Finally, the cliffhanger was completely diabolical. Tabuki throwing on his first real evil glare threw me off balance, and had me wishing for more already. It’s a minor thing, but it always has a habit of heating up the plot when it already has more than enough good points to keep me coming back.