Mawaru Penguindrum 19 and 20 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to http://webchat.freenode.net/. Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Penguindrum and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. That’s one hour earlier than normal!

I will update with the chatlog after the chat.

Penguindrum 19

[13:04] <Sylocat> A flashback already?
[13:04] <Sylocat> Since when does Ikuhara do “previously on?”
[13:05] <Sylocat> Wait, when is this taking place?
01[13:05] <Froborr> I think it’s taking place now.
01[13:05] <Froborr> After he hurt his hand saving Himari.
[13:05] <Arrlaari> The flashback was to point out that Kanba hella lied about not being incontact with the parents
[13:06] <Sylocat> See, this is what I mean about our knowledge of the characters changing too rapidly
[13:06] <Sylocat> Ad
[13:06] <Arrlaari> ad
01[13:06] <Froborr> Ad
[13:07] <Sylocat> I mean, now we learn he DOES know where his parents are, which changes the emotional dynamics of a number of previous scenes
[13:07] <Arrlaari> Paused after ad
[13:07] <Sylocat> Paused after ad
01[13:08] <Froborr> Paused after ad.
[13:08] <Sylocat> Click
[13:08] <Sylocat> “Beats me?”
[13:08] <Sylocat> Oh, he’s not talking to his brother
01[13:09] <Froborr> I mean, I get your point, but… I dunno, it doesn’t negate anything so much as ad extra layers to their motivations?
[13:09] <Sylocat> Ouch
01[13:10] <Froborr> Ringo and Yui are a lot alike, aren’t they?
[13:10] <Sylocat> Yeah… and like Tabuki, in varying ways
[13:11] <Sylocat> Are they making crepes?
01[13:11] <Froborr> I think it’s closer to barbecue.
[13:12] <Sylocat> The acronym is BAD. Coincidence? (probably, but still)
[13:12] <Sylocat> Ahahah… now Shoma’s the oblivious one
[13:14] <Sylocat_> Hmm, she didn’t mention Ringo?
[13:15] <Arrlaari> There’s a tone occuring periodically in this scene
[13:15] <Arrlaari> ad
01[13:15] <Froborr> Ad.
[13:15] <Sylocat_> Ad
01[13:16] <Froborr> paused after ad
01[13:16] <Froborr> Yeah, I’m not sure what’s up with that tone.
01[13:16] <Froborr> But I get the feeling Himari is feeling jealous of/threatened by Ringo.
[13:17] <Sylocat_> Paused after ad
[13:17] <Sylocat_> (I just got the most amazing as for Hormel deli ham)
[13:17] <Sylocat_> Okay then…
[13:17] <Sylocat_> Click
[13:17] <Arrlaari> There was also a shot of her looking at Double H’s show on the TV
[13:18] <Sylocat_> Ah, I forgot Masako and Sanetoshi were conspirators (though probably with different agendas)
[13:18] <Sylocat_> “Kindly?” He wants the diary burned?
01[13:20] <Froborr> “Truth from lies. Substance from lies.”
[13:20] <Sylocat> So, does Shoma know where their parents are?
[13:20] <Sylocat> I assumed if Kanba did, he did, but the way he phrased that…
[13:20] <Arrlaari> It’s clear that Kanba wants to protect Shouma’s “innocence”
[13:21] <Arrlaari> As an excuse for not facing Shouma’s judgement
[13:21] <Sylocat> Uh oh… who’s this?
01[13:21] <Froborr> No, I wouldn’t have assumed that at all, Shoma has never been shown as in on Kanba’s shady dealings.
[13:21] <Sylocat> Ah, I thought the silhouette looked like her
[13:21] <Sylocat> …What did those sparks represent?
[13:21] <Arrlaari> Rude
[13:22] <Sylocat> Ahahahah
[13:23] <Sylocat> Uh oh
01[13:23] <Froborr> What the hell?
[13:23] <Sylocat> Huh? So this is why Himari has a different surname on the sign out front?
[13:23] <Arrlaari> ad
[13:23] <Sylocat> Ad
01[13:23] <Froborr> Ad.
01[13:23] <Froborr> Is Himari adopted?
[13:24] <Arrlaari> What was Himari’s surname?
[13:24] <Sylocat> I forget what her surname was, but I noticed it was different from the others
[13:24] <Sylocat> We only saw the sign for a split-second
[13:24] <Arrlaari> paused after ad
01[13:25] <Froborr> Paused after ad.
[13:25] <Sylocat> If they’re Not Blood Siblings, then by anime law, that means they’re effectively required to get it on, right?
[13:25] <Sylocat> Paused after ad
[13:26] <Sylocat> Okay then…
[13:26] <Sylocat> Click
01[13:26] <Froborr> *sigh* Yeah, anime has never heard of the Westermark effect.
[13:26] <Sylocat> Are we hearing Flashback Noises?
01[13:26] <Froborr> Westermark? I think that’s what it’s called.
01[13:26] <Froborr> Westermarck.
[13:27] <Sylocat> Uh oh
[13:27] <Sylocat> Awkward
[13:27] <Sylocat> AHAHAH
[13:27] <Sylocat> They both come home through separate entrances at the same time
01[13:27] <Froborr> Well, they came on the same train.
[13:27] <Sylocat> Wait, the penguin just interfered with the scene! That’s against the rules, isn’t it?
01[13:27] <Froborr> Shoma went aroudn back to bring in the laundry.
[13:27] <Sylocat> Huh?
[13:28] <Sylocat> …The heck just happened?
[13:28] <Sylocat> If she trips and falls now, that will help her dodge the ping-pong bullet, right?
[13:29] <Sylocat> Ah, so all the running will give her another attack?
01[13:29] <Froborr> Those giant fans, just like in the Child Broiler.
[13:29] <Sylocat> Whoa
[13:29] <Arrlaari> Child Broiler
01[13:30] <Froborr> Called it.
[13:30] <Sylocat> Himari was in the Child Broiler too?
[13:30] <Arrlaari> “The day I was abandoned by the world”
[13:31] <Sylocat> Momoka to the rescue again
[13:31] <Arrlaari> That isn’t Momoka’s voice
01[13:31] <Froborr> That doesn’t sound like Momoka.
[13:31] <Sylocat> That doesn’t sound like her
01[13:31] <Froborr> Mario?
[13:31] <Sylocat> (great minds, &c.)
[13:31] <Arrlaari> Kanba
[13:31] <Arrlaari> No, Shouma
[13:31] <Sylocat> “We have magic?”
01[13:32] <Froborr> Well.
[13:32] <Arrlaari> New background tone and ED song
[13:32] <Sylocat> I love the red threads motif
01[13:32] <Froborr> Main thing that jumps out at me is that this reads very easily as a satire of attitudes about adoption.
01[13:33] <Froborr> According to The Rules, Yuri and whatsisname are “real” relatives, but there are people who would hold that Himari and her brothers aren’t.
[13:34] <Arrlaari> Tabuki?
01[13:34] <Froborr> Yes, thank you.
01[13:34] <Froborr> Yet really it’s Yuri and Tabuki that are just playacting at being a family, and Himari and her brothers are a real family.

Penguindrum 20

[13:36] <Arrlaari> Penguinforce
[13:36] <Sylocat> Day before WHICH incident?
[13:36] <Arrlaari> Quite certainly, the bombing
[13:37] <Arrlaari> This speech is very likely the father
01[13:37] <Froborr> Ahhh.
01[13:37] <Froborr> The one picture explains so much.
[13:37] <Sylocat> Who was in that picture?
[13:37] <Arrlaari> The shards floating around Himari in the OP are the same as the shards seen in the Child Broiler
[13:38] <Sylocat> Ooh, I just noticed Momoka in the OP
01[13:38] <Froborr> They’re ecoterrorists, at least originally, though based on the father’s speech they seem to have branched out into something on the socialism/anarchy spectrum.
[13:38] <Sylocat> II hadn’t seen her there before
[13:38] <Sylocat> So does anyone except Masako have a Dark Penguin?
[13:38] <Sylocat> Ad
01[13:38] <Froborr> Ad.
01[13:39] <Froborr> Not that we’ve seen, I don’t think.
[13:39] <Sylocat> I wonder what the significance of Masako getting her own Penguin is
[13:39] <Arrlaari> Paused after ad
01[13:39] <Froborr> I think it’s just that she also has a sibling with a (the?) hat.
[13:39] <Arrlaari> Mario doesn’t have a penguin yet
[13:40] <Sylocat> Ah, I’d forgotten that
[13:40] <Arrlaari> I suspect it’s because she’s connected to penguinforce through Kanba
[13:40] <Sylocat> I wonder what Mario’s transformation costume is
[13:40] <Sylocat> Paused after ad
01[13:40] <Froborr> I like the idea that it’s exactly the same as Himari’s.
[13:41] <Sylocat> I like that idea too, but it can’t be, since Himari’s costume is the Triple H thing
01[13:41] <Froborr> True.
01[13:41] <Froborr> Paused after ad.
[13:41] <Sylocat> Which lends credence to your theory that the Hat is an alternate-timeline Himari when she joined them
[13:41] <Sylocat> Okay then…
[13:41] <Sylocat> Click
[13:43] <Sylocat> Oh yikes
[13:43] <Sylocat> Yet it’s Kanba who regularly makes out with her
01[13:43] <Froborr> “Regularly”?
[13:44] <Sylocat> lol at the “DELISH” in the subtitle
[13:44] <Sylocat> (okay, “regularly” is too strong a word, but still… that whole life-force-transfer thing)
[13:44] <Sylocat> Is this happening after the previous scene?
01[13:45] <Froborr> Always a good question in this show.
[13:45] <Sylocat> This is intriguing romantic advice
[13:46] <Sylocat> So now Sanetoshi is creeping on her too
[13:46] <Arrlaari> Creeper be creepin
[13:46] <Sylocat> And she’s having none of it, thank goodness
01[13:46] <Froborr> I love her expression here, though.
01[13:47] <Froborr> Hmm, is that tone diegetic, coming from the orrery?
[13:47] <Sylocat> As punishment for what? What led to that?
01[13:47] <Froborr> Gee, I wonder if the friend’s complaints have any relevance to Shoma’s feelings about his parents.
01[13:49] <Froborr> I presume it was just some school rule infraction ofscreen.
[13:49] <Sylocat> What
[13:49] <Sylocat> “Brother?”
01[13:49] <Froborr> What?
[13:50] <Sylocat> Ah, so that’s where that stuffed animal comes in
[13:50] <Sylocat> Ah, so this is how he remembers it?
[13:50] <Sylocat> I was wondering if we’d get it from anyone else’s POV
[13:50] <Arrlaari> Kiga Apple
[13:51] <Sylocat> Is this legit the Japanese version of Adam and Eve?
[13:51] <Sylocat> Ad
[13:51] <Arrlaari> ad
01[13:51] <Froborr> Ad.
01[13:52] <Froborr> I wonder if that’s the Kakure Kirishitan version…
[13:52] <Arrlaari> Kakure?
[13:53] <Arrlaari> Also, so far he’s been just less specific than the full story?
[13:53] <Arrlaari> Unless I missed something that’s inconsistent with western doctrine?
01[13:53] <Froborr> Paused after ad.
[13:53] <Sylocat> IIRC, “Kakure” specifically refers to the underground ones in the Edo period
[13:54] <Sylocat> Paued after ad
01[13:54] <Froborr> The main inconsistency is that the apple is being associated with destiny rather than sin.
01[13:54] <Froborr> But yeah, what Sylo said.
[13:54] <Arrlaari> Knowledge of Good & Evil
[13:55] <Arrlaari> One of two forbidden apples, the other being Eternal Life. The sin was disobeying God’s command not to eat it, because Patriarchal Authority
[13:55] <Arrlaari> paused after ad
01[13:55] <Froborr> Yes, okay, point still stnads that it’s very much not about destiny.
[13:55] <Sylocat> Okay then…
[13:55] <Sylocat> Click
01[13:55] <Froborr> Quite the opposite: they defied what was “supposed” to happen by eating it.
[13:56] <Sylocat> What was that stuff?
[13:56] <Sylocat> Aww
01[13:56] <Froborr> Anyway, a lot of the Kakure Christians’ beliefs got… a bit strange, because, well, underground religion, word of mouth, translation errors…
[13:57] <Sylocat> Random insertion of a cat
01[13:58] <Froborr> lol at the sign
01[13:58] <Froborr> oh… not so lol
[13:58] <Sylocat> Uh oh
[13:58] <Sylocat> Dang… that sucks
[13:59] <Sylocat> Ad
[13:59] <Arrlaari> ad
01[13:59] <Froborr> AD
[13:59] <Sylocat> Ah, so that wasn’t just the same scene from his POV
01[13:59] <Froborr> VERY MUCH not lol at that last sign.
[13:59] <Arrlaari> “Thanks for keeping the RULES and making a pleasant society”
01[14:00] <Froborr> Also, since when are there three ad breaks?
[14:00] <Sylocat> Paused after ad
[14:00] <Sylocat> Yeah, that sign was a bit on-the-nose
[14:01] <Arrlaari> Paused after ad
01[14:01] <Froborr> Paused after ad.
[14:01] <Sylocat> Okay then…
[14:02] <Sylocat> Click
[14:02] <Sylocat> Class metaphors as well as a satire of societal views of adoption
01[14:04] <Froborr> That’s the hole Momoka left, isn’t it. Guess they still haven’t fixed it after all these years.
01[14:04] <Froborr> Loving the music here, btw.
[14:05] <Sylocat> I forget, did any of the central family ever meet Momoka?
01[14:05] <Froborr> Not that we know of, I don’t think.
[14:07] <Sylocat> “Ethnic powder?”
01[14:07] <Froborr> “ethnic powder”?
01[14:07] <Froborr> lol, again!
[14:07] <Sylocat> Slightly unfortunate translation there
[14:07] <Sylocat> Well… that happened
[14:07] <Arrlaari> Another new ED
01[14:09] <Froborr> I’m interested in the contrast between the way the father talks and everybody else does.
01[14:09] <Froborr> He’s much more… abstract. “Children are made invisible,” “the world,” “the system,” where every other character is motivated by their connection to *specific* people or *specific* events.
[14:10] <Sylocat> Yeah, the father has a crusader sort of vibe… even Momoka was more intimate and personal, and she helped dang near everyone
[14:11] <Arrlaari> There are two distinct scenes where Momoka goes into the Child Broiler and picks one out of a crowd of abandoned children
[14:11] <Sylocat> Momoka picked two people? I only remember her picking Tabuki
[14:11] <Arrlaari> Yuri
[14:12] <Arrlaari> Wait, I forgot, she saved Yuri from something other than the Child Broiler
[14:12] <Arrlaari> The stories are otherwise so similar
[14:12] <Sylocat> I was just about to say, I didn’t think Yuri ever wound up in the Child Broiler
01[14:13] <Froborr> Yeah, Yuri was abused, not abandoned.
[14:15] <Sylocat> Did Momoka have a hand in taking down Masako’s awful grandfather?
[14:15] <Arrlaari> No, he destroyed himself by his own reckless behavior
[14:16] <Sylocat> Right… that was just toxic masculinity taking itself out with the trash
[14:16] <Arrlaari> The pufferfish with a poison cland, remember? He prepared some himself instead of having a professional chef do it and died of the poison.
[14:16] <Sylocat> I remember how he died, I just couldn’t remember if Momoka was involved
[14:17] <Sylocat> come to think of it, Momoka didn’t deal in fates that “specific,” IIRC
[14:17] <Arrlaari> I’m detecting two distinct groups
[14:18] <Sylocat> Of?
[14:18] <Arrlaari> Momoka’s group – Tabuki, Yuri, Ringo, and the Penguingroup: Natsume, Takakura
[14:18] <Sylocat> Ah, good point
[14:18] <Sylocat> Sanetoshi, as per usual, falls somewhere between the two
01[14:19] <Froborr> I actually think Sanetoshi is in direct conflict with Momoka.
[14:19] <Arrlaari> Sanetoshi seems to have control over the Penguingroup – he says that the parents weren’t able to complete the work he wanted from them, and that he’ll have the children do it, and he’s trying to manipulate Natsume into destroying Momoka’s diary
[14:19] <Sylocat> Well, he’s in conflict with everyone
01[14:20] <Froborr> Yeah, I think he’s using Penguinforce.
01[14:20] <Froborr> The thing that I’m baffled by is Masako’s presence at the Penguinforce meeting, and reference to “our father,” calling Kanba “brother,” etc.
[14:21] <Sylocat> That threw me for a loop as well
[14:21] <Arrlaari> Possibly a custom of membership in Penguinforce is to call the leader “father” and other members siblings
[14:22] <Sylocat> Well, I guess we’ll see
[14:22] <Sylocat> In the meantime, I’m off to rehearsal
01[14:23] <Froborr> Later Sylo!
01[14:23] <Froborr> And yeah, I think that’s possible, Arr.

3 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum 19 and 20 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

  1. Oh boy those 2 episodes… and I said I want to keep it short … that might be impossible here… but there really are a few puzzle pieces you are missing here because of specific references etc. So I feel thats really vital to really understand the full picture.
    There is also the problem that at this point in the story even with the full story and external information I find it pretty difficult to explain all this stuff because on the one hand some elements are just highly interpretative without clear answers or some stuff is just too complicated to sum up nicely and on the other hand for me the thematic density and interconnectedness of the whole plot really becomes headache-inducing somewhere around here.

    First of to set the mood one interesting speculated reference… Remember those establishing shots for the terrorist hideout / Shouma/Himari first meeting. Looks really grey in grey… concrete tower blocks… all very isolated and oppressively maze-like, right? One blogger once argued that this might be a reference to “Battleship Island”, a abandoned artificial island which in WW2 was are forced labor camp with ridiculous population density but post-WW2 was just a creepy decaying ghost town (ghost island?) overtaking by nature… just imagine the atmosphere of high radiation no mans land prohibited areas meets Last of Us style city design.
    Just look up pictures and you might see the buildings this scenes eerily resemble. Could be coincidence but thematically that still fits perfectly (beside the decay and nature stuff). Wouldn’t be the first time Ikuharas makes absurd and obsessively detailed shoutouts to something and very abstract relevance.
    But it also fits very well to your observation how the fathers speech (and yes thats Kanbas father speaking) sounds very distanced and impersonal. You said how this all seems very on the nose and yes its a bit simplistic how they and Himaris suffering are presented but the little details make this episode soooo interesting.
    I think its brilliant how this part finds a way to humanize the terrorists (or at least the father as one of their proxies) while at the same time completely dismantling his argument. Guess I have to explain that… ^^ First of remember the terrorist are a fantasy stand in for Aum Shinrikyo so it becomes pretty important how simple and ordinary there basic ambitions are. Who wouldn’t want to see there children safe… or by extension help the disenfranchised and suffering people in society etc.? But then this becomes this abstract ideological rhetoric how the are powerless against a “frozen world” full of those false or meaningless opposites and how they can’t help them directly except for revolution/violence etc.
    But then we see Shouma who doesn’t hear any of this because he is to busy playing with his apple (oh hey SYMBOLISM ;) and does exactly what we heard before was seemingly impossible… Meets a girl, becomes her friend and ultimately saves her from a cruel fate through his direct actions… at least symbolically and also completely paralleling Momoka even without supernatural powers.

    But I get back to that … first lets start at the beginning with this messy stuff about the parents present day status…
    “I mean, now we learn he DOES know where his parents are, which changes the emotional dynamics of a number of previous scenes”
    Yes the show gets a little GOTCHA!!! twisty in those parts with those “he knows that she knows” kinda relationships but I would suggest to let that play out and look at it in the end with the full picture. To me all individual actions on the roof made sense in hindsight because of [SPOILER]. :)

    Except for this one “It’s clear that Kanba wants to protect Shouma’s ‘innocence’ ”
    That pretty on point… the way he talks about his parents with Kanba on the train makes it really explicit that he really doesn’t have a clue whats going on and would never agree to Kanbas methods.

    “Ringo and Yuri are a lot alike, aren’t they?”
    Thats not just those two… the whole story is build from those constant parallel or contrasting events that point to overarcing themes. E.g. all important character struggle with messed up family relationships and/or childhood traumas incl. identity crisis and they are in some way or another all very emblematic of this idea of that “lost generation/decade”.

    Speaking of which: ” I actually think Sanetoshi is in direct conflict with Momoka.”
    Great observation… keep that in mind for later…

    “But I get the feeling Himari is feeling jealous of/threatened by Ringo.”
    “There was also a shot of her looking at Double H’s show on the TV”
    One ep later this should make much more sense… that just the first step to revealing here deep seated fears and insecurities. She sees Ringo&Shouma as a happy couple and then gets reminded of her past with Double H and how they left her behind (well had to) and that image of her happy family and belonging slowly starts to break. She even says something like that to Sanetoshi herself. And then Masako comes along and makes everything 10x worse. Her fancy talk but her fantasy ammunition was just about her repressed memories anyways. And ripping of that bandaid gonna hurt real bad. I really love how that scene was frame. How she “has to” flee from her home (her defining place of happiness and acceptance), expression of terror in her eyes and running with naked feet in rain (remember how Shouma found her on those stairs), back into a corner and THEN the zoom out with those industry fans… also even in her house when they are still talking her kitchen fan already starts resembling those fans (because suddenly it turns very slooooowly).
    But this reveal was setup from waaay earlier. Remember where we saw the child broiler for the very first time? In Himaris flashback memories story in the library which usually gets read as a very Jungian metaphor anyways…. but that another absurdly dense scene I don’t have time for here right now. ^^

    Which brings me to: “So now Sanetoshi is creeping on her too”
    NOW? He already tried to kiss her in the library and she already calling him a weird(?) guy when she first saw him there. Also: “bride of fate” O_O

    “Truth from lies. Substance from lies.”
    …. and family from nothing :D

    “What did those sparks represent?”
    I would say just a visual joke about their confrontation…. and also this weird thing in anime about shining / reflecting foreheads I have never understood.

    “Huh? So this is why Himari has a different surname on the sign out front?”
    I don’t think she really had a different surname but there where just a lot of names on that label for all the people (5) living in the house … but I don’t remember where I had see the translation of this scene. So maybe I’m thinking of a different scene.
    But that brings me to that whole topic of “not related by blood” / pseudo incest and the “brother” comment.
    First of yes you are right that most anime ignore all the the basic concepts of human psychology when it comes to imouto bullshit but you also have to remember that most of that basically got imported by stories that run on hentai logic.
    But more importantly Ikuhara doesn’t fit those trends … even back in Utena (when we didn’t even have those LN cliches) he has already bashed those tropes pretty hard and has turn those for the most part comedy tropes into really messed up drama. Almost all sibling relationships in Utena are fundamentally broken and specifically Nanami reacts to this “not blood related” reveal with insecurity and feeling of isolation and loneliness and generally existential angst. And then it gets even worst when the the real idea of incest gets thrown her way which is basically frame as traumatizing / metaphorical lose of innocence moment.
    So yeah… Ikuhara really has no sympathy for this bullshit and there also is a bigger argument to be made that Penguindrum as a whole isn’t about incest in any way or even sexuality for that matter. But that also harder to explain with all those almost Kanba/Himari kisses etc. in surreal land. So I will just ask this: What does incest represent on a social level? taboo? breaking laws? concept of forbidden love? Try to map such idea to those characters and you may find better answers for this element of the show.

    But then there’s also the brother comment and sorry for spoiling and also sabotage my own argument a bit but … well sometimes even Ikuharas twist are that there is no twist and a girl calling a boy brother just means that they are siblings. That’s really the intended implication here and that also why she is so hard on Himari and her “fake family”… even symbolically the dark penguin tries to take #3s wig for herself when they are arguing where Kanba belongs. And yes thats even more blatant incest subtext than with Himari but I just read that as black / troll humor ala “You remember all the weird scenes with Himari .. but hey its okay … not related… but that crazy stalker girl who kidnapped him so she could kiss him… SHE is blood related … have fun with that mental image” etc. But even that is more of a metaphor then text and she is also just as messed up when it comes to understanding relationships as everybody else in the show.
    But that should fill a lot of plot hole for you in hindsight. The weird relationship between here dad and grandpa and why he is missing. Why she wanted to give Kanba her money so he wouldn’t have to take the MIB dirty money (while he ironically saw her fortune as dirty money). In the end her attitude to Kanba parallels his towards Himari. She is just as much a obsessive overprotective person who doesn’t know how to express those feeling in a health way. One big difference is how Kanba seems to hate her for that while Himari just pleas to Kamba to stop….

    And than there is the problem that Ikuhara kind screw up with that whole Natsume family arc. If that problem with Mario and his own hat makes little sense to you now down get your hopes up because I couldn’t tell you either. This part of the story felt really incomplete and made just as much/little sense to me after seen it with more context. Don’t get me wrong those characters still fill their roles and fit the story and themes but Marios hat felt like just that one idea to much that they had to cut down to bring it down to 24 ep lengh. And that just disappointing. But maybe you find something I missed THEN it still makes more sense. :D

    And finally the big one: the whole apple discussion
    What makes that so hard to discuss is that sometimes the question what symbol x mean in Ikuharas shows just leads nowhere because they mean everything and nothing and thats where stuff gets messy and you have to look for connections between symbols and what those structures tell you about the overarching themes.
    First of, yes the dead cat is really on the nose and you almost expect that Himara would say “hey that cat is just like me”.. even that cats name is a double reference to Himari (sunshine aka hidamari vs. Himari and Sunny aka Sun-chan vs. San-chan aka #3). But that stuff with the apple and Eden all makes this all so much more interesting and complex because that apple doesn’t just mean one concrete thing but at least 5 (and one of those I can’t even name without spoilers). maybe there even a 6th version with your Japanese Christian tale theory. But I have to admit I have now idea what Japanese Christians changed about the Eden story so I can’t comment on that. And I would argue with Occams Razor anyways. The other 4 things are easily found within the story itself.

    So to break it down:
    – Most literal: Apple as food. As in humans need food to survive and Himari is basically a abandoned, starving child at this point or the near future. So when he shares the apple in a very direct way he “saves” her from her fate… but that really boring right?
    – Less literal: Food as metaphor for human bonds. That all over the show… Ringo and her curry “story”, her mont blanc stuff, the siblings having happy family scene full of food porn animation. Himari even had this make-up-after-a-fight food at one point. So after all when Shouma gives her the apple that the first prove of there bond (which she at first refuses btw) but that later replaced with the shared scarf because well much more obviously anime cliche. (But also pretty interesting because this show had other scarfs as well ^^)
    – Literature reference #1: Bible… Let’s just take our normal version about Original Sin and run with that (Ikuhara usual keep western references at least subtextually/thematically intact or he is just making up completely new stories instead) … ok its a role reversal because the apple goes boy->girl but otherwise I think there really isn’t that much to it… sharing the the apple = sin&punishment will follow… the sibling already constantly talk about “their punishment” anyways (Shoumas fairy tail, Kanbas explaination for Himaris death in ep1 etc.) and Shoumas visit to the child broiler also mirrors Momoka who also had to endure fire/”curses” etc. for messing with fate.
    – Literature reference #2: Night of the Galactic Railroad…. so here is the big missing puzzle piece. Penguindrum is heavily invoking this book/film when it puts symbolic apples everywhere because that story also has a lot of apples. The funny thing is you don’t even have to look up the meaning for this Penguindrum itself explains it… you just have to go back to the first episode… really … I’m not joking.
    There were those 2 random kids the ran by the siblings house before the plot even started. The have this weird dialogue about what Kenji meant with the apple and way to the other world and stuff like that. Kenji as in Kenji Miyazawa the author of said book. So they literally talk about the symbolism of this book that become relevant later on. What they say is how the apple represents the universe like a tiny universe in your hand and what I’ve heard in summaries the author just really liked apples and also compared people to the seed in apple surrounded by well the universe…. so that part almost like the idea of the world egg they address in Utena.
    But whats more important: The kids also discuss how the apple is the reward for people that die for love or something similar (don’t remember the translation). I think that needs more context because that doesn’t really fit completely. This guy wrote a book in the 1920s about this train that travels the galaxy to bring people to the afterlife to deal with the death of – IIRC – his sister. The story is very Buddist. Thats also what the kids in MPD ep1 reference when they talk about how death is just the beginning etc. But one theme that comes up multiple times in this book is pondering the value of self sacrifice to help others. That what the kids really meant with “dying for the love”. And the apple is the reward for this so its obviously a virtue in this story.
    And this comes up in other context as well.. I mentioned the scorpion soul / fire before and that also a story within this books story where I will just quote Gabbomatic from AnimeIntrospection (that the link from my for post):
    “The fable of the scorpion fire is about sacrifice. The scorpion, who lived his life as a foul predator, faces something more powerful than him – the inevitability of death – and regrets that, after a life of heedless consumption, he couldn’t die in a way that aided the proliferation of life. The gods hear his prayers and set him on fire, turning him into the red star Antares, heart of the constellation scorpio, whose light aids life.”
    That what possess Himara references in there subway “alone time” scenes and what Sanetoshi taunts him with when he is offering him the medicine mid story.

    And then there is the apple as “fruit of fate”… so I won’t explain this here but I feel that really just one of Ikuharas abstract proper noun phrases where you have to find your personal answers. I mean whats the inherent meaning of “smashing the eggs shell” or “person to bring the world revolution”? “shared fruit of fate” IMO is basically another of those overarching concept that defy simple explanations without context of each individual scene where its brought up.

    So what IS the meaning of all of this? Well its a mess of complete contradictory ideas. The apple is a reward for selflessness but also a sin but also saved her life? Well IMO that the point here… that you can’t break it down so easily what Shoumas actions really meant for Himari.. in very concrete terms he has most likely “saved” here because without ever meeting him her live would have been much worse.. but by taking her in he also “burdened” her with his families legacy so in the end she is still destined to die a unfair death soonish or the other way round branded an “unwanted” / hated person by outsiders.
    Also her taking the train to the child broiler associated with death gains a slightly less creepy connotation due to the NotGR reference.

    ON THE OTHER HAND this scene gets even creepier when you look for the really juicy details. That really blew my mind and it’s sooo easy to miss: All the time when we see trains that’s subway trains etc. but when Himari decides to “take the train” we see her with all of those other stick figure children(?) in a cramped space like in the child broiler … but that’s not a train for passenger how they frame it but what looks more like a freight wagon… THAT has really creepy historical implication right? O_O So yes I’m actually suggesting that the show very sneakily drops a Godwin on us here which sounds ridiculous dark even for Ikuhara style of storytelling but when you think about it more it even makes sense in context. The constant dehumanization of people, the talk about wanted/unwanted people, the factory imagery as standard stand-in for hyper industrialization, the bureaucratic apathy of that one administator on location and just the simple fact that children are gathered at a place where they are destined to die farmed euphemistically as something something better members of society something something. So yeah that seems very intentional to me…. and complete f’ed up as analogue.
    That being said the “logo” of the child broiler seems to be this child getting thow into the trash can so anything but screw up would be very unfitting.
    And the whole idea of the child broiler definitively has more nuance then that. But that another 5-10way split of interpretation so I’ll stop here… and Sanetoshi is just as much a complicate mix of ideas and references.

    BTW screw up logic… sometimes you just have to appreciate how messed up Ikuharas appoach to referencing gets. The rhetoric in that speech of the father about cleansing flame etc. finally makes it very explicit that Shoumas fairytail wasn’t just about his guilt / feeling of injustice but more specifically Marys sins (stolen ashes of the torch to fertilize the tree of treasures and dreams etc.) are also directly about the terror attack and the terror groups motivation.
    I mean it really takes a special story to turn a really innocent and wholesome short nursey rhyme for children into an allegory about social injustice, circle of violence and terrorism. XD

    Oh one last thing: Remember how Himaris called Shouma her soul mate. Thats actually a really “bad” translation. That may be the direct translation of this word into English but literally she says something like “person of destiny” which obviously makes more sense in-universe and has for less of a romantic connotation … oh no, I circled back to incest subtext again … that really the point where I should stop. :)

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  2. Yes, my comments about incest were tongue-in-cheek, I am aware that Ikuhara does not play that stuff straight. :)

    (for the record I think there’s entirely too much pseudoscience surrounding the topic of the psychology of incest, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic)

    All the time when we see trains that’s subway trains etc. but when Himari decides to “take the train” we see her with all of those other stick figure children(?) in a cramped space like in the child broiler … but that’s not a train for passenger how they frame it but what looks more like a freight wagon… THAT has really creepy historical implication right? O_O So yes I’m actually suggesting that the show very sneakily drops a Godwin on us here which sounds ridiculous dark even for Ikuhara style of storytelling but when you think about it more it even makes sense in context. The constant dehumanization of people, the talk about wanted/unwanted people

    I’m not sure how intentional this is (on the part of the writer OR the translators), but I really like that the subtitles often use the word “Chosen” instead of “Wanted.” This plays back into Ikuhara’s skepticism of the Hero Myth, how “The Chosen One” is a dangerous and toxic myth which plays into the meritocratic myth that there must be a Reason™ that some people are “wanted” and others are not (something I also touched on in my Lego Movie review).

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  3. “incest” etc.
    Yeah its fine… its the default joke after all. Didn’t take that serious anyways but I just always feel the need to point it because so many people don’t even seem to notice the different attitude towards those topics in Ikuharas animes. And I’m always completely baffled by those obligatory complaints about offensive fanservice scenes when Ikuhara goes for darker aspects of sexuality. How much context do have to ignore to draw that conclusion. But I’ve definitively read that stuff about the Ringo/Yuri onsen scene and most of Yurikumas implied/symbolic sex scenes.
    On the other side those Kanba/Himaras scenes are more like intentional misdirect mixed with trolling which might be a bit of overkill in a show that already messes with your mind so much.

    And I totally agree there is just all around far to much armchair psychology talk when it comes to those taboo subject in media. Especially when it drifts towards “what does this kinky genre tropes well us about Japans attitude towards….” That’s just ignorant bullshit reasoning.
    But I also don’t see this argument going away anytime soon. Incest and lolicon themes are just so obviously this total disconnect between what hardcore otaku and the rest of the world want from their entertainment…. or maybe that just what big publishers think they know what their demographic wants.

    —————

    “chosen people”
    I can’t comment on the translation either but I also remember something about “chosen” in those subs. The only thing I heard was that they (once again -_- ) mess up the English dub for an Ikuhara anime to the point of changed meanings in some scenes but subs seemed to be fine.
    But translations are a complicated thing with Ikuharas stories. On the one hand he’s no Nisio Isin so usually you don’t have to worry about ridiculously semantic / convoluted / esoteric messing with language but on the other hand his anime constantly invent abstract phrases with double and triple meanings so a lot of nuance gets lost anyways or becomes completely untranslatable. (e.g. my “person of destiny” comment). And then there ARE those rare occations where he really goes for totally silly puns to communicate additional information. I vaguely remember comments about one of the episodes titles in Ringos earlier arc about her princess delusions and her curry stories. I think the idea was that the title just read along the lines of “I want to share a delicious curry with you” (Tabuki) but that was also a lewd pun so you could also read this as something like “I wanna have great sex with you”. In hindsight that makes perfect sense as forshadowing for the rest of her arc (and also see all the “eating” innuedo in YKA ^^) but still a translation problem.
    Another example is this Lulus weird logic in YKAs fairy tale episode about giving up kisses for love (or was it the other way round? :) . Without the exact wording in Japanese you just won’t get that its a pun. The idea is that love/like (said innocently from a child) is “suki” while kiss is “kisu”…. The joke is that SU-KI and KI-SU are opposites because they look “inverted” ( guess in writing as well ) and the whole logic of that story is build from there. (on goes away to the stars, the other comes to you etc.) *facepalm*
    So yes.. never underestimate the nonsense you can do with Japanese words. O_O

    ———–

    As of the “chosen people” itself I would agree that it seems very deliberate. I just wrote “unwanted” without much thought because I still had those implications of child abandonment / social exclusion on my mind.

    I completely misses that connotation you mentioned but it really fit well with Ikuahras disdain for that traditional mythmaking already fully explored in Utena. Especially when you consider how heavily the child broiler symbol is linked with Momoka who has some obvious parallels to Utenas rose prince. I even vaguely remember that Tabuki had some unfinished half-sentense in that roof scene about Momoka that seem to me like he wanted to say “But she was meant to be your…[savior/hero/…].” when bemoaning her fate.

    But what makes “chosen” even more layered phrasing is how it also seems to play with MPDs other themes. After all “chosen” implies “choice” which its pretty interesting for a show that constantly pits the idea of powerless people hopelessly struggling against there “fate” against actively defying said “fate” though your own actions. In that context Himari wasn’t an “unchosen person” in that moment any more.

    IDK if I’m making any sense here. That basically just the extremely shortened version of another bigger idea. Or maybe it will make more sense later… we’ll see :D

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