This was my favorite episode so far, even without a survival strategy. We still have sufficient randomness (the entire episode was driven by a skunk spraying Ringo), a fast pace, interesting characters and the quirky humor. Shouma and Ringo somehow work really well together. She goes wild and he’s there to make sarcastic comments and pick up the pieces.
After this episode I’ve become completely sold on Ringo. And it speaks volumes that this show has made me like a crazy stalker who sneaks under the floorboards and almost drowns herself for the sake of her happy destiny of falling in love with a man at least ten years older than her. But the thing is she’s just so earnest: what she’s doing isn’t really a secret to anyone, except that teacher who is dense as a doorknob. And I can’t help but root for her when the fate she puts so much trust in is throwing so many obstacles in her path. In this episode alone, she got sprayed by a skunk (twice), was out-acted in fakery by her love rival, who turned out to be onto her and planning her defeat, nearly drowned, and had her first kiss stolen by someone else without even realizing it. (Oh, and I totally called Ringo and Shouma becoming an item.) It also helps that her delusions are hilarious, especially how she loses to her rival even in her imagination.
Then, at the end of the episode, after I have become convinced that Ringo is awesome… she goes and murders someone to fulfill her destiny. At least it appears so. I don’t believe it: the pants didn’t look like Ringo’s, and it doesn’t seem like something she would do, insane as she is, since it doesn’t have anything to do with getting closer to Tabuki. But whoever it was did put the destiny stamp in a diary with a picture of Prince Tabuki and the snake, mentioning the woman in red heels, so the evidence seems to be hinting in Ringo’s direction. I don’t believe it yet. We do appear to have a new villain hiding in the shadows and leading Kanba’s ex-girlfriends in opposition, so she seems the most likely culprit to me. But this is what I love about this show: just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, they throw you a curveball like this.
The other thing I like is that Penguindrum has an excellent balance of humour, plot and character development. They put the jokes in right along with the more serious moments, which makes the jokes even funnier and prevents you from getting bored. They have an excellent sense of timing. When Ringo was drowning, that penguin was swimming to save her… and then took the fish and ran off, I pretty much lost it. All the times Ringo accused Shouma of stinking were also great. And on top of everything else, they put the penguins doing random things in the background. There’s so much going on that it’s nearly impossible to lose interest. In terms of characters, Ringo is now awesome, we learned that Tabuki’s girlfriend is not as pure as she appears, and Kanba really is a womanizer. Plotwise, Shouma discovered the diary and the villain has made her debut.
I can’t wait for the next episode. Although there’s still plenty of time to screw things up (see: Star Driver), at this rate, Mawaru Penguindrum seems set for a place on my favorites list.