Um… what just happened?
So Yuri’s past was overshadowed by the specter of her father (quite literally). I’m not the biggest fan of ascribing all of peoples’ problems to their parents. And Yuri’s father is pretty messed up, even to the extent of physically mutilating his own daughter with chisels.
On the bright side: little Yuri is pretty damn cute.
The Knight in Shining Armor
A few things to mention: first, Ringo is the one to call Shouma. This is clearly a call for attention.
Conveniently, Ringo’s room is right next door to Shouma’s. Or is this a coincidence? Perhaps it is the result of Yuri’s meddling. She doesn’t seem to be in that much of a hurry to get started with Ringo, for one thing. When Shouma trips on the bottle and loses consciousness, she comments on how jealous she is of them.
The Great Escape
Shouma just happens to be next door to Ringo. Masako disguises herself as a maid, has a conversation with herself, strips to a swimsuit, and jumps out the window with Yuri. They have a naked ping pong match, in the dark, with Masako’s slingshot balls in the hot tub. Masako makes her escape with scuba gear. And after all that, the diary turns out to be a fake.
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at this point. It was certainly… unexpected, to say the least. There’s being filled with surprises, and then there’s being ridiculous.
I hadn’t thought about it until this week, but what do the symbols on Momoka’s diary represent? On the front we have two entwined serpents, opening up to surround a pagoda with their heads. On the back is a tortoise.
The twin snakes are reminiscent of Hermes’ Caduceus. Hermes gave his lyre, made of a tortoise shell, to his brother Apollo to make up for the cattle he stole. In return, Apollo gifted Hermes with the Caduceus. The Caduceus is a symbol of balance and reciprocity, so it is fitting for the cover of Momoka’s diary, where transferring between fates comes at a cost.
Next, note when the diary is torn in two, who has each half. Masako has the side with the two snakes, the Caduceus that belongs to Hermes, the cunning trickster and messenger of the Gods. As Mario’s hat’s / Sanetoshi’s agent, Masako is indeed the messenger of the Gods. And her theft this episode and earlier kiss with Kanba certainly appear to be the work of a trickster.
On the other hand, Yuri has the half with the tortoise, Apollo’s lyre. Apollo is the god of music and poetry, things that are beautiful. Yuri is a beautiful actress and singer. Furthermore, Apollo had plenty of lovers, both male and female (although I don’t think this was particularly unique among the Greek gods).
Savior of the World
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
— John 15:13
Last week’s title was “Princess of Lies,” and this week follows up with “Savior of the World.” It’s a pretty easy connection to make between the title and Momoka. For Momoka loved Yuri so much, that she gave her only life, so that Yuri would not perish but have eternal life. Of course, given that this is Penguindrum, I doubt that it’s this simple: Momoka probably has some dark secret as well.
But let’s run with it for a bit. If Momoka is the Christ, and Yuri is Satan, where does that leave us? The situation is quite similar to Victor Hugo’s incomplete work La fin de Satan. Unfortunately, this isn’t readily available in English, so here’s a summary:
…God is trapped by Satan in his own creation, which God therefore repeatedly tries to destroy, without success. God is clearly not almighty, yet his Opponent cannot unseat him for one unexpected reason: As a former Angel, Satan is desperately in love with God and detests the fetid darkness in which he is compelled to abide, which is tantamount to saying that he hates himself as much as he cherishes his enemy. Eventually the two must come to terms, lest God’s creation be irremediably spoiled and Satan altogether disgusted with himself and his foul surroundings. Strangely enough, the stakes of the final reconciliation of the two mighty opponents is the destruction of the world, envisioned as a positive outcome.
— The Tree of Gnosis, p. 255, Ioan Couliano
That could fit our story so far perfectly. Momoka is trapped by Yuri through her own choice to mess with fate for Yuri’s sake. Yuri desperately loves Momoka, and hates the fetid world she has been left behind in, where nothing is beautiful, almost as much as she despises herself. This leads her to oppose the world Momoka has chosen. Let’s see if the endings match up.
I’ll also note that this fits in well with the association of Ringo with Eve in the gnostic narrative. Eve is given the breath of God, and becomes a divine being trapped in a body of matter. Likewise, Ringo inherits a portion of Momoka’s spirit (through reincarnation). The snake leads Eve to remember her divine roots, as Yuri leads Ringo to abandon her quest to become Momoka and become more fully herself. Alternatively, the archons (Yuri) lust after the reflection of the divine they glimpsed, see the same thing in Eve (Ringo) and rape her. Take your pick.
- I just realized Masako’s catchphrase “I want to crush it” seems awfully familiar in the context of the Eden story. God curses man and the snake: “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
- I wonder what this banana could possibly symbolize…? Poor Shouma.