Mawaru Penguindrum 18 — Dangling in the Bath

The mysteries are finally starting to unravel. Unfortunately this means there’s less to speculate about. There is one big reveal though: the Takakuras’ father isn’t dead. He seems to be heading the mysterious organization that Kanba has been getting money from. Now, what is its purpose?

Another item of speculation: are the people Masako wants to crush Himari and Shouma? She says “I can’t leave Kanba with them any longer” as they’re having a family hug at the end of the episode. Very interesting.

Scene Composition

The way the scenes were arranged in this episode was beautiful. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

 First, consider the opening scene about Tabuki and his childhood with the piano. There’s some interesting texturing here, it looks like it was done with watercolors. And the picture of the faceless boy with the hat really reminds me of some painting I’ve seen before. Does anyone who knows more about art recall what painting this is?

The scene in the child broiler was beautiful as well, particularly when Momoka ripped her way into it. What a boss. Notice the lighting and the shadows.

I appreciated everything that took place at the top of the building as well, but I particularly liked the scene where Ringo is gripping the door of the elevator. Half her face is enmeshed in shadow, and the reflections on her eyes wobble gracefully.

My favorite scene from the episode was the family hug at the end though. Shouma is holding both Himari and a wounded Kanba in his arms. And then Ringo joins in from behind. Damn. Shouma sure is loved. This was just adorable.

Unwanted Children

This is the second time we’ve seen the child broiler. The first time was during Himari’s sojourn to the library: she met a mysterious boy there who gave her an apple (I’m guessing it was Mario).

In this episode, we learn that Tabuki went to the broiler because he was an unwanted child, unloved by his mother because he couldn’t play the piano. So why was Himari in the child broiler? She was certainly loved by her parents and by her brothers.

In the picture above, Momoka looks somewhat sinister. I wonder if she has a dark secret as well.

Disciples of Christ

Tabuki makes an interesting statement about Momoka:

Tabuki believes that Momoka should not have died: she was supposed to be the savior of the world. This is much like the disciples prior to the resurrection: they thought it was ridiculous that Jesus would die, because he would lead them to rebel against the Romans.

Tabuki later claims, “I’m a victim whose most precious person was killed in your parents’ attacks.” I doubt Momoka would think very highly of this. Tabuki is like those who use the crucifixion as justification for anti-semitism. In a way, he has betrayed her, and plays the Judas to her Christ.

I’d also like to point out that Tabuki is quite similar to Head from Star Driver: he is frozen in time, at the point of Momoka’s death.

The Sins of the Children

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

— John 9 1:3

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to get at with this, it just came to mind when I was thinking of the idea that the children should be punished for the sins of the parents. This was a hot topic two thousand years ago. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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18 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum 18 — Dangling in the Bath

  1. The painting is “Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and her Son” by Claude Monet. It is of his wife, Camille, and his son, Jean.

    When Monet was young, he fell in love with Camille, who became his mistress. His parents did not approve and threatened to cut him off completely, which led to him abandoning her (and his unborn son). Years later, he married her (partially to escape the draft). There were also allegations throughout their marriage that Monet was having an affair with another woman.

    1. Cool, I thought it looked familiar! Thanks for sharing!

      Tabuki didn’t seem to have much of a father figure either, interestingly.

  2. I am sure many others have written about this already, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is all a commentary of the way things are in Japan and in Asia. Of a “screwed up” generation grew up unloved (especially the echoes in China after the cultural revolution), of unrealistic parental expectations prevalent in Asia (tiger mom et al.), of the physical abuse and neglect of a generation growing up in the 80s and 90s amidst uncertainty (Asian economic crisis, void after the fall of USSR, markets in Asia starting to grow amidst confusion), and of abandoned children — those who cannot be the stars and talents that their parents would like them to be — molding into homogenous workers with the same personality, another prevalent sight in Japan. It is like a lost generation screaming out about the parenting mistakes during their childhood years.

    Then again, anything can be mistakenly read to be a social commentary. I think what touched me the most, though, was Tabuki admitting the monster image of himself as he serves as the Judas that betrays Monoka’s vision.

    1. I think you’re on to something there. I’m not sure if the connection between Penguindrum and the Aum Shinrikyo was brought up on this blog, but the group that Kenzan and maybe Kanba is involved with is a thinly disguised Aum. Episode 18 also contains references to the Seito Sakakibara teenage murderer – who wrote in his diary that society tried to turn him into a “transparent being” (same word that gg translated as “invisible child”) and who was pressured by his demanding mother until he broke.

      1. I’ve mentioned the Aum Shinrikyo before, but had never heard of the Seito Sakakibara case. Very interesting! That whole idea reminds me a lot of Murakami’s works as well.

    2. Another question is, how can anything not be a social commentary? Any creative works are necessarily a product of the society they were created in and will come from that perspective.

      The show does seem to be focused more and more on abandoned children as we go along now— I think all of the characters have had an abandonment of some sort. So your analysis seems spot on to me.

      How Tabuki sees himself as a monster brings another thing to mind about Judas: how he despised what he did and ended up hanging himself.

      1. True enough. We will just have to wait and see how everything unfolds!

        In their regrets, Tabuki and Judas becomes more human to the reader or viewer, as opposed to perfect and divine as their counterparts are.

    1. Indeed, she is the fearless leader. It also reminds me a bit of the school stages— you know, how the president / principal will go up there to make a speech in front of everything.

      And now I am trying to imagine a Penguindrum / Fate Zero crossover.

  3. “Shouma sure is loved. This was just adorable.”

    Of course, it is Ringo that we are talking about here. =P She is the number stalker… be it real love or simple misguided intentions. =D

    “(I’m guessing it was Mario).”

    I had never saw it being that way. That’s interesting, it would be a pretty good link between the two if that were the case. Do you know how old Mario is or if they are similar in age?

    1. No, I’m not sure about Mario’s age. I’m mainly basing this on the fact that they both ended up with penguin hats, and that Mario is pretty much the only person we know nothing about, along with Sanetoshi. So it’s most likely one of them.

      And yes, Ringo is the best.

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