Mawaru Penguindrum 19 — Warring Foreheads

The ultimate forehead showdown.

Holy Crap

Let’s look at the major developments in this episode.

Kanba knows where his parents are.

They met in the restaurant. Both the mother and father are together. This raises a ton of questions. What is their plan? It must be pretty important if Kanba prioritized safeguarding their location over rescuing Himari in the previous episode. Whatever the goal is, they seem to be in direct opposition to Sanetoshi, who wants to bring fate back on track. And the three children seem to have inherited that goal.

 Now, what is it with the money? The contrast in this scene was rather jarring. Kanba and his parents are talking like a loving family. Then this stops and the shadowy man tosses a bundle of cash across the table. How does Kanba actually feel towards his parents?

Sanetoshi wants the diary to be destroyed, but can’t do it himself.

This seems to confirm that Sanetoshi is not exactly a physical being. As a foil to the penguin hat, this makes sense. He can only act through influencing humans, such as Masako.

The diary is a magic spell (I mentioned this before) and Sanetoshi wants to restore the world’s original fate. This sets up Sanetoshi and Momoka as cosmic opponents. Coupled with our sighting of Momoka in the library and Himari’s purple eyes, I’m becoming more and more convinced of the idea that Momoka is the penguin hat.

Himari is not actually Shouma and Kanba’s sister. But she’s Shouma‘s soulmate. And Kanba is Masako’s brother?

Honestly, I can still barely wrap my head around this. Shouma is her soulmate? Kanba I wouldn’t be too surprised about. But Shouma?! This can’t bode well for Ringo.This is making me think of an idea I had a while ago: that Kanba is not in love with Himari, but with the penguin hat (Momoka). He kissed Himari after the first survival strategy. And I don’t need to explain the survival strategy itself.

This raises a few questions. First, how did Kanba get involved in this? I’m led to believe that he’s Masako’s brother, although this isn’t explicitly stated.  The fact that Masako’s father was involved with the organization, and that the Takakura father is only communicating with Kanba leads me to believe that he is Kanba’s biological father. So who are Himari and Shouma’s parents? How did Kanba become involved with their family?


Awesome scene where the truth is revealed to Himari. Masako waltzes into the house like she owns the place. She comments on how shoddy the decorations are.

Himari thinks Kanba is being a playboy again. That was a great conversation: it takes place on multiple levels of meaning (and makes sense in both). Himari thinks they are discussing a physical present, and Masako thinks they are talking about her love.

The way the conversation escalated was spectacular. Finally Himari realizes what Masako is talking about, and is horrified. It must be hard for her to have both of her brothers taken away by women at once.

And then Masako pulls the gun on Himari. I can’t get over Himari’s expression here. The shape of the mouth, the curve of the nose, the widening of the eyes: everything combines into the perfect expression of horror. Himari does look like a rat, as Masako is fond of saying.

Fortunately, Shouma and Kanba walk in at the exact same time, and the fight moves outside. Shouma is tripped by his own penguin and tangled up in the sheets.


The next scene, with Masako chasing Himari through the giant balls, was equally inspiring. First of all, the setup is simply ingenuous. Himari starts out hiding behind a toy giraffe in a field of giant rolling balls. How do they come up with this stuff?

The actual chase scene was intense. Everything is in slow motion, Masako’s shots are deflected, you can hear the panting and see Himari’s run in suspended animation. Again, we have this fabulous expression on Himari. She’s a cornered rat, backed up against the wall.

And then there’s the focus on everyone’s bare feet covered in mud. Himari’s are bare, Kanba wears his black pants and white socks, and Masako has her black stockings.

The transition at the end was breathtaking as well. Himari is trapped against the wall. Then the shot pans out, you see the two fans, and realize that Himari has returned to the child broiler once again. A minute later we do have a flashback to the child broiler.

Amounting to Something

The language Himari uses in the child broiler here reminds me of Smullyan’s story, “Paradise Without Laughter“. The story is a take on the Eden myth (surprise surprise!) in which God gives the mystical gift of humor to the world. There’s an interesting take on free will as well, which is highly relevant to Penguindrum, so give it a read. But what I want to point out is the story’s take on the idea of “amounting to something”:

 And yet, the Animal said some remarkable things. In particular, [Adam and Eve] were absolutely flabbergasted to learn that they had such a thing as free will! Such a strange idea had never occurred to them before… It gave them an exhilarating sense of power. They of their own free will could now do things! In particular, they could, if they chose, amount to something. The question then arose: Should they amount to something? This notion of “should” was also quite new. Formerly, since they had felt that they were merely part of the stream of life rather than actively living it, ethical notions of “should,” “ought,” “duty,” etc., had absolutely no meaning for them. But now they knew better. The troubling question arose: Was it right or wrong for them to sit by idly enjoying life rather than going out and amounting to something?

This goes back to the idea of overbearing parents that came up in last week’s comments. Why should Himari try to amount to something? As we well know, grown-ups have rather silly notions of what is important!

“I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man— he is a mushroom!”

— The Little Prince


Will Himari be a child or a mushroom in the broiler?

Further Thoughts

  • Yuri and Tabuki thought they would eventually become a “real family” by faking it. The three of them do share much in common with the Takakuras.
  • “Brother Appreciation Day.” This is a reference to the Himari Appreciation Day of the first episode. Things have come full circle. And the use of the word “brother” takes on new meaning with the episode’s conclusion.

  • First the rabbits are chewing carrots. Then they’re drinking carrot juice from a tube. Then the two kids are drinking carrot juice from juice boxes. Nice.

  • Ringo and Shouma are adorable cooking together. I hope that Shouma ditches his soulmate. And Himari is jealous of how well they go together. That jealousy certainly took on a new meaning with the episode’s conclusion!
  • Himari tells Sanetoshi she’s going to die, and feels like she doesn’t belong in her home anymore. Are these two things related? Ringo appears to be the cause of the latter.
  • Note Himari’s scarf in the child broiler. She sure loves making those.

Unfortunately, it looks like our happy family life is coming to a close.

Liked this post? Leave a comment, subscribe to our RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter!

12 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum 19 — Warring Foreheads

  1. “Whatever the goal is, they seem to be in direct opposition to Sanetoshi, who wants to bring fate back on track.”

    Actually, in episode 16 Sanetoshi himself said that the organization (KIGA) are “chosen ones” who are working with him to bring the world “on track”. This means Kanba’s parents and Sanetoshi are working together to achieve/complete whatever they initiated in 1995.

    I think things are playing out like this:

    Sanetoshi + KIGA (Takakura parents) + KIGA children (Kanba, Masako, etc)


    PotC (Momoka) + Diary + whoever she can bring to her side.

    Sanetoshi has the obvious advantage, it seems, but that’s to be expected. The bad guys always have the advantage until the very end, when things get reverted.

    Although he says he wants to “put the world on track”, we can assume what he really wants is to create a new world-line where all the problems of the world are supposedly fixed. We can assume this because in episode 13 he revels he has seen how the world should be in order for everyone to be saved. The problem is the cost: we already know he needs terrorist attacks and human victims to achieve what he wants.

    The PotC (Momoka)’s goal is provably to stop Sanetoshi once and for all. Tabuki already revealed Momoka tried to stop the subway attack but she couldn’t do it completely, couldn’t say everyone. This means the current world-line is neither the original (before the subway incident), nor the new one that Sanetoshi wants, but something in between.

    Now Sanetoshi wants to complete what he began in 1995, probably through a new terrorist attack (he hints as much in episode 19, when he says he’ll have the children finish what the parents initiated), and Momoka, in the form of the PotC wants the Takakura children to use the Penguindrum to stop Sanetoshi (“stop the dark bunnies” she told Shouma in episode 12) and derail fate to go back to the original world-line, a world where Sanetoshi and KIGA never fucked things up in the first place.

    1. You’re right, I’d forgotten about that scene on the subway. The parents and Sanetoshi are working together.

      I wonder how this plays in with Sanetoshi serving as doctor for Himari. These parents really do not seem to care about their children much anymore. They’re working together with Sanetoshi, who is extracting cash from Kanba to get money for Himari. Kanba does jobs for his parents to get the money. The whole thing just seems like a scheme to get Kanba to work for them. I guess this all depends on what he’s actually doing though.

      Perhaps this is the avenue by which Sanetoshi plans to get the siblings to complete the parents’ task. I don’t see how else they would participate in a terrorist attack, except to save Himari. I wonder if the parents had a similar person they wanted to save (the unborn baby?).

  2. Forehead Showdown FTW!

    I agree with you on believing that Kanba must be Masako’s brother. It was already sort of implied in episode 16. Also, I agree that Kanba probably loves Momoka and not Himari. He acts completely differently with Momoka than with everyone else.

    At this rate, Shouma is on his way to creating his own harem x) And to think we all thought Kanba was the player….But seriously, the ending was extremely surprising. There is a possibility that Shouma
    could have been in the child broiler just to save Himari, like Momoka did for Tabuki, but that seems unlikely (not that you said otherwise, just my own thoughts contradicting). Still brings up a lot of questions on how they both ended up there. Also, I guess he lost his memory of it all too, but how did they end up finding their way into the Takakura family? I guess time will tell. As long as Shouma still ends up with Ringo, I don’t care who else loves him.

    Even if Shouma and Himari may not be the children of the parents (from what we can tell), I still find it pretty mean that the parents don’t care much for them and instead talk to and love Kanba. I can see the dangers in all three of them knowing, but how can they not react in some way to the fact that Himari has died more than once! Okay, I guess we don’t know if they did care, but they didn’t care enough no matter what.

    1. As long as Shouma still ends up with Ringo, I don’t care who else loves him.

      Couldn’t agree more.

      I was wondering how Shouma ended up there as well. I’m guessing he was an unwanted child as well. Especially considering how their parents are only seeing Kanba. The memory loss could be explained by a weapon similar to Masako’s memory eraser slingshot. Remember that Kanba seemed to immediately know what the ball was the first time he saw it on the floor of the hospital.

  3. I thought Himari’s “goodbye myself, who never amounted to anything” line echoed her usual “listen up you low-lives who will never amount to anything” during Survival Strategy, which I believe gave it a sweet sense of irony.

  4. You know, this forehead business is serious stuff. It involves lives and wars and–

    A-anyways, this is looking mighty bleak. And when I mean bleak, I mean it feels like it’s continuing to get darker and darker with each episode. If Kanba is really helping his parents, then that’s going to clash with Shoma’s beliefs about them–and it just won’t end well. For one of them. Or both.

    1. I honestly prefer bleaker shows. Things tend to become much more meaningful if there is some terrible struggle to overcome.

  5. “Himari does look like a rat, as Masako is fond of saying.”

    I know that this post is some weeks old, but I can’t quite get over this picture and the one from the chase. After you pointed this out it really stroke me. Himari who over 18 eps constantly has been super cute and likeable now does look like a rat.

    I’m still failing to grasp all my feelings about this. Here are some far-fetched and speculative thoughts:

    – Looking back, Himari might have been quite fatalistic from the start. I’ve always been wondering how she seemed to be completely unaware of all the scheming going on around her. Maybe she wasn’t. Instead of fighting to keep her “family” together she simply did nothing out of learned helplessness. Heck, in ep. 19 she not only invites Masako into her house she even offers her a tea. I doubt that she really did not sense what Masako was up to. And in ep. 21 she does not even try to continue life with the “brothers” on any basis whatsoever.

    – Making her look like a rat basically deprives Himari of her humanity. Isn’t this what the child broiler does?

    – It also takes away Himari’s cuteness. I could imagine that keeping up this image must have been quite important for her. As in your post on ep. 20: “Little Himari is adorable.” No sane person would have left her alone (except for her parents??). This cute imouto image was her main selling point and she did a lot to keep it up.

    – Why exactly is Himari so frightened? If you ask me, she looks like feeling guilty. But of what? It can’t be that “family play” of the Takakuras; everyone involved was aware of it being a farce. Guilty, maybe, of happing led a false but happy life? Guilty of her relation w/ Kanba? Given her obnoxiously innocent demeanour she is surprisingly often involved in sexual situations but my speculation should end here.

    1. Indeed, Himari does seem fatalistic. She can be completely oblivious when she chooses to. Remember when Shouma and Ringo nearly came to blows at the dinner table? Himari just sat there drinking her tea.

      Perhaps there is some relation to the child broiler. Rats are often seen as cowardly; they hide and run away. This seems to fit Himari perfectly, especially when she’s running from Masako.

      And a rat is not cute. I’ve often speculated that Himari is not as innocent as she looks. There’s her personality as the penguin hat, but there are other things as well. Like that one time where she suggestively cooked dinner as her penguin did some bondage play on Kanba’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *