Mawaru Penguindrum 24 — Sharing the Fruit of Fate

What a beautiful final episode! Everything is wrapped up nicely and there are no big loose threads, but it hasn’t spelled out too much directly either.

The ending they went with was very satisfying— it wasn’t a cop out; people died, but it was a happy ending all the same.

Original Sin

Recall how in the previous episode, Sanetoshi claimed that the world should be destroyed because people are trapped in their own boxes. At the beginning of this episode, Shouma and Kanba are trapped in their own boxes (quite literally). When Kanba finds an apple in his box, he shares it with Shouma, so they both can live.

I’m thinking that it’s this sharing of the apple, and not their parents’ terrorism, which serves as Mawaru Penguindrum’s original sin. God (or a false god, but we’ll get to that later) has confined people in boxes to be alone. Yet Kanba and Shouma reach outside their box and share the fruit. They have broken the bindings that he has set. And this is why they must be punished.

Final Discussion of Gnosticism

I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look. — The Principia Discordia

I thought the ending had some of the clearest gnostic overtones yet, but, well, seek and ye shall find. So as usual, take all this with a grain of salt.

First, on the whole idea of being trapped in boxes: this is pretty much the gnostic view on matter, which is considered to be a prison trapping the spirit. I don’t think that Penguindrum meant this prison metaphor to be antisomatic, but it sure is easy to interpret that way.

In the gnostic worldview (well, in many of them, at least) the god in the story of the Garden of Eden is a false god, who we’ll refer to as the demiurge. The demiurge is the architect of matter (again, matter is a base and vile thing: it defiles and imprisons the human spirit) but not its creator. The creator of matter is Sophia (wisdom) who through either pride or error created matter, and infused it with some of her divine essence, which became man’s spirit. Sophia’s consort Logos / Christ (who is often combined into one with Sophia) entered into the world to save man and restore him to his rightful place above matter.

Anyway, it’s easy to associate Sanetoshi with the demiurge, and Momoka with the Sophia / Logos. Momoka has already been well-established as the savior of the world (the Logos) and she is the cosmic Opponent to Sanetoshi (dualism). Sanetoshi’s tirade at the end of the episode echoed the false God’s banishment from the garden of Eden: “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” From the gnostic viewpoint, his curse is but jealous and ignorant: the body shall return to dust, but it was merely a prison for the soul anyway. The spirit shall return to its rightful place in the fullness of the pleroma. The Logos is seen as the snake in the Eden story, and Momoka fits this role well as she guides Shouma and Kanba to share the fruit. When her task is complete, she leaves the hylic world behind.

In [the Logos] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. — John 1:4

Let’s examine one more point: this idea of seeking the “light”. The light is one of the most often used descriptions for the higher, spiritual realm (for example, see the opening chapters of John). Sanetoshi claims to be able to provide the only path to the light through his drugs. (actually, if we felt like it, we could take this as a commentary on modern spiritual movements which reach heightened states of being through drugs… but let’s skip that) Again, Sanetoshi’s light is a false light: temporary and transitory. As I mentioned before, he has merely glimpsed the light of the Sophia (Momoka’s fading footsteps) from afar but does not possess it himself: it is man that is a being of the light.  The light is life itself; which, in Penguindrum, is also the apple. Kanba, through his love of Himari, becomes a man of true light. Shouma does as well, through his love for Ringo.

Further Thoughts

  • That was a beautiful farewell scene between Shouma and Ringo. Definitely my favorite relationship of the year.
  • Great music, as usual! I especially loved the slow motion survival strategy music as Himari sat up in bed.
  • There are plenty of parallels between this final episode and the Passion of Christ (again, we can find these pretty much anywhere we look, but humor me for a bit…) In this episode, it’s Himari who walks the path to Cavalry, up the steps used in the Survival Strategy. The crown of thorns cuts her (the mirror shards). Ringo carries the cross, which is the weight of the spell and the expectation of death. We can see this quite literally. But Shouma and Kanba are the ones crucified.
  • I loved Himari’s lines in the flashback, such as: “Sho, you were always like a bickering mother to us, even when you were little.” Poor Shouma.
  • Remember where we saw these mirror shards before? The falling mirror that Himari’s mother protected her from. Now Himari faces and takes the punishment on herself.
  • I love this translation!
  • Himari and Kanba’s final moments together were beautiful as well, but I could never accept the two of them as a couple. To me, incest is incest whether they’re biologically related or not. And sisters are a bit behind ninety year old women in terms of romantic attractiveness. I guess it’s a cultural thing.

  • Remember the first episode, the visit to the aquarium? They look at the penguins, which are graceful in water, but flounder on land. This time, Himari pays a visit to the zoo and looks at the monkeys. She has become like a monkey, at home on land, and is an unwanted child no more.

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24 thoughts on “Mawaru Penguindrum 24 — Sharing the Fruit of Fate

  1. Can I just say I love Ringo a freaking lot. She’s so awesome, and the “ai shiteru” scene was so so beautiful (and sad too).

    I really liked this episode, specially for Ringo and Shouma. Even if they can not be together I will ship them for life.

    Also I’m glad Yuri and Tabuki found in them to grab a bit of happiness for themselves. They got the best ending, in away.

    I always enjoy your “biblical” take on penguidrum. This post wasn’t exception. Very insightful observations. Thanks!

    1. Can I just say I love Ringo a freaking lot.

      Yes. I feel the same way. I think she was my favorite character of the year. And Shouma is the perfect partner for her.

      Yuri and Tabuki did get the happiest ending, which is definitely not what I would have expected! I’m glad they managed to fit them in at all, actually.

      And I’m glad you like it! Sometimes I think I’m just shouting into a wall with all the “biblical” comparisons, I’m glad to hear people actually understand what I’m talking about. 🙂

  2. Good call on the underlying dualism and the meaning of “light” in this show ! Utena was chock full of gnostic overtones and MPD is no different.

      1. Loved your interpretation of the ending as the episode made very little sense to me. Still what do you think of those recycling factory things ?

        1. Good question. I see the whole recycling idea as a symbol for the cycle of fate, represented by the spinning red circle you see all the time. This cycle is the curse of the goddess: the Takakuras being punished for sharing the fruit, the inheritance of the sins and punishments of the parents, and Ringo’s “fate” being a repetition of her sister’s. Note that in this episode the cycle was broken through the magic spell.

          I also see it as fitting in well with the theme of abandoned, invisible children. The children are tossed in the dumpster by their parents. But if someone tells them they are loved, and shares the fruit of fate with them, they become recycled and are born anew.

  3. Great episode! And yes they did a great job not pulling any cop outs, that was great! And yeah now that you mention the boxes and how Kanba and Shouma have to get punished it all works. Like the fruit and giving their own lives so Himari and Ringo can continue to live was really amazing! But it was also very sad for Himari who forgot all about Shouma and Kanba.

    Ringo and Souma FOREVER!! They were a lot of fun to follow <3 And yes! That translation was hilarious, I agree with Sanetoshi are you shitting me? LOL Go Ringo!

    Thanks for pointing out the glass I did not even think about that…nice

  4. …she isn’t just looking at monkeys. She is looking at Japanese snow monkeys. They are also at home in the water…one of the few species of monkeys to do so; as a whole, most monkeys and apes cannot swim.

  5. I truly enjoyed the moment at 18:24 (your fifth picture). Momoka for the most time was this saint-like character I could hardly relate to. Her “Saa, …” in this sequence, however, is just cheeky enough to suggest that she quite enjoys her (and the audience’s) triumph.

  6. Wow, you are quite the analyst yourself, too. Religious, as well… Nice explanation, though I got a bit confused here: “The Logos is seen as the snake in the Eden story, and Momoka fits this role well as she guides Shouma and Kanba to share the fruit.” Logos is Christ, right? :S

    I’d actually expect from you joking lightly over the heavy drama of the last episode. It kind of seems that I’m the only one that laughed with the ‘I-am-the-king-of-the-world’ pose Ringo put up or the ridiculous long curtains creating waves… *sweatdrop*

    good catch with the monkeys!

    1. Yep, Logos is Christ, but in gnostic mythology he’s often associated with the snake as well, which came to free Man from the tyranny of a false god. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The first “God” is taken to mean the ignorant demiurge, the architect of the physical universe; the second is taken to refer to the true, unknowable God, which man has inherited a portion of spirit from.

      I guess parts of the ending were over the top, but I was so invested in the story at this point that I couldn’t help but take it seriously. And Ringo’s pose was awesome!

  7. In the end, I don’t quite get the relatioship between Himari and Kanba. Kanba loved Himari, but it was a romantic love or family (because she is his sister) love? Masako was Kanba sister, so I was wondering, Himari was kind of a substitute for Masako? Since he “left” his family and now had a new family. And Kanba kissed Himari in the beginning of the anime and knew that they weren’t real siblings. So he transfered his brother love, once for Masako, to Himira or he loved her like a woman? Other point that left me confused was, Masako loved Kanba like a sibling, right? Because, for me her love for him was a little over the top (I’m not comparing her love with the others). The love of Kanba to Masako was that of a brother? Can you explain what you understood of thereof? I really need to know!

    1. Honestly I think that Kanba is likely as confused as you are regarding how he loves his sister. I think there’s a little bit of sister love in there as well as a little bit of romantic love.

      I think Masako loved Kanba as a sibling (or at least she would have claimed to). However seeing as how incest does not appear to be nearly as frowned upon in Japan as in much of the rest of the world… I think there might have been some romantic love in there too. Basically I think that for both of them there is some sibling love and some romantic love.

      1. When you say both of them is Masako for Kanba and Kanba for Himari, right? But what about what Kanba consider about Masako? Just a sister? Because, when she was in bad badly injuried and when she hugged him and told him all those things, do you thing he nevertheless consider her as just his sister? Or some felling of love was just ever for Himari? So confusing!

        1. For Masako I’m not entirely sure if he ever even saw her as his sister. But he certainly didn’t feel any romantic attraction towards her, from my understanding.

  8. Wow, I just finished reading all of your blog posts on Mawaru Penguindrum, and have to thank you a lot lot lot for all of the time and effort you must have put into writing them. It was a joy and an exciting and educational ride for me to read them, and they helped me understand and form my own thoughts about the series and all of the topics it addressed. Anyway, I’m getting slightly wordy here so I’ll just return to what I wanted to say: Thank you very much.

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I am always happy to hear that people still read some of my older posts. 🙂

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