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.
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.
- 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.