The Magic of Mawaru Penguindrum

I came across this passage the other day, and had to share it:

I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are—
(1) That the borders of our minds are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.

(2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.

(3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols.
— William Butler Yeats, Ideas of Good and Evil

It goes without saying that Mawaru Penguindrum is chock full of symbolism. The symbols are drawn from countless sources: some from Christian myth, some from Japanese folklore, some from the works of Murakami, and others directly from the mind of Ikuhara. Regardless of their source, symbols are powerful; indeed, magical. They link us with the cosmic mind and memory, and communicate ideas we may not even be consciously aware of.

This is part of the reason I enjoy watching Mawaru Penguindrum so much. The symbols add a depth to the show which we may not even fully understand with our waking minds. Interpreting symbols is a mystic art, dependent on leaps of faith and flashes of insight.

That’s why when I write about Penguindrum, I tend not to focus on what happened in the episode, but on symbols. The symbols may actually tell us more than the words and actions of the characters.

Agree? Disagree? Have some crazy idea about what something symbolizes in Penguindrum? Then I want to hear it. Feel free to share below.

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3 thoughts on “The Magic of Mawaru Penguindrum

  1. Completely agreed.

    What other animes have a ton of symbolism like this? Kaiba and the Tatami Galaxy immediately come to mind. There’s also Utena, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Lain (out of what I’ve seen).. Penguindrum might have the most of all…

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