Mawaru Penguindrum – 15
OP2: 「少年よ我に帰れ」 (Shounen yo Waga ni Kaere) by やくしまるえつこメトロオーケストラ (Yakushimaru Etsuko Metro Orchestra)
Watch the 2nd OP!: Streaming ▼
「世界を救う者」 (Sekai wo Sukuu Mono)
“The Savior of the World”
There’s little question that Ikuhara Kunihiko has a unique direction with anime, but I don’t even want to know what goes on in that head of his given the twisted developments in Mawaru Penguindrum as of late. I gather he’s been exposed to some pretty dark and grotesque stuff — or has a strange fetish with gore — because I really can’t see a normal person thinking up of a script like this. In recent episodes, I haven’t been enjoying his original series so much as been intrigued by how messed up some of the characters are. They’re not the type of characters that I would ever think up of that’s for sure, as Yuri’s father (Uchida Naoya) belongs in a horror flick more than an anime with the way he wanted to “re-sculpt” his daughter’s body to make her beautiful in his deranged eyes.
His obsession with sculptures, particularly Michelangelo’s David which he designed a tower of, seems to have sickeningly transferred over to surgically modifying Yuri’s body under the guise of love so that she would have — as some people speculated — something that resembles the male reproductive organ. The anime was “nice” enough to spare us the unsightly details by figuratively showing chisels instead of scalpels, but the bandages on Yuri’s arm, leg, and cheek suggest that she had undergone genital reassignment surgery using skin grafts for phalloplasty — the construction of an artificial penis. Now I know this is a very “real” procedure and I have no problem treating it with the level of maturity that it requires, but I really don’t see why I’m talking about it for an anime where a young girl is coerced into undergoing it. I actually had to look up the procedure too, since I’m unsurprisingly, not familiar with the details whatsoever. I can just imagine the strange looks I would get if I told someone that an anime made me look into how genital reassignment surgery is performed. Thank you Ikuhara for that! -_-;
So what do I make of this possibility? For one, I’m surprised this is the same person that directed Sailor Moon, which I watched a fair bit of growing up. (It was one of the first anime to air on TV here.) I’m also more indifferent to watching Revolutionary Girl Utena than I was before, simply because I’m not entirely sure if I’ll ever fully appreciate Ikuhara’s “creative genius” as a director and screenwriter. I like how he goes against the norm and provides something different, taking viewers out of their comfort zones, but I feel there’s a limit to that before entertainment becomes a distant second in the overall delivery and he tends to exceed my limits. Striving to be different could be perceived as odd just as well as it could be a unique perspective on “art”, which is a twisted yet somewhat befitting thought considering Yuri’s father. That isn’t to say that Ikuhara’s some messed-up individual, but I can definitely understand how some viewers might think he is after this. I’ll be quick to admit that some scenes were uncomfortable to watch, which includes Yuri’s attempt to rape Ringo last time.
With all the recent twists, it’s kind of easy to lose sight of the overarching plot that brings all the characters together. Most notably is Momoka (Toyosaki Aki), who finally has a face and a voice that I can associate her with. Her appearance confirms that she is indeed Sanetoshi’s first love, whereas the revelation that her diary can change destiny (akin to transferring trains as she describes it) in exchange for some form of punishment provides a new understanding of why it’s really highly sought after. In Yuri’s case, it turns out she wants to change Momoka’s fate and bring her back to this world for saving her from her twisted father, but in the case of Kanba/Shouma and Masako, it’s almost as if it’s part of Sanetoshi’s test to see if they can change their loved one’s fate. At the moment, what I’m most curious about is what happened to Momoka herself, since she mentioned that people who come into contact with her diary lose something dear to them as compensation. Amidst all the questionable subject matter, the mysteries behind Momoka and her diary really have my interest hooked, so I’m still engrossed in Mawaru Penguindrum in that regard.
* I knew I should’ve kept that screen cap of the safe last episode. I figured it was going to be important in some way.
Preview & End Card