Mawaru Penguindrum – 21
「僕たちが選ぶ運命のドア」 (Bokutachi ga Erabu Unmei no Doa)
“The Door of Fate We Choose”
For once, an episode of Mawaru Penguindrum felt like it answered more questions than it presented. Oddly enough, it didn’t seem to culminate the twenty episodes of development that came before it though. Most of the revelations were concerning the make-believe Takakura family, continuing the tried-and-true trend of shocking the viewer with twists. In addition to the fantasy realm of changing fates, the series has now dipped into the supernatural realm by suggesting that both Sanetoshi and Kenzan are already dead. In terms of sheer shock value, there’s no arguing that it had a profound effect — particularly for me who loves twists where we later learn that certain characters are actually ghosts — but in this case it feels a bit misplaced in the grand scheme of things.
I like the eerie vibe of metaphysical planes of existence — in reference to mysterious penguin hat, the Central “Hole in the Sky” Library, and the Child Broiler — however, meddling from beyond the grave just feels like they diverged from the surreal fantasy aspect that’s been built up and “cheapened” it a bit. That impression comes almost entirely from the fact that I never thought ghosts would come into play, and my skepticism even when Himari walked into the true form of the restaurant that Kanba just came out of. I was thinking “ghosts” even before Sanetoshi said it, but didn’t want to believe it because Mawaru Penguindrum seemed to be “above” this common plot device. With the inclusion of ghosts, the story has opened itself up to an endless number of possibilities on what’s “real” and metaphysical, and the last thing I’d want to find out in the remaining three episodes is that a lot of what I’ve seen is just in the minds of a few people who have been interacting with ghosts (most notably Sanetoshi).
However, I’m not the least bit opposed to the direction the story has taken within the confines of the supernatural aspect, namely that Kanba has turned into the ultimate antagonist or sorts in his attempt to save Himari by whatever means necessary. In comparison, both Keiju and Yuri look like they’re repeat victims of the Kiga Group, with Kanba as the second coming of Kenzan. To bring Kanba to his senses and save him from the same fate as his real father, it’s nice to see that Masako — who confirmed here that Kanba is her biological sibling — is on the same page as Himari. I mentioned before that Masako’s one of my favorite characters in this series, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to actually root for her from a story standpoint.
The one thing I am a bit disappointed about is the fallout from Shouma’s fight with Kanba, which led to a rather depressing parting with Himari. I was hoping to see Shouma rejuvenated by the sight of the scarf Himari’s held onto for all this time and work with her to bring Kanba around, but he was clearly too heartbroken/traumatized to keep up the Takakura family act — especially after Kanba had the tabloid writer killed. I get the feeling Shouma will come around for the finale though, where he’ll hopefully acknowledge Himari as his soulmate too. My only other “concern” so to speak is how the emphasis on Momoka’s diary and the idea of changing destinies has greatly diminished in the second half of the series. Sanetoshi did mention that his original terrorism attempt was thwarted by Momoka, but that didn’t suggest that either Momoka or her diary will have any further role in this story. If ghosts really do exist now, I say a “Momoka intervention” is in order, preferably in a grown-up form.
ED8: 「魂こがして」 (Tamashii Kogashite) by トリプルH (Triple H)
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Preview & End Card