「美しい棺」 (Utsukushii Hitsugi)
When I stop for a moment and look back on how Mawaru Penguindrum started and where it is now, I can’t even confidently say I can succinctly sum up the plot off the top of my head. A lot has happened in terms of characterization and conveying a deeper message, and only now has the series started to address the underlying plot in a way that should make sense to all viewers. We have Kanba’s grudge against the world because of Himari’s fate, where he’s sacrificing everything with the Kiga Group to either prolong her life or just take out his frustration through terrorist acts, and now both Himari and Masako’s desperate attempts to save him from his contempt. That’s easy enough to understand, with the only befitting conclusion being that his two younger sisters — and brother Shouma — succeed in doing so, but is also a testament to the fact that Mawaru Penguindrum has been more about the journey than the destination.
I could just as easily summarize the story as I have above, but that would hardly do it justice in light of all the symbolism and sub-developments that got us here. This includes the subplot surrounding Keiju, Yuri, and Tsubasa, which could’ve taken the series in any direction since it ties the Takakuras’ past with the present. If this were a one-cour series, they could’ve been cut out of the story for time-constraint reasons, but on top of keeping viewers guessing on where the story is headed, the idea that the Takakuras are haunted by their past simply wouldn’t have the same effect without victims of the Sarin gas attack. Even if they don’t have any further part in the story, following Tsubasa’s jealous stabbing of Keiju and Yuri’s decision to return half of Momoka’s diary to Ringo, they’ve already served their purpose of adding an extra dimension to it. Quite honestly, I’d be perfectly fine if Keiju and Yuri’s thirst for revenge is quenched from learning that Kenzan’s already dead and their relationship rekindled over Keiju heroically protecting Yuri like it was suggested here, as I’d like to see things resolved between “the kids” on their own.
If this episode was any indication, it looks like things are headed in that direction with Himari “returning” her life to free Kanba from the burden he’s placed on himself, and Masako remembering the sacrifice Kanba also made for her and Mario so that they could live normal lives. The latter came as a late-series twist but worked well with proof that Kanba still cares about Masako. It also led to a great cliffhanger to leave off on, with Masako following Himari’s example of acting as a martyr to repay Kanba for everything he’s done for them. I mentioned last time that I like the turn things have taken with Kanba shaping out to be the ultimate protagonist, but based on the revelations here, it’s probably more correct to refer to him as the ultimate martyr who’s in desperate need of saving. He’s done a bang-up job playing the bad guy role, so it’ll be interesting to see what Shouma does as well now that he’s come to his senses a bit. It looks like there will be more on Shouma’s side of things too, judging from the flashback to ten years ago where he found himself in a box.
ED9: 「朝のかげりの中で」 (Ashita no Kageri no Naka de) by トリプルH (Triple H)
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Preview & End Card