Monday, July 11, 2011

[Pingdrum] "Mawaru Penguindrum" ep 1 - There is something more than what you see

Mawaru Penguindrum... I loved its first episode. One of the reason is... it reminds me a lot of Madoka Magica.

Why?.... You will see...

00:04 "I hate the word, fate"
You can already find tons of symbols floating around everywhere, from the narration.

Narrator, talks about 'fate' and 'cruel god'. We can easily find that the parent of this family is 'dead' or 'does not exist currently'. It's kind of mysterious how this theme of 'fate' is constantly mentioned throughout this episode.

Why three? There must be reason why there is consistent focus on number '3'. It is no ordinary number.

Apple? Why apple? Here is the answer;
"Like I said, the apple is the universe itself!
A universe is in palm of your hand,
That's what connects this world to the other world."

"Apple is also reward for those who has chosen love over anything else!"


"But everything is over when you are dead"
"No it isn't! It's actually where EVERYTHING BEGINS!"

This means that the story of this family of three, has already 'FINISHED'. It is done, gone, finished, over. It is determined fate. However, there is connection to new world, - so called penguin madness whatever - and the 'NEW FATE' started after the death of Himari.

(This bit also pretty much concludes that incest vibe at the end was INDEED INCEST...... )

The next important theme, is actually, very obvious.

Right below the title, you see three important themes of this series.
Number 95, Penguin, and the middle, 'SUBWAY'

Why 'Mawaru'? Why 'Subway'? When 'survival strategy' starts, entrance of underground station suddenly shows up. Didn't you find it quite awkward? It's really out of nowhere. However, it actually makes a lot of sense.

Those brothers... are entering to something that they cannot escape from it. Something that goes around and around... like a fate. Their life in one world has ended, and they now have to face something that is totally different. 

Finally, Himari in possess of penguin queen says,
"I came from the place where your fate has started"
It was plural. Not just Himari.
after that, she takes out mysterious red thing from brothers heart.

What does that mean?

There is really... something weird about all the serious narrations by two brothers. Here are the points I can figure out.

1. Their fate, life has already ended. It is 'FINISHED'. Currently, they are given unknown opportunity to 'restart' their fate. The conversation of the children states, that 'DEATH' is the where everything actually 'STARTS'. Penguin queen mentions that she came from where their fate 'BEGINS'. Families' inevitable fate of death as a sacrifice for 'love', the trigger of 'New start'... That means that the story of this series starts from the fact that they are all actually going to 'DIE'. Is that whatever penguin queen girl actually from the future? Are they from another world? What is she trying to do?

2. There is certain 'REASON' (Something related to apple and love). There is certain medium that connects one world to the another. That might be something related to 'PINGDRUM', which penguin queen orders brothers to find it.

3. Mawaru... and Subway... these two reminds me a lot about 'Loop' again. However, it won't be something that is time related. It is about fate that is determined and formidable, unchangeable and inevitable.

4. A lot of questions... what does 'survival strategy' mean anyway? Why 'PENGUINS'? Why number 95?...
Overthinking? Might be. That's why I'm waiting for the next episode.


  1. The reaching in the chest and pulling out bit reminds me of another one of Kunihiko Ikuhara's work, Utena. Kunihiko Ikuhara is known for putting in lots of symbolism for style over meaning, so I wouldn't be surprised if much of it ended up not having any real meaning.

  2. im more interested in this anime now O__o
    Thx Bro!

  3. I looked up "Penguins" and "survival strategy" and found something interesting.
    A baby penguin must have one of it's parents with him at all time. If left alone in two minutes it would die. So the parents must take turns feeding and keeping it warm. This is a survival strategy.

    Happen to notice that throughout the episode Himari was never shown alone? One of her brothers was always present. Travailing has to do with penguins as well as they need to travel to a traditional breeding ground. Actually just looking at penguin trivia shows that this show is going to have a lot to do with love relationships. (But well that was guaranteed when the Utena director was involved.) The main theme might be sacrificing love for survival.

  4. There has been many speculations about this anime being the new Utena, just like Madoka was thought like the new EVA

  5. What, pre-air speculation, no one thought Madoka was going to be the new Eva. People really need to stop with this comparison.

  6. It's not like Madoka was directed by Hideaki Anno. And if you have seen Utena you notice that this first ep and Utena have A LOT in common. I even found myself hoping that Mawaru Penguindrum will not be just a Utena bis.

  7. @Anon 3: I already knew that Madoka Magica will be next eva at the point when I saw Urobuchi on the casting.

  8. @ringOtamegane That's fascinating since Urobuchi had nothing to do with Eva nor is compared with Hideaki Anno because stylistically they are completely different writers. People who were knowledgeable wondered if Madoka might resemble Shinbo's Nanoha, Hidamari Sketch (because Shinbo, Ume Aoki and Atsuhiro Iwakami all had worked previously there) and how much of Urobuchi's Fate/Zero would be an influence since that was mentioned in an early interview. The comparison to Eva is and remains a flawed one.

    Mawaru Penguindrum, on the other hand, was speculated if it'd resemble Kunihiko Ikuhara's other work Utena and even in episode 1, his mark is all over this.

  9. Got to agree with both anonymous. There is only one aspect of both Eva and Madoka have in common is that they are both deconstructions of a genre. However dark Magical girl shows are not new. Princess Tutu and Uta kana beat Madoka to it. But Madoka was the only magical girl show to go dark to that extent. It's not a genre breaker and it certainly isn't going to change as many things as Eva did.

  10. @Anon+Aidan: You guys are misunderstanding me... I never said that content of Eva and madoka is similar. Evangelion is mecha, Madoka is mahou shoujo. No way we can compare them properly. I meant their 'impact' on current animation industry and amount of its success.

    There is only a single reason for saying Mawaru Penguindrum reminds me Madoka. It's discussion about 'fate and death'. It was also recurring theme in Madoka. That's it.

    The reason for Madoka being hyped was solely due to Urobuchi. It was never Shaft, aniplex or Aoki Ume.

  11. (I'm the fourth anonymous in the comments)

    rinOtamegane : You are saying that the impact and success of Madoka ressemble that of Eva. That's precisely where you are wrong. Eva inspired countless anime series since 1996, and influenced even more creators and storytellers. Whatever you think, I'm positive that Madoka will never, ever have a tenth of the impact Eva had.

    I think the best proof is that Madoka is, like you said, a "new Eva". It reuses a lot of elements of Eva, it's well done but it is nothing new. Madoka isn't revolutionnary, it's not even a deconstruction of mahou shoujo like Eva was one of mecha anime (and more widely of otaku culture), just a subversion.

    That said, I enjoyed a lot watching Madoka, but three months after the end of the show, in retrospect, my favorite Shaft anime is still Bakemonogatari.

    One last thing, I heard that Madoka was called "Chidamari Sketch" (Chidamari="blood stain" if I'm correct) by the Japanese internet community, before it even aired. I think it kind of prove that Ume Aoki and Shaft participated of the hype.

  12. Anon who said Urobuchi was the sole reason for Madoka being hyped is dead wrong. He was only one element of it, with Shinbo, Iwakami Atsuhiro, Ume Aoki and Shaft being the others and also, they happen to be more famous in anime than Urobuchi who was mostly known for visual and light novel work.,

  13. @Anon 1: No. The impact I'm calling has nothing to do with deconstruction of genre or what-so-ever. The reason I think Madoka is similar to Eva is simply that it is creating certain 'trend'.

    For instance, Gundam, Macross, Code Geass, Evangelion, K-On, Death Note, Haruhi... they all had impact on animation industry. K-On and Haruhi certainly raised boom of 'moe' trend. Evangelion and Madoka is original animation that is reinforcing dark elements, realism and complexity with character interactions and storyline.

    For the two years before Madoka, none of the animation was successful or impacting when those elements were reinforced. Madoka did it, and that is enough impact I expect from it. I treat Madoka as a sort of start of new trend that is beyond just Moe element.

    Madoka reused Eva's element? I don't think so. Urobuchi's world never crosses with Anno's world. The only obvious similarity between two was apocalyptic setting.

    If the story writer was not Urobuchi, it was never called 'chidamari sketch' in the first place. They might have all participated in hype, but Urobuchi was on the center of it.

  14. @ringOtamegane You said "I already knew that Madoka Magica will be next eva at the point when I saw Urobuchi on the casting." I thought you meant stylistically. To predict success-wise even makes less sense with Urobuchi. Up until that point, he had no track record whatsoever for a successful anime. Neither Blassreiter nor Phantom did well. There are also other cases of VN/LN writers who do not end up doing well in anime scripts.
    Your posts read as someone who conveniently pretends to make a prediction after success is known. And you really lack knowledge of anime industry if you think before airing he was the center of hype when Shaft and Iwakami Atsuhiro had just had a huge success with Bake, Shinbo had once directed Nanoha, one of the most successful mahou shoujo, and Ume Aoki whose Hidamari Sketch had multiple successful seasons.

  15. @Anon: ...and? Your points do nothing to my opinion. The reason I could predict Mahou Shoujo to be as shocking and good as Evangelion, was due to the single fact that 'Urobuchi' was responsible for the 'FULL ORGINAL ANIMATION STORY BOARD'. Needer Blassreiter, nor Phantom gave total responsibility on script to him.

    The proof that I knew this will become another success is here.

    I'm not kind of hypocrite who just pretends to know. Recalling how 2ch reacted, the single most important factor about hype was not Shaft, not Iwakami, not Aoki Ume, not the genre of Mahou Shoujo. Those 4 factors are kind of very normal and ordinary, nothing special. It was in fact UROBUCHI who seemed to be 'out of place' among that combination.

    I know this, because I was keep tracking on 2ch Madoka thread constantly. Your definitely underestimating Urobuchi's fame.

  16. Your link shows the main discussion of that post was rightfully about Iwakami as the focus, and also Shaft and Shinbo. Urbouchi is noted but isn't the stand-out there. It also showed that it was anticipated as the possible success of the year, nothing to Eva-like proportions as you claim. In addition, your comment is completely non-descript and doesn't confirm anything you've said about thinking it'd be Eva-like proportions or your opinion of Urobuchi's importance. In fact, that write-up is a far more accurate measure of what I was seeing on 2ch and blogs like Yaraon. One, Madoka was highly anticipated for the season, sometimes year for some fans though most would refrain from that since the year had only started. Two, Urobuchi was only one out of the group when people talked about success for the anime and not the main focus. He was of interest because he wasn't part of the usual team and because there were people who didn't know who he that was asking about him. That's not the same thing as being the center for hype. Show me something you posted where you claim it'd be Eva-like in success or that Urobuchi would be the reason for it and I'll consider that real proof.

  17. @Anon: That was one of my first post in this blog... ^^;; I didn't want to go overboard with my prospect. Plus, the reason I linked that post was that I wanted to disapprove what you said about my attitude; "you really lack knowledge of anime industry".

    I was using very very simple logics. If Iwakami's original plan of not revealing Urobuchi's name, but only Aoki Ume, Shaft and Mahou Shoujo, everyone will expect it to be just fluffy moe series. I do think you will agree with this.

    In this case, his name was mentioned. He is known for being one of the most talented writer in subculture and expected something big. That's it. Plus, I never disagreed you. Everything you said is indeed correct. However, the chain of the entire catalyst was actually presence of Urobuchi, and Iwakami was clever for bringing him in. I'm talking about 'my opinion' and 'my hype'.

    (Feels like I'm repeating the same words again and again...;;)

    About the proof... I need to go through 2ch threads, which I can't do with my busy status. There was many anti-shaft groups who did not know about Urobuchi, and everyone who knew who he was sort of doing 'just wait and see u will all get trolled'. I saw many people who didn't care about the project, but got into the series after finding about Urobuchi is involved in.

  18. Anyway, cannot post again since it's like night here...;;

  19. Good grief, let's get back to topic.