Mawaru Penguin Drum 2 – fated encounter
July 15, 2011
Episode 2 of Mawaru Penguin Drum was heavily anticipated. One question on people’s minds was would the show be able to maintain the sense of wacky intensity when it started to reveal the contours of a real plot. Fortunately episode two is still a delicious blend of ridiculous fun and outrageous mystery.
Without answering any of the big questions posed by the first episode, the two brothers are sent on the hunt for Ringo Oginome, from whom they must retrieve the Penguin Drum. One interesting aspect of all of this is the difference between the two brothers, while Shou is easily embarrassed, and tries to be the voice of morality, Kanba has a can-do attitude that enables him to charm his opponents, speak knowingly about lingerie, and gather intelligence in their search for the Penguin Drum.
Aside from the introduction of Ringo, the most significant event was the suggestion of what the Penguin Drum must be. The reveal was very cleverly handled. For a while I felt bad for Ringo, who seemed to be an ordinary school girl caught up in something much bigger than she could have guessed. In the beginning of the episode she is seen leaving a toilet stall, and fantasizing about destiny and fated encounters, with the very fairly-tale like background you can see in the first screen shot at the top of this post. We see her in normal school girl mode, riding the train, day dreaming in class, and eating lunch with her friends. As the boys continue to tail her, red herrings lead one to believe she is innocently deciding to buy fancier undies to improve her love life. Despite finding nothing, the brothers continue to stalk Ringo, ultimately to discover that she is stalking someone herself. Only in the closing moments does Ringo seem more than a normal school girl, and her belief in fate is explained, with the revelation that she has a diary (seen prominently in the OP) that already has the day’s events recorded. Instead of recording them heself, she merely has to stamp them accomplished.
So we don’t know exactly what the Penguin Drum is. Is it a book that already has the future written in it? Is it more similar to Death Note, in that one can write the future that one wishes for and it will come true? We also don’t know why “the hat” wants the Penguin Drum, nor even what “the hat” is. Further the transformation sequence is pregnant with innuendo, but what does it really mean? Are Kanba’s repeated exclamations that they must find the Penguin Drum “for Himari” more than normal brotherly love?
This episode was lighter in tone, focussing more on comedy, but without losing sight of either plot or mystery. On top of this Ringo (Japanese for “Apple”) makes an interesting addition to the cast of characters, and not just because crazy stalker women make every story better. Rather because she is a crazy stalker woman with a book that can foretell (control?) the future. If only we had a book like that, we could find out what happens in episode 3 without waiting another week.