Mawaru Penguin Drum 15 ~ ugly children are loved by no one
October 23, 2011
Mawaru Penguin Drum continues to impress. Episode 15 continues to jerk the audience around, setting up and ripping down expectations about plot and character. In addition we get our first real glimpse of Momoka, and it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting; then again nothing is quite what I expected in the world of the Penguin Drum.
We get a new OP and Keiju Tabuki’s scene in it is changed from simply standing before the birdcage (still slightly visible in the background in the shot above) to kissing the shoes of his mistress (which this episode makes clear is Momoka). I take it there is at least one dark turn in Tabuki’s story that still awaits us.
I didn’t blog about Episode 14 in which Ringo, broken-hearted, is picked up and drugged, then tied as a prelude to being taken sexually by Yuri. It was a shocking turn of events, because Ringo, who had finally turned from a psychotic stalker, was rejected by Shou, and then victimized by Yuri. Just a couple of episodes ago Ringo, swayed by her own maniacal obsession, was about to rape Tabuki, when Shou managed to break through to her emotionally. To see Shou, wallowing in self-pity (or perhaps self-loathing) reject Ringo was a shock, but to see Tabuki’s new wife, Yuri, attempt to rape Ringo so that she could have Momoko back was so shocking that I truly was left speechless on the subject.
Now (as each new episode is inclined to do) this episode turns everything I thought about Mawaru PenguinDrum on its head. Chiefly this is accomplished with flashbacks that reveal Yuri’s traumatic upbringing, and some serious revelations about both Momoka and the PenguinDrum itself. Yuri was tormented by her father, psychologically and physically. Surprisingly, Yuri is every bit as emotionally fragile as Ringo. Further Shou redeems himself by becoming Ringo’s white knight, of a sort.
BTW, in the scene depicted in the screenshot above, there was a surprising animation. This scene, in which Yuri is being manipulated by her father into not trusting her new friend uses a “dolly zoom” effect, sometimes called a “Vertigo zoom”, because of its use in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock classic, Vertigo. The original effect depends upon manipulating both the camera optics and the location of the camera in 3D space, which isn’t technically possible in animation, so the effect was simulated here.
Perhaps the most important revelation of the episode was Momoka’s description of the PenguinDrum’s power. Up to now it hasn’t been clear what, if anything, the PenguinDrum was capable of doing. I am inclined to believe Momoka’s version because we see, through Yuri’s flashback, that it actually worked. Momoka changes Yuri’s fate, saving her from her abusive relationship with her father. We also see that Momoka physically suffers as “payment”, which is consistent with earlier discussions, such as the tale of Mary’s lambs from a couple of episodes back.
Of course the fun doesn’t stop there. Masako Natsume, disguises herself as staff at the hot spring resort to which Yuri brought Ringo. Natsume then tries to steal the diary, resulting in a pitched battle between the two. Yuri manages to fend off Natsume’s paintball attacks, even in the dark, but when her towel slips, Yuri drops the diary, which Natsume grabs. While Natsume and Esmeralda swim off like super-spies, Yuri reveals to Shou that she tricked Natsume with a fake diary, and that her goal is to bring Momoka back to life.
Phew! I always feel mentally drained at the end of these episodes. This one definitely challenged my ideas of Yuri. Setting aside her intentions with Ringo, her reason for taking the diary now seems to be from good intentions. Bringing Momoka back to life is no less noble than bringing Himari or Mario back to life. Plus, she has mad skills with a ping pong paddle. She also made the remarkable comment that she died as payment for another fate change. Now going back to my comment about Tabuki, I wonder if Tabuki’s fate was changed by Momoka, and she died as payment. This could have something to do with his fingers. Well, that’s just conjecture.