Home > Episode Reviews, Mawaru Penguindrum > Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes 2 and 3 – Who Stalks the Stalkers?

Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes 2 and 3 – Who Stalks the Stalkers?

Ringo Oginome is a girl obsessed with destiny. She is as in love with the idea of fate as the Takakura brothers are against it.

Of course, this could just be the wishful thinking of your average love struck high school girl, but things are a little different in this case. Because Ringo Oginome has what she thinks is a ringer in the age old battle between destiny and free will.

When Ringo thinks about Tabuki, stars swirl around her

Ringo Oginome has a diary that tells the future. It seems to tell the story of her getting her schoolgirl crush, a high school teacher named Mr. Tabuki (the boys’ teacher) to fall for her. As with most fated pairings, however, it still remains to be seen whether or not that will actually happen.

Because, although the events in the diary do come to pass, they don’t always happen in the way Ringo expects. Take, for example, the entry that depicts him eating her curry and praising it.

When she arrives at Tabuki’s house to deliver the curry, the door is answered by his beautiful girlfriend, who is also cooking him curry. Because she’s insane, instead of politely excusing herself and walking home, Ringo surreptitiously switches out the girlfriend’s effort for her own, which Tabuki presumably enjoys, and then hightails it out of there before anyone finds out.

Kanba is clearly a master at apologizing to girls for accidentally groping them on the bus. Take that how you will

The Takakura boys enter her life when the penguin hat that occasionally inhabits their sister tells them to find the Penguin Drum, which may or may not be on Ringo’s person. The boys quickly find out that Ringo is a crazy, deluded stalker, largely by following her everywhere in much the same way. They watch her unnoticed while she sneaks under the foundation of Mr. Tabuki’s house to listen to him watch TV. They break in to her house, she breaks into his.

Does trying to save your sister morally justify creepy surveillance of a high school girl any more than her infatuation does? Is Ringo justified in her behavior because she believes Mr. Tabuki is going to fall for her regardless? Are the boys justified in following her because they don’t want Himari to die?

It's still not clear what the penguin hat creature wants, beyond the Penguindrum

Penguindrum flirts with these questions, but doesn’t delve into them any more than it does the questions of fatalism that it introduced in its first episode and continues to muse about. Here it’s merely philosophical window dressing, something to share the mindspace of its audience with the ever-present question: what the heck is actually going on here?

The story ambles along with grace, introducing Ringo as a troubled girl with family problems that could have led to her eccentric behavior. It’s nothing new for anime, where parental abandonment is as normal as riding trains, but it’s told well.

The penguin-like creatures that follow the Takakuras around have their uses

There’s still no clue who the creature inhabiting the hat is, nor why she is doing what she’s doing. The brother seem strangely uninterested, or perhaps realize that, since all she does is belittle them and tell them to find the Penguindrum, she’s not likely to tell them anything.

About all we learn in these episodes is something you could probably already guess: they need the penguin hat in order for Himari to continue living. If the hat abandons her, she’ll die. The unrepentant weirdness is most of Penguindrum’s charm for me, so I hope it plays with that a little more, rather than heading into the staid anime comedy territory it seems to be skirting so far.

...sometimes

Kunihiko’s style seems to consist of blending deeper philosophical and mind-bending elements into fairly standard anime tropes. That’s something I can get behind, but it’s treading a fine line here between something with compelling characters and interesting themes and Yet Another Wacky High School Comedy.

I think exploring its strange mythos might help, or dialing up the weirdness a bit. Maybe I’m being overly critical, but seeing the ever-degrading lengths Ringo will go to chasing after a fantasy isn’t very interesting. I hope this isn’t the main thread of the series, in other words.

Is Ringo's mysterious diary the Penguindrum? Honestly, it probably is

If it’s just taking a while to build up to its central story, I can handle that (for a while). What I won’t be able to stand is such an inventive concept and so interesting characters falling into the mire of being yet another oddball anime comedy.

I couldn't not include this image, so here it is as a bonus

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