Home > Episode Reviews, Mawaru Penguindrum > Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes 8 and 9 – Turning Point

Mawaru Penguindrum Episodes 8 and 9 – Turning Point

It should be obvious that I think the Ringo arc has gone far enough, and fortunately episode 8 wraps it up with a bang. Not only that, but episode 9 takes the show into a completely new direction. It might only be for one episode, but I feel like Mawaru Penguindrum is finally going someplace again.

I can't think of the last high school-centered anime I watched that made nakedness so creepy and unerotic. Good for Brain's Base

Ringo’s story has long been sliding into a dark, dark place. I can appreciate that, but it feels like it has taken way too long to get there. In particular, a decent chunk of the last few episodes felt like an excuse to throw Shouma into yet another gross or disturbing humiliation at Ringo’s hands.

Those have been getting steadily more extreme, and episode 8 is definitely the climatic finale of this part of the show. Basically, Ringo’s attempt to reunite her family and take the place of her dead sister has been falling apart all around her. She sees her father propose to his new girlfriend (in a twisted redux of her most cherished childhood moment), and Tabuki’s life is slowly intertwining with his fiancée.

Just as penguins featured prominently in Ringo's childhood memory, eels seem to be important for his stepdaughter. I think Ringo has the better deal, here

Last episode ended with her crawling up from her hiding place under the foundation in his house, willing to give Tabuki her virginity, only to find that he spent the night at the new apartment where he’s moving in with Yuri.

So, knowing that Yuri will be leaving on her farewell tour, she heads over to Tabuki’s new apartment, drugs him with a wedding present cake, and tries to rape him. Only the fact that Shouma is also there (and Yuri’s flight gets cancelled at the last minute) keeps her plan from going through.

Yep

At this point, things just keep getting worse for Ringo. The episode ends on a cliffhanger that signifies a pretty dramatic change in the direction of the show.

Episode 9 doesn’t resolve this at all. Instead, it jumps back to the time of the very first episode, to the aquarium visit before Himari found the hat that brought her back to life and started everything rolling. In that episode, Himari disappears for a few minutes while her brothers run off or space out.

Episode 9 drops the cartoonish style almost completely, opting for the surreal and fantastic. It feels kind of like an anime version of a Borges story, which may be why I love it

This episode shows Himari on a surreal journey to a library below the aquarium, where a strange man takes her on a journey through the archives of her past. It takes place almost entirely in flashbacks, telling the story of Himari and her friends’ childhood aspirations to be idols.

It’s a dramatic change in the visual style of the show, as well, ditching the usual brightly colored, super-deformed madness for a more sedate, washed out (but still colorful) style. It’s still bizarre, but a different kind of bizarre: more of the lonely melancholy surrealism of a Borges novel than the colorful nonsense that typifies Japanese anime surrealism.

Even in these screens, you should be able to tell which came from episode 8, and which came from 9

Himari’s health prevents her from ever realizing her dreams, but it’s clear that the other two made it big, becoming the ever-present idols in the ads on the background of the subway. The man gives her the penguin hat, telling her that she is to be the bride of fate.

Who knows what any of that means, other than providing yet another female character with a strong tie to fate, but one thing is clear to me: something different is finally going to happen in Mawaru Penguindrum, and I can’t wait to see what kind of craziness they have planned.

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