A thoughtful response to current anime.

Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 11

Last time on Mawaru Penguindrum, things had gone badly for our heroes.  They had been kidnapped and ransomed and dressed up in pink sweaters, and they had the other half of the Penguin Drum diary stolen from them.  I’m not sure where they can go from here, really.  Kanba might know something, but the crossbow chick seemed like she was ten or twelve steps ahead of him the whole time.  Himari went home to get something, so I guess she’s loose in the world.  She might spot the crossbow chick on the train and pull something heroic.  Really, we don’t know enough to speculate meaningfully, so let’s just shut up and watch episode 11 of Mawaru Penguindrum.

…thirty minutes pass…

No secrets from the other characters, maybe. Certainly plenty of secrets from the audience.

There is something wrong with this show on a very fundamental level. “Dramatic Irony” is a storytelling technique in which, due to the privileged position the audience holds in seeing many different perspectives on the unfolding story, the audience has a better understanding of what is going on than the characters, and the characters do and say things which are obviously foolish given the privileged knowledge the audience has, though they may make sense from the character’s limited perspective.  This gives the audience the cheap thrill of being able to feel superior to someone who makes decisions they know to be wrong.  We could argue whether or not this makes Dramatic Irony an illegitimate storytelling technique, along the same lines as a laughtrack, manipulating the audience into feeling good rather than thrilling them honestly with a well-crafted story.  But what is clear is that the opposite, which we might call “Dramatic New Sincerity”, where the characters have privileged access to lots of knowledge about the setting and plot and rules of the story that the audience doesn’t get, is just plain bad.  I’m getting the cheap disheartening of being made to feel inferior to these characters, not through any failing of my own, but simply because the author told them things that he didn’t tell me.  Apparently some Major Important Plot Event happened 16 years ago, and it has been coloring the reactions of the characters to one another throughout the show.  And they didn’t feel the need to mention that to me until eleven episodes in, and they’re going to wait (at least) one more episode before actually explaining what it was.

The major plot development in this episode was Ringo giving up on Project M.  Which means, what’s even her reason to exist anymore?  If she’s not a yandere stalker, if she’s not desperately trying to stand in for Momoka, who is she?  I guess she herself is curious about that.  Possibly the traumatic events that happened sixteen years ago will serve to add some color to her character.  And I guess we have the crossbow chick to fill the yandere role, now, so she’s free to branch out into being a more traditional protagonist love interest.  I guess if we work under the theory that Ringo was an interloper to begin with, her dropping out of the Survival Strategy game shouldn’t change much.  But if this sixteen-years-ago event is important, it seems like it has some connection with her.  We really can’t speculate on anything until we know what the heck they’re talking about.  And the way this show runs things, that might be never.


3 responses to “Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 11

  1. wendeego September 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Regarding the big incident sixteen years ago: it’s been hinted at since the beginning. The scratched-out names of the Takakura parents. Ringo’s mother apparently knowing Shouma’s mother. All the talk about punishment and bearing sins on behalf of the brothers. Himari having to leave school. The frequent references to death and life and Night on the Galactic Railroad and Child Boilers. Ringo pulling Shouma aside and telling him she knows that his perfect family life is a lie.

    It is true, though, that literally every character in Penguindrum is more than he or she seems. What organization is Kanba involved in? Is Himari in control of the Penguin Queen persona or is she its unwitting agent? Are Tabuki and Yuri more than they seem? Why don’t Shouma and his penguin sync properly? What’s Masako’s deal, and who on earth is Mario? Or Sanetoshi, for that matter? In some ways this can be pretty aggravating since Penguindrum is unpredictable to the point where it becomes impossible to tell when answers will come, if at all. But I think there are answers–the show is too carefully constructed to think otherwise!

    So yeah, Penguindrum is kind of tricky since it makes you do about half of the work yourself. I think it’s certainly worth it, though. At this point, at least.

  2. Pingback: Notes of Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 11 | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

  3. Pingback: Notes of Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 11 | Organization Anti-Social Geniuses

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