Friday, 9 September 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum - Episode 9

Despite leaving us with that cruellest of cliffhangers (or cruellest strokes of fate, if you prefer) last episode, this week's Mawaru Penguindrum seems in little rush to further pursue the well-being of Sho as its attention shifts to other matters.

Indeed, this entire instalment is an introspective opportunity to shift through the life and key emotional points of Himari as we enter a rather Alice in Wonderland-esque dream - rather than a rabbit it's a penguin than we follow into the depths of a world that seems normal on the surface, but hides something rather more unusual behind it - a massive, monolithic library of... well, of who knows what?

What we do know is that the curator of this library, whoever he may be, has access not just to many books but also many of Himari's memories, and it's this ability that allows us to delve into her back story.  The story in question is a tale of a trio of girls determined to become idols as children - a dream which binds which them, but also a dream which causes Himari to become needlessly selfish (in that way that only kids can) towards her mother, in turn leading towards an inadvertent accident which leaves her mum scarred.  While this event only reinforces the bonds between the three childhood friends as they stand up one another even under pressure, Himari's inability to attend school leaves her cut cruelly from this trio to watch from the sidelines as they achieve everything that they ever dreamed of and more.

What does this story mean to the grander sentiments and concepts of Mawaru Penguindrum?  Despite leading to some further questions on the meaning of fate, who knows?  We never really get to grips with this mysterious library curator and his true identity, nor do we really learn anything about the being which possesses Himari (this is a dream after all, can anything that we do see in this episode be trusted?) and come the end of the instalment it feels like we've been pencilling in minor parts to the background of the show's doodle rather than anything incredibly significant.  This leaves me a little unsure as to how I feel about this episode - it was stylistically slick and interesting enough, but perhaps it was a little too forced and sterile in its telling of Himari's past and too wilfully obtuse in the structure of its dream world, to the point where it feels rather like something was missing from the experience.  Maybe I simply need to watch the episode again and pay more attention (it has been a long week, after all), but my impatient nature is shouting at me that the immediacy of things like Sho's situation, Kanba's machinations and Ringo's current state are all more important than what we saw here.

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