Friday, 11 November 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum - Episode 18

In perhaps the biggest twist to its tale thus far, last week's Mawaru Penguindrum saw Tabuki turn from Mr. Perfect Good Guy into the villain of the piece.  But what are his intentions?

Before we deal with this, the episode begins to a flashback through Tabuki's own formative years - born to a mother obsessed with both pianists and people of talent, that obsession saw young Tabuki put under immense pressure to develop a relevant talent of his own, leaving him to give up playing the piano when a younger, prodigious brother appeared on the scene.  This decision let to his abandonment entirely by his mother, seemingly condemning him to disappear into the ether before interference from Momoko saved him.

Given this back story, it's no surprise that Tabuki wants vengeance upon Momoko's killer, leading to his kidnapping Himari in the hope of persuading Kanba to bring the Takakura family's father to him so he can enact this revenge.  The flaw in his plan is that Kanba knows not of his dad's whereabouts (at least, so he claims despite his suspicious behaviour of late) - so who will take the punishment for Momoko's demise?  Or will Shouma or even Ringo save the day?

As episodes go, this was easily the best Mawaru Penguindrum has had to offer for quite some time, bringing to the boil a mixture of tension and grief in a tumultuous exploration of human emotions and with a sprinkling of social commentary thrown in to proceedings to boot.  Somehow this instalment manages to provided all of these things without being over-bearing in its delivery of any of them, using the strengths of its characters to create its dilemmas and concerns rather than introducing them artificially.  Quite frankly, it was all rather emotionally draining for the viewer even if it did bring us yet more questions and surreal, inexplicable moments to ponder - hopefully though, this is the springboard that the remainder of the series can push off from, even if it feels like I've been saying that intermittently for some time now.

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