Mawaru Penguin Drum Episode 13

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Sanetoshi approaches the distraught Kanba, encouraging him not to give up just yet. Indignant at a stranger’s intrusion on his state of grief, Kanba challenges him. At this, Sanetoshi references the Penguqueen’s now-trademark phrase (Seizon Senryaku 生存戦略) and produces a vial of a special drug, which he calls the “prince’s kiss to awaken Sleeping Beauty;” even as he prepares a syringe, he mocks Kanba’s helplessness before a seemingly insurmountable fate -fate which Sanetoshi claims he himself has the power to overcome.

Meanwhile, Shouma continues to confide in Ringo, acknowledging Himari’s apparent death as punishment for his parents’ misdeeds. In flashback, he recalls events from three years ago when police investigators showed up at their doorstep one evening during dinnertime, forcing them to leave their home. Over the phone, the siblings’ uncle advises them to cooperate. Shouma sadly remarks that that day was the last time they had been whole as a family, and that from that time on their lives were never the same.

Sanetoshi offers Kanba the serum he claims will miraculously bring Himari back to life… for a price. Casually, almost flippantly, he advises Kanba that the price for such a thing is rather quite high. Kanba considers how much such a gift would cost, but Sanetoshi’s reply insinuates what he requires in exchange for saving Himari’s life need not necessarily have monetary value. Sanetoshi continues to press Kanba, even questioning why Kanba would go to such lengths of self-sacrifice to save his sister. The sheer ridiculousness of the question provokes Kanba, who wishes nothing more than for his sister to be alive and well. In the face of Kanba’s urgency, Sanetoshi accepts Kanba’s request and is immediately congratulated on closing the “deal” by his attending lackeys. At last, Sanetoshi begins to administer the drug to Himari…

Cutting back to flashback, the three siblings settle in for the night in a hotel, having been denied the chance to contact their parents who remain unreachable. Suddenly, they receive a call from their uncle and at his urging, Shouma turns on their TV to find their home overrun by police. Worse yet, their parents’ names and faces are broadcast over the news as suspected criminals.

Slowly, signs of life return to Himari, who regains consciousness and opens her eyes. However, Shouma’s narration declares the lambs’ “punishment” was still not yet complete. Back in the Central Library, Sanetoshi ponders the nature of fate, musing whether people are bound by such a concept in reality. He reveals the reason why he saved Himari’s life was to determine whether fate is a rule which governs the universe. Later, Natsume Masako receives a call, heavily implied to be from Sanetoshi. The caller informs her that he knows who possesses the other half of the diary.

Ringo meets with Tabuki Keiju, with whom Ringo discusses the Takakura siblings’ parents and the loss of Momoka. When prompted, Tabuki tells Ringo he feels no need for vengeance. Ringo struggles with her self-worth but Tabuki reassures her, and while she wishes she hadn’t learned what had happened to cause Momoka’s death, Tabuki believes her discovering the truth happened for a reason, and that nothing in the world is pointless. On the subway ride back home, Ringo seems to formally resign her mission to realize Momoka’s destiny, accepting her family’s circumstances with maturity. Echoing Tabuki’s words, she realizes that sad and painful experiences are nevertheless a part of life and is grateful for chance meetings that may actually be “fated encounters.”

A parting glimpse into the night three years ago reveals Kanba in denial, violently rejecting the shocking allegations of their parents being terrorists.

This episode pretty much marks the official end of Ringo’s character arc. While it’s necessary to move forward with new plot developments, I also hope some of the lighter, comedic flourishes that marked earlier episodes return to balance out some of the weightier existentialist subject matter. Natusme Masako, waiting in the wings for more than few episodes now, will also move into central focus as we pass the series half-way mark. I wonder if Sanetoshi will play Masako off the Takaura brothers, perhaps even pitting them against each other in direct competition for the complete Penguin Drum. Mario’s health seems as fragile as Himari’s, and it’s already been established Masako is more than willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the welfare of her younger sibling (including kidnapping and aggravated assault with an obnoxious sweater unorthodox weapon).

In any case, for many episodes now it’s been abundantly clear that fate and its related concepts of destiny and inevitability, etc are the principal, driving themes of Mawaru Penguin Drum. It is the crux of the plot, and the common, motivating factor that compels each protagonist to action. Whether through the efforts of Kanba and Shouma striving to avert an all-too-cruel outcome at the hands of a “fate” they hate or the self-delusions of a dangerously misguided Ringo who toiled so obsessively to bring about a “destiny” that must come to pass at all costs, fate inspires each of the character’s actions. However, whether that motivation arises out of a desire to affect a positive desired outcome or a wish to avoid a negative outcome, if fate is truly inevitable each individual’s actions to stop/avert it are, by all logical reasoning, futile.

It is also important to consider what distinctions, if any, distinguish fate from destiny. In broad strokes, fate is absolutely inevitable, a predetermined course and final outcome of events generally brought about by external agents regardless of any direct participation on the part of the individual -an individual who has no choice but to accept the results as set in stone no matter how hard (s)he may try to change them. Destiny, while also concerned with an unavoidable outcome, of necessity involves personal participation on the part of the individual who may not have the ability to affect their own destiny but nevertheless is an active agent in fulfilling that end. Is this merely an illusion of choice? Or can an individual bound by destiny truly carve out their own path? It is stimulating to consider the mechanics of determinism and causality (and I guess coincidence and synchronicity) as they play out in future episodes, but I must stop before this post turns into a full-blown philosophical discourse.

To return to the plot, making a deal with Sanetoshi may not have been such a good idea. The whole thing reeks of Faust. Besides, can one really trust a man with pink hair? However, under the circumstances, Kanba acted out of his selfless desire to save his sister and made the only reasonable choice a loving brother could make in such a situation. Given the events that unfolded over the course of this episode, one must be wary of Sanetoshi. Although he may not be a villain, it’s fair to say he does not seem like the type of man to graciously grant miracles merely out of the goodness of his heart. It will be interesting to see what he will seek from Kanba as compensation for bringing Himari back from certain death.

The credits for Episode 13 feature a new ED, “Ash-Grey Wednesday” (灰色の水曜日) by Triple-H, also featured earlier in Episode 9:

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