Mawaru Penguin Drum Episode 18

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Prelude: Art Imitates Art Imitating Life

The opening frames of this week’s episode, from a flashback of Tabuki’s childhood as narrated from his perspective:

What do you mean they aren’t the right screencaps? That’s exactly what they look like, you know.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this week’s episode of Mawaru Penguin Drum is endorsed by Monsieur Claude Monet. As a man who in life held some measure of appreciation for Japanese art, I’m sure Monsieur Monet would be delighted to see his exquisite masterpieces featured in such a fine medium as anime, especially since this particular homage is a perfect marriage of art and music. And penguins. Nothing like flightless water fowl to liven up those frightfully dull music composition pages, yes?

Movement i – Brillante


In flashback, we are given a glimpse into young Tabuki’s past.

His story is something of a parallel to Yuri’s childhood in that her father sought perfection in physical beauty, breathtaking forms like the ones he sculpts from marble; Tabuki Keiju’s mother has such a passion for the piano and its lustrous music she marries a pianist, only to discover to her chagrin the man is not the gifted genius she wants.

 

They divorce soon after Keiju is born and before long she has remarried, making sure this time to choose a true virtuoso, and borne another child, whom young Keiju recognizes instantly as a prodigy. His fear his mother will abandon him over his mediocrity once she discovers his brother’s talent is, unfortunately, well-founded and he soon ends up in the Child Broiler facility, a bleak place where other “unneeded” and “unwanted” children are gathered to be disintegrated and eventually fade from existence.

Filled with abject despair, Keiju has given up all hope in life and his concept of self-worth. He is resigned to his fate when Momoka crashes the Child Broiler and finds Keiju, who persists in his wretchedness until she tells him she loves him and adjures him to live. For her sake. Momoka, having paid the price for saving Keiju and effectively altered his fate, now bears the physical proof of his redemption on her hand. The bird imprisoned for so long had been set free.

Movement ii – Presto (Storm)

In the present, Kanba clambers up through the treacherous darkness of the building’s interior to reach Tabuki, who has hoisted Himari into position precariously above an open shaft.

Tabuki, disappointed Kanba has not brought his father to be punished for his crimes, instead begins pressuring Kanba, blowing the few cables holding Himari from falling to certain death one-by-one.


Although Kanba swears to have no knowledge of his father’s whereabouts, Tabuki then proposes Kanba take responsibility instead. At length the final cable goes, forcing Kanba to scramble in a last-ditch effort to grab it, supporting both his and Himari’s weight on his own and putting enormous strain on his body. At first Tabuki mocks Kanba but his determination not to let go reminds him of how hard Momoka worked to save his life so many years ago.

 
At his limit, Himari tells Kanba he has endured enough for her sake and that he should let her go and live for himself. Such a statement is not something he is willing to accept, as everything he and Shouma have strove and risked has been for her sake. The cable snaps just as Tabuki saves Himari.

Movement iii – Decrescendo

Tabuki leaves Ringo behind with the Takakura siblings, imploring her not to become like him. On the ground, Tabuki meets Yuri, where he breaks it off with her, remarking how they are in actuality only a fake family, using each other and being used. Shouma arrives just in time for Kanba to collapse in his arms with the now silent Himari; and Ringo again tries to reconcile herself with Shouma, offering her friendship and love.

Coda

From her closing lines, Masako is far from giving up on Kanba and will approach him again in the near future. I guess we can look forward to more ambushes and guerrilla raids. Remember when all she did was make gaudy bento and knit awful sweaters?

Team Yuri’s dreaded Duo of Doom has officially called it quits. As a duo, at any rate. Now what? Obviously, Yuri’s animosity has been smoldering beneath her porcelain-perfect facade since childhood and she is not nearly as willing to pardon the Takakuras. As for Tabuki, whatever vengeful notions he had seem to have run their course as he made his peace with his unresolved Momoka complex. As such he is no longer an active contender for the Penguin Drum, although I don’t think it’s safe to count him out of the drama aspect by any means.

Speaking of Tabuki, now that he’s broken it off with Yuri he’s single again. With the whole caged-bird motif he may have something in common with Persona 4‘s Amagi Yukiko, although she does have this thing against psychopaths, so maybe that wouldn’t work out after all.

While I’m mentioning other ongoing series I guess I’ll go ahead and name Momoka as my first choice to win the Survival Game. Because, you know, with her diary she has the ability to change fate at will. She could probably eliminate all the other players in one fell swoop (although since it’s Momoka and she only uses her powers for good, if she were to do such a thing it would probably be by way of a Disney-esque ending).

By the way, what is the Penguin Drum? Judging by what the Penguqueen said to Kanba in the previous episode, it’s likely not even a physical object.

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