All this talk of fate and destiny obscures the role of causality central to the characters’ lives. There’s a subtle difference between fate and determinism. The former only states what will happen — how we get there is anyone’s guess. The latter is much different; the latter implicates an entire chain of events. Asami Kuho fell down an escalator, but was it fated? Maybe, but someone also pushed her and for a reason. The lives in “Mawaru Penguindrum” are not just fated; the lives are determined.
Two peas in a pod
Kanba and Ringo aren’t very different when viewed through this particular episode. They are both determined to do whatever it takes to achieve their desired goals. Ringo might call it fate, but she’s taking each and every minute step on her way to winning Tabuki-sensei’s heart. Each step naturally leads to the next, cause and effect.
On the other hand, Kanba will make sure Himari never dies. Even if this means walking into the heart of a storm as a child — even if this means having a vehicle drag his body for god knows how long. After all, Himari should be dead. Her recovery is nothing short of a miracle — or is it? Life is full of causes and effects, and Kanba will be the cause that allows Himari’s effect of life. Why? His father once said, “…you can’t protect the people you love if you just wait for it to pass.” You can’t just wait for fate to happen. You have to cause it.
The parental effect
Of course, there remains a deep contrast between Kanba and Ringo: the former hates the word ‘fate,’ but the latter doesn’t — in fact, she embraces it. Kanba is shaped by his father’s words on that stormy night. On the other hand, we’re not sure how Ringo’s father has shaped her. We can guess, however; perhaps she fails to see the determinacy in fate due to her parents’ divorce.
Maybe Ringo, as a young child, was seeing her family fall apart and felt as if there was nothing she could do to prevent the divorce from happening. As a result, she might have seen the divorce as fated, leading her to think that happiness is only possible through destiny. It’s possible, then that Ringo doesn’t consciously believe she has any causal role to play in fulfilling fate. Still, Ringo subconsciously goes about effecting fate anyway because none of us truly believe deep down that we have no control over our lives. After all, her actions do seem to say otherwise.
At least, that’s what I think that’s what these bugs are:
At first, I thought having one of the penguins kill bugs over and over was simply a one-off visual gag. After five episodes, however, isn’t there just a whole lot of bugs in this household? Cockroaches usually symbolize uncleanliness, but on the surface, the Takakura household looks clean. Is something rotten underneath? Himari’s death is always lurking around the corner, after all. I wonder if the cockroaches merely reinforce the idea that there’s something wrong about the brothers striving so hard to keep their sister alive.
“Kanba, your parents aren’t going to come home.”
We finally see the entire sign. Notice not just what is missing from the present sign, but how it is missing:
The parents’ names are not just gone, but removed. We learn in this episode that the parents aren’t exactly dead. They’ve just gone missing and there’s certainly something ominous about this particular fact. I’m not sure I’d trust the uncle either. He seems to be forcing the kids out of their own home, but he’s quick to say that he’ll take care of Himari personally.
• A shoujo with a giant, memory-erasing slingshot?
Okay…. Why on earth does a slingshot require a laser sight anyway?
• Usually, when people have to preface their opinions with “I’m not trying to be racist, but…,” they’re about to say something racist. So when Kanba tells his uncle that he’s procured some money, but it’s certainly isn’t dirty money! — I don’t believe him.
How did he, of course, raise so much money so quickly? A mysterious man (in black) hands Kanba an envelope on a train at waist height… hmm.
• Shota Kanba had a creepy sounding voice.
• Why do I suspect the uncle will say “No, you still can’t stay in your home.”
I’m tellin’ ya, I don’t trust that guy.
• Himari’s way too oblivious. She’s already clueless about her brothers’ day to day activities, i.e. Survival Strategy. She also hardly reacts when Shouma and Ringo are clearly flustered during the dinner scene:
She’s just sitting there, chewing away at her beef stew like it’s a chunk of cud.