9

The ending of Mawaru Penguindrum had a lot of ambiguous symbolism.

My first impression was that the writer had no idea how to resolve the fundamental questions of the plot, and thus had to throw out completely unresolvable symbolism in order to fake an ending. A few of my driving questions throughout the series were as follows:

  1. A recurring motif of the show is that the main character would get possessed by a penguin hat, and pull one or two characters into a kind of alternate reality where they were handcuffed. To what degree was this a hallucination? Likewise, Penguins 1, 2, and 3, plus the additional penguin, were important characters who were not visible to most people in the show. To what degree were they hallucinations, and to what degree were they paranormal?

  2. Were there any forces in the story that were godlike, in that they were both powerful and capable of passing judgement on mortals? In particular, at the end of the show, it seems that two boys sacrificed their mortal lives for the sake of two girls. Was this a sacrifice made to a god or other cosmic power?

3
  • 6
    Welcome to Anime & Manga Stack Exchange. You've raised a number of really good questions which are certainly welcome on this site, but we tend to prefer if you only ask one or two things in each question. It makes the questions easier to answer completely. If you could go back and simplify what you're asking to one (or at most a few closely related) question(s), you're a lot more likely to get good complete answers. You're welcome to split it up into multiple questions or ask more later if you're still wondering about things after your first question. – Logan M Feb 12 '13 at 6:27
  • Also, the title of your question should reflect what you are asking. (You aren't asking if the ending was incoherent, you're probably asking why or how it is incoherent). – Madara's Ghost Feb 12 '13 at 20:28
  • FYI I reverted your edits. It's generally frowned upon to edit new information into your question after there's already an accepted answer. In this case, I thought the information would be better included in comments or in a separate answer. The information you added was interesting, but in my opinion it wasn't integral to the question you were asking and it made it harder to tell what was being asked. That information is still available if you view the edit history so feel free to try to incorporate it in some other way. – Logan M Feb 22 '13 at 5:06
7

The place that Himari goes to (with her two brothers) is called the Crystal World. It's a fantasy world that they get transported to by the Princess of Crystal, the entity that possesses Himari through the hat. Not sure if it can be considered a hallucination (if it is, it's definitely shared between its occupants), but it's probably not in the physical world, perhaps in a "dream" world?

The three penguins were assigned by the Princess of the Crystal to Himari, Shoma and Kanba to help find the Penguindrum. They're not hallucinations since they physically interact with the real world. The reason why only the 3 who were assigned penguins could see them isn't explained.

As for B, I don't think you can look at any of this as "godlike" or "cosmic power". This is purely fantasy so it doesn't make sense to apply the series in a real-world like setting. These powers are fantastic beyond explanation and the entire series is heavily laden with symbolism.

The Princess of the Crystal wants the Penguindrum and in return, Himari can be saved. At the end of the series, it's revealed that the Penguindrum was actually the apple that Kanba and Shoma shared while in cages when they were little (the "fruit of fate"). So the two boys give up their "fate" to the Princess of the Crystal, thus giving up their entire existence, resulting in a Himari that is alive and well in a world where the two boys never existed. The sacrifice was giving up their fate to the Princess of the Crystal, who isn't a god or cosmic power, but turns out is part of Momoka Oginome's soul, Ringo's older sister and the original owner of the diary (she died from that terrorist attack). Her soul was split into two and became the two penguin hats, one of them being the one that Himari was given.

3
  • >! My spoiler fails. That's a great summary, but the Princess of the Crystal was apparently as powerful as a demigoddess! As for the nature of the Penguindrum, it seems to be a crossover between symbol and literal fiction.>! The apple shared between the two children in the cages had a heart-shaped mark, and obviously symbolized the sacrifice made for love. To be able to give up "sacrifices made for love" apparently means that the characters could operate on symbols that were so meaningful that they could alter literal reality. This is the kind of power that TVTropes calls Reality Warping. – Rick Feb 12 '13 at 13:59
  • >! I am trying to make a hidden spoiler. The apple shared between the two children in the cages had a heart-shaped mark, and obviously symbolized the sacrifice made for love. To be able to give up "sacrifices made for love" apparently means that the characters could operate on symbols that were so meaningful that they could alter literal reality. This is the kind of power that TVTropes calls Reality Warping. – Rick Feb 12 '13 at 14:04
  • @Rick: Spoiler tag is not supported in comment. – nhahtdh Feb 13 '13 at 8:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.