Christian Spirituality in Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 02

As many of us are, I’ve been totally captured by Mawaru Penguindrum.  It’s been quite a ride into Kunihiko Ikuhara’s imagination, as he stretches the limits of anime while still creating a series that’s enjoyable.  Episode two was as interesting as episode one, and also like the premiere, episode two features scenes and ideas that I think are worth discussing, in terms of Christian spirituality.

Ringo Penguindrum

Schoolgirl, stalker, holder of key to life and death (Art by 女臣ヱ)

Hindsight’s 20/20
One question in the series is, “What exactly is the Penguin Drum?”  Like the audience, Kamba and Shoma are left to wonder throughout the episode exactly what the intergalactic princess thingy wants.  Although we picture our God as more merciful than the kami that is inhabiting Himari’s body, ours, likewise, sometimes hides the big picture.  And we’re left wondering why.

Way back when, when I was a high school graduate and about to enter college, real life hit me like a ton of bricks.  Long story short, I was left unable to attend the college I’d been accepted in, and was likely to have to switch that highly ranked one for one that often the butt of jokes.  I became depressed.  Of course, things turned out great – my life took a different course, and if the paperwork error hadn’t occurred, I wouldn’t have my beautiful wife and wonderful children today.

We can’t always see why we’re going through a trial, temptation, or quest.  It’s often not until afterward that God reveals, often just through our new circumstance, the reason for it all.  The boys will I think, soon enough, find the reason why they needed to get the mysterious Penguin Drum.

Ringo stalking

It's not creepy...it's fate! (Art by おっさん331号)

God Told Me So!
Ringo is an interesting addition to the cast.  So sure of her destiny, she reminds me of many Christians, myself included.  If you’ve hung around in a Christian group long enough, your liable to hear talk about “I think God wants me to do this” or “God spoke to me.”  Though few claim to hear an audible voice, this “speaking” is often through the voice we hear in the quiet, through confirmation in scripture, or by another’s advice.

Unfortunately, I think in my case at least, I used to sometimes ascribe a decision to God’s will when it was really just me convincing myself to do something.  Ringo’s “fate” seems to be made of the same stuff – a confusion of her obsession over a teacher rather than “true” destiny.

Do What You Gotta Do?
The Takakura brothers are certainly very different – polar opposites in a number of ways.  Their differences are made clear in this episode, particularly with Shoma’s embarrassment at the way he and his brother investigate Ringo, and Kamba’s declaration that the end justifies the means.

This is a question that almost always leads to vigorous debate, between non-Christians and Christians, and even among Christians.  For instance, if the question was asked, “Is lying ever okay?”, you might get very different responses between a Christian and a non-Christian.  And both would take a moral stance in justifying their beliefs.  If both, however, answered “no” to this question, the reasonings might also be different – I can imagine the Christian saying that it was a matter of avoiding sin and trying to honor God, while the non-Christian might instead say something to the effect that we want to avoid becoming that which we despise, and the floodgates to that evil starts with just a trickle.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this kooky series has in store next (and throughout the season).  Who knew that a series involving penguins would work my mind into a flutter regarding spiritual content?

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About TWWK

TWWK, known to outlaws and lawmen alike as Charles, lives deep in the heart of Texas, where he drives cattle and boot scoots (not really - though he does sport a pair of rattlesnake boots). Somehow in this frontier, he also finds time for his wife, children, and church. Oh, and anime, too.

Posted on 07.18.2011, in Anime, Christianity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Keeping in mind with fate or things like “the end justifies the means” is one thing, but the moment you use it to justify your actions— ^^;;— “who gave you the right to play god?”

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  2. Dangit, you made me think! I’ve just been spending this series going, “OMG CUTE PENGUINS” and getting random shots of those penguins. They really are adorable. But I guess you have some points. Man, now when episode 3 happens I’ll be thinking more about the religion aspects…but then, maybe I needed something to distract me from my mind glazing over thanks to the penguins.

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  3. I was pretty curious what you’d think of Ringo’s character and her whole approach to her teacher. Like you, I’m super surprised at the level of discussion that can be made about this anime, an anime I thought would be the season’s gag comedy show.

    On a whole different note, I’m glad to see you switched the blog background color from pink to purple! I was feeling a be overwhelmed by the pinkness when you first put the new banner up :p

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    • Hehe, yeah, I was experimenting with different background colors. I’m not entirely happy with the purple either, but its less “overwhelming.” :P

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  4. “I used to sometimes ascribe a decision to God’s will when it was really just me convincing myself to do something.”

    Hearing a Christian say this is amazingly refreshing. All too often do I hear Christians say that if god tells them to do something, they must do it without questioning. This kind of blind religion sickens me and is something I believe has lead to all kinds of horrible things being justified in the name of many gods throughout history. I wish more people could question their faith so easily.

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    • Thanks! I do think that it takes faith to question your faith, ironically enough. Several years ago, I was too scared to ask questions, because I felt that I would find something that would convince me my God didn’t actually exist.

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  1. Pingback: Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 2 | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

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