Mawaru Penguindrum continues to deliver week after week, defying conventions on the way. Among other things, episode 20 was a beautiful episode about romantic fate. The flashback to Himari and Shouma as children is both touching and difficult to watch. There’s little as heartwarming as watching two kids love on a stray kitten (and little as heartbreaking as watching a beloved taken away from a child).
The allusion in this flashback is also powerful and quite clear – it’s to the Garden of Eden and to Adam and Eve. As the parents scheme, Shouma wanders off. The parents’ meeting with other followers of the “Kiba” organization can allude to two things: first, it’s the birth of the survival strategy that will ultimately lead to the sarin attacks, and as such, it’s a genesis – the beginning. The giver of the apple, which I presume to be Shouma’s father and/or mother, also takes on the role of Satan. As he twists minds and hearts in his speech, he also lures Shouma into what is ultimately a painful fate.
Shouma is Adam, the first man. He wanders around the complex, bored, in need of a playmate. Kanba and Masako are like the animals in the Genesis story about the fall of man – Shouma is superior to the brother and sister (as Adam, who named the animals and cared for them, was); they are not suitable to be friends (helpers). Someone else must be found – and that someone, of course, is the Eve character of Himari.
At this point, the analogy moves away from the biblical account of Adam and Eve, though one can still make comparisons to the story. Strangely enough, the role of God is assigned to the signs which end up determining Sun-chan’s fate. Himari’s view of the world is similar to many – she sees fate (God) as being uncaring, matter of fact, and the giver of rules and punishment:
To live is punishment in itself.
Deeply scarred and abandoned, Himari essentially gives up. When all hope is lost, she sees her savior, Shouma, offering her the fruit (a twist of roles from Adam and Eve). Going back to the Bible, the two end up receiving punishment – among other things, for Adam and Eve, it was toiling and subjugation, respectively. For Shouma and Himari, it is guilt and death.
This whole scenario makes me wonder what we don’t know about the Adam and Eve story. What was going on in their minds? And as with Himari’s background, were there other circumstances which we don’t know of?
In the inevitable backlash against a popular, buzzed-about series, here is a sign that the show is great: in one of the most touching episode of anime I’ve seen, the story continues to move along, questions are answered, the plot is deepened, and there’s still time to construct a romance around a a biblical couple in a way that makes one really think.