MP4S #01 – The Bell of Fate Tolls

This analysis contains spoilers.


A Misleading Lead

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<<I hate the word “fate.” Birth, encounters, partings, success and failures, fortune and misfortunes in life. If our lives are already set in stone by fate, then why are we even born? There are those born to wealthy families, those born to beautiful mothers, and those born into the middle of war or poverty. If that’s all caused by fate, then God is incredibly unfair and cruel. Because, ever since that day, none of us had a future and the only certain thing was that we wouldn’t amount to anything.>> – Shouma Takakura

The first words of the anime got me totally outrailed. I thought, “it’s obvious that fate exists, as long as the cause-and-effect law applies. All the reasoning on this may be sterile”.

That was misleading, for sure. Fate in Mawaru Penguindrum is seen from a sociological – and human – point of view, as a dichotomy between “what is already decided regardless of a person’s decisions” and “the impact of the person’s decisions and consequent growth”. As the relation of a person and its enviroment, which includes other persons. It is important to make this clear from the start.

The ability to change cause-and-effect with magic? This crucial in the anime, but as a metaphor for something much more interesting. We’ll go further into it when Momoka is introduced.

First Symbol: the fan

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The first shot after the opening is on the fan inside house Takakura’s air conditioner. This is not a case, as it refers to the Child Broiler, which is a metaphor of the uniformation of society.

Family and Food

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Food has an important role, as it is seen as a way to show love and gratitude. In the first scene you can easily see how the three Takakuras are tightly bond.

mp_1_5Flashbacks

Flashbacks are used widely in this anime as a narrative tools. They work fine all throughout the story.

The Illness

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I would note that the doctor never specifies the kind of illness Himari has. You have some brain figures on the screens of the doctor, but we don’t really know if those are related to Himari or if they’re not.

Later on, we learn that Himari’s illness is seen as a “punishment from God” for what her parents did. This from the anagogical point of view.

On the psychological point of view, her illness could be a trauma, coming from the loss of her parents, that can lead her to death. Like “unwilling to live”, which crawls into her mind and brings her down.

The (useless) countermeasures of regular doctors are, though, not related to that. Pulse is mentioned, and the crysis is always quick and drastic.

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When Inagi shows off, Himari changes personality, and is determined and strong. This could be interpreted as “will to live”, especially when we find out that “Momoka is the hat”. There is plenty to say about Momoka, but it’s clearly hope and love for everyone who know her.

It’s impossible to take out the magical element from this anime, but I think magic is functional, that stands for something else. If this is true, then “determination” could be the keyword for Himari’s “survival strategy”.

The Penguins

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The Penguins represent the character they’re associated with. Shouma’s penguin likes eating and cleaning, which kinds of reminds of Shouma’s simple and responsible mind. He’s the first penguin to be shown, bringing him the umbrella – another responsible action, isn’t it?

Kanba’s penguin is usually upset, and likes bothering girls and reading hot magazines – he cannot be seen, so it’s not a problem! Kanba is the tough guy, and he’s focused on the love he feels for Himari – which is both spiritual and physical – at least, more physical than Shouma’s one. You can see him kissing a sleeping Himari at the end of the episode.

Kanba’s Soul and Survival Strategy

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Kanba sacrifices his own soul (life energy?) to make the Inagi’s Survival Strategy work.

This can be interpreted as total dedication to a weak being. If we see this from a psychological point of you, it could be interpreted as the effort required to help someone who doesn’t want to live, which is draining and require constant dedication.

<<Why are people born? If people are born only to suffer the hard life, is it meant as some kind of punishment? Or a cynical joke? If that’s the case, animals that adhere to the survival strategies programmed in their DNA are far more elegant and simple. If there really is an existence worthy of being called a God, I want to ask him just one thing: Is there really fate in the universe? If a man ignored fate, and ignored his instincts and DNA to love someone else… Dear God, is he really human? Just wondering. I hate the word “fate.”>> – Kanba Takakura

This last monologue mirrors the one in the opening, and is spoken by the other brother. The last phrase, in particular, refers to Kanba’s own destiny, while trying desperately – and lastly managing – to save Himari.

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