Penguindrum 8, Usagi Drop 9, Dantalian 8

For a while I’ve been hoping that they would wrap up the Ringo story. Her quest, Project M or whatever, was growing more hopeless by the episode, and the farther Ringo takes it, the worse it would turn out. Besides, there’s slingshot girl waiting in the wings. However Mawaru Penguindrum has shown no interest in ending Ringo’s story, instead deciding to take it as far as it can go, no matter what the consequences.

With most other shows this would cause me to lower my interest, but Penguindrum is stylistically so weird that they can get away with it—for now. While I (and Shouma) worried about Ringo’s sanity, especially after seeing her father with another woman and her child (ironically, after going to view the penguins at the aquarium), her fantasies are so over-the-top that you can’t help but have fun with them. More people get turned into imaginary stuffed animals. Her father was already a bear (I think), and now he’s threatened by a moray eel. Keiju is already a prince. So why Ringo suddenly imagines herself as a wild west gunslinger defending a prince and a bear from Yuri and two moray eels I don’t know. Crazy minds like to mix metaphors, I guess.

Fun to watch, but sooner or later we have to go back to reality, that Ringo is preparing to do terrible things to people she supposedly loves, all for a fantasy. Shouma is our representative here. He constantly tries to talk her out of actions, helps her move back home after she discovers Keiju has moved in with Yuri. He’s not the type to outright steal her diary, to Kanda’s contempt, so all he can do is talk, or interfere if her plans get too dangerous, which they do. At the same time, his motives are suspect. Is he only doing this in order to get the diary? Would he go to these lengths otherwise? Ringo strikes home when she accuses him of wanting the same thing she does—the illusion of a happy family. We could compare actions and motives; in pursuit of Himari’s safety Shouma has done some unpleasant things himself, but he hasn’t gone as far as Ringo. Does that make it okay?

What's Celty doing in this show?

The entire episode revolves around Ringo and Shouma. We only get one scene with Kanda and Himari, and one with slingshot girl, and it looks like we’ll still have to wait another week for her, or will we? For, finally, some fresh plot roars in at the end and shakes things up, maybe because Ringo and Shouma have finally had the big argument they should have had episodes ago. I cheered when the diary flew over the balcony, grumbled when Ringo ran and picked it up, and could only scratch my head when the motorcyclist showed up. As for Shouma, any questions about his motives are nullified when he pushes Ringo away from a speeding car. I almost cheered then; whatever danger Shouma is in is less important than the fact that after a couple weeks, the show has finally thrown us something fresh.

Pretty much a plotless episode of Usagi Drop this week. Instead we watch characters act like themselves while the bonds betsween them get stronger, all during a typhoon (What is this? Penguindrum also had a typhoon, and both shows aired the same time that a real one was drenching Japan). Kouki is the episode’s center, and we watch him interact with nice teachers, mean teachers, Rin, Daikichi, and his mother. Each character brings out a different side of him, and since he’s a boy he shows his opinion openly. He’s wilder than Rin and can lead her into adventures, but he listens to her when she puts her foot down, and grudging agrees to wear her clothes when his own get soaked. Daikichi is obviously the father-figure he’s missing. His mother is a nag. But then we see the nag’s reaction when the two families get together and she sees her boy relaxing and having fun. You can tell that she gets to see this side of her son too rarely. Everyone is happy, and there’s something comforting about them all getting together, safe and dry and eating dinner together while the typhoon blows around them. I kept waiting for some bad news to break the mood, but, thankfully, nothing does.

Dantalian no Shoka has brought us some good stories (the courtesan, the deadly fangirl) and others which are no more than trifles, such as the book-flower, and the two that make up episode 8. The first had great potential, a book which enables you to barter for things of equal value, depending on what your values are, and it starts well with Camilla traipsing around the countryside trading one item for another while Huey and Dalian rush to catch up. You worry how it’s going to going to end up as you view one random bartered object after another, and when hopeless lover-boy Armand shows up shooting branches out of his arm you think the story has taken an interesting turn, but no, it’s the introduction to the second story. The first one, alas, is done. Camilla bartered the phantom book. The second story is nonsense about a jealous woman. There’s some interest in how they’ll rescue Armand, but that’s about it. And Armand goes to the underworld but when he comes back no one asks him what it’s like? I can’t believe that.

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