Penguindrum 21, UN-GO 7, two iDOLM@STERS and Horizon … oh, who cares?

Mawaru Penguindrum 21 is comparatively light on new metaphors, but they make up for it with plot developments which are just as weird. By the end, the Takakura “sibling’s” “family” is shown to be as flimsy as the gaily-colored house they live in.

There’s a reporter snooping around who’s discovered that Kanba is getting Himari’s treatment money from the remnants of the Kiga group, the ones responsible for the deaths. Much of the episode revolves around this situation. He talks to Himari, Shouma, and Ringo, and while his information isn’t news to us, it’s of great significance to them. Most of all, Himari. She’s the one causing all the trouble, anyway. By living. This is straightforward, almost soap-operish stuff, and I didn’t know whether to be relieved by the relative normality or disappointed by the lack of mind-fucks. Turns out they were saving the latter for later. Though we get a taste of it when Himari follows Kanba and discovers the bright, warm diner he uses to meet his father. Only it’s not.

And we learn more about Sanetoshi, in one of his weird talks, this time with Himari’s first doctor. He was the father Takakura’s “talented assistant,” and should be dead, too. And he’s trying to try what they couldn’t do again, by passing “my will to their children.” He suggests that he is a ghost, or a curse. I’m going for the latter, here. He is a curse, and the children are his victims. So is he keeping Himari alive in order to extract more revenge out of them? I’ve had this thought before. Then things begin to come to a head. Shouma confronts Kanba about the money and Kanba beats him up and tells him they are no longer family. Then he rather effortlessly makes the reporter die. And Himari visits Masako and learns that Masako and Kanba are blood siblings, apparently, the only ones in the entire series. Who’d have thunk?

So now the family has been destroyed. This is odd. Their core was Himari, and she’s still there, wanting Kanba and Shouma there. That seems to be impossible now. But there are no tears. Himari and Shouma seem to think that it was inevitable, that they were doomed to fall apart. But there’s someone they can save, and it’s not Himari (apparently she’s going to die soon, no matter what), it’s Kanba, who thinks that only he can save Himari. That’s why he beat up Shouma, and why he’s accepting money from people who tried to kill a lot of people, why he just killed someone himself. He’s become the sort of monster that his father was without knowing it, the type of person who accepts no other opinions except his own. The belief that anyone else is capable of doing anything doesn’t cross his mind. He doesn’t even tell anyone where the money’s coming from. But we see now that Kanba is only interested in saving Himari, even if that means ripping apart the family she loves and needs so much. “Gosh, I must stop him soon,” has never been a more apt phrase. Why he sees his father as alive and healthy when he’s actually rotting in that diner may just be an allusion to the deluded futility of his desires, but he’s got plenty of clout to follow them. But one more question. What is Shouma in all this? Since he’s the only person who’s remained the same since the beginning, you KNOW he’s going to do something in the final episodes. But what can he do? What will he accomplish if he tries? What’s left for him, now that even Himari has said goodbye to him?

I probably shouldn’t have watched UN-GO 7, or any of it’s episodes, after Penguindrum, but I didn’t know this one would be especially strange. After the talk with the “novelist” in his cell, where we learn that Shinjuru is the man’s protagonist, his great detective, Shinjuru passes out and winds up as a cameraman helping with a movie where no one yet knows the ending. No! That last thing I want after Penguindrum is Pirandello! But on it goes. We have three actresses who, in the movie at least, are running around escaping something while wearing little clothing. Off the set they talk about the movie, including a long conversation about the asshole director saying they’re prisoners of the war they’re depicting, for in this world there is no war so they have to make movies of them. Shinjuru manages a few WTF moments during all this, but otherwise settles into this other world, maybe happy there hasn’t been a war here. Then the director gets rather nastily murdered, and Shinjuru becomes both suspect and detective. It’s interesting enough for now, but every now and then it feels like the creators (I mean the animators, not the movie people–OR DO I??) are trying to squeeze their source material into a format and genre not fit for it. Right. On to something that won’t tax my poor brane. Oh, I know …

No, but it would make me happier.

I thought the whole Chihaya thing was cleared up last week, but iDOLM@STER 21 decides to make more of it. This is okay. It’s a problem with series in general when a character breaks through an emotional issue to assume the problem is gone forever. More often it’s a series of two steps forward, one step back. So when the girls’ accompaniment CD gets screwed up (thanks to you-know-who) and they have to work without music, the show spends a lot of time with her announcing that she wants to try singing anyway. Rather too much time, really, because there’s the suggestion she makes to whats-er-name, and that talk, and then asking the rest of the girls who are all, naturally, there for her. However, it does pay off in another nice onstage moment, when the sound guy says fuck it and brings in the music he’s claimed to have lost. Was he bribed, or what? Meanwhile, Jupiter quits, and everyone except them go off to a nightclub to watch Kotori sing. This is maybe the best moment. We get a view of someone who loves to sing but didn’t want to do all that idol business, who’s found an outlet for her desires and is happy. Oh, and a weird moment where we learn that Kuroe, apparently isn’t all that bad a guy after all, at least that’s what someone says. Could have fooled me.

And after all the nasty events of the past few weeks the show takes some plot time off to give us a slightly early Christmas episode. In a way it’s a letdown. Everyone wants to celebrate together, but they’re so busy these days it looks like they won’t be able to. You know they’ll find a way, or rather, the producer (who gets so much praise heaped on him this episode it’s disgusting) will find the way for them. So we get the early “I don’t think I can make it” bits, which are nothing more than that, while we at home aren’t fooled at all and wait for the party to begin. They could have done more with it. On the other hand, they make a nice point about how their success means being so busy they never see each other anymore, and they sow a few seeds for the next plot thing. Also, while it’s all predictable, there’s a lot of unabashed, silly, jingle-jingle fun in the episode anyway. Really, the iDOLM@STER is just the place for us to wallow in it for our once-a-year fix. I’d have felt let down if the series HADN’T given us at least one Christmas song, complete with sleighbells.

Your average lance vs. boobs battle.

From sophisticated and complex, to silly and fun and seasonal, right down to completely inane, I watched Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, where Futayo (I think) is about to duke it out with Galileo (no, not THAT one) when King Maron of Musashi, the one who looks like a playing card, steps in, pointing out that Futayo is one of his royal guards and therefore one of the students should fight her instead. After a discussion, and a flashback by Maron about how he was forced to become king (usually you’re forced to stop being king), Kimi, Toori’s big sister, announces she’ll fight Futayo. She has no combat powers but has a sexy dance and is pretty fast. Toori is so impressed that he starts flirting with a bucket, and Kimi’s just getting started. Soon she and Futayo are on a dance floor and she’s doing a song which, we are told, is the the Song of Passage reimagined as a dance number. Then there’s a flashback to the only time Kimi ever cried, a touching scene where she makes a despondent little Toori face his life again, but all I can think is “Damn, she looked like Taiga. I wonder if Taiga will ever get boobs that large?” Of course not. No one can have boobs that large, but I digress … Futaya is further flummoxed in the battle by being asked the question in the picture above, which is not only an interesting line but “the Q&A for the dance’s intermission.” Futaya loses, I guess, gets a blood lipstick makeover and sees the error of her ways. There follows more political banter than I couldn’t write down or even endure, but according the the Peace of Wesphalia which ended the Thirty Years War, they’re now all going to rescue Horizon. … I thought that was decided a month ago …

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