The Story of Himari’s Life
|Listen you low lifes who won’t amount to anything! I mentioned in my episode 3 post that I started Utena. Just a week ago, I finally got the series done. While the series is quite formulaic (I particularly don’t mind cutting out the Black Rose Saga), it is a enjoyable show that is definitely worth the watch. Now, speaking of people with pink hair…|
Anxious to know what happens with Shouma and Ringo? Well, you’re just gonna have to wait. I know, I know. It’s tough, but trust me here. This episode is a doozy.
We’re taken back to the aquarium scene in episode 1 with Himari noticing Three Tie amongst the normal penguins. When Shouma goes to buy her the penguin hat at the gift shop, she notices Three Tie again and chases her into an elevator. The penguin uses a secret elevator panel to take Himari down to the 61st floor. When the door opens, Himari sees the old library she used to go to. She goes into the library and asks for the book Super Frog Saves Tokyo, to which the librarian tells her it doesn’t exist in the database. Himari figures if she retraces her memory, she’ll be able to find it.
Looking for the book, Himari eventually starts following Three Tie again to a hidden, mosaic-puzzle door that opens up once all the numbers are in order. Inside is a massive wall of books and Himari starts to look around until she comes across Sanetoshi, who welcomes her to the Central Library’s Hole in the Sky Annex. He helps Himari look for the frog book, but in reality he knows she is looking for a book about her past. He finds a book called Super Frog Saves H-Trio and starts to read from it.
Super Frog Saves H-Trio
A flashback reveals the identities of the two girls in the ending theme, Hikari and Hibari, friends of Himari from younger days. The three young ladies are filling out an application to compete in an idol competition. Having trouble thinking of a name, Himari suggests Triple-H since all 3 of them share the letter H at the beginning of their name. The flashback ends, and Sanetoshi looks for another book that continues the story.
Super Frog Saves Takakura Himari
In this story, Himari’s mother (Chiemi) has boughten her ribbons for her hair to wear to the girls’ audition. The color doesn’t match what the other girls are going to wear, which makes Himari upset enough to take it off her hair and throw it down. Begging her mother to hurry up and buy the right colored ribbon right this instant, Himari falls back and kicks the mirror which begins to fall in her direction. Chiemi protects her daughter as the sound of the mirror breaking is heard and the kids rush to call the ambulance. The Doctor reports to Himari’s father (Kenzan) that the cuts are deeper than initially thought and that the scar on her face won’t fully heal. The loving mother Chiemi is, she’s just glad Himari didn’t get hurt.
Sanetoshi walks to look for a different book to continue the story, which is titled…
Super Frog Saves TVideo
Going back to flashbacks, Himari tells her friends what happened with her mother. Instead of going to the audition without her, the girls want to help her mother. Having read something in the book Barefoot Gon, the girls think that getting fresh Koi blood will help heal Chiemi’s wounds. Having a Koi available in the school courtyard, the girls grab it and hold it down for Himari to hit with a baseball bat. A teacher catches them and stops before the poor fish gets beaten. (No fish were harmed during this episode of Penguindrum) The girls stand up for Himari so she won’t get in trouble.
Forwarding to another flashback scene, Himari is walking away from school for what would be her last day when an eraser hits her bookbag. She can’t tell who threw it, but notices Hibari and Hikari on the top floor looking down at her. As we see Himari later sitting on the couch at home, watching what is now Double-H on TV, Sanetoshi ponders why Himari wanted to hear the story and if she despised the girls after what happened.
As the story concludes, Sanetoshi seems to know what story Himari really wants to hear. As the lights dim, Sanetoshi presents her with the penguin hat, which is called a wedding veil bestowed upon the bride of fate. As Sanetoshi talks about the destination of fate and goes in for a kiss, Himari rejects him. Sanetoshi says farewell to Himari, and as she’s seen falling, the 3 penguins are being packaged and ready to be shipped to the Takakuras. As the apple that he dropped falls toward a room that has a “Child Broiler” sign, we see silhouettes of Himari and her soulmate talking to each other as Himari is given the apple by the boy.
For the sake of comparison, this shot is the opening scene to a number of Utena episodes
Himari wakes up, thinking she was dreaming all of that and does not remember anything. The phone rings, and it’s Ringo calling Himari to tell her about Sho being hit by the car.
The Work of Nobuyuki Takeuchi:
Today’s Slogan: Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams
The design, the lighting, the effects. It all is just sensational.
What Himari sees in Episode 9. What we saw in Episode 1.
Looks like she found the Super Frog Saves Tokyo book
I was getting a lot of SHAFT vibes during the episode, which was proven by the fact that Nobuyuki Takeuchi (Bakemonogatari) was not just the sole key animator for episode 9, but the guy was basically the judge, jury and executioner as he also did the storyboard and directing of this episode. Just looking at all the above images and the execution of the episode, you have to be really impressed that one guy put this level of effort into it. Also of note when it comes to the staff, Sanetoshi. Looks feminine, right? Pink hair like the gorgeous Utena Tenjou, but no! Sanetoshi is a male character that surely fangirls will latch onto, and he was voiced by Koizumi Yutaka. This guy played Tatsuhirou Satou from the excellent Welcome to the NHK series, and this guy is already proving to be quite a presence in the series after his debut here in episode 9.
Onto the content of the episode. Boy oh frickin boy! Every single scene seems as if it has some deeper meaning to it. Three Tie using two magnifying glasses to read the book is kind of how I feel trying to make sense of every piece of symbolism here. I’ll list as many points as I can in the next paragraph to ponder over.
61st floor. The 7 Social Sins. The statues with the man holding the apple, as if keeping it away from the woman. Sputnik Weirdo, Learn to Earn Ten Times More and the Christine books. The return date of March 20 and current date of October 15. Super Frog. The mosaic door and the handle on the number 28. The birds flying and the weird tuning of the music as Three Tie opened the door. The map of the library etched on the ground. The changing colors of the books (yellow, green, purple, red). Hole in the Sky. The instruments that Triple-H had on the desks. Why they named their band after the WWE wrestler. Why the falling mirror looked like separate pieces of glass stuck together. Barefoot Gon (a parody of Barefoot Gen) and its episode titles. The eraser thrown at Himari. Bride of Fate. The apple. The child broiler. Himari’s soulmate.
I don’t feel like you need to dig incredibly deep into any of those pieces to find fascination in the story being told here, though certainly it can provide a greater sense of understanding of what perhaps Ikuhara is truly trying to convey in this anime.
We’re given much desired clarity on Himari’s life while at the same time left with questions on certain segments of it, like her soulmate and what exactly to make of Sanetoshi basically crowning her as the Bride of Fate (very much akin to Utena’s Himemiya being called the Rose Bride). We got our questions answered about the ED theme/slogan girls. We know how Himari got away from Shouma at the gift shop. We now have met Sanetoshi, which completes each character from the OP theme. But, Penguindrum isn’t gonna serve us everything on a silver platter! It’s going to be incredibly challenging and pose even more questions, like several of my points listed above, and how deep Sanetoshi is entrenched in everything that’s happened to this point. I’m set right now to place doubt that this is who Masako has been talking to on the phone because this guy seems to know exactly what to do. I could be wrong. I’ve been a thousand times already, so this leaves me to be the most curious I’ve ever been about what it is Masako is doing.
I’ve mentioned in past weeks about certain shots that I loved in Penguindrum, such as Ringo feeling like she’s falling away from Tabuki or the silhouette of Ringo putting on the blonde wig. The show has the uncanny ability of showing you everything you need to see while being incredibly clever about how it is presented. The show’s sort of mysterious ways may make you think there are things being hidden, but there’s nothing cheap at all about the tricks being put into play.
Episode 10 Preview:
Judging from Kanba’s tone, it sounds like he and Masako might have a confrontation soon. This could mean yet another delay in waiting to see what happened to Shouma.