Mawaru Penguindrum 03: Curries
I’ll come right out and confess I am a curryist myself. I love all of the curries, well, most of them. I am grateful to the stars that I get to eat Thai curries weekly, and Japanese curry once a month or so. Alas, I hardly ever eat Indian curry anymore. But I love it too. The one interesting thing about Japanese curry is how monolithic it is. You can get it in various degrees of mildness but essentially when the Japanese eat curry it’s always the one kind of curry. Even though it’s limited in this way Japanese curry is still a force to be reckoned with.
Is it an exaggeration to say that your perception of this episode will depend to a large extent on how you feel toward curry? I don’t think so. Either curry fills your heart up, and this episode speaks volumes to you, or it leaves you empty, and then the episode will feel like just a filler.
I’m not surprised that Ringo’s head is filled with curry myths. Not only is it indeed possible that the first food cooked byhumans was curry (mammoth curry maybe?) but I think it’s also highly likely that rank and position in our first societies depended largely on this food – thus the etymological origin of the phrase “curry favor with the public”.
You can suspect Ringo’s Mom of having an impaired maternal instinct, but there’s no doubt that she’s a devoted curryist. Notice what she does when Ringo reminds her it’s Curry Day. She doesn’t say she’ll skip it because of work, she says she’ll eat it outside. That’s commitment.
I love how abrupt the transition from the dysfunctional Oginome family to the seemingly more functional Takakura sibings (who are actually way more dysfunctional since they engage in Survival Strategy sessions where little sis cosplays a penguin tyrant while keeping her big brothers in submission) is. This particular session was hilarious! For one thing: Cowgirl + Curry-cooking Girl (with momentous consequences) = Utena. Throw in Pet which randomly sticks Everything in its Path into its Mouth and turns Various Colors as a Result in and you’ve got UTENA!!!
The fact that the Penguin Hat goes to the trouble of dressing up in a cow costume marks the tone of this episode as much more playful than the ones past, and things flow like that straight through to the end. I love how she addresses the brothers as “kisamara”, which it took me a while to figure out was just “kisama” (“bastard, scum”, a term much used in anime) + <plural ending “ra”>.
This matter of illusions is always interesting. Penguin Hat convinces the brothers that she exists by letting Himari collapse on the floor hatless. But couldn’t this whole scene simply be another illusion? Might the real Himari be giggling somewhere around the corner? Who knows! It’s like Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream.
I’m not even gonna comment on the bug-murdering penguin. I will also refrain from trying to figure out the Rules of Engagement between the Penguins and the Material World. As far as I can tell there is neither rhyme nor reason to it.
The flashback to Ringo eating curry with Tabuki had a big impact for me: sure she is still a stalker, but you start to suspect Ringo’s feelings have gradually intensified over the years, and this is something that happens often enough.
The businessmen’s chat on the train came dangerously close to racist xenophobia. It really did. These days one of the ways people “politely” act out their racism is to point out how foreign things “smell differently”, often founded on different food ingredients. I have witnessed this lots of time. You might have too.
Now then, what are the odds that Ringo’s pot would look exactly the same as the one at Tabuki’s? Forget chance. This is destiny. And yet, the interesting (and potentially super significant) thing is that the diary didn’t have it quite right. Ringo did not eat the curry with Tabuki, he didn’t laugh like a kid. Viewed in other terms, Ringo failed somewhat. There was a mismatch, and Tabuki’s girlfriend (who was conveniently making curry at the same time) was definitely involved in Ringo’s failure… I can guarantee it. Is the diary fallible? Is it a standard of some sort? I don’t know.
Destiny strikes again and Ringo ends up at the Takakuras. We see this lovely scene where Kanba quickly puts all the family pictures face down. Shouma, rather than be non-plussed, looks at him sideways knowing full well what’s going on. This is possibly the best scene in the whole episode. I don’t know what it means, but it’s very meaningful. Later on when Himari gets curious about Ringo’s Mom, Shouma quickly changes the subject. Hmmm…
I said I was giving up on the Rules of Engagement between the Penguins and the Material World but I can’t help myself: if the penguins are eating curry right next to the others, doesn’t Ringo notice something really odd going on??
NOTE: There is another, more sinister interpretation of the word “kisamara”. This interpretation is so evil, so twisted, so freakishly outlandish (and so utterly incorrect, I should add) that I had to relegate it here. Could “kisamara” be a compound of “kisa” and “mara”? “Mara” is an old slang word for “penis”, and “kisa” is an old name for the blood clam. And since I dare not put a picture of a blood clam here I’ll just link to it.