We actually meet Oginome Ringo in the very first episode of the series Mawaru PenguinDrum– though just in passing.
I don’t really want to dive too far into Mawaru PenguinDrum, which was Kunihiko Ikuhara’s much heralded return to weirdness. BUT as a quick summary…The story focuses first on another little girl, who dies and is “resurrected” by a stuffed penguin hat possessed by the spirit of an alien dominatrix who commands the two older brothers to complete tasks like finding the mysterious object called the “PenguinDrum” with the help of some invisible penguin henchmen.
I know, it sounds stupid (weird for weirdness sake) but trust Ikuhara to have some incredibly poignant and provoking meaning embedded in this crazy show.
In episode 2, we learn that this object is in Ringo’s possession. All we know about Ringo initially is her seemingly cheerful, almost hilariously cliche optimism. She says with bright eyes, “It is hard to accept that misfortunes beyond your control are part of fate. But sad and painful things do happen for a reason!”
The cheery image is complicated by the second episode, when we realize she’s actually in fact an intense, psycho stalker of her deceased sister’s former boyfriend. She likes to hide in the crawl space under his apartment and listen in by wire whatever he is doing, a peaceful smile on her face.
This all ties back to the strange diary that she keeps – a diary that will become the focal point of the show. Usually diaries are a record of your past actions and thoughts. Ringo uses the diary as almost an intensely specific to-do list. She fills the diary with all the things that “will” happen and are “fated” to happen. Then, she goes out of her way to make sure all of those things do come true. She stamps each successful day with a little “Destiny” stamp.
What is even more ominous about this diary is that it was actually the dairy kept by her older sister Momoka. Momoka was killed in a terrorist attack on the Tokyo metro lines when Ringo was a newborn. Though she never knew her older sister, Ringo grew up in the shadow of her death and came to be convinced that she was her sister reincarnated. Her “diary” is a record of Momoka’s unfinished life that Ringo is determined to complete.
How do we will our fate, our connections to the world around us? The show presents connections ambiguously – as fortuitous but also fatal. This is symbolized by the omnipresent images of the vast Tokyo train systems that connect everyone and every place. The train is, of course, the site of terror and death (an event based on the very real Sarin Gas terrorist attacks).
I am never quite sure how to interpret this show, by the end of it all. But I believe that the primary question always at stake here is, can you make your own fate?
Those things are on my mind as I head into the midway point of my writing challenge. It has been HARD, so much harder than anticipated, and I genuinely wanted to quit today. I was so exhausted after a busy day and just could not get it in me to write. But I did, even if it was just 5 words.
I will be updating this specific post with all updates on my writing progress (to keep things organized better on the blog). Until tomorrow, please appreciate the amazing images from this gorgeous show, including the very random bits of hilarity (like surrounding one brother with old bald men on the metro for a brief scene).
Aug 30 (13/30)
Started: 4 pm
Word Count: 267
Aug 31 (14/30)
Word Count: 184
Sept 1 (15/30)
Word Count: Hm, I kind of messed up because I started editing and adding new content all together. Can I just say, today was awesome because the argument is DOWN. I have 7,514 words total but the conclusion and intro are unwritten (and it is still unpolished). Am very excited to write tomorrow.
Sept 2 (16/30)
Word Count: 2
Don’t ask. I spent the whole day writing comments on my partner’s draft only to get maybe 15% of the effort back on my own. :p
Sept 3 (17/30)
Started: a bit earlier but mostly at 10:00pm
Word count: 452
Could have been better but better than nothing.