Mawaru Penguindrum – 18 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 11 Nov 2011 (11/11/11!) – Tabuki kidnaps Himari, puts her in a bucket suspended by cables, and blows the cables up one by one as Kanba tries to reason with him. Tabuki wants to punish their father for killing Momoka, who was his savior, that of all mankind, and his only reason for living. When the last cable breaks, Kanba provides a lifeline for Himari, at the cost of his hand, but she is saved, and Tabuki slinks off, warning Ringo, imprisoned in the elevator the whole time, not to turn out like him. She swears she won’t.

It was pretty inevitable we’d get a Tabuki episode this week, and it was suitably dark, befitting someone now so lost, he’s prepared to kill poor innocent Himari as payback for losing Momoka. Like Yuri, Tabuki was abused as a child, first emotionally, as her mother demanded prodigal talent in exchange for love, and then physically, when his hand was slammed in a piano, ruining his future as a pianist. Things get a little symbolic with the “Child Broiler”, but suffice it to say, he’s about to be crushed into oblivion when Momoka saves him, begging him to live for her, who loves him.

Up until the last couple episodes, Tabuki has done a bang-up job concealing both his hatred of the Takakuras and the fact that the one person he chose to live for is gone. For years it stewed in him, culminating in the desperate ultimatum he issues Kanba. For a minute, we really though Himari was history, and the show played it that way, but seeing Kanba’s selfless love for Himari must have reminded him of Momoka, and so he spared her. We’ll tell ya what, now we’d like to meet their father and give him a good punch in the face for what he’s put his poor kids through…only it’s all fate, the good and the bad. Will what the parents do ever be revealed? It would be nice, but at this point unnecessary. This is some sublime drama.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Shiki – 20 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 18 Dec 2010 – We were initially a bit dubious of Shiki’s unique, out-there character design, just as we were with House of Five Leaves, but in both cases, simply watching them through has totally eliminated that stigma. And having so intricately built up a story with so many characters and motivations, the final payoff is made all the more awesome. Toshio and his followers (led by Ookawa) go on a staking spree, but only succeed in destroying a third of the Shiki; there are other hiding places.

Some Shiki have resorted to desperate measures: murdering Toshio’s mother as retaliation and to send a message to other humans; an enraged Seishin picking off humans with his rifle; and even glamored humans being sent out as assassins. It’s all underhanded and not what Sunako wanted at all. She’s still in the basement with Seishin, growing more and more afraid of her expectant demise. You can’t help but sympathize with her: though she’s killed thousands in her centuries of life, it was always so she wouldn’t starve. She now questions whether it would have been better to starve; if her life itself is a sin that shouldn’t be.

Meanwhile, Tohru finally surrenders to Ritsuko’s refusal to feed off of her friend. She wishes to avoid detesting herself by not killing anyone, even at the cost of her life. She wishes she had never risen. Tohru’s pleas are no use; all he can do is make her comfortable in her waning hours. At some point, Sunako, Tohru, and all the others made the choice to live and live with the guilt, a choice Ritsuko isn’t capable of making. She is a nurse, after all. It is truly heart-wrenching to see her suffer, but breaking her will would be worse.

Which brings us to Toshio’s dilemma: their enemies aren’t just Shiki, but the humans they control through drinking their blood. Ookawa splits the village into black-and-white: good guys (them) versus bad guys (the Shiki and the “traitors”). Ookawa even stakes the human assassin, disturbing Toshio. He absolutely does not want humans murdering other humans, but what choice do they have when they’re coming to kill them? We’re in for a hell of a final two episodes.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

AnoHana – 06 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 22 May 2011 – Deep in thought about why Menma is haunting him to begin with, Jinta decides to attempt another return to school, as per one of her wishes-in-passing. He not only makes it through the gates, but into his classroom and to his desk, only to notice hardly anyone is talking about him, but rather the recent incident involving Anaru and the love hotel. Apparently, someone saw her walking around in a slinky outfit with an older man. (Though we don’t (or don’t want) to believe she was ratted out by her “it” girl “friends”.)

Just when he senses Anaru is about to lose it from all the murmurs, he stands up and sticks his neck out for her, with a passionate, heartfelt defense, the jist of which was: “She’s a great person who’d never have sex for money, so everyone shut the hell up.” While he may have let loose one too many personal details for Anaru’s taste, she is both grateful to him for the effort and greatly entertained by the embarrassing spectacle he wrought. She’s also probably happy he’s back in class – if only briefly. Their relationship has come a long way.

When Poppo recommends they visit Menma’s house for clues, their mother is kind enough to let him, Jinta and Anaru pray by her shrine, enter her empty room, view her box of possessions, and even borrow her diary. After reporting this to Menma back home, Menma is upset by the prospect their visit made her mother remember and worry about her, causing her more grief. This could be the key to why Menma is still loitering around: she can’t stop putting others ahead of herself, even after death.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. In the beginning Jinta is watching Occult Academy! He has excellent taste.