Himari Takakura’s Fun and Exciting Mika-chan House

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Bedroom decor can often be seen as a reflection of one’s personality or desires. If one is fortunate enough to have their own bedroom as a child, it may be the only “private” place for them in the house. When my brother and I were allotted separate rooms around the time I entered fifth grade, my room became my sanctuary. Much to my parents’ dismay, I pasted up drawings and paintings of my own on the walls, ruining their hard work in papering and preparing the room.

Our doorway into the world of Mawaru Penguindrum is Himari Takakura’s bedroom. It is a purposeful entry point that ushers us in and offers us a comfortable seat in the first episode, and shows us out gracefully in the last.

mika-chan house, fun and exciting! a wonderful house!, mawaru penguindrum, himari takakura

Himari’s bedroom is notably not a sanctuary away from her family, as mine was for me, but rather a museum of her brothers’ somewhat smothering love for her. Additionally it acts as a mirror, reflecting her inner desires that become more improbable for her to achieve as she ages, due to terminal illness. Volumes upon volumes of fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Alice in Wonderland, Gretel, and Schneewittchen/Snow White) are stacked next to Himari’s four-poster bed. Stars and cherubs hang above her head as she sleeps. Having had to abandon her dream of becoming an idol with her two childhood friends, Himari instead turns to creating things for those whom she loves. Fabric and bundles of yarn accent the clutter in her room, along with an old sewing machine and table.

She later tells Ringo Oginome that the entire Takakura household is a “Mika-chan House,” fashioned after a popular doll that Himari wanted as a child but never received from her parents. Mika’s curtains, pillows, hat, and lighting fixture are all recreated lovingly for Himari by her brothers. Himari even owns similar outfits to Mika, as her Princess of the Crystal outfit mimics Mika’s pink dress, and a pink coat similar to the one that Himari dons when she leaves her home in episode 21 can be found hanging in Mika’s closet.

However, Shouma and Kanba Takakura’s wish to bestow Himari with the house that they believe she wants spills outward from Himari’s bedroom into the entire house itself, including its exterior. Stencils and pops of color are added, as are hanging mobiles, plants, and other knick-knacks. Ordinary fixtures like the fan above the stove and the refrigerator are painted blue and green respectively. Like Mika, Himari comes with her very own house, constructed just for her. The only separate room in the Takakura house is saved for Himari, while the brothers sleep in the main living room.

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The series’ finale shows what Himari’s home would look like in a different world from the one that she inhabits, and we are privy to. It is a world where she has no terminal illness, no twin brothers, and lives with her aunt and uncle. Instead of the dreamlike and childish extravagance shown above, Himari’s new room is modest, and fairly average for a teenage girl.

himari's room final episode, himari takakura, mawaru penguindrum

Her books are neatly organized, as is her sewing corner. The layout of the room implies that she more than likely sleeps on a mattress on the floor, with her aunt and uncle sleeping together in the main room. Himari no longer occupies the house as she did for the majority of the series, chained to one location due to her health.

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shouma and kanba's uniforms, penguindrum first episode, mawaru penguindrumaunt and uncle's uniforms, penguindrum final episode

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Mawaru Penguindrum‘s closing sequence offers book-ended scenes of its opening, with noticeable differences in the color palette and decor of both Himari’s bedroom and her house. Gone are the whimsical trappings that invited us into the series, begging for a keen eye while introducing Himari along with the show at large. The ending credits show Himari’s four-poster bed and cherub mobile vanishing into the stars. At the end of it all, Himari is no longer a doll like Mika, who comes with her personal habitat and changeable clothing. Instead, she presumably leads a normal life. The most valuable home that her brothers bestowed on her was not the colorful dollhouse but the most ordinary of settings where she is free to come and go as she pleases.

11 comments

  1. Another great post Emily! The differences in the decor of the house before and after the events of the last episode were something I never quite picked up on, although that may be because the last time I watched the finale I was more than a little emotional. Through highlighting those key differences you make me not only appreciate the symbolism and themes of the show more, but also the profound emotional component of it all. Now when the finale comes around again, I get to be even sadder because I understand.

    1. Thank you. ^ ^ It’s been wonderful watching with all of you, so thanks for having me (and putting up with my rambling).

      There is a lot of visual buildup and book-ending in Penguindrum. This is only one example. In fact, I’d be interested to simply watch the series without subtitles at all, and focus on only taking in visual information. Perhaps on the next re-watch.

      It definitely wouldn’t mean as much if we were not made to care about the characters themselves, as you point out through your own experience. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the series with all of you SBD! folks. ^ ^

  2. I don’t quite get (or ever will, for that matter) the nuances of symbolism and visual communication in Mawaru Penguindrum, let alone that of the subject matter that you speak of in this post, but I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal that Himari’s room exudes, both real and fantastic. The way the camera moves in the opening shot is still something that leaves an imprint in my mind to this day, and it’s mostly just a sensory memory without any particular meaning. I enjoy this show on that level, and your prose description of Himari’s (and your own) room brings back fond memories.

    I’ve only recently moved back home with my parents, having lived in a condo for almost two years. I moved back in order to save money for life endeavours down the road, but even still, being back in the same room that I grew up in provides a sort of fascinating melancholy; it’s no longer the same room that I fondly remember, but it’s through no fault of my own. I’ve been gone for so long that my return has only reminded me that it was me that changed, not my room, and it has definitely been for the better.

    Gone are the days of promotional video game posters, anime wall scrolls, and a bratty university kid that hadn’t a clue of what was going to happen in the future; now are the days of unapologetically green walls and a bedside table where a laptop and headset reside, as if they were now the most important thing in his life.

    Because hey, premium Crunchyroll streams of Wake Up Girls! aren’t going to watch themselves.

    1. Mmmm…I think you don’t give yourself enough credit to take in visual information, but that’s an argument for another time. When I asked you what you thought of Himari’s room; however, you did say that it made her seem pampered or perhaps a bit spoiled. You did translate that visual information well, because she is. The series gives reasons for that, but your initial reaction was fairly accurate.

      That being said, I love Himari’s room and just how purposefully designed it is. Everything is put there for a reason, and it’s a microcosm that illustrates how well-crafted the series is as a whole. I cannot help but love it. In fact, I can still recite the opening translated lines by heart from the original television broadcast. ^ ^

      You’re still a bratty kid. Also, we need to catch up on Wake Up, Girls! this week. ^ ^

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. The thing that always struck me about the Takakura household set design was that while colorful and visually interesting, it was ultimately incomplete. There’s only one curtain on the living room window, not a pair of two (how do you drown out Tokyo’s ever-present street lights with half the window unblocked?) Only one wall of the house is covered in neon sheet metal. Only a few of the exterior slats on the windows are painted pink. There’s a desk organizer pinned to the side of the china cabinet, but where’s the desk? Hell, there’s even an odd number of chopsticks in the container by the sink – 5 (ie. 2 full sets and one half) and not 6.

    And then there’s Himari’s bedroom, which is arguably *too* complete. I can’t even think of a place in Japan that would sell a four poster bed, and double-sized beds are basically reserved for married couples or partners living together – never for a single person’s use. She has an excess of pillows, an excess of blankets, an excess of drapery – but she doesn’t actually use all of it. Half the pillows are stacked at the end of the bed. The curtains are drawn, letting the evening light in. The main, bulbuous lantern in the room is eschewed for the mushroom night light and the cherub. The chair has booked stacked on its seat, rendering it un-sittable.

    It mirrors the extreme imbalance in the Takakura household – and in the household of anyone living with someone with terminal illness. Her needs far outweigh those of the brothers’, and their living conditions slowly degrade because of it – they live together, in a room of hodge-podge repairs, sparing nothing for Himari.

    (i’m not sure where I’m going with this analysis, I haven’t watched Penguindrum in a few years so I’m just gonna.. stop)

    1. Yeah, the haphazard nature of the house I always took as an indicator of how the brothers wanted to make a house for Himari, but are insufficiently detail-oriented to keep it up. After everything, even Kanba’s forced push into adulthood, they are still three children, one of whom is terminally ill, and are not prepared to undergo the upkeep that owning a house requires. This is additionally reflected in their actions (for example, how Kanba forgets social niceties like preparing tea, etc. when his uncle visits).

      Himari’s room is especially disorganized and, as you say, excessive. In the final episode, Himari’s “new room” looks more like an average bedroom, with the bed itself stored in a closet until it’s time to sleep, and her sewing corner neatly organized along with her books. These are inherent to her personality – she still loves to read and make things for those whom she cares about – but they no longer clutter everything. Additionally, they don’t take up an entire room of a house that only appears to be two large rooms and a bathroom.

      When it is only the Takakura siblings living in the house, an entire once-useable room is dedicated wholly to Himari, and the other room is their multi-use kitchen/living area/brothers’ bedroom. Presumably, in the alternate timeline that the series ends with, Himari sleeps in the same room, which is now a multipurpose room. Her aunt and uncle take the room previously occupied by Shouma and Kanba.

      An interesting thing to do, is to look at how Tabuki, Ringo, and Masako’s respective living quarters reflect their outlook/living situation. Perhaps for another post.

      Thank you so much for the comment. Perhaps our re-watch will inspire you to look at it again as well. ^ ^

  4. I always loved the detail put into the setting in Penguindrum (really I love the entire show’s art direction), the Takakura’s house especially, yet somehow I never noticed that the princess of the crystal outfit looked like the mika-chan doll until you posted a picture of it, god you could draw so many different ideas from that alone.

    1. As I said in the first comment response, I would love to watch the entire series without subtitles and simply follow the visual direction. (As an aside, I did watch a few episodes without subs when the series was airing, simply because I was so hungry for each episode.)

      For me, the Mika-chan doll always represented the childhood dreams that Himari was not allowed an attempt to fulfill due to situations surrounding her family and her own frailness. It was only in going back that I noticed the similarities between Mika and Himari.

      Of note, I think it’s interesting that the Princess of the Crystal can only operate in a specific space. In a way, she saves Himari from death; however, once again, Himari’s actual desires remain contained and/or hidden. Mika comes with her own space, just as Himari comes with her own space, and both do not operate the same way outside of that specific habitat (until the cycle is broken at the end of the series).

      Thanks for commenting! ^ ^

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