“I love the word ‘fate.’ You know how they talk about ‘fated encounters.?’ Just one single encounter can completely change your life. Such special encounters are not coincidences. They’re definitely . . . fate. Of course, life is not all happy encounters. There are many painful, sad predicaments. It’s hard to accept that misfortunes beyond your control are fate. But I think sad and painful things happen for a reason. Nothing in this world is pointless. Because, I believe in fate.”
-Ringo Oginome, Mawaru Penguindrum, Episode 2
Ringo Oginome is a complex character, steeped in guilt, longing, love, and later, forgiveness. Her many facets make her not only tolerable within the scope of Mawaru Penguidrum, but wholly lovable, despite her introduction in the series’ second episode as the stalker of the Takakura brothers’ homeroom teacher.
She’s introduced with a grand speech about fate, rivaling the iconic opening monologue from Shouma Takakura in the series premiere and the equally passionate closing words of his brother Kanba that bookend the episode.
She’s also introduced with a toilet flush, stars wafting from the bowl like a lingering, undeniable stench.
“But you know, terrible food has value in a sense too. I mean, do you even remember the food we ate in that place? I can’t remember the taste of it at all. In that place, eating was just another task.”
– Twelve regarding Lisa’s burnt cooking, Terror in Resonance, episode five
Lisa Mishima is no cook. This does not deter her from a dogged attempt to make herself useful by providing Sphinx with sustenance. Food is often used as a shortcut for building an emotional connection with another person. If one wants to get to know someone better, they share a meal with them. If one wants to show how much they care about someone, they prepare a meal for them.
“We shouldn’t criticize a sincere attempt to find answers. Still, this is precisely the point where a kind of fatal mistake can be made. The layers of reality begin to be distorted. The place that was promised, you suddenly realize, has changed into something different from what you’re looking for.”
-Haruki Murakami, “Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche”
Three episodes into Terror in Resonance, you may be wondering what Lisa Mishima’s role in all of this is.
Humming to herself, she carefully tucks a worn, pink-covered notebook into her schoolbag. It brushes gently against the penguin cell-phone strap and last night’s homework. Boarding the train with her chattering friends, eating lunch as a group while one of them drones on endlessly about the cute guy she bumped into the other day, and stopping by the grocery store on her way home for necessary dinner ingredients, her thoughts are always occupied with one thing: her grand and creative plan to save her family. Everything she does, it’s all for her family.
Every night, he talks to ghosts. Of course, he knows that they’re not real, that the warm and affectionate light and delicious steam wafting from a bubbling pot on the stove top do not exist, yet he feels them. He wills them into his existence, and swears to carry out their bloody legacy in order to protect his sister. Following the night he accepted that envelope on the train, a last-ditch effort in order to keep the roof over their heads, his hands have become dirtier and dirtier. But no matter, as it’s all for his family, and his sister.