takuya igarashi

Introducing Ringo Oginome — Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 2

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“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.

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Bungou Stray Dogs and Takuya Igarashi’s Visual Comedy

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It’s been a short while since we’ve seen Takuya Igarashi and Yoji Enokido together. The last time they teamed up as director and series composer/screenwriter respectively was 2014 Spring’s Captain Earth. Prior to that, the two worked together on Star Driver. Captain Earth started off strong — especially when it came to visuals and cinematography — but lacked Star Driver‘s self-awareness and over-the-top silliness while telling a similar story of adolescence and robots.

In fact, as a director and writer team, Igarashi and Enokido often seem more at home with comedic moments,  or combining over-the-top comedy with a few poignant emotional narratives, than he does when attempting something wholly serious.

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Visual Storytelling in Captain Earth

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Captain Earth reunites two Sailor Moon veterans, Takuya Igarashi and Yoji Enokido, with the former overseeing the series’ direction and the latter the series’ composer. Both are well-known names hailing from the “Kunihiko Ikuhara tree,” Ikuhara having had a hand in Sailor Moon‘s direction since the first season before leaving following Sailor Moon SuperS in 1996 to direct Revolutionary Girl Utena in 1997. Igarashi stayed on with Toei Animation to direct the final, and my personal favorite, season of Sailor Moon: SailorStars, while Enokido wrote Revolutionary Girl Utena, which was directed by Ikuhara.  Igarashi and Enokido were reunited in 2006 by Ouran High School Host Club, and most recently, the two worked on Star Driver, again as director and series composer respectively.

As their latest offering, Captain Earth has trappings of series past, in addition to leaning heavily on repetition to provide a narrative framework for protagonist Daichi Manatsu. It reeks of Igarashi, Enokido, and Ikuhara in style. Additionally, the series is dripping with sexuality.

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