Episode 13: “It takes three years to grow peaches and chestnuts, eight for persimmons” OR “Rome wasn’t built in a day*.”- This the first slogan that ties in directly to its predecessor. The slogan appears at the 10th anniversary of the fictional Tokyo Sky Metro as seen above, with Double H presiding over the celebration. As they celebrate this monologue is said:
“However, there is something we must never forget. What we have lost may or may not have been restored. Systemic advancement toward convenience must not continue. Our actions must reflect our humanity. We must never again repeat such a tragedy.” -Female TV Announcer, Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 13
It is capped off by Masako calling in to the television station and saying that darkness and light must coexist. If they shine a bright light on everything, then darkness will surely strike back. This could be a prime example of how Masako sees the world: she’ll do what she can to protect the people she loves (although she isn’t willing to dirty herself as much as Kanba) but sees an overload of “good” or “bad” as an imbalance. This view is especially interesting when looking at it through the frame of reference that the attacks, and literature written on the attacks, give the series as a whole. The fact that she’s calling this thought in against the slogan’s backdrop of, to paraphrase, “it takes time to build something extraordinary” may also imply that both sides of humanity, positive and negative, will be required in order to have a thorough inspection of society and the ability to move beyond the attacks. I write much more on this social commentary aspect of this episode here.
*For a note on the translation of this proverb and why they chose to translate it as the latter phrase, please go over to 8thsin’s translation notes for this episode.
Episode 14: “It only takes one word to nip misconduct in the bud. We’re all in this together.”- Upon first viewing this episode, I thought that this slogan directly referenced Masako’s misconduct on the train, what with her attempt to attack Kanba at point blank range. Looking back, it’s evident that the one who is not conducting themselves properly is actually Kanba, not Masako. At this point, Masako is more than well aware of what Kanba is up to, joining the remnants of the terrorist organization in order to earn money towards paying for Sanetoshi’s medicine to give to Himari. In her own odd fashion, Masako does truly love Kanba, and sees him teetering on the edge of a precipice. She knows that if Kanba falls completely, he’ll never be able to get back up. First, she offers him the money for Himari’s medicine, which he turns down, saying that he’d never take the Natsume clan’s money. It’s this episode specifically that makes me think that we haven’t fully seen what Kanba and Masako’s relationship to each other is. The “we’re all in this together” tacked on at the end implies that the two may end up in the same figurative place; there are certainly large parallels between their characters, since both are working hard to rescue a family member. We still don’t know how Masako paid the price to save Mario, however, perhaps she already sees herself as too far gone and doesn’t want to see Kanba go down the same path that she had to.
Episode 15: “Don’t play with straps.”- This is very tongue-in-cheek slogan, as it is in the same episode where we see Yuri place Ringo in a kikkou shibari with the presumption that she is going to take advantage of Ringo sexually. It’s still up for interpretation as to why Yuri ultimately decided not to rape Ringo (some have suggested that she never intended to, others that Masako’s interruption ruined things, and others that Ringo simply wasn’t “good enough” to become Momoka in Yuri’s eyes). “Don’t play with straps” would suggest that by attempting to rape Ringo, Yuri is already in over her head, since she is playing at something with dangerous repercussions.
Episode 16: “Faith will move mountains.”- Another maligned comedy episode, like Episode Four, Episode 16 focuses on Masako almost entirely. At the appearance of the slogan; however, our attention is focused on Ringo and Shouma as they travel in the train together. Ringo says that she will continue to pursue Shouma, in spite of his expressing that it’s impossible. Cheekily adding that she’s his stalker after all, she says that she will be able to change “their fate” which Shouma has set as them being apart. This cuts away to Masako, staring into the fireplace and remarking on how hard it is to change one’s fate. She remembers how her grandfather’s obsession with winner and losers had driven her father from the family. Towards the end of this episode, Masako rejects an implied proposal to join the remnants of the terrorist organization that apparently both Kanba and her father are still a part of. She strongly says that she’ll “never get on that train” and that she’ll save Mario herself. “Faith will move mountains” indeed. I love how this slogan reinforces the strength of both Ringo and Masako.
Episode 17: “Someone is targeting you.”- This slogan appears in the opening moments of this episode, where Kanba and Shouma discuss Masako and Yuri respectively, and share information with each other on who has what half of the diary. It appears to be fairly straightforward: the twins are being targeted for the sins of their parents. In turn, they have set their sights on Masako and Yuri, since they are the two that hold the pieces of the diary (which they have presumed is the illusive penguindrum). As it turns out, the true hunters of this episode are Yuri and Tabuki, whose marriage we now see as an alliance between two people who want to bring Momoka back. The true target is Himari, who has also been the target of the mysterious Goddess, bestowing punishment on the Takakura family.
Episode 18: “Hidden cameras strictly forbidden.”- The obvious tie-in with this slogan occurs when Tabuki throws multiple pictures at Kanba’s feet which uncover his shady dealings with the remnants of his father’s terrorist organization. On a broader scale, it alludes to things we keep hidden from others, that perhaps we never wanted them to see. Tabuki, when saved by Momoka from the Child Broiler, is saved because of his piano playing, which he hadn’t wanted anyone to hear, since it in his words, “wasn’t perfect.” Momoka debunks this with the cheesy line that she heard his heart (something that he may not have wanted to share) in his playing. In addition to this, the slogan is reinforcing that someone will always have an eye on the Takakuras because of their parents’ involvement in the terrorist attacks (possibly also alluding to the Japanese Public Security Investigation Agency’s monitoring of their real-life counterpart, Aum Shinrikyo, and their subsequent remnants, renamed Aleph).
Upon reviewing this last set of train slogans, I’ve found that I have less and less to say in regards to how they may be related to the series, other than the most obvious answers. This is more than likely due to the fact that these slogans will take on a greater meaning nearer towards the series’s completion. Thinking back on Revolutionary Girl Utena, it was near impossible to figure out all of the nuanced wit that the Shadow Girls were trying to impart on the viewer. Only after repeated viewings can one grasp the larger, overarching meanings.
That being said, even if some of these interpretations turn out to be wrong, hopefully these posts will serve as a bit of a database of the slogans for viewers to come back to when the series ends. Thanks for reading!