Apple is arguably the most symbolic fruit in history. It’s no wonder why Mawaru Penguindrum heavily uses this fruit to symbolize salvation and humanity. The apple acquired symbolic significance because it is one of the oldest fruits gathered by man. For so many of years, these fruits have been linked with tales, stories and myths of love, sensuality, fertility, and temptation especially in the case of the red apple. And in most cases, this fruit appeared in many religious traditions of then being portrayed as a forbidden or mystical fruit.
As what Mawaru Penguindrum always addresses, one of the key symbolisms of apple on this series is the wheel of fate. This fruit’s spherical shape was occasionally interpreted as a symbol of eternity. As of now, we have no idea whether the Kiga apple brings perpetual salvation or everlasting misfortune; however as exemplified by Momoka’s fate, we do know that there’s always going to be a sacrificial lamb (the one below the wheel) in order to reverse one’s fate (the one above the wheel).
Further, an apple is highly regarded as a sensual fruit. The meaning perceived behind it depends on who the holder, the giver, and the receiver is. For instance, apple in the hand of a woman creates an emotive valence because of the recognition of the apple’s emblematic function. As we know, the most regarded among the myths that surrounds this fruit’s figurative representation is the Christian symbolism of temptation. This fall from grace was deeply blamed on the woman because Eve was the one who took the apple from the forbidden tree of knowledge and gave it to Adam.
If we’re going to examine Himari, she’s always being blamed for the reason that we yet to know. Further, when she refused to kiss Sanetoshi, she fell from the darkness together with an apple which was highly suggestive of she chose suffering and death because to live simply means to suffer and eventually die. Plus most of all, sharing the fruit of fate allegorically leads to the path of an anguish life.
Aside from this, it was said that cutting an apple horizontally in half would show a perfect five-pointed star, the pentagram, a key to the occult sciences which reveals the secret of the knowledge of good and evil—which goes back again to Eve’s legend. On the other hand, cutting an apple vertically in half would reveal the astonishing detail of the female genital. Hence, since this show vastly uses sex as a metaphor, we can say that as a whole, apple can be symbolic of the entirety of Himari’s persona—as Himari Takakura and the Penguinhatter.
On the contrary, if an apple is in the hands of a man, it is signified as knowledge and deliverance. Say for instance, an apple in the hand of Christ symbolized the salvation from Original Sin that came about from the fall. And, apples on a Christmas Tree signifies the return of humanity to Eden brought about by Christ.
The recent episode revealed that Shouma was the one who chose Himari to be part of the Takakura family. He saved her from being dumped into the child broiler which was symbolically initiated by handing Himari the Kiga apple.
With four episodes left, it’s so intriguing what actually these apples are for. Is it the fruit of salvation or tragedy? I really find it hard to speculate because there seemed to be an opposing balance existing between these symbolisms that envelope the Kiga apple. Also, just when we thought we already have a clear sense of direction, all of a sudden this series would give a prickly twist that will refute our thoughts. But overall, I’m truly enjoying this series.
Previous Posts on Mawaru Penguindrum:
I can sum up this entire series in one comparison: Puella Magi Madoka Magica; extended edition. I think my dear SnippeTee can easily figure out how I came to this comparison.
Indeed and ditto, the first anime that I can think of in comparison to Penguindrum is Madoka. However this series has more elements which gives it more horizons to explore on.
That’s right milady. I haven’t seen Steins;Gate yet but for now, these two shows have been the two most psychologically analyzed by animeniacs that I can think of in 2011. You are the best example I can think of right now. That shows just how much you’re enjoying this series and are in the right to be doing so.
The apples have been appearing so frequently that I figured there was obviously some symbolism involved and it all became clear when kid Shoma asked baby Himari about Adam and Eve.
The symbolisms behind the apples are quite obvious, but the interesting part is who’s going to execute the symbolisms behind them. For some reason, I wasn’t surprise with the Shouma apple-twist, but I like it though. I was also intrigued what’s forbidden with Shouma and Himari and why they were regarded as Adam and Eve.
The apples are certainly one of the more visible and repeated symbols throughout the series, so it will be interesting to see if finally clarified and resolved in the next few episodes. But whenever I think about apples in Penguindrum, I always think about Ringo (whose name translates to apple). The connection between the two isn’t nearly as obvious as when they are separate but it wasn’t by accident she was named that. And she is connected to Momoka’s diary (what I think is the single most important and central element in all Penguindrum), so I see something crucial happening to her sometime soon. Exactly what, I’m not sure but with all this apple symbolism around, I figure Ringo will play a part in it sometime soon. What do you think about the Ringo/apple symbolism connection or if it even exists?
To be honest I overlooked Ringo while writing this post. But just like you, I believe she will play an integral role, I think she’s going to be a vessel for something–can be of Momoka’s soul or the penguindrum–but I’m not too sure. As for what she symbolizes or her connection with an apple, I think she can be represented as a fruit (a product of something) and I think she is the only one who can perform the magic/spell of the diary. Also, she has the tendency to be overly obsess, so perhaps whatever she’s going to do (or sacrifice) will be highly connected to Shouma.
I really find it hard to speculate, I’m really clueless on what’s going to happen next.
Shouma’s (a male) handing Himari (a female) the apple isn’t necessarily a good thing. Looking at it from a different perspective, Himari wouldn’t have to suffer through the anguish and punishment of being a Takakura child, a child of a wanted terrorist family suffering a punishment that by birthright she is not owed.
Taking into consideration what you say about the apple, there are a few other connotations. For one, result of “eating the apple,” the fall of man, can be seen in two different ways: one, it can be seen as a curse for eating the apple as man is doomed to harsh physical labor to survive and woman is doomed to the harsh, painful labor of childbirth. Two, these “punishments” can also be prescriptive, a way for God to outline a plan for humanity to survive, by working and bearing children, the most base of “survival strategies.”
In addition to this, there are also the words from Night on the Galactic Railroad that are addressed in the first episode, with the apple as a symbol for those who “choose love over all else” as the two children tell us in a transition scene. Shouma’s symbolic handing of the apple to Himari could possibly represent his choice to care about her and get to know her (much like Giovanni in Night on the Galactic Railroad was taught through his journey to love and care about others in order to continue/remember his friendship with Campanella, his friend who drowned).
Anyway, excellent post! As always, there’s a lot to think about and I especially love what you brought up about the sexual suggestiveness of the apple and how it relates to the penguinhat/Princess. Very interesting…
I agree that Shouma giving the apple to Himari isn’t necessarily a good thing. However, I’m thinking what he did is much better than letting Himari go to the child broiler because it’s better that Himari experienced how to live instead of just disappearing like that. In other words, what he did is just the irony of humanity. People like to live long, wherein fact long life simply means prolonging the agony, but yet we still want to believe that life is good.
That’s a very nice explanation of surival strategy. I was also thinking of bearing children because HImari told Sanetoshi that she’s wants the fruit not just the kiss. But, Sanetoshi said that the one being chased will never give the fruit to the chaser, that’s why I just rejected my thoughts that Himari is going to bear a child, although just like you, I think that’s are the most logical way on thinking about survival strategy.
I haven’t seen Night on the Galactic Railroad, tbh I’m just relying on your Mawaru Penguindrum posts to get an idea on what that show is all about. I truly agree that Shouma really cares for Himari that’s why he gave her the apple. However, I don’t think that he “loves” Himari the same way as Kanba which is why I’m doubting the essence of Shouma being Himari’s soulmate. Perhaps just like what you said the Apple that Shouma is handing to Himari is just Campanella’s friendship to Giovanni.
The sexual suggestiveness of the apple really made me wonder because of all the dualisms that we’re seeing on this show.
Btw, thank you, ajthefourth, for your insights. I think you explained the symbolism of the apple more elaborated than my post.
Apples or no apples, I am still terribly lost as to what exactly is happening. I get the Adam and Eve references, but I don’t recall anyone actually biting into an apple yet, so has anyone committed a sin yet?
Also, I wish the penguinhat would come back, I miss seizon senryaku.
I also have no idea what will happen next, like I’m really clueless but in a very very good way because it’s one of those anime that you think you know, but you you have no idea.
Actually somebody already ate the apple. Remember, Ringo cooked an apple curry and gave it to Tabuki. Plus, Himari and Ringo also used apples when they cooked at the Takakuras. Btw, same here. I really miss the penguinhatter I felt weird when I heard Kamba’s father yelled “Seizon Senryaku.”
This! This! I’m just having an headache trying to follow Penguindrum recently…:P
If I remember what that kid said in episode 1 correctly:
“The apple is the universe itself!”
And well, in Mawaru Penguindrum, it may very well be. I honestly didn’t expect them to use the Adam and Eve story, since I though it would be too much, but I think they played it out alright. I do however wonder if all the apples (save for those in curry) are the same; the “fruit of fate” that Shouma, and apprently, Kanba and Masako had as well, and Sanetoshi’s apples-turned-ampules.
Yes, the apple as the universe… from what I read that particular scene is a reference to the Night on the Galactic Railroad. As explained by AJTheFourth is about the significance of friendship and I guess allowing a special person to experience “life” (for more comprehensive explanation about that, visit this blog: http://altairandvega.wordpress.com/ their Mawaru Penguindrum post are so well-thought out)
I don’t think all the apples pertain into one thing. I believe the meaning emanated differently and depends on who holds the apple. That being said, I’m still wondering what’s the connection between apple and peach–Momoka was symbolized by a peach and not apple… however she’s also one of the victims of fate and like Shouma she also saved a child from being dumped into the broiler.
Ephemeral Dreamer said:
Great post! I feel like eating an apple now. ^_^
Here’s an interesting fact that my religion professor told me about the other day while we were discussing Greek classics and myths: It’s actually quite hard to identify apples in myths, folk tales, and religion. The word “apple” was a generic term for all foreign fruits and was used as late as the 17th century. (Check out the 3rd definition for “apple” on dictionary.com; it’s quite intriguing!)
For instance, it is never defined precisely what fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Book of Genesis, and it may not even be an apple (some have contended it as a pear, a fig, or a pomegranate). Popular Christian tradition held that it was an apple, and that may have been influenced by Renaissance artists who painted elements of Greek mythology (the golden apple) into biblical scenes.
To be honest, I was eating apples when I wrote this post. ^^
Thanks for the very interesting info about apples. Just to add, I read that the first translators of the Old testament into Latin overgeneralized the fruits in Paradise and concluded that there’s only one fruit which had to be the apples. Until overtime, apple became the fruit of fruits.
Thing about all of this is. The director is known for leaving things unanswered. He’s the type to let you make your own conclusions to the end of this . There are also so many references to what he did with Utena. And when I saw you said that you refused to watch it, I was kind of on that ‘say whaaaat?’ mode xD just because with him, you have to look deeper if you want some answers. There is no ‘ you’re looking for whats not there’ We know its there because of his previous work aka Utena. Which was heavy on symbolism and breaking gender roles. To sex and rape. To random clues in the show trying to explain whats going on. So I’m not surprised with the apple references and the whole train ad things ( and everything on here is a spoiler, I’m currently watching the show) But I was curious.
Lol, it’s true that I initially ignored this anime. I wasn’t familiar with Ikuhara (in fact, I watched Utena after I finished Penguindrum) and the artwork of the Takakura’s house looked messy–I know, I’m very shallow. ^^
Btw, as much as I wanted to comment, I really don’t want to spoil you if you haven’t finished the anime yet. But I’m really glad that you stopped by to see what I posted, also I think I wrote this post as of episode 16. There’s some hit and missed with my explanation of apples in regards to Penguindrum.
Thanks for sharing your insights and hope you enjoy finishing this lovely series.
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