I’ve become absolutely fascinated with Mawaru Penguindrum’s symbolisms in the last couple of days I just had to analyze what is going on. If you haven’t seen Mawaru Penguindrum then this analysis won’t make any sense. Spoilers ahead.
Personal love creates more love. Systemic love destroys.
To supplement my analysis I made a graph of important relations, I know it’s small but zooming in works.
Here’s the summary from above:
People suffer from emotional abandonment by their families (child broiler) and do not feel loved or worthy of life (they wither and die as nobodies). The anime proposes two methods of fixing this through Momoka or Sanetoshi...
Momoka is the anthropomorphization of kindness. While one can accomplish one’s will through Momoka, only she is affected (burned or cut), and it is difficult to use her. She can change fate using her Diary, The Diary represents Momoka’s ability to serialize thoughts and feelings and to profoundly reflect on them. This ability is the source Momoka’s kind spirit, but also the source of her self-inflicted damage as it requires her to come to terms with all her flaws and wrongdoings.
Sanetoshi represents destruction, and while Sanetoshi can make one accomplish one’s will quite easily (e.g. the medicine), it comes at a price to others (e.g. increasing money requirement) and spreads to the user (Kanba). Unlike Momoka, Sanetoshi does not want you to reflect, and is instead blindly fueled by passion (The Doctor eating with Sanetoshi, Kenzan’s expedition with Sanetoshi). Sanetoshi may tempt one with kindness (giving the Penguin Hat to Himari). Sanetoshi lurks within the regrets and negative memories within us all (Hole in the Sky Library).
The Takakura parents attempt to fix the problem via the penguin ideology (one must be loyal to one’s family to avoid abandonment, inferred from the penguin corporation and the symbolic significance of penguins), ironically causing the abandonment of some of their own children (Himari, Mario). They are in essence possessed and seduced by Sanetoshi.
Momoka attempts to better the world by using religion and introspection (Prays to Kami-sama, diary) and affecting and saving only individuals by recognizing their humanity (Yuri, Keiju). While Momoka is weak, she does not harm others by changing people’s fates. The Takakura ideology effectively kills her in 1995.
Born on Momoka’s death, they are likely reincarnations of Momoka. The penguins Esmeralda, 1., 2., and 3. are references to Momoka who split into two Penguin hats via the curse of Sanetoshi.
The effects of the death of kindness (Momoka) negatively affects others to attempt to falsely rekindle it: Yuri’s rape of Ringo in an attempt to bring back Momoka, Ringo’s stalking of Keiju in an attempt to make Momoka’s desires come true, Keiju’s false love of Yuri as a replacement for Momoka. Yuri’s attempt to steal Momoka’s Diary so she can change fate. All these mannerisms are simply harmful and cause more pain and suffering.
One can not fix the emotional problems of humanity by being ideologically possessed like the Takakura parents are. In fact, this destroys the healing force of love and kindness (Death of Momoka via the 1995 attack), in addition to leaving the self and one’s family and acquaintances empty and guilty (Kanba, Shoma, Himari). The cult of Kenzan and Chiemi Takakura is a systemic, machine/corporation-like entity that intends to solve the problem, but because it is systemic, it fails. Instead it appeals to more destructive forces as represented by Sanetoshi.
To properly save humanity - the anime implies -, one must follow Momoka: introspection, self-reflection, openness, and sacrifice are required to understand and improve yourself and those around you, however painful it may be to oneself. In the end, Momoka triumphs as she’s seen leaving Sanetoshi on the train tracks while she wanders away. Nonetheless, Sanetoshi states that he is ever-present and waiting for an opportunity.
When Himari visits her regrets, she meets Sanetoshi and acquires a Penguin Hat. Sanetoshi attempts to kiss her, but Himari denies him, indicating that she is not tempted by contempt, anger, or a desire for destruction.
Kanba is tempted by Sanetoshi and becomes filled with the Penguin ideology. When Himari exposes herself to him (being naked), his ideology bleeds out, and Kanba surrenders to Momoka.
Shoma assumes Ringo’s burden and withers in flames.
Finally we see the Himari and Ringo, and the two brothers separated. Walking different paths, with Himari and Ringo apparently healthy. Mario, Yuri, and Keiju also appear fine. Indicating the cyclic nature of the Penguindrum, and that Mario and Himari have been healed.
Thus, two Penguindrums were created from one by means of sacrifice.
Do Shoma and Kanba die? No. Their penguins still exist, and they have now given away their love to others. They must now seek it to keep themselves alive. The fact that Himari does not remember them is reminiscent of the brothers being her old friends whom she has almost forgotten.