Thinking Inside the Box: A Game of Destiny in Mawaru Penguindrum

mawaru penguindrum nico takakura himari takakura kanba takakura shoma

Mawaru Penguindrum, with its clear attention to fashion and a fairytale-like story, has easily captured my inner little girl. Inherent in fairytales is the idea of destiny—the princess is destined to meet the prince and live happily ever after… etc. etc.

Mawaru Penguindrum Ringo fantasy princess train

Penguindrum certainly throws fate around a lot as well. For example, in a recent episode, the ever charming Ringo is fixated—perhaps too much so—on executing a perfect storybook romance. Ringo obsessively wants to believe that her diary is a map of destiny On the other hand, Kanba questions whether such a deterministic scheme—perhaps our instincts, DNA, survival strategy… god—exists, and is prepared to rebel against it. Even Penguinhat-Himari claims to have come from the destination of their fates.

Mawaru Penguindrum Ringo diary

So, when Penguinhat-Himari orders the Kanba and Shoma to locate Ringo because she probably has the Penguindrum, the twins (and we) are faced with all these dilemmas: if Penguinhat-Himari can so accurately predict when Ringo will be on the train, is she, then, really from the twin’s destinies? If so, why does she seem not to know much about Penguindrum? What does her lack of knowledge and her claimed existence say about the twin’s future success in obtaining Penguindrum?

As Shoma aptly puts it, survival strategy is like a vicious game set up by god.

Mawaru Penguindrum Himari cow milk drink

With games in mind, let us play a quick thinking game. [1]

Pretend we have a predictor whose predictions are almost certainly correct; she has demonstrated her abilities reliably thus far on all occasions. The predictor presents us with two boxes: a transparent box A and an opaque box B. Visible to us in box A is, say, a one-thousand dollar bill. And hidden inside box B can either be nothing or a million dollars. We can either take both boxes or just box B.

Ahead of time, the potentially infallible predictor makes her prediction of our choice. If the predictor predicts that we take both boxes, then box B will contain nothing. On the other hand, if the predictor predicts that we take only box B, then box B will contain a million dollars. The contents of the boxes are thus already determined before the game starts, and our choice will no longer directly affect the contents of the box. [2]

Prediction Choice Outcome
A + B A + B $1000
A + B B $0
B A + B $1001000
B B $1000000

Would you take both boxes or just box B?

Mawaru Penguindrum Himari penguin hat

If we were to abstract the game a bit, the predictor may be wearing a penguin hat, and our choices may be whether to struggle against the predicted, possibly almost-certain (but not necessarily so) destiny. If we accept fate’s infallibility, we might get just what we want, or merely something relatively inconsequential. But, if we fight against it, we might end up with nothing, or just maybe the grandest prize of them all.

Mawaru Penguindrum Kamba Shoma fight

The characters Penguindrum harbor a very simple mindset: if there is destiny, then their actions and the outcomes may be predetermined, but even so, they will fight against it for what they want. But should they really be doing that? Can they? [3]

Mawaru Penguindrum Himari transformation

In our little game, there is equivalence between future events and past events. Free will is somehow compatible with determinism. Kanba and Shoma’s actions in the future may affect what has happened in the past. That is, however, if Penguinhat-Himari does indeed come from the end of their fates.


  1. Mawaru Penguindrum has some elements reminiscent of variety game shows, especially during those illusion scenes
    Mawaru Penguindrum Kamba trapdoor
  2. This problem is the Newcomb’s paradox.
  3. If we were to assume Ringo’s diary is not her own, then she might similarly be in a game, in which she has to decide whether to put faith in destiny or take a spin at the wheels of fate.
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54 Responses to Thinking Inside the Box: A Game of Destiny in Mawaru Penguindrum

  1. Overlord-G says:

    I’ll sum up my thoughts based on observation:
    -The twins remind me of Drake and Josh.
    -Himari is adorable.
    -The Penguin Hatter is also adorable and weird, but a genius as well with her deity diva attitude. Somebody tell me the cow bell was epic.
    -Ringo is the funniest stalker ever, though predictably annoying towards “Josh”. Personally I DON’T want to see Ringo and “Josh” get together because it’s both predictable and stupid.

    As for the randomness and nonsense…it’s like this show was made specifically with yours truly in mind for I embrace madness…though I do expect this show to have a conclusion of sorts because I can easily imagine the backlash if it doesn’t have one.

    • Yi says:

      Thanks for a summary of your observations! Totally agreed that everyone in super adorable. Love Ringo! She strives so hard and is so deeply in love. It’s really cute.

      Not too familiar with Drake and Josh though.

      I don’t find Penguindrum random or nonsensical at all. To me, there’s a very clear and loud direction. The story and everything else–symbolism, characters, sexuality, eg.–are all very calculated, much like Ringo’s diary has a plan or the trains have a route. I don’t know how it will end though, but I do think it’s not just throwing random stuff at us, nor does it feel like it is.

      As a minor aside, I had spent like 5 hours looking up Newcomb’s paradox, making sure I didn’t remember it wrong or misunderstand it, smoothing out how it applies to Penguindrum in my head, rewatching scenes, wording this piece, and publishing it. Any thoughts on the post?

  2. seinime says:

    Mmm…Newcomb. Learned something new today.

    So putting it in abstract…means that A and B are now both respectively fate/destiny (predetermination) and free will/volition. If one’s fate is already determined by an omniscient being, would it be better to fight against it or accept it altogether?

    From one perspective, viewing it as Newcomb’s paradox leads to different conflicting conclusions, with one side being to do both, to accept it and fight against it, leading to the result that we might not get anything at all (0) than if we had simply accepted fate (1000000). However, there’s also a chance that our actions can influence the outcome, changing fate (1001000), since the prediction leaves a margin of error.

    From a personal perspective, I would choose A+B, since we’re talking about theory, there’s also the chance of cause and effect. One’s actions in the past have a chance to affect the future (something like a domino/butterfly effect).

    >has not thought in a while
    >thinking too deeply

    Now the way you put it makes me want to watch this show despite its appearance.

    • Yi says:

      Hm… That’s an interesting to look at it. I didn’t think there necessarily needs to be a trade-off between determinism and free-will. In Newcomb’s paradox, both are defined into the scheme. We have a choice (free-will), but there is also determinism (almost-certain predictions).

      The question still remains though. Do we want to risk going against fate? Our choice is highly–if not entirely–influenced by our trust in the predictor. The predictor is presented as almost certainly, and has never been proven wrong before. What’s even more interesting is that if the predictor is indeed omniscient, then our choice in the future not only influences the outcome, but influences the past/ the prediction/ the contents of the box too, since the prediction and the contents are determined ahead of time. So this isn’t just a question of causal chains. A form of reverse causation is also in effect. (That is, of course, if the predictor is correct.)

      Personally, when I was first presented with the problem, I also chose A+B. I think it might be because I’m a prudent person, and with that choice, I will also get at least something. But if we were to apply it to Kamba and Shoma in our abstraction of the paradox, perhaps just box A will not be enough.

      It’s a gamble either way, I guess.

      Anyway, thank you so much for reading and for the lovely comment! ^ ^

      • Seinime says:

        I give a comment where it’s due, haha. Hard to find “good” episodic blogs…more posts like this please. 🙂

        Regarding the topic in hand though, “I had spent like 5 hours looking up Newcomb’s paradox”, nice. I’m more of a visual learner, so I tried looking up videos to no avail.

        Still think I need to research more, but as long as there is an “almost” and the experience of having never met the predictor before, we won’t be able to tell how accurate she is, even if facts are presented, there’s always a seed of doubt that’s planted within us. However, seeing as the predictor is almost always correct, our actions may have no influence at all, since the predictor has put that factor into the prediction as well. Perhaps box B, succumbing to fate, would be a better choice in the end.

        Watching the first few episodes however proved to be very intriguing. My first take would be that the extension of Himari’s life has already been a change in fate’s strings. And Ringo’s stalking (for now) being “fate” just seems silly. She doesn’t have to. There’s more episodes to go though, so my opinion might change.

        Now I want to look a bit into the Moirae now…

        • Yi says:

          Thanks Seinime! That really means a lot. ^ ^

          Anyway, the 5 hours included writing the post out and everything, but it still took a lot of time to work out exactly what I wanted to say. And even then, some things are still kind of clunky I think.

          You raise a very very good point. The predictor in the question is, for our purposes, almost completely untrustworthy, because she’s a mere hypothetical. Without actually showing us her abilities, we can’t really believe in her just because we’ve been told she has demonstrated accurate predictions. With that said, yea, I think if I actually faced a situation like this in real life, and not just hypothetically, “almost-certainty” may be enough for me to choose box B only.

          Agreed with what you said about Penguindrum and Ringo. If Ringo really believes in fate like she claims to, she should take comfort in just letting things happen. It should match the diary regardless. That she’s struggling so hard to force herself into the diary’s events may actually be her rebellion against fate.

          Ooh Moirae. How interesting. Looking them up now. ^ ^

        • Seinime says:

          Writing up a post inspired by this as we speak!

        • Yi says:

          Ooh looking forward to it!

  3. Ryan A says:

    Great thoughts, and I see where you’re coming from with the way things have moved from the second episode. I jotted some quick ideas after episode two about the idea of factions between the twins and Ringo, taking different (maybe opposing) perspectives on fate and destiny. Through the third and fourth episodes I think it’s become clear that Ringo does not have an outright advantage despite having the diary (the script). In my opinion, it’s apparent she is part of game now, assimilated by the Penguinhat, but playing an interesting role. If the diary were fiction, I would call Ringo a narrator, but it’s more complicated than that; she is siding with the predictor to the benefit of her heart. Yet I feel a future conflict Ringo may face is if the twins discover more about the diary, especially if they find the diary also concerns their destinies.

    It’s peculiar. I happened to watch Stranger Then Fiction the other night, and found an interesting question regarding an individual awareness of destiny: if your life was narrated to an exact demise, what measure of contradicting fate would you attempt in order to endure? It is a struggle, and at this point, I’m thinking these characters in Penguindrum have little hope at shaping their destiny, but derailing Fate, surely more fathomable.

    As an aside, how do you feel about the idle argument in Penguindrum, with relation to Newcomb’s paradox? I don’t see it in play among these groups, although it could be argued the twins, going by Penguinhat’s orders, are not exactly having a go. It will be interesting to see which other players appear along the way, esp. in the framing of this paradox.


    • Yi says:

      Ringo presents a very interesting contrast to Kamba, especially once we consider that she came upon the already scripted diary. And I do believe she’s part of the game. She, much like Kamba and Shoma, has to choose whether to follow and see the prediction through, and I think she’s definitely a “B only” girl.

      Agreed. Conflict should arise when the twins find the script, especially because Kamba has the near opposite mindset. And depending on what is outlined about Himari in the diary, the twins might have even more incentive to go against what’s written and what Ringo wishes for.

      “if your life was narrated to an exact demise, what measure of contradicting fate would you attempt in order to endure?”
      Ooh interesting! It is a struggle for sure. In the end, I think how much we will rebel or react to fate (or really to anything) depends on where we stand and what we have to gain/lose. It’s interesting because looking at some of the other comments, the justification for their choices often comes down to the pay out.

      So glad you mentioned the idle argument! I’d actually think there’s a slight difference between Kamba and Shoma’s attitudes. I can see Kamba, as the more aggressive one, rejecting it while Shoma accepting it. I think without Kamba, Shoma might not have acted on anything, and preferred for things to just play out however. But it’s all in the interpretation. ^ ^

      Cheers, Ry!

  4. Ryo_kun says:

    I’d take box A and B coz whatever the prediction is, I’ll still get money one way or another since the success rate for choosing box B is 50/50. Anyways, they’re probably some other people that knows about the Penguin Drum and is hunting for it too. This may also explain why the girl was pushed while she’s on her way down the subway, assuming that she has knowledge about the Penguin Drum.

    • Yi says:

      That’s one way to look at it, and a very valid way. However, playing the devil’s advocate, we actually don’t know if it’s 50/50. The predictor has shown an almost certainty in her predictions. If we calculate expected value, it might be more tempting to choose only B. With that said, when I first saw this, I chose A and B as well, because I’m kind of prudent I guess.

      I’m very curious about what that push was all about and who the orange drill hair, black stockings girl and the pink hair guy in the OP are. They might be hunting for the Penguindrum too. I feel like I’m about to unload massive amounts of unsupported speculations, so I’ll stop here. ^ ^

  5. Jeffrey Goh says:

    Whether or not destiny governs what we do in our lives is entirely up to us. As many have said before, we shape our own destiny. It is whether or not we choose to let time take it’s tool or change it that makes us who we are. At the end of the day, we will have to think carefully of the consequences of our actions before we make a decision.

    I knew I should have studied better for my mid-terms… T.T

    • Jeffrey Goh says:

      Why did I forget to subscribe to follow up comments again?!

    • Yi says:

      There’s a related argument to Newcomb’s paradox: the idle argument. Basically it goes something like, if our destinies are already shaped, then why do we do anything. For example, if you know for sure what your grade is going to be on your next exam, is there a point in studying? It may feel like you don’t have to, but maybe it’s because you will study that you got that grade. Anyway, it is possible that we shape our own destinies, even if it is predetermined.

      Anyway, agreed that none of this really matters. We still have to take consequence of our actions or inactions.

      Anyway, good luck on the exam, Jeffrey!! ^ ^

  6. feal87 says:

    I don’t think there’s a big reason behind the diary predictions.
    They are accurate predictions (everything till now happened), but they do not give all the details making Ringo think wrongly about it. That’s all! 😛

    I’m more interested in the real form of the penguindrum at the moment… (as I’m doubtful is the diary)

    • Yi says:

      Hm… Yea there might not be a big reason behind the diary predictions. But the mere fact that they’ve been super accurate thus far is, in itself, fascinating, isn’t it? It sort of implies that there is fate in this world. And what’s even more interesting is that if Ringo so strongly believes the diary is about her, why should she need to struggle to match its events? If she believes in fate, then she should take comfort in letting things happen.

      Anyway, ranted on a bit there, but yea. ^ ^

      I’m very curious about the real form of penguindrum too. My sneaking suspicion is that it is the diary, but maybe that’s a little too obvious to be right.

  7. Swordwind says:

    Because I haven’t seen this episode, I’m having trouble divining the connection between some of the points that you make….sorry~

    While I like thinking about destiny in a romantic, optimistic way (You’ve reminded me of Carina Round’s “For Everything A Reason,” by the way), I don’t particularly care for the tragic interpretations where destiny is an active opponent to be fought. Maybe it makes me feel a little too powerless. That being said, I doubt an antagonistic fate would show you mercy for surrendering to it.

    Though, to be honest, I feel like whichever mage, or angel, or demon with the power to influence (determine?) portions of the past would be better served by doing something else. My solution would be to tell this being to pick up a healthier hobby than messing with people.

    • Yi says:

      Ah no problem. The post isn’t directly related to Penguindrum, I feel, as it is more just my thinking about fate and stuff.

      I think I’m with you on that perhaps our destiny isn’t something we should fight against, or for that matter, understand or accept. It’s an academic exercise, because we will never know if rebelling or going with something isn’t also part of the destiny. In either case, agreed that subscribing to the idea of fate does make me feel a bit powerless… or just listless about life.

      “Though, to be honest, I feel like whichever mage, or angel, or demon with the power to influence (determine?) portions of the past would be better served by doing something else. My solution would be to tell this being to pick up a healthier hobby than messing with people.
      Totally! And this is what I feel about many fundamentalist religion’s Gods.

      Cheers, Swordwind. ^ ^

      p.s. Really liked Carina Round’s For Everything A Reason.

      • Swordwind says:

        Oh, that’s a relief.

        The use of the word “listless” seems a bit like title drop~

        I’m glad you liked it.

        • Yi says:

          Haha, it wasn’t intended to be. ^ ^ In either case, title drop on my own blog is a bit pointless, isn’t it?

  8. hoshiko says:

    For me, Penguindrum made me question about the existence of fate and destiny. I’ve always believed in fighting for what I want, and I believe that if I am persistent enough it’ll eventually be mine. In other words, I don’t believe or I don’t want to believe in fate and destiny. But what Kamba (or is it Kanba? Googled it I found hits for both -_-) thought at the first episode is frightening in the sense that what I’ve been believing and doing all this time might worth nothing. It’s not like Ringo’s mindset is any different. She is following a list from a book she believes is fate. Basically, she believes our lives are already predetermined. That – to me – is scary.

    Anyways, I’m interested to see how things will turn out in Penguindrum. Will the twins and Ringo work together and fight this thing called fate? What does a penguin drum has to do with all this stuff? What is a penguin drum???

    • Yi says:

      It is a pretty scary thing to subscribe to a fatalistic worldview, isn’t it? With that said, would we change our behaviors if we do? Ringo is a good example of this. She believes so strongly in her destiny that she would strive to follow it. I don’t think free will and struggle is necessarily incompatible with destiny, but I do agree that it’s a scary thought to have everything already set. Also, I guess in some sense, all this talk of destiny is a pretty academic exercise.

      I’m also super interested to see how things will turn out in Penguindrum. And I really really want to know what the Penguindrum is.

      p.s. I think it is Kanba… I’ll probably be editing my posts to match that.

  9. Itachi says:

    I think that fate or destiny can be change if you put a little more effort just like Ringo. She really want to make all things in her diary happens. The only things that can’t be change is death. Not until you found cute penguin-hat in a gift shop returns someone life that is. XD
    I’m still curious about penguin drum too. Could it be the diary?

    • Yi says:

      The question I have though is that is Ringo changing her destiny, or is she fated to play into that role as scripted by the diary. I guess this is all a bit academic in that even if we believe in fate, we wouldn’t necessarily change our behavior or approach to life (unless we know exactly what that fate is). Anyway, I had at first guessed that the diary is the Penguindrum, and with the most recent episode (episode 05), that seems to maybe be the case. Still, it feels a little too obvious… Or perhaps not. I really don’t know.

  10. Justin says:

    Look, let’s just accept Ringo for who she really is–a stalker! And apparently likes older men^^

    I do wonder though, especially in what happened at the end of Ep 4, how much will fate dictate Penguindrum? I still wonder if they harped on it too much…

    • Yi says:

      Look, no one’s saying Ringo’s not a stalker here. ^ ^

      Anyway, they might have harped fate a bit much, but I’m loving it!

  11. jreding says:

    I don’t know much about physics but it seems to me that to current knowledge prediction without any uncertainty is impossible.
    However, I believe if you “only” want to predict the decision a human will take in a certain situation you can make reasonably good predictions because human behaviour is determined by a limited number of factors. Sales people know this. For all practical purposes, it think, our fate is largely predetermined. Sure it is a good thing to work hard for your goals but I believe in most cases an observer who knows you well can tell beforehand if you will put effort into something or not.
    Therefore, I also do not believe in the legal concept of guilt. Penal law imo should be about setting incentives not about punishing decisions, but this is just a sidenote.
    I thought about what I would do in your thinking game but only came to the conclusion that it isn’t called Newcomb’s paradox for no reason.
    Regarding Penguindrum, what bugs me is that Ringo tries so hard to enforce destiny. If it’s destiny it should take place even without her actively enforcing it, right? To me it seems that she actually interprets the diary not as saying: “Event X will take place.” but rather as saying: “If you try hard to make it possible, then event X will take place.” To me this sounds more like a promise (e.g. a religious belief or the American Dream) than like destiny.

    • Yi says:

      I think you’re right about true predictions being impossible in our world. (Uncertain principle, superposition … etc.)

      Interesting side note. There is a kind of deterministic feel to what you said. After all, our behaviors depend almost entirely on two things, the environment (as in what’s going on in the rest of the world externally) and ourselves. The environment is not something we can control. And ourselves are shaped by our DNA and our experiences, neither of which are controllable either, since our experiences are also largely dependent on our environment and our DNA. So yes, if there is someone who is extremely smart and knows you very very well, it is possible to accurately predict all your actions. As for the penal law thing, that’s an interesting thought. I don’t have an opinion on that right now.

      In the Paradox, if we were to replace the predictor with the extremely perceptive observer instead of a supernatural being, it becomes even harder to decide. Do we go for the big money by being unpredictable? But is our willingness to be unpredictable going to be predicted?

      Anyway, totally agreed with Ringo. I find it very fascinating that she both struggles so hard to make the diary events happen, yet believes deeply in fate. If she believes in fate in its totality, then things should happen regardless of anything, and without her having to act. (The idle argument.)

      There’s indeed a bit of an irony when she’s so: “If you try hard to make it possible, then event X will take place.”

      Thanks for the thoughts, jreding. ^ ^

  12. 2DT says:

    At your request, I played the game.

    I must admit, it didn’t seem like much of a “paradox” to me, because no matter which choice you make, taking Box A and B would inevitably give you some kind of payout. Seemed reasonable enough.

    But when I think about it (and that’s why it’s a “thought experiment,” right?), if you really believe in the power of the Predictor, then taking Box B would obviously be the better idea, because it’s 99.999% certain that you’re doing what was predicted, and that means you’ll get a million dollars, as opposed to picking both boxes, having that be true and only getting a grand.

    But even so, I hate being told what to do. 😉 I guess that makes me more like Kamba than Ringo.

    • Yi says:

      Thanks, 2DT. Hope you had fun, even though it’s neither a paradox nor a game~

      I’d take A+B as well, although for slightly different reasons. I’m a very prudent person, so I’d want to guarantee at least some payout.

      Love your reason for picking A+B! ^ ^
      Forget the predictor! Go big or go home, right?

      p.s. I think the paradox is referring to the problem’s implications on free will and determinism, and how the two are seemingly equivalent: my future choice is predetermined by my choice.

  13. necrocosmos says:

    If so, why does she seem not to know much about Penguindrum? What does her lack of knowledge and her claimed existence say about the twin’s future success in obtaining Penguindrum? – Yi
    Actually is not obvious how far her knowledge goes, its not said she dont know where punguindrum is. IF she know where punguindrum is, what she wants to achieve by pulling them in this game. On ohter hand i find it funny how Ringo stretch her “destiny” iwhen we compare diary and reality around her, funny to see how she deceive herself by each step. 😀

    • Yi says:

      I agree. It’s not at all obvious how much Crystal Princess. And I think the language used in Mawaru Penguindrum is left intentionally ambiguous so all we have are an idea and some speculations. It’s precisely because of that that I can write b.s. posts like these. Haha. ^ ^

      I agree. I love how much Ringo stretches her reality and delude herself into thinking the diary is about her. It’s also a bit sad… Poor Ringo. 😦

  14. Hmmm, I wish I had more to add regarding the Newcomb’s paradox theory, but I’m somewhat out my depth in this area, however fascinating it is.

    I do think there are too many variables in the game at the moment to form any logical conclusion on the twin’s success. I’m currently of the belief that the diary may be similar to/the same as the penguin-hat, i.e. a representation of personal fate, but one that can clash with others, leading to unintended results. If the opposing destinies of the hat and diary do intersect, will neither party get what they desire?

    I do enjoy the fact that both free will and determinism are included in the actions of both groups. By keeping directives vague, the technical points can be achieved but not necessarily the desired affects. This can obviously be seen with Ringo’s plans; all the instructions are seemingly predetermined, yet yield vastly different results to what is expected, if anything helping to ruin her ultimate mission completely. In a way the dairy is like a deal with the devil; everything you want, but in completely the wrong way. I’m not sure what that says about the brother’s chances; there are just too many random factors to consider.

    Personally in the game I would probably go with B, if choosing A+B would most likely yield $1000. I would aim for the greater amount based on the predictor/fate. In a more abstract scenario, such as the twin’s dilemma I’d be more reluctant with this clear choice. When the prize is more personal and dear to me than money/inanimate object, faith in predictions/fate alone may not be enough (I’d probably rebel against the set-notion of destiny, however seemingly infallible it is, but that’s just stubborn old me!).

    I think this what the twins are currently doing. They are following the set directive set out by the penguin-hat, but are also rebelling against the set nature of things. It’s not an equal trade-off, as free-will factors much more into their decisions than obeying the rules of fate. Personally, I’m beginning to see this as their best chance in gaining what they desire.

    • Yi says:

      Agreed that there’s way too many things going on (and not going on) for us to draw a definite conclusion about the twins’ future. As I said in my reply to necrocosmos above, it’s because of this uncertainty that I get to write speculative and overreaching b.s. like this post. Haha.

      Definitely agreed that both Princess of the Crystal and the diary are representations of personal fate. Similarly, Kanba and Ringo represents two very different approaches to fate as well, although there are some nuances. (i.e. Ringo, despite the claims to love fate, might actually be actively opposing it in her attempts to force the diary to be about her life when it seems to not at all be.)

      I think the most recent episode, episode 05, (minor spoilers ahead) does show the sort of clash you see. It’s a very interesting episode, and the outcome of the clash even more so!

      For a long time, I used to always think free will and determinism are incompatible in any situation, but I don’t think that’s true. And yes. Ringo and her interactions with the diary is a good example of this. The twins, by some stretch, may also be.

      I think my biggest point with this post and introducing Newcomb’s paradox is to explore free will vs. fate (or rather free will and fate). In having such a hypothetical situation, there is an equivalence drawn between our choice in the future and the determinants of our outcome in the past, and thus making the scenario incorporate both free will and fate. It’s very interesting, I think.

      I think you may be the first one in the comments to choose B, and with very good reasons. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if the payouts are changed from money to, say, someone I love’s life. I chose A+B because I want to guarantee at least $1000, but if the stakes are changed, I might have to choose B. Interestingly, a few people have also mentioned rebelling against the notion of destiny. Personally, I’m not interested in doing so unless I have a good enough incentive/ prize. I’m kind of lazy, haha. ^ ^

      “I think this what the twins are currently doing. They are following the set directive set out by the penguin-hat, but are also rebelling against the set nature of things. It’s not an equal trade-off, as free-will factors much more into their decisions than obeying the rules of fate.”
      Ooh, this is a really really good point! Well said. ^ ^

      Thanks, fathomlessblue!!

      My original guess was that the diary is the Penguindrum. Episode 5 seems to give some credence to this idea, although I still feel maybe it’s a bit too obvious and concrete a thing. In either case, definitely agreed that bo

  15. Snippett says:

    Since we know that we can gain something from the predictor by taking both boxes then I think it’s always better to choose box A+B than choosing just box B, where there’s a possibility that we can end up with nothing. Even though if we apply the notion of determinism by noticing the past action of the predictor, we know that for every chance, both boxes will always yield much better results. But the thing is, there’s a lot of illogicalities in Mawaru Penguindrum, that why this made me think that we can’t entirely rely with rationality and fate because these two highly depends on past events, hence this show is really paradoxical in nature. Maybe the outcome for the siblings is not fated.

    • Yi says:

      “Even though if we apply the notion of determinism by noticing the past action of the predictor, we know that for every chance, both boxes will always yield much better results.”
      If you approach the problem assuming an independent relationship between your choice and the prediction, it does seem like in every chance, both boxes will always yield much better results. But what makes Newcomb’s paradox especially interesting is that the two may be linked. In this case, the question may be whether you think the prediction will come true, and not whether the predictor chose A+B or just B. Anyway, personally chose A+B as well, because I don’t trust the predictor, and eventually drew the same conclusion as you. I guess it might be because of the question’s hypothetical, and it doesn’t define what having demonstrated her powers mean exactly.

      Anyway, totally agreed. We really can’t say much about the fates of the characters in Mawaru Penguindrum yet that won’t just be speculation. I think it’s kind of fun to mess around with certain ideas though. ^ ^

  16. ~xxx says:

    The problem between two different boxes are, one provides a safe answer and the other let’s us decide to invest in our luck.

    Mawaru Penguindrum was kinda very different, but in the same way… never lose it’s freshness.

    The only thing that would make this more interesting would be the appearance of the Prisoner’s Dillema.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, I suppose it is a question of testing our luck. Luck is, after all, a favorable event despite statistical improbabilities. And in this age of quantum, destiny may just be a statistical thing.

      Anyway, agreed. Mawaru Penguindrum has not lost its freshness at all yet!

    • Seinime says:

      Oh man, Prisoner’s Dilemma. That would make it all the more interesting.

  17. Pingback: Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 5 | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

  18. Fabienne says:

    The Ringo based episodes were so great, her reactions when a plan of her fails are always hilarious. The birdwatching “date” for example, especially the princess delusions were priceless, weird and playfull at the same time 😀

    Ringo doesn’t gave me the impression that she have a penguin hatted person, who orders her to live her daily life after the strange instructions of the diary. But maybe she does this subliminally.
    Ringo could be just a pawn of Penguinhat-Himari to put Kanba and Shoma to the test.

    I want to know whats a penguin drum looks like ^_^

    • Yi says:

      Yea agreed. Ringo is a darling. I’ve said it before, but girls in love really are the cutest. Her delusions, her resolve, and everything are all passionate, cute, and whimsical.

      I think Ringo came upon the diary unwittingly, and I don’t think she’s in cahoots with any greater being, at least not consciously. The most recent episode (episode 5) is a very interesting one especially that shows some of the interactions between Ringo, Princess of the Crystal, Himari, and the twins. I really enjoyed it!

  19. CainHyde says:

    I just watch it until episode 4.
    I like it very much.
    Seeing Himari queen always amuse me, especially in cow costume. ^^

    I’m really curious about Ringo diary.
    Where did she get that diary?
    Is it really the Penguindrum that the brother need to find?

    • Yi says:

      Yea, the cow suit penguin hat Himari made me laugh. I really love that scene. A girl in a penguin in a cow has never been cuter. ^ ^

      Same here. I’m most interested in finding out where Ringo got the diary. I have a suspicion that it is the penguindrum but I feel like that’s a little too easy. We’ll see I suppose.

      Thanks for reading, CainHyde!

  20. Persocom says:

    You pose some interesting questions and theories here. I wonder if there isn’t more to this than fate or destiny, as if the hat itself might be some trick and the diary might have more importance in a different sort of way (as in to the hat, not our main characters). Of course I could be going way off track. It’s still so early in the series that this could go a number of ways. As for the which box I’d pick, well, knowing the contents of the box ahead of time would confuse me too much, and I do believe that if the predictor made their prediction known it would end up determining just which I pick. I’m not much for these sort of mind games, but it is fun to watch others try.

    • Yi says:

      There’s probably even more to the fate/ destiny theme than we’ve seen so far, and I’m very interested where the series will go with the hat and the diary. Anyway, I have some theories and speculations on what the Penguindrum is and how this might end, but I’m sure I’m way off track too. That’s why this series is so fun: we are constantly adjusting and validating our ideas on the series as more episodes are released.

      Anyway, agreed that it’s super fun to watch others make their choices and justify them. Haha. ^ ^

  21. baka~ says:

    I… think I am able to follow the logic presented regarding the prediction but it leaves me wondering on certain things, specifically, RIngo’s attempts to fulfill whatever was written in her fate diary. A few episodes back, it is noticeable how she’s able to deliver the “end” result written in the diary but hardly the “means”. Take for instance the agenda written about her curry being enjoyed by Tabuki. Iirc, it was written there that Tabuki was supposed to enjoy the curry with Ringo but what Ringo managed to achieve was only the Tabuki part and not her end of enjoying the meal with him. Does this mean that the diary predicted an alternate future where whatever was written there (Tabuki and Ringo enjoying curry) really DID happen yet for some reason, Ringo wasn’t able to fulfill, or in galge terms, trigger the flags, needed to start the event?

    Also, I think that whatever was written in the fate diary is absolute but could it be that other factors interfere with such realization of “destiny”? i’m very much suspicious of Tabuki’s girlfriend in this claim considering how she seems to be aware of Ringo’s use of her Fate Diary. Deriving and straying a bit from your example. What if the diary predicted that the player will take Boxes A & B in the hopes for the player to get $1001000 but someone interfered with the prediction by switching the boxes with empty ones? Would this truth invalidate the prediction (make it wrong)? Or would this become a different case altogether?

    ugh.. sorry for the long comment… OTL

    • Yi says:

      Great great point about Ringo! I’ve been under the impression that the diary is not about her, but it may just be. The words in there are intentionally left vague to us, so there is a chance that Ringo still matches up with all the things the diary says will happen. Or it may be an alternate future as well as you said. In the most recent episode, (minor spoilers), Princess of the Crystal calls Ringo delusional about the diary, but we also don’t exactly know how much Princess of the Crystal knows about it. So I think it is still up in the air what exactly the diary is, and what kind of predictions it’s making.

      “Also, I think that whatever was written in the fate diary is absolute but could it be that other factors interfere with such realization of “destiny”?
      That’s a very good question. And related, if there are interference, are those other interfering factors also part of fate? Or is the diary worded in such a way that any sort of result will be included. (i.e. it doesn’t matter whose curry Tabuki ultimately ends up eating; either one raises a flag to the same ending.)

      Yuri is still an enigma to me. I’m not entirely convinced she knows about the diary, but I have a suspicion she is also a key player in this hunt for the Penguindrum, the diary, and Himari’s life. Anyway, I have no idea how to answer your variation of the game, but it does make one think. How much can we really interfere with fate, I wonder.

      Anyway, thanks for the very thought-provoking and long comment. I love it!!

  22. Pingback: Fates, Diaries and Penguindrums | ganbatte.

  23. tsurugiarashix says:

    Probably idiotic of me and says a lot, but might as well go for the sure thing instead of being greedy to take both. So just box A. Not very sound if you are looking for a big pay off, but simple enough to momentary get what you want; unless you have other plans. All the talk of boxes are reminding me off the game show “Let’s Make A Deal”.

    Anyway, I do see some elements of chance in the series, but not sure how much is apparent. Might be concealing something else…

    • Yi says:

      No I don’t think it’s idiotic at all. In fact, if you check out the comments above, a lot of people also chose the “safe” choice; the sure thing: A+B, for various reasons.

      Anyway, the series so far has given the characters a chance and free will, but it’d be interesting how it explores determinism, and if their chances are really chances.

  24. Nopy says:

    Ringo’s diary might not be a predictor of fate at all, it could just be an elaborate plan to coax a girl into doing someone’s dirty work. Penguinhat-Himari seems to have absolute control over Kanba and Shoma by holding Himari hostage, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was doing the same with Ringo by holding her romance hostage.

    For the record, I’d take both box A and B. I’m not one to exert too much effort.

    • Yi says:

      I agree. The diary may turn out to be just a screenplay in the most simple sense. A story unrelated to anything in anyone’s timeline. Or it can just be something to manipulate Ringo with. But I guess the uncertainty of just what the diary is plays into how the characters approach the future and how we may speculate if we were to do so.

      Anyway, interesting that you think choosing box A and B would be not exerting much effort. I personally would think just taking box B is the easier way in that we’re giving faith to the predictor. But that’s just my interpretation of this little paradox.

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