Yi recently constructed a delightful meditation regarding Mawaru Penguindrum‘s embedded sexuality as fashionable to which she begins:
Mawaru Penguindrum has always had this elegant, fabulous vibe it. It is sensual, sexy, and, above all, fashionable. Being fashionable allows Mawaru Penguindrum to be super sexual—erotic, even—without seeming sleazy. In anime, this might just be the difference in taste level between, say, shibari in Mawaru Penguindrum and panty shots in some harem anime.
The post was primarily focused on what I consider the apex of sexual tension and provocation in the scenes where Ringo is drugged, in a fairly incoherent and pliable state, with her rape impending. This would be the scene worth mentioning as the following episodes replaced most sexual extremes with trials in violence and melancholy. Fashionable perhaps, but I believe significance of why sexuality in Penguindrum is not obtuse or sleazy is that eroticism is ultimately not the point.
We realize this as the scene closes, beginning to understand Yuri’s reflection: Ringo is not and cannot replace Momoka. Yuri’s violence towards Ringo is the result of internal strife and turmoil in having lost Momoka so many years ago. Though her drastic actions leave her with contrast enough to evaluate herself and her consciousness. And she is not alone, as we see Tabuki traverse a similar violent path later in the story.
To venerate Penguindrum‘s sexuality is less consequential than reasoning for its meaningful presence. There is nuance in distinguishing a story told for sexual enticements versus a story told with them. And part of Penguindrum‘s stylistic brilliance is its inclusion of spectacularly titillating elements in narrative method. Regardless of sex or fashion, Penguindrum‘s delivery is a masterful feat in visual style and an excellent refinement of allure.