So my dumbass forgot that I had a post to pre-date publish two-days ago (April 27, 2020). I will say that the quarantine has allowed me to be more consistent, I appreciate the time that COVID-19 has granted me. Nonetheless, I also am still sad to hear about the postponed series, such as The Promised Neverland (2019) but on the bright side, I have discovered (though I am late af to the party) that Fruits Baskets (2001) has a sequel manga called Fruits Basket: Another (2015) which I do plan to splurge on at some point since it is only three volumes.
Monday night (April 27, 2020) I was scrolling on Twitter and noticed someone was grieving about an anime series, Revolutionary Girl Utena. I went through the comments and decided to search for it and ended up watching the entire 39-episode series and the movie within two days (click the cover photo two watch the series). I also had to do background research to better understand what the purpose of the series was about because it contained a lot of symbolism, archetypal patterns, and allegories. There were so many themes such as; childhood idealism, illusions, ambition, adulthood, sexuality, abuse, incest, and identity. There were also hints of gender-fluidity and bisexuality. Each theme was expressed through high volumes of metaphors. It overall was a coming-of-age story.
I personally consider this series as a dark magical girl genre with a hint of "soft porn yuri." Why have I been interested in yuri lately? I don't know. But I had to watch the movie, The Adolescence of Utena (1999) and also watch someone else's review on it to fully understand what was going on between the characters. As I was watching it seems like a melting pot of different series. Utena looked like both Wedding Peach (1995) and Steel Angel Kurumi (1999) to me, some of the male characters looked like they were from Wedding Peach as well, the characters' detail and structure resembled Casshern Sins (2008) with the big eyes and slim body types and the way the animation was shaded with the colors, their big eyes and beauty also reminded me of The Wallflower (2006). The music composition was similar or appeared to be something that could have been in Princess Tutu (2002).
Evidentially, the series is about a young pink-haired middle school girl, Utena Tenjou, (remember this key point) whose parent had past away when she was young. Prior to the funeral, she met a traveling prince who consoled her. After their meeting, she decided and vowed that from that day she would become a prince. The prince she met left her a ring with a rose crest promising that one day in the future they would meet again. To Utena, she took it as an engagement ring and was in love with the prince ever since. A few late, Utena enrolls in Ootori Academy, where she is determined to meet her prince. One day she somehow gets invested into a dangerous game that consists of duelists with matching rose rings to compete for the prize of The Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and revolutionary power. Once she wins Anthy from her first duel she decides to free her and could care less about the game and revolutionizing the world.
This map came out more complicated than it appeared in my mind, but there are still missing people that will be addressed later on.
Firstly, Utena and Anthy, who are the main characters of the series. They start out as friends and the romantic hints do not appear until the movie (which I will jump back and forth from since the movie is a giant summery minus the symbolism).
Anthy seems very neutral towards everyone because she is engaged to anyone who wins her during the duel. She definitely loves her brother dearly because in their past she saved him and sacrificed herself. Unfortunately, she ended up as a phantom. But it can be assumed that Akio died soon after Anthy. Based on the movie he died after he raped and killed Anthy. It is also possible that Aiko had a sister complex as well.
I say this because he had a thing for younger women (any woman). Utena and Anthy were middle school girls (8th grade, possible 9th grade). But he was really just an overall fuckboy because it was mentioned that he is engaged to the Chairman's daughter who also attends the school. But he was having sex with his future mother-in-law on the side. It can also be said that he is bisexual because he made sexual advances with Touga because of the many scenes that they are found taking shirtless photos of each other or laying in bed together as they talk about Utena.
It can be said as well that both Anthy and Aiko are potentially Asian Indians because of the dot detail on their foreheads and the color of their skin.
I would rather assume this than to just automatically tag them as black or POC. Speaking on appearance in the movie Aiko only makes one appearance because he is declared dead towards the end which is the reason why the campus of the academy is starting to rot and break down (a similar theme in Casshern Sins). I would also note that because the movie of the anime came out slightly after the artwork and animation was improved which made Anthy appear more attractive to me. She seemed boring and reserved and just overall less appealing to me with glasses and are hair in that Golden Girls-style compared to her more lively and seductive demeanor that she had in the movie.
I would have to say that Utena is one of the few characters in this series who was not caught having sex with a sibling or anyone for that matter. She is very tom-boyish but very aware of her sexual attraction to men. She even is very expressive about her gender-fluidity, when she wears a men's uniform to school and in the movie cuts her hair short and wears the full uniform to appear like a feminine man.
In the series, she does not remember that she met two princes the day her parents died. When she lost all hope and wanted to die herself and laid in a coffin next to her deceased parents, Touga Kiryuu, was the first "prince" she met.
Student Council President (why does the student council seem more powerful than congress?) Touga plays a powerful, arrogant, and dominant fuckboy role during the Introductory Arc. He is a childhood friend of Saionji (Vice President), their subtle rivalry aided in their growth and journey during the first arc. Towards the end of the series, Touga confesses to Saionji about his love and concern for Utena. She was the girl he consoled when they were younger. In his attempts to confess to her without words he duels her on last time to come to Anthy to take her fate only to lose to her once again.
In contrast to the movie, Touga and Utena are childhood friends and middle school "lovers." (Spoiler: She saw him died when they were in middle school because in the movie she is in high school). Now I am sure the plot does not make much sense yet. But it will once I finish explaining the character dynamics. Due to Touga's death, she promises to become a noble prince in his honor. Even in the series, he was still until the end the only nobleman beside noble-woman, Utena. They did make a beautiful couple. I believe if Anthy was not a variable and Touga did not die, then they would have ended up together. But she would also have to get past his younger sister first.
Queen of the round-house bitch slap, Nanami Kiryuu. She has an older-brother complex. She is attracted to her brother but does not act on it. She is the typical "queen bee" of the school. In episode 31, she is flustered when he teasers her about bathing together and kissing her. He even plays a cruel joke on her to make her think that he is adopted so she would duel in his place and kisses her and she refuses. She does judge the relationship between Anthy and Aiko when she walks in on them having sex because they're siblings and she considers it weird. But this is the same woman who is jealous of her brother being with other women or animals (she killed a cat that she found and brought him just because he was playing with the cat instead of her).
There are many filler episodes (episodes; 13, 23, and 33 dedicated to Nanami just because she does not have any real purpose to the plot outside of Touga. She is seen only once in the movie, in a reference to an episode in which she was transformed into a cow.
Going back to the movie, Touga is revealed to be a ghost who died to save a young girl when he was younger. This is where it is very evident that the series and movie are either two scenarios;
1. Touga was always dead and trapped within the academy in the same situation as Mikage (Black Rose Arc) and Anthy.
2. The academy is stuck within a time loop. After each attempt of freeing Anthy the clock resets and the duels start over with the same players but relationships are reset. But relationships bonded by fate still eat up starting over the same way.
In the series, Juri in the last episode tells the remaining duelist during the bbq scene that her older sister once drowned and she was then saved by a boy. Unfortunately, the boy died in the process and neither her or her sister could remember his name. Two things to flag about the story are that Juri does not have an older sister and Nanami asks why Juri decided to tell the story. When it is addressed in the movie when Utena is trying to save Anthy, her last duel is with Touga again (just like the series). Instead of a physical duel, it was an emotional one. She remembers that he is no longer alive because she watched him die years prior. A time after her parents died they fell in love and began a romantic relationship. Juri was drowning in because she fell off a boat in the lake and Touga decided to save her and never returned. By expressing this she was able to put his soul to rest and realized that he was her true prince who inspired her since the first time they met until the end to become a noble prince and that she will always love him for that.
This is why I stated before that Touga was the real and initial prince that she was in love with prior to Anthy from both the series and the movie.
There is also an apparent love triangle consisting of Utena, Juri, and Shiori, and is a major reason for the conflict between the three that is present in the movie as well which differs from the one in the series. Touga is sleeping Shiori who is the woman that Juri is in love with (same in the series) but Shiori is disgusted by this girl-on-girl affection. She also is aware that Touga is still in love with Utena. She uses these feelings to have Juri fight Utena for disrespecting her relationship with Touga which makes her appear distressed to Juri so Juri can then correct the problem (she will do anything for Shiori). Lastly Shiori, also hates Juri and Utena because of Touga. In the scene where they had just finished having sex, she expresses to him how she hates Utena for no reason but she also hates Juri because she took the life of the man she supposedly "dating" at the time (she is also known for lying).
Compared to the movie, in the series, the love triangle consisted of Juri, Shiori, and Ruka Tsuchiya. Juri was always vulnerable, overthinking, and concerned about the betrayal she felt towards Shiori. In prior episodes, it seemed as though she was upset because Shiori "stole" her boyfriend. In actuality, She felt betrayed because Shiori began dating Ruka, who was their senpai and the fencing club president. When Shiori learns the truth as to way Juri is so cold towards her (Mikage showed her picture was inside Juri's locket) she is disgusted because Juri is secretly in love with her and unable to move on. It takes Utena to accidentally break the locket during a duel (her last duel) in the third arc (The End of the World Arc) for her to finally move on.
On the other hand, Ruka only had a 2-episode cameo. He was returning to campus after being in the hospital for being very ill. At the end of his last episode, it was addressed that he would not be returning to the academy because he left the hospital early without permission, and that's why he lost the duel. But I noticed that prior to him coming into his episodes that Juri never pictured or remembered his face and as soon as he left the campus the same thing happened as well, almost like the loop I mentioned before. But the real reason he came back to school was to duel for Juri's sake. He was in love with her. That was also why he was dating Shiori. By the end of this sub-plot, Juri it can be the same that she fell for Utena and wanted to replace the photo in her locket with hers.
I will say I did not approve of Ruka's forceful kiss on Juri. It seemed borderline rapey because it was not consensual. I also can relate with episode 29, because Shiori begging for her mans to forgive her and take her back I felt that. I have been in that place before (except it was a school parking lot and not a courtyard) but it was very humiliating and stomach aching. Overall it is not worth it.
This is the part where I conclude my entire thought process around the series. I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest because it has so much symbolism and pieces that have to be puzzled together to understand (or maybe I need to read the manga).
The movie did sum up the series by using less symbolism which I did appreciate. I just want to know the following:
1. Why was Utena's uniform different from even the boy's uniform? It was black with red detail. It also included shorts that looked like biker shorts with a blazer. When the men's uniform was white.
2. Sanoji kept stating that he was in love with Anthy but he always abused her physically. Even in the movie, it was revealed that they had sex as well.
3. Mikey was a wishy-washy bitch baby. I say this because he was in love with Anthy because they shared the same knowledge of music. But in the end, he switched to Utena and basically conveyed it as a change of heart. In the movie, he appears to be closer to Juri, almost close to relationship potential if Juri was not interested in women. One thing he did stay consistent in was that he was trying to replace his younger sister because he resented her. In the series, he resented her because she refuse to play the piano when they were younger. In the movie because he is more interested in fencing, it appears as if he is in love with Juri and is breaking up with his sister in the bathtub scene as if they had a previous incestuous relationship that would make sense of his resentment.
4. Why was Utena using the Demon Slayer (2019) sword move with the broke sword to defeat everyone during the duels?
5. Who the fuck were these shadow bitches who were foreshadowing and recapping the episode before every duel using a lot of metaphors and allegories!? It was annoying and I skipped just about every one of them.
6. The duel did become shorter when the second arc begins.
7. In the third arc what was the purpose of the car riding around the arena during the duels? I understand it can be assumed that Aiko and Touga had a sexual relationship when they were alone but why did they have to ride on top of the car shirtless all the time and the take shirtless photos on the car (episodes 32 and 35). It was all so cringing.
8. I love how in the movie, Anthy had a complete personality swap. She was more seductive and playful. She was the one who saved Utena when originally Utena was on a mission to save her.
9. I saw in many of the comments of the movie that many fans wanted more yuri, more gay, I agree! It needed more romantic intimacy because we only received it twice in the movie and not at all in the series.
10. Now when at the end of the movie, why was there a car wash and why did this car wash turn Utena into a car from Redline? She was a pink batmobile for the end of the movie and Anthy drove her outside of the gates to free themselves.
11. They finally KISSED in the end of the movie !!! Which it was about time.
12. The ending OP of the movie was so funky that I am currently on the hunt to I can add it to the playlist.
13. Some of the characters' mouths do not move when they speak.
14. The last 10-episodes is all the action the rest is just boring and tiresome.
15. ChuChu is Anthy's "friend" and pet. He is a purple monkey mouse thing that wears a tye and eats a lot but every time I see him in the series he was being abused, eating, or sleeping. He does resemble Pochi from Photon (1997).
You have made it this far. I apologize I did have a lot of notes that I took during this binge. Ultimately, this series was about freedom, love, and power. Academy used love to control and gain power, used power to determine who would be free, and freedom was love. In the series, after Utena "fails" to free Anthy, she is no longer at school and everyone begins to forget who she is. Anthy confirms that she is not dead she is just no longer on the campus. She then decides to leave to find and meet her again. In the movie, they leave together. Within both, you never see them leave the campus they mainly drive and roam around the campus. But when Anthy leaves the first time you do not see what he outside world looks like, there are glimpses of the outside via the windows and by a distance at high viewpoints. When they leave together in the movie, the outside world looks destroyed and no sight of life. The movie also proved that the students are trapped in a loop on the campus and unable to leave because Mikey tells them that he and the rest of them will meet them on the other side at a later time. So the academy could be a made illusion created by Akio and using the duels to keep the cycle going.
Also to keep in mind everyone is at least elementary school to high school age and messing with grown-ass man Aiko!
I did feel like the series was originally going to consist of a Sailor Moon Pegusas arc theme. I thought Aiko would be asleep prince within the mirror castled and need to be saved and Anthy was his gatekeeper. That's what I thought but was awfully wrong. But I probably will not watch this series again regardless of it being considered a classic.
If after reading this you don't understand what the fuck I'm talking about or need a deeper understanding, read the comments of the links I provided or watch this review.