Revolutionary Girl Utena Anime Box Set – Volume 1 Disk 3 (English)

June 25th, 2011

Revolutionary Girl Utena: Student Council Saga Limited Edition SetBy the time you reach the third disc of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Student Council box set, you’ve already developed your ideas about what you think is going on. My ideas and yours may not be the same, but they are all valid. The show is consciously constructed to allow all our ideas to be valid. Now we, as viewers, have to allow each other’s ideas to be valid, too.

I’m going to tell you some of the things I think are going on (bearing in mind that while I know what is going to happen, I wont be talking about that – just what is happening on this disc. What I would REALLY like is to hear what you think is going on in the story. What are your thoughts about The End of the World – no spoilers, remember, just based on this first arc! – or about Touga, or the duels, or Anthy, Utena, whatever.

Okay, so here I go.

The disk begins with Saionji doing something very stupid, and being expelled for it. I have this belief that, in some way, all the members of the Student Council, by becoming members of the Student Council, were essentially consenting to being manipulated by the End of the World.

Which is why I personally find it hardest to watch Nanami being screwed with. She did not give this consent. Miki is innocent, but not unbsubtle. Nanami is a child. She is driven by delusion and fear and has no place in the duels. That Touga offers her up to them was, in my opinion an unforgivable crime.

Up to this point, it would be natural to think that Touga is the master manipulator here. He seems, to Utena at least, to be in control. It’s only at the end of the arc that we and he see that he wasn’t in control at all.

The last two episodes were as amazing as I remembered them to be.

In episode 11, Utena find herself stripped of her confidence, her purpose, her very self by Touga, who uses his good looks, his masculinity and his position to turn her into a “normal” girl, who needs a prince to rescue her.

And most important IMHO, is that in response to losing the duel Utena says simply, “Please don’t take Anthy away from me.” She would give herself up…but not Anthy.

In episode 12, Wakaba slaps some sense into her, by making her realize that “normal” is not normal for Utena. Utena challenges Touga to a rematch to regain herself – the self that wants to be a Prince, not be rescued by one. She defeats Touga without help from Dios or an enchanted sword – she defeats him with nothing but her determination and will. To awesome music. To regain Anthy. NOT to regain the Rose Bride, but to get Anthy back.

Most importantly, at that moment, Anthy is *surprised.* That alone is worth watching the final episodes for.

When the episode (and the first arc) ended, I began spontaneously applauding. Again. As I have every time I have watched this series.

It’s gonna be a long, long, few weeks before the next set arrives!

Thanks again Nozomi/RightStuf for making it possible to watch this remastered version.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 10
Character – 9
Yuri – 4
Service – 1

Overall – 9

The music video for “Revolution Rondo” blew my mind more than anything else in Utena ever has. It was filmed in New York City, which was just…entirely unexpected.

Here’s an interesting aside. On Twitter today I mentioned that what I would love to see is a ridiculously high budget live action version of the moment Utena draws the sword from Anthy. Just that scene. At which, a very good friend of mine from way back mentioned that there is a rumor of a pitch in Hollywood for an Utena movie…and that Variety is supposed to be doing an article about it next month. I guess we’ll see if that article ever happens…. Thanks for the heads up, Rob!

Now it is your turn – what are some of your thoughts on this arc?

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9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Like that ancient warrior in Henley’s poem, she got bloodied and bruised, uniform torn up, the daikatana shattered in half, and yet she was determined to get what she wanted.

    That was awesome. :)

  2. Eric P. says:

    The shadow girls have always provided the most distinctive flavor in a way I can’t explain.

    The first time I watched it, I did wonder up front whether Anthy was supposed to be of any ethnic race, be it Indian or African. But her dark skin in contrast to Utena’s paler coloring was definitely symbolic. Seeing their revolution within the opening theme gave me something like a yin-yang impression.

    Although Anthy was established as the Rose Bride who acts to her fiance’s bidding, there was no doubt in my mind she was happy that Utena rescued her from Saionji, although she kept her feelings restrained per her duty. It’s the only reason I could think of to explain why right after Saionji she called out a cheer to Utena during her duel with Miki (something that was rather cold to Miki). The more Utena fought and won, the more Anthy was convinced that Utena is the Chosen One and wanted it to stay that way. But when Utena initially lost to Toga, it shattered everything for Anthy, and she thought of it as a fun dream while it lasted. She was back to being the passive Rose Bride, until Utena won again and opened everything back up.

    Of course, despite this happy turnout we find out in the end Utena was chosen to be used, and Anthy’s subservience hides a dark secret, but as said no spoilers so I’ll stop there.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that ‘Utena’ is a series that almost feels like the last of its kind. One of its messages that it drives home is that “women don’t have to be people that need to be protected,” leaving no room whatsoever for the interpretation to be otherwise. Yet the majority of today’s series really beg to differ. I think what it does is make ‘Utena’s classic greatness stand out that much more.

  3. DezoPenguin says:

    My opinion of Nanami constantly veers back and forth between despising her for…well, really every single thing about her, honestly…and finding her horribly pitiable because this twisted, broken person is precisely who Touga, fully aware of every step and every consequence, shaped her to become.

  4. Cryssoberyl says:

    For the most part, everything I ever felt needed to be said about the content of Utena I have already said elsewhere, but it’s a fact that I’ve never really addressed this point of the show, which is certainly worth commenting on.

    For anyone who loves to see women throw off the roles that are dictated to them by others and take hold the power and agency that are their birthrights as fully human beings, Episodes 11 and 12 are some of the most fulfilling episodes in the series.

    In fact though, everything that happens at this point is a microcosmic reflection of the true climax of the series. This is the heart of Utena in miniature. Both at this point in the story and during the finale, Utena has been robbed of her identity by those who deny it could ever belong to her, a woman who does not know her place. Yet in both cases she finds the courage, the strength, and the will to take it back and become, once again, the person she had always striven to be, the person she truly wanted to be: herself.

    The difference is, of course, that while at this point everything is still (comparatively) simple, the true ending of the series is tempered by many other thoughts and themes – like it or not, the show moves forward from here to fill our our heart and mind with many other things and eventually we forget the unalloyed triumph of this moment, when Utena says,

    “I’ve taken back what I was.”

    [Final Thought: There’s already an Utena movie, and it’s the only one I want or need. Stay far far away, Hollywood.]

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I read that in the Revolutionary Girl Utena Art-book they show Anthy and Utena being reunited (after episode 39). Could you please tell me if this is true ?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t seen this in quite a while so I started by buying the first box set and also a copy of the movie. I do remember the very, very last episode clearly(Apocalypse Saga) and bits of the Black Rose Saga. I love Utena but Juri was my favorite character. I had some question about Juri and Ruka, and a flash of episode 39 but I see youre doing no spoils here. Will you be reviewing the other 2 sagas from RightStuff and/or can you answer a Juri question. I had remembered her as being the only seemingly definitive Yuri-lesbian character which might be why I favored her and hated Shiori sometimes more than Touga and even Akio, and I remember enjoying Shiori’s consequences for what she did to Juri.

  7. @Anonymous – Yes, I’ll be reviewing the rest, just haven’t gotten there yet. What’s your question?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes Hi, I had the questions. Without giving away anything, the deconstruction aside and everything else, if you isolate Juri, with some things by the end being good, is her character then reduced to being what they called a class S phase Yuri character? Or because of the way the series is and being so very unique you really cant think that way and apply that stuff? Also, I looked at my friends overall analysis and remembered I found the ending a mixed bag but I was still left depressed (I tend to be super sensitive with my anime and manga so that’s only my reaction to the entire work) because the one character I needed to see (not Juri at this point) wasn’t shown and I felt like even with the beautiful feeling and many things won that loss was too great for me. Is that loss real or is it my failure and were you pleased with the ending? By the way, thank you so much for ‘Okazu’, from anime to light-novels and everything it’s helped me allot.

  9. @Anonymous – A very short answer:

    No, you cannot reduce Juri (not even a single Juri, much less the four unique Juris from the anime/movie/series manga/movie manga) into a simple rendition of one kind of Yuri that some friend of yours uses as a classification.

    Ikuhara, Saitou and Be-Papas have nodded to Yoshiya Nobuko, Tezuka Oasmu,Ryouko Ikeda and Igarashi Yumiko, and many other influences in this series and while some of their influences seem obvious even to western readers/viewers, other might not be. Ikuhara likes to blend old concepts in new ways, and often without overt “meaning” just to see how pretty he can make it.

    Looking for definitive categorization from his work is madness, because he makes it impossible to do so.

    Yes, I loved the ending. LOVED it. Stood up and applauded. Thought it quite possibly the best ending to an anime I’d ever seen.

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