The second volume of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Complete Deluxe Box Set remains complex and uncomfortable right until an ending that was much better than I remembered it being.
The primary conflict in the final arc of the Revolutionary Girl Utena anime, appears to be between Utena and Akio. In the manga version, the Student Council has been set to the side, neutralized by Anthy in order to set Utena up for Akio.
But, like the anime, something happens just as Anthy is set to betray Utena. She begins to believe that Utena can set her free. And here in the manga, that changes everything. Freedom changes Anthy in a way that gives one hope. (And inspires one to write fanfic.)
The art here at the end of the manga arc is strong and hyper-romantic, very suitable for the magazine it ran in, Flowers, I believe it was. I wish there was a color version of Utena-Dios, because you just know she looked amazing in her white and lavender Council uniform. ^_^
The complete set includes Juri’s sidestory, which sadly focuses on Ruka, rather than Shiori. And the final section of the collection covers the manga version of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie: Adolescence of Utena. This manga volume was the precise moment when I started understanding the literary roots of Yuri Manga and for that, I have a lot of fondness for the thing. The story focuses on two not-really-real relationships, Utena’s adoration of Touga and Anthy’s adoration of (an even more horrible than in the TV manga) Akio. But it ends with the same relationship the TV manga does – Utena and Anthy, finding healing and friendship and love in one another. No wonder we all wrote so much damn fanfic. ^_^
The art of the movie manga has already leveled up significantly from the earliest chapters of the television series manga, and still holds up well enough to satisfy an older audience. The deluxe set wraps up with two short notes by manga artist Chiho Saito and director Ikuhara Kinihiko.
Art- 8 Solid, stylish, with moments of brilliance
Story – 8 A much better ending than I remembered
Characters – 8 Touga and Juri end up better than expected, Miki and Saionji suffer and Akio gets extra helpings of awful. Anthy is even more complex and interesting.
Service – 5 Creepy non-con seductions and slapping so…mostly violence against women’s autonomy, with a side of bullshitty consent issues.
Yuri- 7 Anthy and Utena 4ever. <3
I love that between the two Utena manga, anime and movie there are four unique versions of this story and each one ends centered around a relationship built on friendship and hope and love.
One last note – I’m pretty sure I have all the Utena artbooks, but there is a color image in this set that I have never seen before. I refer to it as the “Takarazuka” image, as Utena is wearing a feather back piece and both her and Anthy’s outfits are unusually sparkly. I like it a lot. ^_^ It’s yet another good reason to get this complete manga deluxe set!