Anime

Animini: Revolutionary Girl Utena – Episode 1- The Rose Bride

Many Geared Greetings to all visiting these islands! With Flip Flappers being finished we were given two suggestions for shows to watch one was Magical Girl Raising Project… suggested by Senpai Irina the other was Revolutionary Battle Girl Utena suggested by Mari I opted to watch the classic first.. I miss a lot of the fundamental shows here.. yet after one episode I am not sure yet if I made the right decision. I did enjoy myself, in a slightly, clinical, way. 

The Summary

Utena is introduced to us in a fairytale style animation that immediately reminded me of the stained glass scene from beauty and the beast it tells us the story about a princess that was once save by a prince that smelled like roses.. her parents died but she was save.. as a memento he have her a ring that would allow her to find him again. She was so impressed .. that she did not fall in love with him.. no she wanted to be a prince herself to save her own princess. This heads on approach is kept on throughout the episode as after we see our backstory we jump to present day. Where Utena is a girl at a pretty snooty looking school. She prides herself in wearing a boys uniform instead of a girl one..to the chagrin of one of the teachers.  In the gardens of her school Utena discovers a dark skinned beauty by the name of Anthy. She is being slapped around by some Bishounen boy Saionji , shocking Utena who feels drawn to Anthy. Utena’s peppy friend distracts her and provides the exposition on who is who and what their roles are.  All very straightforward and clear.

We cut to Sionji being part of some super elite School Council who seem to live in a castle up in the sky or close to one.. I could not really work that out yet.. and he is the owner of Anthy because he won the last duel.. whoever wins the duel owns Anthy who is better known as the Rose Bride. When the green haired pretty boy hands a love letter he got from Utena’s bestie to his friends so she can be mocked.. Utena in a fit of rage challenges the man to a Kendo match.. he notices she has a ring and instead duels her for the sake of Anthy’s ownership.. for  this cold water has to be splashed on her ring in some secret place and more secret locations are revealed.I will be honest that went a bit fast for me.. I am sure I will familiarise myself with that location sooner rather than later.. but I still had questions when this episode was done.  Bringing her Kendo sword Utena did not expect her new rival to draw a magical sword out of Anty .. the sword known as Dios gives up the sword to whoever owns the Rose Bride.. while her sword gets broken Utena still manages to win the match by knocking a rose out off her rivals chest pocket, while he had to do the same to her. Anthy then is reunited with Utena saying she is now her property.

The Positives

I like how modern this show is , even though it stems from 1997 it is pretty relevant with it’s themes to this day. We get a dark skinned romantic interest to a woman claiming herself to desire to be a prince and rescue her own princess. Utena clearly is into women and very much into Anthy. I want to watch a bit more Yuri shows so this does play into that agenda pretty well. While the visuals look a bit off by today’s comparison I do really like the colour use in this school. Lots of weight and regal colours give the show a sort of luxury and vibrancy that make a nice balance with the somewhat more somber, Hikaru no Go and More grey tinted Cowboy Bebop.  It even offers a nice change of pace from the very natural tones of Natsume. It does bring me back to that sailour moon vibe but it feels more “unique”  and since I do dream of a rich girl finding me.. I can dream away a bit of finding my own Utena. (I can’t tell if I am into Anthy as I have not seen enough) 

I really do like seeing the more classical style of battle as well, there is an impact to it, you don’t get as much in modern anime. Even though it is just slaps and punches for the most part here the hits really make a connection. Which helps immediately feel bad for Anthy who has the potential to be a super interesting character as well. Utena herself having pink hair is always a plus and even her basketball action is pretty entertaining in that same connecting way. I ADORE how petty she can be.. not wanting to play Basketball for a certain team afraid she might get boysweat on her. I can kind of relate.. and it seems that  we get a person that is very confident with the person who she is rather than the shy, reflective one or the bubbly happy go lucky girl that usually make up the dynamic in Yuri couples..There are the dramatic ones as well but so far I feel that Utena might become one of the most relatable for me.

The Negatives

I am not sure if this show is for me.. based on this episode. While there is much I admire about this show , so far there is much less I enjoyed. I find everything to be a bit too “on the nose”  The second Utena sees Anthy she immediately gets trusted into a situation where she might wonder Anthy’s relationship status, all the girls in school take turns into letting Utena take turns in using their towel and Utena says “sure it’s your turn”. Coming off a bit strong there..I knew she would be Yuri ..but to literally take turns into “what girls towel you use”  kind of feels gross to me. Doesn’t she have a towel of her own?! Why would the other girls take their towel to spectate a basketball match.. which is against guys by the way. We see Utena kick the boys asses, we see her stand up to the teacher about wanting to wear a boys uniform so she can feel like a prince….yet she wears short pants underneath…which kind of makes it NOT a uniform anymore and thus WOULD put her in violation of the rules unlike she claims.

I also feel uncomfortable with Anthy being the property of Utena and that doesn’t have anything to do with the pigment she has, I am generally a bit uncomfortable around characters that lack free will.. not persé the hypnotised once but characters who just accept their fate even if they are miserable. Utena owning a bride now again feels a bit too “in your face” Just like the rose theme is a bit overplayed, the school logo is a rose, her ring has a rose, Anthy likes roses, Utena remembers the smell of roses and Dios has a rose on the hilt.  I do not mind roses being the source of power.. but let the rose  be iconic to the school council.. not also the school, not also the ring.. AND the sword. It all feels a bit to obvious This I will acknowledge is probably a first episode problem though as puzzle pieces fall in place I most of the time will stop minding them..but I would have thought it was stronger if Utena remembered a eye colour or a look.. over the sense of a very specific rose. It all feels just a bit stiff..like a tutorial in a point and click game!

The Score

Some anime really need to get fired up and you will need to give it a few episodes before it gets going..maybe it will pick up.. but for some reason I feel a disconnect with this anime so far. I love that the hero really reflects me in a way.. though I probably would not walk the same path. She walks to the sound of her own drum and her own ideals and I very much respect that.. if that theme is highlighted I will  surely grow to like this show. Yet I am also a bit weary that she might beat up every boy with too much ease and become a bit of a Mary sue. I can relate to how her mind works so far..but it feels to me as if the show in the first scene tells you “yes she is gay” and the next scene.. “did you know our main character is gay?”  I kind of would like to grow into a character rather than one point of relatability becoming an hyperbole of itself. I can’t judge based on a single episode but this will be a show I will either hate or love and so far I am not convinced of either side.

Simply for existing, going this route and writing characters like this is already pretty amazing. Giving her pink hair makes it better and since I see no signs of a revolution yet I suspect a lot more will come into play. At least I assume she will take a stance against the system at one point.. rather then being revolutionary in the “you have never seen someone like this way”  I suspect her to be revolutionary in the sense of LeLouche or V rather than the newest Dyson Vacuum cleaner or latest Iphone. I am content with what I saw.. but this might very well be one of those ball gowns you see that looks amazing on other women..but you know on you it will just not work!  To be continued.. for now.. it was fine.

8 replies »

  1. Yay I’m glad you’re watching it! Utena was a huge influence on tons of modern day animators, not just magical girl anime but even western shows like She-Ra and Steven Universe (both directly reference Utena in certain shots). It’s very stylized and surreal so don’t expect it all to make sense right away, but the plot is actually very complex and gets SUPER dark later on. Like, almost Eva-level dark.

    Btw, have you seen any of the original Sailor Moon? Apparently Ikuhara, the creator of Utena, originally worked on the series and Utena was supposed to be the third Sailor Moon movie. Wild

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have seen Sailor Moon, but as a kid , as it aired on tv.. so I have very little memories and it’s all a garbled mess of episodes. So I think I mostly remember bits from the first season.. but without the proper context to remember it. Properly. I tried to pick it up once again.. but then I fully remembered the orginal episodes.. so now I kind of want to pick up a blue ray box for them and watch it like that or something.

      I can see lot of of similiarties still though.. like the way characters move, the way shots are chosen. I do remember seeing that same style in Moon. I can even kind of see how elements of this could be used in what little I remember in Moon. So not super surprised!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t seen all of Utena. It did have interesting things and I was shocked by how influential it was. Even the Pokemon anime briefly parodies this with Jessie and James cross-dressing in similar outfits earlier in the series and never made the connection at first.

    Funny you mention Hikaru no Go because Utena and Hikaru have the same voice actor in the Japanese version!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I never knew either but now that you mention it I can already see a bunch of similiarities , mostly even in basic James.

      I will see how much I will like this show, soon enough , I did not notice the voice acting yet but I will look out for it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup. It’s funny how there’s a connection between those two series.

        Sure thing. Utena might be something for me to watch in its entirety if I have time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds interesting. I’ll follow you along for a few episodes before I decide if I need to add it to my never ending queue..

    Like

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