Anime

Animini: Revolutionary Girl Utena – Episode 2 – For Whom the Rose Smiles

How delightful to re-acquaint ourselves again , my dear Island Guests. The first episode of the absolute classic Utena , did not float my boat all that much. I had fun watching it for sure, but it was a bit direct in it’s themes and I did not have much fun with world building yet. Look and behold the second episode did way better for me! This episode pleased me quite a bit and I now look forward to see more! Not only did I got to understand the world a bit more! I was also introduced to one of my favourite anime pets yet!

The Summary

Utena is picking up her normal school life again when she is reassigned to a new dorm..or people are assigned dorms.. I am not sure , because they had school before.. would it not make sense to get a dorm room before you start school?! Regardless.. Utena is send to a dorm that her bestie tells her has been out of use for years. Which is quite strange, while her bestie glomps on to her Utena walks both of them to where they have to part ways for now.. moving into her own dorm it looks quite cozy.. until she opens the door that is supposed to lead to her room, which turns out is a mouse infected hellhole. Utena closes the door quite shocked and waits for a bit, just to find out Anthy has since almost cleaned the entire room and it is livable for them to live together. Utena is amazed by the coincidence of them living together and Anthy explains to her there is no coincidence.. since Utena has won the Rose bride.. They are now engaged and have to live together according to the rules of the student council.  Utena doesn’t want anything to do with this engagement and Anthy is being quite vague with her.. until she introduces Utena to her pet Chuchu!

Chuchu is like a mini-monkey mouse thing. It looks mostly like a monkey but it is mouse sized and seems to have mouse ears. It loves sweet things and it is just adorable! Utena much like me takes a shine to the little creature and gets  to be lucky enough to befriend it. Anthy explains that others who wield the rose signet will come to challenge her to be engaged to Anhy, while  the student council president reveals they want the power of Anthy to start a revolution. The latter happens in a cutaway of course. Every student council member neatly coded by the colour of their hair. Saionji wants to dominate Anthy again so he comes to visit to challenge Utena to a duel and asks Anthy to go into submission.. he should own her.. Anhty refuses and Saionji steps on Chuchu and treats it badly, he challenges Utena to a rematch and she agrees , planning to lose it to be done with this weird duel stuff. The dark skinned woman seems upset but she can not disagree with Utena and tells her to do what she wants. The duelist fought on the same location again and now for the first time Utena pulls out Dios.. even though she still plans to lose with it.. during her fight she seems to become possessed by the spirit of the prince and finds new zeal.. defeating the green haired vice president in a duel . Having shown a new power.. the actual president becomes intrigued by the girl. Back at the dorm when Anthy asks why Utena won. The pink haired woman in a male school uniform informs her she did not want Chuchu to be bullied so she had to win. Anthy then smiles and the episode ends.

The Positives

This episode was soooo much better than the first. Utena isn’t drooling all over Anthy now and clearly takes a colder stance towards her.. mostly because she is so much more than she bargained for.. this makes Utena feel much more human. I also like how cold she reacts to the whole engagement thing. It isn’t real to her, which makes sense since she doesn’t understand how this new world really works. It does wonders for how the plot goes and  makes it all a bit more subtle. She is much more a sweet human being now rather than a carbon copy of a fairy tale trope. Anthy also isn’t as “submissive”  while she still really is in service of Utena; the girl doesn’t speak out some feelings or answers. She hides her thoughts a bit but we as the audience get to see there is more going around her head. Which gives her a lot more depth and at least shows me she can think for herself. The duel is also a bit more interesting, because Utena plans to lose I can wonder, does she indeed plan to lose but regret and come back later, does she find a reason to win?  Even knowing the show’s premise a bit from the opening.. with this episode I feel like it can go several ways. It keeps the plot more engaging. The mystery in the end made me want to see more.

Now.. let’s dedicate an entire paragraph to Chuchu!  I love it!  It doesn’t speak so it’s less annoying than Kon, it has loads of personality and its finally something that has nothing to do with roses. If the pet would have been a bee.. or a humming bird or something that goes for flowers, I would have found it all a bit stale.. but no this shook that up for me.  I did not expect I needed to see a monkey mouse fall into a piece of cake today.. but I did!  It is really good! I also like that Chuchu becomes the center of Utena’s affection…for now, once more it’s very humane that you bond with a creature  at least a bit faster than with a human.  I have an easier time to believe a girl who knows another girl  for a day or so would have an easier time finding zeal and passion in protecting a pet from being kicked as keeping up an engagement you may or may not be invested in. Utena probably does have those feelings toward women.. but she needs to grow into such a bond. While with something as cute as Chuchu such a bond can be instantaneous. No I don’t believe in love at first sight.. so Chuchu really is a great engine for character motivations for me now.

The Negatives

I have very little negative to say. From a story perspective a few things do not make sense to me yet, such as the meaning of the castle in the sky, what the location is the student council meets and why none of them have chosen to talk to Utena yet on how she got that ring.  Yet this episode showed me we will ease into it and it is a mystery that we will probably solve alongside Utena.. so while I at times feel lost and some elements feel disconnected, I think this show aims for it to be that way. It wants us to wonder what is going and and slowly link these things that make no sense together..  together.. I did notice that the prince came from the upside down castle. Could Utena be from the upside down world. Utena and Anthy almost feel like inversed names of each ofther as well.. but not really.. just kinda. Anyway there is still a lot of ideas floating up there.. but I don’t dislike that as much as i did in episode 1.

If there is one thing I disliked it’s the music. The version I am watching has those chorus songs translate as well and they just seem so random.  The whole Utena walks up the staircase footage while talking  about the Apocalypse and Shangri-la already was weird but then during the fight scene we get a chorus droning all sorts of fossils.  Trilobite Ammonite.. etc. The heck?! If this is because they are fighting in a school I think this is really forced. It’s kinda funny and random but seeing Trilobite randomly pop up in my screen as a weird really distracted me and pulled me out of the fight. I could do without those. Also Utena walking up a stairs is not as interesting as a magical girl transformation so I would like if they don’t stock footage that to often.. but I am probably out of luck there! I am not even sure how I call this flaw.. over stylised maybe?! Kabutops, Meowth Magnmite.. Mudkip Lairon Meditite…. See I told you that kind of thing was distracting.

The Score

Chuchu and a much more human Utena push this episode much much higher up then the previous one. This was very good! I like the improvements they took and I adore how the world is coming together but the characters do not just blindly accept their faith ,,they are human above all and that will pay off later. When characters fall in love I will like it better because it feels as if a human becomes in love.. when someone gets hurt or is lost, I will cry because a human is lost. In this second episode Utena shed off that skin of a character that makes things happen.. and Anthy kind of broke the exposition dump trope.. saying something have to reveal themselves. With more and more magic and mysticism bleeding in I also am becoming more intrigued to how his is followed up.

The  odd choice on what to turn into stock footage and the bizarre music choices do knock it down a peg for me though. Storywise I think the show is on a very good track to become more a show I can get into! I do feel this might be a slow burner for me and I will not be sucked in right away and it might take me a bit to give these odd choices a place but hey if the episodes stay like this by episode 5 there is no way way I am dropping it early so that is one Distortion World of a change. Very very good episode that took away many many doubts I had after episode 1. 

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