Archive for ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’

March 22, 2010

Animewriter on Sexuality as Sovereignty in Revolutionary Girl Utena and His Dark Materials

Original Post: To Be So Smooth: Seduction and Betrayal in Revolutionary Girl Utena’s Akio Car Arc


March 22, 2010 at 12:05 am

Yes, now you’re really biting into some tasty meat, just a little deeper and you’ll taste the marrow of the bones.

I think that the reason why Akio and others are able to seduce and manipulate so many into doing their bidding is that they’re offering them the chance to fulfill their desires which aren’t possible in the first place.

“The Character’s Goal (Saionji wants something Eternal, Miki wants something (eternally) Beautiful, Juri wants the Power of Miracles, Nanami wants the Power to surpass everything, Toga wants the Power to Bring the World to Revolution”

In the your last post on Utena I commented on how everything in/and about the academy was wrong and I think that this theme is carried over brilliantly in the Akio Car arc. Almost every goal and desire the main characters want are wrong including Utena wanting to be a prince, she can no more be a prince then I could be princess.

What i found really interesting about your post was how you described Namami being more pure than Anthy because of lack of desire for a sexual relationship, with Anthy being sullied by her incestuous desire for her brother. To me, a large part of this series is about leaving childish ideas behind and becoming adults, and part of adulthood is the “loss of innocence”, I look at this issue completely differently, putting aside the whole incest issue, the desire for or completion of sex is a sign of declaring you’re stepping into the world of adulthood, now whether the outcome is good or bad is another story.

Many years ago I was in a forum that was discussing the sexual awakening of the two main characters from Philip Pullmann’s His Dark Materials book trilogy (they where around Utena’s age) and the author actually chimed in. He stated something to the effect (this happened like 6-7 years ago so I might be a little off on the exact wording) that the characters relationship changing from the pure child-like to the more sexualized adult form was a key point in emphasizing that they where becoming adults with the all responsibilities, rewards, and heartbreaks that go along with it. He stated that as children we are controlled by our religion, our parents, our schools, and our societal values but when we make the free decision to express our love in a sexual form we are declaring our sovereignty, it’s a decision we can only make for ourselves. This theme of sexual desire roiling under the surface, and not so under the surface of RGU is one of the reasons I really loved the series, I get tired of anime where the main characters fawn/have the hots over each other for years and the series ends with a confession, or a kiss, GMAFB, so I think that RGU’s slow boil is closer to RL than many anime tread, weird symbolism included. Oh, I wish I could have a car like that.


January 22, 2010

Animewriter on Ninpo and Revolutionary Girl Utena

Original post: Lies, Murderous Intent, Remembering Love Gone Wrong, WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS Black Rose Society Arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena


January 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm

As I read most interpretations of Utena written by western viewers I feel they’re missing the most important point of the whole series; this situation is almost the same as how western viewers saw the ending of TM 8.0 completely different from how Japanese viewers interpreted that very same ending.

I liked how you used wrong in the title of your post because from the very first episode of Utena, we the viewer, can see that EVERYTHING is wrong about the Ohtori Academy, and most of its students. The Othori Academy is an example of traditional Japanese society that has fallen off the path of social obligations and proper respect for one’s duties, and the concept of wrong memories, wrong motivations, and wrong self-identification fits perfectly.

If you take away the surrealism of the situation and look at the series and judge the characters by how they either conform or deviate from expected cultural norms it’s not hard to see why most of them have a bad end.

Almost all of the characters, Utena included, have given into their personal desires (ninjo) and have forgotten their social obligations (guri). Even in modern Japanese society, a great deal of weight is placed on the Confucius values of knowing one’s role in the family, and society (school, government, and so forth).

So, on first principles, A is A: Aristotle’s Law of Identity;

Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and it has characteristics that are a part of what it is. “This leaf is red, solid, dry, rough, and flammable.” ……….To have an identity means to have a single identity; an object cannot have two identities. A tree cannot be a telephone, and a dog cannot be a cat. Each entity exists as something specific, its identity is particular, and it cannot exist as something else. An entity can have more than one characteristic, but any characteristic it has is a part of its identity.

Taken from

So, most of the characters fail to realise what they are and what their proper role is “if you’re the eldest son, be the best eldest son possible; if your a member of the student counsel, try to be the best one possible; if you’re a prince be the best one possible”. Using this line of thinking you can pretty much see that Utena is not an unique character in anime or manga, you can see parts of her in Princess Sapphire from Princess Knight (1967) where Princess Sapphire was born with the heart of boy and the heart of a girl, and you can also see parts of Utena’s struggles in Lady Oscar from the Rose of Versailles (1979).

So, what I’m getting at is A is A; Utena should arise from the flames like the phoenix as (?), or emerge from her coffin and be reborn as (?), well, that’s the question. I’m waiting for your end of the series post so I don’t have to worry about any spoilers, and we can let it fly.


January 22, 2010

Coburn on the Beauty of Deranged Longing in Revolutionary Girl Utena

Original Post: Lies, Murderous Intent, Remembering Love Gone Wrong, WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS Black Rose Society Arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena


January 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Mikage really is an odd one. He probably does rank as evil, but I’ve always been interested in his reaction to that normal bloke Wakaba rejects – Mikage’s coldness towards his duellists strikes me as a sort of projected self-loathing, when he comes across someone who rationalises a path through frustration Mikage is almost admiring.

The whole beauty of deranged longing thing kind of reminded me of a passage in the play Equus where a psychologist angst-trips over re-educating and normalising a patient as an intrusion on his individualism. At school that struck me as a pretty badass line in angst. What I enjoy about this arc as a concept is that the self-obsession of the duellists (including Mikage) is presented as something easily manipulated, rather than a product of immaculate internal logic. The insanity isn’t autonomous, and the role of memory (so, other people) in building personal identity is foregrounded.