*WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS*
A lot of anime that I had started watching during the 90’s have been starting to celebrate anniversaries of 15 years and up recently. I was in junior high/high school during this time and Anime had just started hitting the mainstream thanks to shows and video games such as Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and Sailor Moon. One anime I started watching during this time among others was Revolutionary Girl Utena. This will be a two part blog, the second coinciding with day eight of the 30 day anime challenge.
Revolutionary Girl Utena was a shojo manga written by Be PaPas and illustrated by Chiho Sato. It started running in Ciao magazine in 1996 and then became an Anime in 1997. What drew me to the anime was the beautiful character design, and the fact that it was directed by Sailor Moon director Kunihiko Ikuhara. This year, Revolutionary Girl Utena celebrates it’s 20th anniversary. Even more recently, shows like Steven Universe have made references of this show in a few episodes along with other anime. I highly suggest all forms of this (show, movie, and manga).
Revolutionary Girl Utena manga:
Utena is a girl who just transferred schools as she didn’t seem to go along with the rules of her last one. She has been headstrong since her parents death, where she had met a prince who smelled of roses. He gives her a ring with a rose on it, and tells her that the ring will one day bring her to him again. The school she transfers to is Ohtori Academy, and she feels it is here that she will find her Prince.
The manga runs five volumes. The first four covers all the story arcs presented in the anime while volume five was a take on the movie. While there were many similarities, the manga essentially shortened the storylines that were fleshed out in anime. The artwork is every beautiful and the story is wonderful. Viz Media is re-releasing the manga later this month on the 28th in a special two volume hardcover set. It will retail for $49.99 and will include color inserts and page spreads not available in previous releases. I will be buying this when it releases.
Revolutionary Girl Utena TV Series:
The television series first aired in 1997 and ran for 39 episodes. There were three story arcs in the anime, and each one was more artistic and stranger than the last. There were many metaphors about the end of the world, relationships, and your existence in accordance with the school’s hierarchy. Here are small synopsis of each arc.
The Student Council Saga:
The Student Council saga runs through episodes one to thirteen. It starts when Utena arrives for the first day of school at Ohtori Academy. She is already attracting attention by wearing a boys uniform and getting romantic stares from all the girls. She first encounters the Student Council when her friend Wakaba is humiliated by Saionji, the Vice President. When Utena confronts him, she realizes he is wearing the same Rose emblem ring as she. Saionji says only members of the council or duelists have them, and were given to them by an entity known only as “The End of the World.”
Utena challenges Saionji to a duel, and when she reaches the Rose garden where the duel is to take place, she witnesses Saionji abuse a girl he has brought with him. Utena comes to the girls aid, and while they duel, she asks Saionji what gives him the right to abuse a poor girl. He mentions that the girl is the Rose Bride, and those who win the duel become engage to her. So those who are engaged to the Rose Bride can do what they will to her. Utena wins, and then becomes engaged to the Rose Bride, whom she finds out later is fellow Student Anthy Himemiya.
The first arc takes Utena and Anthy through duels against the other Student Council members. Those members include Miki Kaoru, Juri Arisugawa, Nanami Kiryuu, and finally, Student Council President Touga Kiryuu.
The Black Rose Saga:
The Black Rose saga sees a new set duelists enter the arena. It ran from episodes 14 through 23. We also get introduced to Anthy’s older brother Akio. He starts to play a bigger part as the series progress. After Utena thinks she is taking a break from dueling, she is quite mistaken. A new building has been built on campus by a man named Souji Mikage. The building, known as the Mikage Seminar, is meant to be for student counseling, but Souji has other motives.
Souji uses the building to manipulate students as they “confess their true feelings,”and then have them duel against Utena. His purpose is to replace Anthy as the Rose Bride with his Anthy-clone look alike Mamiya Chiba. Many students brought forth as Black Rose duelists include Miki’s sister Kozue and Utena’s friend Wakaba. After having to fight her best friend, Utena challenges Souji himself to a duel. After she defeats Souji, Akio confronts him, and says Souji has played his part and disposes of him. It is also shown that Anthy had a part in it. It is possible that she and Mamiya were one and the same person, used to manipulate Souji, for Mamiya has been dead for years.
The Akio and Apocalypse Saga:
The last story arc starts at episode 24 and goes until 39.
Another set of duels is lined up for Anthy and Utena. Saionji is brought back to Ohtori after being suspended for losing twice to Utena. Once again, he challenges her to another duel. During this duel however, the Sword of Dios, which Utena has been taking from Anthy, disappears. In the nick of time, Anthy is able to draw the sword from Utena and together they defeat Saionji.
During this arc, Anthy’s brother Akio takes numerous characters to “the End of the World.” Here, the duelists determine who is their equivalent to the Rose Bride, and both Duelist and “Bride” go to the arena in hope to defeat Utena and Anthy. This will prove if the apposing couple has a stronger bond than that of Anthy and Utena. Unfortunately, none of fake duelist/bride couples bonds were strong enough to defeat Utena and Anthy.
In the last couple episodes, Akio gets into a serious relationship with Utena. Touga and Saoinji try their best to warn her that Akio is not what he seems. It is found out later that Touga and Saionji encountered Utena when they were children, shortly after her parents died.
They duel her one more time as a warning of what’s to come with Akio. Touga even confesses his love to Utena. They are defeated, but managed to plant some doubt in her in regards to Akio. Utena then duels Akio, only to find out her and Anthy’s true purpose in regards to “The End of the World.” Akio does reveal himself to be Utena’s prince from long ago, but Utena’s feelings for Anthy and the desire to be a prince are more stronger than her feelings for Akio.
That’s all for now. Next blog, I will cover the Utena movie and my favorite anime couple from this series for the 30 day anime challenge.