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Classic Anime Spotlight: Revolutionary Girl Utena

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First off the concept behind this feature is to introduce new anime fans, old anime fans, and everyone in-between to classic anime titles that you might have passed up due to the never-ending cycle of keeping up with new anime. There are plenty of reasons why people do not watch older anime titles: the animation sucks, the story is cliché, and it just looks way too old. I have to admit I was the same way for a long time as well, until I discovered that they are called classics for a reason. They are beyond time my friends.

Revolutionary Girl Utena
is one such anime. I always thought it was a simple anime about lesbian school girls kissing and hugging each other; plus it was shojo, so it was never my forte. Hell, I even thought it was made by CLAMP; not that it’s a bad thing, but I have yet to watch one of their series to completion. I soon came to realize that I made a mistake judging Utena before watching it, because this anime just so happens to be susceptible to God Len’s number one shojo rule: great shojo appeals to both women and men, no matter what it is about.

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena
Developed by J.C.Staff
First aired in December, 1997
39 episodes
Licensed in America by Central Park Media


Let me first say that Utena is not a show about lesbians, really. I would go as far as to say that incestuous desire and incest play a bigger role in the show than homosexuality. Like many shojo anime, Utena is heavily inspired by fairy tales with princes, princesses, and red convertibles. However, in Utena there are numerous prince and princess, and princess who want to become princes, and probably some the other way around. Yes, it’s a mess, but that’s the way Utena rolls.

A basic summery of the story is that when Utena was a young girl, she met a prince who gave her a special ring, and a promise to one day meet again. Utena, so impressed with the prince decided to become one herself. To achieve this she doesn’t get a sex change, but wears the boy’s school uniform and acts like a tomboyish teenage girl. She ends up being dragged into participating in a series of duels with the Student Council, with real swords and real roses. After winning the first round, she is rewarded with the “Rose Bride”, basically a subservient wife. After the victory Utena accepts duel after duel, all while heading toward the end of the world.

If Hollywood made a live-action adaptation of Utena, it would be directed by David Lynch. Seriously, it is a weird show. Sure, it might not seem like a weird show overall, but when you start looking at the details, it’s just mind-boggling. A group of characters will be having a discussion about the plot, and everything is great and dandy. However, in the background crazy, out of the ordinary things will happen for no real reason. Like a random baseball game, or the characters suddenly taking part in a press conference. At first I was like “WTF!”, but then understood that this is the greatest idea in the history of animation. Watching two characters talk is boring, but watching two characters talk and eat paper at the same time is extremely entertaining.  

Like any magical girl anime, Utena is extremely repetitive; but repetitive in a good way. Each and every duel is kicked off with a long sequence that involves Utena marching off to the sky tower of epic dueling extravaganza, changing outfits, and removal of her sword. All to the best choral rock music about the absolute destiny apocalypse to ever grace my speakers. This scene becomes an addiction, if it doesn’t show up in the episode you will end up growing angry, sad, and lonely; wondering where did my “Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku” go? It is like a drug.

The music in this series is fantastic; seriously, it is a millimeter behind Yoko Kanno. Each and every duel is sanctioned with its own rock opera piece that makes it feel like every duel is a fight for the universe itself. The sweet music doesn’t end there, when they are not fighting we a blessed with orchestra pieces, and jazz music; something for everyone.

Once you are finished with Utena, I am sure you will walk away feeling like you experienced something new, weird, and different, while also being somewhat familiar. The overall story reminded me somewhat of Evangelion, wondering what the hell just happened, and if someone slipped some drugs into my drink; though you still should feel somewhat satisfied. Good thing there is a movie that, of course, isn’t much help when it comes to answering these questions; oh well, that’s anime for you. Shonen fans should not run away from this. Utena is a classic shojo anime that demonstrates the creative power of anime.

Three random reasons why you should watch Utena:

1. Nanami Kiryuu


This overdramatic incestuous girl always looks like she is either really high, or has a stick up her ass. She even turns into a cow in one episode. Oh and that laugh, I can’t forget that laugh!

2. Song lyrics


I can’t decide if the lyrics in Utena’s music are nothing more than rubbish, or perhaps in some way decipher the meaning of life. You tell me:

Earth is a character, mechanical
Earth is a character, a toy box
Earth is a character, a department store
Earth is a character, a fair building
Earth is a character, a museum
Earth is a character, a glass shelf
 
3. The Open Shirt Red Convertible Cool Kid Car Club


There is nothing cooler than a red convertible that drives you to the end of the world. For some reason, characters must have an open shirt when driving in this car. I think it’s some kind of symbolism for having sex or something. Either way anyone who takes a ride in this car becomes evil!

 


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reviewed by God Len

 

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Filed under... #anime #Japanator Original #reviews #shoujo

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