Management: Once again, got some requests for some of my original show notes. As before, these aren’t in any way formatted for readers – they’re my notes to myself, containing immediate reactions and anything I thought might be useful for pulling together the motifs and themes of the series. They just go straight through from first episode to last, but of course you can ctrl-f to find the scattered references to any particular topic. The occasional bolded sections are stuff that I thought were key points at the time, or pieces I was sure I’d use for my eventual essay.
Anyway! That’s all for preamble. These are mainly for the crazy few people who are into this sort of thing, so don’t feel obligated to read, there’s no prize at the end. This really is just a whole goddamn ton of Utena notes. Enjoy!
So I’m told this one is ridiculously heavy on the symbolism. I guess we’ll see.
2:07 – Already slamming in the rose imagery. Symbol of female virgin youth. Hm. Already seems like the show might play with gender roles. “Saved by a prince”
2:33 – “This ring will lead you to me.” “Perhaps the ring he gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but so impressed was she that she decided to one day become a prince herself.” Gender roles ahoy!
3:22 – “What are you doing?” “Waiting to meet my boyfriend!” “Boyfriend, huh? Well, she ditched you”
3:34 – The art style and architecture seem very ornate and classic fairy tale-esque. So I assume this is taking those fantasies to task directly – maybe offering a new narrative of the classic fairy tale
5:00 – And of course she wears a boy’s uniform
5:46 – And she aces the boys at basketball in shots framed by those pink rose petals. So they’re defining her power as a feminine power? Or is there some other intention there?
Also, her crowd of admiring girls afterwards. Great stuff
6:06 – “Join our team.” “I happen to be a girl! I don’t want to get covered in gross guy’s sweat!” Yeah, so she’s defining her power as feminine for sure. And she doesn’t want to win at a man’s game – she wants to win on her own terms?
6:13 – “You act like a guy anyway!” “Quit insulting me!” Quit labeling me according to these behaviors
“Why do you wear boy’s clothes?” “To be a prince. I want to be a prince who saves princesses”
7:13 – The scent of roses makes her think of the prince who saved her. He’s associated with the flower. Hm
And the other protagonist is watering the roses – literally acting as a force that makes flowers bloom. HM
9:09 – Student Council: “We who wear the rose emblem are all chosen members.” Hm
Anthy is the “rose bride.” Hm
“True, you are currently engaged to her. But that doesn’t allow you to treat her as you please”
You duel others to gain “ownership” of the bride. Hm
12:00 – The boys are reading the love letter on the board, jeeringly. “What’s wrong with reading something that’s posted up?” “A REAL man wouldn’t do that.” Hm
12:35 – “I can do whatever I want with my letters.” Treating her feelings as something he owns. Does this relate to his treatment of the bride?
13:37 – The silhouettes mock and jeer, treating this like a play. Sounds like the same voice that described Utena’s flashback
14:40 – The gate is activated by her ring – water strikes it, “cold!”
15:07 – “The absolute destiny apocalypse – birth records, baptismal records, records of death.” The song. Hm
17:27 – Utena is given the white rose. If it’s knocked off her chest, she loses. Protecting the rose is critical. Anthy is the “rose bride”
18:44 – “Power of the dios that sleeps within me, come forth.” “Grant me the power to bring about revolution!” A sword resides inside her. Bells ring when it’s released
21:07 – “Oh yeah baby, you’ve lit a fire in my heart.” Hur hur redhead fire pun. More importantly, he’s immediately positioning her as a helpless girl
1:50 – All the other school girls find her cool. The camera focuses on the attire she’s chosen
8:30 – “Why do you care about that bride stuff?” “Why do you wear men’s clothes?” “Because I like to?” “Same answer.” Hm
14:00 – “I don’t want to fight any more duels. I don’t care about that bride stuff!” “But I do.” It seems like Utena is being forced to accept others’ cultural/societal choices even if she doesn’t agree with them. Or at least respect those choices
18:40 – “I admire you. You put the rose before your own life.”
20:09 – In mortal danger, Utena’s ring activates, bringing down the spectre of her original prince. He merges with her under the symbol of the white rose, the one on her breast that she said smelled of him.
2:20 – In the flashback, when she’s grieving over her parent’s graves, the rose emblems are red. After the prince leaves they are replaced by the current white roses
2:35 – Then, when it switches to “she decided to become a prince”, those roses turn pink, the color of her hair. Is she currently just acting out the old prince’s role, and has yet to become a prince in her own right?
5:11 – “Despite appearances, I’m a totally normal girl. I don’t want a bride. All I want is a totally normal boy!”
7:20 – “If it cannot break its egg shell, a chick will die without being born. We are the chick. The world is our egg.” All this repeated stuff
9:52 – And this other challenger has the yellow rose icon. They’ve all got their own color
14:00 – These stage gossipers. They appear in shadow. Shadow seems to be important – it’s how the student council appears in the elevator, and crops up throughout. Maybe it’s linked to the mystical stuff?
15:25 – Utena gets the pink rose icons when she appears in a dress
18:31 – This episode is playing around in comfort zones… and pushing pretty damn far beyond them. Both Anthy and Utena are getting pretty seriously harassed here
19:23 – Utena tosses away her dress, and still gets her pink roses. In fact, they’re brighter this time
19:42 – Utena saves Anthy, and Anthy switches to a dress with the white rose. Perhaps the white rose indicates the “princess” role at all times?
21:25 – Anthy is actually comfortable in the public sphere now that she’s wearing the dress Utena gave her
2:18 – Okay, what is UP with these constant shadowed archways? The shadows are key – there’s a pair hanging over the dueling ground, there’s the elevator scenes with the student council, and there’s a bunch of others. But…
2:43 – The sister of the fire-guy seems like she’s also marked as “green” – the dress she gave Anthy was green, her blazer is trimmed in green, and when she’s meeting the blue boy at the piano, a green notebook is covering a blue notebook on the corner
3:30 – She picks up the green notebook (which has a red rose insignia on it) and begins flipping through
4:01 – But that notebook has an image of Anthy in it – who actually wore the green dress, and also wears the normal green uniform. Is *she* marked as green? Do the shades matter?
4:34 – Utena’s friend: “A real woman can force her sense of logic onto any man!” Seems to be the reverse of the logic Utena’s being forced to accept – their system. But she in turn forces people to accept her identity?
5:19 – Anthy gets slapped again. “We all know how much Mickey (the blue guy) likes you. It’s your fault he dropped out of the competition!” They’re continuously blaming Anthy for “ruining” their men. Hm
5:29 – “You said something to him, and he lost his self-confidence!” While the other girl manipulates from the shadows
5:52 – What’s up with Mickey’s stopwatch?
7:48 – “Maybe I should get a logical boyfriend, too…” Utena was also discussing a “logical brain” with her friend before. Hm
8:25 – Now Mickey hands that special green notebook to Anthy
8:50 – I like how they have the slam of piano keys whenever he gets emotional. It’s his most honest form of expression
11:23 – “Did you hear? The boy who was best at math in elementary school was in love with me! But when he found out I like wrestling and eating garlic ramen, he said ‘now I know what kind of girl you really are’, and left!”
13:32 – When the girl pulls out the slug, her yellow roses appear. That’s her… exercising her power?
14:07 – And she’s foiled when there’s already snails in the eraser case. Anthy don’t give a fuck
14:33 – Her plans are focused on people judging Anthy for failing to uphold some specific standard of femininity, of course
15:28 – “I told you not to put your mongoose there.” “I think it’s cute. It’s just like Anthy to do that!”
20:41 – Kinda seems like this episode is playing with “fate”. Mickey seems clearly destined to find this girl – they’re complementary in everything and she’s lined up as his childhood friend
21:33 – “The same tone as my sister’s… I’ve found it. My ‘shining thing’!”
1:50 – “Mickey and Captain Jury! Isn’t it cool!” The opinions of these crowds of spectators is kind of omnipresent in this show
2:09 – The girl spectators run away, framed in those shadow arches again
2:27 – “Your lack of perfection is your strength. The strength of purity.” Used to describe Mickey. Huh
“Your sword usually carries a very meek strength. That went up a level today. Perhaps because of the girl you were correcting tests for?”
“However, your sword is not for battle.”
5:25 – “All my happiness was in that sunlit garden… but I destroyed it!”
So he had them perform for others at a concert. Transposed against the image of the bird in a cage – trying to capture something that was beautiful as it naturally was
5:40 – “I’ll be scared in front of all those strangers.”
The spectators again
And then he gets sick and can’t be there with her, transposed against the image of the birds in flight. They were used before, during the elevator scene. Also, both he and his sister are black shadows in this segment
6:35 – So after that, she never played again. Tried to cage her, made her strength reliant on him, lost her
8:00 – “It’s ridiculous to make a girl someone’s bride because of a duel!” This whole structure supports ownership – the bird in the cage
8:16 – “If it cannot break its shell, a chick will die without being born.” So it all supports that interpretation. And again, the birds fly past as they monologue as black shadows
9:00 – Mickie – “I propose the dissolution of the student council. These duals to control Anthy are ridiculous. I cannot stand by and allow them to continue!”
9:33 – “No matter what power we get. In the end, isn’t what we’re doing going to smash something important to people?!” “Smash the world’s shell.
There’s an apple on a chair at the start of this scene, now diced into pieces
11:07 – Holy crap. The sister, who he’s now drifted away from, is being used by the red-haired dude as leverage. Daaang
11:21 – “Only the one she is engaged to can make the rose bride do what she want.” Red flower sigils
12:07 – “Make them do what you want… I won’t lose my sister’s playing again!” So he will submit to the system in order to preserve what he wants – bird in a cage again
13:05 – “Don’t worry. I will protect the feeling of your song!” Meaning you will make her do what you say. You will shelter her
13:47 – He hands her the white rose to challenge her
14:30 – The shadows: “I am a pirate! All the treasures of the world belong to me!” “But tell me, with all your treasures, why don’t you have the thing you really want? Isn’t that why you won’t give up being a pirate?” “The thing I really, TRULY want… it’s…” “Oh no, we’ve sprung a leak.” So that’s a direct playing out, right? He attempts to horde treasure, and so cannot find the one thing he wants
15:00 – The “transformation sequence” is all shadows followed by the white rose
16:57 – Utena has the pink sigil in her profile, but wears the white one for the duel.
“I have to get that music back!”
“I think being seated at the piano suited you much more.” And orange-hair-girl agrees
So, creating his own music instead of caging hers? I dunno
17:59 – “I swear I’ll make you mine!” But that statement by Mickey has the pink sigils. Huh
18:49 – “I’m going to have the bride’s piano playing.” “Like this?!” He should be able to win her – but as a human being, not as a prize/caged bird
19:15 – “I can see it in her eyes. She really wants to be free.” First, he’s not actually talking to her. And second, he’s not freeing her – he’s still working within the system. Hopefully Anthy becomes more active later
19:45 – “That’s it, Miss Utena! Get him!” So there’s her being ACTIVE for once, and it actually shocks him, giving Utena the opening
20:12 – “Why can’t I find someone to be my ‘shining thing?’ Why can’t I…” He clings to a still photograph. Here, it is shattered
“I’d like to study with you again.” Anthy never took things in the ridiculously self-focused, super-serious manner he did. In fact, it seems like this whole pair of episodes was largely from his perspective – only he was thinking in these “epic” terms, about how he needed to save her and preserve her music and whatnot
21:16 – His sister: “A boy next door said he loved my playing. But I sucked – only my brother’s genius kept him on time with me, and made us look good together.” “Your brother’s pretty amazing.” “I guess.” So the concert wasn’t about her being too weak to stand alone emotionally – she never could play. It was a mirage, his lofty image of her. His fantasy of her as frail but beautiful?
And then Mickey says “next time I won’t lose.” Goddamnit!
4:38 – When Nanami’s in trouble, she seeks her brother for strength. Her policy is to not get her hands dirty. Kind of indicative of that classic, problematic “feminine strength” thing
4:38 – Utena in a baseball uniform gets her pink sigils. She owns that shit
5:26 – More of those shadowed archways, with Nanami and Utena arguing. They’re kind of too ubiquitous to mean anything
7:37 – After running away assuming her brother wants to kill her, Nanami runs in silhouette against the black archways. Yeaah
8:42 – A “prince” appears in a flurry of chickens to save Nanami from a rampaging horse. Hm
10:19 – Nanami’s actually saved by a little boy, who she ends up asking out. More black archways after everyone gets shocked at this
11:11 – Everything about this show is like a play. The shadow-commentators, the curtains that open and close each half, etc. The fact that it’s a performance is critical, and kind of plays to the theme – spectators, and the views of others, are a thing all the characters live in the continuous presence of. Their identities are not just their own
13:20 – “No matter how you may be abused, you’ll always be happy near the one you love.” Said by the green-haired dude
14:27 – “I made a promise to Nanami. As long as I date her, I will protect her!”
15:48 – “Tsuwabuki is my boyfriend! I’m free to treat him any way I please!” Kind of the opposite of Mickey’s case – she’s still claiming ownership and denying him agency, though
18:00 – So he ended up causing all the danger just so he could save her. Awesome
20:20 – “I can’t let you die. I need people like you to work for me!” And she gets her yellow sigil as she saves him
3:00 – Cute transition there. Juri (orange-haired girl) getting praised for upholding and maintaining the school’s traditions in one window, shift to the next where Utena is being scolded for breaking school rules
5:10 – “We’ve all heard of you. The great student council member… but they say you’re trouble, and have a dark hidden side.” More of this court of public opinion stuff, as the camera pans over the anonymous student crowds
6:01 – Anthy leaves the arboreum holding an orange rose this time
6:30 – “You said it. It really is stupid to try and possess the rose bride.”
“Yeah… there’s no such thing as miracles.” Aw shit backstory
7:31 – Anthy offers the orange rose, Juri slaps it and her, saying “don’t get too familiar”. Hm
8:55 – Juri wants to either prove or disprove the power of miracles. One way or the other
9:12 – “Yes… I was in love.” The boy she was in love with gets the white rose insignia, while she has her orange one. Is the white rose the bride, or the challenger? Check other examples
9:46 – “Believe in miracles and they will know your feelings. She told me that.” The girl in her past, who stole her love, also had purple hair, and offered her the orange rose
10:22 – And so her rival told the boy she was in love with someone else. More of this he-said-she-said shit
11:59 – Even that characters-in-black-profile thing resembles figures on a stage. This is all about lighting and set design. And Juri’s flashback had shots that were just designed to be symbolic representations of the relationship between the three of them
12:14 – “You weren’t in your uniform, so I didn’t recognize you. You look beautiful. You look really cool in your uniform, but I bet everyone would be surprised to see you in such a girly outfit.” Is this who she truly is, or wanted to be?
12:53 – “And you still wear your uniform at night. Why do you wear a boy’s uniform?” “Because of the prince. He told me ‘never lose your nobility or your strength.’ I want to be like him, and I feel this uniform helps me be a bit closer to him. I don’t believe in the power of the rose bride… but I do believe we’re linked by fate. Is that a miracle?”
13:54 – And Juri almost seems seduced by this conviction, but then becomes furious at the thought Utena was “tricked” by some guy into coveting these things. Juri is insecure in her own strength?
14:30 – “Show me that miracle!” Yeah, she wants proof in the power of belief or faith
15:20 – The shadow-people: “I’m glad I got sick when I did! I didn’t even want to go to the zoo! Screw that stuff!” “You really wanted to go, huh?” Yep, Juri attacks the idea of miracles in general because she had such great faith in one
17:36 – Right, Utena gets the white rose in battle. Meaning it represents the prince, or a prince in general. And Juri wants to be a princess – she wants to wear the lady dress, and to trust in her prince. And now she has rejected all those ideas and accepted masculinity to rage against the failure of her past to live up to that dream
18:38 – “Are you alright, Prince? We’ve barely even started.” Again, Juri mocks her ideals – but Utena actually is taking the prince role here
21:38 – So she actually loved the girl. Man, that throws all her gender stuff… damn. Really good stuff.
She’s also very trapped in the roles given to people – even assuming the “man’s” role, she was always considered as a girl in love with a boy in the past. Hm
7:00 – So… Anthy and Utena have switched bodies. On the one hand, yeah, this is a cool way to explore how their identities work. On the other, lulz
7:09 – Anthy-Utena gets the red rose sigil. Was that her sigil before?
8:05 – “You’re selling the images of them?” “They have a unique appeal”
10:51 – The shadow-people: “Today’s term is: Divine Justice! If you do something bad, bad things will happen to you.”
So apparently they actually have switched bodies – Anthy’s complimenting Anthy-Utena on her athletic ability
12:00 – Anthy: “It doesn’t matter to me if we stay this way. I don’t care what I look like.” “Well I DO. Saionji’s been hitting on me!”
15:46 – So Saionji, who’s the one who tried to “win” Anthy, hit her, and in general didn’t respect her originally, is actually expressing his feelings towards her through a mutual diary. They play up that scene as if it’s going to go in a physical direction, and then he pulls the diary out from in front of his heart
Also, it’s easy to see through expressions alone that this isn’t Anthy/Utena. Their physicality is beating out their physical appearance
17:50 – Troll-ass Utena-Anthy hands back the diary accompanied by the pink sigil
I love how this show handles the structure of its world in general. All these characters show the signs of living in a world with such a specific chosen framework, however they may feel about that framework
1:50 – Again it starts with gossip as girls run past those darkened archways
2:59 – “Touga’s the best! That’s my prince!” The fight is dominated by the black shadows crying out for their favorite
My writeup on this should definitely cover the watching, judging, spectator and appearance-focused nature of this world. Fascinating stuff
5:11 – Utena: “Do you really love her? Then why did you try to win her in a duel?!”
5:42 – “You’re just competing against Touga? Anthy’s just some pawn to you?!” And an incredibly charged flashback to an old duel. Interesting. Anthy seems to be just an object to virtually all of them – in fact, acknowledging the duels at all seems to involve considering her an object to be won
6:19 – In this flashback, Saionji and Touga are black silhouettes, but the bandage Touga gave Saionji is bright white – the color of the prince’s rose
8:03 – Three coffins, each with a red rose sigil. Utena hides in one
8:22 – “I won’t tell anyone you’re here. I’m an ally to all girls. I’m chivalrous, after all.”
9:04 – “Why does everyone go on living even though they’re going to die one day? I should have realized it before. That there’s no such thing as something eternal.”
9:53 – “We can’t let her die like that!” “Then show her something eternal.” And the bandage he put on Saionji unwraps at those words
10:35 – She was different the next day, and he thought Touga did something. “He was always ahead of me.” Anthy also expresses a wish to go to the floating castle, since something eternal dwells within it
So he’ll beat Touga by showing Anthy something eternal before Touga can
11:49 – “And the ring the prince gave her must have been an engagement ring.” Always on about the marriage thing
12:30 – Touga clasps Utena to himself. She is framed in her pink sigil, he in the white sigil of the prince
“Wouldn’t you like your prince to be somebody like me?”
19:39 – They visit the dueling grounds, Anthy lies within a red-sigil-laden coffin inside a red rose, the castle above begins to fall apart, Utena runs to save Anthy. Then suddenly the castle is fine, and it seems to all be a mirage or something
Now Saionji is mad Utena saved her. “I was supposed to save her this time!” Flashing back to Utena in her coffin
20:39 – Saionji attempts to strike Utena, Touga jumps in to take the blow. The sigil flashes between pink and white – Touga saving Utena
20:50 “Touga! Why?” “Because your prince… was a guy like me, right?”
“Why do you always…” “Because I’m chivalrous.” The word he uses is “feminist”, tho
21:35 – “Yes, Saionji’s being expelled. A person who truly believes in friendship is a fool.” Touga recovers while draped with women
How many girls who can’t confess their feelings does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One to hold the lightbulb, two to hold her feet while walking in narrative circles
1:48 – “Hey, did you hear about Saionji?” Always started with the peanut gallery
2:42 – And Saionji entrusts his diary to Touga, who promptly chucks it in the incinerator
4:19 – Really interesting. Nanami slaps Utena for letting Touga get hurt, and Utena just takes it – and even meekly apologizes. Has Touga put her in the role of the Bride?
4:37 – “My wounds aren’t worth this. Besides, it’s a Knight’s duty to save a lady in trouble.”
Yeah, Utena’s acting incredibly meek in general here. It could be because last episode’s events were so shocking, but the events have ALWAYS been ridiculous.
5:14 – “Maybe a girl really can’t become a prince.” Yeeep
7:21 – “Thank you, Nanami. It’s a wonderful present.” The same role as Utena’s prince – seeing her as beautiful and strong. Seeing her power. And the yellow sigil comes out as she remembers his care
8:40 – Oshit, he turns down a kiss from her. Bad times ahead!
10:31 – Utena offers Touga pink roses, Nanami slaps them out of her hand
11:13 – “I won’t let you have my brother!” And the focus immediately shifts to all the gossiping faces
13:16 – Wow. The kitten she found distracted her brother, so she killed it
And then seeing Anthy give him a new kitten prompts her to throw down the challenge with a yellow rose
14:58 – So this time the shadow-people have a kitty, and one keeps asking for a name while the other offers names like “kitty,” “unusual kitty,” etc. “Fine, if you’re so setting on calling it kitty, we’ll call it that.” “Come here, Juliano.” How does that relate to the brother?
18:44 – Nanami: “My ring was given to me by my prince. My prince will lead me to victory!”
“No he won’t!” And then her ring shines, the prince figure descends, and Utena destroys the rose, accompanied with the white prince sigil
20:08 – When Nanami kills the kitten, a crow flies off. What did the birds represent?
20:48 – “You don’t have to fight anymore. I’ll protect you.” And she immediately stops, once her prince acknowledges her as an object of protection
21:20 – “I can’t ignore a damsel in distress. That’s the nature of a prince.”
2:00 – Her friend makes her a bento, of course
3:53 – Touga refers to Utena as a “lonely princess”
4:18 – And then he gets the white rose sigil in Utena’s mind as he approaches
4:55 – Flashback to him taking the blow, with first pink sigils, and then white as he says “your prince was a guy like me”
5:41 – Why is a red balloon floating across the student council discussion?
And then a blue balloon and an orange one, matching their colors. This show is fucking with me
6:30 – “If one has deep feelings for someone, it’s only a matter of time before those feelings betray them”
7:37 – “I had fun with them. Wakaba’s lunch was great… I’d like to try and make a lunch like that.” “The Rose Bride, cooking!” As if it’s ridiculous. And she looks disappointed
“Your job isn’t to cook. You just need to stay here and tend the roses. This birdcage is your domain.” Shades of Mickey’s desires there
7:57 – “I wish to make this birdcage my domain. And I would never let you out of it.”
9:06 – “You don’t care about her. You just see her as the Rose Bride, not a person! Tell him you hate being thought of as the Rose Bride!” And she does, because she is the Rose Bride, and will obey whatever Utena says
10:44 – So he abuses all her memories of the Prince and then challenges her to a duel. He pretty much just abuses the emotions of everyone around him
11:31 – “Now the one link I have to the Prince forces me to fight him. If only I didn’t have this ring…” No Utena! Become a prince!
11:22 – Anthy: “I wish I had more friends…” and then her and Utena are cast in blackness, with only their shadows having light.
“You will. You just have to open your heart!” So this episode we’re finally getting Anthy expressing her own desires. About time
12:55 – “I know I can turn Anthy back into a regular girl. I won’t give her to the others. Not even to my prince!” Careful with your word choices, Utena
13:32 – This time the shadow-figures are doing William Tell. “Nice shot! But Daddy, that was the 13,000th time. How long must we do this?” “Until someone tells us to stop.” “Yes, Daddy. But can’t that nobleman let you not do this once?” “Oh, stop thinking for yourself!”
So is that Utena, constantly fighting for Anthy without giving her a chance to express herself? Or is Touga involved?
15:00 – This time, Utena hesitates on her way up the steps, staring up at Anthy
16:49 – “Don’t hold back! Those who fight with compassion lose their lives!” A pretty Touga thing to say
17:00 – Utena is framed in the pure black, Touga in the pure white. Hm
17:25 – “Your swordfighting is amateurish. But the real question will come when the power of Dios manifests.” So that’s her “prince”?
18:50 – And so he stands still when she manifests the Power of Dios, and lets her memories of the prince destroy her resolve
21:30 – Yep, and the whole ending is Anthy just falling in line with the next prince. Utena was fooling herself
1:44 – “Even though you fancied yourself a prince, in the end you were just a girl.” Touga you dick
“Despite what you may have hoped for, your hopes didn’t become reality.” As Utena is made into a shadow
“Well, this is a good chance for you to be a normal girl, isn’t it?”
3:29 – White sigil corners as Anthy bows and leaves the dorm. The prince leaving with her? Not sure. Or maybe this is the first time the prince’s power has worked against her – it just resides with the power of Dios, which isn’t necessarily her power
4:21 – Utena arrives in a girl’s uniform with her pink sigil. “Isn’t that Utena?” “She looks really good.” “I think I like her best this way.” Damn peanut gallery always judging
4:38 – “You seem to like that uniform.” “Yes. It’s normal.” But Wakada, her actual friend who actually cares about her, is not happy or impressed
5:00 – Anthy says good morning to the tune of red rose sigils. She is claimed
5:40 – “Have to be normal.” Why? Was her identity so tied to being right about Anthy? Was the thought of her prince, or her own belief in herself as an unbeatable prince, the only source of her strength?
6:39 – “How did you win?” “I played the part of the noble prince, and won the lonely princess.”
Mickey is not happy with this
8:50 – Utena doesn’t respond when Touga aggressively flirts with her. Wakada gets angry at how passive she’s being (as Utena once would), and tries to toss water at him. He dodges, it hits Anthy
“Sorry. But it’s your fault! You were just standing there in a daze.”
9:05 – Wakada accuses Anthy, and Utena slaps her – that classic slap they keep using, utter dismissal. Wakada grins, and returns it. “Well, maybe you still CAN react to some things!” Wonderful
10:18 – Utena: “I want you to stop criticizing me.” “I won’t!” Go Wakada!
11:30 – And Touga DOES treat her like a caged bird. “Wait for me here.” And she dreams of Utena. Those moments weren’t false
12:10 – It looks like Utena and Wakada are talking against the shadow-players wall
12:25 – “Why are you wearing that?” “This is normal, isn’t it?” “It’s not YOUR sort of normal!” Don’t let the crowd define your identity. Normal and comfortable are what you make of them yourself
12:50 – “You’re holding it in again! I hate seeing what you’ve become! It’s like something was stolen from you and made you a coward!” What was stolen? It’s like she’s been MADE into the chaste lady
13:25 – “If something was stolen from you, take it back! Being normal for you means being cool!” Style is kind of key here – the show is all accented style, but each character’s individual style and elaborate self-representation is key to their identity, their strength
14:30 – And of course Touga’s macking on some other girl while Anthy quietly snips roses
15:17 – The shadow-figures: “Live normally, get a normal job, blah. Normal has nothing to do with us!” “We’re tired of doing all things we’ve done until now.” “Time for us to go back to doing what’s normal for us.”
15:45 – Juri gives her a sword! Badass. Fuck ’em up, Utena
16:21 – Touga wears the red rose, Utena the pink. NO white rose this time. Hm
16:36 – “Why are you fighting me?” “To take back something important to me.” “To take back yourself.”
17:34 – “Bride of the Rose! Abandon your body and protect the sword!” And she kneels to kiss it, and Utena can’t watch
18:30 – Anthy’s thoughts: “She can’t defeat Master Touga. I pity her. I wonder if it will end quickly.” Wtf, Anthy
20:45 – And the blade’s power dies, and Utena takes back what she was. Standing tall, her uniform half-shredded. She has her pride again
Also, Anthy cried at the end, and said “This is just like back then,” with a flash to Utena’s prince. Hm
1:47 – The red rose is the rose of the Bride, I assume. That’s the rose Utena is framed by as she mourns her parents before the Prince arrives
3:17 – The shadow-people – “She won again! Might makes right, after all. But she might be called back to the path of battle now!” And then they make the artifice of these sections even more overt by actually showing their “sci-fi effects”
4:24 – Okay, we’re getting the *actual* prince now, who apparently “hasn’t awakened” (or a version of him hasn’t?) Talking about Utena winning the seventh duel – the duel called “self”
4:39 – The prince in red is talking to the dormant prince in white
4:58 – The first dual is called “friendship”
8:01 – The second dual is called “choice”
10:44 – This second dual is the one she planned to purposefully lose, but then reconsidered
12:16 – “Ever since that day, the seal on your power, the power of Dios, began to break”
The third duel is called “reason”
13:47 – “I think being seated at the piano suited you much more.” So was Mickey’s problem also about assuming a false identity? He was never meant to be a prince?
15:17 – When Utena beats Mickey, the sigil looks like the color of Mickey’s sister. Is that right?
15:36 – The fourth duel, against Jury, is “love”
17:52 – The fifth duel, the Nanami one, is “adoration”
The sixth is “conviction”
20:35 – Red Prince: “When we finally reach the day we’ve longed for, we will profit equally”
21:43 – Interesting set of images at the end there, with the dark purple rose under glass, the butterfly under glass (significance obvious), the stained-glass rose motif, and then the crowds turning at the end
1:30 – Anthy’s Bride clothes are all red. So yeah, I’m an idiot, no reason to doubt red = Bride
3:38 – Anthy has a brother! And he lives in a room marked by a white rose
4:14 – Anthy’s brother wears the red outfit, and introduces himself while accompanied by the pink sigils
4:34 – “The real Chairman is Kanae’s father.” And she also gets introduced with the pink sigils
5:44 – He’s obsessed with the stars
“This place is wonderful, especially because the students never fight.” What game is he playing?
6:43 – The new pink-haired guy has a picture of Anthy’s brother on his desk. So are they foils to Anthy and Utena? That would likely make Anthy’s love for his fiance something of a sham designed to get him access to the facilities
7:16 – Souji Mikage is this guy’s name. Genius high school student!
7:53 – And he tried to recruit Mickey to his “seminar” of the Black Rose
8:17 – “Thank you for not telling my brother my secret.” “No problem. Kanae seems like a nice girl, I wouldn’t want her mixed up in this.” Always thinking like a Prince
8:50 – “This place has a history. A long time ago, 100 boys were buried alive in here!”
9:14 – Yep. Mikage wants to make his friend Mayama into the Rose Bride. He’s also got the Prince-esque features
9:35 – “In order for this to work, we need to beat Utena, take Anthy, and kill her”
10:56 – “After graduating, I plan on marrying the man my father selected for me.” Contrasted against the butterfly under glass
11:18 – “I’d do anything for him. And yet…” The butterfly is now replaced by a chrysalis
11:35 – “He has a younger sister, and I can’t bring myself to like her.” The chrysalis is now a caterpillar
Anthy does have cold, dead eyes
13:19 – “This is a room where 100 dead duelists now sleep. It is the path to the End of the World.”
14:02 – “You can’t escape. This is your new life. Your new heart!” And then he stabs her with the black rose accompanied by a black rose sigil
14:52 – Now the shadow-figures actually appear on a window behind Utena as she is silhouetted. “What should I do about this wisdom tooth?!” “Pull it out?” Utena actually answers
15:10 – New version of the battle theme, with a male vocalist more highlighted
16:53 – The dueling ground has 100 desks with white flowers on them, with red body outlines for the 100 duelists
17:31 – “Kanae isn’t the same as we remember her.” “This is the real me. The other me I buried within myself.”
19:35 – When she’s defeated, her sword and ring disintegrate, she falls in the pose of one of the outlines, and that body is destroyed
21:00 – And so she takes off her glasses when meeting her brother, and there are crazy undertones now. Cut to stars
3:03 – So I guess Mickey’s sister really does want his attention again. He sees her flirting, she sees him, and gets even more overt about it – then an upperclassman boy comes over and acts kind of aggressively chummy with Mickey, and she loses interest in her own flirting, paying attention to Mickey instead
3:40 – Oh man, Touga’s a wreck. Nanami tries to get him together, but he’s just sitting there listening to his record.
4:05 – Black rose: “The student council… swords strong enough to defeat her may have crystallized in their hearts.” “But they’ve already lost their duals. The weak-hearted fools.” “There are few who are able to freely use their own hearts. This is especially true of young people. It would be better to entrust the sword of their hearts to others. That may result in the creation of strong duelists.” The Prince-Bride dichotomy?
6:27 – Utena’s cheering Mickey’s courtship on. They’re pretty adorable friends
7:28 – Wow, Mickey’s sister (Kazue) is jealous enough to push his music teacher down the stairs. Incest all up in this show
“I can’t forgive anyone who would hurt Mickey!”
7:58 – Mickey and his sister’s beds have bird motifs at the head, flying towards each other
9:29 – New student council theme. Nanami’s now starting the standard speech
“If it cannot break its shell, a chick will die without being born. The chamber of freedom and the cage of freedom. Without revealing the vastness of the sky… both care for the chick. Smash the world’s cage! For the revolution of the world!”
10:35 – “What sort of relationship does an older brother have to his sister?” Utena asks Anthy’s brother. Kind of an odd question in the context of this show
10:40 – “The moon?” “You don’t think much of it, and it doesn’t serve much purpose. But every now and then you look up at it, and it makes you feel better.” That’s actually kinda cute
11:20 – Flashback image for Kazue – empty milkshakes with straws, a butterfly resting on each straw. Uncaged
She touches Mickey’s head, and the butterflies disappear, then fly across the frame
12:00 – She leans down to kiss his head, Anthy appears. “You saw?” She is the non-observer – unlike everyone else, she is present but never viewing, never judging
12:30 – And Kazue descends the elevator
12:55 – “Deeper. Go deeper.” Deeper into her psyche? Into her dark desires? Into her true self?
13:30 – After receiving her ring, she starts playing the piano. Her sigil appears
She rises, moves in to kiss him in a daze
14:44 – Her black rose allows her to use Mickey to draw a sword from. She is framed in black outline against a red window, with butterflies flying around her
15:27 – The shadow students: one simulates being a train food cart pusher while the other simulates the train. “I’m the only one in this car, you know.” The single person keeps getting harassed by the train cart. “I’m tired of this!” Utena: “So ignore her.” “Uh, coffee and sandwich, please!” So what, that’s Kazue pretending she doesn’t want her brother, even as he attempts to regain contact with her, until she’s forced to act?
17:31 – Once again, they fight among the desks of the 100. Mickey’s milkshake is on each this time – the symbol of the affection she spurned
19:13 – “Her skill is brilliant!” “This is Mickey’s strength!” She uses his stance and sword, drawing on him as a Prince. Meanwhile, Anthy drinks all the goddamn milkshakes
20:54 – Mickey leans in to kiss her goodnight, her rose sigil appears
21:40 – “Come here, Anthy. Tonight, as always, I will comfort you.” Ehhhhhhh
3:50 – The way everyone is assigned a color also kind of fits in with the crowds/appearances thing – people must appear in the form in which people are accustomed to seeing them. Or is it that they are only comfortable in their true, base nature? The rose sigils would support this – they appear when the characters are acting out of their base nature or desires
4:48 – So this episode is about jewelry? What?
8:44 – Tsuwabuki, the boy with a crush on Nanami, is the first one willing to actually say it looks weird – the first one to be honest with her. Her three old suitors wait on the background, the hungry peanut gallery
9:58 – “You’re just too young to understand an adult’s fashion sense.” The face they must put on, the performance people play – but in spite of dancing for the peanut gallery, the emperor has no clothes
“I don’t care. It’s weird!” And of course Utena never plays by those rules – she is herself
10:40 – And then Nanami attacks Utena’s appearance and calls her a boy-girl, of course
11:16 – Now Nanami’s being portrayed as one of the fully black memory-characters, in a barn, with the cowbell. Does the blackness only signify memory?
11:43 – The shadow of the cow on the wall is who actually speaks with Nanami’s voice. That’s a great trick
12:34 – This turns out to be a dream – so perhaps those black figures apply to all *imagined* realities, be they memory or fantasy? It’s true that very few of the memories in this show are true – and do those true memories actually have faces? Hm…
13:11 – We get a shot of the classmates in black, gossipy silhouette before they begin gossiping about Nanami
14:03 – Tsuwabuki once again tries to stop her from turning into a cow
14:15 – Nanami tries on the cow-ears hairclip in black silhouette, and her friends congratulate her on it in the same frame
So I guess those black arches could probably just represent how the specter of gossip and public opinion always hangs over these characters – their actions are viewed, judged, interpreted, and morphed through hearsay
16:12 – The characters stand outlined against the night, and then suddenly it’s replaced by the window with the shadow-students. Totally unreal.
17:38 – Wait… the COWBELL by itself has turned her into a cow. Because she is WEARING THE GARB OF A COW, she BECOMES a cow in reality. Your appearance dictates your nature – if you do not express your interior self in your behavior and appearance, you will become your own false image. And so many of the characters in this show end up cracking because they attempt to rage against or reject their interior selves – Jury, the green-haired guy, Utena, Mickey’s sister
The show doesn’t say anything as simplistic as “don’t let others/your appearance define you” – the show KNOWS that the effect of the outside gaze is unavoidable, and that our identity is never constructed in a vacuum. The stuff about always being under the gaze of crowds feeds directly into the stuff about gender and identity – you can be what the crowds let you be, you are always performing, you have to prove what you are continuously.
3:21 – When Jury’s lost love makes eye contact with Utena, Jury’s orange sigil frames her
4:33 – “Jury was so strong… she was the only person I could depend on with all my heart.” Clearly setting herself up in a bride role
6:23 – Nanami does Mickey’s stopwatch trick. “Hey, you always do this. What does it mean?” “Is this hearing over?”
6:40 – “How did it feel, having a sword pulled out of you? I bet it hurt.” Mickey blushes bright red. Playing with the sexual nature of the Prince-Bride relationship
6:45 – Jury in black as she descends the student council elevator, troubled
8:43 – Jury turns down her friend. A bird flies into a window
8:57 – “Whose picture do you have in that pendant?” Jury is instantly highlighted in black
10:03 – “You’re just like her. Painfully innocent.” “You’re just like Ganymede. Innocent and pure. But such innocence can hurt other people.” Are they referring to how she completely ignores the court of public opinion? Probably
10:14 – “Everyone has something they’d rather not let other people touch.”
12:56 – “I hated her. Such a perfect person. I wanted to take something from her.” “Deeper. Go deeper.” “That’s not it. I hated the way she treated me – her sympathy felt like pity for a weaker being. I took him because I wanted to change our relationship. But that just made me feel more pathetic!” She wanted their relationship to be that of equals – is a Prince-Bride relationship ever equal? Was her stealing the boy her using the power of a Bride offensively?
13:11 – “But now I’ve beaten her. I’ve always been there in her heart! Knowing my friend’s secret makes me so happy I can’t stand it!” Secrets versus public knowledge
15:23 – Jury releasing the sword is framed in black. And beautiful
16:07 – The shadows: “Everyone knows my secret. I’m doomed!” “That’s not true. Lots of people wear woolen underwear.” “But I, known as fashionable, wear it! And three pairs, no less! What should I do?” Utena: “Take ‘em off?”
What does ‘take ‘em off’ mean here? Or is it the fact that Utena’s the innocent the key thing here – she doesn’t get the subtext at all, she doesn’t see what these things mean?
18:10 – Now the item on all the desks is the bird. Is that Shiori, attempting to fly free as an equal? Or Jury, trapped by her desires and how she assumes the public would take them?
21:18 – “Shiori sure has changed, huh?” Anthy: “She hasn’t changed at all.” Utena is really bad at this stuff
4:08 – “Do you think you can make a girl like you just by being nice?”
4:45 – So this episode is about Tsuwabuki feeling like he doesn’t get respect because everyone thinks he’s a kid
8:35 – Also “what does it mean to be a grown-up?”
11:04 – Tsuwabuki’s girl friend: “Why are you trying to copy other people?” It’s true. He’s trying to force a route through adulthood through the path of others
11:58 – Now we get that scene where Nanami spurns him while calling him a child AGAIN, with Nanami’s yellow roses framing it this time
And then Utena’s “I think being grown up means you have experience in certain things,” ALSO, with Nanami’s yellow roses. WHAT?
And Anthy’s “There are a lot of grown-up things about us, right Utena?” with her RED roses. WHAAAAAT
14:01 – The black rose society elevator is a confession box. I don’t think the show has larger religious aims, but that’s worth noting
16:41 – The shadow figures make a joke of sex being proof of adulthood, but twist it to donating blood. And Utena says “you can donate when you’re 18.” Arbitrary numbers
18:39 – The desk icon is the chocolate bar this time – indirect kiss, marker of childhood and his connection to his young friend
21:18 – Nanami sees Tsuwabuki and blushes at his yellow sigils. Those yellow sigils were HIS, not Nanami’s
1:52 – Deep brown sigil roses for Utena’s friend. Beneath a black castle she meets a prince in black outline
2:19 – And now Utena and Wakaba (her friend) are being portrayed in the black outline as they talk
3:26 – “Kazumi Tatsuya – you’re the Onion Prince! It’s me, from elementary school!” And he gets the white prince sigils – because from HER perspective, he is a prince. Because it’s all constructed
3:53 – Her surprise is conveyed with her brown roses, but “But we had met before…” switches to the pink ones. Are Utena’s pink roses linked to memories?
Wait… the prince is the WHITE rose. White is an ABSENCE of color. Is that important? Is the prince just a role or a goal/ideal, and not a personality at all? When Utena is herself, she is the pink rose – the white rose is an assumed identity. Does this matter?
5:25 – And of course Wakaba’s a black outline in the flashback. So confusing!
6:13 – “Onion Prince, huh… actually, don’t you think fate has a hand in all of this?” By Utena. Of course she thinks of princes in terms of fate. And Wakaba says, “That can’t be it” and the streetlight turns on, dispersing the darkness
6:57 – “How dare you! That’s something special to me.” Wakaba. Wow, she’s so much more direct and well-adjusted than the rest of these fuckups. Dang
9:00 – Jury: “It’s a shame you can’t simply change who it is you love. You’d both be much happier. Me as well…”
10:08 – “The contents of others’ hearts are veiled – you may think you can read them, but you can’t. People seldom understand the princes other people keep in their hearts.” – Anthy’s brother. So princes are a mental construction, or at least can be
13:05 – It switches from white rose on him, to brown rose on her, to pink rose with both of them in frame. But Utena is setting them up…
16:00 – The shadow girls: one’s selling tires at a “tire store”, the other is convinced to buy one. “How should I cook this for my husband?” Utena: “Can you eat that?”
20:19 – “She left me for another guy… I’m sure he’ll do this and that and even that to her! But it doesn’t matter… no matter how she’s tarnished, she’ll come back to me. Because I love her.” Oh jeez
21:05 – “WHY AM I NO GOOD?!” “You are a truly good person. That is why the path you must take does not lie here.” OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT
2:00 – “Have you heard the rumors? About Saionji?” Rumors fly as Wakaba walks to school. No peace from hearsay in this world
5:41 – “This is my secret. Mine and his. One that only we share!” A secret self – that’s what gives it power. Interesting
6:00 – Wakaba reminisces about Saionji beneath the black arches
6:30 – Utena invites Wakaba to watch her basketball game, but Wakaba begs her off. Utena is not her prince
7:02 – “Now I’m special. As long as I have this secret, I am special!” Something hidden from the crowds
7:50 – And Wakaba shines at school, becoming more confident and popular because she has the power of a secret/prince
8:46 – Utena: “Did something good happen to you? You seem happier lately… and also prettier”
9:16 – Utena consults with Anthy’s brother. “Why would she suddenly become prettier.” “You wouldn’t understand, would you? You’re a special person, born for a special destiny.” Once again, Utena’s blindness sets her apart
10:15 – “Most people live as one among many, but given the chance, they can shine. But it’s said their time to shine does not last long.”
12:47 – The gift Saionji makes for Wakaba is a leaf. Not a rose, a leaf
14:10 – “It’s like special people live in another world. But as long as I had him, I could be special too!”
16:08 – “It’s raining! Oh joy! For us fox girls, we can only get married when it rains on a sunny day!” Utena: “Why not just not get married?” Don’t play into their system. Utena can’t understand it
19:30 – “You both look down on me! You use the special gifts you were born with…”
21:00 – Saionji waves to the crowd as he returns, his green sigil in evidence, in his element
2:54 – The whole flashback with Nanami’s girl groupies has Nanami’s light yellow rose superimposed in the corner. Not the whole sigil, just the one rose. What?
3:22 – “We three are The Chosen! Chosen to help Nanami-sama!” So they also try to cling to special people
4:45 – And Keiko, the pigtailed one, wants to get Touga’s attention
6:27 – “The only girl who can ever get near the prince… is his princess from the fairy-tale world.”
6:50 – I like how we see Utena and Anthy messing around with Nanami and Touga through the window. Really puts it in perspective, seeing things from the view of a side character – in fact, Keiko’s normally the kind of character who’d be part of that faceless, judging crowd. So then, even though the important people are always judged, at least they have the chance to be in the spotlight
7:25 – Why is Anthy nodding off in the background of this scene?
9:04 – “I heard about it from Akio. He’s been teaching me a lot lately.” We’ve sort of moved away from Utena’s perspective in general, which is interesting
10:19 – And as Keiko is walking and runs into Touga, a single white prince rose appears, once again not showing the full sigil. What?
11:39 – Nanami meets Keiko beneath the black arches to discuss Keiko’s betrayal
12:20 – “Any vermin like you I find, I’ll wipe out completely!” Keiko’s not even a person to her… unlike Utena or Anthy, who she considers threats
13:05 – And her friends abandon her and don’t even acknowledge her. Everyone in the shadow of the special people – side characters can be easily forgotten. The dark side of identity being socially constructed is that when you’re unacknowledged, you don’t even really exist
13:55 – “I thought I admired her. I only stayed close to her to get closer to Touga. Why else would anyone be near her?”
15:32 – “Touga, look at me. From now on, look only at me!” Well-chosen words – she wants to be viewed
16:21 – The shadow-girls make a play of a butterfly fleeing an insect, then both dying to pesticide. Utena: “That was just air freshener, you know.” She does not let herself be defined by expectations, she is not trapped like Keiko
19:57 – “Yes, I see. The real parasite is Nanami!”
20:24 – Utena: “I don’t even know her name. I always thought she was Nanami’s friend. It’s scary how the roots of hatred can spread under the surface where you can’t see them.” Well, that’s you, Utena
21:08 – And it all returns to the status quo, and her friends swear nothing will change.
Anthy actually remembers all their names. She is not like Utena
21:35 – Anthy: “If it’s for someone you love, it doesn’t matter how you feel about other people. You keep lying to yourself for as long as it takes.”
3:14 – The student council panickedly researches the Black Rose Society. They bicker as the elevator rises, and then as they talk the council area is set up as a train station. What?
3:40 – Utena and the leader of the Black Rose Society speak on the steps, separated by a pillar
4:30 – “My seminar isn’t about intelligence. It’s after people with individualist personalities.” THAT’s what the side characters lack? They define themselves as part of a crowd, or in the context of others? Is that what all non-princes do – define themselves in the context of a prince? Is every individualist a prince?
6:30 – Oh jeez, so pink-hair was Nemuro? Also “Stop it with the “professor” stuff. We’re the same age.” “Distinctions are important.” Man, so much loaded dialogue in this show
7:05 – All the other characters are the same color, but he’s in his bright purple and pink. He is an individual
8:35 – The show actually POINTS AN ARROW at first the shadow of a cat, then tea being poured, then the butterfly in the glass. WHAT
8:37 – Now it’s point at TWO cat shadows
8:55 – Now three cats!
9:33 – Now it points at two boys holding hands. Bam
12:22 – So his “bride” was the inspector’s brother
13:53 – “My sister preserved these. She doesn’t like to see flowers die.” So he’s being compared to a rose directly as a bride.
Also, didn’t jot it down earlier, but the sister believes his work to reach “eternity” might help her brother somehow
14:12 – “I wonder if the flowers like being made to live longer? Nothing in this world is eternal. Though a heart that longs for eternity could be considered beautiful.”
14:46 – “You don’t believe I’ll succeed? I’m sorry I bothered you.” He turns to leave, and now the framed picture is the leaf – the sign of the base of the psyche’s torment. He does not care about the boy’s feelings – he only cares about making his sister happy
15:05 – Once again, the hand points at the teacup with the sister’s lipstick mark on it
15:39 – Anthy’s brother offers him a note with “the first step to revolutionizing the world,” as well as the ring. He is framed in shadow as he does so
16:20 – “This rose crest symbolizes a contract made with me”
17:05 – And then Anthy’s brother steals the woman. His only choice is to revolutionize the world
18:30 – So Mamiya (the brother) was actually the one to burn down the building, killing the 100 boys
19:59 – The shadow girl pretends to be a robot man “I do not age, I do not tire, I do not feel lonely.” The sister: “but it breaks my heart to see you this way”
20:48 – Utena: “What I hate most are people who don’t take care of themselves.” To Anthy, mirroring the sister’s words to her brother. She can’t understand non-individualists
21:29 – “I came here to visit my brother Mamiya’s grave.” Whaaat
21:40 – “For a plant to bear fruit, its flowers have to die.” Meaning Anthy must be sacrificed as the 100 were?
2:01 – Oh, so the current prince-brother is actually the brother of the one who burned the house/died. No zombies
2:49 – Both sides consider enlisting Utena. “We need help from The Engaged”
3:23 – “All this talk of friends… even we aren’t friends. We’re Duelists.”
5:07 – Once again, Mikage sees the woman he loved in Utena
5:40 – Utena flashbacks to the child in the coffin. “Why does everyone go on living if they have to die? There’s no such thing as something eternal”
6:30 – Really loaded scene between Utena and a sleeping Anthy, where she asks if she can quit being the Rose Bride
7:25 – Pink-hair dismisses his secretary with no emotion. She calls him a special person, “one of The Chosen.” She knows she is not one of the bright lights
8:56 – Nemuro (pink-hair) was the one who discovered the way to the dueling arena
11:17 – “Manipulate them? Hardly. The girls all had precious memories they couldn’t forget. And they fought to preserve those memories. In short, they are people who tried to change their lives according to their memories.” So people who wanted others to fit their idealized version of reality?
11:56 – “Like me, you should be able to make your memories eternal. The world requires it.”
12:06 – “You bastard! Who exactly is “the world?” I’m not a manipulative bastard like you!” She doesn’t see the crowds, see the perceptions
12:28 – “It’s your memories that have supported you until now. Don’t be ashamed of that. The memories you hold are worthy ones.”
“To wish to never change from what you were…” Some idealized version of the self. The storybook you wanted to live
13:00 – And she challenges him. For the first time, she challenges him, to prove he’s wrong and “I’m nothing like you”
14:21 – “Why did you call her here?” “Look at this tear. All she does is hurt me and surprise me. Tokiko really has come back to me. To settle things once and for all.”
15:00 – “You never stop wishing that your memories can be made eternal.” This HAS to be key
16:00 – The shadow-girls – one wallows in the past, saying “damnit, I was once my class rep!” to all current complaints. Eventually he demands to go back to school. So this memory thing IS Nemuro’s deal – he’s the one trapped in the past, and projecting
17:51 – “You’re also here become of someone who changed/defined you. And now, in this place, I will defeat you, Tokiko!” He just wants to escape his past
20:14 – “Your illusion of Mamiya, who was produced by your lingering regret over Tokiko, actually died a long time ago. You treasured that illusion of memory so much that it stopped time for you. The path you must take is not prepared for you. Now, graduate from this place.”
21:39 – “Do you feel sorry for him? But he was never really here at this place. Just like you.” And then the absent boy turns into Anthy. What the fuck
3:13 – In this episode, Tsuwabuki gets his diary discovered. Nanami, Utena, and Anthy discover it through the curtain – they are the spectators, and they are being given a glance of his actual true self. He is horribly embarrassed
4:25 – “I see her help people and represent justice. But I also know her true face.”
5:31 – “The way she stoically watched from the sidelines, never dirtying her own hands as her victim suffered.” And here he hides and watches *her*
14:40 – Utena suggests they stop looking at Tsuwabuki’s feelings. “It isn’t right.” Utena does not accept the system of spectatorship
15:56 – Tsuwabuki plans to give her amnesia and announce himself as her Big Brother. The reality doesn’t matter if he takes the role
1:55 – Oh shit, Anthy’s brother and Nanami’s brother in the car. “The throb of the engine feels good.
Want to take the wheel?” They warned me about this
3:49 – Utena and Anthy move to the chairman’s (Anthy’s brother) tower. Image of pink roses in a vase – basically in captivity
4:26 – Anthy laughs at her friends’ playing. Her brother makes THE WORST FACE
5:00 – Saionji returns to the student council. He talks of false letters and being fooled before – in the background, a batter is being struck out?
5:45 – Saionji: “I didn’t sign up to be the End of the World’s lackey. There’s no way I’ll fight just because I’m ordered to”
6:28 – Utena’s basically on a stargazing date with Anthy’s brother while she watches. “That star there. Venus.” “Romantic name, huh?” “Venus has another name. Lucifer.”
6:48 – “A star which cannot shine until the sun sets. What must it think as it shines in the sky?”
7:40 – Aw shit Anthy and Utena are sleeping on like ridiculously joined beds. The show has a shot across a shadowed veil as they both fall into bed. Everything means everything
Okay kinda drunk now
8:44 – Utena and Anthy actually getting emotionally honest in this scene – Utena: “There are times Akio (Anthy’s brother) seems very familiar to me.” Anthy: “There are times you seem familiar to me as well.” “Really?” “Sorry I said that.” “No, I’m glad you did. I want us to be able to help each other with anything.”
This show is fucking adorable. These characters are so good. Who fucking needs a man you guys should go for it
10:17 – Touga (Nanami’s brother) convinces Saionji: “If you haven’t given up, you should hear it. The sound of the End of the World!” And that sound is Akio’s car
11:18 – Saionji: “True friendship doesn’t exist in this world”
11:44 – “Why are you trying to reach the castle where eternity dwells? Is it because something eternal dwells there? Are you seeking eternal friendship?”
12:22 – “Remember that girl who wanted to see something eternal? It was Akio here who saved her. Akio showed her something eternal”
12:53 – “The throb of the engine feels good, doesn’t it? Let me show you the End of the World.”
13:42 – “You gave up the duels, didn’t you?” Saionji: “I’m not the man I was yesterday.” As he leans against the car
14:18 – Saionji knocks Miki aside and grabs Anthy. What has gotten into him? Sex drive?
15:06 – Shadow girls: “Anyway, brave hero. It’s hard to work as a team. Did you know that?” Sharing burdens, sharing pains, sharing pleasures
16:03 – Anthy shifts into her dueling clothes. Her school clothes are left in a pile, with a plucked rose stem growing out of them. Meaning the school itself is a playground, where they grow into the roses that will define them as adults?
16:30 – No – the stem grows into a full rose bush, with pink roses growing from it
Also, Anthy herself basically conjures Utena’s clothing this time. They are in sync
16:51 – The fucking car appears in shadow on the dueling stage and Saionji walks in front of it
17:37 – And the field is full of cars now
Also, Saionji assumes the Rose Bride has no will of her own
19:29 – “If you ever have a problem with something, come to me first. I want us to be friends like that.” And Anthy intervenes, AND DRAWS A SWORD FROM UTENA HOLY SHIT
20:48 – And Touga/Akio breathlessly talk about the battle in bed together. What the fuck
21:15 – Akio: “Come here, Anthy.” And she holds back
3:24 – Kozue (Miki’s sister) saved a nest of baby birds. She fell afterwards, and was caught by Miki, with Utena assisting. Utena is in the shadow-black as they all lie on the ground
4:32 – When it comes to discussing raising the chicks, Anthy is straightforward and in control
6:09 – “Was this the Sunlit Garden from Miki’s song?” “I thought that was in his mind.” “Yeah… it’s all gone to seed.” “It’s just a memory now.” “You’re right, but I was expecting something more.” Applies to many characters’ views of the past here
7:59 – “Akio’s like that. Maybe because he’s an adult. He’s more like a father than a brother to me.” “Fathers and mothers…” (Kozue/Miki flash, with Miki’s light blue sigil). “Do you think mothers/fathers always care about their kids?” “Probably, due to genetics.” “That’s a harsh way to put it”
8:34: Miki: “I don’t like it! Adults that tell you something is ‘for your own good’ can never be trusted!” Many reflections – Miki’s own parents, End of the World (who sent the note, saying to defeat Utena), and the “adult” brother Akio
9:48 – Miki’s dad calls, and their “new mother” is a woman with Anthy’s hair/skin color in the Rose Bride dress. Wtf
10:45 – Rich scene. Kozue waits beneath the window where Miki is playing piano, Nanami intrudes. “I thought you were hurt.” “Wild animals heal quickly. I’m waiting for Daddy Long Legs.” And then she leaves with Akio, turning to shadow in an archway
11:41 – Touga, to Miki: “You know there are things you can only possess by taking them, right?” Which fits with Saionji’s actions after riding in Akio’s car
12:08 – “Beauty alone cannot preserve beauty forever”
13:51 – This time, Kozue is in the car, attempting to convince Miki to take the Rose Bride. “I just want you to be happy. I never lie. Don’t you trust me?”
14:09 – “When everything around you is impure, to get what you want, you must lose your purity”
14:33 – A blindfold covers his eyes. For a moment, he’s driving, Anthy in the passenger seat. His sigil in the corner. He is in control
The car is control. The car is sexual potency. The car is the answer.
14:44 – Once again, the scene ends with “Who ARE you? Oh! You are…”
15:14 – And the next scene starts with a Kazuo-Miki sex joke which is actually them planting a nest box for the abandoned chicks – who are now obviously a stand-in for the kids themselves
16:30 – Shadow girls – “Shouldn’t you stop gambling!” “One more. Everything on black!” “Too bad, it’s red.” “Wasn’t it you who told me to give gambling a try? Be right back, I’ll clear out my bank account.” “Sucker.”
19:04 – And Kozue pulls the sword out of Miki as well. Brave new world
21:15 – Kozue asks Anthy what power people gain from her, and gets very physical. Miki is distracted, loses
1:26 – “Gonna take who I’ve been up till now, and find the strength to throw it away. Strip down to nothing, like a rose petal blowing free.” Did I not notice how relevant these lyrics are? Identity, honesty, etc
1:56 – Nanami memory of her digging in a sand pit (what the fuck is the word for that?) as a kid, uncovering a painted egg. Yellow sigils
2:14 – Then she wakes up, finds the egg in her bed. Yellow sigils as the camera focuses on the egg
3:40 – Utena gets her sigils as she approaches in her soccer uniform. Utena!
5:00 – Nanami kinda goes crazy assuming they’ll know about the egg. Appearances are everything to her
6:00 – All her nightmares of being discovered as an egg-laying space alien have the characters in full black
7:35 – Now Nanami’s equally self-conscious about NOT laying an egg – anything that makes her abnormal is terrifying
9:10 – This episode’s also all about Nanami being insecure about adolescence and changes in her body. Trying to probe other people for information without revealing what she’s going through. It’s pretty adorable
13:25 – “Brother, which do you prefer… a boy or a girl?” And then a bird flies across the window
17:00 – Touga keeps ragging on girls who lay eggs. “The reason we can maintain our happy home life is because you’re not the kind of girl who lays eggs.” Jeez
19:30 – Utena and Anthy discuss reincarnation through passing your thoughts on to your children
21:00 – Nanami finds a giant version of her egg, which shoots lasers and then cracks. She wakes up, her egg is cracked in her bed
21:39 – Anthy is preoccupied with Nanami’s egg the whole episode. What’s her deal?
1:50 – Jury gets the single rose sigil looking at the empty bench beside her
3:25 – Jury’s old fencing club captain reveals himself with the white rose sigils
4:07 – “The captain is back.” “I thought you were the captain.” “I was just filling in for him.” We’re defined by the roles we assume. Will Jury change now that her role has changed?
4:48 – Ruka (the captain) immediately joins the council. “End of the World thinks you’re all cowards”
5:21 – Immediately Ruka defines himself as the masculine prince in society. With a crowd of girls cheering him on, he sensually corrects the stance of a female student
6:41 – The girl Jury loves polished his sword while he was away. Weird power dynamic between all three of them
7:01 – He reaches in and kisses her. A white rose sigil – he claims her as a prince
7:24 – The next day they appear as a couple with the full white rose sigils. “Nice going, Shiori! She didn’t waste any time going for Ruka!” The crowd cheers
She also gets her maroon roses while smiling at him
8:37 – “Take the club. I don’t know what you’re after as a duelist. But… keep your hands off Shiori!”
9:40 – Love the intimacy this arc is establishing between Utena and Anthy. The whole series has been their dance, hasn’t it?
9:45 – Shiori runs through black archways to secretly meet Ruka
10:30 – Ruka stares at Jury as he kisses Shiori. “He knows everything.” They kiss next to a fountain, like the entrance to the dueling arena
12:58 – As the car revs, the fountain gushes water. METAPHORS.
So the water is basically the passion of adolescence here
13:27 – “You’re taking me to a fantastic place, right?” “Exactly. You’re an adult now. Everything in the world can be ours.” THE SEX CARRR
14:04 – And then they just straight-up get naked. “Don’t you love the throb of the engine?”
14:42 – Ruka/Shiori come visit the rose garden. Shiori actually pulls out a white rose to give to Ruka. He uses it to challenge Utena
15:30 – The shadow girls keep fishing, but only find junk – a shoe, an iron, a tire.
18:33 – Utena holds the “rose of nobility,” Anthy holds the “power of Dios”
19:06 – “You’ve defeated many great duelists. I don’t know if I can beat you.” “First time I’ve heard that during a fight…”
Like with Jury, he mocks his opponents
21:07 – “We’ll beat them next time!” “There’ll be no next time. I lost because of my bride.” “That’s not fair! You’re all that mattered! I polished your sword every day!” “That wasn’t my sword. Your performance was amusing. You have a talent for ad-libing.” Was it Jury’s sword? What does it all…
21:20 – “I told you before to keep your hands off her.” “She chose this for herself.” It’s true. Just like Saionji, Jury is denying her agency. Just like Utena does, for that matter
2:15 – “Believe in miracles, and they’ll… Ruka, wait! You’re all I have now!” All the students watch from the windows as they break up
3:14 – “She didn’t come in today.” “Of course. How embarrassing!”
4:03 – “Won’t you help your friend?” Once again, Utena knows nothing
4:37 – “It seems like Jury’s really hurting herself for this.” “Perhaps that’s one part of her true feelings.” “Part of her true feelings? That’s a weird thing to say.” “At times, people will do or say things they’d otherwise never do.”
Utena is always true, though
6:13 – Jury attempts to visit Shiori, but of course Shiori sees it as her laughing at her when she’s down
6:52 – “I can’t take her back. I appreciate your friendship with her, but she’s spoiled, pushy, and self-centered. Plus she’s a liar.”
8:26 – And then he forces himself on her, steals her necklace, and almost breaks it. Holy shit
9:25 – AND THEN SHE CHALLENGES HIM TO A DUEL. If he wins, she’ll do what he wants. If she wins…
11:38 – “Between us, we can beat Utena and gain the power to work miracles. To create a miracle, you need a sacrifice.”
12:14 – “I don’t need my feelings to be known. Even if I could work miracles, I’d only wish to release her from you.” Giving her agency, huh?
18:00ish – “She doesn’t realize miracles only happen from the sacrifices of others. And miracles only happen to people like her!” And the necklace is shattered.
20:30 – “Did you hear? That patient died yesterday.” “And he kept saying how much he wanted to fence again!” “Apparently he knew how sick he was. But he insisted on going back to the school.” “There must have been a girl in the fencing club he loved.” “He said he wanted to give the power to grant miracles to the one he loved. He wanted to free her from something.”
Jury: “What did you wish to gain with the power to grant miracles? Who did you wish to help? Wish as hard as you can, and they will understand your feelings.”
2:03 – Starts with Wakaba lecturing his childhood friend about lying to girls about kisses. Great
3:00 – Akio can bake cakes! He doesn’t care about masculinity, he can do it all
3:58 – “If you don’t loosen up, you’re never going to fall in love!” It switches from Wakaba to her teachers, who add “stop acting/dressing like this!”
5:30 – “Amazing! The Chairman’s fashion, his looks!” The teacher, talking about Akio
Akio: “Oh, and try not to constrain the children so much with your rules. You should be offering them guidance that stresses their independence.”
6:00 – “When I saw you cornered by those teachers and fighting for your beliefs…” The shadowed archways shift to normal palette. “…it seemed somehow very strong and noble to me.”
6:50 – “I seem to be seeing this car a lot lately.” Goddamnit Utena
8:27 – And then Wakaba demands to go for a car ride. Uh oh
9:03 – “It was just a drive. Don’t over-think things!” IT IS NEVER JUST A DRIVE
9:40 – Utena’s actually super-jealous and insecure this episode, and keeps reflecting on her shimmering ring. Like her feelings for Akio are infidelity, which to her, they are
10:45 – Thinking about Akio distracts her and makes her injure herself at basketball, in her masculine element. Anthy now must help her walk, acting as her support
11:23 – “By the way, Anthy. There’s something I…” As she stews in guilt and love, the engine revs and purrs, and then the car is there. Here, as she’s limping and no longer able to be a prince, her prince appears
12:25 – “Anthy can come too!” “No she can’t. Three’s a crowd with dates. Your friend told us that, right?” And they keep cutting back to the cake with the three flames, with one finally blown out
14:00 – “You should stay off it. I’ll carry you.” “You’re a real playboy, huh?” “Why?” “You’re good at making girls feel good”
Those two candles are blowing down
14:09 – “You don’t act like a chairman. You seem almost… dangerous.”
15:00 – He kisses her (on the car). The second candle blows out. Anthy watches from the shadows. The bells toll
16:11 – Shadow girls: “Take off those red shoes!” “I can’t! I’m a fool who loves to dance, and I know I can’t stop! But I know you have red shoes too!” “I just carry mine!” “You’re a fool who carries your shoes but never wears them! Life’s too short not to dance!” Could be interpreted in both directions – Utena carrying her prince-nature, or Utena avoiding love and sex
16:46 – “Wakaba told me there’s no such thing as ‘wrong’ love. That you can’t help it when you fall for someone.” “I think Wakaba might be right that there’s a part of love you just can’t control.”
18:20 – Anthy says she has a prince of her own. That seems obvious. Both Touga and Akio then think about how great Utena is
19:23 – Sanae (Akio’s fiance) arrives at breakfast. She stays distant, by the door
19:30 – Sanae’s mother arrives. Akio: “Mother! It’s good to see you” He gets a pure red sigil rose. Mother: “There’s something I want to discuss with you.” She gets a grey, maybe white or off-white rose
21:00 – Akio takes off the “glass slipper” of the chairman’s wife, the same as he did for Utena. He moves in, kisses her leg. Fade to shadow, fade to black
2:30 – They once again do the “once there was a little girl” prologue. Good timing
3:24 – Nanami fields a phone call by some girl asking for Touga. On the wall, in a picture frame, shadow girls play with a hoop and jump rope. What
4:01 – “No-one can get between us. We’re related by blood!” Next scene: Touga macking on two girls at once
4:30 – “I’m going for a shower. Care to join me?” Touga you huge troll
5:10 – “Are brothers and sisters doomed to drift apart like this?” According to this show, maybe?
5:30 – And then she watches his shadow as he showers, with his red rose sigil in the corner. At the height of his power
9:05 – Akio saves Nanami, and bandages her foot, as he held the foot of Utena and his fiance’s mother
10:35 – “A brother like that is wasted on Anthy.” Utena: “Brothers and sisters aren’t ‘wasted’ on anyone!”
12:20 – Nanami and Touga aren’t blood related?!? HOLY SHIIII
12:37 – Yellow sigils as she ransacks her pictures for Touga as a baby. Nanami in her passionate element
14:38 – Touga leans in to check his little sister for a fever. The red rose sigil
And then he says “how about a good-night kiss?” Sigil again
16:15 – And then Akio totally pulls rank and keeps Tsuwabuki from housing Nanami by inviting her to the chairman’s residence
16:41 – “My true dream is to turn the chairman’s residence into a harem, you see… I’m kidding.” And Akio gets the purple rose as he does it. Keepin’ ‘em guessing!
18:00 – The shadow girls do “the ugly duckling,” except the duckling intentionally hid in another nest. But that doesn’t make it anything except what it is – this reflects on both Touga possibly not being blood-related and on Nanami attempting to infiltrate a new nest
19:40 – “How can I give up on everything I’ve felt up until now? I still consider you my brother, and love you!” Her power never came from herself – it came from the roles society assigned her. When Touga being her brother is made “untrue” externally, she can’t maintain the life she’s had before. She can’t define herself
I could make Nanami pretty central to the idea of how identity is generated by society – this episode and the cow one are both fantastic reflections of it
20:00 – And Utena tells her things will go back to normal. Of course
20:55 – And then she stumbles upon Akio with Anthy at night. Everything she wanted. She flees, and enters THE ELEVATOR
That’s another angle I could take – how so many objects/symbols are imbued with a specific resonance not because it’s necessary to understanding what’s going on every time, but because it builds a tonal/meaning palette – placing THIS character with THIS object automatically evokes a certain shift, emotion, or tone. Building a visual language
2:03 – Akio cooking in an apron. Utena says “that apron looks good on you.” He controls his representation, Utena, the other person who cares not for society’s systems, approves
4:20 – Nanami jokingly offers to switch residences with Miki, and he actually agrees. “As if. A nice guy like you would be eaten alive by that bunch”
5:22 – “Is someone spying on us?” Touga: “No one. Besides, we’re not doing anything other people shouldn’t see.” Touga loves being viewed. Getting with girls is a performance for him, more important in how it gets reactions out of other people – like when he stole Miki’s sister
5:54 – And knowing she’s outside, he says he only acted like a caring big brother because he ordered to, and otherwise would have had nothing to do with her. “A common, boring girl like her.”
6:07 – “It serves her right! I have no sympathy at all!” Oh shit! It’s the pigtailed friend of Nanami’s! (Keiko)
Everyone who fawned over her when she worked within the system now has abandoned her. No wonder she clung to the public structure – without that, she’s truly nothing. Only Utena, the girl she hates, the girl who doesn’t care for the system, might even be said to care about her
6:56 – Keiko: “Why am I any different from you? Why should I need your permission to be with someone I love?”
7:35 – Sprawled on the ground, calling after her brother, the phone rings. Another suitor. “I’m just like all the others now…”
She is no longer a “special person,” like the people Keiko originally raged against
8:50 – Anthy springs to stop Utena from interrupting Akio and Kanae. What is Anthy’s full role?
10:55 – Nanami’s crushed by her brother calling her ordinary. She has no self-esteem – all her self-confidence is brought on by how others see her
11:36 – She picks up the phone, it’s one of the shadow girls, followed by Akio: “End of the World. Touga is waiting”
12:20 – “If your soul has not truly given up…”
13:07 – “This man’s not normal! I saw him… I can’t say it, it’s too awful.” Nanami’s unable to describe Akio’s incest. What does this mean about her own dreams?
Akio: “What do you see with your eyes? Merely your own world… the world you live in, the world you can see. A labyrinth you can’t escape, where you are doomed by your limited point of view to endlessly wander the same path. But what you truly need to see does not lie there.”
Touga jumps on her “No! Get away!” “Isn’t this what you always wanted?” “No! Not this…” “Then what do you want?” “I want…” Akio: “I reveal End of the World, to you as well.”
15:15 – Nanami regains her leadership just by beating the shit out of her friends. Progress!
But yeah, now she has her own power, it seems
16:00 – The shadow girls – one continuously bends spoons, the other refuses to believe it’s not a trick. Even when the power is used to bend the girl herself, she refuses to admit it’s not a trick. Not sure on this one
18:34 – “If I beat you in a duel, I’ll surpass my brother”
19:50 – “My brother was part of who I was.” Her self-definition
20:15 – Utena: “Did there have to be a bond? As long as those feelings were there.” She’d believe that – she doesn’t believe in formal, exterior definitions
20:55 – “Tell me… what’s left for me? Am I just one more fly in the swarm? Anything but that…” Poor Nanami
And then it turns out they actually ARE related by blood, but Touga finds them not being related “much more romantic.” What an asshole
Also, he and Akio do the same bed poses that Anthy and Utena do
Utena is a story of stars in the night sky – most stars do not realize they shine so brightly, but those caught in the darkness or clinging to brightness like Nanami can never forget
2:44 – And now we get the classic prologue, except over a slow pan of the lights of a carnival. Hmm
And then it cuts to Anthy watching the curtains fall in her tower
2:57 – And then Anthy as a silhouette watching the constellations. An observer of the stars
3:20 – “I was looking at the stars. I didn’t want to look at the real ones.”
4:36 – And now the shadow girls have a radio show, and they’re quizzing Akio (who they call “Mr. End of the World”) on what something being “eternal” means. Oh shit
5:15 – “What is eternal: A. A diamond. B. A beautiful memory. C. Canned peaches”
Oh shit so this is a flashback episode. From AKIO’S PERSPECTIVE?!
7:59 – “The champ imposter’s on top today!” “Yeah, four more wins and he goes on to challenge for the grand champion imposter king!” Those shadow girls
And Utena’s impressed. She also started this episode by saying she’s an only child. Hm
10:27 – Utena: “She really has it out for me! For some reason, everyone calls her “the alum,” and before that they called her “the teacup,” and before that they called her… what was it?” WHAT COULD THIS MEAN
11:32 – Flashback to Miki’s sister: “When everyone around you is impure, you must become impure as well. To get what you want, you must give up your purity.” Thus the car
12:32 – “Which of the following is a “miracle”? A. Edison’s Inventions. B. Meeting a prince. C. Canned coelacanth.” “Miracles, huh? Miraculous power…”
And that of course leads into Jury’s flashback
15:00 – And then Utena babbles about screwing up recipes and adding too many ingredients, turning a meal for 3 into a meal for 10. Why do I even try
18:00 – Akio: “Miracles happen every day, we just don’t notice them.” Shadow girls: “Uh, we can tell you’re very smart, but would you please answer the question?”
21:00 – AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. And then it ends with Utena fretting about making lunch… naked, in bed with Akio. HOLY SHIT
1:58 – “I discovered a new star. But I won’t announce it. It’s incredible, finding a new star. You feel like it’s your property.” Obviously talking about the bright young people he manipulates
“But the stars are the stars. They belong to no-one.”
2:57 – And then THE SHADOW GIRLS ACTUALLY SHOW UP IN REAL LIFE asking Utena to join the drama club
3:30 – And more about how she’s a star and it’s tough being popular
4:32 – Akio: “You value memories a lot, hm?” Does she ever. Pretty much everyone in this world values them – something eternal
5:24 – Akio: “All life is like a play. You’re either an actor or a spectator.”
So they actually visit the play. Reinforcing the idea that everything here is a deliberate performance – even the stuff that seems affected, that seems like a deliberate falsification of the production, is actually part of an in-world character’s legitimate expression of self. Which calls into question all the other performances – everything else that is repeated. It’s not the show being melodramatic, it’s the characters themselves
6:30 – “Before the world fell into darkness, because back then there was a Rose Prince.” For the Rose Bride, of course
7:14 – “The girls of the world were all princesses, because they were all protected by the Rose Prince.” Others defining you
7:50 – “The witch who lives in the castle in the sky is planning to steal the light of the world.”
8:00 – “The light of the world? It is… that which is eternal (flash to Saionji), that which shines (flash to Miki), the power of miracles (flash to Jury), the power to bring the world revolution (flash to Touga).” It is whatever is precious to you. Whatever unreal hope you wish to protect. Whatever makes you a prince.
8:30 – And so the prince flew to the castle, but was met there by the old woman who warned him. She was the witch, and it was all a trap! It was you who was the light, prince!
“Who are you really?” “Your little sister!”
“Yes! You’re the prince who makes all the girls of the world princesses! But I’m the only girl you can’t do that for – your sister! The only girl you can’t make special!” And it flashes on Akio and Anthy, but really this reflects on all the sibling pairs
9:19 – “A girl who can’t become a princess is doomed to become a witch!” NO. WRONG. AWFUL. A girl who doesn’t let herself be defined by a prince is doomed? What if she becomes a prince? Or decides to tell this whole system to screw off?
9:40 – “The witch still wanders this world. She seeks young, noble souls to sacrifice!”
So is this original narrative about keeping girls from exercising their feminine power? About the fear of “hysterical women”?
11:01 – “She’s no ordinary girl. When she was a child, she was shown something eternal.” She saw her dream
12:50 – “It must be hard, being friends with Anthy for this long.” “Oh, no… having her around is a great help to me.”
13:49 – “When I look at this ring, I remember… he told me never to lose my nobility.”
15:06 – Utena to her prince: “You’re so pretty.”
15:54 – “She’s a witch. The Rose Bride. I envy those who can die. She cannot die. She simply lives on in agony.” “But why?” “Her punishment for taking the prince from the girls of the world.”
“Prince, come out! You must fight! Our daughters need you!”
“They need me!”
Anthy: “No, please stop. You’ll die.”
Anthy (to the villagers): “Dios is no longer here. He belongs to me alone now – I’ve sealed him away where you can never touch him!”
18:20 And they call her a witch and spear her. “She sacrificed herself to save her beloved prince. Even though she was the only one who truly loved him”
18:45 – “And yet the prince she loved is no longer the prince she knew. He is now End of the World.”
19:43 – “I can’t save her. The only one who can save her now… is a prince she believes in.”
So while Utena remembers herself as being saved by a prince, in reality she asked a prince to save Anthy – and he couldn’t.
20:50 – “Even if you remember this, you’re a girl. Eventually you’ll become a woman.” “I’ll do it! I’ll become a prince!”
Do princes and things that are eternal require a childlike spirit? Are they what we lose when we become adolescents – when we’re dirtied by human instincts?
21:45 – Anthy: “I was looking at your face as you sleep. Who are you?”
2:52 – So are the Brides always the ones who sacrifice, and the Princes the ones who must remain pure and “noble”? So “princehood” is really in the eye of beholder then, right? Certain people will see others as their prince, there aren’t princes who are princes for everyone.
4:02 – So Touga is the alternate, eh?
And Utena has a memory of riding a bike with a boy who looks like Touga
5:30 – Utena can’t quite remember her promise. She looks into Anthy’s eyes…
5:50 – And Akio hears Utena’s depressed, so he asks to take her on a walk. What a prince
5:57 – “May I steal Utena from you, Anthy?”
6:40 – Akio: “If only your feelings of friendship would LAST FOREVER.”
7:11 – Akio knows about flower symbology. Oh god
7:22 – And then the shot zooms out and the car’s hiding there. Of course
7:42 – Touga is taking pictures of Akio on top of a pyramid of cars. I just
9:00 – Akio tells Touga to give Utena a present. “She won’t be plied with gifts.” “Have you forgotten? She still treasures a ring given to her by a man she can’t remember.” “So that’s what binds her.”
9:31 – Akio tells Touga to give her a present and say it’s from him. Touga gives her a default “seduction” gift – earrings. From him, she wouldn’t care. But since it’s “from” Akio, they’re valuable – the actual substance of them is as meaningless as the actual substance of anyone outside of Utena. Their value is socially constructed in the same way Nanami’s is
9:37 – BUT UTENA STILL HOLDS ON TO HER OWN SELF. “I’m not sure this is right. Besides, they don’t really suit me.
10:42 – Utena’s friend: “You’re too trusting!” Yep
11:19 – Touga takes her horse riding, trying to impress her with his princeliness. He gets reckless, almost gets her hurt, and Akio saves her
13:20 – Oh man, Touga is MAAAD
13:56 – Saionji: “You pretend to be chivalrous, but you’ve never actually loved anyone. People are nothing but tools to you. That was your strength.
16:27 – Utena considers the earrings instead of going to sleep with Anthy. “A prince on a white horse… it’s too much.”
17:07 – Touga and Akio each get sigils (red and purple) as they discuss Utena as something to be “won”
18:31 – Touga: “I want to save her from her coffin. And if I’m to save her, I must defeat her.”
19:40 – Touga obeys Akio/”End of the World” because he saved Utena, and he wants to be like him?
2:13 – Saionji: “We’re all trapped in our coffins.”
2:50 – Riding the horse is another sex metaphor. Damnit
3:05 – And now Akio is trying to define her as a princess
4:00 – Jury and Miki discuss how Utena “looks like a girl now.” They’re worried
Jury thinks the whole school is changing. A revolution. One you can’t stop – adolescence
5:15 – Wow. Touga driving a motorcycle, Saionji in the sidecar. Ridiculous. Saionji: “I don’t like it. I dislike not being in control”
6:00 – Saionji: “Are you just going to do what End of the World wants? We must rise from the coffins he has prepared for us”
Are the coffins the death of their childhood dreams? The death of believing in things that are eternal? The death of their pre-adolescence?
7:46 – Touga says riding the dueling elevator is “riding up to heaven.” He stands close to Utena, and her rose sigils appear
9:17 – “You’re beautiful. I’m happy I got to meet someone like you.” “There you go again. Could you forget that and get to the point?” Silly Utena, that is the point
Also, the view of the castle as a mirage filled with stars is quite beautiful. Our childhood dreams, eh?
10:00 – “Can’t I be your prince? Your beauty and nobility has won you many admirers. Even if I’m not worthy of you… can I just be here with your for this moment? That would be enough. If I could engrave this feeling into me… of being with you tonight, it would be enough.” Something eternal. Of course her prince gave her something eternal – he gave her a memory that can never be tarnished by reality, never die. He gave her something that would never submit to the revolution
12:10 – “I must fight, to save her! If she wins the next duel, she gains the power to bring the world revolution. But if she does that, she’ll fall into End of the World’s hands.”
12:30 – Saionji and Touga approach, two princes outlined with their white roses
14:05 – The shadow girls mistake the Prince of the White Horse for a horse. Names, appearances, etc
16:03 – “This fight decides who’ll bring world revolution!” “I don’t care about that!” She never has. She’s never seen the true substance of these conflicts
17:25 – “Tenjou! I will protect you!” “How many times have we dueled here?” “This is the third.” “Strange… it feels like it’s been… dozens of times.”
19:25 – And Utena swears to protect Anthy, and destroys all the damn cars
2:14 – Utena has discovered Anthy’s secret, and with it, her memory returns. But does discovering her secret mean she’s lost her nobility? She takes off the ring
3:00 – Now she’s talking of secrets she has to keep. Is she the same Utena?
4:52 – Touga and Saionji ride a bike together. Is this in direct contrast to the car?
5:40 – Akio keeps commenting on her no longer wearing the ring. “I’m starting to think that ring doesn’t suit me.” “That new outfit definitely suits you. I could give you a new ring that matches the outfit.”
6:13 – Akio: “You seem very girlish tonight.”
6:41 – “Shall I reveal the awful truth? The stars don’t interest me at all”
7:40 – “I seemed very girlish… what does that mean?” Anthy: “In the end, all girls are like Rose Brides.” She takes Utena’s hand.
8:21 – And Akio is taking photos of Touga and Saionji. Performance to the end
With each picture, their shirts billow theatrically, revealing their imagined selves. A picture is taken of Akio and he becomes her fabled prince – the “eternal” version of himself, the memory
9:20 – Anthy: “I wish we could all stay like this forever”
Utena destroys the letter from End of the World unopened as the camera flashes to her winning at basketball, being her old self again
11:10 – “The power to revolutionize the world, huh? But all I’ve been doing is playing prince.”
12:00 – Jury: “You love Himemiya, right?” Utena: “Well, not quite the kind of love you’re used to. It’s more of a pure… well, not to say your love isn’t pure.”
12:20 – Nanami: “Haven’t you figured out you’re being tricked?”
12:52 – “Stay away from them! You don’t know what’s for your own good! You’re so dense!”
14:25 – Ah, they’re all such good friends
So, both Jury and Mickey kind of jokingly say they’re now in love with Utena. Does this mean they’ve transferred their belief in “something eternal” to her – that they’ve accepted the imperfect nature of their original memories?
15:34 – The shadow girls: one quits to “become an actress,” the other accuses her of just wanting a scandalous celebrity life, or to just taste what that life is like – she agrees. Her friend says she’ll support her, and they celebrate being “true friends” – then the would-be actress goes off to sleep with an acting competition judge. “There can be only one winner.”
So yeah. Lots of stuff – Utena entering the adult world, the way her adolescent friendships will eventually fade into romantic pursuits, the ideas of stardom, etc
17:28 – Akio and Anthy in the car in their true forms, Anthy writhes in agony. “In pain, Anthy? Well, I’m not the one who causes it – the world does.”
18:29 – What the FUCK. Utena and Anthy exchange cookies and tea while talking about “poisoning” each other. A red rose sigil appears – is that the sigil of the Rose Bride? Can’t remember the full red rose sigil – maybe from the start of the show?
Again, the red rose sigil appears as they promise to meet for tea in ten years.
20:13 – And then… ANTHY TRIES TO JUMP OFF THE ROOF?! WHAT?!?
“You’re just going to run away? Don’t we have a date to have tea and laugh together in 10 years?”
20:40 – Touga: “Why are you going? Do you want to see your prince that badly? Or is it for Himemiya. Whoever believes in true friendship is a fool.”
“Don’t you know? I am a fool.”
3:20 – Utena and Anthy clasp hands as they reach the battle floor for the last time. Title screen: “The Ends of the World
5:14 – “The ring brought you back. You did not lose your noble heart.” Or her purity, or her naivety. But she’s not ignorant – she knew Akio was the prince, and was End of the World
5:39 – And he draws a sword from her, and she changes into a dress and the lipstick – the lipstick she wore on their date
5:49 – “You’ve proven yourself to be my princess. A sword is unsuited for you now.”
7:24 – “I thought I was just the Rose Bride. I could be abused by my master, because I was a doll without a heart.”
“The pain I’ve caused you… I used you, and your naivety. I’m so sorry.”
Oh god this is so good
8:18 – “I never noticed the pain you were in. And despite that, I kept acting like the noble prince that would save you!” Yep
“The truth is, my protecting you was just for my ego.”
Originally, she wanted to protect Anthy to protect her own image as a prince. Now, she wants to protect Anthy because she loves her. Forget all about these silly games and rules – though Utena pretended not to care, her image as a prince was actually more important to her than anything. Though she pretended to be free, she wasn’t – but now she is free
9:20 – “Girls shouldn’t brandish swords like that.” Ever the charmer, Akio
9:51 – “You’ve lost the pure soul that only wants to be a prince.” Yes, because that’s a false fantasy – as is something eternal
And then Akio admits it – both the prince and the castle where eternity lies are fake
10:46 – And him “revealing the truth” ends up with the walls opening up with the classic archways to reveal they’ve been in the planetarium all along – under a sky of false stars
11:22 – “With this equipment, I can project fairy-tale images for the naive people who wish that “eternity” and miraculous power really do exist. However, there is no place higher than this room. The summit of Ohtori Academy – the summit of the world.” The End of the World
“Someone as young as you might not see the value in this room. Therefore, rather than aspiring to reach the Chairman’s Room of the Academy, you chose an illusory castle in the sky instead.” Yep. Our childhood dreams
12:53 – “Isn’t it unfair to pretend only you are noble and in the right?” Utena clung to this, unlike Nanami
13:27 – “Once upon a time, reality got the better of you. You were unable to stand against it.” Her parents’ death made her accept that nothing is eternal – her childhood died there, only to be revived by the prince
15:26 – “When she became known as a witch, the prince I was (Dios) ceased to exist.”
15:57 – “I once thought of her as a goddess who sacrificed herself for the one she loved. Maybe she was. But now she is a witch, and enjoys being a witch.” “You made her a witch!”
16:14 – “She can no longer be happy except like this.” Nope. Utena proved that
16:40 – “If it cannot break its shell, the chick will die without being born. We are the chick. The world is our shell. For the world revolution!” As every one of them places their roses, their power and sense of princehood and self, inside a genie’s lamp. All of their wishes, all of their hopes for eternity, go to Utena
And all of their roses turn white. All of them, princes
17:50 – “I’m not a Duelist. Fighting me isn’t like playing the dueling game.” “I’ve never just played at dueling!”
18:22 – “A child like you cannot understand my ideals. The Rose Bride exists for ideals you do not know.” “What sort of ideals make you control people from this room?!”
Though she is naive, maybe even “pure,” there is a power in that. His ideals should die with him
19:24 – “What value is there in this room? It just torments Himemiya even more!” “She is the Rose Bride of her own free will! There is no need for you to interfere!”
20:00 – “I’m going to be the one who frees Himemiya from you! I’m going to be a prince!” A real prince.
And then at the end, Himemiya STABS her. Gaaah
1:01 – “You remind me so much of Dios when I loved him. But you can never be my prince. Because you’re a girl.”
1:48 – “Don’t take your ring off! She entered the arena representing us Duelists. Until everything is settled, we must remain Duelists.”
2:42 – This story about the boy who drowned trying to save Jury’s sister (who was actually saved by an adult) is really something. She forgot the boy’s name – princes don’t exist, nothing is eternal
3:07 – Nanami: “Why did you just tell us that story?” Back to Utena, who this was the story of. Basically the last appearance of the shadow girls
4:07 – “Knowing everything of the world, you chose this path.” “And knowing everything of you, I love you.” “Yes, big brother.” As if Utena’s ideals and love can only be based in naivety, in a belief in eternal things that don’t exist
4:49 – Akio’s flip to the rose gate is the same as his flip over the car
5:46 – Anthy: “Oh stubborn and reckless hero, you let me have a small taste of true friendship. Goodbye.”
6:29 – “The million swords of human hatred are attracted by the light of this prince’s sword.” All untarnished things must be brought down
7:20 – “She takes the swords in place of the prince”
8:00 – And the door to the new world is blocked by Utena’s pink roses, cutting them hurts her
8:28 – Utena’s childhood prince speaks soothingly from the merry-go-round. An icon of child, as is he. The circus is where her childhood died after Akio took her
9:30 – That damn condescending prince. “You’ve tried so hard”
10:55 – The prince’s sword breaks on the door. But perhaps a sword is not what is needed
11:51 – “Seeing you reminds me of my younger self. I thought persistence had merit. That it was the best way to change the world. But that does nothing – without power, you are destined to rely on others.” He says, as Anthy’s own strength keeps him from being harmed
Then the whole climax is Utena admitting she loves Anthy – her tears open the Rose Gate, just like the ring opened the Dueling Arena. Because the gate to Anthy’s prison was not a place to be fought into – only Utena’s pure love could let her in. If the power of the prince is the power to fight, being a prince was not what was needed
14:38 – “I came all this way to meet with you. So don’t be afraid of this world where we can meet.” Utena calls to Anthy with a child’s voice. Idealism does not have to die on the rocks of adulthood
18:05 – “Catching a good man should be a woman’s best talent!” Oh those shadow girls
And then they talk of rumors of Utena, and how what happened could possibly be interpreted, or even what really happened
18:57 – The school’s very last rumors are three interpretations of Utena’s finale, all of which could potentially be true. And then the girls say “well, it doesn’t matter now” – closing the book on these childhood interpretations of identity and truth
19:53 – “Now that she’s gone, they’ve all almost forgotten her. As I thought, she caused no revolution to occur.” But she did – she set Anthy free. Only children dream of princes who change the whole world – she loved another person completely, and changed everything
20:14 – Anthy: “By all means, stay in this cozy coffin of yours and continue to play prince.” She says, leaving behind her glasses and ring. YEAH ANTHY
20:23 – “She isn’t gone at all. She’s merely vanished from your world”
And she leaves wearing a Utena-pink dress, replacing her Rose Bride red. No longer a spectator. “This time, I’ll find you.” No more princes and princesses – they’re equals
“And someday, together, we’ll shine.”
So in the end, is Utena an ideal? Is that why she can never die?
**Adolescence of Utena**
6:43 – This time, Jury’s the “Prince.” Also, it straight-up starts off with the shadow girls doing student announcements, with an “On-Air” countdown – as in, your performance begins now
8:49 – So in this universe, Utena and Touga have a history? Also, they’ve intentionally made Utena’s gender very ambiguous
9:13 – Touga: “Those clothes you’re wearing…” “It’s the prince. After we split, I thought I’d aspire to a higher ideal”
11:03 – Here, the architecture is all madness – it’s irrelevant, it’s confusing to Utena, it’s just scenery
12:32 – “This is my rose garden. But in reality, I’m the one captive to the roses.”
Perfect line – also, she’s the one who nurtures the roses and tends to them. They can only bloom because she is there – Rose Bride, she is literally Bride to the Roses
Hell, even the Rose Crest itself is a kind of sex thing – the ring embroidered with a rose you pierce with your finger
16:50 – “My girlfriend? She is my POSSESSION.”
18:48 – And of course the fact that you pull a sword from your partner is key as well. It is an equal partnership
22:25 – So her black/white suit is “the prince’s clothes”
23:00 – Jury’s crush has shifted the story so now it’s JURY who fell off the boat, and the boy who loved her who jumped in afterwards and drowned
23:20 – “So I’ll never forgive her. I’ll make her be the prince for the rest of her life.”
The prince is not something you should try to be – it’s an ideal, untouched by the world. It “remains pure and noble” by never engaging, by never growing up. The prince told Utena how to be a prince, and he wasn’t lying – when the intro asks “Was this really a good idea?”, it’s not because girls can’t be princes, but because no-one can
24:35 – Utena: “Do you know what kind of girl she is? She’s weird! For anyone who wins the duel, she’ll…”
This is fantastic. Utena’s “purity” is here put in opposition to Anthy – she’s a prude, basically
26:40 – More about how the Prince couldn’t stay a prince forever – and how Anthy’s magic as a witch was what actually turned him into a Prince in the first place
30:07 – Then there’s an image of Jury’s crush basically turning into a butterfly, as she talks about the locket. Which is a fair metaphor – Jury put her in the locket, under glass, as “something eternal,” which is an unfair thing for her to do. She doesn’t want the real person – she wants the image in the locket
30:42 – “I want to win the duel, but I can’t be cruel to Jury.” “Why?” “Duelists aspire to a higher ideal.”
31:49 – “Why do you want to be a Duelist, Jury? You despise the Rose Bride.” She would
33:53 – Jury wishes “to be free of that which constrains her.” With Shiori on her arm
35:50 – “Touga said we’d always be able to gaze at the stars together! There is no prince…”
37:00 – And then they dance beneath the stars together. And as the roses fall across the school, the song sings of love. And it’s gorgeous
40:51 – And then Anthy takes her to a high observation room. It’s always going up when you’re fighting for your ideals, and down when you’re admitting your base nature
42:55 – And Utena wants to stop dueling and talk about their feelings. Do it “properly”
44:00 – This scene keeps equating honesty with sex. Hm
47:13 – “Akio’s such a textbook example of a prince.” You would think that, shadow girls
47:50 – Of course Akio knows he’s being taped
53:37 – According to a “scandalous video” from the shadow girls, Anthy poisoned her brother. And his body was found in the flowerbed
54:28 – But of course, the full video reveals he drugged her to take advantage of her. Our perception of the truth is what we want it to be, or just what we hear
55:45 – He complains about not having his car key, stabs Anthy (“you don’t understand!”), and then plummets from his own balcony into death. A descent into his base desires
56:50 – Ah shit, Utena in the Black Rose Elevator
57:20 – Touga: “Everything here is built entirely around the prince, yet there is no prince in the flesh. That’s why this game is necessary”
1:00:30 – So this Touga actually was the boy who drowned to save Jury – she was Utena’s pure prince, who died without fault. So who was Shiori sleeping with?
1:01:29 – Anthy: “You’re now the true prince. Any miracle is yours, as long as you stay in this world.” “No. Let’s go to the outside world”
1:04:24 – “A car without its key can’t move and will rust.” And Anthy literally has the key to the car that is literally Utena. Oh my god
But yeah, same metaphor as ever. You need both of them
1:06:09 – And of course Shiori’s a car, now, too! She’s the villain. Great
1:09:51 – “It looks like friendship saved the day!” Goddamnit
1:10:15 – “You’re heading to the outside, right? Good ideals attract good company. We’ll meet you there one day!”
1:11:40 – Oh no, the castle’s a trap!
1:25:00 – And of course her Prince tries to lure her back with the promise of being a corpse-princess in the closed world. So romantic! But they fight on through to the outside world, where there are no roads