Revolutionary Girl Utena Remastered 1 – My Invitation to Anime Bloggers!

The recently released remastered edition of Revolutionary Girl Utena has been subbed and is being torrented by hundreds as we speak. What better reason does the blogosphere need to engage in a massive series-viewing? Utena is one of the favorite anime of virtually everyone who’s seen it, and is only waiting to entertain everyone who has yet to do so. Love Utena? It’s time for a rewatch! Haven’t seen it? Now’s your chance! Utena has been the starting point for no shortage of brilliant posts on all kinds of blogs, but the talk of it is sporadic and uncommon. This is as good a chance as we’ll get for those of you who’ve wanted to discuss the show for a long time to do so with relevance, and for new fans to mingle in and get acquainted!

So here’s what you do – for however long you need, you watch the show through and do your posts on it. If you want to blog it episodically, or do a post after each arc, or even if you just flat-out marathon it – do what you gotta do and then make a post about it! Let Utena be a blogosphere revolution! As for me, I’ve decided to blog it episodically, so I’ll be doing so below!

Episode 1: The Rose Bride

the signature rose prints are there from the get-go

the signature rose prints are there from the get-go

Our story begins with a tale from the long past of a girl who is all alone. A prince on a white horse comes to her and gives her a ring with a rose crest on it, telling her never to loose her courage and nobility even when she grows up. So impressed is the girl by the prince that she decides to become a prince herself! “But was that such a good idea?!”

For those who’ve never seen Utena, there are some things you need to know right off the bat. First of all, this show is not meant to be taken seriously, and yet it is meant to be taken hyper-seriously. The show puts great purpose into being as ridiculous as it can, and it lampshades this fact around every turn, but it also plays the drama straight off of this, leading to overblown but very real and purposeful drama. The next thing to know is that the show is rife with symbolism. If something seems odd, it’s probably because it is either symbolic or parodical. Finally, you should know that this is not a kid’s show. If something seems like it might be taken sexually, chances are the show wants you to take it sexually. You will see some of that in this episode.

Right of the bat, Utena gives us a great way to learn what the difference is between ‘art’ and ‘animation’ in an anime. All throughout the episode, the background art is stunning. Art director Shichiro Kobayashi is a legend, and he is fully displaying all of his talent

the school with its penis tower

the school with it's penis tower

and love for cels here. However, the actual moving bits are not so great. There are a good number of off-model shots and a distinct lack of detail at parts, but this is somewhat made up for by the better looking dramatic moments.

During the first few minutes, we are introduced to Utena, the prince of all tomboys. Much to the lament of the school’s disciplinary attendant, Utena parades around unashamedly in a boy’s uniform. What I find interesting is that even though everyone including Utena refers to it as the school’s uniform for boys, it is in fact completely different from that of anyone in the school. This a way to really emphasize how much Utena stands out.

Utena being hot~

Utena’s best friend is Wakaba, who is just a normal girl, but an excellent friend. She refers to Utena as her ‘boyfriend’ and talks about how much cooler she is than any guy, but you can pull off the yuri goggles – it’s important to remember that Utena is shoujo, and the actions of girls is expected to be more realistic, as is the case here. Wakaba has a crush on ‘Saionji-sama’, the vice-president of the student council, who she and Utena observe from the school’s second-story balcony as he discusses something with Anthy Himemiya.

Anthy is described by Wakaba as a ‘strange girl’ who evidently keeps to herself all the time. There is something immediately noticeable about Anthy, being that she is dark-skinned, unlike anyone else we’ve seen in the school. Anthy wears a regular uniform like a facade of normalcy, while her dark skin seems to represent the fact that she is definitely abnormal, and even if she wears a normal uniform, everyone can tell how abnormal she is.

As Utena observes Anthy and Saionji, she sees Saionji slap the fuck out of Anthy and prepare to do it again before his wrist is caught by Touga Kiryuu. This image of Touga stopping Saionji, and Utena’s relief at him doing so, sets a good precedent for how Utena will come to view Touga as the show continues – that is to say, she sees him as very ‘princely’, having rescued the damsel in distress.

Touga rescuing the damsel in distress

Touga rescuing the damsel in distress

Later on, in the student council room, we meet the other members of the board, Juri and Miki. Touga accosts Saionji for his treatment of ‘the rose bride,’ saying how he can’t just do as he pleases with her. There is a hilarious moment here where Miki whispers ‘do as he pleases?!’ with shock at the implications of possible sexual deviancy, and Juri smirks and repeats the phrase, almost as if to scare Miki. This is another good precedent, as it sets up Miki’s very naive personality.

Back in the regular part of the school, someone has posted an embarrassing love letter on the bulletin board and all the guys are laughing about it. Utena busts up this ruckus, declaring that ‘a real man wouldn’t read it!’ (You go girl!) We can see here that Utena has a strong honor code and adherence to her princely nature. We learn that this is Wakaba’s letter to Saionji, and she runs off crying. Utena is gunna get that bastard for this! After confirming with Saionji that he was the one to post up the letter, Utena challenges him to a duel, and while she is unaware of it, Saionji mistakes her as a competitor in some kind of contest we’ve yet to learn about. He invites her to come into the school’s off-limits forest for a duel.

Utena at the arena entrance

Utena at the arena entrance

We then get to see two of this show’s staples – the shadow play (“Kashira kashira, gozonji kashira?!”) and the entrance to the dueling arena (ZETTAI! UNMEI! MOKUSHIROKU!) You’ll get very acquainted with these seemingly-absurd things as the show goes on.

Up in the arena, we learn the nature of the duels from Saionji and Anthy. You wear a rose in your pocket, and if the other person’s sword destroys your rose, then you loose. This is the most obvious symbolism in the show, as well as the most important. To spell it out, the sword is a dick, and the rose is your chastity. The duels are a direct parallel to deflowering.

We then learn the true nature of the ‘rose bride’ as Saionji summons the ‘Sword of Dios’ from her body. One thing I love about this scene is how there is what sounds like porn music playing as Anthy’s body is thrown back and Saionji pulls his big sword out of her. The Rose Bride is the ‘possession’ of the current champion of duels, and contained within her is the biggest sword. I leave that one to you. Saionji takes up the sword and asks for the power to revolutionize the world from it. I could make a case for ‘revolution’ being ‘birth’ which is something you give with your ‘dick’, but I’ll save it for later episodes.

So anyway, Utena rapes Saionji (symbolically.) And she get’s the Rose Bride. And Touga, watching, says “ii, BABY”, causing massive lulz on my part. So that about covers this great first episode of this revolutionary series. I look forward to seeing if anyone responds to my call and does a post of their own!

Below are some extra screen-shots since I took too many~.

Anthy in the flower garden

Anthy in the flower garden

The epic arena

The epic arena

Awaken the revolution!

Awaken the revolution!

My dick go like the chargers, the whole team, your shit... look like you fourteen

"My dick go like the chargers, the whole team, your shit... look like you fourteen"

26 thoughts on “Revolutionary Girl Utena Remastered 1 – My Invitation to Anime Bloggers!

  1. I don’t know if you have some rule against this but, could you post the link of the torrent? The one I found has 4 seeds and I’m not even sure if it is the remastered version. And I can’t comment about the first episode since I haven’t seen Utena. /me facepalm at myself.

  2. i just watched the first ep, though not remastered bcos I’m pretty sure my computer won’t be able to handle it. This is great, and I’m glad you didn’t put spoilers in your post. I think you’re right on with the symbolism.

    so yes, i’ll start blogging this.

  3. This is so, so tempting. Utena is my favorite anime — I love everything about it, from the insanity, to the way it chucks symbols at you from every direction, to the awesome Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku ritual, to JURI F’N ARISUGAWA, to the absurd comedy episodes that show the right way to troll fans … everything about it is wonderful.

    I think the best way to approach a project like this, especially for those who are re-watching the series, is to pick one track and just run with it the whole way through. There is just SO MUCH to Utena that if you tried to reconcile it all and be totally thorough, your head would explode. For me, the way the series tears through gender roles is the most interesting aspect, so that is probably the route I would take were I to do this. (It’s 50/50 at this point … you already have me torrenting the remastered version, though!)

    • hehehe, I hope everyone follows through with this! It’ll be fun. As for being thorough, I think if anyone’s the man for the job, it’s me, hehehe.

  4. Never seen it, never heard hype about it, don’t know why I should watch it. However, as the aniblogospere’s latest n00b, perhaps this is a good time to jump into a show I know nothing about, since, apparently, everyone likes it. I get the impression from your post and the comments that it’s campy/serious-awesome the way Big-O was. Am I correct? A little insanity makes everything better, muahaha. I don’t know who Red Hair is (Touga?), but he looks badass. I think I will take up your invitation and watch this alongside Canaan.

    Also: Nice to meet you. I dig the web comic. ;)

    • Very nice to meet you as well! Indeed, Utena is a legendary anime, and Big O is actually a very good comparison. I hope you’ll pot on the show as well!

  5. A wonderful project! I’m just about to start watching the remastered version myself so maybe I’ll join you if I find the time and energy (in English too, cause my blog is in Finnish).

    I don’t really think Miki is quite as naïve as he may seem at first, not in the same way Utena is. Miki I’d describe being innocent and inexperienced rather than naïve. After all, he can be at times delightfully sharp and crude, even, not to mention that he lacks the obliviousness Utena sports so much. Take the scene in ep. 8 where he explains to Utena how Nanami often has guys buzzing over her, but she, in her infinite adoration for Touga, regards them as absolutely nothing, as parsley (my very favorite Miki-moment, it’s such a mean comparison and thus unexpected of him).

    Also, Miki seems to be pretty good at reading other people’s deeper intentions, like when he reacts with much discomfort to Mikage’s indirectly sexualized behavior during their meeting in the beginning of the Black Rose Saga.

    • YES!!! Although, do keep in mind that it’ll probably look like somewhat standard shoujo for the first few episodes… although there are also some pretty obvious (and ominous!) details which seem to suggest otherwise.

      I’m actually in the midst of re-watching the show myself, although right now I’m already at seventeen, having started a few weeks ago. I’m thrilled to see that someone decided to sub the remastered episodes, though, and am tempted to switch over to those from my old Central Park Media DVD’s… (poor CPM…)

      • I think if funimation wants a quick way to earn everyone’s undying love, they will relese the remaster. After all, they’ve aired Utena on their network for years.

        • I’d be really surprised if they did, though, honestly – its an old show at this point, its never exactly been an easy sell since it looks like standard shoujo fare, and I can’t see more than a fraction of even the big fans of the show being willing to shell out for a remastered box. Too bad, I’d love to own an official American release =( I think the only ones who might try to release it would be one of the more niche distributors; this kind of makes sense, too, since CPM was the only company really willing to license it, since the bigger names didn’t think it would sell.

          Damn, I really miss CPM…

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  7. Wow that download incredibly fast. Too bad this’ll have to wait as I’m in the middle making my way through Zeta Gundam for the first time (and the whole UC universe). This will no doubt come before ZZ though.

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