Episode 2 of Utena has less to talk about because it is mostly exposition. This means I will not be doing the episode summary-style with annotations like I did the last one, but will just be pointing out some highlights, as it would be better that you watch the episode to get the exposition. I will also talk about one of the first Utena moments I ever saw – the slap heard ’round the world.
Episode 2: For Whom the Rose Smiles
God I love Renbu Revolution. Great song, great lyrics, and an awesome video – everything an opening should be. Very 90s.
Episode 2 of Utena introduces us to many more of the recurring things we will see throughout the arc, or even the rest of the show. One of the first things to crop up is Utena’s legion of fangirls. Fangirls are all over the place in Utena, to the point that it’s easy to say that any female who isn’t one of the main characters is a fangirl of one of the main characters. The first purpose for this is a parody of shoujo manga/anime wherein the popular characters, namely those of the student council, tend to have a mass of followers. Keep an eye on the fangirls (and fanboys for that matter) in this show – they play bigger roles than you will expect.
We also see Touga, Juri, and Miki riding to the top of the student council tower in their fancy elevator for the first time. Touga gives a speech relating the way a baby chick has to break the shell of it’s egg to be born to their own needing to break the shell of the world to revolutionize it. While the council sits around, they discuss their letters from a mysterious benefactor called ‘End of the World’ who has set up this whole rose bride/duelist thing. Supposedly, at some point, a champion duelist will gain the power to revolutionize the world.
This scene also gives us the beginning of my favorite running gag in Utena – the inane activities of the student council club. In this episode, they are simply playing cards, but each time we’ll see them doing some kind of activity that is almost always completely out of place with the dialog. I won’t spoil the more bizarre ones, but simply warn you to keep your eyes open!
The episode goes on with Utena and Anthy moving into the same dorm room, Utena wanting nothing to do with the Rose Bride and dueling business, meeting Chu Chu, the adorable mouse/monkey hybrid, etc. At night, Saionji comes over and calls out Anthy. This is a relatively important scene for gathering a little bit of sympathy for Saionji (and then mercilessly loosing it.)
You must understand how completely betrayed Saionji feels. Sure, he was a total ass to Anthy, but that, to him, was love. He honestly cares for Anthy in his own twisted way, but of course, Anthy never loved him back (for good reason.) For Anthy to completely abandon him must have come as a much-deserved shock. Saionji is none to happy about Anthy’s attitude towards him, so he does what any true pimp does and slaps the living fuck out of the bitch (pictured above.)
Okay, we saw Saionji slap Anthy in episode 1, but this slap is in a whole new class of it’s own. It’s beautiful. Saionji looks down, relaxes his shoulders, then all at once snaps his body like a whip and slaps the ever-loving shit out of Anthy – so hard she falls to the fucking ground. This was one of the first scenes I ever saw from Utena. We had just moved into my last house where we got the Funimation network, and my brother and I were flipping through the channels when we happened upon this episode just as this moment was approaching. We rewound and rewatched this moment upwards of thirty times, ad-libbing it for our enjoyment (‘this… is… SPARTA!’ and other such cultural references largely involved).
Saionji challenges Utena to a duel, and she accepts, revealing after he laves that she intends to loose the match on purpose and be through with this rose bride business (how cold.) We get another development moment from Anthy here – she tells Utena to ‘do whatever you like,’ even though we see her face sink. Obviously, she’d rather be with the pleasant Utena than the abusive asshole Saionji, but because of her passive nature and adherence to the so-called ‘rules’, she goes along with it. You know that this is a psychologically beaten-down young woman.
Today’s shadow puppets re-enact a western-style film, and they warn that “loosing may be harder than you think!” Kashira kashira, gozonji kashira?!
ZETTAI! UNMEI! MOKUSHIROKU!!! Now we see the next addition to Utena’s stock footage escapades. As Utena reaches the top of the spiral staircase and the music fades, her uniform magically gains extra pieces. This is an obvious jab at the transformations that magical girls undergo, only instead there are only some very slight changes (by the way, I think I neglected to mention how Utena’s director did a season of Sailor Moon, and Utena was his way of doing what he’d wanted to do with that show.)
When Utena draws the Sword of Dios from Anthy, we see some of her manliest facial expressions yet. Fitting for someone drawing their huge dick out~
In the heat of battle, I think is where Utena makes her decision not to let Saionji have Anthy. After the duel is over, she’s won, and everything is wrapping up, Utena claims that she won the match because Saionji would have been a jerk to Chu-chu. Whether or not Anthy is aware of Utena’s true thoughts, the answer is enough to give her a smile. Now, what I think happened is that Utena felt Saionji’s visceral nature in the fight. Saionji fights brutally and viciously, even kicking Utena in the ribs at one point. More so than even her pride, which I’m sure was a factor, I think Utena realized that this person was not worthy of Anthy, and even if she wasn’t interested
herself, he couldn’t have her.
That’s all for episode 2~ Tune in for the next one whenever my time permits!
EDIT: I realize I mentioned nothing of Wakaba in this post, if only because I didn’t have much to say about her scenes. I just want to give a Tip of the Hat to her great moments at the episode’s beginning. These scenes are what make her endearing despite her relative lack of plot importance.
The Revolution Begins – Schneider enters the Utena blogging circle