More Apocalyptic Talk (Revolutionary Girl Utena 02-05)
Last week otou-san over at Shameful Otaku Secret! wrote up a post concerning our chats on Revolutionary Girl Utena, prompted by digitalboy’s invitation. Neither of us have seen this series before, and so along with a warning for spoilers in this post I’d like to include a plea against spoiling events beyond episode 5 for us!!!
Now, initially our idea was to watch one episode a week, chat about it, and trade posts between the two blogs. However someone couldn’t restrain themselves (I’m not saying who) and watched all the way to episode 5. So then the other one of us (which I admit is myself) was forced to watch up to 5 as well.
So we had a pretty epically rambling chat on these 4 episodes.
On Episode 02
We agreed that this episode, where Saionji gets an immediate rematch (WHY? YOU SHOULD NEVER DO THIS!!) and loses to Utena again, was relatively unremarkable.
otou-san: I’m finding it hard to remember something truly standout about it other than the fact that it’s the first time she used the sword and played for the defensive team
animekritik: Yeah…same here.
["Great chat, you guys," I hear you say. But wait!! There's more!!!]
On Episode 03
Touga’s younger sister, who seems to love her oniisama a bit too much, is upset at his interest for Anthy, so she sets up a ball, sends Anthy a funky green dress [which is shohjo murder in the first degree considering Anthy's dark complexion and purplish hair]. The dress disappears when you spill liquid on it [I bet you a certain former President wishes he...]
animekritik: I had this issue with the ball re: anthy’s disappearing dress: my shoujo side was saying “How horrible!!” and the rest of me was going: “Yeah, yeah” a la Beavis & Butthead.
otou-san: Haha too true. They’ve created a paradox.
[OK, that's pretty much all we talked about that. But hold on, the best is yet to come!!!!!]
On Episodes 04-05
The great Mickey story, super-compressed style, went something like this: Mickey and his sister played piano, Mickey loved his sister, got sick, sister dropped out, Mickey is looking for someone to replace her, finds Anthy, Nanami is still trying to get Anthy back for “stealing” her own brother, brings snail, snake, octopus to Utena’s, fails to humiliate anyone, Touga does Mickey’s sister, teaches him a lesson, Mickey tries to break up the council, fails, challenges Utena, fails, but promises he’ll be back.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Here’s what our discussion yielded.
[otou-san was a big fan of these episodes:]
otou-san: I liked the Mickey arc a lot, because the first episode was very light hearted with the mongoose and such, but got pretty dark with Touga’s “teaching” and the duel. I’m surprised at how seamlessly it’s been able to move between moods and styles so far
animekritik: Just like a young lady can switch moods….with ease.
otou-san: So true. You see what I mean about how it got really crazy with the backbiting and whatnot really fast?
animekritik: Very shohjo, yeah. meow grrrrrr! What’s up with the octopus? Is that scary? snail -> snake -> octopus..
otou-san: GL said he kept thinking about dream of the fisherman’s wife. In seriousness, I dunno. I mean, it’s definitely one notch up in bizarre you could explain away a snake in your house, they could certianly get there, but an octopus, well that would definitely indicate a weirdo… Of course, it wouldn’t live for very long…
[moving on to Touga:]
otou-san: I think what raised my eyebrows the most was Mickey walking in the music room as his sister’s leaving.
animekritik: That was excellent… Touga is gold.
otou-san: with solid brass testicles.
[otou-san brought up the comments from our first chat post:]
otou-san: I’m going into the comments here and I see two things crop up:
1. is the assertion that the duels are going to get repetitive
which I believe, since it’s kinda got the vibe of a magical girl transformation sequence, the animation itself is repeated but the commenter said that some people say it’s intentional because it’s meant to be seen as ritualistic, which, ok I can get behind to a degree as well.
animekritik: Yeah. Like watching sumo..it’s the same darn thing for the first 5 minutes: salt here salt there, crouch..no. get up again… If you’re a sumo fan that’s just time for you to get excited about the match.
otou-san: Makes sense comparing it to sumo: both are a one on one match rooted in ritual.
2. The other thing mentioned in the comments was a heavy use of symbolism which is already starting to crop up
otou-san: Well there’s the apple, which usually is a pretty obvious symbol, but it was there, cut away, cut back and it’s sliced. I’m not a real student of symbolism, but I’m not sure how I’d interpret a sliced apple
animekritik: Wait, wait, wait. I can’t even remember an apple.
otou-san: It’s a rooftop scene where the council is talking [episode 05]. They meet on the roof, it even has its own chair… Mickey talks about dissolving the council and stopping the duels for Anthy…exactly one minute later, shot of the apple and it’s creatively sliced.
animekritik: Ok, then it might be Eris’ Apple, Goddess of discord. Mickey is trying to break Olympus up.
otou-san: Ah, yeah that makes sense.
me: But it was sliced, which means the council overcame the difficulty.
otou-san: Well Touga pretty much shut him down, so yeah…
[Eventually we got down to Anthy, her mysteries, and our uncontrollable speculations:]
animekritik: Anthy is an airhead. T or F?
otou-san: Gonna bet on F. That smile has the “I know something” quality to it.
animekritik: hmmm. so it’s all a charade, huh..
otou-san: What’s your answer to that question then? Undecided?
animekritik: I’d like her to be a klutz. Bbut she looks a lot like….Utena’s prince in the OP, I think!!!
otou-san: I had the thought about how she looked like the prince but wouldn’t she have to be older? Dunno.
animekritik: Nah, her older brother.. oniisama!
animekritik: Anthy wants Utena to win..always. That should mean something.
otou-san: But doesn’t she want whoever has her at the moment to win?
animekritik: I got the impression she wanted Utena to win when fighting Saionji..and this made him angry. Same against Mickey.. she cheered.
otou-san: That certainly bothered Mickey a lot.
animekritik: no kidding!!
[We turn to evangelion philosophy:]
otou-san: Mickey was an interesting case. He claimed he was fighting for her free will, but two things about that: 1. he was just aping what he heard Utena say, when he thought that was a good idea; 2. he was still using the duel process, which shows he really wasn’t that serious or maybe he didn’t know what giving her her freedom actually meant.
animekritik: After his attempt to break the council up..
otou-san: Well yes, but it was too easy to shoot him down, could he really have thought that’d work?
animekritik: But there’s also this to consider: if Anthy’s will is to obey her master, then isn’t this an exercise of her free will?
otou-san: Yeah, I tossed that around in my head a couple times. She always frames it in such a way that you can’t be sure. Since she’s cheerfully smiling, saying “if that’s what Utena wants”.
animekritik: Ambiguous, yes.. What do you think this “world revolution” actually entails?? Coz i don’t have a clue.
otou-san: I don’t either and who might the End of the World be? At this point I actually have Gendo Ikari in my head.
animekritik: Gah.. Seele.
otou-san: Yeah I dunno… really haven’t been doing too much speculating yet. I’m still a bit overcome by the atmosphere and style and confusion.
My apologies to Chu Chu!!! I just realized we didn’t even mention him/her/it. Here’s a bone Chu, now go and chu on it.
Anyway, I hope this wasn’t too long of a post. Comments will be appreciated, but please do not spoil past episode 5!!!