Halfway through the Black Rose Arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena (19)
Halfway through episode 19 Arisugawa mocks Nanami and Miki for their inability to change the objects of their passion. Having said this, she thinks a bit more, and then includes herself in the same group. Nanami’s retort, that she has always loved the same man and precisely this is why her love is eternal, is very interesting in a Platonic sort of way. But I’m not going to deal with that here.
Certainly, Juri has always been obsessed with her best friend. Nanami loves her big brother. Miki, on the other hand, has made a sweeping switch from Kozue to Anthy. One way to look at this is to say that for him, Kozue = Anthy, and so it’s really the same person, or better, the same ideal, that he has always yearned for. Another possible perspective is to reason that deep down Miki still loves Kozue, and Anthy is a replacement that will never truly work for him. Or maybe he’s simply switched, end of story 🙂
Utena is obsessed with her prince and has been throughout. Anthy’s heart is closed to us still, but can there be any doubt that whoever it is that keeps her heart holds it dictatorially and without rivals? That’s the vibe I get from her…
Then how about Wakaba? Very early on in the series, when her heart was broken by Saionji, she pledged herself to Utena vowing absolute fidelity. Episode 19 worked for me because I had totally forgotten these facts. When the Onion King showed up, I didn’t think much of it: wasn’t Wakaba one of those girls who goes from crush to crush? I could see the series Onion to Saionji to Utena with potentially several more names to be inserted before, between and after these three. “This is why Wakaba can’t be a duelist, she lacks the manic impulse, she is normal.”
Toward the end of the episode, I still didn’t have a clue. I thought, wow, here we have an episode without dueling, just a sidestory on love. Cute. And then when Onion King got rejected, I assumed without a doubt in the world, that Wakaba would go running straight into the arms of a nonplussed Utena. Her prince, Utena.
So then Onion goes down the shaft, and I’m getting ready for a very short but exciting duel. Of course, Onion’s gripe must get through to Utena, otherwise he is useless as a duelist (he can’t get his weapon from Wakaba!). The Black Rose gropes for this, for Onion to hate Utena. And I think there were at this point two perfectly good reasons for optimism:
1) Utena was the one who pushed Onion into confessing to Wakaba, thus triggering the rejection. Onion could have been angry at Utena because of this.
2) I actually believe Onion lied with that whole roundabout plan to get near Wakaba. Onion originally intended to go for Utena, and seeing himself rejected by her, he found a smooth way to get a hold of Wakaba as a consolation prize. If my theory is right, then Utena’s rejection is indeed the main cause of all his trouble and he should be angry.
But he didn’t make either of these connections, he kept it at the level of Wakaba and himself. “Deeper, go deeper” said the voice, but he didn’t. For the purposes of the Black Rose, this was a failure.
So Wakaba runs into Saionji’s arms, thus proving she is obsessive enough to qualify for a duel. Awesome.
But what does Saionji do with this? How can the one man who seems the most obsessed with Anthy qua Anthy (not as Rose Bride, not as the opressed to be pitied and liberated but with Anthy herself) hijack a mechanism whose very aim is the destruction of his beloved?? This is a dangerous game, and it keeps getting more dangerous.
If you comment, please don’t spoil past this episode!!!