The Black Rose on the Piano (Utena Ep. 15)
Halfway through this episode Miki finds Kozue playing his favorite melody on the piano. To our ears, her playing sounds as lovely as Miki’s or Anthy’s. This is supposed to shock us. There are three possibilities:
1) Miki was right all along. Kozue owns that tune and if she thinks she’s unable to play the piano well then she’s simply misleading herself.
2) Kozue was right all along. She’s never played the piano well, but Miki is so surprised at seeing her sitting there that his mind transforms her awful playing into his own ideal.
3) Kozue was right all along. She’s never played the piano well, but the Black Rose ring has given her the power to play the melody just the way Miki likes it.
Maybe the duel itself supports option (3) over (2). Utena is stunned by Kozue’s fighting prowess and says so. Kozue is quick to say that this is Miki’s brilliance and not hers (and we know she got it through joining the Black Rose). So there could be a parallel between her temporary swordfighting skills and a temporary piano-playing ability, both the result of the Black Rose. After all, regardless of the cause, it was Kozue that was fighting Utena and not Miki. Miki might have imagined her sister playing the piano well, but Utena certainly didn’t imagine Kozue trying to win that duel and doing a darn good job of it.
The duel song is so appropriate!! I wrote before about how the pre-duel song deals with a Paradise Lost, and that IMHO the lyrics imply that one can turn back time and retrieve that idyllic state. I think the Kaoru twins are seeking precisely this, and so all of the singing in this episode about time machines and going back in time fits their motif perfectly. But of course this anime never lets out have our peace, and so the fact that during the course of the song the Time Machine becomes a Dream Machine clues us in that this past may be fake, which possibility would fit option (3) over option (1). Kozue likely was an awful piano player as a child, and I imagine the twins didn’t love each other back then nearly as much as they do know.
NOTE ON EPISODE 16:
Just wanted to point the song out for those who don’t know about it:
etc. This episode is suspended over a sea of despair. It’s funny, though.