Well done, Mr. S. (Utena Ep. 36)

Everything after this picture will  be spoilers.  That’s obvious of course, but I really, really would like people who haven’t watched the show yet not to read this stuff.  I don’t want the crime of ruining Revolutionary Girl Utena for someone to be on my conscience.

Look, one of the wonderful things about this show is how it is so satisfying for the fan.  It even satisfies desires the fan didn’t even know they had.  For example, the whole concept of Anthy pulling a sword out of Utena.  That’s totally awesome, and I would have loved to have wanted to see it if it had ever crossed my mind, but it didn’t.  And now we come to this episode and we’re given something that not in my wildest dreams I could have thought possible, and yet it makes sense as an analogy to Utena-Anthy and it’s so satisfying: Saionji pulling a sword out of Touga!

And it gets better.  Think about it: you’ve got four people at the combat arena whose lives are completely enmeshed together.  Three of these people are currently being ravished and exploited by chairman Lucifer himself.  All but one, and it turns out to be Saionji!!  Isn’t that just spectacularly satisfying?!  The one guy who we started to hate from the very beginning turns out to be the least compromised, the one who tries his hardest to hold on to some sort of purity.  A round of applause for Saionji please.  He deserves it, and if Akio gets his hands on him in the next few episodes I shall die.

As far as the duel itself goes, I was wondering why Touga didn’t just snatch that rose and throw it to the ground when he had Utena in his grip.  I almost thought the loss here was deliberate because of the way it went.  I mean, first Utena complains to him for fighting after an evening date where he declared his love.  He says she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure and immediately proceeds to grab her and pledge his devotion once more!   He’s establishing a Kodak moment.  My point is not that Touga could have beaten Utena easily and chose not to, but that he had the feeling that he was going to lose and had the presence of mind to make the loss as memorable as possible for “use” later on.  As he told Saionji, it ain’t over till it’s over.

The little telepathic dialogue about their series of fights gave me a total Reincarnation vibe.  There’s this trope in reincarnation stories where two rivals will fight over several lifetimes and I just had that feeling from hearing Utena and Touga.  Utena’s line: “I get the feeling we’ve fought many times” is such a classic.  And the fact that they seem to just read each other’s minds may signal a bond across lifetimes.

DON’T SPOIL THIS FOR ME!!!

~ by Haloed Bane on April 29, 2011.

6 Responses to “Well done, Mr. S. (Utena Ep. 36)”

  1. My sense is that so far all characters’ losses have been far more meaningful than Utena’s victories.

    I really appreciate it how much attention Saionji gets in this arc (*applauding*🙂 )

    • So, at the beginning of the show, Saionji has the Rose Bride right? Did he actually fight Touga for her? I would love to see the record of duels that predate the beginning of the show. Who fought whom? Maybe the manga talks about it…

      Anyway, yes, go Saionji!!

  2. So good. Yes I think I’ve done a good job NOT talking about Saionji hehe. Precisely because this arc is so good — for his role in it. Imagine that: Saionji the hero with Anthy the corrupt.

    Indeed this show satisfies needs you never thought you’d ever have. Huzzah for Saionji, the whipping boy of the series for so long has his dignity near the end of things.

    • The role reversal is fantastic. And then you have the other brutal role reversal: (relatively) pure sibiling couple Touga/Nanami vs Anthy/Akio..

      I honestly didn’t think we’d ever hear from Saionji again Actually, back when he was defeated in episode 2, I was expecting him to fade out of the picture. Boy was I wrong…

      • Jesus, the sibling reversal is just as delicious. Goddammit I knew I will never ever regret placing this show among my favorites. I will never question it again. I question all my favorites all the time, every year. Utena I will never again.

        • I hear you. Right now I’m pretty sure it’s the anime I’ve most enjoyed. It’s better than Evangelion because it’s longer and I love quantity as well as quality😉

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