Readers’ Choice: Initial Impressions for Revolutionary Girl Utena

With the polling complete and the series divided between us, five of the writers here at Beneath the Tangles are on to watch and blog the series chosen by you, the readers!  R86 is ahead of the rest of us, already presenting his initial thoughts on Umineko no Naku Koro ni.

Lynn and I have taken on the task of diving into that classic, Revolutionary Girl Utena.  Our initial impressions are below, and in the coming weeks, we’ll publish individual posts about the series.

TWWK:  I’m so glad that Utena was chosen, because I’ve been meaning to watch this series for years.  I’m coming in with two basic points of reference for the show.  The first is one of my favorite anime music videos (AMV) of all time, which depicted this show along with The Irresponsible Captain Tylor (TV) and was set to the music of Madonna’s version of “This Used to Be My Playground.”  Within that AMV, the series seemed both odd and romantic (though the video also made Tylor feel romantic, when for the most part, it ain’t) and I was drawn to it, though in the 10+ years since, I haven’t watched Utena.  The other reference is of course, Mawaru Penguindrum, also created by Kunihiko Ikuhara and among my favorite series.

Revolutionary Girl Utena
Art by f

Murasaki Lynna: I was also rooting for Utena, because I had read a positive review of it and…well, it seemed cool. I like fairy tales, so I found the idea of a princess meeting a prince and then wanting to become one herself  rather interesting. And then, a lot of people said it had good character development and plot, so I figured I would have to watch it, and the fact that is was at the top of the poll results only proved this to me even more, so I’m very excited about watching it.

So far, I like it, after the first three episodes, and I can’t wait to see how it’ll turn out! Utena is obviously going to be a very interesting character, and I like her sense of justice and kindness. She reminds me of some other strong anime heroines, such as Tomoyo Sakagami (Clannad) and Juliet (Romeo x Juliet) but I’m hoping to see some more character development as the show goes.  I’m also interested in seeing how the plot unfolds. It has a lot of fantastic elements to it, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m curious as to what the super-powerful student council”s purposes are and whether they’ll oppose or help Utena.

TWWK: The council consists of some interesting characters, and their mysterious backstory regarding the revolution has me compelled.  I’m certain that they’re villains in some way – after all, they want end the world!  I also liked some of the other characters – Utena is very cool, of course (I’m reminded a little of a more talkative Takatsuki from Hourou Musuko), and Chu Chu, that horribly ugly and pathetic mascot, is on his way to matching Ryo-Ohki as my favorite.  But Anthy…gosh, I pretty much dislike everything about her.  What do you think of her, Lynna?

Murasaki Lynna: I don’t necessarily dislike her, but I wish she would  show some characteristics other than being quiet and…well, a bit of a doormat. I only just noticed, but Utena lied to Anthy when she said that she wore a boy’s uniform just because she liked it ( She does, but that isn’t the only reason), so I think Anthy must have been lying too when she replied with the same. Chu- Chu is adorable, though.

I’m curious to learn about the other student council members.  I think there’s at least one that we know nothing about. I wasn’t quite sure if their goal was to destroy the world, or just bring some sort of revolution. All the student council members so far seem pretty despicable, although maybe not Touga so much, although I find him a bit annoying either way. I’m curious to find out what this “End of the World” thing is, and what their role is. A student council member said something like “We interpret their instructions however we choose,” so I wonder how their plans are different.

TWWK: That’s true about how they interpret the instructions differently.  There are bound to be separate motivations for each different council member.  And knowing how Mawaru Penguindrum was, I imagine there are going to be a lot of interesting twists and turns to the series.  Like you mentioned, Utena’s an interesting character – I feel like she’ll be a multi-dimensional one.  She’s the strong type of heroine, which I’ve really grown to admire in anime series, perhaps more so than any character type – yet, there’s room to grow and more than meets the eye, as you pointed out with her little deception.

And the symbolism!  I’m sure it’ll continue to develop as the series progresses, but I’m already seeing bits here and there, and I’m not exactly the most perceptive person in the world.  Utena’s colors in the duels seem to be representative of something, for instance.  And I wonder what her backstory all means?  And more than anything, all these details are what excite me about the series.  I’m eager to move forward!

Murasaki Lynna: Me too! And yes, the symbolism. Some of it is obvious (Like Utena’s white rose.  I’m guessing it’s a symbol of purity and nobility.) But although I’m pretty sure that upside-down castle is a symbolic of something, I have no idea what. I suppose I’ll just have to see what the next episodes will bring. I can’t wait to find out!


7 thoughts on “Readers’ Choice: Initial Impressions for Revolutionary Girl Utena

  1. I’m looking forward to this series of posts. Keep an eye on the Greek Chorus, and that’s all the hints I’m going to give…

    1. Thanks for the tip…let us know what we miss, as I missed, well, just about everything in Mawaru Penguindrum, which had a similar chorus.

      1. There is also a LOT of foreshadowing going on that won’t become obvious AS foreshadowing until much later.

  2. It’s somewhat understandable that you’d dislike Anthy’s character early on, but rest assured she becomes much more interesting with time–though even toward the end it can be difficult to pin down what exactly her real motivations are. She has a reason for being a “doormat”, let’s leave it at that for now. I initially didn’t care for Ringo from Penguindrum either, but by the end she became my favorite character (though I can’t say the same of Anthy, Juri is actually my favorite Utena character). Almost all the characters in Utena fall under some shade of gray, it’s far from the black and white it might initially appear to be.

    At any rate, I’m very glad you’re enjoying the series so far, and I hope you continue to do so ^_^

    1. That’s encouraging to hear…because I don’t think I could take 39 episodes of Anthy as she is now. -_-‘

      Also, Ringo was awesome.

  3. While there are undeniably problematic aspects to this series, it remains one of my all-time favorites partly due to its awesome soundtrack, but mostly due to Utena’s character herself. She isn’t perfect, she makes some bad mistakes, she’s naive, but she’s just such a strong and noble person with a good sense of justice and compassion, one of the better role models I’ve found in anime.

    1. Yes, Utena is a good series but many Christians will find it offensive for understandable reasons. It’s a good example of just because something has questionable content doesn’t mean its entirety is bad and people can still find redeeming qualities about it.

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