Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 09: Something Eternal

With episode nine of Revolutionary Girl Utena, there again (thankfully) seems to be some advancement in storyline beyond emphasizing mystery and developing characters.  We learn more about the past of several council members, while Saionji brings Anthy to the castle in the sky in order to reach an “eternal reward.”

The allusions and symbols in the episode are heavy – the castle in the sky represents Heaven, as Saionji speaks of eternity within that castle. Additionally, Anthy continues in her typical role as the bride (God’s church) and also later as Jesus, when she “resurrects” from a tomb.  There could even be a discussion of eschatology to be had, with Saionji again speaking of the End of the World as the space around him seems to physically crumble.

Kyouichi Saionji Utena
Saionji wants to shove eternity in Kiryuu’s face (Art by スイマ)

Saionji, who has taken a back role since the opening episode of the series, plays the primary one here.  Why does Saionji want an eternal reward?  He seems to want to spite Kiryuu, though I’m not entirely sure of the connection here.  Is he trying to steal a girl from her, as he felt the girl in the coffin was stolen from him?  At the least, his motive doesn’t seem to be for anything other than selfish gain, and thus it’s no surprise that he proves unworthy of the reward.

So what exactly is this eternal something in Utena?  I’m not sure, but Anthy may provide a clue.  She mentions that something eternal dwells in the castle.  And so, perhaps it is something or someone that is living.

And that, too, is what believers will find when they ascend to their heavenly castle.  Though the Bible mentions a reward for the faithful, our souls won’t rejoice in selfish gain, like riches or glory (or revenge!).  Our great reward will be that very someone eternal that dwells in Heaven.

It is God Himself.

And there could be no bigger reward.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

3 thoughts on “Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 09: Something Eternal

  1. Just finished Utena today. While the art was unique (that architecture! And the colours and motives were great too), the plot was intelligent and I loved the multi-faceted characters and the absurd comedy bits, ultimately I´d say it becomes more and more humanistic to the point of explicit anthitheism in the last chapters, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. There are not a lot of shows in which the final fight (spoiler, obviously) takes place in front of “the tomb of Dios”, to say that except for noble human love, there is no such a thing as Heaven, or something eternal, or miracles, which in the context of the show are illusions created by those in power (“the end of the world” secret, that in reality there is nothing upper the tower).

    It´s odd, because Mawaru Penguindrum gave me nothing of this vibe. In anime, I´m familiar with classic hero and romance tales, quasi-Buddhist shows, and quasi-Christian ones, but only a few times I´ve found this kind of explicit antitheism: Shiki, LOGH (more of anti-Catholicism), and now Utena. Well, I guess at least I can discuss it now, so all´s well.

    1. Hmm…very interesting. I never finished Utena, unfortunately—I just could never really get into it. Your thoughts certainly have me wanting to return if I get a chance.

      But I would agree that Penguindrum definitely doesn’t have that kind of feel. If anything, it’s hopeful, a reaching for something more, something better, something otherworldly.

      1. Then I must warn you that it lacks Mawaru’s integration between fast-paced thriller and symbolic discourse. The plot is slow, seemingly crazy and quite repetitive (it mostly plays around some ideas and motifs from a symbolic point of view, but as a narrative or a mistery it’s often quite tiresome).

        There are also scenes of more or less explicit nudity (mostly symbolic, as in transformation scenes and the ending song, but there’s also an incest which seems to be some form of abuse, obscured), and a lot of the symbols seemed also sexual to me. The atheistic worldview grew more evident in the last episodes. In the positive front, it affirmed noble and pure human love for all, also the rejected, also when it’s difficult.

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