“For One And For All” – Revolutionary Girl Utena (anime) – 9/10 Snowballs

 

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.  Luckily, this is not difficult.  ~Charlotte Whitton

Genre: Action/Drama/Fantasy/Shoujo/Psychological

Review Status: Complete (39 Episodes/39 Epsiodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: It has fairly typical 90’s character designs, with sharp faces and features and more angular bodies. It still looks quite good, though, with lots of bright colors and lovely animation, especially in the action scenes.

Dub Vs. Sub: I only had the sub available, it was very good.

Summary: Utena has it all. Beauty. Passion. Faith. A sense of justice. She is the idol of her classmates at the exclusive Ohtori Academy. And yet, she is driven by a childhood memory of a prince on a white horse who comforted her when she was grieving over her parent’s death. He gave her an enigmatic signet ring emblazoned with a rose crest, and this memory drives Utena to do the impossible: To become a prince, herself, as she duels the members of the Student Council to protect the mysterious “Rose Bride.” *back cover of 1st dvd case)

Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena has a reputation that precedes it, of being a story of female romance and layers of symbolism. While this is only partially true, this is a story of people, of gender identity, of ideals, of life and death, all shown in minute detail and symbolism that overlap each other, with lots of double meanings to the symbols, things becoming clear in the second half that weren’t in the first, or things from the first half becoming obscured in the scheme of things.

The overlying story is that of Utena, a girl who’s unknowingly drawn into a dueling competition against others by virtue of a ring left her by a childhood hero, and to protect Anthy, the Rose Bride, from those who would use and abuse her. This is far more than that, though. No one is perfect in this anime- Utena herself is a deeply flawed protagonist, and has a number of inner struggles between the ideals that she held as an inner child and the woman she is growing into. Those she fights against are equally deep and flawed characters that can draw both pity and disgust in how they try to deal with their issues. The Student Council she fights against are constant characters through the anime, which means there is room for character growth in the series, and it is carried out as well as Utena’s. Even Utena’s friends and allies are not without their problems and issues, brought to the forefront during one arc where they are given the space to become true characters that really stand out, and sometimes highlight the struggles those in the Student Council deal with.

Woven through this are strong themes that help move the story along- innocence, love, adulthood, nobility, all shown through the trials and struggles that Utena, Anthy, and the Student Council deal with. They’re highlighted with symbols both obscure and not, from the butterfly in the interview room to the color roses that the duelists have, and even the little ‘plays’ that occur during the show. Much of it has multiple meanings and a few different ways of being interpreted, both on an individual episode level and on a higher level through the show. I know that I didn’t catch it all with one viewing, and a good amount will probably need multiple rewatches.

Both of these things lead to an ending that’s shocking, even bittersweet in meaning. This is, in many ways, a deconstruction of the fantasy genre and it shows. There is a lot of meaning packing into those last few episodes that really

Overall, this is more than what it appears to be, and is a wonderful watch for it.

Recommended: 16+. There are some incestuous relationships (one is sexual, but seems to be more like abuse than an actual love affair), and a few sexual relationships depicted either in implication or by seeing them in bed together (not having sex, just being in bed together). Some romantic and sexual are homosexual. Partial nudity- the important bits are covered or not shown, or during the transformation scenes it’s Barbie-doll nudity.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Maruwaru Penguindrum (anime)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (anime)

Rose of Versaille (anime and manga)

Princess Tutu (anime)

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