Anime · Berry Bits

Berry Bits: Revolutionary Girl Utena

Introducing Berry Bits, where I talk about something I just finished such as a video game, anime, or book.

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Revolutionary Girl Utena

Type: Anime | Genre: Psychological, Yuri, Romance | Episodes: 39

After meeting a traveling prince who consoled her after the deaths of her parents, Utena Tenjou vowed to become a prince herself. The prince left Utena only with a ring bearing a strange rose crest and a promise that she would meet him again some day.

A few years later, Utena attends Ootori Academy, where she is drawn into a dangerous game. Duelists with rings matching Utena’s own compete for a unique prize: the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and her mysterious powers. When Utena wins Anthy in a duel, she realizes that if she is to free Anthy and discover the secrets behind Ootori Academy, she has only one option: to revolutionize the world.

Shoujo Kakumei Utena blends surrealist imagery and ideas with complex allegories and metaphors to create a unique coming-of-age story with themes including idealism, illusions, adulthood, and identity.

(Description from myanimelist.com)

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This is one of those “don’t judge its appearance until you watch it” animes. Madoka Magica was another of those. Admittedly I am one of those types that is wary when diving into series because of what I see on the surface. For this anime, I thought it was going to be an annoying high school anime with fighting in it – just thrown in.

I was dead wrong. And I’m glad for that.

The story is strange, yet in a beautiful way, full of interesting, well-developed broken characters. When I say broken, it means their pasts are complex, full of torment. Each eventually grows better for it. Well, some, anyway.

Most of the time I was tempted to search for the answers I wanted to know, with many episodes adding more questions to what was going on. However, it was part of the appeal: thinking of theories and watching just to know what and why. There are plenty of comedic moments as well, though for me it was the “WTF!?” appeal, complete with laughter.

There are a lot of recycled, repeated sequences, but for a 90’s anime, each is well animated. They also have symbolism and purpose, so none of it is lazy. It is a shoujo anime at its core, yet is not afraid to touch upon things like sexuality and other questionable things. It is all done in a tasteful manner.

Utena’s and Anthy’s relationship is is basically ambiguous, able to be seen as true friendship or something deeper. I believe in the latter.

Even after I’ve finished it – day ago, might I add – I’m still thinking about it. I still want more. Stories that have me reflecting on it for a long time are my favorites. Years after I beat Silent Hill 2 I continued reading about it, about what fans had to say in regards to the hidden meanings surrounding it.

These stories all have psychological themes. Maybe I find that appealing. The mind is truly a wonderful thing and sometimes dissecting it is part of the fun.

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