AniMazing is one of our Periodicals, created because of our love for anime and manga.
What we do with AniMazing is recommend good anime to watch or manga to read, but rather than concentrate on reviewing, we will focus more on the elements that make each work awesome and, well, amazing.
We plan on talking exclusively about completed works, old and new. After all, the worlds of anime and manga are so vast that it’s worth exploring everywhere. We will try not revealing any plot twists, but sometimes we get so excited over a piece that some might slip through the cracks.
That being said, let’s get this show on the road!
Today’s AniMazing: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Original Title: 少女革命ウテナ
Shoujo Kakumei Utena
Episodes:39 + 1 movie
Opening Theme: “Rinbu – Revolution”
by Okui Masami
Ending Themes: “truth”
by Yumi Luca
“Virtual Star Hasseigaku”
by Kamiya Maki
“Rose & release”
by Okui Masami
- This anime won the best animation award at Kobe in 1997.
- The clothing brand spoofed in episode 16, Sebastian Dior, is inspired by real life fashion label Christian Dior.
- The classic anime series The Rose of Versailles has been credited as inspiration for Utena, as is Tezuka Osamu’s Princess Knight.
- The motif used the most throughout the series is that of the rose. The roses are highly stylized and are reminiscent of the Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work.
Once upon a time (like many fairy tales begin) there was a princess named Tenjou Utena who was very sad because her parents have passed away. Then, a majestic prince riding a white stallion bestowed upon the princess a rose-crested ring. The prince encourages her to never give up hope nor her nobility, and that one day he shall return to her. She was so touched with the prince’s kindness that she vows to become a prince herself one day. But—as the narrator puts: “Is—is that such a good idea?”
Fast forward several years later and Tenjou is attending Ohtori Academy. She is causing quite the ruckus because she always wears a boys uniform so that she can be like the prince. The plot thickens even more so because now she is forced into a series of battles against the student council in an effort to obtain the hand of the mysterious Himemiya Anthy, who is also known as the Rose Bride.
Seems like a simple enough (and typical) story, right? If you thought that, then you would be quite wrong, dear reader! For not only is this one of the most surreal and well-written stories of the 90′s era of anime, it is one of the most unpredictable and symbolically driven series of all time.
Just when you think you have the series figured out it throws another curve ball at you and leaves you wondering, “What the heck did I just watch?” Yet it always makes you want to come back for more and see what happens next. Great characters, unforgettable visuals, and a strong heroine lead makes this one show that every anime fan must watch, and even if you aren’t an anime fan, watch it anyway!
The Three Awesomes
Awesome #1: Tenjou Utena is one of the best female leads in an anime. Ever.
One of the selling points of this anime is Tenjou herself. Tenjou is brash, bold, strong-willed and is filled with a strong sense of justice. It is hard for anyone watching to not root for her in her quest to become a prince, and her fight fight for what’s right.
On the flip-side, she also exudes a feminine charm which makes her all the more endearing. She also does not fall into the typical “man-hating feminist” character troupe that is seen in a lot of shows that are written for women (I’m looking at you Sex and the City). She shows that a girl can be strong and independent, yet feminine, gentle, and kind.
Awesome #2: A cryptic, yet epic song called “The Revelation of Absolute Destiny with Universal Gravitation”
A mouthful of a title, to say the least, but damn is it catchy! It will have you humming and singing it so much, you will be getting weird looks from everyone around you. The lyrics are mysterious and fit very well with the visuals, as well as with the symbolic nature of the show. This song plays before every battle Tenjou is going to have, in which she transforms — magical-girl style — into her battle gear, drawing a sword from Himemiya’s chest.
Yeah, it’s weird…But man is it cool!
Awesome #3: The effective use of symbolism and allegory
When I said that this anime is unpredictable and symbolically driven, I was not playing around. This shows entire method of storytelling is dependent on its usage of symbols and forces you to think outside of the box. Every strange visual, every quirk, and every piece of enigmatic dialogue and lyrics is all effectively put in place to tell the viewer something about what is happening and what the characters are feeling.
In fact, the entire anime exhibits itself as if it were a stage play with the usage of “props” and narration.
Every character in the show represents a particular theme and idea, which is the exact definition of an allegory. Tenjou represents rebellion, as displayed with her tendency towards the deconstruction of gender roles. Other characters, such as Himemiya represent submission and strict adherence to those same gender expectations.
I guess one could say that the main theme of this series is that of the conflict of change against tradition, hence the title Revolutionary Girl Utena. Kind of like Japan itself; a country with a rich history of traditional values while at the same time taking small steps towards modernizing more and more everyday.
Watch this anime…
…if you want a show that will challenge your mind in unusual ways using a great cast of characters that makes you come back for more. Let the revolution begin!