Forum - View topic
EP. REVIEW: Revolutionary Girl Utena


Goto page   Next

Note: this is the discussion thread for this article

Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
BodaciousSpacePirate
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Posts: 1635
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:37 am Reply with quote
Utena is one of my three favorite anime shows (along with Maria Watches Over Us and Evangelion), and I'll be re-watching it each week prior to reading these reviews.

All I can really add at this point is that if you're considering getting into Ikuhara's post-Sailor Moon work, and aren't intimidated by the show's length, Utena is a very reasonable starting point. Penguindrum (his next work) only gets better once you've seen Utena, and Lesbian Bear Storm (his most recent series) builds on a lot of the creator's previously-established themes and visual conceits. While Utena definitely draws on a lot of the imagery from Riyoko Ikeda manga (specifically Rose of Versailles and Dear Brother), you can essentially go into it "blind" without being too confused.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Key
Moderator


Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 14890
Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:00 am Reply with quote
Quote:
If you've ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or like the only broken person in a society you couldn't relate to (especially if it's because of your gender or sexuality), Utena is a story for you,

So is the fact that I never felt this way during my adolescence part of the reason why this series never resonated with me, then?

This one was a series I only ever finished because people talked about it so much, not because I actually like or appreciated it. I was definitely one of the people confused by it and inclined to use the P word, and found a fair amount of the symbolism to be irritating in its obtuseness. It's been almost a decade since I saw it, but I think I always had the impression while watching it that the series was definitely saying something but wasn't talking to me.(But that tends to be true of my reaction to all Ikuhara works; I gave up on finishing Yurikuma Arashi about halfway through for similar reasons.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
BodaciousSpacePirate
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Posts: 1635
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:15 am Reply with quote
Key wrote:
So is the fact that I never felt this way during my adolescence part of the reason why this series never resonated with me, then?


It could definitely be a component of why you don't care for it. When I was a teen, the only people I knew who liked Utena happened to be other teens who felt like "outsiders" because of how their peers responded to their sexuality and gender. It's a remarkably well-targeted series in terms of its intended demographic - which isn't to say that people outside of this demographic can't enjoy it, but it's definitely designed "for" a particular audience.

Contrast it with something like Simoun, perhaps - another LGBT-friendly series with a relatively oblique presentation, which was designed for a much wider audience in mind than just transsexual or lesbian viewers. From what I recall, you liked that series a little bit more?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
angelmcazares
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 3369
Location: Iscandar
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:41 am Reply with quote
Key wrote:
Quote:
If you've ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or like the only broken person in a society you couldn't relate to (especially if it's because of your gender or sexuality), Utena is a story for you,

So is the fact that I never felt this way during my adolescence part of the reason why this series never resonated with me, then?

I also did not feel out of place growing up, but I love the Utena tv series. While I agree that Utena offers a lot things that are relatable to LGBTQ people, it is a fascinating piece of art that can resonate with everyone else.

I feel that Utena is perceived as an intimidating anime because some of its biggest fans promote it as a work that was exclusively made for people with gender issues and traumatized lives.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website My Anime
lhernan02



Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Posts: 153
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:45 am Reply with quote
Key wrote:
So is the fact that I never felt this way during my adolescence part of the reason why this series never resonated with me, then?


Not really, Utena is a poser show written so people who "get it" can feel good about themselves (everybody who sees is for what it is -a good 1 cour show ruined by an "artist"- drops it ASAP). A better example of a LBGT friendly show is Simoun, whether you like it or not, it is approachable and even enjoyable at its basic level.

And before anybody begins the "you just don't get it" attack. My measure is Voltaire, anyone with a ninth grade education can get the full effect of his works (from the obvious Zadig to the more complex Candide). Any complexity above that is just Poserville and Ikuhara is Japan's premier citizen there.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
BodaciousSpacePirate
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Posts: 1635
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:48 am Reply with quote
lhernan02 wrote:
My measure is Voltaire, anyone with a ninth grade education can get the full effect of his works (from the obvious Zadig to the more complex Candide). Any complexity above that is just Poserville and Ikuhara is Japan's premier citizen there.


Wait, anything written for someone with more than a ninth grade education is pretentious? Shocked
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Yttrbio
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 09 Jun 2011
Posts: 2949
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:57 am Reply with quote
It's not an entirely unreasonable point of view. There's a point at which you're making a show more and more impenetrable simply for the sake of being obtuse. If you have something to say, you should be able to say it comprehensibly.

I'm not an Ikuhara fan, and wouldn't touch Utena with a 10-foot pole specifically because of how its champions talk it up, so I can't really say whether this particular show is gratuitously obtuse or actually needs to be the way it is, but it's a reasonable argument to have.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1382
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:06 pm Reply with quote
Key wrote:
Quote:
If you've ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or like the only broken person in a society you couldn't relate to (especially if it's because of your gender or sexuality), Utena is a story for you,

So is the fact that I never felt this way during my adolescence part of the reason why this series never resonated with me, then?


I had an extremely privileged adolescence, and saw Utena for the first time when I was in college. And honestly, I'm a little glad I didn't see it sooner, because college was when I became more aware of the issues that faced me as a woman and how that context fit into the wider world. I think, given my relatively strife-free childhood, I would've dismissed this show as "pretentious" or as not really having anything to do with me personally if I'd seen it when I was younger.

One common complaint I hear from detractors though is that the depiction of male characters are almost exclusively "bad guys" is something that really bothers them. Sometimes that strikes me as just a tad ironic.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
lhernan02



Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Posts: 153
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:07 pm Reply with quote
BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
Wait, anything written for someone with more than a ninth grade education is pretentious? Shocked


Yes, the moment you alienate the masses from your work, you are making a statement that not everyone is "worthy" of "wisdom," therefore all works should be accessible to the lowest common universally achievable level (in many third world countries at peace, education above ninth grade can be challenging). If you (not you specifically, but the general you) need Ikuhara's work to feel special, that is your problem, not a vindication of his work.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Key
Moderator


Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 14890
Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:14 pm Reply with quote
BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
Contrast it with something like Simoun, perhaps - another LGBT-friendly series with a relatively oblique presentation, which was designed for a much wider audience in mind than just transsexual or lesbian viewers. From what I recall, you liked that series a little bit more?

Oh, I liked and understood that one so much more that I put it on my "Top 10 of the 2000s" list. Based on the way Jacob is describing Utena in this first review, I don't think you can really compare the two series very well, as Simoun comes at its subject matter from an utterly different angle. (Although a comparison/contrast between the two might be interesting. . .) It's maybe not as personal a story, but it is definitely more direct in its meaning and thus, to me, more appreciable. Sadly, I've heard that it sold incredibly poorly in the States.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1382
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:14 pm Reply with quote
lhernan02 wrote:

Yes, the moment you alienate the masses from your work, you are making a statement that not everyone is "worthy" of "wisdom," therefore all works should be accessible to the lowest common universally achievable level (in many third world countries at peace, education above ninth grade can be challenging). If you (not you specifically, but the general you) need Ikuhara's work to feel special, that is your problem, not a vindication of his work.


I just don't understand this argument. Utena being hard to grasp on a first watch I can get. But you could just go to TV Tropes, or Mark Watches, or Josei Next Door, or any of the other sites--including this very review--that can give you more information about what you just saw.

I mean, if you think that any media that requires external sources to give it more meaning is basically a failure, that's fine I guess. It just strikes me as odd that in a time where there's a plethora of Reddit Explain Like I'm 5 posts, "X's movie ending explained" articles, and TV Tropes, the idea of NOT digging for more context in any show just because you didn't catch all its nuance on a first viewing just seems bizarre.

EDIT: Or maybe I'm just a weirdo who likes to go through TV Tropes after finishing a series. Laughing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
angelmcazares
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 3369
Location: Iscandar
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:20 pm Reply with quote
lhernan02 wrote:
Utena is a poser show written so people who "get it" can feel good about themselves (everybody who sees is for what it is -a good 1 cour show ruined by an "artist"- drops it ASAP).

But Utena is not a poser show. It is a complex work with deep themes. You have to pay attention and have an open mind and heart to appreciate it more fully. It is not impenetrable, but it can be a challenge to understand because Ikuhara writes dense shows, not because it is badly written or pretentious.

I dislike some people's attitude of "Utena is only for LGBTQ, no normies allowed". But I also dislike this attitude of "I don't understand it, therefore it is not good and pretentious."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website My Anime
zendervai



Joined: 06 Apr 2012
Posts: 87
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:31 pm Reply with quote
You want to know what Ikuhara looks like when he's trying to be pretentious? Look no further than the Utena movie. It's full of random crap that's just there to be weird (like the thing with the cars, look at his interviews), and while the show is dense, almost everything is there for an actual reason, even if the reason is just comic relief to lighten the mood.

Bear in mind, I do actually enjoy the movie. I can't call it exactly good, but it's an extremely impressive movie as a whole.

And one thing that I think needs to be stated. It's okay to not "get" something, especially something as densely symbolic as Utena. Just don't dismiss it as worthless, especially when it's something that means so much to tons of people.


Last edited by zendervai on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Key
Moderator


Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 14890
Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:34 pm Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
But Utena is not a poser show. It is a complex work with deep themes. You have to pay attention and have an open mind and heart to appreciate it more fully. It is not impenetrable, but it can be a challenge to understand because Ikuhara writes dense shows, not because it is badly written or pretentious.

While I don't agree that Utena is a poser show, I think this "have an open mind and heart to appreciate it more fully" kind of comment isn't any better than the too dense=pretentious attitude that others take. I'm inclined to call it pretentious because it takes what I see as a needlessly obtuse and complicated way to portraying what it wants to say. As Jacob points out in the review, being obtuse and complicated isn't by any means automatically bad, as a fair number of people actually like delving into what the series means. That's just not an approach that I normally care for.

For a non-anime example of the way I prefer to see this kind of approach done, see Alan Moore's Watchmen.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
WingKing



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 470
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:38 pm Reply with quote
I am looking forward to this. The last time I watched Utena was way back in the early 2000s, and I've been meaning to re-visit it for a few years now, so I'm happy it's being covered on classic review here since this is finally giving me the push I needed to start it again.

Unfortunately, I also own the old CPM DVDs of Utena that look like garbage on my new 4k TV (I popped one in last weekend and it was even worse than I expected), so I guess I'm going to have to depend on the streaming channel for this one.

whiskeyii wrote:
EDIT: Or maybe I'm just a weirdo who likes to go through TV Tropes after finishing a series.


If that makes someone a weirdo, then I guess I'm one too. For me, though, I'm just interested in alternate takes and other people's opinions and perspectives. Even if I feel like a character or an ending was totally clear and straightforward to me, that doesn't mean someone else might not have interpreted it differently, and seeing takes that are different from mine helps me refine my own thoughts on a show. That's the main reason I read episodic reviews and visit sites like TV Tropes in the first place.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page   Next
Page 1 of 15

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group