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EP. REVIEW: Revolutionary Girl Utena


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Alan45
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:23 pm Reply with quote
@Zin5ki

For what it is worth, I found the series to be enjoyable on a completely superficial level. I saw the first third when it came out on VHS and enjoyed it enough that I bought the whole thing on DVD when that came out a bit later. I was aware that there were things in it I didn't understand but I found it enjoyable regardless. Concerning the Absolute Destiny Apocalypse you will get used to it. Wink
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cheapassgamer



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:06 pm Reply with quote
No dubs and only 480p? Thanks, but no thanks. When are they releasing this on blu?
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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:24 pm Reply with quote
Ooh, this is fantastic timing. I'm currently about halfway through watching the series for the first time with a group of friends, and I'm loving the ever-living hell out of it thus far. Certainly it's a rare day that goes by without ZETTAI! UNMEI! MOKUSHIROKU! flitting through my head. Jacob always offers very compelling analysis on what he's reviewing, and I'm very much looking forward to reading his take as things start getting more heady.

As far as the show being "for someone," all I can say is that I'm a straight white male on the other side of 30 who had a pretty bog-standard well-adjusted adolescence, and yet the series has still managed to click with me in a big way. I think the themes of being frustrated with one's place in the world and wanting to drastically change it are pretty universal, and beyond that, quality writing can easily each well beyond the "intended" audience. (Just see how many children's literature classics are beloved by readers decades removed from that age.) And maybe it's just because I'm used to Ikuhara's style and symbolism from having previously watched and enjoyed Penguindrum (albeit with some occasional brain-melting), but I'm honestly not finding the storytelling to be overly obfuscating. I'm sure I'm missing any number of the more layered symbols, like the shifting zodiacal signs Jacob mentioned, but I think I've been able to follow along with the gist of what Ikuhara was going for fairly well.

Oh, and in all the buzz I'd heard about this show's legendary status and dense symbolism, what really surprised me is that it's also goddamn hilarious. I mean I was used to Ikuhara's style of absurdist humor from Penguindrum's titular little blue guys, but some of these one-off episodes (elephants!) have had me almost cracking a rib from laughing so hard. Chu-Chu is utterly fantastic too.

(Boy howdy does the show love its incestual overtones though. Shocked )
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BodaciousSpacePirate
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:25 pm Reply with quote
cheapassgamer wrote:
No dubs and only 480p? Thanks, but no thanks. When are they releasing this on blu?


Some time in 2017.
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whiskeyii



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:26 pm Reply with quote
cheapassgamer wrote:
No dubs and only 480p? Thanks, but no thanks. When are they releasing this on blu?


Honestly, you probably want to go subs on this one; the dub is generally considered to be pretty flat even for the time period. The blu-ray, however, is supposed to be releasing sometime this year.
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Shay Guy



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:48 pm Reply with quote
Chrysostomus wrote:
SejinPK wrote:
who has had a privileged and sheltered childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.
This is not directed only at you, but please stop with this ridiculous Marxist nonsense. Anyone who can watch Far East Asian cartoons at their leisure is ALREADY far more "privileged" than 70% of the world. You're not starving in some Venezuelan slum or being sold in a Libyan slave market. You are literally on the internet, with enough free time on your hands to be talking about an art form that can only exist in a certain affluent island nation. This is already having enough privilege millions of people all over the world can only dream of.


I don't think it's that helpful to think of things in terms of a single continuum; it takes you to some pretty useless ways of thinking. Luck and misfortune fall along multiple axes. Like... I have a roof over my head, enough to eat, I don't have to worry about malaria. But I also don't have to jab a syringe into my gut on a regular basis to keep my brain chemistry working right, or worry about being attacked because someone doesn't like me being in the men's bathroom.

Key wrote:
Think you're largely missing my point here. I was never intending to claim poorly-written → pretentious but instead that pretentious → poorly-written is what I don't agree with.


Interesting -- what would you consider a work that's pretentious, but not poorly-written? Like, what would be something that pretends to depth it lacks, but executes what it does well despite not being honest with itself about what that is?

Zin5ki wrote:
Narration and exposition are also surprisingly clear. The infuriating sense of "what does that mean", by which an adventurous production such as this may be derailed, has yet to pervade the story events on-screen: we can tell there is more than meets the eye to nearly everything—a good thing too, given the potent sexual imagery—but this doesn't cause the action in the foreground to be obscured to any lamentable degree.


I think it also helps that we have a lovable dork who shares our bewilderment and frustration as our protagonist -- and when she starts more or less going with the flow, it serves as a signal to do the same for the time being.

whiskeyii wrote:
Honestly, you probably want to go subs on this one; the dub is generally considered to be pretty flat even for the time period.


And from what I heard, they took a while to figure out how to pronounce people's names.
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Top Gun



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:22 pm Reply with quote
If nothing else, the remastered 5.1 Japanese audio track sounds soooo much nicer and crisper. Which is a nice reversal, as much of the time it's the English track of older shows that winds up having the higher-quality mix.
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Animechic420



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:13 am Reply with quote
whiskeyii wrote:
Honestly, you probably want to go subs on this one; the dub is generally considered to be pretty flat even for the time period. The blu-ray, however, is supposed to be releasing sometime this year.

Don't tell people watch audio to listen to. Evil or Very Mad
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nargun



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:10 am Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
can be needlessly metaphoric and theatrical


Here's the thing.

Utena is obscure, to the extent that it is obscure, because it's trying to talk about stuff that's really hard to talk about: we talk and think in words, and when you put them under enough pressure words bend like rubber. It's not needless.

See, plain language is interpreted straightforwardly. "Straightforwardly", here, means interpreted within the world-view of the listener. But different people have different world views -- some of them erroneous, too -- and from time to time we'd like to talk about those differences.

But we can't do that with plain language. I say one thing, within my world-view, and you hear something else, within yours: the language itself invisibly hides what we're trying to talk about.

Utena is about people who bind themselves to outcomes they don't actually desire because they lack the awareness of alternatives. The characters, and like every other text the audience as well. It's about worldviews and the limitations your worldview imposes upon you: because it is about worldviews, it has to discuss worldviews... and you can't do this in plain language, as set out above.

Well, you can, but epistemological texts are notoriously impenetrable. Or you can use jokes or similar [zen koans, the entirety of discordianism], but this gets dismissed. An awful lot of movements get past this barrier by the use of mind-altering practices [meditation, asceticism, or drugs]; your perception moves and your world-view stays fixed, and once you've seen that when you're high you know what you're looking for, can see the much-more subtle effects in your day-to-day life. Not exactly something you can do in the scope of a children's cartoon.
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Zin5ki
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:43 am Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
Concerning the Absolute Destiny Apocalypse you will get used to it. Wink

A relief, after a fashion! I remember being confounded by the earlier angel battles in Evangelion until I learned to accept them as structural features of the story rather than sequences existing purely for their own sake. The charitable thing in this case might be to turn a blind ear to these choruses until their jarring character no longer registers.
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:58 am Reply with quote
Want a "different" show with a sympathetic lead female character, who determinedly struggles to fit in with a society to which she is a social outcast? Then go watch Watamote. No, seriously. While superficially it presents Tomoko's issues for laughs, what the story really does is speak to everyone who was a socially awkward teen and says, "It's okay, we get you; you are not alone."

Want a three-cour feminist show prominently starring a strong female character who battles gender expectations by crossdressing and acting like an aristocratic man, and is an expert with the sword? Then check out Rose of Versailles, which despite first airing in 1979 still holds up today. It even has lots of rose imagery.

And do you want a show that excessively navel-gazes at the complete expense of its world-building and characters, and pretends that it's more thoughtful and complex than it really is by hiding everything behind a thick veil of vapid symbolism? Then may I recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion um actually Yurikuma Arashi no I meant Revolutionary Girl Utena; can't go wrong with thirty-nine episodes of treating your characters like they don't even matter. Don't even get me started on the entirety of the Black Rose arc.
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BodaciousSpacePirate
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:05 am Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
And do you want a show that excessively navel-gazes at the complete expense of its world-building and characters, and pretends that it's more thoughtful and complex than it really is by hiding everything behind a thick veil of vapid symbolism?


That's almost word-for-word my criticism of Madoka, but as much of a problem as I have with that particular series, I recognize that there are people out there who consider it both thoughtful and well-written. I'm not entirely sure why they think that, but different strokes for different folks, I guess. It does necessarily make them wrong, they're just looking for different things in their high-concept shows.

Which is to say, I can certainly sympathize with the "emperor has no clothes" feeling of looking at a series that people hold up as worthwhile and thought-provoking, and seeing nothing there for me.
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:38 am Reply with quote
BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
That's almost word-for-word my criticism of Madoka...


BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
...but different strokes for different folks...


Given that PMMM is the second-best anime I've ever watched, I obviously disagree - strongly - with your assessment of that show. However this is a thread for Utena, and arguing the merits of a completely unrelated show has no place here, so I'll bite my tongue and accept your olive branch.
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Levonr



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:48 am Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
If nothing else, the remastered 5.1 Japanese audio track sounds soooo much nicer and crisper. Which is a nice reversal, as much of the time it's the English track of older shows that winds up having the higher-quality mix.


The Japanese 5.1 remix sounds EPIC. Especially during the fights. I love when those bells go off, the subwoofer gets me pumped. Its really hard for me to go back to stereo, let alone the dull sounding dub that sounds like VHS tape.
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:39 am Reply with quote
I did grow up as an outsider, but I never watched Utena so I have no idea how it would have impacted me during my adolescent years.

I tried watching Yurikuma and didn't make it past episode 2 before I decided that it was too pretentious for me. And I do think pretentious is the right word for that type of show. It's a show that is designed with the knowledge (and perhaps intention) that, due to its obtuseness, it will only appeal to the most dedicated, hardcore fans of the creator who feel that there is something enlightened or particularly intellectual about what is happening within it. That's not necessarily a knock on it so to speak, but that is merely what the word means to me in that context.

I'm not going to prejudge Utena in that regard though. Maybe Mr. Ikuhara did something different way back then. I'm going to watch and see what my reaction is to this one.
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