Revolutionary Girl Utena
VHS 3-4 - The Eternal Castle / The Power of Dios
Nothing is more rewarding than when a mediocre dub becomes acceptable... except for one thing: when a horrible dub becomes acceptable! With the final two volumes of the first saga of Revolutionary Girl Utena, the dubbed version finally comes of age, and with the exception of a few minor slip-ups, this year's most remarkable video release is finally getting the treatment it deserves.
In these two volumes, the first saga of the series draws to a close as Saionji is expelled from the student council AND the school for acting outside of dueling guidelines and attacks Utena, who is saved by Touga acting as a human shield. This fills the pink-haired one with all sorts of conflicted emotions.
Nanami fills in for her injured brother in his position at the student council, but she has a bone to pick with Utena and Anthy, who've been too close to her dear brother. (Anthy's gift cuts too close to a painful childhood memory as well.) Nanami goes nuts and picks on Utena, and inevitably loses.
Touga, having been healed, talks Utena into believing he's the prince she's been seeking, and having successfully paralyzed her, attacks and wins Anthy away. Utena falls into a deep depression (deep enough to wear a girls' uniform), and it'll take Wakaba to get her out. But how does Anthy feel? No one really seems to know.
I'm reminded of how unique Revolutionary Girl Utena is as a shojo anime in that it's not overdone in any way. In a good 80% of the shojo anime out there (even the best ones, like Please Save My Earth and Oniisama he), the main heroine always has some nice mellow dramatic voice-over explaining what should be figured out by the viewer on their own. Utena leaves plenty to analysis without patronizing its audience.
The dub, although much improved, is not without its faults. Most of the names are still mispronounced and Nanami still sounds like nails on a chalkboard. (Okay, so it DOES suit her, but that doesn't make it pleasant to hear.) But surprisingly, most of the faults are not with the dubbing itself, but with Central Park Media's post production as a whole.
I had always thought their post-production to be somewhat messy. Dropped frames in Grave of the Fireflies... Not replacing Japanese text screens in Birdy the Mighty and many other shows... Never translating all of the credits in ANY show. This time, however, they are a lot more obvious: an episode title is subtitled as "Next time"!! Oops. Hope they fix that for the DVD box.
At any rate, the series is about to take a very dark turn as we enter the Black Rose saga. While it's not known right now whether it will be released (it probably will... This series is selling pretty well), be forewarned that the territory we're entering is NOT for the faint of heart!
Overall : A
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