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EP. REVIEW: Revolutionary Girl Utena


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BodaciousSpacePirate
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Joined: 17 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 1:37 am Reply with quote
A bit of a tangent, but this afternoon I found myself rereading Haruki Murakami's "Super Frog Saves Tokyo". For those who aren't familiar with the story (which GQ Magazine has made available in English for free here), it factors heavily into the plot of Ikuhara's later work, Penguindrum - specifically episode 9, in which one of the show's protagonists has a rather bizarre time while trying to find the story at a public library.

At any rate, while I was rereading the story, it struck me how similar Murakami's style of storytelling is to Ikuhara's own directing style, and I started wondering whether there's a name for this particular kind of Japanese symbol-laden fiction beyond "magical realism" (which is kind of an umbrella term when you think about it... Utena doesn't have that much in common with other recently popular magical realism works such as Pan's Labyrinth or Barton Fink).
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Grungehamster



Joined: 27 Feb 2015
Posts: 41
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 6:45 am Reply with quote
BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
A bit of a tangent, but this afternoon I found myself rereading Haruki Murakami's "Super Frog Saves Tokyo". For those who aren't familiar with the story (which GQ Magazine has made available in English for free here), it factors heavily into the plot of Ikuhara's later work, Penguindrum - specifically episode 9, in which one of the show's protagonists has a rather bizarre time while trying to find the story at a public library.

At any rate, while I was rereading the story, it struck me how similar Murakami's style of storytelling is to Ikuhara's own directing style, and I started wondering whether there's a name for this particular kind of Japanese symbol-laden fiction beyond "magical realism" (which is kind of an umbrella term when you think about it... Utena doesn't have that much in common with other recently popular magical realism works such as Pan's Labyrinth or Barton Fink).


Keep in mind that Murakami's style isn't considered very Japanese at all: native reception to his work categorizes it as generally Western. Just like Akira Kurosawa the foreign influences on his work stand out at home whereas Western audiences hone in on the Japanese cultural underpinnings peeking through.
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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 5:00 pm Reply with quote
Zin5ki wrote:

Top Gun wrote:
I'm a good 20 or so episodes ahead of him now, and I'm flat-out itching to see his take on a certain brain-destroying revelation that I'm still frantically chewing on.

You've gone and spoiled yourself! Whatsoever are you going to do for the next fourteen weeks or thereabouts?

Hey, I was watching it before it was cool!

...that is to say, I was already well into watching the series with a group of friends before Jacob's reviews started. Razz

And thanks for the links Grungehamster, I'll be sure to take a look at a few of them and pass them along. I'd actually lucked into reading a few takes on that alone by Googling; this one had an interesting take and linked a few other good articles. (For anyone else who's new, don't read that until you're past episode 24!)
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DanQ



Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 96
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 4:58 am Reply with quote
gabuhaha wrote:
I agree they that were necessary. They still ticked me off as a teenager but funnily enough, they were a lot easier to get through back then. I've had a really hard time pushing myself through episodes 3-5. This is probably why I never went back and rewatched the whole series. I kept getting stuck at this point. Knowing that Jacob's excellent reviews are waiting and that this is all build up is what has been getting me through this time.


In long series like Utena, with enought variability in style (when you compare Nanami's episodes with Juri's one, it's almost like from different shows), there will be propably some episodes, which don't go well with some viewer... and for different viewers, it would be different episodes. But unforunatelly, you really can skip them (like in some long show, when skipping some episodes/storyarcs did not do any damage), because yes, they are all important. So, ganbatte and endure ~_^.
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DanQ



Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 96
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 5:04 am Reply with quote
Grungehamster wrote:
I am shocked you suggested that episode 8 is considered by many to be the worst: is there anyone who actually likes episode 24 spoiler[(The Secret Nanami Diary, the one exception to the "Utena has awesome clip episodes" rule)] more?


Well, I consider ep. 8 one of the best craziest episodes out there Anime smile. And ep. 24 - not considering it better then #8, just cherry on the top on ep. 8, the crown of ep. 8, or, I should say: Episode 8 up to ELEVEN! Anime smile
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DanQ



Joined: 07 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 5:09 am Reply with quote
About switching episodes 6 and 8 order... yes, there are some elements which would serve better in intended order, but I got feeling that introduction of Mitsuru Tsuwabuki at this point of story works better.
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Cryssoberyl



Joined: 17 Jan 2009
Posts: 223
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 3:20 am Reply with quote
Agreed that Utena does clip/recap episodes better than any show I've ever seen. Even when re-using footage, it always presents them in a new light and puts a new perspective on them. (24 is no exception to this in my opinion.) In fact, one of the most electrifying, ferociously plotted and paced episodes of the show begins as a seeming recap episode.

Who knows which one though! Wink
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DanQ



Joined: 07 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 5:00 am Reply with quote
Cryssoberyl wrote:
Agreed that Utena does clip/recap episodes better than any show I've ever seen. Even when re-using footage, it always presents them in a new light and puts a new perspective on them. (24 is no exception to this in my opinion.) In fact, one of the most electrifying, ferociously plotted and paced episodes of the show begins as a seeming recap episode.

Who knows which one though! Wink


True Dat! Recipe for spoiler[asparagus and salmon with some mayonaise] will never be the same! ~_^
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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:47 pm Reply with quote
Episode 7: I have to confess, I didn't see Juri's secret coming, and I just watched it a few months ago. Apparently I'm not nearly genre-savvy enough. Razz

Last edited by Top Gun on Fri May 19, 2017 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Zin5ki
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:06 pm Reply with quote

Hither twice, Top Gun! The twist at the end of episode seven is a fine example of a small revelation that calls for a reassessment of the entire episode beforehand. With a single glance at a locket, someone we may have deemed yet another brusque antagonist gains more sympathy than we've afforded for anyone else thus far. More so than the misunderstanding Miki, Juri simply needs her revolution. She is the first to board the boat of characters in desert of a happy ending, I say.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1400
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 4:39 pm Reply with quote
The first episode and this were the ones my sister chose to show a college anime club that had never seen Utena; I was quite satisfied that there were more than a few collective gasps at the end of it all. Laughing

But damn it all if Juri's arc doesn't just curbstomp my heart into a million fractured pieces. TT^TT Out of all the side(?) characters, I find her story to be the most emotional, in both a good and bad sense. It does make me wonder if she was something of a staff favorite, given how all of her episodes land with a much bigger oomph than the others, especially early on.

Fun Fact #1: Apparently when the English localization team hit this arc, Juri absolutely confounded them; they couldn't figure out why she was just so angry all the time. It took Crispin Freeman (who voiced Touga) chiming in with a "She's a closeted lesbian!" for them to finally realize what was going on. Source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj1Wd_Ymxe0

Fun Fact #2: I've heard, but never seen this explicitly confirmed, that Juri was partially created out of a response to Ryoko Ikeda's tomboyish heroines, particularly Oscar of The Rose of Versailles fame. For him, Oscar represented a woman who forcefully repressed her feminine side to take on a more masculine role, and he decided to explore what the consequences of a such a Really Bad Idea might look like.
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Boyhime732



Joined: 06 Jul 2016
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 2:38 am Reply with quote
That episode 6 review caught me by surprise. I've always thought episode 8 was far superior, and one of the crown jewels of the series. Especially its ending. I take it I ought to write an essay response to next week's review. That said, I think you made a great case that the show should be watched 8-7-6. I'd never heard of that before, but between the themes and the endings it really fits.
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Cryssoberyl



Joined: 17 Jan 2009
Posts: 223
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 4:50 am Reply with quote
Without a doubt, episode 7 is one of the strongest early episodes and for me is definitely where Utena "gets going". Juri is a gift of a character who only gets more interesting and endearing as time goes on. As of now, I'd just like to mention two things.

1. As pointed out, this duel was not a clean win. Although the victor on a seeming technicality, Utena did not defeat Juri in the battle of wills that constitutes the duels of Ohtori, which are about the steel in your spirit, not your blade. This is not the only time it will happen, but it is one of the few times. Watch for it.

2. I believe that of all the duelists, Juri had by far the best insight into who and what Anthy truly was, even at this early stage. Understandably: they are in fact very similar, in ways not yet revealed, and their brief interaction in this episode is another of those moments to be looked back upon much later in a very different light.
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chaccide



Joined: 16 Aug 2016
Posts: 284
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 10:20 am Reply with quote
Is there a way to block certain users comments? I haven't watched the show since it came out and I want to experience and remember things on my own. All the inconsiderate forewarning that's coming from certain people is completely ruining the experience for me.

To those commenters: I neither want nor need instruction from you on how to watch this show in advance. Please stop it.

I suppose I can completely skip the comment section until the re-watch is over, but that kind of defeats the purpose of community discussion of each episode, doesn't it? Unless of course you're already one of those in the know and keen to show that off. Rolling Eyes
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Cryssoberyl



Joined: 17 Jan 2009
Posts: 223
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 7:52 pm Reply with quote
Then you never should've been reading this conversation in the first place. Nor should you be reading Jacob's posts, for that matter.

I don't understand these attitudes. The show is twenty years old. If you want to watch it without being influenced, then go ahead and do that. That's what I did myself, in 2009. I decided I would rewatch it after many years and that's what I did, on my own, without outside influence. It was an amazing experience and I recommend it to anyone.

I don't recommend coming here and shaming those of us who have seen it and want to talk about it, as though this series of write-ups had been billed as a first timer exclusive "let's watch" of Utena. It was not, nor are they written that way. Jacob's perspective is also of an experienced and informed veteran of the franchise, and it follows that the resulting discussion would be in the same vein.

To behave in this way, demanding everyone construct the conversation around your wishes and for your benefit, is wrong of you and accomplishes nothing but an attempt to silence others' voices - voices you made a proactive choice to hear.

To these commenters: I neither want nor need instruction from you on how to discuss the show. Please stop it.
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