Mark Watches ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’: Episode 1

In the first episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, AM I IMAGINING THINGS? IS THIS REAL? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to start Revolutionary Girl Utena.


Before we begin my new project for Double Features for this site, I always like to refresh folks on the rules of this place, since I tend to get an influx of new people once I start a new show. That being said, even if you’ve been here since the beginning, you should read this, as there is some important stuff that will be new to you. So!

1) Do not spoil me. The basis of the Mark Does Stuff universe is that I journey through a fictional world as ignorant as humanly possible. I ruthlessly avoid spoilers. This means that in order to participate in this community, you must agree not to spoil me in any way. Please read my FAQ and Spoiler Policy in order to understand what I mean by this, but in the most succinct of terms: If I whatever you want to say relies in any way on understanding anything outside of what I’ve seen, don’t talk to me about it at all. If I haven’t figured it out? Don’t figure it out for me. Honestly, it’s a lot more simple than most people think it is. Be considerate.

2) If you recommend this project to someone else in any way, PLEASE TELL THEM NOT TO SPOIL ME. I’ve avoided the problem nearly every single time, but it’s inevitable at this point that you may recommend Mark Watches Utena to someone, and they’ll not know how my site works, and then they’ll tweet at me or send me a Tumblr message and not understand that I’ve never seen the show. If you were ever curious how badly people want to be the one to tell you something that’s a spoiler while pretending it’s not a big deal, SWITCH PLACES WITH ME. I swear, it’s like a compulsion with some folks. You can do your part to stop this by simply saying, “Do not spoil this dude.”

3) You are, however, welcome to cipher spoilers using All that gibberish in the comments is rot13, a simple cipher method that we use so that you may have conversations and discussions about the show as a whole without spoiling myself and others. Use it! There are Firefox and Chrome plug-ins you can install, too, that will make it easier to cipher things.

4) Please treat all other newbies as if they were me. If someone is clearly watching the show for the first time along with me, you are to treat them as you would treat me. Don’t spoil them in any way either.

5) Please take heed of my site rules, and please accept that my moderators are doing their best to make this a lovely community. Mark Does Stuff aims to be a more accepting community than most. We don’t allow quite a few things in the comments, including slurs, spoilers, hatred, bigotry, silencing, etc. While my Site Rules covers most situations, there will inevitably come a time when someone must be warned or asked to not do something. Please don’t argue with my moderators. They know what they’re doing, they’ve been doing it longer than you, and I trust them. My moderators have a blue bar in IntenseDebate!

6) Video commission files are $0.99 a piece and can be purchased here. These are live commentary from me as I watch the episode in real-time for the very first time. I yell a lot, there’s lots of cursing, and I imagine I’m going to cry a lot because MY EYES ALREADY FILLED WITH TEARS IN THE FIRST EPISODE. Each video is $0.99, but can be downloaded TEN times a piece, meaning you are free to give it to anyone else you want! I watch and review a week in advance, so the following week’s episodes are usually available on Tuesday evening for purchase. I announce that they are ready on my Twitter! You are also welcome to visit Mark Spoils, where they have a Black Market up for sharing your unused links or for downloading files if you cannot afford to buy them. This system is a neat way to continue allow folks to get videos for free without bankrupting me because VIDEO HOSTING IS VERY EXPENSIVE.

Additionally, for the entire run of Revolutionary Girl Utena on Mark Watches, the first episode is FREE to download an unlimited amount of times. If you’ve never seen one of my videos, this will allow you to test it out to see if you’re interested in it, or you could just give it to others, or you can make gifsets of me sobbing and put them on Tumblr. It’s yours. Do as you like with it.

7) Double Features go up at 8am PDT every weekday, but Revolutionary Girl Utena will possibly have a more erratic schedule than usual. My Master Schedule is located here, which chronicles when posts go up for all my sites. Starting this week, I am embarking on a very rigorous touring schedule to promote my sites, go to some cons, host events, and be silly in front of y’all for the entirety of the summer. I discovered the hard way in 2012 that writing while touring is super fucking hard, and now that I have video commissions? It’s damn near impossible. This means that I will need to binge write in advance of certain trips, and in those cases, my regular features (which are currently The West Wing and Supernatural, and soon to be Star Trek) will ALWAYS take precedent. I promise to update the Master Schedule as frequently as humanly possible so that y’all know if and when I take a break for a week or so from Double Features. My goal is to take no breaks, but we’ll see how well I can pull this off.

8) Finally, if you would like to support me and what I do, read this.

That is all. Which means it’s time for me to cry on my computer??? LET’S DO THIS.


“The Rose Bride”

Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse.

As I said at the opening of the video for “The Rose Bride,” I knew that this was a magical girl anime of sorts, and that is it. It’s always fun for me to go into a new fictional world completely ignorant and full of wonder and confusion, and this show is not an exception to that. I think that maybe the show Pushing Daisies set the record for the quickest amount of time to utter shock, but Revolutionary Girl Utena might beat that. Because… are they touching? Are they almost kissing? ARE YOU FUCKING WITH ME? WHAT THE FUCK THEY ARE TOUCHING. WHY DOES ANTHY LOOK JUST LIKE THE PRINCE FROM UTENA’S PAST? WHERE WAS UTENA WHEN I WAS BULLIED THROUGHOUT MY ENTIRE SCHOOLING HISTORY?

There are so many things here in the pilot episode of this anime that make me want to swear allegiance to Utena and everything that she stands for. And I think it’s pretty damn bold of a show to not only put a young woman front and center, but to have her so openly defend two of the women in her life against sexism, cruelty, and abuse? THIS IS IN THE FIRST FUCKING EPISODE. Not only that, but “The Rose Bride” opens with a distinct flair for the genre of fairy tales, and then deliberately moves to the Ohtori Academy, and it’s not at all a fairy tale anymore. BUT THEN IT IS?

And shit, y’all, how many of you knew I’d react this way? We’ve got a young girl who, as an orphan, was inspired by some mysterious prince to live her own life as a prince. Rescuing princesses. FROM DISTRESS. AND THE SHOW DOESN’T CHANGE HER GENDER OR MAKE HER RESCUE PRINCES??? AND I CAN’T DO THIS BECAUSE OH MY GOD. I can’t tell if this is like… some weird form of fanservice or if this romantic view of Anthy is legit? Anthy is framed – sometimes literally so with roses – as if she is meant to be the character who is Utena’s romantic interest. I admit that I’m not that genre savvy when it comes to anime, since I haven’t seen all that much of it, but actual rose-colored frames. HOW? HOW AM I NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE THIS?

I’m overwhelmed. It’s not just because of what I see as some pretty queer motifs, but WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. There’s a purposeful surrealism to this show, I think, from the mystical opening, to the weird ass music that I am so completely into, to the DUEL. THAT DUEL. But what does it communicate to me as someone coming into this show for the first time? “The Rose Bride” isn’t weird for the sake of it. No, right from the start, we see how Utena – who is fairly popular and well-known at Ohtori – is the kind of person who desperately wants to do what is right and fair. She dresses how she sees fit, embracing her own self-imagined role as prince, and she interacts with the other students with respect and care. The main interaction we get from her is with her best friend Wakaba, who initially interrupts her as she watches one of the Student Council members, Saionji, strike Anthy. From this, we know that they’ve been close for a while, enough so that Wakaba refers to Utena as her “boyfriend.” (Now I understand why, I think. It’s because Utena views herself as a prince, right?) The two of them start the term on a rough note, though, after Saionji ruthlessly shames Wakaba for sending him a love letter.

Like I mentioned before, it was Utena’s response to this that already made me a big fan of her as quickly as it did. Saionji’s behavior is clearly depicted as antagonistic, not just when he embarrasses Wakaba, but when he physically abuses Anthy, too. Of course, there’s clearly something else at work here that I definitely don’t understand. WHO THE HELL ARE THE STUDENT COUNCIL MEMBERS? What is the End of the World? Why is it capitalized like that? Why do they OWN Anthy??? WHY DOES UTENA HAVE THE SAME RING THE OTHER COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE?

Most importantly, though: why is there a floating, upside-down castle above that hidden dueling ring? I mean, at one point, Utena mentions that the duel location that Saionji gave her is in the part of the forest where students aren’t allowed to go. Does that mean that the school administration knows about that place? Oh, lord, I know I have a lot of questions already, but I also recognize that this episode is designed simply to pique my interest. And the duel that occurs here DEFINITELY DID THAT. I love that Utena battles not just Saionji’s physical prowess, but his arrogance as well. He’s openly misogynist about fighting her, he taunts her constantly, he pulls a sword out of Anthy to fight Utena when all she has is a practice rod (HOW THE FUCK DOES ANTHY HAVE A SWORD IN HER BOSOM WHAT THE FUCK), and all the while, he’s certain he’s going to defeat someone who has never dueled in this arrangement before. So you better believe I find it memorable that Utena cuts Saionji’s rose from his breast. It’s an immediate sign that she should not be underestimated. I like that that sets the tone for the show, too!

Oh, right. UM, ANTHY IS NOW UTENA’S BRIDE? I DON’T GET IT. I don’t get this at all! Is this really happening? Is Anthy really the prince from Utena’s past? What the shit is going on with this weird ass student council arrangement? Who’s the creepy guy with the red hair? WHAT HAVE Y’ALL GOTTEN ME INTO????

The video for “The Rose Bride” can be downloaded here for free while I am reviewing this show; it’s also available in my store for $0.99 if you’d like to support me OR if you’re getting to this review after I’ve finished the series.

Mark Links Stuff

– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Feature will be Farscape.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
– Inspired by last year’s impromptu event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all currently planned dates and pitch your own city here.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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