In the second episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Utena seeks answers about the previous day’s weirdness from Anthy when the two become roommates. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena.
“For Whom the Rose Smiles”
Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse and consent.
- I think that this episode gives me a little bit better sense for what this show is, but lord, I STILL HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
- Let me start things off, though, by stating how much I love that Utena is framed as being supportive of her best friend to the point that she’ll fight in a surrealist dueling arena for her. That’s not to suggest that Utena doesn’t question the bizarre experience she had. No, this whole episode certainly chronicles Utena’s curiosity! I just think it’s pretty damn cool that Utena didn’t think twice about defending Wakaba after Saionji humiliated her.
- Still, she has to return to school for her second day of term, and while she’s certainly adored for being MEGA COOL, it’s not like she was secretly some sort of superhero. She really is just a student for the most part! So, she heads back to class, only to find that Wakaba is more subdued than usual. It’s understandable; even if Utena did defeat Saionju in combat the day before, it’s not like the rest of the school knows this happened. There’s no reprieve from the shame for Wakaba, either. Instead, she finds hope in a book – Magnolia Waltz – that previously seemed silly to her. Hell, even that is a neat development! Wakaba comes to optimism and hope all on her own!
- Also, Wakaba and Utena are ADORABLE together.
- But Utena’s day quickly becomes even more surreal than it was before after she discovers that she’s been moved to a dormitory that hasn’t been used in ten years. Not just that, but IT’S VERY OBVIOUS THAT NO ONE ELSE CURRENTLY LIVES THERE. She makes mention of this being the Student Council’s doing, so I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to assume that the Student Council are the main antagonist at this point? So why stick Utena in a dorm without anyone else?
- After stressing about the state of the room she’s been given, she finally gets up from the hallways of the dorm and opens her door to find Anthy.
- Who cleaned and repaired the whole room.
- BECAUSE THEY’RE LIVING TOGETHER???
- Which is both exciting because maybe they will hug or something, but it brings up a lot of questions about Anthy. So… why is she the Bride? Did she choose to be the Bride? The way that Anthy frames herself as the Rose Bride makes me wonder if she is forced to do the things she does. Is she genuinely excited about Utena and her desire to please her “prince,” or is she bound by some magical force to serve the person she belongs to? I mean, she even tells Utena over tea that evening that she “belongs” to Utena. That’s a pretty strong word, right? I also don’t know if she’s being deliberately coy about the Student Council or the rose rings or if she genuinely knows as much about it as I do. She gets the rules, and that seems to be it.
- I’M SO CONFUSED.
- I am not confused about Chu-Chu. WHERE IS MINE? HE IS PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.
- I respect Utena a lot for outright refusing to duel again. I got the feeling that she found the concept – dueling for another student – to be completely absurd. Because you can’t own people!
- Which is then demonstrated to us by Saionji, who seeks out Anthy just to physically abuse her for leaving him. DESPITE THAT IT’S THE RULES AND DESPITE THAT HE LOST AND DESPITE THAT SHE HAS NO INTEREST IN HIM. Saionji operates with a very obvious dissonance because he repeatedly defers to the rules of dueling to inflate his own ego, but then he turns into a whiny brat when those same rules take away what he wants.
- And let’s be real, that man feels entitled to Anthy in every sense of that word. He even spells it out to his fellow Student Council President! He tells him that he believes Anthy belongs to him forever and that he can do whatever he wants with her.
- WHAT THE HELL
- So, he challenges Utena to a duel, which she accepts because she’s just going to lose it on purpose. The fighting doesn’t matter to her, she knows Saionji is horrible, and this way, she doesn’t have to accept that the “rules” that this man believes she should follow
- WAY INTO THAT THEME SONG WHEN UTENA ASCENDS TO THE DUELING ARENA.
- Y’all, THIS DUEL IS LIKE A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER THAN THE LAST ONE. And the subtext is not lost on me. Faced with Saionji’s vicious nature, Utena suddenly realizes that she cannot let Anthy go back to this man. Sure, she later says that she did it all for Chu-Chu, but when Utena is face to face with Saionji, she knows that she can’t let him win. Anthy deserves better.
- SO THEN THAT WEIRD PRINCE WHO GAVE HER THE ROSE RING SIX YEARS AGO JUST RANDOMLY FLOATS DOWN FROM THE PALACE AND ENTERS HER BODY?
- OR SOMETHING?
- WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT.
- WHY DO THESE CHARACTERS KEEP TALKING ABOUT A REVOLUTION?
- I’M SO CONFUSED
- WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED????
- (Team Chu-Chu.)
- I’M SO LOST.
The video for “For Whom the Rose Smiles” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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