In the twenty-second episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, FUCK EVERYTHING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of manipulation/abuse.
!!!!!!!!! WHAT HAVE Y’ALL DONE TO ME !!!!!!!!!
- I cannot believe what an immense and shocking and confusing and emotionally terrorizing episode this was. IT’S SO DENSE. THERE ARE CLEARLY SO MANY ANSWERS HERE THAT I HAVEN’T PIECED TOGETHER.
- A FLASHBACK EPISODE
- THAT EXPLAINS THAT BIZARRE PLACE WHERE MIKAGE RUNS HIS SEMINAR
- AND EXPLAINS ALL THE BODIES AND COFFINS AND THE WEIRD SYMBOLS ON THE WALLS AND OH MY GOD THE RINGS ARE CONTRACTS.
- (I almost wrote “the rings are fucking contracts” but then thought about how that might actually be accurate? Because who isn’t messing around on this show.)
- (Every relationship is messed up. EVERY SINGLE ONE.)
- So, there’s a lot in “Nemuro Memorial Hall,” and I’m going to try to work my way through it. Just because it might need to be stated, any questions I ask are rhetorical. You’re welcome to cackle at me in rot13, but seriously, I’m not actually asking you to tell me what’s going on.
- Let’s start with how this episode opens. We learn from Akio, who is talking to that weird prince dude in the castle (I’M STILL NOT CLEAR ON THIS) that Mikage is nearly out of Black Roses. From this (and Akio’s later scene in the past) I feel safe in postulating that this “End of the World” person is the prince from Utena’s past, the same man we see Akio talking to. If this is the case, then Akio is some sort of messenger. He’s able to travel to wherever it is End of the World is hiding (or trapped? imprisoned?) and hand out rose crest rings.
- WHICH. ARE. CONTRACTS.
- And those contracts all aim to work in the favor of revolutionizing the world, whatever that means. This episode plays with that term, both using it literally to describe the scientific experiments that Mikage and his team are working on, and to metaphorically reference whatever End of the World’s plans are. There’s a strong suggestion that End of the World and Akio aren’t interested in “revolutionizing” the world as Mikage wants to. In a sense, I think you could call Mikage and his seminar as contractors. They work for End of the World, but in payment, Mikage receives the help he needs to pull off his experiment.
- But I’m jumping ahead of myself. When we flashback to learn what happened in Nemuro Memorial Hall all those years ago, we’re tricked into thinking that Mikage just happens to know the truth. There’s no reason to assume he was actually there, you know? He’s just hinting at the truth to Utena, and then the show flashes back to show us (not Utena) what really happened, and MIKAGE IS REVEALED TO BE PROFESSOR NEMURO.
- HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE
- I was definitely confused about the timeline of this, because how long ago was this? How could Mikage have ever been a professor and then downgraded to a student in the future?
- I HAD NO IDEA.
- And through this glimpse at the past, we learn that Mikage used to surround himself with the pursuit of intellectual excellence. He makes multiple references to being a human computer, completely unaware that HE’S NOWHERE CLOSE TO BECOMING A COMPUTER YET. OH GOD, THE HORRIFIC TRAGEDY. Mikage becomes a person who views people as computations, as cogs in a machine. And it’s not until Akio manipulates him into a contract that he begins this transformation.
- Of course, that has me wondering exactly what sort of role Akio plays in this series. Did Mikage learn how to emotionally manipulate people from Akio? Who’s in control here?
- Because I can’t help but notice how Akio might actually be currently manipulating Mikage into conflating Utena and Tokiko. Years ago, Mikage met Tokiko when she was assigned to monitor his work, and he clearly fell for her. (And maybe Mamiya, too??? Their scene in the rose garden is rife with subtext.) (WHAT ISN’T RIFE WITH SUBTEXT ON THIS GODDAMN SHOW?) Like so many characters on this show, Mikage put Tokiko on a pedestal. So when he later discovers Tokiko in Akio’s lap, he’s destroyed, setting him up perfectly to accept Akio’s offer of a rose crest ring.
- I think it’s also important to note that Tokiko had no active part in this. She’s friendly with Mikage, she appreciates the time spent with him, and she cares deeply about her brother Mamiya. But she never once seemed to express romantic interest in Mikage! At least, I never saw anything that proved this, which just means that Akio made her an unwitting participant in his manipulation of Mikage.
- How much does she know??? Does she know what Mikage’s experiment did? Does she know who Akio truly is? Did she leave specifically so she could live a “normal” life and age like normal people do?
- BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT CONTRACT. BECAUSE AKIO OFFERS UP THE SOLUTION TO MIKAGE’S “REVOLUTION” AND IT’S COMPELLING MAMIYA TO BURN DOWN NEMURO MEMORIAL HALL WITH ALL 100 BOYS IN IT.
- WHO ALL HAD CONTRACTS, TOO!!!!
- WHAT WERE THEIR CONTRACTS FOR??? WHY WAS IT WORTH IT FOR AKIO OR END OF THE WORLD TO THROW THEM AWAY LIKE THAT?
- OH MY GOD, THEY ARE USING THE BODIES OF THOSE DEAD STUDENTS AS FUEL TO PREVENT THEMSELVES FROM AGING
- Because of this, I assumed that this explained how both Mikage and Mamiya were in the future, un-aged. They’d used those bodies to keep themselves young and alive.
- What I don’t understand is what Akio/End of the World want from Mikage. Why is the goal to kill Anthy? Why all the duels with Utena? What part is she ultimately playing in all of this?
- But y’all.
- If this episode was a rollercoaster ride of nuns and unpreparedness, then the final line is what booted me off this planet and into space, where I shall drift until I am no more.
- BECAUSE HOW THE FUCK IS MAMIYA DEAD
- HOW THE FUCK IS THAT POSSIBLE
- HE’S NOT DEAD, HE’S IN NEMURO MEMORIAL HALL
- I DON’T UNDERSTAND
- WHY IS THIS SHOW DOING THIS TO ME?
The video for “Nemuro Memorial Hall” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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