In the twenty-fifth episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a new chapter begins, and I am exponentially more confused than ever before. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.
Trigger Warning: For talk of emotional manipulation and consent/rape.
- WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN INTO? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ASK THIS BEFORE I ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THIS? (Let’s be real; it probably won’t be until the final episode.)
- Holy shit, absolutely no good can come from Akio asking Utena and his sister to move in with him. I DON’T LIKE IT, I DON’T TRUST HIM, THIS IS BAD, SOUND ALL THE ALARMS.
- This is not a good thing! He’s not being charitable or kind! OH MY GOD ARRRGGGGHHHH.
- That’s not even the only thing here that upset me in the first five minutes. How about the return of both Touga and Saionji???
- GOD WILL YOU TWO EVER JUST STOP BEING MANIPULATIVE JERKS
- (Answer: no. Never.)
- So Akio, in his role as the Chairman of Ohtori Academy, gets Saionji back at school, and then IMMEDIATELY MANIPULATES HIM. To Saionji’s credit, he’s very aware of the fact that he was used before, and he’s openly hostile to Touga, which is fascinating to me. Initially, he has no interest in joining the Student Council again, and he certainly doesn’t want to participate in any duels anymore. If that’s the case, then how can Akio successfully manipulate him?
- BY SHOWING HIM THE ONE THING WE’VE NEVER SEEN.
- OKAY SO LIKE
- THE END OF THE WORLD IS A PLACE? I assumed it was a person????
- HAVE I BEEN WRONG THIS WHOLE TIME AGAIN?
- When Touga is trying to convince Saionji to pick up the duels again, he brings up the events of “The Castle Said to Hold Eternity.” He and Saionji once met Utena, who wanted something “eternal” in the wake of the death of her parents. AND TOUGA SAYS THAT AKIO WAS THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO HER.
- IS THAT ABSOLUTE CONFIRMATION THAT AKIO IS HER PRINCE?
- GAH WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING TO ME.
- I wasn’t joking. There are some serious homoerotic tones to that car ride sequence. And given that glimpse later in the episode that suggests that Akio and Touga are sleeping together??? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
- I mean, there’s also that scene where Utena and Anthy lay next to one another, which mirrors the opening credits, and Utena offers her total friendship to Anthy, telling her that she can come to her first if she ever has a problem, and THEN THEY HOLD HANDS AGAIN???
- MY QUEER HEART CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS SHOW.
- Actually, I do need to talk about this. Look, queer overtones aside, I’m so happy to see the friendship develop between these two? Utena’s got such a pure heart, and I’d like to think that this episode shows us why she’s such a good friend to Anthy. I also suspect that if there’s anything that could break Anthy out of whatever spell she’s under or cycle she’s in, it’s Utena’s love.
- Of course, Anthy is infinitely more complicated than she ever was because of the big reveal at the end of the Black Rose Saga that she was part of Akio’s manipulation of Mikage. On top of that, there’s still the unresolved storyline about her being the Rose Bride and how that relates to her free will. Saionji openly references it again in this episode, insisting that the Rose Bride must bend to the will of whomever she’s engaged to. I don’t think anyone’s been lying about this, but because of Utena’s friendship and love, Anthy is able to exert the tiniest bit of agency here: she chooses to help Utena. She chooses to find the sword within Utena after the Sword of Dios just disappears for no reason.
- But I’m guessing that was orchestrated, too? Akio has a lot of unexplained power, and I wouldn’t put it past him if this was all due to his influence. The reason I say this is that he and Touga seem genuinely surprised by what Anthy did, but they weren’t surprised by the sword of Dios disappearing.
- The one thing that suggests to me that there’s something more to this is the final scene between Anthy and Akio. Every time we’ve seen them alone with each other, it’s uncomfortable, but it always looked consensual. But here, Akio seems furious with Anthy for her role in helping Utena, and he grabs her forcefully. The bizarre image we get of Anthy beneath Akio doesn’t imply consent at all, and now I’m even more worried that he only gives her affection or positive attention whenever she’s doing what he wants. If his goal is to further manipulate Utena into liking him and to defeat her in the duels, then it stands to reason that what she did disappointed him.
- Oh god, this is so awful. 🙁
- I do love that over the course of the recent batch of episodes, Miki has actually become a friend of Utena and Anthy. I don’t think I’ve commented on that before today, but it’s great! It was on my mind since there’s a scene of Miki being polite and respectful here, and it reminded me of the scene where the Student Council considered recruiting Utena to help them discover the person behind the Black Rose Duels. (Back in “Qualifications of a Duelist,” that is.)
- I don’t have all that much left of Utena, and I’m still lost as ever. We’re entering a new part of the story, and I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS. SO MANY QUESTIONS.
The video for “Their Eternal Apocalypse” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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