In the twenty-eighth episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Juri’s mentor returns to school with a sinister agenda. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.Â
Will I ever get to an episode that makes things less messed up than before? No? Oh, well.
- I JUST HAVE AN UNENDING LEVEL OF FEELINGS FOR JURI, OH MY GOD.
- It’s bad enough that she’s got to deal with her own unrequited love for Shiori. It’s bad enough that Shiori is still around, reminding her of said unrequited love. But now, her old mentor returns and HE’S WORKING FOR END OF THE WORLD AND AKIO AND EVERYTHING IS MADE SO MUCH WORSE.
- This got me thinking about any sort of endgame for this show, and for some of these characters, I just want them to have a good day. A day without emotional manipulation or abuse or heartbreak or self-hatred. Juri is a good example of a character who got wrapped up in the duels, but isn’t an antagonist herself. (I’d say Miki is definitely another one, and certain times, Nanami is as well. Fuck Touga and Saionji, though.)
- I think it’s impossible to ignore how complicit Shiori is in what Ruka does to Juri, despite that she’s involved for an entirely different reason. When Ruka returns to Ohtori, he upsets Juri on multiple levels. He upsets her schedule, he upsets her position as temporary captain, and then he’s involved in upsetting her emotionally, all in the hope of using Shiori for his duel against Utena.
- But this episode deliberately bucks the pattern. In this specific arc, we see how the duelists find their sword in their partner. In the case of each of the duelists who have faced off with Utena, their sword came from someone who was manipulated into believing in them. Now, manipulation is part of the very fabric of Utena, from the opening duels and ESPECIALLY during the Black Rose Saga. But when Shiori is targeted here, it doesn’t feel the same. I think that while Ruka pursued Shiori intentionally, she also pursued Ruka, knowing how it would affect Juri.
- IT’S A MESS, ISN’T IT?
- This whole thing is a mess, but it’s supposed to be. These people are deeply entangled with one another, and so I find it fascinating how much Utena and Anthy are background characters for this arc. The show builds up all these supporting characters in the process, and it’s really fulfilling to know that there are a ton of well-developed characters in the story.
- Anyway, back to entanglement! I felt so bad for Juri as she tried to navigate both Ruka’s return and her longing for Shiori. She miscalculated when she tried to warn Ruka away from Shiori, and I believe that in that moment, she accidentally revealed her true feelings for Shiori. Unfortunately, there was no turning back at that point. Ruka ruthlessly goes after Shiori, who apparently coveted Ruka this whole time.
- GOD, I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED MY INSTINCTS THAT THIS WAS TOO CONVENIENT. How could Shiori have feelings for someone we’ve never seen before and just barely had any part in this narrative?
- I SHOULD HAVE PAID ATTENTION TO THE LOCKER NAMES
- So, the whole Akio Car Ride thing is no longer a metaphor for sex, is it? It’s actually sex, isn’t it? Not that it was that for past characters, but Ruka and Shiori had sex, right???
- WHICH HAS ALL KINDS OF HORRIBLE IMPLICATIONS IF RUKA DID THIS WHOLE THING JUST TO MANIPULATE HER.
- So what do the cars mean in the dueling arena?
- Who knows.
- (Probably all of you. Oh god.)
- This was such an intense duel, y’all. As we saw during his introductory scene, he’s actually better than Juri at fencing, and his duel proves that. He’s vicious with Utena.
- BUT THEN HE NOTICES SOMETHING
- THAT I NEVER ONCE EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT.
- Right before the power of that weird prince dude descends on Utena, she moves to protect Anthy, and Ruka puts it together.
- Utena keeps winning because she’s so close to her bride.
- Whichâ€¦ holy shit, I had actually commented that some of the past duelists in this arc looked like bride and groom, and THAT’S THE POINT. That’s how this is working.
- Oh my god, SHIORI WASN’T CLEANING RUKA’S SWORD. SHE WAS CLEANING JURI’S.Â
- HELP ME, I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS.
- So what the fuck is he going to do now??? If this has been the source of Utena’s power this whole time, how can he grow “closer” to his bride? I mean, this took time. Utena grew to love and care for Anthy. You can’t just manufacture that, you know?
- Shit, I need the next episode right now.
The video for “Whispers in the Dark” can be downloaded here for $0.99.