Mark Watches ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’: Episode 29

In the twenty-ninth episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Ruka tries his new approach to defeating Utena. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.

Trigger Warning: For talk of sexual assault and extremely severe manipulation.

Well, Ruka is the absolute worst, holy shit.

  • That opening scene is so brutal, y’all, and it’s all done so that Ruka can try and get Juri to… well, that’s complicated.
  • There’s a lot of talk throughout “Azure Paler Than the Sky” about opening up Juri, about granting her the power to make miracles happen, and the more I think about it, the more Ruka creeps me out FOREVER. Because… is that what he really wants? I’d argue that everything he does here is specifically so that he can defeat Utena in a duel, even if Juri is the one who does the dueling.
  • He moves in on Juri SO QUICKLY, y’all. He dumps Shiori, embarrassing her in front of the whole school, and he does so knowing that Juri’s “weakness” is her affinity for Shiori. ARGH, I DON’T LIKE HIM AT ALL.
  • I do think that this episode demonstrates that while she has good intentions, Utena sometimes doesn’t know what she’s getting involved with. She still don’t quite understand what Juri is going through or the complications between Juri and Shiori.
  • It’s just so sad because there’s a hint that Shiori and Juri could have had so much more than this. Shiori was secretly cleaning Juri’s sword for the past year, so… THAT’S SOMETHING. THAT FEELS HUGE. And then we’ve got that scene where Juri visits Shiori (perhaps because Utena urged her to), and if everything hadn’t already been a mess between the two of them, then maybe they could have worked things out. Maybe Shiori could have had a friend to talk through her own heartbreak. But no, Ruka ruins EVERYTHING.
  • His behavior here, though, goes so much further than mere manipulation, and it was horrifying to watch. He confronts Juri and ANNOUNCES THAT HE’S GOING TO ROMANTICALLY PURSUE HER. Like?!?!?!?! Of course, to Juri and to the audience, this is so ludicrous, because dude. You just dumped the love of Juri’s life in front of the whole school, so you’re pretty much scum to her. On top of that… oh god, he’s one of those straight men who believe they can be the exception to the rule, isn’t he? A lot of this is speculation because while we know for certain that Juri loves a woman, it’s not like she’s identified herself as a lesbian. The show has always been very ambiguous about this sort of thing. Still, didn’t he specifically go after Shiori in the past episode after learning about how Juri felt about her? I suppose I could have completely misinterpreted that.
  • Regardless, this doesn’t affect how I feel about Ruka’s monstrous actions. He announces that he’s going to pursue Juri, then he literally does it. He forces himself onto her, and it’s just terrible. But it’s the aftermath that hit me the hardest. While Juri openly rejects Ruka, she eventually challenges him to a duel over Shiori. I don’t think this would have come about at all if Ruka hadn’t assaulted her first. And it makes me sad to think that she thought she had to deal with Ruka at all. He should be kicked into a volcano, but I think she recognized that Ruka wasn’t going to leave her or Shiori alone until she dealt with him.
  • AND THEN WE GET A DUAL DUEL. (I was so excited to type that once I thought of it!)
  • It’s honestly one of the most heart-wrenching sequences in the entire show, y’all, and it’s edited together so perfectly. We switch between Juri’s duel with Ruka and her duel with Utena. They’re purposely paralleled because in both instances, Juri’s heart still belongs to Shiori. She fights Ruka in order to make her unrequited love have, EVEN IF THAT MEANS THAT SHE WILL NEVER GET TO BE WITH SHIORI.
  • I CAN’T
  • And her duel with Utena is layered, it’s difficult, and I have this headcanon that she got involved mentally acknowledging that she would never win. There is no outcome here where Juri gets what she wants, is there? She lost to Ruka, so she has to accompany him to the End of the World, which I still don’t understand. CAN THIS SHOW PLEASE TELL ME WHERE THEY’RE GOING?
  • Anyway, even when Juri is back and fighting Utena, I never got the feeling that her heart was in it. And after Utena accidentally destroys Juri’s prized locket, I think we see the true manifestation of that emotion.
  • I still might have misinterpreted this, but did Juri tear her own rose off of her jacket??? SO?!?!?! IS SHE THE FIRST DUELIST TO FORFEIT???
  • Oh my god, and what does that ending mean? Does Shiori want to be friends with Jori again? WHAT ABOUT THE SHADOW PLAY GIRLS’ MESSAGE? How much of that should I accept as the official explanation for Ruka’s actions?
  • I’m such a mess because of Utena, and it’s all your fault. YOURS.

The video for “Azure Paler Than the Sky” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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