Mark Watches ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’: Episode 32

In the thirty-second episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nanami lashes out in confusion, only to be further manipulated. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of incest and emotional manipulation

  • You know, it’s not necessarily canon that what Touga and Akio do here is based on Ruka’s philosophy, but I can’t shake the idea. Ruka believed that Utena kept winning duels because she had such an intense connection to Anthy, her bride, so he reasoned that this is how you could defeat her. The Duelist had to have a stronger relationship with their Bride than Utena’s with Anthy.
  • For me, this is an explanation for the absurdly painful manipulation of Nanami, which Touga is 100% a part of. Akio and Touga did this to her – and most likely orchestrated absolutely everything here – in an attempt to push her ever closer to Touga, hopefully so that she could defeat Utena.
  • For reasons
  • I don’t get those reasons.
  • But based on that phone call that Nanami mysteriously got, I’m pretty ready to call it: Akio is the End of the World.
  • And lemme go a step further.
  • He’s also Utena’s prince.
  • And if this show is about identity and how our pasts haunt us and it’s about consent and love and all these painful things that humanity has to suffer through, then I find it really hard to believe that Utena was not manipulated alongside everyone else. Akio has his hands in too many cookie jars. He is too all-knowing. He is too malicious, and I can’t believe that this show is documenting a bunch of coincidences.
  • If you at least accept the premise that Akio is End of the World, since he identifies as him in this episode, then it’s easy to read a lot of his actions as part of his manipulation of Nanami. He purposely acts coy and blissfully unaware the next morning after Nanami discovered him with Anthy. He does this in order to degrade her mental state! It clearly upsets her, enough that she storms out of the place after slapping a jar of jam out of Anthy’s hand.
  • (What I cannot figure out is if Anthy is fully aware of what’s happening. There are two specific moments in this episode that suggest that she knows about the manipulation. There’s that glance early in the episode, and then there’s the moment where she blocks Utena from interrupting Akio’s time with his fiance. WHICH… WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT. WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER? WHAT’S WITH THAT APPLE??? Anyway, I can’t ever tell if she’s under some sort of spell or if she’s just acting really well.)
  • So she turns to Miki, briefly, though notice how she refuses to switch places with him out of fear that they’ll ruin him. It’s like… the least selfish thing that Nanami has ever done, I swear.
  • And then everything is ruined.
  • I’m willing to entertain the idea that Touga specifically sought out Keiko in order to torment Nanami. The end of this episode drops a devastating reveal on us: that Touga really is a blood relative of Nanami, since they were both adopted, and that he lied to her about this so that the story would seem more “romantic.” If the man can operate under this level of deceit, then I don’t think it’s impossible that he (and Akio) calculated their every move. Come on, he knew Nanami was listening to his conversation with Keiko in that garden! He knew she’d be upset by it, he knew he could use it to distance himself from her, and he knew that it would eventually send her right back to his arms.
  • She even tries to turn Utena against Akio and Anthy, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Akio’s manipulation of her has led her to see herself in Anthy, and it only makes everything worse. Everyone else seems to accept that Akio and Anthy are ideal siblings, but only Nanami knows the truth of their relationship. So does that mean there’s still hope for her and Touga?
  • Because Akio and Touga finally get Nanami to “see” End of the World and duel Utena.
  • There’s so much that is disturbing to me about the end of this episode. Nanami’s duel is just relentlessly heartbreaking because… well, Akio and Touga misjudged how close her relationship was with Touga. Instead of feeling closer to him, she feels further from him than she has ever felt. It essentially backfired, didn’t it?
  • And while that’s upsetting, I was more fucked up by the fact that Akio and Touga are so careless. They don’t care that she lost. It’s immaterial to them. She’s yet another duelist who didn’t win, and they’ll move on, as they always have.
  • (Yo, they’re fucking, right? THEY ARE SHIRTLESS IN BED TOGETHER, WHAT THE FUCK.)
  • More than anything, Nanami wants validation. I think one of her flaws is her need to be the center of attention, but now we’ve seen what it’s like for her to lose everything. She’s lost her sense of self. She’s lost her ability to love herself. She’s lost the feeling of being special. And her brother and his friend have stolen this from her. For what?
  • Actually, I don’t know that. I AM STILL IN THE DARK.

The video for “The Romance of the Dancing Girls” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Feature will be Farscape.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
– Inspired by last year’s impromptu event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all currently planned dates and pitch your own city here.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Revolutionary Girl Utena and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.