In the sixth episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, WHAT? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Utena.
Trigger Warning: Just in case, there is a brief discussion of themes of incest.
- WELL, THAT WAS A STRANGE EXPERIENCE. This episode is puzzling for a number of reasons, though the deliberate surrealism is actually kind of fun? The show abandons most of its serialization for a one-off story about Nanami’s suspicion that someone is trying to kill her. Admittedly, there are elements here that are serialized! This wouldn’t make as much sense if we didn’t know that Nanami was cruel and manipulative. We wouldn’t understand her bias against Anthy if we hadn’t experienced the Sunlit Garden arc.
- Still, it doesn’t have much to do with the Student Council or the Rose Bride or anything that the previous five episodes addressed. Which is fine! There’s some interesting and necessary stuff in “Take Care, Miss Nanami” that I think will be brought up in the future.
- I was confused by Utena’s friendliness with the Student Council, though I’m chalking that up to my continued suspicion of them. Basically, I think they’re more of an antagonistic force than Utena does, and perhaps she hasn’t viewed her duels with them as anything more than a weird tradition. She’s openly friendly to Miki, Nanami, and Touga. Though she does tell off Saionji at one point!
- Anyway, she and Miki spend most of this episode invested in finding out what the hell is going on with Nanami. They don’t really believe her life has been threatened, and this is made worse when she mistakenly believes that Touga, her older brother, was responsible for these attempts on her life.
- This unearths a dynamic I picked up on before, but is far more openly addressed here. Nanami has an intense relationship with her brother, one that Miki describes as an almost infatuation with him. She believes he is the model by which all other men are measured to, which wouldn’t be a problem except that she also is convinced that all men are “dregs” in comparison with Touga. He is her ideal man. And her brother. And it’s really, really weird.
- So are all the runaway animals in this episode???? Is this city plagued with them???
- But it only gets creepier when Nanami turns to an expected source for comfort and protection: a much younger boy named Mitsuru, who saves her from a runaway horse. LIKE, REALLY REALLY YOUNG. Maybe half her age???? And Nanami and Miki realize this isn’t a healthy dynamic and that it’s super fucking strange???
- Let’s also please acknowledge the three men who end up confronting Nanami about Mitsuru because they are also gross as hell. They clearly are Nice Guys in every, and they believe they’re entitled to Nanami’s time more than Mitsuru did. Because they wrote “love letters” to her. APPARENTLY, THAT’S ALL A PERSON NEEDS? Ugh, gross.
- But I still couldn’t deny how relentlessly uncomfortable I was with how Nanami used Mitsuru as her personal servant, exploiting his kindness just to benefit herself. And yet, despite how awkward this was, the writers found a way to make it a thousand times worse.
- BECAUSE AS IT TURNS OUT, MITSURU WAS PURPOSEFULLY THREATENING NANAMI’S LIFE SO THAT HE COULD SAVE IT
- WHAT THE FUCK.
- Oh, right, and this was all done out of adoration for Touga, who Mitsuru witnessed saving Nanami many years before.
- Yo, is it also okay if I don’t trust Touga? There is something off about him, and I don’t like it.
- The resolution of this story is a hot mess of absurdity. I really don’t know how else to describe it. Runaway boxing kangaroo? A surveillance system popping up out of nowhere? Magical speakers and microphones? Touga majestically saving Nanami in a way that fulfills every trope about a damsel in distress, except this damsel is his sister and the show refuses to ignore this and it’s really uncomfortable? I mean, I’m getting the sense that this is actually intentional, that we’re being asked to look at their relationship directly, but STILL. What the hell?
- I know that some animes have “filler” episodes, and I don’t know that I’d qualify this as one, but holy shit. That was a weird experience.
The video for “Take Care, Miss Nanami” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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