In Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena


Utena Tenjou as a child was saved by a traveling prince. She was so impressed by the prince that she decided to be one herself, with only a ring as proof of their meeting. At Ohtori Academy, she is dragged into a series of duels to determine the one who would acquire the power to revolutionize the world. (circa 1997. Rating: Above Average)


It was made by JC Staff!! I was quite surprised, because whenever JC Staff is mentioned, Honey and Clover almost always comes to mind. But since this was made when I was still in…in…never mind (I wanna keep my age a secret!). Well, Turn A Gundam animation was worse. On the other hand, the show gets its unique style from using roses as motifs in a lot of things–especially with the architecture.


Utena is my favorite character here. What she had to go through, wow, was tough. Second favorite character would be Juri, then Mikki. For a while, Touga was my most hated character. Towards the end of the show, that had changed to Akio. He is an a–h–e (somebody kill him lol). I’m ambivalent about Anthy, though. But what I most liked about the characters is that they all had their ‘issues’, most of it is treated well in the series. All the duelists (except for Utena) want the power to revolutionize the world-mostly for selfish reasons. They are actually all trapped in their ‘coffins’. It’s also disappointing that the girls of the show were not ‘strong’ enough to resist temptations, IMO. Also, the manipulation of the duelists was quite sad and entertaining at the same time.


It wouldn’t make me buy (or get) the OST, but I’m still having LSS with RGU’s OP. Though, the only line I can remember, and say is just ‘Take my revolution.’ All the other lyrics are just too damn fast to remember and sing. ^_^;


The themes explored in this show were quite jaw-dropping for me. While a lot of the sequences–from the fights to fillers, were arguably laughable, beneath all that what really goes on is no laughing matter. The most controversial issue dealt here would be incest. But I actually don’t mind, though it makes me wonder about the impression on kids who’ve watched this show. The only thing I didn’t like was that in the end Utena was nowhere to be seen. It felt like things reset, or even worse, as if nothing ever happened at all. We do see a change in Anthy, the girl Utena was fighting for. I dunno if I’m correct, but I’d like to believe that she was the one ‘revolutionized’. If the other characters were ‘revolutionized’ as well, I don’t know. There also facets of the story I still don’t quite understand.

Entertainment value

This show is definitely one to remember for weirdness. From the shadow plays to the repetitive music before duels to the cars (yes, cars figure a lot later in the series). It’s like watching an 80’s music video (or is my analogy wrong). The duels are also quite repetitive because most of the time the same person wins. However, what is most important (and entertaining to me) are the events leading to the duels itself.


As somebody humorously commented, I could mark my life as ‘BU and AR. Before Utena and anno revolution.’ Well, I can definitely say that I’m glad I watched Utena (though I’m quite relieved I didn’t get the urge to blog it like I did with Evangelion). It is a classic series that you should consider watching–if you like something truly unique.

  • Animation at 0.50/0.75.
  • Characters at 1/1.
  • Music at 0.50/0.75.
  • Story/Plot/Dialogue at 1/1.
  • Entertainment value at 1.25/1.5.
  • Total: 4.25/5

5 responses »

  1. It’s been quite a while since I last watched the show. I may take some time to watch it again.

    I think the oddities and surreal-ness are what make the anime so unique. Since it’s been so long since this anime aired, the online debates about the plot have largely died. There are some really interesting commentaries about the show at really old websites that haven’t been updated in ages. Although, I can’t find any addresses at the moment.

    > We do see a change in Anthy . . . I’d like to believe that she was the one ‘revolutionized’.

    Perhaps, the viewer as well?


  2. Ahh, Akio… That’s the true Revolution here, not of the World, but of the Self. Utena might’ve failed to pull Anthy out of her coffin, but Utena’s sacrifice made her understand she’s very much capable of opening the lid and getting out all by herself.

    And speaking of Akio’s humiliation: the movie. His tower, such a phallic symbol of his masculine virility and power, is cut off and nailed to a wall with splatters of blood-red colour at the bottom. Ouch! But considering how emasculated Movie Akio was, it really fits the character 😛

  3. Sorry, something swallowed most of my comment up there. Shoulda been:

    Ahh, Akio… He truly is a magnificent bastard. His glorious, charismatic evilness really shapes the latter parts of the show for me. And yet, despite all his devious schemes and manipulations, he Fails in such an utterly pathetic, humiliating manner: not bested in a fight, not outsmarted, he’s just… left behind. Anthy leaves him for the Outside World, and there’s not a damn thing he can do to stop her now. In fact, there never was a damn thing he could do to stop her, and now Anthy has realized that. That’s the true Revolution here, not of the World, but of the Self. Utena might’ve failed to pull Anthy out of her coffin, but Utena’s sacrifice made her understand she’s very much capable of opening the lid and getting out all by herself.

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