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HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top02-04-2009 09:37:29 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Everything after Juri and Miki show up, I've made up my own mind about. But there's so much in the first part of Episode 37 I don't understand.

1. Why isn't Utena outraged/disgusted with Akio? Why is she still asking him out?

2. I'll ask a new question by posing a possible answer to the first: Utena says "Everyone has secrets they have to keep, right?" So that could mean she is accepting Anthy and Akio's...relationship. Maybe she thinks that's an "adult" way to handle the situation. But even if that's the reason, why does she STILL ask Akio out? Even if she is accepting their relationship as such, why is she still pushing forward?

3. Please PLEASE explain the chronology of the Letter. We first see the letter on top of Utena's uniform as she is showering to go out with Akio. That night, Anthy asks if Utena got one, and she answers yes. But later, while playing basketball, Utena is recollecting the Letter-tearing scene. Chronologically, when does this scene happen? It couldn't have happened the day before, because Anthy didn't know (or pretended not to know) Utena had gotten one.

4. What does the Letter-tearing scene itself mean? Is she refusing to protect Anthy any longer, because of what she saw? But why is she angry with Anthy now, when she seemed ashamed/awkward the night before? And why is Anthy suddenly telling Utena that Akio is in love with her too? Is that what made Utena angry? Why does tearing up the letter have any relation to it in her mind?

X_x;;


Basically, please help me understand what's going on, prior to when Juri and Miki show up at the basketball court.

Last edited by Aelanie (02-04-2009 10:49:07 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top02-04-2009 11:57:41 PM

End of the Tour
Ballgoer
From: The Nowhere Islands
Registered: 09-11-2008
Posts: 143

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Like everything in Utena, this is very open to interpretation.  I saw Utena as very freaked out and not knowing what to do, but scared that doing anything drastic will just make things worse.  So she tries very hard to be "normal", much as she did in Episode 12.  And, like in Episode 12, she has a much harder time faking things with Anthy because she seriously cares about Anthy.  Going out with Akio and acting like everything's fine, sure, because her feelings for Akio go much less deep, but she chokes up when she tries to interact with Anthy.

I'm not absolutely sure about the chronology of the letter - I'd have to watch the episode again, which I'm not going to do right now - but I'd imagine she tore it up pretty much right after getting it.  If this means Anthy was feigning ignorance at some point, well, that's nothing new for Anthy.  As for what it means, I'd say it's a sign that she's trying to put the duels behind her; after all, she already took her ring off, which obviously has a lot more significance but also includes some of that.

Hmm, it's too late to really analyze this right now, but I wonder if it would make sense to see the first part of Episode 12 as Utena trying and failing to "be a normal girl" and the first part of Episode 37 as her trying and failing to "be a normal woman".  It's temptingly symmetric, at the very least.


Sometimes life is about making difficult sandwiches.

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#3 | Back to Top02-05-2009 03:12:35 AM

Aelanie
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Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

As I say, this is really the only part of the show I've had trouble with, and I've been reluctant to ask because I need to make up my own mind, not be told by others. But somehow this particular situation just defeats me.

Anthy was there when she tore it up. That's why it's so confusing. Utena got the Letter the same day she went out with Akio - ostensibly, the first day after she found out. It's there on her bed with her ring and uniform. Then, after she gets back, Anthy asks her if she got the letter, and they go to bed. It's presumably the next day when she tears it up, and she does it angrily, pretty much in Anthy's face. Why, and why then?

The only thing I can think of is that she's angry Anthy is saying Akio loves Utena, but that contradicts her wanting to go out on a date with him the day before, and THAT contradicts her not being angry with Anthy that same night.

There's just no sense to the way Utena is reacting. It doesn't matter if she was jealous of Akio, jealous of Anthy, disgusted by it or accepting of it. There's no combination of circumstances that would make her:

A) Immediately ask Akio out on a date the morning after, and
B) not be upset with Anthy that night, but then
C) become upset the day after when Anthy says Akio loves Utena too, and
D) somehow connect that with End of the World's letter and tear it up in response.

If Utena loved Akio more and was disgusted with Anthy, it would be A, but not B and C.
If she loved Anthy more and was disgusted with Akio, it would be B and C, but not A.
If she was in love with both equally or torn between them, it would be A and B, but not C.
If she was disgusted with both of them, it would be C, but not A or B.
If she was accepting of their incestual relationship, it would be B, but not A or C.

Meanwhile D is just floating out there mysteriously.

Last edited by Aelanie (02-05-2009 03:35:05 AM)

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#4 | Back to Top02-05-2009 05:41:54 AM

dlaire
A Whole Orange
From: Poland
Registered: 04-08-2007
Posts: 2322

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Aelanie wrote:

2. I'll ask a new question by posing a possible answer to the first: Utena says "Everyone has secrets they have to keep, right?" So that could mean she is accepting Anthy and Akio's...relationship. Maybe she thinks that's an "adult" way to handle the situation. But even if that's the reason, why does she STILL ask Akio out? Even if she is accepting their relationship as such, why is she still pushing forward?

Maybe she's referring to herself - she's an adult who can keep a secret. I think tearing letter isn't clear for me but taking off the Rose Signet means breaking up an engagement.

I suppose is important that Akio has said to her 'I can give you a ring that would suit you better' (or sth like that) and after this Utena told Anthy that he was teasing her.

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#5 | Back to Top02-05-2009 05:51:55 AM

Aelanie
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Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

dlaire wrote:

Maybe she's referring to herself - she's an adult who can keep a secret.

That's what I meant. That's one possible reason she's not flipping out about the situation, but it doesn't explain why she would ask Akio out on a date right after finding out, and in front of Anthy.

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#6 | Back to Top02-05-2009 08:44:40 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

(Much of this is a repost, but I've edited it and hopefully clarified it for this thread)

The Date

The way I see this is...  Utena's very first reaction is shock too deep to feel anything.  She later admits, "And when I saw you and Akio-san together...I even thought you had betrayed me. "  So we know from both from Utena's actions and that statement that when Utena first begins to process that shock into emotions, she feels betrayed by Anthy.  Then she asks Akio on a date.  Why?  She should feel disgusted with and betrayed by both of them.  She should feel horrified about the incest.  Why should we assume that asking Akio out on a date is evidence that Utena's feelings toward Akio haven't been negatively affected?  This is Utena we're talking about.  Under the circumstances it seems out of character.  But looked at closely, it isn't really, and it explains Utena's later reactions to both Akio and Anthy to me.

We know that any romantic figure in Utena's mind is equivalent to "her Prince".  Now that Utena loves Akio, and because she sees Akio as her Prince, the conclusion that he is a monster is one that Utena can't possibly come to quickly or easily.    We also know that Utena views Anthy as a Princess, a helpless girl for Utena to rescue.  In Episode 37 Utena's world, the entire foundation of the philosophy by which she lives her life and directs her actions, has been shattered.  Utena thinks slowly and in black and white, but she does think. This episode gravely affects how she perceives Anthy, Akio, and herself all at once.

What's noteworthy about the date are the following:

- Utena asks Akio out on the date in front of Anthy.

But Utena doesn't move out of the tower and she doesn't change her patterns with Anthy -- she comes up to their shared room after the date.  She even shares her concerns with Anthy just like she has throughout the series.  She's a little distant, but she's distant with Akio too.

Yes, Utena directs her anger more toward Anthy than Akio -- and that's not only because she loves Akio, but because she loves Anthy more, even though Utena doesn't realize it yet.  In this episode, Utena doesn't yet know who to blame.  What Utena knows is that she feels betrayed by Anthy.......and I think it's because she trusted Anthy more. (And also, in one of the series' recurring themes, Anthy takes the hate, blame, and swords in the place of the Prince).

Utena asks Akio out, in part, to spite Anthy.  To return a hurt for the hurt given.  It's not so much that Utena wants to be around Akio as that she wants to hurt Anthy a little, to take the Prince away from Anthy so that Akio is Utena's alone for a little while.  In short, Utena for a moment steps into Anthy's Witch shoes: manipulative, spiteful, possessive.  Any coincidence that the sweater she wears on her date is red?

- Utena takes off her ring for the date.  In addition, Utena leaves off her normal boyish attire and dresses up a little. 

For this date, Utena takes off the items that symbolize the Prince she has wanted to be (and reunite with).  She replaces those items with symbols that say something else (they say "I'm a normal girl").  That's because in this episode, Utena slowly re-evaluates.  If Utena isn't a Prince, what is she?  A girl, like everyone's been telling her.  She should act like one (this is like after her duel with Touga, only it goes even deeper).

But what does that mean aside from reinforcing the fact that Utena's behavior is "off"?  What it means is that the betrayal is forcing Utena to think and has affect Utena gravely.  It means that Utena, for a little while, feels that her desire to be a Prince is "wrong" in some way:  Maybe Utena starts to see it as immature, silly, or naive (I think Akio would like that).  Maybe Utena starts to feel that all of the reasons she sought to be a Prince are lies and that to continue that quest will only bring more pain and betrayal. 

It all boils down to the fact that Utena falls far from her ideals in this episode because she has temporarily abandoned them entirely.  After a blow like that, who could blame her?  Utena has been betrayed by two people she trusts and it's made clear to Utena for the first time that she has been blind to the true nature of people she thought she knew well.

This betrayal strikes at the heart of all Utena's aspirations and fairy tales.  By virtue of walking in on Anthy and Akio, it's got to be obvious to Utena that her princess, the poor victim she wants to help, has been hiding a horrifying secret.  This means that the friendship Utena thought they had was a lie.  Anthy (a) let Utena become close to Akio with the incest going on (b) didn't tell Utena about it so that Utena could rescue Anthy.  Utena can't really see Anthy as her Princess anymore.  Utena finally sees that she wanted to rescue a Princess she couldn't ever really save, because Utena wasn't even able to understand what it was Anthy needed rescuing from.

But Utena must realize also that Akio has also been lying to her.  While he pretended to be this great big brother, trustworthy confidant, and invited Utena into his home, he was doing this awful thing.  Utena now realizes she fell in love with with a Prince who is actually a monster and not "noble" at all.  In fact, she's built her entire life on this Prince, all that Utena is and holds dear (as Juri accused her of), Utena only has by virtue of the Prince she met as a child.  Utena, in short, has been living in a fairy tale, and fooled by illusions.  What she has seen, the dark side of Anthy and Akio, is a truth that simply isn't compatible with how Utena has seen the world up until then.

After all, what would that make her, Utena?  It makes Utena a complete and utter fool, that's what.  And this must be the first time Utena realizes it and begins to perceive her identity from that perspective.  So now Utena may well feel she would be better off if she were on the same playing field that Anthy and Akio are on.

- Utena is distant with Akio during their date (see her passive, dispassionate reaction when Akio drops the back of her seat for his seduction; she's not going to fight it, but she isn't being a sexual aggressor [or even an active participant], even though she was the one who assertively asked for the date). 

Why is that?  Well, there's a very important problem with Utena's date.  Utena takes off her Princely aspirations and puts on "girlish" attire.  And how does Akio react to that?  He compliments her; he is positive toward the change...and that doesn't feel right to Utena.  Utena is miserable after finding out about Akio and Anthy and she feels betrayed.  But abandoning her ideals and acting like the Rose Bride for a day gives Utena a clearer view of what she is and what she wants.  Strangely, I think Akio's attempts to encourage Utena in this actually push Utena in the other direction.  Akio relies entirely too much here on Utena's attachment to him.  By pretending that nothing happened and encouraging Utena to be more feminine, he starts to lose her.

Overall, it's by virtue of this temporary "fall from grace" that Utena is able to truly become who she is.  All Utena's reasons for being the person she was are put to an abrupt death in this episode.  Any holier-than-thou notions she had about herself, well, she can't really have them anymore, because she just fell to "their level."  So when she decides, knowing (more of, anyway) the true nature of the situation, to pick her quest back up, she has been distilled, has matured a little.  But that choice is empty if Utena is never truly experiences the other options and overcomes their temptation.  The beautiful thing about Utena is that even after all of her illusions are shattered and she sees all the ugliness in the world, she chooses to live according to a set of ideals that are rendered defunct by the "true nature" of the world when the projector is off.  Even knowing that she is a fool, that she can be betrayed, she goes to do stupid, but admirable things.  Isn't that the meaning of "Didn't you know?  I am a fool"?

If the events in this episode had never happened, I assert Utena probably would not have been able to pick herself up in the last episode.  If Utena hadn't ever been able to think through things in this episode and had gone into the duel of Revolution with sanctimonious ideas of being a fairy-tale Prince, she would have failed.  It's only after Utena personally experiences betrayal, walks the same path as the Witch and the Ends of the World, and rejects that path that Utena is able to truly follow the other branch of the path that leads to Revolution.

There are definitely other aspects to this that I didn't emphasize much...  Utena does seem to be pretending things are relatively normal.  She doesn't pitch a fit and does keep the secret.  Even as she acts spitefully toward Anthy and introduces some distance, she continues to cling to Anthy in small but identifiable ways.  I feel like all of it is part of the same package: betrayal, confusion, burgeoning cynicism/losing sight of previously dear ideals, and eventual reconciliation.

The Letter

Utena gets her letter around the same time as Touga and Saionji (they comment on it when they are riding their bikes, that she must have gotten one by now also).  I honestly can't remember if it seems like "overnight" that she keeps it before tearing it up.  But I can tell you why I think she tears it up.

As I discussed above, Utena feels even more betrayed by Anthy than by Akio.  And Anthy, true to form, knows how to say just the right (or wrong) thing to manipulate the Duelists.   As I recall, Anthy hands Utena the letter (possibly for the first time, possibly to remind Utena it is there) and says, "I hope we can be together like this forever."  Ouch.  I mean OUCH.  Anthy is inviting Utena to be just like Anthy herself and Akio.  To live with the illusion of a Prince forever, no matter how sick and degrading the situation really is -- right after Utena has learned how absolutely twisted Akio and Anthy are.  And Utena, no matter that she is not having hysterics, is not happy with that discovery and its ramifications.  Anthy's statement is a well-placed jab intended to remind Utena of what Utena saw and what it means...and Utena rejects Anthy, the duels, and therefore her aspirations to Princeliness by tearing up the letter.  I always saw that gesture as saying "FUCK you, FUCK your brother, and FUCK this stupid game.  You people are SICK."

That scene also says a lot about all 3 (Akio, Anthy, Utena) reactions to Akio & Anthy being "caught in the act."  How much of all of their behavior is... I've typed all this stuff but I don't know exactly how to put this thought.  What did Akio and Anthy intend for Utena after the Duel of Revolution (if things had gone Akio's way, that is)?  Did they intend for her to "join them" completely?  If so, how far have they sucked Utena into that and how do they envision that future?  As far as I'm concerned it all fits with my interpretation of the whys and hows of Utena's actions in ep 37...but it does bring in another lens to view it all from.

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (02-05-2009 09:07:44 AM)


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#7 | Back to Top02-05-2009 09:05:12 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

But Utena already had the letter. Anthy wasn't handing it to her, just standing there watching Utena hold it. Like I said, the night of the date, Anthy asks Utena if she got a letter, and she says yes. And I still don't understand how Utena would be able to act normal that night after "getting back" at Anthy by dating Akio, especially if she's going to get angry later when Anthy goads her (which she undoubtedly did, again for no clear reason).

They're both so normal with each other that night. How did that turn into Anthy jabbing Utena and Utena getting fed up the very next day?

But anyway, thank you for going to the trouble of posting a detailed answer. I'm definitely in agreement with some of that. Other parts not so much, but that's the way Utena interpretation goes.

I'll keep meditating on this. Thanks again for your response.

Last edited by Aelanie (02-05-2009 09:52:14 PM)

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#8 | Back to Top02-06-2009 08:16:17 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
Website

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Easily.  You think they are "normal" with each other the previous night?  Sure, in a general sense.  Utena continues to live at the tower, she goes up to the room after her date, they talk, they go to bed.  The gallery is down right now so I can't post screenshots.  But don't you remember Utena's body language during that conversation?  Utena doesn't go and sit with Anthy in bed and talk, no, not this time.  Utena goes and looks out the window, brooding.  Anthy comes to her and Utena shares some of her thoughts.  A huge span of the window is between them--this has always symbolized the distance between them--and prior to episode 37 that distance was Utena's ignorance.  But Utena isn't ignorant anymore, so the distance is now because of what Utena knows.  But the distance is most certainly there.  Note also Utena stays in place while when the view pans backward, Anthy has moved closer.  Utena's places her hand on the window in a gesture that suggests defeat and continues to hide Utena's face.  (Utena is opening herself a little in the conversation, but she hides her face, suggesting that she can't bear to be fully open to Anthy at that moment.)   Anthy places her hand over Utena's and after a moment, Utena moves her thumb--just her thumb--to embrace Anthy's hand.  Utena is not rejecting Anthy, but neither is Utena fully done processing her new awareness about Anthy, Akio, and herself.  Utena is not, the night before, fully reconnected with Anthy.  So they don't go from "normal" to anger.

Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you loved?  Did you feel the same way about the situation from the moment you found out about until resolution was achieved (whatever that resolution was)?  Or did your feelings oscillate between righteous anger at them, sadness that they didn't love you enough, and a desire to justify their actions and forgive them (either out of love, generosity, or denial)?  I can't tell you how you'd feel, of course, but I've been through that (not all that long ago) and my feelings changed throughout the course of a day.  And from what I know of psychology, that's normal.  So don't get confused because Utena's behavior isn't consistent--she is a fictional character, but a character in a series that often expresses how a real person would behave--and if she seems more resigned one moment and then angry again the next it's not because she's over it the night before and then not over it the next morning.  It's because she's still dealing with it and isn't over it yet.

As soon as Utena's date ended, she hadn't come to all the conclusions I postulated in my first post.  These conclusions came gradually.  It wasn't like Utena specifically said to herself, "I am going to ask Akio out on a date and get back and Anthy." Then went on the date and said to herself, "Now I have gotten back at Anthy and I realize that Akio is trying to tear my identity from me and so now I am back on track again."  Heck no.  As I said, Utena thinks slooowwwly.  When she makes her decisions, she makes them quickly -- but again and again we see her take time to think before she makes those decisions.  It takes a whole day and Wakaba's intervention to realize she's acting stupid after her duel with Touga.  It takes what appears to be almost 2 days for Utena to ponder through learning that Akio & Anthy are sexing it up.  Even when the duel is joined, it takes almost an entire episode of Akio talking for Utena to really go all-out on him.

And so far as Anthy is concerned...no matter which side of the line you fall on with Anthy it is pure stubbornness to try to deny that Anthy deliberately acts to provoke the duellists.  She most certainly does know what buttons to press and presses them.  That is what she did with Utena.  It actually doesn't matter if she handed Utena the letter or not, the point remains the same.  Anthy deliberately poked at Utena's wound to get a reaction out of Utena.  Whether that makes Anthy "mean", why Anthy did it, and what reaction Anthy wanted is a different subject that is imo almost impossible to settle.  It's impossible to know whose interests Anthy is acting in at that moment (and in many other moments).

We see the moment that Utena really "gets back on track" ... we just don't know exactly when it occurs.  The convo after the infamous suicide attempt.  I think your concerns about chronology make sense here.  Because we don't know whether we're talking about 1 day, 2 days, 3 days...documented (out of order I think) in 37.


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#9 | Back to Top02-06-2009 04:18:55 PM

Bluesky
Chpn Dlst
From: Your window
Registered: 10-25-2008
Posts: 1939
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Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Utena: etc-love
Akio & Anthy: BETRAY
Utena: emot-mad
Akio: school-devil
Anthy: emot-biggrin
Utena: emot-gonk

And that's about it, really.


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#10 | Back to Top02-06-2009 06:18:30 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

rhyaniwyn wrote:

We see the moment that Utena really "gets back on track" ... we just don't know exactly when it occurs.

I do. Or rather, I'd already decided that for myself. It's after she talks to Juri, and realizes (gets told by Juri, really) what the nature of her feelings for Anthy really are.

I suppose you have a point about oscillating emotions. I have felt that way myself, though it was long ago now.

As for Anthy...well, she has mood swings like everyone else, even if she tries to hide them. Maybe that night, she was trying to reach back out to Utena...as you say, she is the one who goes to Utena and holds her hand. By this point, I think Anthy is thoroughly in love with Utena, or at least as close to love as Anthy can be, given the enormous wall of despair she lives behind.

So then, maybe...she decided Utena needed to get angry for her own good, either so she would face the problem instead of trying to ignore it, or get fed up enough to clear out, which is what Anthy thinks would be best for her...and poked her to achieve that effect.

Or, maybe she'd gotten angry/disillusioned that Utena wasn't living up to her expectations. Maybe she had been hoping Utena would again surprise her, again impress her with the kindness and goodness Utena has shown her before. But it didn't happen, and so Anthy, in a passive-aggressive fit, takes a verbal stab at her.

(Needless to say, I'm more agreeable toward the first scenario.)

Thanks again for your detailed response. I think I may be able to make a decision now.

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#11 | Back to Top02-11-2009 07:12:18 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

It's silly to revive this thread but I just re-watched the episode. This is just my thought on what is happening. The theme of the episode seems to be various characters pretending to come to terms with things when they really haven't. Only Nanami really has, at that moment she is visibly wiser than anyone else.

Utena decides to reject trying to be a Prince, because that would mean rescuing Anthy, and right then she doesn't want to. Hence the torn letter. Anthy rather pathetically pleads for the menage-a-trois to keep going. When she realizes that won't work, she threatens Utena, when that fails, she pretends to accept her marginalization, then she realizes she can't do that either and tries to kill herself.

Utena rescues her and decides to carry on the the duel after all. But Utena, (even more pathetic than Anthy in a way), still wants to be a Prince, and be a Princess, and have Anthy and Akio. All the philosophizing in the tennis court resolved little or nothing, and neither did the tearful heart-to-heart by the ledge.

Going beyond to the duel, I noticed that Utena's sword was her own sword, drawn by Akio, perhaps signifying his control over her ideals. Then she takes the sword, to show she controls her own ideals. But the sword is egotistical and aggressive, even though noble. It cannot fully defeat Akio, nor open the gate to revolution.

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#12 | Back to Top02-11-2009 07:42:17 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Wow, that's a singularly cynical, pessimistic outlook. That's your right, of course, but what I ended up deciding was very different.

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#13 | Back to Top02-11-2009 08:27:31 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

I didn't think I was being cynical, it's a time of crisis and no one is thinking clearly (except Nanami). The Beatles sang, "All you need is Love." I am too cynical to believe that, but at the same time nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without love. This is what Utena discovered. Her tears of compassion and love opened the gate. Noble deeds without love are not enough.

It may even be that that's why Anthy encouraged Utena to duel, because she knew that her dreams of becoming a Prince were important to her, not because she seriously expected to get rescued. Anthy knew she would lose Utena whatever happened once the duel started but thought that Utena would not be happy merely running off with Akio. She knew Utena better than Utena knew herself. Unfortunately she did not then believe in Utena.

Others have suggested that the stab in the back was an act of compassion. That may be true. I think the look on Anthy's face is very compassionate and sorrowful. Anthy let Utena play for as long as possible without ever accepting the possibility that Utena could or should become a true Prince. Anthy and Akio both saw adulthood the same way, "You have ideals, the World gets the better of you, you give up, you sell out, you find a sugar daddy, you get on with your life. Otherwise you die." Anthy didn't want Utena to die.

She also did not realize how much Utena truly cared for her, which possibly is the same thing said in a different way.

Not until the very end does Utena confess the depth of her friendship and love for Anthy. "I never told you..."

Last edited by brian (02-11-2009 08:42:34 PM)

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#14 | Back to Top02-11-2009 09:51:36 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Anthy would never plead for Utena to accept Akio. Those words were taunting insincerities, and were meant to have exactly the effect that they did, pissing Utena off enough to walk out.

After Utena wins the last duel against Touga, Anthy knows there's no hope left that she would be spared from sacrifice by some other Duelist taking her place. Anthy wants to save Utena from Akio. That's why she so obviously engineered the revelation of her and Akio's relationship. It was to show Utena what she and Akio both were really like, in the hope that it would disgust her enough to flee from the situation.

But the opposite happened, because of something Anthy didn't expect. She never realized that Utena was in love with her, as opposed to the awkward, reluctant dalliance with Akio. It took all of his Smex Powers as well as Anthy's gifts at manipulation to shoehorn Utena into that situation, one at odds with her emotions, her morals, and her natural temperament. So after the reveal, Utena uses Akio to hide from Anthy, who she is far more torn up about, and far more scared of facing. Anthy's plan backfired.

That's why she makes those remarks the next day. It's Phase II of her attempt to get Utena to give up the Duelist path before it's too late, and it looks like it worked at first. Then Juri comes along and schools Utena on her own feelings...

The Cantarella Scene is where Anthy realizes her mistake. She sees that no amount of pushing Utena away from Akio is going to save her, because it's she, not Akio, that Utena is fixated on. This is something that self-despising Anthy could never have figured on. The idea that someone could love her? The same person whose goodness, kindness, and innocence have made Anthy fall in love with them?

And that's why, that night, she attempts to remove herself. Whether she could really have died is of course a famous debate, but it would've been enough if Utena had thought she had.

There are those, I know, who think that Anthy's betrayal was all planned out, something perhaps she had done many times before, but I don't believe that. I believe, after baring their feelings on the balcony, Anthy had decided to give Utena a chance. There was a seedling of hope in Anthy's heart that Utena could prevail, and I believe that, if the final duel had played out differently, Anthy would've stood there and watched as Utena triumphed over Akio.

But merely by chance, and Akio's desperation, Anthy gets thrust into the middle. Suddenly, it's her choice. Suddenly she, who had never decided or wanted to decide anything for herself since becoming the Rose Bride, is solely responsible for choosing the outcome. It's a choice she's not prepared to make, and in the fraction of a second she has, she slides back into despair and helplessness.

As for the rest, we're in accord. Swords of noble valor, no matter where they came from, could not have opened that door. It took tears, something Akio could never shed except over himself. This is also why becoming the Prince can never happen through one's self. At the end, Utena thinks that she failed to be the Prince, but she's wrong. It was never within her own power, or anyone else's, to attain that by themselves. You can only become the Prince...by becoming someone else's prince.

Anthy's choice. In both literal and metaphorical readings, it is the heart of the story of Utena.

Phew. I have to thank you for posting, regardless of our differing opinions. Ironing all that out in my own mind is going to help my write-up tremendously. What am I talking about? Nevermind.... >_>

Last edited by Aelanie (02-12-2009 12:49:20 AM)

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#15 | Back to Top02-13-2009 10:27:06 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Even though I don't agree, it's a very well-reasoned posting. More well-reasoned than mine. It's certainly given me an interesting new perspective.

I think we do agree that it is ultimately Anthy's story, and that is all too easy to lose track of when the series is named after Utena and filled with all kinds of dynamic people.

Last edited by brian (02-13-2009 10:28:18 PM)

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#16 | Back to Top02-14-2009 04:14:09 AM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Well, I'll be honest. After the Balcony Scene, I can't make up my mind whether Anthy really believes Utena has a chance or not. Maybe she just resigns herself to losing Utena. She had done everything she could to make Utena choose to back out, and Anthy is incapable of choice at this point in the show, despite how miserable it's making her.

Even though it's a more pessimistic reading, I'm not disinclined to it because it again emphasizes Anthy's choice as the axis of the entire story, and the linchpin of its resolution. Of course, it's possible to have it both ways. Maybe Anthy wanted to believe it, even though she didn't.

Whatever the case, I know she was simply glad it was out of her hands. As someone who hates making choices myself, I fully appreciate the incredible relief of something being beyond my ability or responsibility to address. For better or worse, no matter what the outcome, it's much more comfortable not having to make a decision. I know Anthy felt that way too.

Now that I think about it, at the moment of Anthy's betrayal, it doesn't even matter which it is. Even though I said it was her choice, immediately afterwards, what does she say to Akio? "You chose this path." She's trying to avoid responsibility, avoid the feeling of choice, even after the fact.

Paradoxically though, that also makes me more inclined to believe that she would've stood by and done nothing while Utena beat Akio. If Anthy's one and true driving force is helplessness, the avoidance of choice at all costs, it would be perfectly in character for her to let it happen, regardless of the changes it might bring. Change being something she fears almost as much as having a hand in it.

Of course, there's always the question of whether it was even possible for Utena to "win" the duel with Akio. Short of killing him, which may or may not even be possible, would cutting his rose actually matter?

I'm inclined to believe it would though, simply because Akio so obviously has limited power over what's happening. Look at him when Utena begins pressing him back, when his own projector starts responding to her will. He is shocked, distracted, sweating and afraid. He has no idea what's going on. He pretends to be controlling everything about the Duels and the path to Revolution, but it's just more of his lies. The Duels are ritualistic, and those rituals must be observed to open the path, even for him.

Which makes it even more interesting, because Utena never actually loses her rose...that could be the whole reason she still had a shot at opening the gate (with the more correct keys). Wouldn't it be amusing if Akio lost everything because he failed to observe a ritual he thinks is meaningless, and that he is exempt from?

Children adore rituals. They make up their own. Though imagination, they invest meaning and ideas into the most mundane things. Even something as simple as arranging their toys a certain way can take on associations with feelings, imagery, sound, colors, and thoughts.

Akio doesn't wear a Rose Crest either, and that was also necessary to open the door. Even if he could've supplied the necessary tears (already impossible), he would've also needed what he views as a meaningless trinket which he gives out to his pawns, an "old ring" devoid of the spirit in which Dios gave it to Utena as a child.

Children bond deeply with such "trinkets", though. As a child, I would inject all kinds of special meanings and emotions into what adults would've said are thoroughly commonplace objects. I once had a piece of topaz, just a small sliver really. In time, and through various influences, I came to associate topaz with the Sun, and solar iconography is something I've come to associate with righteousness, beauty, and clarity of will. I still think of topaz as a "solar gemstone", which means it also has such connotations.

This all ties in so much with Ikuhara's statements about the "foolish" ideas of the young. Objects and rituals both shape our thoughts and feelings, and our thoughts and feelings shape us. Akio, the symbolic "adult", has no respect for either of these, and the meaning they can give to those who cherish them. What a buffoon.

Well, I'm rambling horribly, but it's all very useful to me, so thank you again for stimulating this response. Also, thanks for the vote of confidence in my reasoning. It's good to know I'm not just persuading myself, and that there are no gaping improbabilities I overlooked. school-sherlock

Last edited by Aelanie (02-14-2009 04:46:16 AM)

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#17 | Back to Top02-15-2009 10:57:24 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

And you in turn have stimulated new thoughts for me. I had never thought to have respect for all the rituals in Utena, I always assumed they were just Akio's artifices. But ritual is very important to children and adults may forget how important ritual can be to them.

Secondly, it had slipped my mind that Utena was working miracles even before the duel ended. She wrested control of the projector from Akio and was on the verge of defeating him. Anthy still stabbed her and now I wonder if it was because she still could not believe in miracles even then or perhaps she was not ready to live in a world where miracles come true. It's interesting also that even miracles were not enough to save Anthy.

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#18 | Back to Top02-19-2009 11:09:38 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Utena seemed to wrest control of the projector from Akio.  That's one way of reading it.

But which did Utena prefer?  The reality of the chairman's tower (all that remains if the projector is destroyed) or the illusion of the arena and the castle in the sky?  That's her choice: the power of the Chairman, or the power of the Prince.  The former means accepting that everything around you is dirty and that you have to get dirty too (& if you're Akio, encouraging everyone else to get dirty to prove that you're right).  The latter means sustaining an idealistic and dichotomous philosophy based on childish fables of Princes, Princesses ... and Witches.  If you're generous with Utena, I think the answer would be "neither."  But it's not sufficiently obvious to me that Utena wholeheartedly rejected the fairytale illusions that came from the "naive wishes in [her] heart" -- after all, she said (just before the projector began to break) "I'll be a Prince!"  Why would that sentiment break the projector, the source of fairytale illusions...which is the world the Prince comes from?

So, sometimes I find myself having a very Anthy-centric interpretation (okay, often) of the story.  But who was working miracles?  Whose subconscious desire was at work?

I agree with the notion that Anthy feared change.  It's complicated because it's so hard to tell whose interests she's acting out of.  Is Anthy playing the Witch or the Rose Bride?  Is she playing that role at that moment because it suits her or because it suits Akio?  But Anthy's actions make sense in general if you believe that she (a) was emotionally tormented (b) was profoundly ambivalent and (c) felt helpless.  Anthy could gravely fear change and also suppress a longing for change; she could want another life without wanting to want it (because wanting leads to disappointment).  Being helpless, not having a choice is a relief for Anthy -- there's no struggle, no dilemma if there is no alternative!  You can't fail if you don't try, right?

You pretty much have to agree that Anthy's dedication to Akio and Akio's goals was not wholehearted by the last episode.  Utena didn't FORCE Anthy to take Utena's hand--Utena could not do that, Anthy had to reach out.  Anthy had to want to reach out.  But neither was Anthy truly ready to make a choice on her own, otherwise there would have been no battle.  Anthy's worst behavior is an extreme act of denial...she continues to act as if she has no alternative and does not want any alternative, because to admit otherwise is utterly terrifying.

What am I saying?  I think it's Anthy who affected and destroyed the projector.  Anthy is the one with magic (it seems); she is the one holding it together in the first place.  Without Anthy's consent there is no arena, no castle in the sky.  As Anthy watches, Utena again reminds Anthy of Dios when Anthy loved him...of "that time".   Utena's declarations inspire Anthy but also give Anthy an excuse to push Utena away because if Utena believes that stuff then Utena is a fool.  The projector goes wild, then begins to fall apart.  The fairytale appeals to Anthy and is part of what keeps Anthy going, but Anthy has lived as Witch and Rose Bride long enough to know that she is a dirty woman and not *really* a Princess to be rescued.  That realization and the threat of irrevocable change snaps Anthy firmly back into her role.  The illusion is restored.  Anthy absolves responsibility for herself and retreats to the familiar by stabbing Utena.  The empty movement of the endgame proceeds as scheduled.

Is it a ritual?  Yes, if the ritual has power in the minds of those who participate.  Was it like a spell and was there a permutation of events that would have given Akio the Power to Revolutionize the World?  I'm skeptical of that.  I feel that there is a lot of artifice at work on Akio's AND Anthy's behalf.  Akio recognizes the coffin immediately and disapproves of what Utena is doing with it.  What would Akio have done with it?  Would he have left it closed and thereby continued to have nominal control over Anthy's choices?  Would it have been there if Akio had opened the door? 

I think it would have been.  That's all there ever was to gain and it's of vital importance.  Saito said that the Power to Revolutionize the World is really the power to change yourself.  If you change how you see the world, the world changes.  That's what Anthy denied herself.  That's what Akio doesn't want (he doesn't need it, duh!).  That's why it didn't matter that the ritual seemed to "fail" -- it had to fail because Akio didn't want the power to change himself, he wanted the power to stay the same.

It's been postulated that Akio perpetuated a false hope to string Anthy along deliberately.  That fits, but no matter how much good PR Akio has, I also think it's possible that Akio failed to truly understand his situation.  That he was greedy and wanted more power; the Prince's power without the Prince's responsibility--an impossibility.  To get it back Akio would have to change, something he wants as little as Anthy for his own reasons.


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#19 | Back to Top02-22-2009 09:04:38 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Thanks to everyone who posted. I have largely made up my mind on the Series; I've turned my attention to the Movie, which is of course an entirely different animal, and I may be posting some thoughts about that in a new thread. However, everyone's help is greatly appreciated, and you can expect some "special thanks" in the work that I'm currently doing on Utena elsewhere. school-eng101 I will let you know when it's complete.

Last edited by Aelanie (02-22-2009 09:23:31 PM)

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#20 | Back to Top02-24-2009 10:14:00 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

Aelanie: Yeah but I have not made up my mind!
Rhyaniwyn: Part of the problem is the whole ambiguity in RGU about whether Princes exist and whether it is good for Utena to aspire to Prince-hood. Instead of worrying about what Ikuhara meant I just assume that Prince-hood is a good thing, even if it's just an ideal. What Utena was learning and perhaps Anthy already knew is that being a true Prince can be a royal drag. This is a relevant problem because we often acclaim someone to be a hero just because he can strum a guitar well or throw a ball fast, without reference to his real character. Often the word hero is used as a euphemism for victim to spare others the guilt of thinking about someone's victimhood. Maybe Anthy could not see a hero as being anything other than a victim. Many heroes are people who prevent things, by destroying the projector Utena made it possible for the other characters to heal and grow, and forget their old wounds -- and forget her. Only Anthy remembered, she seems to be good at remembering, to both her glory and detriment. Except in rare cases, the disasters prevented by such heroes are theoretical disasters that never happen, because they were prevented. The reward for that is usually obscurity or worse.

I don't think Anthy destroyed the projector but if she did perhaps she did it because she could no longer pretend that Akio's rituals were anything other than a pointless human sacrifice and she stabbed Utena to prevent that sacrifice, one victim would be quite enough in her view.

Bottom line is that I usually assume that Utena's final revelation entails a major re-defining of what a Prince is and a willingness to forgo childish dreams of glory and reward.

edit: It's very strongly implied that Anthy is the ultimate (passive) power behind the illusions of Ohtori but another reason to suppose Utena destroyed the projector is that it helps symbolize her achieving the dreams of the other duellists: transcendence, miracles, and true friendship, and so on, although I have not tried to systematize that.

Last edited by brian (02-24-2009 10:41:05 PM)

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#21 | Back to Top02-24-2009 11:43:48 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Can someone please explain the FIRST HALF of episode 37?

<tries to disconnect brain from the movie long enough to contemplate a reply>

As for the projector, I don't think it was ever destroyed. We see it intact in the final scene of Akio's office, as Anthy is leaving.

However, it may be a fact that it won't work without Anthy. It might be so, especially since she is always the one officiating the duels.

However personally, I never interpreted it that way. To me, the projector is Akio's sole source of "supernatural" power. Everything else he does is clever deception and seduction. But, the projector is obviously more than just a simple machine. That's why I think it symbolizes the only power he really has: to deceive people.

Although I'm not, er, a fan of religion, I think a case could be made for likening Akio to (the fictional) Satan. This is fair game because he explicitly identifies himself with Lucifer in the show. Well, the Devil's only true power is to tempt people, and while there's no one more diabolical at that task, it isn't mind control; people have to make their own choice to fall to temptation.

What it boils down to is willpower. So I think, rather, that the projector will obey the person who's will is strongest. The breaking open of the Prince's empty shell and of the castle ("crack the world's shell!") suggest to me that Utena's will, like the projector itself, is breaking free from Akio's influence.

Or, more simply, that Akio was about to lose the duel. Remember, the duels, even from the beginning of the show, aren't really about a contest of sword skill, it's a clash of wills. The strongest willed ALWAYS wins, and that's why Utena can win with ease over kendo stars, fencing club members, etc. etc. None of that matters. It's about the steel in your spirit, not your blade.

And this is also why Juri is the only one that Utena never technically defeats. Juri is the only Duelist besides Utena whose will is truly strong, and who resists the temptations that Akio plies the other Duelists with in his End of the World role. Even as Ruka is trying to tempt Juri with the power to obtain anything, she renounces it, saying she needs nothing but her own strength. In Utena, the people who lust after power the least are the ones who have it within them most. That's why Juri was undeniably Utena's most dangerous opponent.

Or rather, that Juri was perhaps the second most promising candidate to be Akio's sacrifice. Do I think Juri could've spiritually overpowered Akio as Utena did? Without a doubt. But, could she have cried tears of princely compassion and opened the gate? I'm uncertain. Juri is at bottom a good and righteous person, but she is proud, and can be cruel, as she is to Anthy herself early in the show. Yet, it's possible she could've been moved by the sight of Anthy at that time. It would've been very interesting to see her in that situation.

Now, as to whether the coffin would've been there, if Akio could've somehow opened the door: There's really no answer to this, simply because it's a circular question. Akio couldn't open the door because he can't feel princely compassion, and doesn't believe in the ideals of nobility and mercy that the Rose Crest represents. To put it more simply, the only way to open the door is to sympathize with Anthy so much it brings you to tears, and to cherish the meanings of the Rose Crest enough to wear it always.

See, it's all a loop. The Power of Revolution truly exists, and it's everything it's played up to be, but the only way to obtain it is to open the Rose Gate, and the only way to do that is to want to save Anthy, and the only way to do that is to free Anthy's heart, and the only way to do that is to reach her, and the only way to do that is to use the Power of Revolution, and the only way to obtain the Power of Revolution is to open the Rose Gate, and the only way to do that...

That's the great irony. The only way to gain the Power of Revolution is to want to help Anthy so much that you would use the Power of Revolution for that purpose, and that's the only way to obtain it in the first place!

(This idea is even more explicit in the movie, as Anthy is clearly stated to be the keeper of that power, and only the one who becomes her prince can access it. Once she decides for herself that Utena is truly her prince, she offers "any miracle and any eternity" outright to Utena, but Utena has other ideas.)

So, the moment the gate opens, and the swords stop, Utena's deepest wish was granted. But what did Utena want more than anything? To free Anthy, of course, but not to force it on her. Utena learned that lesson at Touga's hands. She doesn't want to force Anthy, she just wants the chance to reach Anthy's heart, and for Anthy to come to her by her own choice. Her choice - there it is again.

Of course, raising questions about exactly what Akio is capable of on a supernatural level just brings questions of what on earth happened at the end of the Black Rose arc, and a person could go mad trying to decide that...

Last edited by Aelanie (02-25-2009 03:21:44 AM)

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