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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 Top02-12-2009 01:22:57 PM

hollow_rose
Egghead
From: Ohio
Registered: 10-26-2008
Posts: 1074

Water Symbolism and Juri

This just struck me the other day: There is a lot of water symbolism in Juri's eps. And not just the showers, because everyone thinks of those first. There's also:
1. The fountains where she relaxes after her shower, and later where Shiori and Ruka are making out.
2. The pond where she sits in the end of ep 7 and talks with Touga, the same pond where she throws her pendant into in the Black Rose Arc
3. When Shiori finds her locket, she knocks a vase full of water onto it, and there's more water that falls out of it when she's in the elevator.
4. Juri and Ruka's "special place" is a bench by the ocean.
5. Rain shower of doooom after her final duel.

And it doesn't stop there! There's also the movie:

1. Juri standing by the river, and in the boat.
2. Touga dragging Juri out of the river.
3. Her locket is pictured over a background of water.
(I realize there's lots of water symbols for everyone in the movie, but still.)

What do we think this water represents? Is it somehow Juri trying to cleanse herself of emotions she feels are hurtful, holding her back, or painful? Or do we think it's some sort of over arching symbol for emotions in general, since love is her duel theme and water is often a symbol for emotions? Since she's such a tough character perhaps all the water symbols are a way to express that Juri is actually very emotional and moved by feelings of love -- she just doesn't show it.

Does anyone have any other thoughts?


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#2 | Back to Top02-12-2009 02:19:46 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4693

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Ganyamede, the cup-bearer of the Gods, is also the boy of the sign Aquarius. Shiori also happens to be an Aquarius. Water is a very interesting thing in itself because it is the source of all life. None can exist without water, yet it can also be a cause of death. A person stranded in the middle of the ocean has little chance of survival. When you think of water, you also think of tears. One might say that Juri is drowning in her feelings for Shiori. Then again, Freud might say that Shiori makes her wet. emot-wink

Give me a few minutes and hopefully I'll remember what the water in the movie means. e_e

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#3 | Back to Top02-12-2009 02:30:34 PM

Riri-kins
World's End
From: Cloud Nine
Registered: 09-22-2008
Posts: 2346

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Honestly, I think a cigar is just a cigar in this case except for the rain. That could probably represent her intense sorrow or say that the sun will never shine in her life again.


Proud Saionji and Mikage fangirl
My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

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#4 | Back to Top02-12-2009 03:32:51 PM

lex
Master Dominus of SRS BZN
From: in absolute splendor
Registered: 11-27-2007
Posts: 1784

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Razara wrote:

None can exist without water, yet it can also be a cause of death.

Hmmm. So if you think about it in a way, everyone needs a sense of affection, a sense of love...but like water if it's not the right kind of affection, or the right kind of love...it could lead to some pretty disastrous results.


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#5 | Back to Top02-12-2009 05:28:10 PM

Etrangere
Rose Smilee
From: Paris
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 134
Website

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

In Utena, with the opening of the Rose Gate, I always though water had to do with female power, and love-that-gives (note how when Utena opens the Rose Gate with her tears, Akio is drinking up a glass of liquid to its bitter end).


Yes. You shouldn't be suspicious of Anthy. Her big brother is your watching. There is no war in Ba Sing Se. ~ Dalbun

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#6 | Back to Top02-13-2009 07:32:33 AM

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

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

I had started an essay a while back about water symbolism in the series.  It mostly focused on water at the entrance of the arena, but I was hoping to include some of the other notable appearances (like Saionji and Juri).

I have a feeling that what I said in the essay won't have much bearing on Juri.  It might, but I never got back to working on it, so I admit I haven't given it the thought it deserves. 

http://forums.ohtori.nu/viewtopic.php?id=1454

Rhyaniwyn wrote:

Water is nourishing because we require it to live.  Water is also destructive because you can drown in it.  Water is changeable, filling the shape of whatever container you put it into.  Water is mysterious; because when it is very deep you cannot see what is inside it.  Water is also illuminating because it can reflect things if you look in it and water has had a long association with scrying.  Finally, water is purifying when we use it to bathe.  Those are simply some of the qualities of water that I can name off of the top of my head.

A study of mythology and symbolism takes these associations to another level altogether.  Water is an element normally associated with the feminine principle, associated with Yin in Chinese philosophy [1] and apt to the female archetype in Jungian theory [2].  Furthermore, water is associated with the unconscious and particularly with Jung's collective unconscious [3].  In religious mythology, water is closely associated with the creation of the world and birth as well as with death [4].

Ultimately all qualities relate back to the feminine principle.  One of the most obvious and important functions of the feminine principle is giving birth.  This associates the female energy very closely with any creation or birth, even in patriarchal religions.  Water is a major feature of many creation myths worldwide: Egyptian, Christian, Babylonian, African, and Indian to name just a few [5].  Often in these myths creation rises from the dark waters.  The water is the goddess, as Joseph Campbell says, and it is the liquid environment of the womb in which we are suspended prior to birth.  The ritual of baptism symbolizes being momentarily submerged back into the womb to be reborn.  It is the act of birth/rebirth that gives water its purifying qualities, recreating us clean.  The maternal quality of water is also where it derives other qualities: nourishment and mystery.  The mother gives birth to the young and (generally) sustains and nourishes the young.  In addition, one of the greatest mysteries is the mystery of the ultimate source of creation and consciousness--where does it come from, where does it lead, what is its (and does it have a) purpose?  Often comparisons are drawn between blood and water, the ocean especially.  This is because water is not only the source of life, but it also sustains life and gives life vitality and fertility.  There are many fertility goddess associated explicitly with water, notably Aphrodite.

So, where does the relationship to death and destruction come in amidst all of this vital, generative energy?  There is a negative and positive side to both the male and the female principles: on the positive side the female principle is creative and nourishing, on the negative it is destructive and suffocating.  The Hindu goddess Kali is a very good example of both of these sides of the female energy.  In the stories that make up her popular mythology, Kali is most often portrayed as destructive, slaying and devouring hordes of demons [6].  In one myth, when Kali is possessed by bloodlust, an infant Shiva stops her; after hearing the baby's cries Kali stops to nurse him.  The form of Kali known as "Mahakali" or "Great Kali" inspired the following quote:

Sri Ramakrishna wrote:

My Mother is the principle of consciousness. She is Akhanda Satchidananda; indivisible Reality, Awareness, and Bliss. The night sky between the stars is perfectly black. The waters of the ocean depths are the same; The infinite is always mysteriously dark. This inebriating darkness is my beloved Kali.

A closely related image regarding water's darker side is the whale or the leviathan.  The Jungian archetype of the shadow, which is "the 'dark side' of the ego", is often represented as a frightening guardian creature, such as a snake, dragon, or demon that stands at the entrance of a pool of water that represents the collective unconscious.  In order to access the power of your unconscious or to gain wisdom from the collective unconscious, you must somehow overcome or assimilate the guardian [7].  This is similar to the narrative of Jonah and the Whale, in which a whale consumes Jonah, a device mirrored in the story of Pinocchio.  Once a hero is able to overcome the leviathan, or the ego is able to assimilate the guardian, they are able to move freely within the waters of the unconscious and bring back power, wisdom, or renewal.

There are several meanings arising here: first that the nature of life is all-consuming.  This should remind you of Kali and her habit of devouring as well as of a mother animal eating her young, but it transcends the female principle (see 'Kirttimukha' or 'The Face of Glory').  Second, that it is dangerous to confront the goddess/mystery/the unconscious unprepared.  Myth and folklore are filled with monsters that live in the water, awaiting the unwary to drag them in--ranging from the whale/leviathan, to the kelpie, to the nix.  However, to the individual who is ready to confront mystery, water is a source of illumination.  Third, it conveys another mythological theme in SKU, the presence of cycles: everything came from water and all is going back to water.  All creation rose from the waters before time and will sink back into them at the end of time.  You were birthed from the waters of the womb and will cross the River Styx in death (in Greek mythology), or will retire to a "[paradise] with rivers flowing below" after death (in the Quran) [8].


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#7 | Back to Top02-13-2009 09:50:41 AM

Bluesky
Chpn Dlst
From: Your window
Registered: 10-25-2008
Posts: 1939
Website

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

And here was me thinking it was just an excuse for some hawt angsty shower scenes and suchlike emot-biggrin


/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

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#8 | Back to Top02-13-2009 11:09:23 AM

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

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

As I said, I haven't given it the proper attention--but my first instinct is to say that the shower scenes are mostly just shower scenes.  I recall that when I first saw them, I muttered about gratuitous shower scenes as being an incredibly common device in cinema.

But on the other hand, you have water as a purifying element.  (I also tend to associate water with sensuality to some extent...I'm not sure if there's much to support that as anything other than a personal symbol.  I didn't come across it for the first draft of my water essay.  But that's fine :-) even it's just an association of my own.)

Point of that being that most of the time when we see Juri, we see the rigidly controlled and groomed Juri that she presents to the public.  After her shower scenes we see that persona washed off and catch a glimpse of an underlying somehow softer Juri.  It's another manifestation of the fact that Juri hides her true feelings (and therefore, to some degree, her true self).  Since water appears around Juri only in conjunction with Shiori/Juri's locket (as I recall?) I would guess it's not a coincidence.

So the showers and the rain are similar--drops of water from above.  They are purifying, but not in the sense that they necessarily mean Juri is fully recovered...but that they take off some of Juri's disguise of invulnerability.  They also, especially in the rain scene, express her feelings -- the tears Juri doesn't shed herself.

I don't want to make a lot of preliminary conjecture until I've given it more thought...  especially as to how Shiori fits in.  I interpret Juri's feelings for Shiori more as how I think Juri sees Shiori rather than how Shiori herself is or isn't.  Meaning that I don't necessarily think that how I see Juri seeing Shiori is necessarily going to transfer to how I see Shiori.


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#9 | Back to Top02-13-2009 12:02:26 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4693

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

As usual, my analysis is nothing compared to rhyaniwyn. But I might as well post what I thought of last night.

I always thought of water as somewhat symbolizing Shiori herself, hence the reason why Juri is so drawn to it. It is purifying as well, but in her mind, perhaps Shiori is what keeps her alive. That’s her power over Juri—can’t live without her—and of course a locket thrown into the water would come right back to her if Shiori herself is water. Even the carpet in her room is blue, and as is her body tinted with blue at the end of her elevator scene due to the lighting. The orange roses in Shiori’s room are kept in water because they, like all roses, need it to survive. Though Juri may be more like a rose who has been over-watered. None the less, she’s constantly drawn to it, and the orange rose cared by Mikage and Mamiya is bathed in water.

The only thing I can remember about the rain in the movie is that it blocks out the sun when it rains. The sun represents the prince, so when it rains, it signifies that the prince cannot be seen. “The rain in my heart is sure to cloud the skies above!” Her prince left her, thus causing rain. Even when Touga appeared, he wasn’t truly there, and Akio was still buried in the ground. Yet when the sun came out again, the white rose (also representing the prince) bloomed and gave Utena the ring.

^ I might add to this once I get home, but I don't have time now.

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#10 | Back to Top02-14-2009 09:04:51 PM

Mai_Kanzaki
Ohtori Paramouri
From: Left of Nowhere, Ohio
Registered: 02-18-2007
Posts: 93
Website

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Could it be that the "*my sister* nearly drowned" story have something to do with it too? After all I find it interesting that in the movie her sister wasn't involved at all. I could see water taking on negative connotations after an experiance like that and I don't recall a scene that involved Juri and water that seemed positive. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.


emot-gonk THINK MUN-KEY!

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#11 | Back to Top02-15-2009 12:50:17 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

And I'll add one to the list: the first time we see Juri being openly emotional is when she confronts Utena about her ring and her prince by the fountains in the statue garden in episode 7.

Okay, this show does just have a lot of water in it in general, but I admit I think hollow_rose's list passes the statistical significance test; to slightly misuse a musical term, water is sort of a leitmotif for Juri.  I don't think I'm going to outdo Rhy's scholarly and broad-ranging treatise on the symbolism of water, but I've been thinking about the Tarot lately, so I can tell you this much.

In Tarot reading, water is associated with the suit of Cups.  When a Cup comes up in a reading you know you're dealing with something about the querent's emotional life, especially love or fear.  (This is how the suit of Cups evolved into its corresponding suit on present-day playing cards, the suit of Hearts.)  Cups represent feminine energy (they are basically big vaginas), but like water, that energy can ebb and flow unpredictably, clear one moment and cloudy the next, drawing the eye to its horizon yet concealing secrets deep underneath.  This is fairly generic symbology as far as water goes; I don't think it differs substantially from anything Jung or Campbell would prescribe.  And it fits Juri to the letter.  She is your big sister one minute and a tyrant the next, a disciplined swordswoman in the arena and a sobbing mess in her room.  Love and fear are at the center of her character.  Of course, that last is true of most of this show's characters, but Juri more than most, because Shiori is not only the center of Juri's emotional life but also of her entire life, which draws Cups and the water they bear to the foreground.

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#12 | Back to Top02-15-2009 06:24:10 PM

hollow_rose
Egghead
From: Ohio
Registered: 10-26-2008
Posts: 1074

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Wow these have all been so thoughtful and indepth.


Razara wrote:

Ganyamede, the cup-bearer of the Gods, is also the boy of the sign Aquarius. Shiori also happens to be an Aquarius. Water is a very interesting thing in itself because it is the source of all life. None can exist without water, yet it can also be a cause of death. A person stranded in the middle of the ocean has little chance of survival. When you think of water, you also think of tears. One might say that Juri is drowning in her feelings for Shiori. Then again, Freud might say that Shiori makes her wet. emot-wink

...I think there might be some Freud in there, but the zodiac signs is also an interesting deduction.

A lot of people have mentioned that water is a feminine symbol -- the water references for Juri may be some way of representing either her attraction to the feminine (women) or just a subtle way of allowing the character to tap into feminine power/emotions without making her overly girly.

Mai_Kanzaki wrote:

Could it be that the "*my sister* nearly drowned" story have something to do with it too? After all I find it interesting that in the movie her sister wasn't involved at all. I could see water taking on negative connotations after an experiance like that and I don't recall a scene that involved Juri and water that seemed positive. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

This reminded me of something I heard...somewhere. Some American review of one of those Americanized Japanese horror movies that had to do with a lot of water. (Mind you I can barely remember this so I'm not sure of accuracy). But I seem to remember that the movie wasn't as scary for Americans, because we're not an island surrounded by water. For the Japanese, water is a lot scarier culturally. So the water may also be some sort of fear symbol, fear of her emotions, fear of drowning in her emotions.

Also on a side note, if you hold to the interpretation that Ohtori is an afterlife, you can interpret that Juri did actually drown (as in the movie), and she disassociates that memory to her sister in the series, because its easier for her consciousness to accept. So yes, if you're going to take the "Ohtori is an afterlife" interpretation, a lot of it could be....well, Juri drowned, so she's afraid of water.


20 threads dead so far.

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#13 | Back to Top02-17-2009 11:45:48 AM

Anthiena
Egghead
From: ...the space between your ears
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1107

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

Juri having water as a leitmotif is not far fetched. I recalled the meaning of her name and via the Analysis part of this site:

Arisugawa: "existence live river"

Even her name has something to do with water.


I stopped seeking to be sought after. That wasn't being true to myself.
I want to become someone who can exercise power. I want to become a prince. - Ikuni

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#14 | Back to Top02-25-2009 08:39:01 PM

La Beauvoir
New Student
Registered: 02-25-2009
Posts: 3

Re: Water Symbolism and Juri

I also feel that, if one were to assign Juri an 'element' (fire, wind, water, etc) based on her personality, I'd say that she was a classic Water person.  She is driven heavily by emotion, as opposed to thoughts or physical needs.  There's a lot going on beneath her calm surface, a lot of deep feelings and strong currents; and though she generally appears still and placid, when those waves are stirred up into a true storm, there's nothing more fearsome or more destructive.

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