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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

#51 | Back to Top07-15-2011 12:35:48 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

KaleMarsh wrote:

Though I think the possibility that she loves Anthy, and only saves Anthy because she loves her (whether it's friendship or romance) puts an interesting spin on Dios' original take on the prince.  Do you think her love for Anthy makes Utena more or less of a prince?

Shadow Play Princess wrote:

That's a good question, Kale...I can see the point that saving someone because you love them would make your act less selfless, and therefore less princely, but I disagree. I think it was Utena's lack of real love for Anthy that prevented her from being the prince early on, and the immature, still selfish nature of her love that prevented her from being the prince until episode 39. It seems to me that if Utena was playing the prince out of anything other than unconditional, consummate love for Anthy, then yes, she is less of a prince. I don't think this is the case in the series.

That's a really good answer.  I would add something extra, though, which is that the show -- at least twice -- quietly moves the goalposts on what it means to be a prince.  For much of the show, a prince is someone who will save anyone, even someone they have no connection to, even at great cost to themselves.  That's the kind of prince Dios was, and it's the kind of prince Utena wanted to be that night in the chapel; remember, she didn't know anything about Anthy's impaled silhouette except that she was in pain. 

But Utena never actually was that kind of prince.  Remember episode 1?  Utena sees Anthy getting slapped around, but that's not why she challenges Saionji!  She challenges Saionji because she thinks he hurt Wakaba, someone Utena cares about.  So as the show goes on -- we see this happening most explicitly in episode 12, but it continues throughout the Black Rose arc -- a prince is gradually redefined as someone who will save those they love.

And then the goalposts get moved one last time in the Apocalypse Arc.  We learn, to no one's surprise but Utena's, that Anthy is a lot more self-aware and a lot scarier than Utena had been giving her credit for.  Utena discovers that she's been sleeping with her brother.  It's not rape; Utena knows that.  Anthy has been doing this voluntarily, and in the context of Utena's own taboo relationship with Akio, no less.  In other words, Anthy has the power to save herself, but instead she's choosing to hurt herself (and her friend!) more.  Utena struggles mightily with herself over this, but she reaches a resolution even before the climactic duel, and it's embodied in Anthy's suicide scene.  Utena's words to Anthy, there on the rooftop, are: "Nigeru no ka?"  So you're running away?

Now hang on a second and try to hear those words coming out of Dios's mouth, or out of Utena's mouth in episode 12.  You can't do it.  Those words aren't consistent with the vision of saving someone, whether it's a stranger or a loved one.  "Nigeru no ka?" finally acknowledges that Utena can't save Anthy.  If Anthy wants to run away, or wants to stay in her abusive relationship, Utena can't do a damn thing about it.  This is a tragic realization and it's the beating heart of the late show.  The most Utena can do is help create the conditions for Anthy to save herself.  She can be the strong girl on the rooftop who can pull Anthy back to safety; she can communicate to Anthy that she loves her and would feel hurt and betrayed if she jumped; but she can't stop Anthy from jumping.  This scene, of course, is nothing but a reframing of the events of episode 39.  Utena doesn't save Anthy by opening the coffin.  She just finally succeeds, by example, in giving Anthy enough hope that Anthy -- Anthy! -- is willing to reach out and take her hand.  By the end of the series, the idea of a prince who goes around saving people is discredited altogether.  A prince, if you still want to use that word, is someone who treats their friends with love, and supports them as they struggle to become their best selves.  That's the kind of prince Utena becomes.

I think that this redefinition of princehood is equally resonant whether Utena loves Anthy romantically or platonically.  By the end of the show, we've moved decisively past the point where it makes Utena less princely to "save" someone she's in love with instead of a "mere" friend or stranger.  Anyone who can take a sword in the stomach from a trusted friend and still act out of real love for them is an unimpeachable prince in the final sense, whether or not they want to get into their pants.  I don't know if Utena would have done the same thing for a stranger.  Maybe she would have.  But when Dios was gallivanting around saving strangers, it made him less of a prince to his sister, so maybe it's right and good to devote your best love to your friends rather than to strangers.  Or maybe the distinction between friends and strangers is artificial to begin with.  Either way, we have no grounds to gainsay Utena's nobility.

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#52 | Back to Top07-15-2011 12:46:29 PM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
Registered: 03-01-2007
Posts: 1243
Website

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

satyreyes wrote:

But Utena never actually was that kind of prince.  Remember episode 1?  Utena sees Anthy getting slapped around, but that's not why she challenges Saionji!  She challenges Saionji because she thinks he hurt Wakaba, someone Utena cares about.  So as the show goes on -- we see this happening most explicitly in episode 12, but it continues throughout the Black Rose arc -- a prince is gradually redefined as someone who will save those they love.

I just want to add something here. Utena reacts to the slap very much like the expected Prince would. She takes no action because someone else, Touga in this case, intervenes and thus makes her own intervention unnecessary. At least to Utena's perception. Had Touga not stepped in, I very much believe Utena would have done something about that.


Flowers without names blooming in the field can only sway in the wind. But I was born with a destiny of roses, born to live in passion and glory.

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#53 | Back to Top07-15-2011 12:59:59 PM

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

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Ashnod wrote:

I just want to add something here. Utena reacts to the slap very much like the expected Prince would.

Saying "Oi, that's going a little far?"  emot-wink  I kid; I agree with you.  She probably would have stepped in, like she did in the video game.  But I don't know if she would've gotten in a swordfight over it.  She might not have known either.  Luckily, she didn't have to make that decision; she only had to make an easier one. emot-smile

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#54 | Back to Top07-15-2011 03:32:51 PM

KaleMarsh
High Tripper
From: Washington, DC
Registered: 06-13-2011
Posts: 245

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Thanks for all the responses, guys.

I'd say the show isn't only critical of the idea that a person needs a prince, but also that a prince should help everyone.  Dios essentially loses all independent agency and becomes as passive as his damsels.

I've been trying to reconcile Utena's affection (whatever it is) for Anthy with her reshaping of herself, which I think figures very prominently into the ending.  Saying that she acts for Anthy in an selfless and unconditional way is an over-simplification because I am not at all convinced that she has gotten rid of the need to prove her own image of herself.  I half-expect (even after watching) Utena to open the coffin and find herself inside.  She is in no real position to save anyone, especially not Anthy: a tall order.

That Anthy saves herself is a better answer, especially given the fact that she walks off on her own at the end, after confronting Akio.

/Rehashing.

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#55 | Back to Top08-04-2011 08:32:27 AM

Louchan
Rose Bride
Registered: 11-08-2006
Posts: 100

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

There's a lot of discussion in here concerning Utena's feelings for Anthy, but what about Anthy's feelings for Utena?
One thing I've been wondering about is concerning this:

Anthy: You remind me of the Dios I once loved. But you can't become my Prince. Because you're a girl.

Did Anthy like (or as I personally believe, love) Utena for being Utena, or simply because she reminded her so much of Dios?

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#56 | Back to Top08-04-2011 02:01:16 PM

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

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Louchan wrote:

Anthy: You remind me of the Dios I once loved. But you can't become my Prince. Because you're a girl.

Did Anthy like (or as I personally believe, love) Utena for being Utena, or simply because she reminded her so much of Dios?

My brother is a huge gamer, one of those people who is constantly in and out of GameStop carrying trade-in cards.  Let's say that the next time I'm in a relationship, I find out that the girl has beaten seven video games in the last week.  I laugh and say that she reminds me of my brother.  If she turns around and asks, "well, wait, do you like me for being me, or do you like me because I remind you of your brother?", how should I react?

Personally, I feel a little suspicious of this kind of question.  It doesn't seem very meaningful, because the true answer is "either, neither, and both."  I like nerds, which is part of why I like my brother and also part of why I like the girl.  If I had been an only child, I would probably still like the girl -- for that reason or a plethora of unrelated ones.  But seeing qualities in the girl that I love in my brother reassures me that I understand her and can connect to her, which makes it easier to like her.  So: either, neither, and both.

Surely the same thing is at play between Anthy and Utena.  Anthy, when she isn't consumed by grief and cynicism, is drawn to nobility -- whether it manifests itself in Dios or in Utena.  She might very well like Utena even if there had been no Dios.  But having known Dios, and seeing him in Utena, Anthy is drawn to her; it's almost by force of habit that she comes to care about Utena.  So: either, neither, and both.

Of course Anthy's feelings for Utena are informed by her love for Dios.  That's not the problem.  The problem appears when Anthy begins to expect that Utena should be just like Dios.  The disappointment in her tone in the quote you cite is evidence of that.  To force someone into the role of a lost loved one is a mistake.  But to insist that we love people without any reference to past loves, past relationships, and past friends is to ask that we abandon the richness of memory.

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#57 | Back to Top08-05-2011 12:00:26 AM

CausalityStar
Caretaker
From: Idaho
Registered: 09-12-2010
Posts: 215

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Well, we know that Utena and Anthy definitely were in a romantic and sexual relationship in the movie. They really removed all ambiguity from their relationship in the film. As for the anime, I don't think they ever truly got into a sexual or romantic relationship but that' s definitely the direction it was going in by the end of the series. I do think that Anthy had a bit of a crush on Utena in the series, mainly because of the fact that she seems to be touching Utena's breasts a lot. There's also that Black Rose episode about Tsuwabuki where Anthy says something along the lines of, "We do lots of adult things together, right Utena-sama?" And of course Utena is totally obvious to how that sounds.

We also get a lot of subtext with all that hand-holding they do every night when they move in with Akio. I do think that at the end of the series Utena's love for Anthy is more than platonic. Juri even asks Utena what she's planing on doing about Anthy since she clearly loves her. I know that Utena denies that her love is more than platonic, but Utena is pretty good at not being completely honest with herself. Utena also tells Juri that she doesn't want to be a "love martyr" like Juri was with Shiori. Then a few episodes later Utena's still willing to save Anthy even after Anthy stabs her. Utena gets stabbed with the million swords of hatred just to save Anthy and if that's not being a "love martyr" then I don't know what is. And of course there's the fact that Utena tells Anthy that the only time she's ever been truly happy was when she was with her.

So, long story short the movie had them in a very obvious romantic relationship and while the anime was more ambiguous, there were plenty of hints of them developing a romance in the last few episodes and I think that their relationship will definitely be romantic post-series. I haven't read any of the manga except for the one based on the movie. Anthy and Utena seemed to be in a relationship at the end of the book though. I really don't know about the rest of the manga though.

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#58 | Back to Top08-05-2011 05:08:11 PM

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

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

I read the manga before anything else and it colors my view of everything else. It's never explicit but it is implied that they are a romantic couple at the end. The incest is handled with such delicacy that it can almost but not quite be missed.

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#59 | Back to Top08-21-2011 04:26:04 AM

Louchan
Rose Bride
Registered: 11-08-2006
Posts: 100

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

CausalityStar wrote:

And of course there's the fact that Utena tells Anthy that the only time she's ever been truly happy was when she was with her.

I've seen a few people mention this, and I hate to be a party pooper, but that translation is actually incorrect.
The subbed version of Utena I have also has this incorrect translation, which is: ""Himemiya, you still don't know... the only time I've ever been really happy... was when I was with you."

Now, what was being said in Japanese was this:
「姫宮、君は知らないんだ…君と一緒にいることで僕がどれだけ幸せだったか…
Which in romaji is this:
Himemiya, kimi wa shiranainda... kimi to ishoni iru kotode boku ga doredake shiawase dattaka...

Now, had "boku ga doredake" been written as "boku ga dake", or had "ishoni iru kotode" been written as "ishoni iru dake", then yes, it would have been translated as "only time I was happy".
However, since that is correct, the real translation should be:

"Himemiya, you don't know... just how happy I was just being with you..."

So yeah, still pretty powerful, but not as extreme as "only time I was truly happy".

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#60 | Back to Top08-21-2011 09:45:45 AM

KaleMarsh
High Tripper
From: Washington, DC
Registered: 06-13-2011
Posts: 245

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

I like that translation better because it gets over the annoying overstatement without detracting from the power of the sentiment.

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#61 | Back to Top08-21-2011 03:59:26 PM

Louchan
Rose Bride
Registered: 11-08-2006
Posts: 100

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

On a different note, after watching episode 30 there was something that got caught on my mind.

Utena: Come to think of it, do you have anybody you love?
-Brief silence-
Anthy: Yes, I do. I also have a prince of my own.

Who do you guys think Anthy was talking about here? Akio? Dios? Or maybe even Utena?

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#62 | Back to Top05-23-2016 12:59:57 AM

DefineMask
Saionji Slapper
Registered: 05-14-2016
Posts: 26

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

The relationship between Utena and Anthy is, to simply put, a reflection of every relationship we've seen in the series. There's the rocky instances between the two such as the relationship between Touga-Saionji and Juri-Shiori, the misunderstandings, and learning to discover themselves and realize what they truly want by the ending. In the Cantarella scene, it is shown that despite the fact that their friendship had been bitter and rocky (Utena sleeping with Akio and abandoning her nobility, and Anthy testing out her nobility and friendship with malicious intent afterwards), they were still happy with remaining friends, and proved their trust for one another by eating the food that they had prepared for one another. Every duel episode gradually show Anthy wanting to support Utena. I feel that by episode 12, Anthy realizes that Utena is the one who holds true nobility. I feel that Anthy and Utena had shared the purest form of friendship. There was never a time when Anthy made her feel miserable, except for that instance when she had no choice but to listen to Akio's commands when he was "testing her out." I feel that Akio had always taunted people to challenge him, and that Anthy was desperately waiting for someone to save her. I saw the "backstabbing" scene in Episode 39 meant something other than the literal meaning. She crippled Utena so that she wouldn't get stabbed with the blades. Anthy didn't want Utena impaled by them. Anthy wanted to help Utena out more than anything, and Utena didn't want a life without Anthy either. By showing that she didn't want to give up in saving Anthy, Utena truly proved that she was indeed a "prince" at heart. Anthy really gave into Utena's genuine feelings at that point and accepted Utena as her "prince" and left the school, knowing that Utena would for sure keep their promise. It is ambiguous as to whether Anthy and Utena fell in love with one another, but the badminton scene implies that Utena had realized that she had fallen for Anthy, and that her feelings for Akio were only an illusion and desire to meet her "prince" and nothing else. Remember, Utena is only 14 so she cannot distinguish true love and sexual attachment.

Last edited by DefineMask (05-23-2016 01:06:44 AM)

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#63 | Back to Top06-06-2016 01:42:45 PM

KissFromARose
Thorn of Death
From: Austin, Tx
Registered: 09-29-2008
Posts: 506

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

I'm away for a month and all of my favorite thread necros are coming to life. im so happy.


First:

Louchan wrote:

Who do you guys think Anthy was talking about here? Akio? Dios? Or maybe even Utena?

I really really really want an answer to this. My initial reaction was she's talking about Utena. But is she really?... (secretly i want it to be about Utena.. but ...)

Im honestly shocked we didnt answer this question in the past 5 years... so I'll be interested to hear others ideas on that.


Second to DefineMask's comments:

Episode 37-39 are the hardest episodes to parse for me. Nothing is straightforward so its really hard to diagnose whats happening within them.

I want to believe anthy stabbed her to .. well.. try to save her, but what she says to Utena is pretty brutal. Was her intent to make her run away, as others kind of discussed with the canterella / suicide scene?

Love in general is such a hard thing to define. I love my friends, I love family, I love my boyfriend... I love ramen...... We've really overloaded it. Thats a separate topic for another day, but my point mentioning that is... I think Utena and Anthy do *love* each other. Love as defined by, care for... would go to great lengths to take care of each other, would be hurt by the other's departure... After the series, maybe sexually, during the series the only in your face evidence we get is ED2.... What even is ED2? fantasy? Fan service? A shove in the face of prime time TV? Symbolism? (of course it is.)

I think its pretty clear once Utena has the sword in her back, she's asking why... trying to figure everything out...but it isnt until Dios reminds her of everything she's fought against does it click. She watches Anthy get destroyed by these swords of hate. She punches the ground, she's damn determined. I dont care who it is, if i don't feel some outpouring of love towards some human being, if they stab me in the back (regardless of intentions) im not gonna get up and try to help them. Utena loves her, flaws and all. She stands up and tries to fix it and make it right. After all of these intense feelings she watches Anthy's body fall into the abyss ... and accepts her fate. She has to be devastated. She gave everything to try to save Anthy, to show Anthy her love.... and then Anthy is gone just like that.

I don't know that Utena and Anthy had any form of a physical relationship during the series aside from holding hands a few times. (but even then, in Asian cultures its pretty normal to interlock arms or hold hands with your closest of girl friends).

Anthy leaves everything behind and says, "wait for me Utena" or at least I think I remember that being her words. Wait for what? Over the past x amount of time between episode 39 and her walking out the door -- she figured it out. I feel like Anthy was really conflicted over the course of the whole show-- and even in the final 3 episodes she loves Utena, but just doesnt see how its possible for them to be together, so she pushes her away to try to save her. ED 3 is her saying, I love Utena and I want to be with Utena and I'm going to choose to be active in this now, instead of passive.

TL;DR: Utena and Anthy loved each other(as very close friends, perhaps) before the credits roll, but I don't think they were physical/sexual lovers until at least episode 37 hits and then it moves in that direction. Nothing really physical happens until post-39. I still dont fully understand the literal backstab. Still wanna know who Anthy's prince is.

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#64 | Back to Top06-06-2016 04:07:26 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

KissFromARose wrote:

Still wanna know who Anthy's prince is.

It has been said that all princes are dead.

Kelly Sue DeConnick's Bitch Planet has a slogan/header of "Are You Woman Enough to Survive?" and for me, that's more relevant to Anthy and Utena's relationship and future than the question of princes, which is at best a distraction or a social stumbling block. Princes are a pebble in the road. You might swerve to get around it, you might stop and look, but you could just drive over it. New drivers/someone just used to a bike is most likely to pay more attention it than someone who's been up and down the road often and knows how this machine works.


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#65 | Back to Top06-06-2016 05:41:50 PM

KissFromARose
Thorn of Death
From: Austin, Tx
Registered: 09-29-2008
Posts: 506

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Ah, I meant when she said I also have a prince of my own. Have we answered who she was referring to?

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#66 | Back to Top06-07-2016 08:38:35 AM

Herbal Rose
New Student
Registered: 06-07-2016
Posts: 3

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

I feel Ikuhara left that up to interpretation by throwing in subtle hints. Note that Utena is only 14. She's not someone who would explicitly understand and admit her feelings like Juri, who is already two years older than Utena. Like Juri when she was 14 herself and was unable to speak to Shiori about her confusion, Utena doesn't understand what her feelings for Anthy exactly mean. I think this is why they had Juri out of all people ask Utena what she feels for Anthy. Juri knows for sure this is romantic love, but Utena can't give her a straight answer because it's hard for her at her age to understand that she Had loved the person she was the most happy with all along. She was so caught up in looking for her "prince" that she lost track of that. She thought that the "prince" was her true love, but by the end she realizes that love comes from being with someone who she wants to be with, which is exactly what she admits to Anthy while breaking apart the coffin.

Also I noticed that after the Cantarella scene, there is a red rose spinning in the background when she and Anthy promise to have tea together in 10 yrs. She was feeling passion without realizing it.

Last edited by Herbal Rose (06-07-2016 08:40:25 AM)

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#67 | Back to Top07-22-2016 03:50:58 AM

Bender666
New Student
Registered: 07-22-2016
Posts: 1

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

I don't think they are a couple in the series or manga. Not that I have anything against shojo-ai, but I think romance would be lower on their lists regardless of whether it was with a girl or a guy.


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#68 | Back to Top07-24-2016 04:44:48 PM

barafubuki
Touga Topper
Registered: 05-13-2016
Posts: 56

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Bender666 wrote:

I don't think they are a couple in the series or manga. Not that I have anything against shojo-ai, but I think romance would be lower on their lists regardless of whether it was with a girl or a guy.

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#69 | Back to Top08-01-2016 09:44:26 PM

Nocturnalux
Qualified Duellist
From: Portugal
Registered: 09-10-2007
Posts: 741

Re: Utena's and Anthy's Relationship

Like many fans, I have gone back and forth regarding this over the years. One of the main reasons why I picked up SKU was because of the lesbian angle so my first viewing was very bias. Reviews have brought to light the many layers of ambiguity that have already been brilliantly addressed in this discussion.

As of late I am leaning more toward a romantic relationship interpretation. And this because it gives an added strength to the already infamous Akio-sex scene. In many ways it does not make a lot of sense to see how a sexual involvement with Akio would be a betrayal of Anthy. There is a time for plenty of people in their early teens when the fear of losing a very close friend to a romantic relationship can be disturbingly difficult to endure, so it is possible along those lines was happening. But more than hurting Anthy, Utena is hurting Kanae who is actually engaged to Akio and who Utena knows even if not in any great depth. Given that Utena is entirely oblivious of the incest, she does not have a strong reason for seeing a relationship with Akio as a slight against Akio's sister.

If, however, Utena is aware that Anthy has romantic feelings for her and/or she herself reciprocitates them, there is an added reason for seeing why she would view an involvement with Akio as wounding Anthy. More than that, and ironically, it may also be part of what pushes her into accepting Akio's advances. I am not saying that Utena and Akio are equal parties in the affair but she does allow it to progress. Given how Utena insists on many an occasion that she is a 'normal girl', I suspect she would be wary of accepting any lesbian tendencies. This mindset can easily cause her to waver if she were to find herself attracted to a girl and thus give her an extra motivation to be swayed by Akio, who just so happens to a man.

In other words, while Utena's relationship with Akio is taboo and she is aware of that, it does not conflict with her self-image so much as falling in love with a girl would.

In this light, Anthy's line, "You remind me of the Dios I once loved. But you can't become my Prince. Because you're a girl." may illustrate Utena's point of view. So long as Utena is thinking in schematic terms of princes and princesses, she can never accept Anthy as a romantic partner because the twisted fairy motif does not allow for girls to be together.

If any of this has a bearing on what is actually going on then I expect it was contemplated in Akio's plan. To get Anthy to form a kind of intimacy with Utena in such a way as to make Utena more receptive of his advances. It is no coincidence that it just as Utena as Anthy are at their closest (apart from the very ending, perhaps) that Akio can strike.

I am not saying this is the sole reason why Akio's seduction works, only that it was a part of it and scripted in advance by Akio.

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