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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 Top10-09-2009 12:59:57 PM

Ashnod
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From: Missouri, United States
Registered: 03-01-2007
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Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Aside from the ambidextrous thread, I'm going to be compiling a series of observations while I re-watch the series.

This isn't the first entry just yet, but I felt compelled to share this one little tid bit before I start off.

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/03/Series_ep03_115.jpg?m=1380826049

I cannot, CANNOT, CANNOT see Touga in this scene from Episode 3 without thinking, "I wish you were a pony ride outside a Wal-Mart so I could ride you all day long for a quarter!!!!"

DARN YOU, NAJI!!!! emot-mad

emot-wink

Last edited by Ashnod (08-10-2012 10:38:36 PM)


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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#2 | Back to Top10-09-2009 03:26:17 PM

Stormcrow
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Yeah, there's no way I would be able to avoid doing the same thing. Also, that still of Touga is just freakish and terrifying altogether.


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#3 | Back to Top10-09-2009 04:20:18 PM

SexingTouga24/7/365
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

You know Poet, that pic makes Touga look like such a female it is ridiculous...now I have to question if I still want to hit that?

Last edited by SexingTouga24/7/365 (10-09-2009 04:20:55 PM)


"If all the world is a stage and all the people players"...then I demand a less shitty part or the ability to get off of the stage. Slowly my sanity slides, slipping, swirling, spiraling...Save Me I need Sleep...Shattering Soon. school-devil "RukaxTouga equals the Fourth of July" MY patriotic celebration...FUCK ME TOUGA AND RUKA NOW!! etc-wankgirl etc-wankdude

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#4 | Back to Top10-09-2009 04:26:59 PM

spoon-san
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Stormcrow wrote:

Also, that still of Touga is just freakish and terrifying altogether.

Truer words ne'er been spoken.

Seeing that of Touga so early on in the series probably had something to do with my inability to warm up to his character at all.  At all.  I can warm up to Akio...Akio more than I can warm up to that...thing.

Sorry Touga fans.  I am truly sorry...but no.

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#5 | Back to Top10-09-2009 05:29:10 PM

Dallbun
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

What I always remember is his line from the parody fandub:

"Gueeeess what? I was dropped when I was young!"

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#6 | Back to Top10-09-2009 06:12:38 PM

hollow_rose
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

...I think that section of the ep was done by the B-key framers. Or possibly the C- key framers.


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#7 | Back to Top10-09-2009 06:20:48 PM

MissMocha
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Yeah, that particular cut is just...awe inspiring. And not in a good way.


The first time you looked at her curves you were hooked
And the glances you took, took hold of you and demanded that you stay
And sunk in their teeth, bit your heart and released
Such a charge that you need another touch, another taste, another fix

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#8 | Back to Top10-12-2009 01:24:04 AM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Here we are, Episode 1 of the remasters (thank you Copyman), trying to gather how I feel about the series after all this time. I first watched Utena back in the year 2000 or so, which is to say I scored the CPM DVDs on e-Bay at a steal compared to their retail price on the advice of fan-fiction writer E. Liddell (of the BSSM epic fanfic The Crystal Weaver Saga fame). It would be some time before I'd be able to complete the series; only the Student Council Arc was available at that time and I eventually broken down and purchased VHS fansubs of horrific quality just so I would know what came next. Since then, I've probably watched the show in its entirety nearly ten times, though I'm not certain exactly how many.

I'm going to start off by talking about the opening credits. The remasters' subs use a different scheme than I used to. I am used to the CPM translations and as they were the first subs I was exposed to, I have a bias towards them. Ordinarily, variances in translation don't really seem to bother me, but there are two stanzas that have always resonated with me.

Empty Movement's Audiology section provides this translation:

Let's go on living, heroically and with style...

CPM's Rinbu Revolution sub begins:

Let's live our lives heroically, let's live them with style.

Most fansubs will use the line:

Bravely, heroically, I'll go on with my life.

Copyman's remasters use a variant of this:

Heroically, with bravery, I'll go on with my life.

I'm not going to comment on the accuracy of any of the four, but the CPM line has always resonated with me more so than any others. The inclusion of "go on" in the lyric has always implied a resignation to me, a sense of "I don't wish to move forward." Which could mirror the young Utena's feelings after the death of her parents. The rest of Rinbu Revolution, the lyrics that are cut out the Opening Credits, don't always seem to have the show's spirit in mind; the line about " They say money can't buy me love," but can love buy me money? They said so on TV," has always struck me as horribly out of place for Utena herself, so I don't necessarily equate the Opening Credits with Utena the character so much as I do the series as a whole. In that sense, the CPM version seems to speak for the entire cast of Duelists, a sense of declaration about their desire to change the world and themselves; or Utena and Anthy together after the series is over and their desire to continue being noble even after the transition they have been through. Either way, that appeals to me far more, and it colors the way I see the series and how the Opening Credits sets the stage for me.

The second stanza is near the end.

Empty Movement's Audiology section provides this translation:

What I want is to find my place in life and self-worth, taking who I've been up until today
and heroically stripping her down until she's bare like the roses whirling in freedom.


CPM Rinbu Revolution translation:

I wanna find out where I am, the value of being me. Gonna take who I've been up 'till now
and find the strength to throw it all away. Strip down to nothing at all, become like a rose petal blowing free.


Most fansubs (Copyman's included) will use something similar to this:

What I want now is to find out just where I belong and my self-worth, up through today
Heroically, I throw away my clothes 'til I'm nude like roses dancing around me whirling free.


I hate the line about throwing away clothes. This ruins a startlingly powerful idea and makes it seem very brave, but stripping one's clothes off is not as brave as you might think. Stripping one's self down to nothing, completely, and starting over is far more brave in my estimation. Could you do it? Eliminate your quirks, your obsessions, your inhibitions, your hobbies, your job, etc, and start completely over? I've pondered this endlessly during times of my greatest self-loathing, and tried to figure out exactly what it would take to do that. It's staggering. Giving away possessions are the easy part. I think when we look at the Duelists and what they want, what Utena herself essentially did once, the EM/CPM translation is much more in the spirit of the series.

As we move past the credits and into the show proper, I sometimes wish as I often do, that I could watch the show for the first time again. As it is, it is impossible not to see how the series connects to itself now.

I'm not going to comment on the Princess opening during this episode. Maybe in a later one.

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_011.jpg?m=1380825417

The opening shots of Ohtori Academy combined with the triumphant music are hypnotic. Can you imagine actually attending a school like this? It's fascinating just to look at the architecture of it and realize just how big the forest is compared to the rest of the academy, but even without the forest the structures are simply massive. Exactly how many rooms does the main building have?

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_012.jpg?m=1380825417

This image gives some perspective on the matter. These archways are not small. This tends to get forgotten as the school itself isn't the focus of the show, but I'm always struck by the scope and size of Ohtori Academy, even after so many viewings.

Now we have Utena being Utena means being admired and loved. It's interesting to see how much she encourages her campus-wide fan club; one might even say she loves the attention she gets. We will continue observing this trend as the series progresses, but here at the start, she seems quite happy to have towels provided to her by a fanatically loyal audience.

Soon after, we are introduced to Saoinji, and Anthy, and the first of many slaps the series gives us on Anthy's behalf. The first time you see this it's kind of shocking. Part of it is Anthy's wide-open mouth and clenched eyes as the back of Saionji's hand strikes her.

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_041.jpg?m=1380825422

What's even more shocking about it is the silence. We never actually hear what Saionji says, but we hear the slap. Oh, do we hear the slap. And Anthy says...nothing. She does not cry out. Even on the verge of tears, she makes no sound at all. Such the victim. It's a masterful job on the part of both the creators of the series and Anthy as a person within the story to make us feel anger at this. But knowing what I know of Anthy now, I feel nothing for her.

Wakaba bounds in then, and refers to Saionji with the "sama" honorific. Interesting that she holds him in such high-regard: it is a conceit of anime that "sama" gets tossed around like its use is very commonplace but even this strikes me as wildly disproportionate.  The girls of Ohtori Academy certainly love their princes, but I don't think the girls that chase after Touga refer to him with "sama" in tow. Another thing to watch for.

Something Wakaba mentions that is noteworthy:

Wakaba:  The only reason they're together is because they're both part of the Student Council.

In the eyes of the rest of the student body, Anthy is a Council member. Think long and hard on that. It will come up again later.

On to our introduction of the Student Council proper. God, I love the Legend: The God's Name is Abraxas. Could anything have set the ominous nature of the Student Council better? The shadows, the maroon curtains...Who is Sailor Mercury with a stopwatch, and her bishounen friend with the striking golden hair? And End of the World is behind them? Without knowing who Akio is, this is incredible stuff. Overblown and melodramatic, sure, but if you want to paint a mystery and hook your audience, this is perfect.

And yes, I honestly looked at Juri as the truly bishounen character of the story until her gender was made a bit more obvious. Too many times in anime you think she's a she until you find out she is he who likes pretending to be a she, or is effeminate in ways no mortal boy generally can be. I wasn't going to be fooled again, darn it all.

I mean, seriously, look at her:

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_058.jpg?m=1380825424

Not the best picture of her, but this is our introduction and she's got the mysterious-might-be-a-girl-but-is-a-really-pretty-boy thing down pat. Breasts hidden by the frame, reticent mouth, narrow eyes...

Saionji is telling us that Anthy is his to do with as he pleases. And Anthy is backing him up. It's really hard for the Student Council to feel for her, you know. It's one thing to be told, hey, here is this girl you're all going to fight for, and she is yours to do with as you please. It's another thing when one of your peers beats her like a pillow and she just takes it and backs him up. What was she like prior to Saionji becoming the One Engaged? Do they remember? The manga indicates Ruka was The One Engaged at one point in time...the anime makes no mention of the Time Before Tenjou Utena Disrupted Their Happy Little World, but you have to imagine there was at least one day where Himemiya Anthy was an unengaged Rose Bride before the first duel was fought.

Coincidently, the remasters all refer to an episode as a Duel, even when no Duel takes place.

Utena is now confronting Saionji about Wakaba's letter. For the first time, I find myself questioning Utena here in this scene. Obviously, she's mad that Wakaba has been hurt, but the real vermin in this situation is not Saionji. It's the student that retrieved the letter from the trash and posted it up. Utena is completely unable to see past this and insists he should have thrown it away where someone wouldn't have gotten to it. Um, hello, Utena? He threw the thing away. You're not mad that it was thrown away. You're mad because it got tacked up. It's not as though Saionji meant for it to appear on the board. You are frightfully self-righteous here. Maybe it is because you saw him slap Anthy as well, and you figure even if he didn't do it, he deserves it anyway. But at this point, you just want to hurt someone for Wakaba's sake and you don't care who it is.

Now she is challenging him to a Kendo match. This is important to keep in mind in the scope of her other duels. Obviously, she knows some technique if she's planning on seriously challenging the Captain of the Ohtori Academy Kendo Team. But even so, this is a bold move for someone who wants payback for Wakaba. This guy is good at what he does, and you'd have to be pretty confident to challenge him if you're expecting to teach him a lesson.

Saionji now makes mention of the forest, and Utena refers to it as the one no one is allowed into. Isn't this a red flag for Saionji? Shouldn't he be asking something to confirm that yes, this is actually someone sent by End of the World? Pity this conversation is cut off by a scene transition.

And now, the Shadow Play girls. Everybody's "What the Hell???" moment. Did anyone not have a "What the Hell???" moment the first time they saw this? Anyway, we should pay attention to the Shadow Play girls, because they know about the rules of the Rose Seal and what happens in the forest. How much do they know, exactly?

The dueling Arena and Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku...the first time this happens it is very surreal. The visuals, the music, the climb up to the top, the castle. All of it. It is mystery and spooky and absolutely beautiful. The first time you see it, it isn't a transformation scene. There's no Anthy waving her hands to make some poofy skirt and bulky epaulettes appear on Utena, it's just a flawless wide-eyed expression of surprise as she sees the castle for the first time, just like us.

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_121.jpg?m=1380825434

Magnificent.

And who wouldn't be intrigued by this point? A spiral stair at an impossible angle? An inverted castle? I want to see what's inside that castle as desperately as I want to see what is inside Stephen King's Dark Tower.

Saionji makes a point of saying:

Saionji:  What surprises me is someone outside the Student Council possessing a Rose Signet.

This is again important for reasons that will come up later, so bear it in mind.

I love the Bells that start and end the Duel. It's interesting that wherever they are, the Dueling Arena can be seen in the distance. Are they within the forest? Part of the school? Can the people in their dormitories hear them? At this point, we have no idea.

"When? Where? Who? Which?" The duel choruses make this show. I love every one of them with varying degrees. Although they are not the longest, I found this Arc's choruses to be among the most powerful of the show, at least from a music standpoint. I love how this one builds and builds to the climax.

On the ambidextrous note, Saionji fights Utena left-handed. He will fight right-handed the next two times they duel.

Touga watches from afar with binoculars. Again, this is important for something later, so keep it mind.

I want to talk about the conclusion of the duel. If we completely strip away conceit of the animators and the deus ex machina of the storytelling, let's try to examine it as though this really happened.

http://ohtori.nu/gallery/var/resizes/Series/Episodes/Student_Council_Arc/01/Series_ep01_188.jpg?m=1380825451

Look at the conclusion of this duel. It's absolutely crazy. Utena passes on Saionji's right. Which means his rose is on his left. And she cut it off with a stub of a shinai. Think about that. She reached across him to cut it off with the stub of a shinai while he was driving towards her with the Sword of Dios?

I know a lot of people would like to say that he's just overconfident and also wasn't expecting someone to pull a crazy attack like that. Either way...for someone who Ruka will praise highly several episodes from now, this is an unfathomable loss.

Would you call this victory more miraculous than the one with Juri? I'm sorely tempted to. I almost think that Utena actually missed Saionji's rose entirely and Anthy just intervened to make Saionji's petals scatter during the pass. If Anthy did not intervene, think of it this way: Utena is actually a much better swordswoman than anyone suspects and Saionji just got punked by a girl who has a fraction of his reach, with a weapon that was little more than a hilt, and had to reach across him to get to his rose.

Last edited by Ashnod (08-10-2012 10:42:05 PM)


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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#9 | Back to Top10-12-2009 09:36:34 AM

Stormcrow
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From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Alright! Some genuine analysis! Let's get to it!emot-dance

Ashnod wrote:

Could you do it? Eliminate your quirks, your obsessions, your inhibitions, your hobbies, your job, etc, and start completely over?

This... bothers me. We should discuss it maybe.

Ashnod wrote:

Now we have Utena being Utena means being admired and loved. It's interesting to see how much she encourages her campus-wide fan club; one might even say she loves the attention she gets.

True enough. She protests too much about the whole thing most of the time. On the other hand, if people pressed all that admiration on her, I could easily see her not wanting to seem aloof by turning it away. I mean, that's more of a Juri thing to do, right?

Ashnod wrote:

...the anime makes no mention of the Time Before Tenjou Utena Disrupted Their Happy Little Word, but you have to imagine...

This strikes me in an interesting way. I've been thinking of dreams a lot lately. In dreams people often have the same response. There are all kinds of gaps in dreams, images and scenes that don't fit together upon waking. Many people imagine they forgot that part, but the reality is probably that it never happened in the first place. Dreams are based on random neural impulses after all. So now I'm thinking about Ohtori... we have hints about a time before, here and later in other arcs. But... maybe they never happened? Or happened in a very different way? Just rambling here.

Ashnod wrote:

Obviously, she knows some technique if she's planning on seriously challenging the Captain of the Ohtori Academy Kendo Team. But even so, this is a bold move for someone who wants payback for Wakaba.

Is it obvious? I'm not so sure honestly. Oh, I would assume she's at least been in fights before, but if she actually had no experience at all in swordfighting, it might look pretty easy, especially to someone at that age. This assumes an incredibly naive Utena, but hey, she's 14. I probably felt that way at that age as well. As you say, we have no actual text about what she was up to at her last school, she could well have been studying kendo, or fencing, or something similar. On the other hand, she expected them to only have shinais, and she WASN'T anticipating a formal match. Maybe she just planned to tackle him? Girls are often stronger than boys at her age. Not at Saionji's so much, but she wouldn't know that.

Ashnod wrote:

Shouldn't he be asking something to confirm that yes, this is actually someone sent by End of the World?

Yeah, this one's just bad.

Ashnod wrote:

I want to talk about the conclusion of the duel. If we completely strip away conceit of the animators and the deus ex machina of the storytelling, let's try to examine it as though this really happened.

Leaving...? It is made clear in the show that something miraculous happened. The power of Dios is never explained, and there isn't even much to base speculation on. He does Something Awesome, and Utena wins.

On the other hand, if someone were attempting an interpretation of the show in which there WERE no power of Dios... well, then all of this makes sense. Utena would have to be an unstoppable force of nature with a sword (also kind of hard to swallow), Akio is little more than a deranged pedophile, and Anthy... man, she comes off the worst of all in that version. It would make a good AU fanfic I think, but I prefer the mystery myself.

Great analysis, very thorough! I can't wait for the next installment. I especially dig bishounen Juri. I never thought that myself, but I was pretty new to anime when I first watched the show. If I saw something like that nowadays... yeah, I'd probably make the same assumption. emot-biggrin


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#10 | Back to Top10-12-2009 10:31:22 AM

hollow_rose
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Registered: 10-26-2008
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

I've had some issues with the offical translation myself (the one that came with the actual release) but that's way later in the anime so I'll wait until then.

The first ep I caught of Utena was ep 7, so I never had that moment with Juri but....well now I can't unsee it. emot-rofl  ....maybe someone will do fan art??


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#11 | Back to Top10-15-2009 11:52:47 AM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
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Posts: 1243
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Episode 2

Wakaba is certainly energetic. While she occupies the genki role, I've always been struck by how clingy and possessive she is. This is not necessarily a quality that friends never possess. In Wakaba's case, however, I've always wondered what she would have done had Utena took her playfullness as literal affection. Is Wakaba bisexual enough to respond favorably to such advances? We never see any hint that she likes girls in a romantic sense, even as she is humping Utena's back in the first episode she is referring to Saionji as "sama" and singing his praises. I've always gotten the feeling that had Utena returned Wakaba's attention in a romantic sense she would have freaked out in a highly comedic way, but things would have mostly returned to normal.

Ah, the Student Council elevator ride. Our first one. All hail Legend: The God's Name is Abraxas! It's interesting to me that Juri leans as much as she does. It's an odd pose for someone who is so utterly posture-perfect in public most of the time. This also contributed to whole bishounen Juri idea I had initially, as it seemed something that a bish boy would have done. I can't say why, mind you, it just did. As a woman, it seems to be that Juri is almost saying that she can't be bothered with the ceremony and the trappings of all of and is merely enduring it. Which seems to follow later in the series.

The chick speech is awesome, and it's always been awesome. It's interesting that Miki never takes part in the chick speech except during the Duel Named Revolution when everybody takes part in it. Juri hold back until the final line, but she is just as passionate about it as Touga is. Has anyone given thought to these lines before?

We are the chick, the world is our egg. If we do not smash the shell of the world, then we will die without being born. Smash the world's shell for the revolution of the world!

Such a monumental task set before you. To be born you must shatter the world. To create you must destroy. The only other possibility is death. This is devastatingly powerful stuff, especially to people like the Duelists who either want to completely transform the world around them or irrevocably leave their mark upon it.

This is why the Duelists are, by and large, adolescents. The only adult Duelist is Mikage, and he has been held in statis so long that he has been stunted.

The Duelists refer to the castle with the adjective maboroshi, which is often translated to mean phantom or illusion, though not necessarily mirage. In season one of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, the ginzuishou (Silver Crystal) was often referred to the same way and the ginzuishou was a real artifact.

Is the castle an illusion? Do the Duelists suspect that it is not real? They refer to it as such and yet are completely under its spell. Even Juri, the disbeliever, says that seeing the castle holds her doubt in check and keeps her part of the Duels. Is it her determination to learn the truth behind it that keeps her there, to prove that is nothing more than a trick of the light, or her desire to actually go to the Castle and smash the shell of the world? And Touga, seemingly in control of everything, wants to get to that Castle.

Or does he?

They receive letters from End of the World and make their own choice whether to obey the instructions within. Do the Duelists believe that End of the World is person? What do they make of that name? Ultimately, they must know on some level that they are being played. No one offers the power to revolutionize the world freely, especially not someone or something referring to themselves as End of the World.

Utena has just learned that she will be living alone in the East Hall, which has been empty for ten years? Really? Ten years? Has it been ten years since the last series of duels, if such a prior series of duels ever took place? Why did Ohtori Academy keep an empty dorm on the grounds for ten years and do absolutely nothing with it? Who cooks their meals later in the day? Do Anthy and Utena do all the work? They are eating in the dormitory dining room, after all...seems as though it was meant for a staff.

There she sits, outside her room fearing what she may find inside. Staring at the door, fearing to open it. She knows it is her room; her name is on the door plate. And yet, all that time, she didn't see Anthy's name scrawled in below it? Seriously?

Anthy is inside cleaning the room and she claims to have been doing so since the previous night, after Utena won the duel. How fascinating. Where has she been staying up until this point? Where does Saionji stay? He obviously doesn't have a residence like Touga and Nanami. Has Anthy been sleeping in an empty dorm this whole time? Do the Student Council already know she is the sister of the Chairman? Has Saionji been going to the Tower this whole time to visit Anthy? So many unanswered questions...

And yet, Anthy cleans up the room without being asked to do so. What a cunning set up this is, already acting the part of a dutiful, submissive wife without even knowing how the Victor is going to respond to you. Did she do this for Saionji as well, the first time they were together? Or is she guiding Utena towards a desired end? It's such subtle manipulation and on the surface it doesn't appear to be anything of the sort.

We are now introduced to Chu-Chu. I could have gone the whole series without Chu-Chu, myself. As it is, I'm kind of forced to acknowledge his presence in the canon of the story. Stupid nod to the magical girl genre where there is always the cute, helpful pet thing.

Anthy very carefully explains the Code of the Rose to Utena. The Student Council bear the Rose Signets, and they will come to duel you. This part is spelled out in no mysterious terms and Utena seems to understand it, even if she doesn't like it.

Touga and Saionji are discussing his rematch with Utena. Apparently, the prior Victor does not need a letter to challenge the current Victor. Interesting. What if the two of them kept defeating each other? When does End of the World intervene? Does one of them have to win two straight duels against the other, the initial victory and the rematch, in order for the duels to progress?

Saionji is now pleading with Anthy, and she doesn't look him in the eyes. She knows what's about to happen. It's her fault, after all. She toyed with his emotions while he was the Victor, led him along, fed him exactly what he wanted to hear. Now that this world has been taken away, that this egg's shell has been smashed, he's going to retaliate. She looks away from him, knowing that it is coming, that she deliberately perpetrated it and for the duels to continue she must allow it to play out as necessary.

And the second slapdown occurs. And again, she says NOTHING. A cynic would say that she staged this perfectly, that she knew Chu Chu would retrieve Utena in time to see this, to motivate her to keep Saionji out of the picture and move the duels one stage further.

All of this is done incredibly well on the part of the writers. It isn't until much later that we have any clue how much of this is artifice on the part of Anthy, and not her simply being the victim of an abusive, traditional Japanese male. Sympathy for Saionji doesn't come until near the series' end, by which time we've already moved on.

Saionji tells Utena that those who oppose the will of the Student Council will be expelled. Really? Is this an idle threat? The Ohtori Student Council wields an enormous amount of influence, but expelling someone for disagreeing with you? I always took this to mean that the One Engaged cannot stall the duels by refusing rigthful challenges, but let's give Saionji the benefit of the doubt and say he's accurate. This becomes important later.

The Shadow Play girls make their second appearance. Not only do they know about the Code of the Rose, they know when duels are about to happen. How is this news given to them? If we are to assume that they are real students, and not just pretty symbolism, then someone has talked, and someone has listened..."They say there will be another duel..." Who is they, pray tell?

ZUM ZUM ZUM! The first transformation scene. It's not quite so offensive the first time, but you have to wonder, why does Utena get a poofy skirt and fancy epaulettes? Neither Saionji or Touga were given a "Victor's Uniform."

Utena remembers what to say and how to draw the Sword of Dios from seeing Saionji do it just once. It's either that, or back when Anthy was explaining the Code of the Rose, she may have explained the rest off-screen. Either way, I've always felt uncomfortable with Utena's part in this scene: she doesn't believe any of this, doesn't really want to take part in it, and she appears to cry "The power to revolutionize the world" as enthusiastically as any other Duelist.

Paleozoic Era in the Flesh. This is one of my favorite Duel choruses. It's absolutely perfect. It's ancient, older than time, just like Dios and the world, and primal. The ocean is just down the hill from Ohtori Academy. The smell of the ocean is probably in the air here when the breeze is just right.

Again, Touga watches from afar, a detail that will be brought up again later.

Saionji says, "Those whose rose is scattered loses, live or die." That is absolutely fascinating. What would happen if the Victor dies with their rose intact? Saionji later says, "Prepare to Die!" He is out for blood. Is murder allowed here? He certainly seems like he is going to kill Utena and scatter her rose after the fact. Or does he have to scatter the rose before killing her?

This is what Anthy has driven him to...

Last edited by Ashnod (10-15-2009 12:39:22 PM)


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#12 | Back to Top10-15-2009 01:27:48 PM

satyreyes
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From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Ashnod wrote:

Wakaba bounds in then, and refers to Saionji with the "sama" honorific. Interesting that she holds him in such high-regard: it is a conceit of anime that "sama" gets tossed around like its use is very commonplace but even this strikes me as wildly disproportionate.  The girls of Ohtori Academy certainly love their princes, but I don't think the girls that chase after Touga refer to him with "sama" in tow. Another thing to watch for.

I'm pretty sure all Touga's admirers call him -sama, but you're the one rewatching the show, so you tell me emot-smile

Wakaba:  The only reason they're together is because they're both part of the Student Council.

In the eyes of the rest of the student body, Anthy is a Council member. Think long and hard on that. It will come up again later.

This is a new one on me!  Interesting!

Utena is now confronting Saionji about Wakaba's letter. For the first time, I find myself questioning Utena here in this scene. Obviously, she's mad that Wakaba has been hurt, but the real vermin in this situation is not Saionji. It's the student that retrieved the letter from the trash and posted it up. Utena is completely unable to see past this and insists he should have thrown it away where someone wouldn't have gotten to it. Um, hello, Utena? He threw the thing away. You're not mad that it was thrown away. You're mad because it got tacked up. It's not as though Saionji meant for it to appear on the board. You are frightfully self-righteous here. Maybe it is because you saw him slap Anthy as well, and you figure even if he didn't do it, he deserves it anyway. But at this point, you just want to hurt someone for Wakaba's sake and you don't care who it is.

Hey, a little harsh there!  It's not clear whether Saionji posted that letter or not.  In the subs I watched, he initially claimed to have thrown it away, but when pressed, said "oh right, that letter was so hilarious I thought it deserved special treatment," or words to that effect.  Of course, the subs may have been mistaken, or Saionji could be lying so that he doesn't have to admit that people can go through his trash undetected, but.

This is why the Duelists are, by and large, adolescents. The only adult Duelist is Mikage, and he has been held in statis so long that he has been stunted.

Mikage is presented as a "genius high-schooler," too.  No idea whether he believes himself to be in high school.  He's deluded enough that he might.

Anthy is inside cleaning the room and she claims to have been doing so since the previous night, after Utena won the duel. How fascinating. Where has she been staying up until this point? Where does Saionji stay? He obviously doesn't have a residence like Touga and Nanami. Has Anthy been sleeping in an empty dorm this whole time? Do the Student Council already know she is the sister of the Chairman? Has Saionji been going to the Tower this whole time to visit Anthy? So many unanswered questions...

I assume Anthy's been staying with Saionji, in his dorm or wherever he sleeps.  (Or maybe not, since his sexual frustration is important to Akio.)  More interesting, maybe, is where Utena has been staying this whole time.  We get a lot of mixed messages about how new she is to Ohtori.  New enough not to know who the Student Council is -- but not new enough to not be best friends with Wakaba.  New enough for her Rose Seal never to have been noticed -- but not new enough to not have a substantial fan club.  Episode 1 isn't the first time she's been challenged about her uniform, either.  She must have lived somewhere before the East Dorm.

The Shadow Play girls make their second appearance. Not only do they know about the Code of the Rose, they know when duels are about to happen. How is this news given to them? If we are to assume that they are real students, and not just pretty symbolism, then someone has talked, and someone has listened..."They say there will be another duel..." Who is they, pray tell?

Just pretty symbolism.  emot-smile  I don't think the SPGs can be twisted into making sense within the confines of the narrative.

Last edited by satyreyes (10-15-2009 01:30:46 PM)

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#13 | Back to Top10-15-2009 04:38:02 PM

hollow_rose
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

I always assumed that Saionji had Anthy with him -- since everyone just excepts it when Utena and Anthy are staying together. But that's a good point, maybe Akio prefers to keep them separated.


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#14 | Back to Top10-16-2009 12:01:25 AM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

satyreyes wrote:

Hey, a little harsh there!  It's not clear whether Saionji posted that letter or not.  In the subs I watched, he initially claimed to have thrown it away, but when pressed, said "oh right, that letter was so hilarious I thought it deserved special treatment," or words to that effect.  Of course, the subs may have been mistaken, or Saionji could be lying so that he doesn't have to admit that people can go through his trash undetected, but.

Well, in the CPM subtitles, they are essentially mirroring the dub which has the exchange you are referring to. I'm not sure what the most accurate translation is, but I'm willing to bet the fansubs are probably closer to the truth. You are correct, of course, the CPM version paints him to be the guilty letter-hanger.

Mikage is presented as a "genius high-schooler," too.  No idea whether he believes himself to be in high school.  He's deluded enough that he might.

Mikage is presented as a genius high-schooler. Nemuro was a young professor. He was still an adult regardless of the Mikage mask he wore.

I assume Anthy's been staying with Saionji, in his dorm or wherever he sleeps.  (Or maybe not, since his sexual frustration is important to Akio.)  More interesting, maybe, is where Utena has been staying this whole time.  We get a lot of mixed messages about how new she is to Ohtori.  New enough not to know who the Student Council is -- but not new enough to not be best friends with Wakaba.  New enough for her Rose Seal never to have been noticed -- but not new enough to not have a substantial fan club.  Episode 1 isn't the first time she's been challenged about her uniform, either.  She must have lived somewhere before the East Dorm.

Episode 1 makes it clear that this is the new term.  Which means that Saionji had been the One Engaged prior to the start of this term. Episode 2 in all incarnations pretty much says that dorm assignments have just been announced, which means everyone's living situation is called into question. Wakaba makes reference to her new dorm assignment as well. It's obvious Wakaba and Utena are not living together at the start of Episode 1,  and that Wakaba was hoping to room with her.

Utena knows who Touga is, but not Saionji. She isn't completely clueless about the identity of the Student Council, but I have a feeling that prior to her involvement with the duels she simply did not care enough about them to remember who was on it and who was not.

Just pretty symbolism.  emot-smile  I don't think the SPGs can be twisted into making sense within the confines of the narrative.

Ordinarily, I would agree, but the writers make a pretty good case for doing that when they have the Shadow Girls meet Utena in Episode 34, so...mileage varies on just how far you want to take their symbolism.


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#15 | Back to Top10-16-2009 11:57:12 AM

Ashnod
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Episode 3

We are now seeing the Prince giving the Princess her Rose Signet scene for a second time. It's a nice little set-up for the series: young girl is so impressed with dashing young man that she decides to become just like him. It's actually a good way to summarize the show for someone who hasn't seen it, as well: the faerie tale girl who breaks the Princess/Witch dichotomy and decides to become a Prince instead.

Unfortunately, it is also the second time we've seen it, and the second of many more times we will see it. That makes it filler.

Utena wakes up and gazes longingly, again, at her Rose Signet and wonders if somehow this ring has led her to the Duels and the Bride all the fuss about the power to revolutionize the world. I hate to say this harshly but, you THINK? It cannot be coincidental that on the day you find out that other people have rings identical to yours, you have gotten involved with this mysterious competition.

Utena is always presented with a certain amount of naiveté. Tomoko Kawakami mentions in an interview that she was selected for the role because of how naive she presented the character, so we know this was the intent of the Be-Papas during the creation of the story. At some point, even the first time you watch this, you begin to wonder if she is merely unobservant or honestly incapable of drawing conclusions based on the evidence before her.

We give her the benefit of the doubt in this one moment. The duels with Saionji over the past two days are still fresh in her mind, climbed the spiral stairs of the forbidden forest for the first time, she's just seen the Castle Where Dwells Eternity for the first time, watched the Sword of Dios appear for the time and pulled it herself for the first time, sliced a katana into two pieces, and now finds herself rooming with a strange girl she met over a spat she had involved her best friend. This strange girl consistently refers to the two of them as engaged. I imagine this is actually a bit overwhelming.

Anthy comes into the room, bucket in hand again. She is still cleaning the East Dorm. Utena has not asked her to do so. The subtle submission here is devastating. Note that Utena never tells Anthy she doesn't have to be as dedicated to the cleanliness of the dorm as Anthy has been. She just accepts that maybe Anthy is a clean freak and moves on. I am a victim, oh, Utena-sama. I am the Rose Bride and this is who I am. You must save me and protect me from it...

The two of them walk to school now, and Utena's fan club comes out in droves once more to clamor for her attention. She waves and smiles and says good morning, laughing happily all the while. Yes, she knows it is all in good fun, but she loves it anyway.

Anthy sees this and wonders why Utena is so uptight about being called "sama' if the rest of the Academy can get away with it. Utena tells her it is because the Academy rats are just having fun and Anthy is being serious about it.

Are they merely having fun? Utena is living out her special life, of course, being a shining, brilliant and unending star, living out a role that many of these girls most certainly wish they could take on themselves had they but a fraction of Utena's conviction. The portrayal of it is certainly exaggerated for the fiction of the series, but we have to expect that many of these so Utena fan girls are living vicariously enough through Utena that when they call her "sama" they actually mean it more than Anthy ever did.

Touga takes a moment to come and tell us that he wishes Utena was a pony-ride outside a Wal-Mart so he could ride her all day long for a quarter. Well, that scene doesn't happen yet, but you know he's thinking it. At first, she is having none of it, slapping his hand away with enough force that he actually cradles it with his other hand as she walks way. But then he shows her his Rose Signet, and she loses her mind.

Episode One: Saionji:  What surprises me is someone outside the Student Council possessing a Rose Signet.

Episode Two: Anthy:  All the Student Council members have one. It is the Rose Signet. Anyone who has that ring is entitled to participate in the Duels. So, since you are the current champion, one by one, you will be challenged to Duels by the other bearers of the Rose Signet.

All of this is followed up with:

Episode Three: Utena:  Why... Why do you have that? He couldn't be...? He couldn't be...?

Does any reason exist for Utena to actually consider that Touga's reason for having a Rose Signet is any different than Saionji's? She even called him "one of those duel game freaks" earlier in the exchange.

His cheesy line about having the Rose Signet "so I could meet you, of course," should have garnered the same reaction as his previous line about her being gallant when she is angry. And here we are, the Gallant, Noble Lady Prince laid low by a cheesy pickup line that coincidentally happened to mirror something she was thinking about earlier in the episode.

Utena, hon. You already know who this guy is. He's the President of the Student Council. Wakaba warned you that he is the biggest playboy on campus. She even called him "san," your first clue that she holds him in less esteem than she holds Saionji, who slighted her two episodes ago. Anthy has warned you that he will one day come to duel you.  He just flirted with you. Horribly so.

In what alternate universe is this guy the Prince of your memory?

Naiveté and wishful thinking...

Keiko, Aiko, and Yuko come and give Slapdown #3 to Anthy. And again, she says nothing.

This is where Wakaba's line from Episode I comes into play:

Wakaba:  The only reason they're together is because they're both part of the Student Council.

And Saionji from Episode 2:

Saionji:  Those who disobey the rules of the Student Council will be expelled from the Academy. It's a school regulation

REALLY? So, essentially, you have four ordinary students, as Nanami is not yet part of the Student Council, beating the crap out of a Council member? Nanami shows up, all sweet and innocent, threatening to report this to said Council.

Shouldn't Anthy's mere word be enough to get all of these people expelled? If not that, shouldn't the fact that the Rose Bride just got smacked down by some random trio of girls be enough to spur the Council into action? Either Saionji is grossly exaggerating the power of the Council to get his rematch, or Anthy is that dedicated to playing the part of the victim that she refuses to exercise that power.

Furthermore, Nanami's line seems out of place. "I will have to report this to the Student Council." Um, the Council is right here. Anthy is the Council. A Council member was just attacked.

Is it because Anthy isn't dressed like Juri? Would the simple uniform make that much of a difference?

The only other conclusion is that Wakaba is simply mistaken, or the writer's didn't realize what they set up when they had Wakaba say it.

Evening comes, and both Anthy and Utena receive their respective dresses from a delivery boy who calls them both "sama." Interesting that an invitation to the Ball has given them both royal station.

Anthy says she would prefer not to go to the Ball because she has a fear of crowds, that everyone looks the same and she becomes frightened. This is surprisingly honest of her at this point. Unsolicited honesty. She has good reasons to fear crowds, after all, even though we won't see that for many episodes to come. She genuinely does not want to go to this Ball, it isn't some ploy on her part.

And yet. this sparks the whole Utena as a savior ideal that Anthy is trying to goad Utena into believing. Does she honestly want Utena to say, "no, that's okay, Himemiya, if it will bother you, I would hate to put you in that situation," or does she want Utena to try to "save" her?

It's hard to say, but this is really the genesis of Utena's series-long mission to try to save Anthy from herself.

At the ball, Utena gets all googly at the thought of Touga perhaps being her Prince, even though all evidence points to the contrary. All her fangirls see her as "in drag" considering this is the first time she's worn anything remotely feminine that wasn't athletic clothing.

Is this taking place in the Kiryuu home? It's never mentioned explicitly...

Anthy looks at the crowd and is reminded of swords and pitchforks, and she freezes. She is alone in a sea of unfamiliar, judgmental faces. This is horribly sad. Manipulation on her part or not, she's genuinely terrified at this moment.

At this point, even during the first viewing when I knew nothing about the show, I knew what was going to happen. Nanami reveals the fact that this Operation: Oh my gosh! Himemiya Anthy is weirdo whose dress dissolves when wet!

I'm really struggling to figure out what Nanami was trying to accomplish here. If Touga really was as enraptured with Anthy as Nanami mistakenly believes him to be, this little stunt is only going to endear her to him more as HE would have played the part of Anthy's prince instead of Utena. The potential embarrassment for Anthy would be crushed beneath the force of Touga's dashing entrance and heroic rescue, and Anthy would think more of Touga than she did before. And he more of her.

Nanami is not as effective at plotting social destruction as she believes she is...

As it is, Utena plays the deus ex machina card and is suddenly a magician hiding her uniform in god knows what body cavity. Furthermore, it is not just her uniform, it is her "Victor's Uniform" complete with poofy skirt and epaulettes, which are suddenly there without Anthy magicking them into being.

This is really dumb. I love the heroic bit with her rescuing Anthy, I love their dance together. It's touching and sweet to watch. I just wish they'd have had Utena wearing the silly thing the whole time rather than have her Houdini it on out of nowhere.

For that matter, wouldn't it have been dashing for her to do it in the dress? What are we saying about feminine strength and Utena's courage if she has to be wearing a boy's uniform to be that way?

Last edited by Ashnod (10-16-2009 12:05:16 PM)


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#16 | Back to Top10-16-2009 12:56:29 PM

hollow_rose
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

I thought it would have been better if she kept the dress on, yes. It also wouldn't have to explain where in hell she hides her uniform under that thing! The dress is off the shoulder!

About Nanami....I think she gets away with stuff by virtue of being Touga's sister. And it could be, because she's Touga's sister, that she knows Anthy isn't actually on the council and won't be punished for slapping her silly.


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#17 | Back to Top10-16-2009 02:56:10 PM

satyreyes
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Ashnod wrote:

In what alternate universe is this guy the Prince of your memory?

Totally.  It's only Utena's utter cluelessness and Touga's personal charisma, which is leaps and bounds above Saionji's, that lets him get away with this.  Even then it's a stretch.  But Utena deserves at least some credit; she doesn't leap to the conclusion that he's her prince, she just entertains the idea.  Touga spends the next eight episodes building up this idea so he can blow that wad in his first duel.  He's not exactly Akio, but he knows how mind games are played.

Anthy says she would prefer not to go to the Ball because she has a fear of crowds, that everyone looks the same and she becomes frightened. This is surprisingly honest of her at this point. Unsolicited honesty. She has good reasons to fear crowds, after all, even though we won't see that for many episodes to come. She genuinely does not want to go to this Ball, it isn't some ploy on her part.

Oh, it's a ploy.  Anthy and Akio lie by telling the truth all the time.  If it had served Anthy's purposes to pretend to be gung-ho about the party, she'd have done that with just as much dramatic flair (as when she later claims to want friends in order to encourage Utena to think she can be changed).  It just so happens that in the case of the ball, her presumed genuine feelings match the ones it's convenient for her to have.

Anthy looks at the crowd and is reminded of swords and pitchforks, and she freezes. She is alone in a sea of unfamiliar, judgmental faces. This is horribly sad. Manipulation on her part or not, she's genuinely terrified at this moment.

Hard to know whether this is true -- Anthy doesn't normally attach a lot of value to the good opinion of the plebes -- but I'd like to think it is, because it implies that Akio intentionally put her in a situation he knew would freak her out.  Passive-aggressive sibling wars behind the scenes...

I'm really struggling to figure out what Nanami was trying to accomplish here. If Touga really was as enraptured with Anthy as Nanami mistakenly believes him to be, this little stunt is only going to endear her to him more as HE would have played the part of Anthy's prince instead of Utena. The potential embarrassment for Anthy would be crushed beneath the force of Touga's dashing entrance and heroic rescue, and Anthy would think more of Touga than she did before. And he more of her.

Nanami is not as effective at plotting social destruction as she believes she is...

Ha ha emot-biggrin  Which is news to no one who's watched the following episode.  Nanami uses the reverse Golden Rule: she tries to degrade people by putting them in situations she would perceive as degrading.  I doubt it ever entered her mind how her brother might actually react to Anthy's dress dissolving.  In her mind he was doing that laughing-pirouettey thing that Nanami imagines everyone doing in the egg episode.  "Ha ha, Himemiya Anthy is a weirdo who wears water-soluble dresses!"

Put another way, Nanami's theory of mind is not very good.  She has a very simplistic model for guessing what other people are thinking.  There's ample evidence in the show to back this up.

For that matter, wouldn't it have been dashing for her to do it in the dress? What are we saying about feminine strength and Utena's courage if she has to be wearing a boy's uniform to be that way?

Foreshadowing of "what's normal for Utena is not to be normal" in episode 12.  Utena makes her distaste for the dress clear earlier in the episode; she wears it as a courtesy to her host.  When Anthy gets doused, courtesy is obviously no longer an issue, and she throws off the dress to say "to hell with social expectations, this is the way I roll."  A better question is why Utena prefers boys' uniforms in the first place.  As for where the uniform comes from: the same place the train on the Seitokai balcony does.

Last edited by satyreyes (10-16-2009 02:59:01 PM)

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#18 | Back to Top10-16-2009 11:39:48 PM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

satyreyes wrote:

As for where the uniform comes from: the same place the train on the Seitokai balcony does.

Bah. I disagree. We're too early in the series for the BS symbolism that comes later. Right now things are relatively within the realm of normalcy. It's only later that the absurd shows up and ruins everything. emot-tongue


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#19 | Back to Top10-16-2009 11:49:03 PM

allegoriest
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Production guy 01: Oh no! We're losing viewers!! Hurry, what do we do!?

Ikuhara: BE NORMAL! MAYBE A BIT ZANY. DRAMA AT MOST. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T BE BIZZARE. WE NEED THE CASUAL VIEWERS, AND BEFORE THEY KNOW IT, WE'LL TRAP THEM IN HELL.

Production guy 02: Brilliant!!



A month later


Production guy 01: Good news Ikuhara! Our ratings are up!

Ikuhara: Excellent! Add phantom trains and solo shadows and make the duel choruses less silly!!

Production guy 02: Brilliant!!



A month later:


Production guy 01: Excellent news Ikuhara! We're number one!!

Ikuhara: YESSS. NOW UNLEASH OUR WTF. UNLEASH IT I SAY!

Production guy 02: Brilliant!!

Ikuhara: HAHAHAHAH

Saito: omg you told me they weren't lesbians D:


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#20 | Back to Top10-17-2009 12:37:01 AM

satyreyes
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Ashnod wrote:

satyreyes wrote:

As for where the uniform comes from: the same place the train on the Seitokai balcony does.

Bah. I disagree. We're too early in the series for the BS symbolism that comes later. Right now things are relatively within the realm of normalcy. It's only later that the absurd shows up and ruins everything. emot-tongue

Then, um, where do you think the uniform comes from?  emot-tongue  [/setup]

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#21 | Back to Top10-17-2009 06:50:36 PM

Etrangere
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

awesome thread, I'll need to remember to follow it.


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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#22 | Back to Top10-18-2009 08:58:49 PM

ArsenicForBreakfast
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From: The Destination of Your Fate
Registered: 10-14-2007
Posts: 340
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

satyreyes wrote:

Ashnod wrote:

satyreyes wrote:

As for where the uniform comes from: the same place the train on the Seitokai balcony does.

Bah. I disagree. We're too early in the series for the BS symbolism that comes later. Right now things are relatively within the realm of normalcy. It's only later that the absurd shows up and ruins everything. emot-tongue

Then, um, where do you think the uniform comes from?  emot-tongue  [/setup]

Why, Utena's womb, of course!


Oh, episode three...because it's an episode that primarily features Nanami, my knee-jerk reaction is to think, "It's just silly filler" and ignore any symbolism that may or not be present.  However, there's loads of covert information about Anthy in this episode, so you can't really ignore it entirely.

Ashnod wrote:

Nanami is not as effective at plotting social destruction as she believes she is...

But, if Utena hadn't intervened, Nanami would have accomplished just what she wanted: seeing the object of her scorn be humiliated.  In general, Nanami seems much more concerned with immediate gratification; the after-effects of her schemes don't factor into her thought process at all.  And I wouldn't say she's all that inneffective with her social revenge, since she brings Keiko down pretty mercilessly in episode 21.  I think it's just when it comes to Anthy that her schemes fall flat.  Then again, she's what, thirteen?  At that age, I think most people's revenge plans are pretty weak.


I'm a fan of pessimism: if you maintain the lowest expectations possible, they'll always be met or exceeded.

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#23 | Back to Top10-18-2009 11:25:58 PM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
Registered: 03-01-2007
Posts: 1243
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

ArsenicForBreakfast wrote:

But, if Utena hadn't intervened, Nanami would have accomplished just what she wanted: seeing the object of her scorn be humiliated.  In general, Nanami seems much more concerned with immediate gratification; the after-effects of her schemes don't factor into her thought process at all.  And I wouldn't say she's all that inneffective with her social revenge, since she brings Keiko down pretty mercilessly in episode 21.  I think it's just when it comes to Anthy that her schemes fall flat.  Then again, she's what, thirteen?  At that age, I think most people's revenge plans are pretty weak.

With Keiko, though, it's a bit different. She already has Yuko and Aiko under her thumb, and now that she is part of the Student Council, she has an absurd amount of power to wield directly. There wasn't much in the way of artifice or construction in Episode 21, Nanami basically just said "You suck, go away."

Last edited by Ashnod (10-18-2009 11:27:22 PM)


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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#24 | Back to Top10-23-2009 03:37:52 AM

Ashnod
La poétesse revolutionnaire
From: Missouri, United States
Registered: 03-01-2007
Posts: 1243
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Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Episode 4

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31697-1/Series_ep04_002.jpg

We begin in the Dueling Arena. The wind is blowing through Miki and Utena's hair. There is no other sound, just the wind. Utena asks Miki if it has really come to this. It is rhetorical. Of course it has. They would not be here otherwise. Miki, perhaps not sensing that Utena didn't require an answer, gives us one. He must have his glow, his shining thing.

Juri watches from afar, in Touga's significant spot. She is relaxed while holding the binoculars. Far away, in the arena, Utena tells Miki that she prefers him behind the piano. Juri reads the younger woman's lips and agrees.

Miki takes offense to this. His sword has never been more sure, though we have yet to see this. He tells Utena that victory will be his, even if she must be hurt.

This is all awesome. This entire scene frames the first two chapters of the Sunlit Garden episodes, and it is rare to see it out of order like this. It works in every way. I wish the series would have taken more narrative trips like this, though not necessarily in the same manner.

We go to the title card and are immediately in the past without any explanation that what we have seen has not yet happened. It is unnecessary. After all, we know nothing about Miki at this point except that he is the boy with the watch, Sailor Mercury with her computer that none of the other Senshi use or even comprehend. A mystic language that makes sense to him and him alone.

Nanami and Miki are now in the piano hall. Miki is playing The Sunlit Garden, and Nanami applauds with wide-eyed awe. Miki is having none of it. This song, this beautiful series of gentle notes symbolizes everything that is wrong with his life. He plays it in mourning for something that he yearns for and cannot have back, and he cannot escape from it. Every tap of the keys is pain, a dagger through his heart, and yet he is compelled by hope. It is the only solace he has.

Nanami, for a moment, believes perhaps she is the intended audience. Her joy is short lived when she finds Anthy's picture amidst the sheet music. Her jaw tightens and her eyes narrow. Even Miki, she thinks. Saionji, Touga, and now Miki. All of them have fallen under Anthy's spell.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31727-1/Series_ep04_017.jpg

In the classroom, Wakaba and Utena commiserate over their respective failure in math. Wakaba is beautifully animated here as she gives some ludicrous advice from her mother about logic, men, and women. The angle of her head and the features of her face are both fantastic, and were she wearing anything but her Ohtori uniform, you would suspect her of being one of the special people she longs to be.

The 4th Slapdown breaks us into the next scene. Anthy, again, says nothing. This pain, while stinging, is nothing. She has known pain greater than we can possibly imagine, but we don't understand this yet. We see the terrified girl she wants everyone to believe she is.

Keiko explains that Miki did not play the piano because of Miki, and Anthy has no response for them. Her protests fall on deaf ears.

Miki arrives to see the hoi polloi beating on a member of the Student Council, and yet, he does very little in retribution. How quickly we have forgotten that Anthy is a member of the Council. Keiko, Aiko, and Yuko again get away with doing Nanami's dirty work, and Nanami's scheme again, backfires.

Miki knows she is the Rose Bride but this doesn't matter to him. He sees only the pretty face and the delicate hands. She is older than he is, but that matters little to him. Anthy is elegant and mysterious in a way no girl his own age, and perhaps, his own nationality, can be.

Wakaba explains to Utena that Miki is in seventh grade. He is Nanami's classmate, but he is a prodigy and takes university level courses. He also is ranked nationally for fencing and piano. The older girls adore him; one day he will make a fantastic mate.

Miki is grading papers in the library. Ohtori's library is almost all wooden: bookshelves and chairs and tables and staircase. It is as ancient in feel as it is the school itself must surely feel. Again, I'm taken with the beauty of the Academy itself.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31763-1/Series_ep04_035.jpg

Juri comes to Miki, and finally she is as beautiful as she was meant to be. Finally bishoujo and not bishounen, though one must wonder about Miki... She asks him about the test he is grading, and he instead asks about happiness. She ignores him; happiness is not Juri's specialty. In another genre, far away, Juri might be known as Mara Jade. Mara's name is sometimes translated to "Bitter Stone."

Miki does not answer her. He has his secrets, but we know it is Himemiya's. Juri apparently did not bother to read the name on the test. He is speaking with Anthy about the teacher and tricky questions, and Anthy looks grateful. Utena is jealous; she blames the duels for her poor performance in the class even though it has thus far consumed only two of her nights. If the school prodigy is going to help Anthy, well, she has the same problem Anthy does.

Miki introduces himself. Utena, showing her typical naivete, does not make the connection between his uniform and his Student Council position. But she catches on immediately that he is crushing on her friend. It's fascinating to see how she can be utterly perceptive about some things and completely clueless on others.

Miki insists he is different from his peers. Utena is skeptical, but she feels the need to lash out. The Council is the source of all her problems, and he is the most convenient scapegoat at the moment. All Miki hears is that Utena failed the test...

Back in the piano room, where we started. One Kiryuu sibling began this story, another continues it. Touga compliments Miki. Miki doesn't really hear him. All that matters right now is that the song is not bringing pain. He smiles; hope is not lost. Hope is here. Hope is now. The promise of his Shining Thing, his glow, is just before him.

Touga says that he envies Miki. Perhaps he really does. Nanami, on the other hand, suspects that it involves Anthy. Somehow. She just doesn't know the how. It matters little to her. She's seen this girl ensnare the heart of three members of the Student Council and she's determined to know why. In the process, she will crush Anthy if necessary.

Miki comes to tutor Utena and Anthy. With Nanami tagging along.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31851-1/Series_ep04_079.jpg

The lighting in this moment is stunning, especially on Utena herself. This show does sunset so well it almost hurts.

Thus begins Operations: Humiliate Anthy parts 2-4. I don't have much to say about this, except that it's really odd that a girl that spent all night trying to catch a snake is rattled by a pencil case full of snails. Particularly when she had a snail in hand already.

Anthy draws little animations and laughs. Though it is only obvious on re-watch, she is plotting her revenge even now. There are elephants in Nanami's future, and only Anthy knows this. This is completely innocent appearing right now, and you have to applaud the writers for not paying this off immediately.

It is time to eat, and Nanami pulls a bento box half the size of her torso  out of a school bag flatter than her hand.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31977-1/Series_ep04_142.jpg
Bag

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/31981-1/Series_ep04_144.jpg
Box

Nice one, animators.

Chu-Chu, the bane of the series, has somehow crawled inside the closed box which was inside the flat, closed bag and consumed all the food. Anthy rushes off to make shaved ice, but Nanami's had it. After her failed attempts to humiliate Anthy, this was her chance to save face and it, too, was ruined by another of Anthy's animals. She demands to know why everyone is so attracted to Anthy.

But Anthy is gone.

She's playing the Sunlit Garden...how convenient...again, a play on some level. She knows Miki is taken with her, but how to best pull his strings is still in the air.

But more interesting than that, she says, "maybe takoyaki would have been better for dinner." Tako, really? Right after the octopus incident? Cute. But what is interesting is that no one is around her right now, save Chu-Chu? Who is she talking to? This line isn't a ploy, and if it is, the only people it is meant for is the audience. Assuming she isn't aware of the audience, that means she's speaking to herself.

Is she honest in this solitary moment, then? Is the discord in the other room something she'd prefer to have avoided?

Miki doesn't care about shaved ice, or Nanami's disrespect, or even the tutoring he came to perform. Anthy, the girl he is taken with, is playing his song, and she can actually play it.

He glows.

Last edited by Ashnod (08-10-2012 10:46:08 PM)


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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#25 | Back to Top10-23-2009 10:47:14 AM

Xu Yuan
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 189

Re: Ashnod's Series Rewatch Diary

Hmm, this is so far a great re-tread of the series, I never thought about the whole of the matter with the Reasons Nanami has for hating Anthy at the start, but enticing the heart of all but Juri in the council is a pretty good reason. I never thought about the correlation between her cartoon elephants and the Actual elephants that would stampede after Nanami in a couple of episodes, it's really an odd connection to think about... but in retrospect is fully there. Also I Love the whole of the Bento Box, and her paper thin hand bag, very observant of you.

Also I always wondered... why is it that Miki is so fast to say that the only one Nanami has eyes for is her own brother? When she plainly has feelings for Miki, is Miki just so wrapped up in his own "misery" that he doesn't see her?

Also the sound effect when it shows Utena's test, and the "38" always gets a chuckle out of me (at least I think it's 38)


As noted in a "Link in Obscurity" I really do love the Kiryuu's family relations to the Kaoru's. (barring Kozue and Touga of course). They play it to a good effect here. Touga actually seems genuine here (which we won't see again for a long, long time...)  Though do I hate the term "Shining Thing" I had hoped they would call it "That which Shines" since it sounds much more natural then "shining thing".

In any case great post, very informative, and I hope to see you continue this!


Please check out the MTG Utena Set Progress we have made at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?id=o … 103070805#

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