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#1 | Back to Top10-22-2009 05:35:34 PM

Qualified Duellist
From: Under the Cherry Moon
Registered: 09-11-2009
Posts: 764

Excuse the following question, but...

... when Akio takes people to "The End Of The World" in his red convertible, is he trying to seduce them?  Does he succeed? 

I watched all 39 episodes in a week, so obviously I wasn't paying much attention.  And that was back in January.  So obviously I'm due for a re-watch. 

Thankies emot-biggrin



#2 | Back to Top10-22-2009 06:24:56 PM

Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 589

Re: Excuse the following question, but...

Yes, if you define the word "seduce" broadly enough.



#3 | Back to Top10-22-2009 08:53:13 PM

Tour Guide to Crawling Chaos
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 719

Re: Excuse the following question, but...

No need to excuse yourself for introducing an opportunity for people to throw out theories about Utena. We love that kind of stuff here. school-sherlock

Anyway, yeah, there's no evidence that Akio had sexual relations with any of the Duelists during their respective car rides, and in fact in some cases he was riding in the car alongside other people who almost certainly would have throttled him if he'd tried. (Kozue with Miki and Ruka with Juri, respectively.) In my opinion, if any sex happened off-screen after any of those scenes, it was almost certainly between Ruka and Shiori. (The Saionji/Touga/Akio thing doesn't seem to happen until later.)

The car ritual is all about Akio pushing the bounds of reality (his impossible entrances, the endless curving road, jumping onto the hood and letting the car drive itself), so he surely didn't show them anything that exists in an absolute sense.

It's never really made clear, but the general consensus seems to be that what Akio shows them is different for each person... their own personal "End of the World". Indeed, it would almost have to be, since the only common element is that it convinces them to duel again. Certainly, the effects are different: as skeptical as Saionji is going in, he comes out of it rather manic, if not quite foaming at the mouth like his movie self. Shiori seems similarly enthralled by whatever it was she saw, and Nanami returns sharp, determined, and with quite a bit of simmering rage (in large part at herself). In contrast, Juri has already agreed to duel by the time her "End of the World" showing comes around, and, in her grim resignation, seems almost unchanged afterwords. And whatever Miki saw doesn't seem to have quite cured him of his deep-rooted idealism and naivete, given how he loses his duel.

However, even if there was no actual sex, the whole sequence is very deliberately sexual. Other people have thought about this much more than me... any thoughts?



#4 | Back to Top10-23-2009 02:18:48 AM

Miki Molester
From: Eugene, OR
Registered: 10-21-2009
Posts: 31

Re: Excuse the following question, but...

Oh man, all 39 in one week? I'm planning (someday) to teach a course on SKU, mainly because watching the series is like reading a Thomas Mann novel: there's a ridiculous amount of secondary literature that helps in understanding or at least trying to interpret the text. Like any good work, there's no explicit or obvious author intention or intended interpretation, which is what makes it so (to use a dangerous word) universal, or at least (almost) timeless.

That said, the rides in Akio's car can be understood in a lot of various ways. Since earlier I was writing about (and recently can't stop thinking about) an interpretation of Ohtori as a decadent space where each subject attempts to construct a perfect world or realm. (If you look up Stefan George's poems in "Algabal," you'll see that, in retreating into his own inner world, he attempts to unite absolute beauty and absolute power, which end up turning back on him and alienating him from himself.) That considered, Akio is the grand puppet master who has built Ohtori for the purposes of creating his perfect space. If we think of the life granted him by Anthy, but that he lost some sense of himself - the power of Dios, his old self - then it would seem that his repossession of that power is impossible; that is to say, having his power would have meant his death, but Anthy's giving him life meant his losing his power. In his perfect world that he is trying to create, he would have his cake and eat it too: eternal life and eternal power, rule over a realm where he is, by virtue of his having used everyone else to his own ends, alienated from all people, but elevated above them. In order to attain this, what he seems to need is a sacrifice - someone else who wants to build a perfect, isolated world using the power of Dios. What exactly this means is unclear, though we have the feeling from Utena's experience that Akio merely uses the dueling champion's inner sword to his own ends without actually granting any wishes or power.

So what happens when Akio takes someone out in his car? It is, by all means, seductive. The car, like almost all of the imagery associated with Akio, is phallic - long, fast, forceful. This is broadly understood as a sexual device for either luring in feminine characters or asserting power over masculine characters. The seduction that happens, however, following a decadent reading of the situation, is the seduction of totality in that perfect, artificial realm. “The End of the World” is the end of the world as one knows it – the plunge into the “Unterreich” of Stefan George's “Algabal” and the construction of a space in which time and, for lack of a better word, space have ceased to hold power. (Theories of God and divinity often place them in the realm of time as well. If divinity is suspended and the power of creation is placed into the hands of the subject, then he effectively becomes god of a new realm.) Here, where the subject (duelist) rules his own world of suspended perfection, is the end of the world. Akio seduces through the illusion of this possibility. (It seems to me that even Akio knows that the perfect world uniting absolute beauty and absolute power is impossible to create, but his current suspended reality is entirely contingent on the process of that attempt.)

This is how I would interpret it according to the model that I recently posited. The seduction, while laced with sexual imagery, is an ideological one. The seduction of seclusion and artificial perfection is enough to drive these duelists to follow Akio (eventually to himself). I think I strayed a lot in this argument, but hopefully it makes some sense.

"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism."
-Walter Benjamin



#5 | Back to Top10-23-2009 01:53:10 PM

Qualified Duellist
From: Under the Cherry Moon
Registered: 09-11-2009
Posts: 764

Re: Excuse the following question, but...

Ooooooooooooooh, okay.  All of your responses make a lot of sense to me.
Because when I was watching it the first time through I thought that Akio was literally taking them to the End of the Word, ie, the place he takes Utena and Anthy to in the final episode. 
Then I thought, "What would the point in that be?"
Then I realized how much of a sexual mastermind Akio is, then realized he was probably screwing everyone he could get his hands on, which was likely the reason for the whole Touga/Akio thing. 
Although I never believed he had any sexual relations with Juri, Miki, or Nanami.
Pretty much anyone else, eh, I'd believe it.



#6 | Back to Top10-23-2009 03:08:26 PM

Xu Yuan
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 190

Re: Excuse the following question, but...

I once had a rather lengthy thought on this once...

But the series itself gives a very decent job of what is at "The End of the World" for each person... at least, I feel so, regardless of how much Ikuhara makes reference to not being so...

Well start with Saionji...

(And because I love English Dubs...)

"But now I know better! The Rose Bride has no will of her own!"

He is fooled into believing that Anthy is just a doll, that she truly can't love, and thereby never loved Saionji in the first place. Her indifference is fully explained to him and he believes that he is finally free of her. I believe that's why he's almost in a psychotic rage over this, since his proverbial world was melted down. Then what happens? Anthy intervenes and rescues Utena, Fully showing that he was once again lied to, and manipulated by others, just for a good laugh. Thus he resolves to not play a part in these silly little games any longer. This is also about the time that Saionji and Touga's friendship starts to mend.

Miki's... is a little more complicated. Touga basically recounts what he says in Episode 5, but he makes the added argument of "stagnated growth" and of course Kozue's prodding. What is interesting about this arrangement is that Miki is not seduced by Akio's illusion, in fact he's more or less enraged at him, actually using an expletive, which is very unlike Miki. But what changes his mind? Along with Saionji it's the belief that the Ends of the World is Your Sponsor, you can't lose with him as your backing, right? Akio makes a... seemingly false case to Touga that he does not want Utena to be engaged to Anthy any longer. I'm to guess this also must have made it through into a letter sent by "Ends of the World".

Juri's is a no brainer, no need to embellish that.

Nanami wasn't sure what was happening, but she had reason to fight Utena, to defeat Utena who defeated Touga would make her superior to both of them. All she wanted was to break free of her brother. She cared Nothing of the Power of Miracles, she never did in the first place.

Touga is an easy one as well, he wanted to genuinely protect Utena from Akio's machinations, other then that it was pure power prior to realizing that's what he truly wants.

Hmm, I hope this made sense, it's been some time since I tried my hand at this, heh.



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