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#1 | Back to Top11-11-2009 10:31:43 PM

Wakaba Wrangler
From: New York, USA
Registered: 11-15-2008
Posts: 19

Utena and growing up.

Okay, this may have been said, but I think I've got semi-original thought here.

When I first watched Utena, I kept track of the arcs. I didn't know what would happen in them, but I kept track of 'this is the Student Council Arc' and 'this is the Black Rose Arc' and so I always remember it broken up like that.

Now, after my third overall rewatch of the show, I think I can coherently say that Utena's overall structure (aka the Arcs) fits in with the theme of growing up and transitioning from child to adult.

While I was watching episodes one through thirteen, aka the Student Council arc, for the second time, I would be thinking 'I know this show goes from good to great. I just have to get there.' and I'd be eagerly waiting for the awesomeness that is the last two arcs. There'd be too many silly episodes for my taste, but they built up character well, but I didn't really appreciate them.

Compare with a seven year old wishing he or she could drive and do all of the cool things adults can do. The child can't wait to grow up and be done with being a kid, because teenagers and adults are cool. (They can stay up late and everything!) Remember all of the unpleasant experiences that were called 'character-building'?

When I hit the Black Rose arc, I was enjoying it, yes, but I was even more eager to get to the best arcs, as while this hinted nicely, (see the first meetings with Akio and the first hints of something uncouth between Akio and Anthy) it wasn't as dark as I was wanting it to be yet. There were a few silly episodes, but not as many as the earlier arc.

Compare to the teenagers who want to be edgy and cool, but who are experimenting with sex (possibly) but not understanding it. Teenagers want to be adults so they can be as free as they want, so they can be independent. So they can be free of their parent's safety net that they see as constricting.

Then there was the Akio Ohtori arc. Only one silly episode in sight, and I'm enjoying myself. Except...I see the pain the duelists are going through as they are coerced into dueling again. I think fondly of the first episodes, when the worst troubles they were having were 'elephants attacked me in a foreign land and I couldn't get the curry powder!' or 'school dance drama!' Even the duels back then weren't so harsh as these are.

Compare with an adult, who is faced with work daily, bills, and a life not as easy as he or she thought it would be, back when he wanted to be an adult. Childhood memories seem wonderful, and you wonder why you tried to speed things up instead of savor them. Remember when it was socially acceptable for you to splash in rain puddles without people looking at you oddly?

Finally, the Apocalypse Arc. The end of the road. The most painful of the arcs, as the duelists see a change in Utena, Touga fails to save Utena from the final duel, and the last duel itself, with the betrayal of both people Utena truly cares about. Yet - the ending is hopeful and even happy.

Compare with late adulthood. Retirement. Knowing the end of the line for you is near, as old age leads to the end. Your body begins to betray you by slowing down and creaking more, and yet - if you pursued a relationship and had children, now is when you have grandchildren. Now is when you sum up your achievements and you stop working at the daily job. It's sad, but hopeful.

I look back at this entire series and this comparison works for me. The innocence in the first episode, and then the final episode - it's the mark of a good series that the changes that occur throughout the series seem natural and not forced at all. The character depth and their changes as well.

I hope this made sense - any comments or thoughts?



#2 | Back to Top11-12-2009 12:14:24 AM

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

Re: Utena and growing up.

Ha ha, not only is the series about growing up, the experience of watching the series is itself an allegory to growing up?  emot-biggrin  I like it!  And what's more, I think it is intentional, in a way.  Utena is the protagonist, and usually it's her viewpoint we're following.  She doesn't know about doubt and sex and Akio until later in the series, so of course we don't either.  A story about her growing up will naturally take us along for the ride...



#3 | Back to Top11-12-2009 10:57:12 AM

Imaginary Bad Bug
From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 2171

Re: Utena and growing up.

Just another example of SKU's greatness.

To take that line of thought one step further, consider the title of the movie: Adolescence Apocalypse.

Utena is absolutely a story about transitioning from child to adult. Plus we get all the great artsy and freudian stuff as a bonus! school-sherlock school-eng101 school-freud school-devil

What personally drew me to the series were the themes dealing with "which is the real world, and which is an illusion?", but even that fits into the "growing up" cycle.

Last edited by Imaginary Bad Bug (11-12-2009 11:00:44 AM)



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