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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 Top06-13-2010 03:11:34 PM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
Posts: 1120

The SKU Timeline

Or at least the rough progression I garnered from the hints in the series. It's pretty much impossible to put the events into any sort of linear order that makes sense in real world time. So instead, I've focused on major landmarks, making a rough outline for the moment. It's basically my attempt to make sense of the the chaos. Please add if you have any more or would like to argue any of my theories.

Dios

Based on information from the vastly informative Black Rose arc, we know that the downfall of Dios occurred at least many decades prior to the series. Prior to this, Dios was the fairytale ideal of a prince and the symbol of purity and goodness in the world. He was a symbol without flaws or imperfections. However, the people kept on demanding more, refusing to take care of any of their own problems. They were dependent upon his protection. Eventually, an exhausted Dios attempts to save a drowning girl, and nearly extinguishes himself in the process. His sister Anthy, deeply in love with him, stays with his wounded body while a hoard call for his assistance. She eventually locks him inside and uses her magic to seal him away. The infuriated crowd determines that because she's keeping the prince from their daughters, she must be a witch. They stab her repeatedly, physically and otherwise, until she herself is sealed in stasis along with her brother.

It is difficult to determine if this occurred at any specific point in our timeline as a fax machine is busily working in the background of this scene, listing off all the requests for the prince. While the presence of technology doesn't necessarily mean it's not set in the distant past, it's a bit easier to just put this outside of a conventional timeline and just think of it as "the beginning."

At some unspecified time, the cabin in which they were hiding may have been converted into a church and cemetery marked with the rose symbol - perhaps to commemorate the prince's presence here. Tokiko's visit to Mamiya's grave indicates that this area may be on or near the school grounds. If we can assume it is, then it can also be deduced that the ghosts of Dios (gradually becoming Akio) and Anthy began to morph and penetrate the areas around them in order to obtain the influence at least the former desired. Akio recognizes his limitations and lusts for the power of his former self to the point of obsession. He wants for the two halves to become whole and thus become complete. Yet he also knows that his corruption will not allow him to break the seal his sister created. He needs something that will draw Dios out. This begins his experimentation phase as he searches for the winning scenario. Which brings us to...

Nemuro

At some point, Akio infiltrates Ohtori Academy. It is my personal belief that he has not become Chairman at this point, as none of the Black Rose members refer to him as such during Mikage's flashbacks. Then again, they only tend to refer to him as "that man" and "you-know-who" depending on the translations. Whatever position he is in, he has control over a hundred boys he has persuaded to work for him with promises of eternity and power. Each one has a rose signet to signify their (practically infernal) contract with him. But rather than dueling for Dios, their objective is to pave the way for future experiments. To aid this along, top researcher Nemuro is enlisted, based probably on the paper Mamiya remarked as the only thing giving Tokiko hope. This hints that it's probably regarding some aspect of eternity, though Nemuro is skeptical of the idea.

At first he is disinterested in his work. My theory is that Akio has Tokiko sent through the board of directors to help manipulate them. The two likely have some sort of connection that's never explained, given that they were both kissing and the latter obviously found him important enough to visit when she returned, apparently aware of Ohtori's many oddities. Perhaps he promised her life for her brother through research - specifically through Nemuro. The professor, now inspired by his purpose, manages to discover the dueling arena. This is referenced in "Nemuro Memorial Hall":

boy:  The road to the duel arena is now open.
boy:  At last, that is about to begin.
boy:  And now, Professor Nemuro's duty is finished.
boy:  From now on, carrying on without him is probably what you-know-who plans on.
boy:  Surely even he'll lose to someone.
boy:  We can just leave him by the wayside.
boy:  Well then, let's open the champagne.

This discovery reveals to Akio what the next phase is. However, he needs to dispose of the Black Rose seminar, likely that its ambitious and corrupt members cannot break the seal (and might also be a future threat). He convinces Nemuro that their sacrifices are necessary to obtaining the power needed to keep Mamiya alive, then shows Tokiko's betrayal to him in order to push him over the edge. Nemuro then traps the students inside and burns them to death. At some point later, Mamiya dies and a scarred Tokiko leaves the Academy. Nemuro is frozen in time by his grief and ambition. Akio figures he may still be useful and keeps him trapped in Ohtori by the projected image of Mamiya, where he gradually transforms into Mikage. Several of the rose crests of the dead members, now stained black, are kept intact for their corrupting power on weak hearts so that the prized duelist may be thoroughly challenged. Now having reaped the research of the Black Rose, Akio moves onto the next phase, which is to find an imitation prince pure enough to breach the seal.

It's also difficult to put this in a specific time period, but I do feel that it's significant that there are only male members of the Black Rose, perhaps indicating a time where only men where allowed into higher educational institutions. Tokiko also dresses in a very conservative way that may indicate a different time period. Hard to say!

Utena

At some point during decades between the Black Rose mass murder and Utena, Akio rises through the Ohtori ranks. He is eventually promised the Chariman's daughter in marriage, securing his position as an Ohtori and the acting Chairman. As a tool and as an act of very ironic punishment, Anthy becomes the bait by playing the parody of a princess. She lures the hopeful, lost, lonely and otherwise decent prey material into entering a contract with Akio in which they must duel for the supposed power. It is noted that many are drawn in before they even come to the school, as Saionji, Touga, and Utena all encountered the siblings' potential resting place when they were children. Furthermore, it is hinted in the movie and in the series that Juri's sister was the one who caused Dios to nearly drown, thus giving her a reason to be there. Which doesn't make much sense considering that's supposed to be decades ago! Bah, can't be logical about everything. Anyway, by the time our heroine bounces into the spider's web, it is hinted that many cycles have played out, none of them successful:

Akio:  Once again, even this sword fails?
Akio:  Tell me, when will I ever recover the Power of Dios?

Utena at once establishes herself as different. Dios actually appearing from the castle to grant her victory is apparently an utter anomaly. After defeating the Student Council, Akio revives Mikage to further test her. These tests continue up until the series finale, when Akio steals her heart sword and tries to break the seal. However, at this point, Utena has cast aside her idealization of the prince and now only wishes to free Anthy. It's unknown and left up to anyone's theory if it was ever possible for her to retrieve Dios, who was likely only Akio's illusory "shining thing." Her sacrifice breaks awakens Anthy from the prison of a million swords of hate, thus freeing her. It's unknown what happens to Utena after this point, but it convinces Anthy to leave. The cycle is thus broken and Akio is left alone, perhaps to try and restart the Rose Code over again by himself.

So to summarize:

1. Prince Dios saves all the good little girls in the world and is the ultimate good. Farts rainbows. Has a sister named Anthy who truly loves him, but can't get close because she's his sister (this theme is thus played out continuously in the series). The world is completely dependent upon him and fails to acknowledge his pain or sacrifice.
2. Juri's sister (?) or perhaps another maiden like her pushes the already exhausted Dios almost to death by drowning. A worried Anthy seals him away with her power, and is thus slaughtered by an angry hoard. The siblings are now in their coffins.
3. Akio creates the Black Rose seminar to explore the options for finding his perfect tool to regain the power of Dios. Nemuro's research opens up the dueling arena, thus indicating the next stage in Akio's plans. The Black Rose members are murdered and Nemuro is kept to transform into Mikage.
4. Many years later, a young Utena is discovered by the ghostly image of Dios in a church. Anthy is revealed to her, and Utena vows to become a prince and save her. Dios gives her his blessing and a rose signet.
5. Now a teenager, Utena arrives at Ohtori to go through Akio's tests. Though she doesn't break the seal to Dios' power, she frees Anthy and thus breaks the cycle.


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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#2 | Back to Top06-13-2010 06:49:32 PM

Dallbun
Tour Guide to Crawling Chaos
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 689

Re: The SKU Timeline

Katzenklavier wrote:

Please add if you have any more or would like to argue any of my theories.

Haha, most of your theories deserve individual discussion threads themselves. emot-tongue

Eventually, an exhausted Dios attempts to save a drowning girl, and nearly extinguishes himself in the process.

Extremely interesting! ...and yet, I don't think it holds up. As you say, if Dios's downfall must have occurred at least decades prior to the start of the series (because of the Nemuro flashback events). Therefore, it seems unlikely that Juri's sister was the cause of it. (You mention this yourself, later.) The story seems, instead, illustrative of people's willingness to forget their princes, or to put behind them events that at the time seem all-important and life-changing.

(Certainly, there's wonky time stuff going on in the series, but most of that is centered around the Dios origin story and Mikage. There's no indication that wonky time stuff was going on during the childhoods of the main characters.)

Also, it seems unlikely that there was one event that pushed Dios over the edge from powerful princess-saving to near-fatal exhaustion. It appears to have been the result of the many, constant demands upon him.

It is difficult to determine if this occurred at any specific point in our timeline as a fax machine is busily working in the background of this scene, listing off all the requests for the prince. While the presence of technology doesn't necessarily mean it's not set in the distant past, it's a bit easier to just put this outside of a conventional timeline and just think of it as "the beginning."

Agreed. I would say that the mixed signals are specifically warning us against trying to peg it down in time or space.

At some unspecified time, the cabin in which they were hiding may have been converted into a church and cemetery marked with the rose symbol - perhaps to commemorate the prince's presence here.

Also interesting, but it seems like you're unnecessarily complicating (and limiting) things. There's no evidence that the church was built over the cabin, and saying that it was has a host of implications... including setting the Tale of the Rose firmly in Japan.

Also, who are these Christian church-builders (who presumably went about their work after 1850) who knew the Tale of the Rose and wanted to honor it?

Tokiko's visit to Mamiya's grave indicates that this area may be on or near the school grounds.

I don't have the video on-hand, but there seems to be no implication from the screenshots that Mamiya's grave is located at that church.

If we can assume it is, then it can also be deduced that the ghosts of Dios (gradually becoming Akio) and Anthy began to morph and penetrate the areas around them in order to obtain the influence at least the former desired.

The assumption here that you're working backwards from is that Akio and Anthy are restricted to the Ohtori region. There is evidence for that, of a sort, in that Ohtori seems to be a special place that Akio has more influence in. However, it could just as easily be the opposite, that the nature of reality in Ohtori is a result of Akio and Anthy being there. I always took Nemuro's research of "opening of the road to the duel arena" to be part of the process that created Akio's projector and/or gave him some of his power in the area.

At some point, Akio infiltrates Ohtori Academy. It is my personal belief that he has not become Chairman at this point, as none of the Black Rose members refer to him as such during Mikage's flashbacks.

Yeah, that's pretty clear. Akio couldn't have been engaged to the chairman's seventeen year-old daughter for decades.

This discovery reveals to Akio what the next phase is.

Possibly, but it's also possible that Akio knew exactly what the research was leading to all along. He

However, he needs to dispose of the Black Rose seminar, likely that its ambitious and corrupt members cannot break the seal (and might also be a future threat).

Possible, but I don't see how a bunch of relatively unexceptional, easily-manipulable students who already have (practically infernal) contracts with him could ever constitute a threat. More likely they were just no longer useful.

Several of the rose crests of the dead members, now stained black, are kept intact for their corrupting power on weak hearts so that the prized duelist may be thoroughly challenged.

Presumably all of the rings remain in their Duelists' coffins, no?

It's also difficult to put this in a specific time period, but I do feel that it's significant that there are only male members of the Black Rose, perhaps indicating a time where only men where allowed into higher educational institutions. Tokiko also dresses in a very conservative way that may indicate a different time period. Hard to say!

Tokiko's time seems to have flowed normally, so it can't have been all that
long ago. Ohtori could just as easily have been an all-male school at that point.

Furthermore, it is hinted in the movie and in the series that Juri's sister was the one who caused Dios to nearly drown, thus giving her a reason to be there.

I don't think that's hinted at in either the movie or the series. In the movie, it's Juri who almost drowns, and Touga who dies saving her. In the series, Juri's sister almost drowns, and a boy dies saving her. I still think you're pulling this more or less out of nowhere, although it's intriguing.

4. Many years later, a young Utena is discovered by the ghostly image of Dios in a church. Anthy is revealed to her, and Utena vows to become a prince and save her. Dios gives her his blessing and a rose signet.

Utena is discovered by Akio in a church, yes. I tend to take Akio at his word there, since it fits perfectly into his plans to build up a princely Duelist anyway, and the rose signet signifies a contract with Akio, not with Dios.


In general, I'm not sure I like an explanation where Akio and Anthy only became active within the last X number of decades. Besides the fact that their origin is so deliberately timeless, and that they give such an impression of age, they've clearly been through the drill many times. Anthy is completely resigned to her role (and quite good at it), and Akio complains, as you said, about failing again at the Rose gate... but then he's totally blasé about sending out another batch of Rose Signets at the end.

Last edited by Dallbun (06-13-2010 07:38:18 PM)

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#3 | Back to Top06-13-2010 07:15:55 PM

minervana
High Tripper
Registered: 10-10-2009
Posts: 246

Re: The SKU Timeline

Katzenklavier wrote:

Prior to this, Dios was the fairytale ideal of a prince and the symbol of purity and goodness in the world. He was a symbol without flaws or imperfections. However, the people kept on demanding more, refusing to take care of any of their own problems. They were dependent upon his protection. Eventually, an exhausted Dios attempts to save a drowning girl, and nearly extinguishes himself in the process. His sister Anthy, deeply in love with him, stays with his wounded body while a hoard call for his assistance. She eventually locks him inside and uses her magic to seal him away. The infuriated crowd determines that because she's keeping the prince from their daughters, she must be a witch. They stab her repeatedly, physically and otherwise, until she herself is sealed in stasis along with her brother.

I'm not sure if Dios tried to save a drowning girl; in the tales of the rose, we see him a) being tricked by his sister to fly up into a castle and b) being so exhausted by his efforts to help that he can't even get up.

Nemuro

At some point, Akio infiltrates Ohtori Academy. It is my personal belief that he has not become Chairman at this point, as none of the Black Rose members refer to him as such during Mikage's flashbacks. Then again, they only tend to refer to him as "that man" and "you-know-who" depending on the translations.

If anyone here knows Kanji, can you tell us both what Nemuro (根室教授) means, as well as what specifically the 100 boys are saying when they say "that man."

It is noted that many are drawn in before they even come to the school, as Saionji, Touga, and Utena all encountered the siblings' potential resting place when they were children.

I'm not sure I would call it a "resting place." How can that torture be a means of rest? Both Dios and Akio deal with people in the middle of a crisis. I tend to think that Dios still exists, albeit in some spectral, "Imaginationland"-esque way.

It's unknown and left up to anyone's theory if it was ever possible for her to retrieve Dios, who was likely only Akio's illusory "shining thing."

Ooh! Great insight! Why have I not thought of this?

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#4 | Back to Top06-13-2010 07:49:15 PM

Dallbun
Tour Guide to Crawling Chaos
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 689

Re: The SKU Timeline

minervana wrote:

If anyone here knows Kanji, can you tell us both what Nemuro (根室教授) means,

根 ne: root, origin, basis
室 muro: room
教授 kyouju: Professor

as well as what specifically the 100 boys are saying when they say "that man."

あの方 ("ano kata"). A little more polite than "that man" sounds in English. Gender-neutral, but since we know they're talking about Akio, I guess some translators went with "that man." Out of curiosity, why do you ask?

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#5 | Back to Top06-14-2010 12:37:03 AM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
Posts: 1120

Re: The SKU Timeline

Dallbun: Haha, most of your theories deserve individual discussion threads themselves.

Absolutely! And while I would love to spawn a bunch or add onto existing threads, I really would like a discussion that deals with the bigger picture. Often, I focus too specifically on minor details of the series, so this is my attempt to put all the pieces together. Or at least get discussion generated about the topic. emot-keke

Also, it seems unlikely that there was one event that pushed Dios over the edge from powerful princess-saving to near-fatal exhaustion. It appears to have been the result of the many, constant demands upon him.

Agreed. I did mention that, but it's such a huge block of text that I could easily see how that would be unclear. The drowning was the last straw on the camel's back and the catalyst for the transformation.

Also interesting, but it seems like you're unnecessarily complicating (and limiting) things.

Quite true. There's no evidence to suggest the church is directly tied to the exact location where the two met their "demise." It is a theory I presented to explain the significance of that location, which is present frequently throughout the series, but is never explained. It's the beginning point for three of the main characters' backgrounds, motivating Utena, Touga, and Saionji alike to seek the power of Dios. An amalgamation of Akio and Dios appears there and reveals his tortured sister. Perhaps a sort of grave that the ghosts haunt. I think of the church as essentially a mausoleum, which is made all the more interesting by Akio's Lucifer symbolism. It is worth noting that it sports a gigantic rose symbol in one of the windows. But I digress, it's only a personal theory and not cemented by the story at all.

There's no evidence that the church was built over the cabin, and saying that it was has a host of implications... including setting the Tale of the Rose firmly in Japan. Who are these Christian church-builders (who presumably went about their work after 1850) who knew the Tale of the Rose and wanted to honor it?

Excuse my confusion. How does that imply that it's in Japan (ugh I'm not that familiar with Japanese history)? From the usage of the word "conversion?" My mistake there, because I didn't mean that complication. I think that's again tying it down too much to a specific place or time. I'm saying the cemetery and adjoining church might be a grave for Anthy and Akio, possibly explaining it's significance. The fact that it's Christian might just tie into the loose Christian symbols the series is littered with.

I don't have the video on-hand, but there seems to be no implication from the screenshots that Mamiya's grave is located at that church.

There are none. Again, just a tangent that might suggest the church is close to the school. I don't believe Ohtori has a cemetery on location. But of course, the fact she visited Akio shortly afterward doesn't mean there wasn't a long car drive in between scenes.

Yeah, that's pretty clear. Akio couldn't have been engaged to the chairman's seventeen year-old daughter for decades.

I'm contradicting myself here, but it could be possible as Akio technically seems to have the ability to alter time. A few people have suggested the Ohtoris have been puppets for decades and simply have their memories routinely wiped. I just think the series hints more as to it being a recent development that he has limited control over, hence why he has to put on a facade and then poison (?) Kanae. Of course, if he did have complete control, I could see him creating the scenario where he has to sexually pleasure Mrs. Ohtori for profit.

Possibly, but it's also possible that Akio knew exactly what the research was leading to all along.

Then why bother with it in the first place? Akio can be surprised by new phases in the duels. The most obvious is when the Rose Bride's sword fails, and Anthy instead draws from Utena. That clearly elicits a shocked reaction. In my mind, he's playing the game as much as anyone else - he's just a lot better at it. But he's not all-knowing. If he knew where the research was leading, that begs the question of what he needed to reap from the Black Rose members to open the gates to the dueling arena, if not knowledge. Maybe that ties into the reason behind their deaths?

Possible, but I don't see how a bunch of relatively unexceptional, easily-manipulable students who already have (practically infernal) contracts with him could ever constitute a threat. More likely they were just no longer useful.

Seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth. Having a hundred students burned to death is the least subtle of Akio's evils, second to his final duel with Utena. But then, there's the option that they were just a lot more useful dead.

Presumably all of the rings remain in their Duelists' coffins, no?

I considered that. We do see Mikage drawing out the rings from the coffins, but he doesn't draw a hundred. There are only seven used, including Mikage's own ring. It could be argued that his number of manipulations was limited to the amount of duelists, but Kanae is the exception to that. So why the limit?

I always took Nemuro's research of "opening of the road to the duel arena" to be part of the process that created Akio's projector and/or gave him some of his power in the area.

Really interesting point!

In the movie, it's Juri who almost drowns, and Touga who dies saving her.

Oh shit. You're right. My memory on the movie is a bit spotty...I tend to phase out and lose all memory after the car part. Nevertheless, it's interesting that Juri's story in the movie is similar to hers in the series. I do feel as if a bit can be derived from the movie continuity when it overlaps with the series' themes, but in this case, it was just memory failure. Wah wah wah.

Utena is discovered by Akio in a church, yes. I tend to take Akio at his word there, since it fits perfectly into his plans to build up a princely Duelist anyway, and the rose signet signifies a contract with Akio, not with Dios.

I think it was Dios, but not the same Dios that Anthy loved. A sort of Dios phantom wedged between his former and future selves. It doesn't make sense to me for him to be Akio, who spends much of his time later trying to break the threatening bond between Utena and his sister. Mainly because pseudo-Dios was honest, and I don't think in Akio's nature to be that. His eyes are more mature and sad, his shirt unbuttoned to perhaps indicate sin, but he still maintains compassion for Anthy and acknowledges his own inability. He seems like he recognizes what he's becoming, and this is a genuine last attempt to save her (which it eventually does). If it were pure Akio manipulation, I think, then the fake version that Utena treasured for so long would have been a lot more accurate.

In general, I'm not sure I like an explanation where Akio and Anthy only became active within the last X number of decades. Besides the fact that their origin is so deliberately timeless, and that they give such an impression of age, they've clearly been through the drill many times. Anthy is completely resigned to her role (and quite good at it), and Akio complains, as you said, about failing again at the Rose gate... but then he's totally blasé about sending out another batch of Rose Signets at the end.

Totes legit. I did make a few half-hearted attempts to potentially ground down the timeline, but I tried to focus more on ordering the major landmarks in the series more than actual conceptions of dates or times. Like everything with SKU, the interpretations are extremely loose, but any sort of analysis is just one more piece in the puzzle. This is an attempt to look at a potential big picture with special relevance paid to Mikage and the Black Rose seminar's role.

minervana: I'm not sure I would call it a "resting place." How can that torture be a means of rest? Both Dios and Akio deal with people in the middle of a crisis. I tend to think that Dios still exists, albeit in some spectral, "Imaginationland"-esque way.

Semantics. "The Turgid Bowels of Cthulhu's Wet Dreams" is probably a lot more appropriate. And I do think Dios exists when we get to the Utena timeline, because frankly I think it's impossible he couldn't have. But as you noted, as a spectral spirit of the castle or a projection of Akio. It's clear that the castle and Dios react differently to Utena than all others, allowing her to win every duel save two. In the first one with Touga, he severs that all-important loyalty with her prince and by the last one, she no longer needs him for her strength. It really does raise a lot of questions about Dios! As I stated before, I don't think Akio is the ultimate power, and that he's just as subject to the rules of the castle as anyone else. That's why he has the duels in the first place and can't predict every outcome. So does that mean that Dios has power and a distinct presence? If so, then why in the end did he apparently abandon Utena? Aaargh!


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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#6 | Back to Top06-14-2010 12:42:39 AM

minervana
High Tripper
Registered: 10-10-2009
Posts: 246

Re: The SKU Timeline

Dallbun wrote:

Out of curiosity, why do you ask?

I thought––apparently correctly––that knowing the meaning of Nemuro's name would give us some insight into his character. Also, the implication of "that man," since implication can be difficult, maybe impossible, to translate.

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#7 | Back to Top06-14-2010 01:33:46 AM

minervana
High Tripper
Registered: 10-10-2009
Posts: 246

Re: The SKU Timeline

I sometimes think of the Ohtori timeline thus: a fixed beginning point, that started an endlessly rotating cycle with no apparent end. Anthy is the spoke in this cycle, since everything, even Akio, revolves around her, and if she's taken out the cycle collapses. This is driven by Akio's wish to force an impossible solution to a problem. Predictably, he fails, tries and fails again. The cycle ends when Utena opens Anthy's coffin and their hands touch; that's when the swords go berserk and the whole illusion is destroyed.

It's possible that Ohtori is actually built in some fundamental way by Akio and Anthy, that the students, the "real chairman," Kanae and so on are just cover for what's been Akio's long, ongoing quest to achieve power through various means. Maybe before the Meiji Restoration they were a samurai school emot-tongue

My guess is that Tokiko could leave because once her brother died, not only did Akio have no further use for her, but she had no "shining thing" that he could dangle in front of her face. She knows that Mamiya is dead and has no reason to deceive herself. What does she want with eternity now that he's gone?

All the talk about each character's "shining things" shows that all the characters are hoping for some resolution to descend from the sky and solve their problems for them. This hope is used to prolong their torment and further Akio's ends, but what Akio is too blind to see is that he's also doing this to himself. The comment about Dios being Akio's "shining thing" is astute. He wants the same thing as the other characters do, and like them he can't really get it. And on some level he wants something that never was and never could be. The tale of the rose implies that Dios was sexually frustrated and his help was met with contempt. Does Akio really want to go back to that life? Do I need to answer that?

One heavy undercurrent in the series, implied constantly but never stated, is how noble actions backfire. The entire story started because Anthy saved her brother's life from the hands of an angry, ungrateful mob. This made them immortal but it also prolonged their torment, and sealed Dios's nobility away, leaving a psychopath in his stead. The whole Ruka/Juri/Shiori triangle is a tortured, complex example of this. Utena is in some ways the "deus ex machina" of the story because she takes what seems like a hopeless cycle––or rather a cycle kept alive by bitter and broken hope––and breaks it.

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#8 | Back to Top06-14-2010 02:03:28 AM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
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Re: The SKU Timeline

minervana wrote:

One heavy undercurrent in the series, implied constantly but never stated, is how noble actions backfire. The entire story started because Anthy saved her brother's life from the hands of an angry, ungrateful mob.

You know, I always thought the implication there was that Anthy's actions weren't noble -- she wanted to save Dios, sure, but part of the reason behind that was simply that she wanted to be the princess, and for him to be her prince. I mean, there's no such thing a selfless act, but Anthy made the choice for him. This is later echoed by Utena, who doesn't actually "save" Anthy from Saionji for her own sake; Utena does it mainly because Saionji had made fun of Wakaba. She also saw it as what Akio later termed a "game;" she was only playing at being a prince. My actual point, mind you, is that the whole story begins when Anthy tries to save Dios by forcing him to do what she thinks will save him. Everything shortly turns to custard. Utena breaks the cycle because she doesn't save Anthy by forcing her to do what she thinks will save her (which is part of the irony of Anthy as the Rose Bride, and her passive-aggressive "subservient" nature). Anthy saves herself. Utena shows her the way, Anthy walks it. Of course, the sad thing about it is that it's not clear from the way the show ends that Utena even understands what she's done, or how she's done it. I see that as the reason why Anthy strides out with such purpose -- she's free now, of course, but she's also got purpose. She needs to tell Utena what she did.

...what I find ironic about Nemuro's name, by-the-by, is that it harks back to the reverse butterfly effect of the elevator. I love that damn elevator. school-devil


It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

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#9 | Back to Top06-14-2010 08:06:35 PM

gpink
Eternal Castellan
Registered: 11-21-2009
Posts: 265

Re: The SKU Timeline

minervana wrote:

Maybe before the Meiji Restoration they were a samurai school emot-tongue

For some reason I think this is very interesting. After all if the school changed abruptly and then became "stuck" for a while repeatedly it would seem to connect with the endless quests of the characters. As soon as the characters seem to be close to winning the whole game changes again.

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#10 | Back to Top06-14-2010 09:02:43 PM

minervana
High Tripper
Registered: 10-10-2009
Posts: 246

Re: The SKU Timeline

Clarice wrote:

You know, I always thought the implication there was that Anthy's actions weren't noble -- she wanted to save Dios, sure, but part of the reason behind that was simply that she wanted to be the princess, and for him to be her prince. I mean, there's no such thing a selfless act, but Anthy made the choice for him. This is later echoed by Utena, who doesn't actually "save" Anthy from Saionji for her own sake...My actual point, mind you, is that the whole story begins when Anthy tries to save Dios by forcing him to do what she thinks will save him. Everything shortly turns to custard. Utena breaks the cycle because she doesn't save Anthy by forcing her to do what she thinks will save her (which is part of the irony of Anthy as the Rose Bride, and her passive-aggressive "subservient" nature). Anthy saves herself. Utena shows her the way, Anthy walks it.

This is a valid point. To be fair, though, if my sibling was dying of exhaustion because other people couldn't solve their own problems, I would probably step in and "seal him away" too, even if he didn't want me to do it. I'd be pretty mad at the world as well. I mean, you don't just let somebody kill themself because that's what they want to do. Even if you don't secretly want to boink them and be their princess.

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#11 | Back to Top06-15-2010 01:32:57 AM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
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Re: The SKU Timeline

minervana wrote:

This is a valid point. To be fair, though, if my sibling was dying of exhaustion because other people couldn't solve their own problems, I would probably step in and "seal him away" too, even if he didn't want me to do it. I'd be pretty mad at the world as well. I mean, you don't just let somebody kill themself because that's what they want to do. Even if you don't secretly want to boink them and be their princess.

Oh, I don't doubt there was something "noble" in what Anthy did. But the way Akio manipulates her into taking the swords suggests to me that Anthy believes she did something wrong there, and I'm assuming her need for him was at the heart of it. She took him away from the world, after all, whether it was for his own good or not. That's his power over her.


It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

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#12 | Back to Top06-15-2010 10:13:56 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: The SKU Timeline

Katzenklavier wrote:

There's no evidence that the church was built over the cabin, and saying that it was has a host of implications... including setting the Tale of the Rose firmly in Japan. Who are these Christian church-builders (who presumably went about their work after 1850) who knew the Tale of the Rose and wanted to honor it?

Excuse my confusion. How does that imply that it's in Japan (ugh I'm not that familiar with Japanese history)? From the usage of the word "conversion?" My mistake there, because I didn't mean that complication. I think that's again tying it down too much to a specific place or time. I'm saying the cemetery and adjoining church might be a grave for Anthy and Akio, possibly explaining it's significance. The fact that it's Christian might just tie into the loose Christian symbols the series is littered with.

I assume Dallbun is just pointing out that the church is specifically in Japan.  Utena, Akio, Anthy, Touga, and Saionji all find themselves at the church on the same night; unless they're all studying abroad in elementary school, the church is certainly Japanese.  So if the church was built over the cabin in the Tale of the Rose, the Tale of the Rose must also have occurred in Japan.  (Unless, of course, the church was later moved, either by a rich and idiosyncratic multimillionaire, such as Akio, or by a magical being with the power to warp time and space, such as Akio.)

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#13 | Back to Top06-15-2010 03:03:26 PM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
Posts: 1120

Re: The SKU Timeline

But one of the main questions for the series is if it's really set in Japan at all, especially the Ohtori area. It's certainly a Japanese show and there are more hints grounding it there than anywhere, but with the amount of French and other European influences, I think it's also intentionally ambiguous. My personal theory is that it's indeed set in Japan, but the Ohtori area (the school and perhaps the church) are part of their own sort of dimension. I guess something like a Bermuda Triangle where the laws of time and reality don't really apply. Even if it were definitely in Japan, I don't think Ikuhara would put much stock into correct Japanese history. He's more the type to think that something looks really cool and stick it in there. This is especially true as I think the Tale of the Rose is more part of the Ohtori world mythology than part of any real system. If it were, it's basis is a lot more in the work of Hans Christian Andersen than any Japanese stories (that I'm aware of!).

minervana: I sometimes think of the Ohtori timeline thus: a fixed beginning point, that started an endlessly rotating cycle with no apparent end. Anthy is the spoke in this cycle, since everything, even Akio, revolves around her, and if she's taken out the cycle collapses. This is driven by Akio's wish to force an impossible solution to a problem. Predictably, he fails, tries and fails again. The cycle ends when Utena opens Anthy's coffin and their hands touch; that's when the swords go berserk and the whole illusion is destroyed.

I think that's an excellent and probably one of the most solid ways of looking at it. However, my re-watching of the Black Rose arc had me noticing a lot of the clues in the background. I believe that makes the arc very important and relevant, distinguishing it from mere filler. My view of it now is that it's a sort of time loop with certain fixed stages. There's a beginning, a pre-Nemuro exploration period, post-Nemuro dueling sessions, and finally the end.


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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#14 | Back to Top06-16-2010 01:49:47 PM

rijichouno
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Registered: 07-27-2009
Posts: 12

Re: The SKU Timeline

Katzenklavier:I don't think Akio is the ultimate power, and that he's just as subject to the rules of the castle as anyone else. That's why he has the duels in the first place and can't predict every outcome. So does that mean that Dios has power and a distinct presence? If so, then why in the end did he apparently abandon Utena? Aaargh!

It's clear that Dios isn't some independently existing entity by the time that Akio is in power at Ohtori; it's been argued here that it's/he's a phantom projection of the castle or of Akio, but I think there's a third option: Dios is only the reflection of Utena's princely nature.  Dios isn't some external power who graces Utena with his power at opportune moments in duels; the appearance of Dios is synonymous with the manifestation of Utena's princely nature.  This fits perfectly with his cameo in ep 39: just as Utena is incapacitated on the ground, Dios is lost in the circular, meaningless child's play on the carousel - completely out of touch with his noble nature.  And when he gives Utena her "consolation," Utena sees this as the final insult needed to spur her forward precisely because that "consolation" is predicated on Dios treating Utena as an object - utterly different from the merging of the two we see in the duels.  It's essentially a replay of the moment where Dios first met Utena and she gained the resolve not to be the object for Dios to save/console (the princess), but Dios himself.

Katzenklavier:But one of the main questions for the series is if it's really set in Japan at all, especially the Ohtori area. It's certainly a Japanese show and there are more hints grounding it there than anywhere, but with the amount of French and other European influences, I think it's also intentionally ambiguous. My personal theory is that it's indeed set in Japan, but the Ohtori area (the school and perhaps the church) are part of their own sort of dimension. I guess something like a Bermuda Triangle where the laws of time and reality don't really apply. Even if it were definitely in Japan, I don't think Ikuhara would put much stock into correct Japanese history. He's more the type to think that something looks really cool and stick it in there.

Just a note that Ohtori could be firmly planted in Japan, no recourse to Bermuda Triangles necessary.  There have been European influences in Japan since the 16th century (the first were the Portuguese, by the way, if you remember the "Latin" reference to Touga early in the series; there are also many Japanese who were raised in Brazil); in Yokohama (near Tokyo), for instance, there's an entire neighborhood of old Western houses, including a cemetery.  And needless to say, Japanese school uniforms - hell, the whole modern school system - was inspired by Europe and the European model.

Last edited by rijichouno (06-16-2010 01:55:54 PM)

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#15 | Back to Top06-16-2010 02:29:27 PM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
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Re: The SKU Timeline

rijichouno: It's clear that Dios isn't some independently existing entity by the time that Akio is in power at Ohtori; it's been argued here that it's/he's a phantom projection of the castle or of Akio, but I think there's a third option: Dios is only the reflection of Utena's princely nature.  Dios isn't some external power who graces Utena with his power at opportune moments in duels; the appearance of Dios is synonymous with the manifestation of Utena's princely nature.  This fits perfectly with his cameo in ep 39: just as Utena is incapacitated on the ground, Dios is lost in the circular, meaningless child's play on the carousel - completely out of touch with his noble nature.  And when he gives Utena her "consolation," Utena sees this as the final insult needed to spur her forward precisely because that "consolation" is predicated on Dios treating Utena as an object - utterly different from the merging of the two we see in the duels.  It's essentially a replay of the moment where Dios first met Utena and she gained the resolve not to be the object for Dios to save/console (the princess), but Dios himself.

But you could also argue that Utena really isn't that princely in the first place. Questioning her "princeliness" is one of the key recurring elements of the series, with everyone from Juri to Anthy exposing the flaws in her ambition. Rather than actually caring for the princess, she cares about appearing noble and obtaining a certain ideal. That would make sense for the end of the series, when Dios is lost in what you described very aptly. But how could she manage to establish a connection with the castle in the first place necessary for such a projection? How is her motivation different enough than anyone else's - Juri, for example, who it was argued very well on this forum could be defined as a prince - to make such a powerful manifestation of her desires? Similarly, how could have Dios appeared to her as a child?

I see what you're getting at and I think it's a very good point. Just asking questions because I think it's very good to generate more analysis. Ultimately, I think the final answer is as always a combination of factors. Dios is probably a phantom and a projection of various people at the same time. Less concrete than Anthy, but still very similar.

Just a note that Ohtori could be firmly planted in Japan, no recourse to Bermuda Triangles necessary.  There have been European influences in Japan since the 16th century (the first were the Portuguese, by the way, if you remember the "Latin" reference to Touga early in the series; there are also many Japanese who were raised in Brazil); in Yokohama (near Tokyo), for instance, there's an entire neighborhood of old Western houses, including a cemetery.  And needless to say, Japanese school uniforms - hell, the whole modern school system - was inspired by Europe and the European model.

Very interesting to know! As I'm going to be a consultant for a Japanese culture class next semester, I need to learn as much as possible, so please everyone educate me further emot-keke. But what I meant by a Bermuda Triangle also refers to the dimensional aspects of Ohtori as well as the historical influences. It's obvious that time does not always progress on a strictly linear basis there, that reality is very much subjective, that memory can be altered and erased, etc. I'm just going to make a pop culture reference and compare to the island on Lost. It's real, but not entirely. Just as random statues of Egyptian gods can pop up on the island, so too can pretty much anything that Ohtori desires on its campus/potentially surrounding area. I mean, for chrissakes, there was a bloody kangaroo randomly hopping around.


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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#16 | Back to Top06-16-2010 03:24:17 PM

rijichouno
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-27-2009
Posts: 12

Re: The SKU Timeline

Katzenklavier wrote:

But you could also argue that Utena really isn't that princely in the first place. Questioning her "princeliness" is one of the key recurring elements of the series, with everyone from Juri to Anthy exposing the flaws in her ambition. Rather than actually caring for the princess, she cares about appearing noble and obtaining a certain ideal. That would make sense for the end of the series, when Dios is lost in what you described very aptly. But how could she manage to establish a connection with the castle in the first place necessary for such a projection? How is her motivation different enough than anyone else's - Juri, for example, who it was argued very well on this forum could be defined as a prince - to make such a powerful manifestation of her desires? Similarly, how could have Dios appeared to her as a child?

My point is that to call Dios - or the castle -  a 'projection' in the sense that Dios is a semi-physical expression of the characters is actually over-concretizing what Dios is.  Dios is only a symbol that the viewer identifies with, in a subconscious way, as princely nature.  What 'Dios' and his princely nature actually is is something like (personal belief, natch) wind, consciousness, or enlightenment - something without physical reality that can only be expressed in symbols.  Which is why the Dios we see in his flashback with Anthy and the fax machine seems to be much more of a real character than the Dios we encounter by Utena's time - Dios is, in those flashbacks, actually an entity interacting with a world.  By Utena's time, he's only a symbol, something to be reenacted, not resurrected.  The fact that Dios and Anthy have an Indian appearance matches with this theory perfectly - no culture delights in religious iconography like India.

So to look at Dios' interactions with other characters from this perspective, there's really no conflict about how he 'appears' - he's simply the symbolic expression of the character's nature/quality at that moment.  Utena originally met Dios because the death of her parents triggered some kind of transformation in herself; Dios only signifies her internal transformation.  It's a nondualistic perspective, which is why Dios treating her as an object (ie, though they are separate) in the last episode is so abhorrent to her.

The castle, likewise, isn't a physical reality that one 'connects' to - it is symbol, pure and simple, of all the extraordinary things the Duelists are fighting for.  This is one of the things I most love about Utena - it conflates symbol and realism, time and timelessness in a way that actually makes more sense to the subconscious than the conscious.

I have a paper posted online on the first European 'invasion' in Japan, if you're interested Katzenklavier: http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl … tml?cat=37

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#17 | Back to Top06-16-2010 04:22:54 PM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
Posts: 1120

Re: The SKU Timeline

The castle, likewise, isn't a physical reality that one 'connects' to - it is symbol, pure and simple, of all the extraordinary things the Duelists are fighting for.

I think there's simply more reciprocity in the dynamic with the castle and Dios then that. This ties into my argument that Akio is a player as opposed to the master illusionist he makes himself out to be, and the significance of locality. Ohtori and the castle are not quite real, and by no means a 'physical reality', but they're not quite unreal either. I suggest they're reactive to the projections of the duelists rather than illusions entirely dependent on perception. The castle/Dios/power of Ohtori and the duelist are locked in an interdependent dynamic where one influences the other. Otherwise, how would there be a game? Why is Utena's projection so much stronger than the others? Why do aspects of the Power mold and shape the characters, some from an early age, into players? If it were all purely subjective manifestation, then there would be no deciding factor in the outcome of the duels. True, playing the game is entirely empty movement (hey that's the site!), as Akio reveals in the end. But the fact that every character is so deeply manipulated by their time at Ohtori suggest there there at least some interplay between the elements. What percentage of that is actually Dios himself is another question entirely.

This is one of the things I most love about Utena - it conflates symbol and realism, time and timelessness in a way that actually makes more sense to the subconscious than the conscious.

Absolutely, and by far one of the best things about the series - that it doesn't spell every damn thing out for you. My philosophy with Utena is that the answer is never yes or no, but always "ish."

I have a paper posted online on the first European 'invasion' in Japan, if you're interested Katzenklavier: http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl … tml?cat=37

Oooh thank you! I'm actually just reading on Japanese attitudes towards language and the influence of gaijin, so this will be a good way to understand some of the historical context.


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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