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Gougai! Gougai!

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 Top07-04-2010 06:03:58 PM

thepopeami
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-04-2010
Posts: 11

A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

A Platonic Interpretation of "Revolutionary Girl Utena"

Introduction to the Setting: the Ohtori Academy

"Revolutionary Girl Utena" is a shōjo, or 'magical girl', animated series which presents the adventures of a tomboyish girl, Utena Tenjou and her ambition to become a prince. The series is set at the prestigious Ohtori Academy for teenage students.  The Ohtori Academy is apparently ruled by a Student Council of tremendous authority and self-importance, whose select members wear a rose-seal ring and are uniquely permitted to enter the forbidden forest arena. The Student Council is directed by a succession of letters mailed from the mysterious "End of the World", who gives millenarian instructions to bring the about the "World Revolution". The Academy is richly decorated in French fantasy Gothic architecture, stained-glass windows, and completed with grandiose organ music. French ornament, letters and Empire-style costumes are continually employed throughout the series; lending the Academy a classical north-European motif (at one point in the series, a teacher mentions there is a sister-school in the Netherlands). The geographic dislocation of this foreign (occidental) design hints at the spacio-temporal dislocation of the setting. Through a baffling variety of surreal psychosexual imagery and supernatural occurrences "Revolutionary Girl Utena" continuously problematizes a coherent and realist narrative of the characters and themes. For this reason, "Revolutionary Girl Utena" has been described as an example of a post-modernist fairy-tale. Any explanation of the plot requires an allegorical interpretation which examines the metaphysical significance of the imagery and storytelling. However, interpretations of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" vary tremendously due to the uncertainty of the show's internal cosmology and metaphysics. I will illustrate a Platonic cosmology and metaphysic with which to interpret the imagery, plot, characters and themes of "Revolutionary Girl Utena".

[*Warning: spoilers ahead*]

In the first episode, the show's pink-haired protagonist Utena Tenjou ascends the winding staircase of the schools’ forbidden dueling arena and is surprised to discover above her an immense inverted and rotating castle. Her dueling opponent, Saionji, tells Utena that this is merely "a trick of the lights". This brief comment warns the audience that much of what Utena, and by extension the audience, experiences through Utena's perspective is an unreal illusion whose extent is never made entirely apparent. The chairman of the Ohtori Academy is Akio Ohtori, brother to Utena's best friend Anthy Himemiya. As chairman of the Academy, Akio lives in a tower which dominates the skyline of the Academy and the sea-side town below.  Akio's room is an enormous astronomical observatory with few furnishings with the exception of a large planetarium projector. In the final episode, Akio reveals that he has used his planetarium to create the illusions of many fantastic settings and events when he exclaims "I shall now reveal reality to you... The end of the World"! It may be therefore be interpreted that much of what occurs in "Revolutionary Girl Utena" has been constructed and coordinated by Akio- the puppet master and illusionist of the cosmos.

In Plato's famed "Allegory of the Cave", Socrates describes to his friends how much of what people experience in the “real” world is merely an illusion similar to shadow-puppetry (a recurring theme in "Revolutionary Girl Utena"). Socrates describes how the philosopher who comes to know the Eternal Forms of Goodness and Beauty can ascend from their ignorant observations of shadows in the dark Cave to the sunlit world above. This ascent from the cave of Illusions to the sunlit world of the Real is an allegory of philosophic initiation from false to real knowledge. In "Revolutionary Girl Utena", the casts' drama of the self-discovery is mirrored by Utena's growing awareness of the source of illusions in the chairman's tower. The characters of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" are perpetually immersed in the idyllic illusions of the Ohtori Academy, whose imagery has been constructed by the chairman Akio. From the heights of his tower he can, like Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, observe and presumably manipulate everything which occurs in the Academy. This creates an interpretive difficulty as the audience, like Utena, remains always uncertain as to what the "real world" might consist of. In a dramatic scene, in which Anthy Himemiya attempts to leap to her death, both the tower and the skyline of the town below bear no resemblance to anything commonly visible from the Ohtori Academy. This indicates that the pleasant sea-side town and the Ohtori Academy as whole may likewise be illusory fantasies to mask a troubling modern cityscape below.

The Ohtori Academy appears as an idyllic setting for adolescent social life with a pristine hill-top college and all types of teenage students represented. There are courses and faculty, who are wholly unimportant to the plot and entirely subservient to the Chairman. Apart from the dorms, classrooms and gymnasiums, the Academy is dominated by two gigantic structures with clear psychosexual symbolism: the immense tower of Akio's planetarium observatory and the gargantuan forest-mound which houses the forbidden dueling arena. The function of these structures, one as creative and the other as romantically climactic, neatly corresponds to their respective psycho-sexual imagery. The forbidden dueling arena is the sight of each episode's epee "sword duel" whose victor is rewarded with the possession of Anthy Himemiya, "the Rose Bride". The duelist who cuts the rose affixed to their opponent's breast wins the duel. The steel swords are a recurring phallic symbol in the show, while the rose likewise a uterine symbol. These duels represent courtship, and their loss represents (often with melodramatic trauma) romantic rejection and humiliation. As the "Rose Bride" and trophy awarded to the champion duelist, Anthy Himemiya is the personification of the procreative potential of Woman's womb. The aspirations of a variety of characters to possess Anthy, is a representation of their desire to gain mastery over their assorted romances. Utena continues to miraculously win these duels so long as she fights on behalf of Anthy with "pure" and unromantic intentions.

Akio Ohtori and Anthy Himemiya: [*FOR THE REVOLUTION OF THE WORLD spoilers*]

Akio and Anthy are first introduced in the second story arc as a charming pair of brother and sister. Yet Akio and Anthy immediately appear as a dramatic contrast in both role and stature. Where Anthy is exceptional in her passivity and submissiveness, Akio is just as uncanny in his booming voice and dominating presence. Anthy is a quiet and lonely girl who waters roses and generally goes unnoticed, while Akio is the Chairman of the Ohtori Academy. It is noticeable that the word “Chairman” indicates a majority stockholder of a modern corporation, unlike “Prince” which alludes to a “Prince du Sang” of the fuedal Ancien Regime. This bourgeois title in a fantasy-gothic Academy hints at the illusory nature of the setting. The superficial charm of Akio and Anthy also masks their cosmic significance.

Akio Ohtori is the Chairman of the Academy, who lives atop a tower in the heart of the school. Akio is engaged to the Ohtori’s daughter, which indicates a sort of usurpation through marriage of an original patrimony. In the third season, Akio is revealed to be the mysterious character "End of the World", who has long been orchestrating the duels among the student council.  As with much of the series' symbolism, Akio's role and significance is never made entirely clear. I propose that his pseudonym, "End of the World", reflects his cosmic significance as a supernatural being archetypically associated with a teleological or purposive "End". This "End" appears to be associated with both the mysterious "World Revolution" which is often referred to as the ultimate ambition of the Student Council, as well as the "Rose Seal" which Akio aspires to open. Akio's dominating stature, astounding foresight, and unrivalled seductive prowess buttresses a supernatural interpretation of his character. Akio is unambiguously preeminent as an aristocratic playboy among the characters. Even the monumental escapades of the Student-Council President Touga Kiryuu, appear childish by comparison. It is clear that all women adore him and all men aspire to emulate him. Yet as his character is revealed, it becomes increasingly apparent that his philanderings are more numerous, predatory and whimsical than those of other men.

Anthy Himemiya is titled "the Rose Bride", and she obediently partners herself with whichever duelist triumphs in the dueling arena. The dueling arena is hidden deep inside a forest, complete with the locked entrance and winding staircase which clearly invokes the symbolism of Woman's womb. Although Anthy sometimes subtly and sometimes remarkably demonstrates some design of her own, she is generally portrayed as wholly submissive, instinctively compassionate and absent of a distinct will or selfhood. Although Anthy illustrates that she is not lacking in intelligence or volition, she nonetheless submits to continually portray herself as though she were. In the final season, it is revealed that Anthy suffers unspeakable agony as "the Rose Bride", with the ceaseless penetration of harrowing multitude of steel swords. It seems that her voluntary humbling of her self-worth and assertiveness is the result of her selfless endurance of the agony of "the Rose Bride". She has nonetheless willingly endured these torments for all eternity due to her compassion for "Dios" and the world. When describing her suffering to Utena Tenjou, Anthy revealing tells Utena that "In the end, girls are all like Rose Brides"; a curious statement which implies that Anthy is somehow an archetype of womanhood in whose characteristics and suffering, all girls participate in.

Like Akio, the cosmic significance of Anthy is never unambiguously revealed. However, if Akio has supernatural and cosmic significance, then as Akio's twin-sister it is reasonable to presume that Anthy shares in this significance. Yet Anthy demonstrates characteristics of submissiveness, passivity, and docility entirely inimical to Akio's god-like stature. I propose that their opposed characteristics indicate that Akio and Anthy are likewise the most extreme embodiments of the polar-archetypes of Man and Woman- in all of their unflattering and horrific excesses. This interpretation is buttressed by the respective sites of these characters’ principal importance: Akios’ phallic observatory tower and Anthy's Hidden Castle held aloft in the uterine dueling arena forest.

In the final season, Utena is told a story from the distant past in which Anthy was a witch who comforted Dios when he had become exhausted and ill from "helping mankind". Anthy's compassion leads Dios to repose and cease assisting mankind, which evinces the intense hatred of men. The cosmic significance of Dios in this past setting is unclear, however the results are illuminating: the nursing aid which Anthy provides appears to allow Dios to rest from his labors, after which he ceases to perform his princely function. "Dios" is recollected yet never on stage (notice the similarity to the Latin word for God, 'Deus'). Akio is "the End of the World"; a god-figure who has seemingly replaced "Dios" just as he has usurped the patrimony of the Ohtori Academy. If Akio has replaced Dios and his cosmic significance is found in the teleological end, then it is plausible that Dios's significance was alternatively found in the beginning. If Dios is "the Beginning of the World", then he must be the progenitor and creator of the universe, whose labors represent Creation. When Anthy nurses Dios after his labors, she allegorically arouses the intense hatred of a crowd of rioters, who represent humanities judgment. Nursing Dios was the crime for which Anthy is consigned to eternal torment. If Anthy is a personification of womanhood whose torments are likewise participated in by "all girls", then Anthy's crime for which she and they are tormented must transpire at the beginning of time, concurrently with the Dios’s creation- "the Beginning of the World".

This primordial resting of Dios and nursing of Anthy therefore represent a theodicy; or the supernatural origin of Evil. As Dios would later be replaced by the more malevolent Akio, these evils are presumably those associated with the archetypes of Man and Woman, as they pertain to love, sex and romance. Dios was, in the beginning, a heroic demiurge, or architect of the Universe, whose misdeed was to seek comfort in the care and compassion of Anthy Himemiya. Anthy was in the beginning a diminutive witch whose selfless aid to Dios caused him to abandon his herculean task of cosmogenesis. The repose of Dios is a cessation of his demiurgic labors in the service of all humanity, and the private care and intimate companionship of Woman, as Anthy. In episode 38, Akio describes how the "When she [Anthy] became known as a witch Dios, the Prince, vanished from this world. The Prince I was no longer exists." Although Anthy's aid was apparently altruistic, her actions are nonetheless the cause for the cessation of the divine labors of Dios. If Dios and Anthy are here interpreted as the primordial first Man and Woman, then their private companionship is likewise the first romance. Anthy, as Woman, is a temptress who like Eve naively brought evil into the world. Dios, as Man, is like Adam the irresponsible first Man whose love for Anthy allows Evil to enter into the world. Although love may appear innocent, it is irreversibly tainted with criminality from its first beginnings. 

In Plato's dialog "The Symposium", the great Athenian playwright Aristophanes tells a myth in which people long ago had two bodies, with two faces and two limbs turned away from one another. Aristophanes describes how these double-persons were very powerful than today and comprised of three sexes rather than two: twin males, twin females, and a mixed pair of one male and one female body. In their pride, these creatures attempted to climb to the heights of Heaven and attack the gods. As punishment, Zeus crippled them by dividing them into separate beings; some male and some female. Consequently, people today expend their time ceaselessly searching to unite with their lost "other half", and therefore cannot foreseeably challenge the gods. As the first conjugal union of Man and Woman, Dios and Anthy are likewise the parents of all later men and women. When Utena confronts Akio about his incestuous relations with Anthy, he appears wholly unconcerned and describes that Utena is just as guilty as he. That Anthy and Akio's relations are not "unnatural" follows from their cosmic significance as the archetypal embodiments of Man and Woman.  Their incestuous relations represent the procreative coupling, or "incest", of a formerly divided humanity. If the romance of Dios and Anthy at the beginning of time was the consummation of the archetypal personifications of Man and Woman, then their progeny would comprise all of humanity. Furthemore, the romance and sexual reproduction of all later men and women would perpetually reproduce the original love and crime of Dios and Anthy. Just as Dios reposed in Anthy's care, so are all later men and women are irreversibly attracted to one another in a never-ending repetition of this “original sin”- the romance of Dios and Anthy Himemiya.

In the beginning Dios was both benevolent and interventionist. Yet with the introduction of evil, Dios is replaced with Akio; an archetypal Man who is ever-more predatory, aloof and seemingly unconcerned with the suffering of humans. Apart from Utena's dreams and the illusions of the Arena, Dios is alluded to yet entirely absent from the stage. In her dreams Utena is told by Dios that "He[the Prince] is now 'End of the World'". If Dios has been replaced by Akio, how this has occurred and what this might signify is a mystery. While Akio's powers are immense, his appearance, characteristics, and limitations distinguish him from an omnipotent and benevolent architect of the Cosmos. Furthermore, there occasionally occur “miracles” which greatly astonish Akio, indicating there to be hidden supernatural powers of which he has no knowledge or participation.   

In Utena's dreams (which in the world of illusions must reveal reality) Anthy is shown to be continuously pierced by a multitude of steel shafts and swords; an agony which represents the coitus and impregnation of Woman by Man and the very climactic moment of romance and reproduction. The pains of possessiveness, coitus, childbearing, birth, and nursing are felt most intensely by women. As the personification of all women, Anthy suffers eternal torment commensurate with the pains of all women. In episode 37, Anthy and Akio are displayed hurtling fiercely down the road. Anthy cries out in pain as Akio grimaces and accelerates. Akio distressingly tells Anthy: "In pain, Anthy? Well, I'm not the one who causes it. The world does!" Although Anthy suffers immeasurably, she nonetheless freely undertakes this burden. When Utena confronts Akio with the challenge that he had made Anthy a witch, Akio responds: "No. We both love each other. She can no longer be happy except like this". Akio explains to Utena: "A child like you cannot understand my ideals. The Rose Bride exists for ideals you do not know." As the archetype of Womanhood, Anthy's sacrifice preserves the romance, reproduction, and continuity of humanity. Although it is not as apparent, Akio too suffers and occasionally weeps in his role as the archetypal personification of Man. Both Akio and Anthy appear to share a supernatural concern for human destiny and sexual continuity, which would be inexplicable if Anthy and Akio were merely mortal humans.

Analysis of the Characters: [*Minimal Spoilers*]

Apart from Akio and Anthy, all of the principal characters in "Revolutionary Girl Utena" are themselves archetypal representations of distinctive romances; either as lovers, friends or siblings. There are eight characters involved in the "Rose Council" arena-duels: Akio, Anthy, Touga, Utena, Miki, Juri, Saionji, and Nanami. Of these, there are four men and four women:

Anthy - archetypal Woman
Utena - noble and naive tomboy
Juri - aloof strong willed lesbian
Nanami - comical insecure girl

Akio - archetypal Man   
Touga - treacherous preeminent playboy   
Miki - compulsive aloof intellectual    
Saionji - abusive aspiring playboy   

Of these characters, there are eight important relationships:

Utena - Anthy:     Best friends
Utena - Touga:     Unsuccessful romantic relationship
Utena -Akio:  Brief romantic relationship
Anthy -Akio:  Eternal romantic relationship
Touga - Nanami:  Devoted brother and sister
Touga - Saionji:  Estranged best friends
Miki - Kozue: Estranged brother and sister
Juri - Shiori: Estranged lesbian relationship

Touga Kiryuu: Touga is the President of the supremely important Student Council, as well as the preeminent playboy on campus; complete with godlike charm and appearance. Touga is uncannily aristocratic in dress and poise, and commonly corrects the moral and intellectual mistakes of his fellow council-members. Although Touga generally appears magnanimous, he occasionally reveals his hidden contempt for his friends, whom he is too willing to betray for his own pleasure and ambition. Touga aspires to dominate the duels of the Student Council arc, which are associated with childhood romance. However, he is ultimately unable to gain "the power to revolutionize the world", and afterwards reflects upon his infantile domination of naďve girls in this adolescent phase. As Touga is unable to realize this ambition, he cannot become the equal of Akio. The unrealizability of his ambitions eventually leads him to reconsider his playboy lifestyle. Although Touga has no romantic fixations, his principal passion of gaining the fantastic power to "Revolutionize the World" is his dramatic conflict.

Miki Kaoru: Micki is a kind, intelligent and intensely compulsive young man. His recurrent motif is the thought of musical notation and the checking of his stop-watch. Despite the adoration of many women, Miki remains too stern and aloof to womanize as Touga and Saionji do. His romantic longings are the result of his nostalgia for the childhood companionship of his twin-sister Kozue, with whom he continues to room despite their evident maturity. Miki is contemptuous of Kozue due to her imbecility and promiscuous relations with men. His aloofness and disinterestedness towards women in general may be an extension of this relationship with his sister.

Saionji Kyouichi: Saionji is Touga's dueling partner and long-time best friend, often displayed riding a tandem bike behind Touga. Saionji is the first dueling champion whose abuse towards Anthy motivates Utena to become a duelist in her defense. Saionji is continually frustrated by his unrealized ambition to match the heights of Touga's prestige. Although he shares in the appearance and womanizing of Touga, he is shown to be inferior in charm and subtlety. Touga comes to feel contemptuous of Saionji for these deficiencies, and their friendship is estranged. Saionji is often presented as a satire of an arrogant, cruel and over-aggressive man with anxieties of impotence and inferiority. Saionji's comical frustration is the source of his dramatic conflict.

Juri Arisugawa: Juri is the strong-willed and aloof captain of the fencing team, whose outward nobility hides an embarrassing weakness. Juri obsessively maintains an infatuation with the girl Shiori who taught her to believe in miracles, and afterward betrayed her trust by stealing away her boyfriend. Juri is a terrific fencer and the most noticably stern, athletic and masculine woman. Although both Juri and Miki intend to remain aloof from romance, Juri's explicit sapphic attraction towards Shiori continues to trouble her.

Nanami Kiryuu: Nanami is the fiercely devoted sister of Touga, for whom she has a "big-brother complex". She aspires to be the first woman in Touga's life and for this reason resents his incessant womanizing. Nanami is often the subject of the shows' satirical portrayal of women. She comically aspires to embody the archetype of esteemed womanhood, yet instead exemplifies all the frivolities, insecurities, and pompousness which are associated with the silliest aspects of women. In this regard, she is the female equivalent of Saionji's frustrated attempts to realize the archetype of manhood. Both characters idolize and aspire to achieve the awesome prestige of Touga, and therefore suffer from a relation of inferiority which they come to resent.

Utena Tenjou: Utena is an orphaned and assertive tomboy whose compassion for Anthy motivates her to defend Anthy from the other duelists. Late in the show, Utena reveals that her friendship with Anthy is “pure” and presumably not erotic like Juri’s sapphic relationship with Shiori. When compared with the manipulative or erotic relationships of the other charactesr, Utena and Anthy can be considered the most devout and authentic friends of “Revolutionary Girl Utena”. Utena’s pride, princely ambition, and fierce loyalty to Anthy permit her to long remain aloof from the tangled romances which the other characters partake in. Several men court her, yet for much of the show no man succeeds in seducing her. Her unavailability and personal magnanimity nevertheless attracts to her the greatest of suitors, whose affections she cannot remain forever without. This dramatic conflict between Utena’s ambition to be a Prince, who protects Anthy her figurative princess, and her romantic longings to be the object of a man’s affection, or a Princess, is a microcosm of the series’ broader conflict between the characters' autonomous individual actualization and sexual determinism. 

[*More Spoilers*]

In defending and befriending Anthy, Utena intends to similarly emancipate Anthy from her perpetual role as the “Rose Bride”. When the series begins, Anthy presents herself to the champion duelist (then Saionji) as wholly subservient, passive, and compassionate. After defending Anthy from abuse, Utena befriends her without the foreknowledge of Anthy’s cosmic significance. Utena intends to continually defend Anthy from the duelists while teaching her to be more assertive, self-actualized, and to eventually find new friends. Insofar as Utena intends, through example and education, to inspire Anthy to become an autonomous woman, her emancipatory role has the semblance of heroic feminism combating the abuses of concubinage and sexual determinism. As Anthy is both the first woman and archetypal personification of the suffering of all women, her emancipation by Utena then embodies the historical dialectic between patriarchal obedience and liberal feminist autonomy. It is questionable whether Utena ever fully realizes the cosmic, rather than merely personal, significance of her role as Anthy’s liberator, and could thereby be correctly described as a self-conscious feminist. The ahistoricity of “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, implies that it cannot simply be interpreted as historically situated in the modern era. “Revolutionary Girl Utena” rather subtly avoids any explicit ideological references to feminism, while advancing Utena as a non-ideological moral exemplar whose “pure” friendship with Anthy motivates her heroism.

It is notable that none of the other characters in "Revolutionary Girl Utena" so extremely embody the masculine and feminine characteristics as do Akio and Anthy. If the romance of Dios and Anthy at the beginning of time was the consummation of the archetypal personifications of Man and Woman, then their progeny would comprise all humanity, which would afterwards be divided into the two sexes of men and women. All later humans would, as in "the Symposium", be particular instantiations of these primordial archetypes of Man and Woman. However, no later human could thereafter instantiate these archetypes with the characteristics of masculinity and femininity as completely and unreservedly as this original couple. As all later humans are the result of this consummate union, they then share in some relative portion of the characteristics of both Anthy and Akio. The relative instantiation of masculine and feminine characteristics explain the distinct romances and aspirations of the characters. For this reason, much of the dramatic tension among the characters results from their inability to achieve or subvert, in their person, these ideal archetypes of Man and Woman. 

Much of the psycho-imagery and recollection follows upon the private experiences and memories of the characters. These ecstasies of regret and expectation are possible because, in “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, time and space are presented as entirely subjective to the characters' private experience. If much of the drama of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is interpreted as the personal illusion of Utena Tenjou, then the cast may plausibly be considered to be the archetypes of girlish romantic fantasies. This in interpretation is supplemented by the flamboyant hair of the duelists which encompasses the whole of the color spectrum from blue purple to red. With this understanding, Akio is clearly the supreme representative of aristocratic Manhood, whom Touga idolizes and aspires to equal. Similarly, Saionji and Nanami idolize Touga and aspire to match his prestige according to the distinctive archetypes of their sex. Utena and Juri are both masculine women with female companions, yet Utena's relationship is fraternal while Juri's is romantic. Utena and Micki are noticeably less concerned with romance than the other characters, yet remain attached to the women, Anthy and Kozue respectively.

Progression of the Series:

The philosophic initiation of the characters into the mysteries of the sexually charged duels, and the illusions surrounding the Ohtori Academy, is representative of these characters' psycho-sexual maturation from childhood fantasy into the adult knowledge of the “real” world. This awakening is memorably described alternatively as "escaping from [their] coffins" and "crack[ing] the world's shell". This psycho-sexual initiation echoes the Platonic ascent of the philosopher from the Cave of illusions to the world of the Real. In Plato's dialog "the Phaedrus", Socrates describes how learning wisdom is similar to the initiation of pederasty. As a wise man must teach his pupil that his thoughts are inadequate, the pupils' most intimate ideas must be exposed and humiliated before the pupil can attain true wisdom. This theme of philosophic and psycho-sexual initiation is represented in the three thematically distinct story arcs of "Revolutionary Girl Utena"; each of which contain distinctive psycho-sexual imagery. Each thematic arc represents a more advanced stage of romance and maturation, which concludes in the final episodes, or the "Absolute Destiny Apocalypse", when the true meaning of the themes and cosmology of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is finally revealed to Utena and the audience.

The first is the Student Council Arc with episodes 1 to 13, during which Utena duels with the members of the Student Council culminating in a two-part duel the Student Council President, Touga. These duels are openly challenged in person by the combatants. The conclusion of these duels are characterized by a loss of innocent expectations of idyllic romance. Much remains unexplained and modern machines rarely intrude into the fantasy-gothic setting. Throughout this arc, the characters retain an undisturbed psychic unity which is then fragmented upon their first loss of a duel. The childhood psychic unity is represented by the featurelessness of the arena which hints that the romantic illusion remains believable.

The second is the Black Rose Arc with episodes from 14 to 24, during which time Utena duels with the romantic partners of the Student Council. These duels are initiated by psychologically vulnerable and psycho-therapeutically manipulated characters, whose challenge is issued in secret with a letter in Utena's locker. The psychologists’ ambition of self-discovery through ingenious research is a preeminent anxiety, which mirrors modern man's troubled understanding of himself. The imagery of these duels is of death, descent into an abyss, and self-annihilation. The challenger's desire to duel arises after intense psychological introspection into the innermost macabre concepts of sadism, excess, death and rebirth. Throughout this arc the characters struggle with the consequences of their prior romantic humiliation, as well as the resulting fragmentation of their original psychic unity. This fragmented self is represented by the multitude of swiftly-collapsing desks which hold aloft the objects of their desire.

The third is the Akio Ohtori Arc with episodes from 25 to 39, during which Utena duels all of her former opponents in pairs. These duels are excitedly initiated by the Student Council members, as well as their lovers from the "Black Rose" arc, after a ride in Akio's supernatural automobile; his chariot of enlightenment. This automobile ride with Akio represents an ecstatic initiation into the true meaning of love and romance. The acceleration of the automobile approaches a distant of point on the horizon of infinite movement and intensity. This forthcoming singularity represents the climactic moment of consummation when the world dizzyingly drifts away and all that is left is the eternal now. The duelists who emerge from this experience appear with complete knowledge of love, romance and the Real. Akio's automobile is a deus ex machina, a god-machine, with which he imparts the duelists with divine illumination of reality. This ride restores the duelists to their psychic unity, yet initiated with a zealously renewed purpose.

Conclusion: "the Revolution of the World" [*ABSOLUTE DESTINY APOCALYPSE spoilers*]

All of the characters struggle to resolve their romantic fixations and anxieties, coming to the fullest realization of their social and romantic selfhood in "Revolutionary Girl Utena"'s final arc. This conclusion of the series and teleological end of the characters' maturation is the actualization of their "Absolute Destiny Apocalypse".  In conformity to her childhood dream, Utena Tenjou is offered an idyllic marriage with Akio, her prince, as her reward for triumphing in the duels. In a typical fairy-tale, this would be the conclusion of the drama. However Utena rejects this escapist fantasy and rather fulfills her princely ambitions by challenging Akio, "the End of the World", to a duel to liberate Anthy. At this moment when the cross-dressing Utena challenges the god-figure Akio to liberate her girlfriend Anthy, "Revolutionary Girl Utena" could most plausibly be interpreted as a feminist allegory. In this final duel, Akio reveals how he had scripted the "fairy-tale" illusions of the duels, the arena and the inverted castle. Akio discloses his metaphysical preeminence when he describes how "there is no place higher than this room [the Planetarium]. This room is the summit of the Ohtori Academy; the summit of the world itself." Akio discloses that the prior duels had been arranged as an illusion without any real danger, while victory in a duel against him is both dangerous and impossible. In this climactic scene, Utena is backstabbed by Anthy with the Sword , as she will not allow Utena to interfere with her cosmic role as the "Rose Bride". Akio's revelation and the injury of Utena demonstrate that this final duel is entirely real, rather than merely an illusion. As the embodiment of all women, Anthy's betrayal represents the betrayal of Utena's emancipatory ambitions by her womanhood- the biological determinism of her sex. Utena then collapses and concedes that she could never have become a prince. As Utena renounces her princely ambitions, it appears that sexual determinism has triumphed over an emancipatory feminist narrative.

How does Akio intend to "Revolutionize the World"? Consider that to 'revolutionize' something is to overturn and make something anew. The conflicts of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" are centered on romance, sexuality and gender roles. There it must be this sexual-order which the duelists intend to "revolutionize". However, the sexes were biologically fixed as Man and Woman in the beginning with the "original sin" of Dios and Anthy's primordial union. With this knowledge, Akio may conspire to "Revolutionize the World" to reverse this "original sin", whose result has been the "fallen" romances of Man and Woman. He aspires to gain the demiurgic potential which Dios possessed in the beginning before "the Fall", so that he might recreate the cosmos by his design. Akio appears to require to duelists to gain this potential, and to have coordinated these duels many times previously at the Ohtori Academy. The duels represent the contest of wills between lovers in a traumatic romance. With these duels, it may be the frustrated passions of the duelist's love, incarnated in their swords drawn from the heart, which grants Akio "the power to Revolutionize the World". All of the duelists covet this power, but none are fully aware of its nature nor can feasibly achieve it. As no finite being can overturn and reconstruct the order of the cosmos, the characters' initiation eventually discloses to them the futility of their ambition. This realization, along with the actualization of their sexed role in the order of the universe, allows these characters to be contented with their humility and finitude. If feminism means a revolutionary emancipation from these sexed roles, then the characters of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" concede that this option as an impossibility. Characteristically Utena and Touga are the last to surrender their fantastic ambitions.

After the final duel between Utena and Akio, Anthy submits to be immolated by a ceaseless torrent of steel swords from every direction. As the swords are phallic and Anthy is the embodiment of Woman, this self-sacrifice represents the consummation of the Child within Woman's womb. Anthy appears to submit to this and Akio to allow it, because both believe it to be inevitable and necessary for the procreation and continuity of humanity. Anthy must continually be sacrificed and rebirthed to allow for perpetual sexual reproduction. Like the transience of memory and generations, she is continually borne anew with the natural world, while Akio remains eternal and unchanging like the Platonic Forms. At this moment of consummation, Akio intends to force open the now revealed "Rose Seal" which is thought to contain within it "the Power to Revolutionize the World". The intentions of the characters in this scene might only be explained if their symbolic actions had supernatural cosmic significance. As consummation constitutes the creation of an entirely new person, this Rose Seal in this moment uniquely contains the hidden power of Woman’s womb- creation ex nihilo! Although Utena is stabbed by Anthy, she nonetheless struggles to release Anthy and succeeds- to Akio's bewilderment- in opening the "Rose Seal", which reveals a coffin in which a reborn Anthy sleeps. Utena had heretofore enjoyed the aid of miraculous intervention in her duels because she was uniquely uninterested in the romances or ambitions of the other duelists, and rather dueled in defense of her friendship with Anthy (recall that Utena's only loss occurred in the Episode 12 when she briefly fancied Touga). Many of the characters allude to the power of "Eternity" and "Miracles" which lies hidden in the heights of the inverted Castle. What this could mean is not clearly revealed, yet it seems that due to Utena's selfless courage she enjoys this power's favor. This is likely the origin her miraculous opening of the "Rose Seal". Upon doing so Utena desperately reaches for Anthy's hand with which to pull her from the coffin. She cannot do so and the swords which had formerly been directed at the sacrificial Anthy are suddenly redirected towards Utena. Then the camera pans away as Utena's body is immolated as a surrogate sacrificial Bride, in Anthy’s place.

In the final scenes, Utena is revealed to have apparently died and then been forgotten by next years' students of the Ohtori Academy. The possession of loved ones, like the eternity of memories, is a principal theme in “Revolutionary Girl Utena” which continually highlights the private experience of time and space.  That Utena had died and been forgotten emphasizes that eternity, fame and remembrance, like friendship and romance, are ultimately impossible to achieve. The new students occupy the same spaces as Utena's classmates without an appreciation of its emotional significance; alluding to the ephemeral quality of memory, emotion and self-importance in the succession of generations. Akio is shown working at a heretofore unseen desk with piles of paperwork, planning to recruit a new group of student duelists. Upon politely asking for, rather than commanding, Anthy's assistance, she informs Akio that she is leaving the Academy to search for Utena. Akio's desk and paperwork, like his car and planetarium, represent the distinctively non-heroic bourgeois culture of the modern world, in contrast to the former aristocratic dress of the 18th century Ancien Regime. The conclusion of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" announces the psychological and cultural shift from the pre-modern to the modern world. As Anthy leaves, she is therefore depicted as an independent woman, walking assertively and wearing modern cosmopolitan clothes. As Utena was the consummate surrogate-sacrifice, Anthy intends to search for Utena as she is reborn as the "Rose Bride". Utena's self-sacrifice exemplifies the theme that, although maternity forever requires self-sacrifice for the chain of generations, the bonds of friendship shared among women can elevate the conscience of all women from the condition of the "Rose Bride" to that of the heroic "Prince".

Download the illustrated PDF:  http://drop.io/avm5xgt/asset/a-platonic … -utena-pdf

Last edited by thepopeami (07-17-2010 05:37:23 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top07-04-2010 07:20:55 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
Website

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

I haven't finished reading this yet, but I will say that I love this and will post more comments after I'm through with it cool

EDIT: Hmm... according to your essay, it seems to differ from what I believed the show was trying to show: Anthy's departure meaning the departure from her old role as the archetypal woman, rather than a transition into the "Prince", which would have otherwise meant she still remains within the confines of the cosmos and its cyclical nature.

But, your essay would explain why Anthy's shadow is right in front of her rather than laid flat on the plains when she left Ohtori, much like walking on a stage, and she really is just facing a wall.

So, is the release from archetypal roles an impossible goal to attain, I wonder...?

Last edited by Hiraku (07-04-2010 07:44:30 PM)

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#3 | Back to Top07-04-2010 10:03:45 PM

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

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Awesome essay, thepopeami, and quite an impressive introduction to the forums. Hope you'll stick around! If you want to browse the other rambling analytical conversations of this community, you should check out the Master Analysis Catalogue thread.

I like the essay a lot, as well as your choice of analytical lens. I wanted to comment on some of the content, though:

There are eight characters involved in the "Rose Council" arena-duels: Akio, Anthy, Touga, Utena, Miki, Juri, Saionji, and Nanami. Of these, there are four men and four women:

This is totally nitpicking (as are many of the following comments), but do you mean just the "Student Council Arc" duels? If you mean all the duels, of course there are far more than just eight. (Even if you're only counting people with proper Rose Signets, that adds Mikage and Ruka.) It totally ruins the symmetry, but what can you do?

Nanami - comical insecure girl

Nanami is often comical, but I don't know if I'd call it a defining character trait for her any more than it is for Saionji: there's very little funny about her during her duel episodes. She and Saionji are just huge targets for mockery because they both take themselves too seriously. emot-tongue

Miki - compulsive aloof intellectual

Not at all! For an intellectual character, Miki is quite distinctly non-aloof. He's friendly, sociable, and seems to hold little disdain for others (besides Kozue, for not living up to his idealized image of her.) Compare and contrast to Mikage.

Saionji - abusive aspiring playboy

I don't think you can call Saionji an aspiring playboy. Saionji disdains Touga's playboy-ness (at least outwardly) and would never seek to emulate it. Indeed, one of his first actions is carelessly throwing out Wakaba's love letter, hardly the act of someone seeking to cultivate female attention. Instead, he frames his abusive relationship in the most idealized, romantic light.

Of these characters, there are eight important relationships:

Touga - Nanami:  Devoted brother and sister

Hmm... although Touga seems genuinely fond of Nanami, I don't know if I'd call him "devoted." He uses her as a pawn far too readily and without any apparent qualms.

Juri - Shiori: Estranged lesbian relationship

I know you're just making simplifications, but I still think it's a bit of a stretch to claim that there was ever a "lesbian relationship" for them to be estranged from.

Touga Kiryuu: ...The unrealizability of his ambitions eventually leads him to reconsider his playboy lifestyle. Although Touga has no romantic fixations, his principal passion of gaining the fantastic power to "Revolutionize the World" is his dramatic conflict.

So are you writing off Touga's romantic fixation on Utena, and any role it might have had in causing him to reconsider his lifestyle?

Miki Kaoru: Micki is a kind, intelligent and intensely compulsive young man. His recurrent motif is the thought of musical notation and the checking of his stop-watch. Despite the adoration of many women, Miki remains too stern and aloof to womanize as Touga and Saionji do. His romantic longings are the result of his nostalgia for the childhood companionship of his twin-sister Kozue, with whom he continues to room despite their evident maturity. Miki is contemptuous of Kozue due to her imbecility and promiscuous relations with men. His aloofness and disinterestedness towards women in general may be an extension of this contempt for his sister.

I agree that Miki's crush on Anthy is explicitly a projection of his idealized image of his younger sister. But... what "aloofness and disinterestedness towards women in general" are you talking about? emot-confused The only time we see another female adoring him is during episode 4, when Nanami seems interested in him... and he's oblivious to her because he's already fixated on Anthy. He seems no more "aloof" from women than any other pubescent young romantic.

Nanami Kiryuu: ...She comically aspires to embody the archetype of esteemed womanhood, yet instead exemplifies all the frivolities, insecurities, and pompousness associated with the worst aspects of women. In this regard, she is the female equivalent of Saionji's frustrated attempts to realize the archetype of manhood.

Awesome comparison! emot-aaa Do we have a thread about this yet!?

Utena Tenjou: ...Many men court her, yet for much of the show no man succeeds in seducing her. Her unavailability and personal magnanimity nevertheless attracts to her the greatest of suitors, whose affections she cannot remain forever without.

"Many men court her"? emot-confused The only people who try to court Utena are Touga and Akio, who are the "greatest of suitors" that you mention, right? The other boys in the school never show any romantic interest in her at all... only in her sports prowess. Tatsuya feigns a crush, and Miki jokes about it at the end (as does Juri), but her admiring throngs (of debatable intent) are basically all girls.

At this moment when the cross-dressing Utena challenges the god-figure Akio to liberate her girlfriend Anthy, "Revolutionary Girl Utena" could most plausibly be interpreted as a feminist allegory. Akio then reveals that the prior duels had been arranged as an illusion without any real danger, while victory in a duel against him is dangerous and impossible. In this climactic scene, Utena is backstabbed by Anthy who will not allow Utena to interfere with her cosmic role as the "Rose Bride". As the embodiment of all women, Anthy's betrayal represents the betrayal of Utena's emancipatory ambitions by her womanhood; or the biological determinism of her sex. Utena then collapses and concedes that she could never have become a prince. As Utena renounces her princely ambitions, it appears that sexual determinism has triumphed over an emancipatory feminist narrative.

I don't agree with the argument in this section. Certainly, at this point the valiant, gender-challenging Utena is in danger of losing to a manipulative, omnipotent male god-figure and the resigned, traitorous woman who gives him her loyalty, but how on earth does that move it away from being a feminist allegory? emot-confused It becomes more and more of a feminist narrative with every line, and would be even if she failed horribly and died right then and there. (Although I agree with your earlier point that Utena can hardly be called a self-conscious feminist.)

After the final duel between Utena and Akio, Anthy submits to be immolated by a ceaseless torrent of steel swords from all direction. As the swords are phallic and Anthy is the embodiment of Woman, this self-sacrifice represents the consummation of the child within Woman's womb. Anthy appears to submit to this and Akio to allow it, because they both believe it to be both inevitable and necessary for procreation. Anthy must continually be sacrificed and rebirthed to allow for sexual reproduction of. Like the transience of memory and generations, she is continually borne anew with the natural world, while Akio remains eternal and unchanging like the Platonic Forms. At this moment of consummation, Akio intends to force open the now revealed "Rose Seal" which is thought to contain within it "the Power to Revolutionize the World". As consummation constitutes the creation of an entirely new person, this moment uniquely contains the power of creation ex nihilo.

Interesting argument, but the imagery doesn't really support it. Certainly, the swords are phallic and Anthy is the embodiment of Woman, but there's no implication that the Rose Bride is continually born anew: there's no imagery of birth in the process whatsoever, of herself or of anything else. Likewise, it's hard for me to accept that Anthy is somehow cyclical while Akio is static. On the contrary, the Rose Bride is presented as unchanging and eternal in her pain: just look at the language Dios uses to describe her during Utena's flashback in episode 34.

Upon doing so Utena desperately reaches for Anthy's hand with which to pull her from the coffin. She cannot do so and the swords which had formerly been directed at the Anthy-sacrifice are suddenly redirected towards Utena. The camera pans away as Utena's body is immolated, presumably as a surrogate sacrificial Bride in place of Anthy.

It seems to me that Utena was impaled not as a Rose Bride, but as a Prince. The Prince was, after all, the original target of the swords to begin with. As Akio explains it, the Rose Bride is necessary to to draw the swords away from the Prince. However, because Utena is drawing Anthy out of her coffin, Anthy also disappears from her Rose Bride position and there's nothing to keep the swords from Utena.

Either way, though, it occurs to me that if Anthy had ignored Utena and retreated back into her coffin, she might have been able to reassume her place as the Rose Bride and save Utena from the swords. Ouch. That just adds even more pathos to the scene.

In the final scenes, Utena is revealed to have died and then been forgotten by next years' students of the Ohtori Academy

To nitpick again, Utena is only revealed to have been forgotten; Anthy argues that she hasn't died, but simply left the world of Ohtori. Actually, the argument that she died is only implied by the fact that Anthy feels the need to refute it.

Akio's desk and paperwork represent the distinctively non-heroic bourgeois culture of the modern world, in contrast to the former Aristocratic dress of 18th century France. The conclusion of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" announces the cultural shift from the pre-modern to the modern world.

I'd just like to point out that this isn't the first time the series has featured imagery of modern work culture. The two Nemuro flashback episodes spring to mind, as well as the fax machine and business-suited men in the Tale of the Rose flashback.

Akio is shown working at a(heretofore unseen) desk with piles of paperwork and plans to recruit a new group of student duelists. Upon politely asking for(rather than commanding) Anthy's assistance

Your emphasis on Akio's politeness seems misplaced to me. Akio isn't showing Anthy any more respect than normal. He uses similar language elsewhere, like "Thanks for your help" during their casual phone conversation in episode 33. Rather, the point of this scene is to show that even after all the drama and emotion of the last two episodes, his attitude towards her hasn't changed in the slightest. Indeed, his comment of "I'm counting on you again, Anthy" is delivered offhandedly, without even looking at her, showing that he continues to take her cooperation for granted.

With these duels, it may be the frustrated passions of the duelist's love which grants Akio "the power to Revolutionize the World". All of the duelists covet this power, but none are fully aware of its nature nor can feasibly achieve it. As no finite being can overturn and reconstruct the order of the cosmos, the characters' initiation eventually discloses to them the futility of their ambition. This realization and actualization of their sexed role in the order of the universe, then allows these characters to be contented with their humility and finitude. If feminism means a revolutionary emancipation from sexed roles, then the cast of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" concedes that this option as an impossible fantasy. Characteristically Utena and Touga are the last to surrender this ambition.

As Utena was the consummate surrogate-sacrifice, Anthy intends to search for Utena as she is reborn as the "Rose Bride". Utena's self-sacrifice emphasizes that, although maternity forever requires a self-sacrifice for the chain of generations, the heroic bonds of friendship shared among women can elevate the conscience of all women from the condition of the "Rose Bride" to that of the heroic "Prince".

Like Hiraku says, this seems to be a rather pessimistic reading. "She didn't cause a Revolution after all. Now that she's gone, she was just a dropout to this world," Akio comments at the end. But Anthy refutes him: "You don't know what happened, do you?" Utena did cause a revolution from sexed roles: it's not impossible. It's just that she did it by inspiring Anthy to set aside her role as the Rose Bride, that embodiment of womanly emotional subjugation and beacon of scorn and resentment. To be the Rose Bride requires that one be resigned to it, and not have the courage to break free. Utena helped Anthy break that cycle: I say helped because, in the end, it's something Anthy had to do for herself. That's the failure of the Prince role: in the end, you can't save other people.

I can't agree that Utena has assumed a Rose Bride role herself. In showing Anthy's journey, I think the series shows that being the Rose Bride, the perpetual victim, is something that you choose, and that's not what Utena chose at all. Instead, she's (debatably) set aside her Princely pretensions in favor or simply opening up to Anthy in loving friendship. The "girl's revolution" does indeed involve abandoning those gender roles in the one place where it can be done: in one's own self-image.

Last edited by Dallbun (07-04-2010 10:34:55 PM)

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#4 | Back to Top07-04-2010 11:57:52 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
Website

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Interestingly, though, Nanami's aspiration to become the archetypal woman which she believed Touga would love made me think about what she originally saw in Utena and Anthy to make them her "rivals". I felt that even though Touga has feelings for Utena, Nanami seemed to see Anthy as a bigger "threat".

Hmm... well, she knew that Utena's not in the least bit interested in Touga, but with the way Utena is oblivious to everything around her, it's no guarantee she won't be won over by Touga should Nanami turn away just for once.

In episode 3, where Nanami made her first appearance, she mentioned that Anthy is "popular among boys" or something along that line. I never really saw anything in the show that explicitly showed that Anthy is popular, but I'll take her word for it. But I digress.
Maybe that statement shed some light of what Nanami really thinks of Anthy? The "archetypal woman" that many boys would technically fall for?

Staying on the archetypal woman topic, this would probably also explain why Nanami felt extremely repulsed by everything Anthy stands for for her last duel, not just as a sister, but also as a woman. She said she wanted to surpass everything then. That would mean she wanted to discard her past aspiration to become the ideal girl.

Or maybe not... I'm not sure, since by the end of her duel, she asked Utena if she is merely another fly among the crowd. Maybe she still wants to be the ideal girl after all? Or maybe she wants to be another Utena? Or maybe as long as she gets the attention and power, it doesn't matter either way?

Last edited by Hiraku (07-04-2010 11:59:36 PM)

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#5 | Back to Top07-05-2010 08:11:06 AM

poetoffire
Mikage Mistruster
Registered: 01-27-2010
Posts: 65

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Hiraku wrote:

In episode 3, where Nanami made her first appearance, she mentioned that Anthy is "popular among boys" or something along that line. I never really saw anything in the show that explicitly showed that Anthy is popular, but I'll take her word for it.

Wasn't she trying to convince Anthy she'd been nominated as the Dance Queen to come to the dance so that she could humiliate her?  I wouldn't trust that.  Anthy is the only student council member never shown with throngs of adoring fans, and that's because she's an intensely private person who acts unnervingly bland around the students.  She's not exactly Ms. Popular.

Interesting analysis, although I don't agree with all of it.

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#6 | Back to Top07-05-2010 11:37:56 AM

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

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

I have quibbles too (and quibbles with the other quibbles) but it is a magnificent essay, a good example of what I like best about this forum. It does an interesting job of depicting Akio as something more than just a devil.

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#7 | Back to Top07-05-2010 06:27:43 PM

thepopeami
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-04-2010
Posts: 11

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

brian wrote:

I have quibbles too (and quibbles with the other quibbles) but it is a magnificent essay, a good example of what I like best about this forum. It does an interesting job of depicting Akio as something more than just a devil.

Dallbun wrote:

"Awesome essay, thepopeami, and quite an impressive introduction to the forums. Hope you'll stick around!"

Thank you for the kind welcome Dallbun. Unfortunately, I don't generally either frequent internet message forums or watch Japanese anime. I uncharacteristically became aware of this show through a friend, and found the imagery and themes intriguing and the characters charming. I'm pleased that my essay on the subject has been well-received, and I hope it might provide a helpful Platonic, or metaphysical, interpretation of the events and themes of "Revolutionary Girl Utena".

Dallbun wrote:

"do you mean just the "Student Council Arc" duels? If you mean all the duels, of course there are far more than just eight... It totally ruins the symmetry, but what can you do?"

You're certainly correct that there are more characters in the show who duel, and some in my list which don't often participate in the duels.  In this section, I had attempted to present this number of characters and their relations as though they had some more meaningful significance. The characters which I listed are those who I thought to have the most thematic significance.

Dallbun wrote:

"Nanami is often comical, but I don't know if I'd call it a defining character trait for her any more than it is for Saionji."

Of course. Much of what I had written pertaining to the characters was intended to illustrate their respective thematic significance rather than to thoroughly discuss their psychology. I think your criticisms are entirely correct concerning these specific considerations.

Dallbun wrote:

"For an intellectual character, Miki is quite distinctly non-aloof. He's friendly, sociable, and seems to hold little disdain for others (besides Kozue, for not living up to his idealized image of her.) Compare and contrast to Mikage."

Again, I think you're largely correct to make this point. I intended to compare Miki's romantic fixations with the other male characters, especially Touga and Saionji, who appear to take a far greater interest in the girls. In episode 5(the first duel with Miki) there is a revealing scene where I he walks across a math classroom(?) to deliver his dueling challenge to Utena. As he does so, the all-girl classroom begins buzzing with excited whispers about how "cute" and "smart" Miki is, yet he entirely ignores this. Also, I believe that it is exceptional that he is the only primary male character who is never displayed with a girlfriend, and whose only romantic interest(apart from perhaps Kozue) is Anthy.

Dallbun wrote:

"Many men court her"? The only people who try to court Utena are Touga and Akio, who are the "greatest of suitors" that you mention, right? The other boys in the school never show any romantic interest in her at all... only in her sports prowess."

You may likely be correct here. I had presumed that her admiring  crowds at her basketball games were a reflection of the adoration of the boys at the Academy. I had inferred from this that many more boys had courted Utena than was revealed in the show.

Dallbun wrote:

Certainly, at this point the valiant, gender-challenging Utena is in danger of losing to a manipulative, omnipotent male god-figure and the resigned, traitorous woman who gives him her loyalty, but how on earth does that move it away  from being a feminist allegory? It becomes more and more of a feminist narrative with every line, and would be even if she failed horribly and died right then and there. (Although I agree with your earlier point that Utena can hardly be called a self-conscious feminist.)

The word "feminist" is tremendously contested by women's groups and intellectuals, and can be given a wide assortment of meanings, which might easily lend itself to ambiguity. In describing this possible interpretation as "feminist", I meant to refer specifically to the advocacy of a radical transformation of gender-roles and romance, befitting the description of a "World Revolution".  If this scene is interpreted as holding supernatural and cosmic significance, then It seems to follow that Utena's duel, as a figurative 'prince', with the supernatural embodiment of Manhood would then be an actual contest between a Utena and the supernatural preserver and guarantor of the patriarchal sexual-order. Utena would then figuratively be something like John Milton's Satan, who heroically intended to overthrow a 'tyrannical' God. If Utena were to have triumphed  in this duel, in which Akio represented an embodiment of universal manhood,  and supernaturally "Revolutionize[d] of the World", then a feminist interpretation, in which sex and gender are understood as social constructions to be overcome by socio-political struggle(in this case Utena's dueling), would be significantly more plausible. I certainly agree that Utena's heroism had the moral significance of inspiring Anthy, which I suggested at the end of the essay. I meant only to argue, as I think we agree, that "Revolutionary Girl Utena" lacks the relevant themes to be considered strictly ideologically feminist.

Dallbun wrote:

Interesting argument, but the imagery doesn't really support it. Certainly, the swords are phallic and Anthy is the embodiment of Woman, but there's no implication that the Rose Bride is continually born anew: there's no imagery of birth in the process whatsoever, of herself or of anything else. Likewise, it's hard for me to accept that Anthy is somehow cyclical while Akio is static. On the contrary, the Rose Bride is presented as unchanging and eternal in her pain: just look at the language Dios uses to describe her during Utena's flashback in episode 34."

I interpreted Anthy's having been impaled by thousands of swords and reappearing in the coffin(both of which seem to signify death) as the moment of her sacrifice and rebirth. If this sequence is interpreted as a supernatural event of cosmic significance, then Anthy's death neatly corresponds with the theme of ritual sacrifice and renewal. With Akio's revelation that the duels have been repeated, a supernatural interpretation of his character as an immortal demiurge would warrant the conclusion that this same process of duels, sacrifice, and rebirth have been continually repeated on innumerable occasions. The "unchanging" pain of the Rose Bride needn't contradict this interpretation, as Anthy would suffer as the Rose Bride in every successive incarnation.

Dallbun wrote:

It seems to me that Utena was impaled not as a Rose Bride, but as a Prince. The Prince was, after all, the original target of the swords to begin with. As Akio explains it, the Rose Bride is necessary to to draw the swords away from the Prince. However, because Utena is drawing Anthy out of her coffin, Anthy also disappears from her Rose Bride position and there's nothing to keep the swords from Utena.

Although I may be mistaken, I don't recall the description of the Prince having been the target of the swords. Your interpretation seems to presume that Utena can in this duel represent "the Prince" Dios, which would be precluded if Dios is embodied(rather than merely represented) as Akio. Under the supernatural, or metaphysical, interpretation which I described, Utena's ambition to become a Prince is never realized and vocally repudiated before she reaches for the coffin, while Akio would(in some ambiguous sense) be Dios. I had interpreted Anthy's disappearance as signifying that the swords had chosen Utena as a surrogate sacrifice, rather than Anthy who would continue to live.

Dallbun wrote:

Utena is only revealed to have been forgotten; Anthy argues that she hasn't died, but simply left the world of Ohtori. Actually, the argument that she died is only implied by the fact that Anthy feels the need to refute it.

I interpreted Utena's impalement on the sword of Dios(I believe) as signifying a mortal wound. Heretofore in the series, none of the characters had suffered injuries in the dueling arena. If the previous duels had been illusions while the duel with Akio was real, then Utena's wound would seem fatal. Moreover this interpretation fits neatly with an interpretation of The subsequent rejection of her princely ambitions. Utena's princely ambitions had been advanced by triumphing in duels with the Sword of Dios. This same ambition, represented in the Sword, is then turned upon her by Anthy, representing womanhood. Immediately thereafter Utena renounces the possibility of becoming a Prince. All of this would seem to support an interpretation in which Utena's princely ambitions have been mortally betrayed by her womanhood.

I don't recall when Anthy argues for Utena's survival, yet it seems to fit. You are certainly right to point out that in this moment it seems as though Anthy is more knowledgeable about Utena's fate than Akio. This may perhaps reflect many things, including the elevation of Anthy's conscious or some privileged knowledge which she has of Utena's fate or the rebirth of the Rose Bride.

Dallbun wrote:

this isn't the first time the series has featured imagery of modern work culture. The two Nemuro flashback episodes spring to mind, as well as the fax machine and business-suited men in the Tale of the Rose flashback.

Yes certainly. The importance of this scene lies in the fact that Akio has never been displayed at work. He is continuously shown at leisure, usually lounging about in the Planetarium or driving his convertible. If Akio is a supernatural embodiment of universal Manhood, then his laboring at a desk in this moment after the climactic sequence, should indicate some change in the universal characteristics of Manhood. I think this fits nicely with previously mentioned the juxtaposition between the Ancien Regime and the Modern Era.

Dallbun wrote:

this seems to be a rather pessimistic reading. "She didn't cause a Revolution after all. Now that she's gone, she was just a dropout to this world," Akio comments at the end. But Anthy refutes him: "You don't know what happened, do you?" Utena did cause a revolution from sexed roles: it's not impossible. It's just that she did it by inspiring Anthy to set aside her role as the Rose Bride

Yes, I think it might be more pessimistic than is conventional. However, I think your stated interpretation in which Utena caused a "revolution" by inspiring Anthy is not so dissimilar from how I described Utena's heroic friendship elevating the conscience of women. The dispute seems to rest on how we define "Revolution". If "Revolution" is described in my essay as a overturning of sex and gender with cosmic significance(which I think the monumentality of the imagery and character actions supports), then Utena and the rest of the characters had failed to achieve this. If "Revolution" is described in the inspirational sense which you describe, then it would seem as though Utena certainly achieved it. The interpretation which I presented would include the former cosmic-"Revolution" as well as the including the latter inspirational-"Revolution", while your would exclude the former.

Dallbun wrote:

I can't agree that Utena has assumed a Rose Bride role herself. In showing Anthy's journey, I think the series shows that being the Rose Bride, the perpetual victim, is something that you choose, and that's not what Utena chose at all.

If Utena is interpreted to have died, then her rebirth as the Rose Bride would follow from the cosmic significance of this scene under a metaphysical interpretation. Utena's rebirth as the "Rose Bride" would then not be a reflection of her having the characteristics of a "perpetual victim", but instead be a necessary result of her heroic surrogate-sacrifice. I had thought this interpretation, in which even heroic Utena can become "the Rose Bride" in need of compassionate and devoted friendship by a stranger, would universalize this principal theme of friendship. To interpret these events as pertaining only to Utena and Anthy would seem to deny the broader relevance of these themes which this metaphysical interpretation allows.

Last edited by thepopeami (07-05-2010 08:42:44 PM)

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#8 | Back to Top07-05-2010 07:47:25 PM

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

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Thanks for coming back to elaborate! emot-smile You've definitely clarified some points of your essay for me. Other points, I still have issues with: primarily, parts of the text that you seem to be glossing over.

thepopeami wrote:

I intended to compare Miki's romantic fixations with the other male characters, especially Touga and Saionji, who appear to take a far greater interest in the girls. In episode 5(the first duel with Miki) there is a revealing scene where I he walks across a math classroom(?) to deliver his dueling challenge to Utena. As he does so, the all-girl classroom begins buzzing with excited whispers about how "cute" and "smart" Miki is, yet he entirely ignores this. Also, I believe that it is exceptional that he is the only primary male character who is never displayed with a girlfriend, and whose only romantic interest(apart from perhaps Kozue) is Anthy.

I would hazard that Miki doesn't pay attention to the buzzing praise because he's in the process of striding across a room to deliver a challenge to Utena. Additionally, in the immediately preceding scenes, Miki has been exhorted by Touga to "seize what's important to him," and then he had a conversation with Anthy that reinforced his determination. It's taken some effort on the part of his manipulators to instill him with this level of focus. It's hardly his usual demeanor.

But let's set that aside: even if we concede that Miki holds himself aloof from female attention, that hardly makes him exceptional. Saionji is a primary male character who is never displayed with a (non-Anthy) girlfriend, and whose only romantic interest is Anthy! (Apart from perhaps Wakaba, but the tragedy of episode 20 is that, even as they grow closer, Saionji never actually turns his romantic fixation away from Anthy.) He doesn't take a far greater interest in girls than Miki: their situations are practically identical, even if the reasons for their obsession with Anthy are different. Where is this impression that Saionji is some kind of playboy coming from?

Sorry for belaboring such a small and essentially irrelevant part of your essay, by the way. emot-redface

I interpreted Anthy's having been impaled by thousands of swords and reappearing in the coffin(both of which seem to signify death) as the moment of her sacrifice and rebirth. If this sequence is interpreted as a supernatural event of cosmic significance, then Anthy's death neatly corresponds with the theme of ritual sacrifice and renewal. With Akio's revelation that the duels have been repeated, a supernatural interpretation of his character as an immortal demiurge would warrant the conclusion that this same process of duels, sacrifice, and rebirth have been continually repeated on innumerable occasions.

This interpretation seems to hinge on there being a cyclical change in Anthy's state: in this case, from the swords to her reappearance in the coffin. But Anthy only disappears from her usual position within the swords, and reappears within the coffin, when Utena manages to scrape open the Rose Gate. When this happens, Akio is visibly shocked, and lets off an assortment of desperate protests like "Wh...what the?! The swords! That's the... STOP IT!! Don't open that! You don't know what'll happen!" It's clearly not a standard part of the dueling cycle.

If you wanted to argue that Anthy's rebirth from the coffin is cyclical, you'd probably want to turn to the other occurrence of it, in episode 9. However, Akio's panic during the more cosmic-ly significant event would still seem quite odd.

Although I may be mistaken, I don't recall the description of the Prince having been the target of the swords.

In the scene in question, Anthy has stabbed Utena with a sword, and Akio has taken her own soul sword. As he turns away from her and approaches the Rose Gate, he hears the arrival of the swords of hatred. He calls out to Anthy with a note of urgency. (from the Utena Translation Project)

Akio:  They've come.
Akio:  Anthy!

Anthy vanishes from where she was standing next to Utena, and appears in the air, and is impaled in the cage of swords. Akio soon explains:

Akio:  The Million Swords that shine with people's hatred.
Akio:  They stir at the sight of this Prince's sword.
swords:  The witch...the witch...the witch...witch...accursed witch...witch...
Utena:  Himemiya....Himemiya!
Akio:  Drawing the swords from the Prince to herself.
Akio:  That is the Rose Bride's destiny.
Akio:  Anthy wished for it all herself.

Akio could be lying or mistaken or something, but this is the explanation we're given to work with.


Thanks again for humoring me. I'm only picking at this essay so much because I enjoyed it. emot-smile

Last edited by Dallbun (07-05-2010 07:49:20 PM)

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#9 | Back to Top07-05-2010 08:55:10 PM

thepopeami
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-04-2010
Posts: 11

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Dallbun wrote:

Thanks for coming back to elaborate! emot-smile You've definitely clarified some points of your essay for me. Thanks again for humoring me. I'm only picking at this essay so much because I enjoyed it. emot-smile

You're welcome. emot-smile

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#10 | Back to Top07-14-2010 04:04:56 AM

RhythmFusion
Rose Smilee
Registered: 03-18-2010
Posts: 131

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

thepopeami wrote:

However, if Akio has supernatural and cosmic significance, then as Akio's twin-sister it is reasonable to presume that Anthy shares in this significance.

Anthy is not Akio's twin sister, she's his younger sister. They're not twins.


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#11 | Back to Top07-15-2010 12:44:38 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Agreed.  It's been a long time since I posted and this was a very nice post to find after a long hiatus.

Like Brian, Hiraku, etc. I have "quibbles" with some details and some aspects of the analysis.  (For example, Utena does not concede her inability to be a Prince after Anthy stabs her -- it is only much later, after she opens the Gate and [apparently] comes *this close* to rescuing Anthy.)  But I feel, with Utena (as I think you acknowledged intentionally or not at the beginning of your essay), there is no way to make all the details fit viewed from any particular lens.  When you want to read SKU from a certain perspective you really have to put the magnifying glass to the things that fit and mostly dismiss the things that don't.

I enjoyed reading your essay quite a lot.  I was not expecting it to be so focused on sexual imagery and sexual identity, however, as my knowledge of Plato basically stops at Ideals and the Allegory of the Cave. :-) But I also think that, my "quibbles" aside, this is one of best essays I have yet read which explores that notion of Akio as Man and Anthy as Woman in a archetype-ally sexual sense.  Those themes are anything but subtle and while always acknowledged any analysis tends to veer off into other territory.  (Once you start writing one of these they sort of take on a mind of their own, don't they?)

My major quibble with Hiraku's & others' response (while I agree in essence) is that the perspective is far more personal/pragmatic than (my uneducated understanding of) Platonic.  But that's how I'd respond, too, were I to do so in any detail.  Which I'd like to do, but don't have the time/energy for.

If this were Facebook I could just click "Like" and be done with it! :-)

But, here are a couple of thoughts I have.  Which I do not intend by any means to refute your conclusions in the essay nor anyone's responses, but merely as thinking points.  Plus it's easier to pick out the bits I don't agree with, because there are so few!

* Utena does not concede her inability to succeed as a Prince until after she is apparently "defeated" in the duel.  In the sense that she falls down on the floor because she's been stabbed.  Here she makes no statements, but only asks, "Why?"  She does beg Akio to save Himemiya.  Which does make it seem she's "given up." But then there's all that comes later.

* Especially because the bells ring to signal the beginning and ending of each duel.  The bells for the Duel of Revolution do not sound until Anthy laves the Academy.  That duel is about Revolution and it does not end when Utena is betrayed and falls.  It doesn't even end when Anthy falls and Utena gives up.  It only ends when Anthy makes the decision to leave -- because that is Utena's victory and the only thing Utena strove to "win".

* Miki in the series is not a "social retard."  He's well liked and gracious.  But it's certainly true that he has no romantic entanglements other than his sister and Anthy, and does seem rather "oblivious" to Nanami's overtures and his general popularity.  In both the manga and movie Miki is presented in ways that support the characterization from the essay (mostly).  Like when he's with Juri in the parking garage.  But I know that doesn't count when you're just looking at the series.  Unfortunately, I tend to take a cross-section of all the versions to some extent.

* You can equally say that the swords might go after Utena for several reasons (a) because she's a Prince (b) because she's a Rose Bride and (c) because she's there and has bad luck.  Akio says, when the Swords of Hate appear in the last episode, "The million swords that shine with people's hatred.  They stir at the sight of this Prince's sword.  [Anthy] draws the swords from the Prince to herself.  That is the Rose Bride's destiny."  So while either of those 3 are valid I'd lean toward she's either a Prince or a Rose Bride in that moment.

* But in the series it's definitely never even much implied that she dies.  The discussions at the end of the episode suggest several reasons that harken to what we saw: she was badly injured, she was betrayed by a lover or friend, etc.

* I can't say that I think Akio is extraordinarily polite or "not commanding" in the last episode.  He obviously takes Anthy for granted and he's rarely to never spoken to Anthy like a slave.  He's always placated her somewhat.  Think about it, he says, "Oh, well.  The Rose Bride still belongs to me."  Talk about arrogant!

* Yes, there was a thread I recall that mentioned and compared Nanami & Saionji.  I don't think it quite started out that way, but it did end up a fascinating conversation!

* When Utena opens the Rose Gate, I don't see her, exactly, as having had supernatural help.  No, in a strange way I feel it was destined.  When the child-Utena meets Dios-changing-into-Akio and Anthy for the first time, you may recall that Dios says something along the lines of, "Thank you for your tears."  In the introductions it clearly states that the Prince wiped the tears from her face.  To me, she opened that gate on her own because instead of fighting, she showed compassion.  Almost as if those tears she cried as a child were the key and crying that same sincere tear for Anthy again as a teenager...  That's a personal thing that fascinates me.

There was some other stuff, but I'm exhausted & have to sleep now...  Thank you again for posting this!


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#12 | Back to Top07-15-2010 06:07:06 PM

thepopeami
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-04-2010
Posts: 11

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

rhyaniwyn wrote:

my knowledge of Plato basically stops at Ideals and the Allegory of the Cave. :-) But I also think that, my "quibbles" aside, this is one of best essays I have yet read which explores that notion of Akio as Man and Anthy as Woman in a archetype-ally sexual sense... My major quibble (while I agree in essence) is that the perspective is far more personal/pragmatic than (my uneducated understanding of) Platonic.

While I summarized some of the more memorable passages from Plato's dialogs, and made occassional references to some platonic concepts, I don't believe that an intricate knowledge of Plato's writings, philosophy, or later Platonism is required to understand the essay which I wrote. More important is the interpretation of the setting of "Revolutionary Girl Utena" as illusory, and the characters as personifications of sexual archetypes.  In this essay I argued that the Academy was, for the most part, an idyllic illusion of adolescent social life and romance which the characters gradually awaken from. The awakening of the characters from their childhood illusions, is memorably described alternatively as "escaping from [their] coffins" and "crack[ing] the world's shell". Utena succeeds in this by uncovering the illusory quality of the Academy in her duel with Akio, while the other characters are initiated into this knowledge of the Real by the automobile ride with Akio. From this interpretation, I argued that it followed that Akio and Anthy must have cosmic significance as the supernatural personifications of the archetypes of Man and Woman. Finally, I argued that the conclusion of the show is only made intelligible with a supernatural interpretation of the setting, as illusory, and the characters as Archetypes with cosmic significance.

I suspect the intriguing romances of the show lends itself to a psychological analysis of the characters rather than an assessment of the cosmology, or metaphysics, of the show's setting. A Platonic, or metaphysical, interpretation of the setting as imbued with supernatural characters of cosmic significance, needn't exclude this pragmatic or psychological interpretation of the characters. Instead, I argued that it makes their aspirations and dramatic conflicts more intelligible, by immanentizing these themes of sexual archetypes, romance and initiation. For example, In the duels Utena defends Anthy Himemiya's autonomy from the possessiveness of the duelists, not merely as one impressionable girl  but as the personification of all women. When Touga suffers from doubt and depression when he is unable to possess the fantastic power to "revolutionize the World", his doubt is that which the prideful and the powerful always feel when their talents are revealed to be finite, and their ambitions unrealizable.

rhyaniwyn wrote:

Utena does not concede her inability to succeed as a Prince until after she is apparently "defeated" in the duel.  In the sense that she falls down on the floor because she's been stabbed.  Here she makes no statements, but only asks, "Why?"  She does beg Akio to save Himemiya.  Which does make it seem she's "given up."... the bells ring to signal the beginning and ending of each duel.  The bells for the Duel of Revolution do not sound until Anthy laves the Academy.  That duel is about Revolution and it does not end when Utena is betrayed and falls.  It doesn't even end when Anthy falls and Utena gives up.  It only ends when Anthy makes the decision to leave.

I argued that when Anthy betrays Utena and stabs her, this represents the betrayal of Utena's princely ambition(represented in the duels and the sword) by her womanhood, as personified in Anthy. This is a plausible interpretation of the symbolic gesture if Anthy is a cosmic personification of the Archetype of Womanhood. I recall that Utena does comment that she "could never really have been a Prince". I believe this comment buttresses an interpretation of Utena's stabbing as representative of her abandoning her princely ambition. However, I hadn't noticed that the bells hadn't rung. You correctly note that if this signfies the end of the duel, and they do not ring at the conclusion, then the conflict represented by the duel is not concluded. I agree with your interpretation of this, and believe that it supports an interpretation of Utena's inspirational triumph when Anthy departs.

rhyaniwyn wrote:

Miki in the series is not a "social retard."  He's well liked and gracious.  But it's certainly true that he has no romantic entanglements other than his sister and Anthy, and does seem rather "oblivious" to Nanami's overtures and his general popularity.

I agree with your and the previous comments on this topic. I had attempted to briefly provide a summary of the characters which would support an archetypical interpretation of "Revolutionary Girl Utena". If Miki is a romantic archetype of Utena's imagination, then I thought his character best resembled a polite and aloof intellectual. The emphasis which I placed upon his aloofness might lend itself to an interpretation as a 'social retard', but I agree with your criticisms that this would be unwarranted by his admirable presentation in the show.

rhyaniwyn wrote:

You can equally say that the swords might go after Utena for several reasons (a) because she's a Prince (b) because she's a Rose Bride and (c) because she's there and has bad luck.
When Utena opens the Rose Gate, I don't see her, exactly, as having had supernatural help.  No, in a strange way I feel it was destined.

Yes, I suppose all of those hypothesis might be plausible. I will argue that if Utena has renounced her princely ambitions, then it seems unlikely that she could supernaturally attract the swords as a 'Prince'. I interpreted the sequence as the sacrifice of Utena's humanity and autonomy, as a surrogate 'Rose Bride', to inspire Anthy. Given that the swords were, in this setting of supernatural activity, previously directed at Anthy, and were only redirected at Utena after she unexpectedly(and apparently miraculously) opened the Rose Seal, I find this interpretation of the scene to fit nicely within a broader Platonic, or metaphysical interpretation of the Archetypal characters and the Cosmic significance of their duels.

I'm pleased that you enjoyed my essay and I thank you for your informative comments and considerations.

Last edited by thepopeami (07-16-2010 05:54:31 PM)

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#13 | Back to Top07-17-2010 05:40:42 PM

thepopeami
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 07-04-2010
Posts: 11

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

This afternoon I made some much needed corrections, additions, and improvements to this essay. I have edited the posted essay and created an illustrated PDF file for download and distribution. Readers are at liberty to download, host and distribute this file for widespread readership.

http://drop.io/avm5xgt/asset/a-platonic … -utena-pdf

Last edited by thepopeami (07-17-2010 05:42:29 PM)

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#14 | Back to Top07-23-2010 03:09:25 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
Website

Re: A Platonic Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Oh, thanks!  I'm going to read the edit...soon.

I guess the reason I mention my lack of Plato-ducatoin is because of the emphasis on sexuality, because ... Hmm.  I was going to say something, but by the time I got partway through the sentence my thoughts had raced ahead of me and explained away what I was going to say/ask.  Actually, now I don't have anything at all to say because I've just thought better of both statements.  I was falling asleep when I read and replied before, so I think being more awake is helping...


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