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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 Top09-19-2011 12:23:00 AM

Davine Lu Linvega
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Registered: 06-08-2011
Posts: 88

Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/11520-2/Series_ep28_034.jpg

Welcome to the thread in which I outline my theory about the reasons for Ruka's abrupt appearance. This was inspired in part by some of the musings in the least favorite character thread:

http://forums.ohtori.nu/viewtopic.php?p … 61#p212661

It's pretty obvious that Ruka was not part of the creators' original vision for SKU. He appeared suddenly with no buildup, his birthday and blood type are unknown, and he's pretty much a deus ex machina who saves Juri from herself and then disappears. So why was he introduced?

Well, let's think about how Juri's final duel arc might have gone if Ruka hadn't been around. All the characters' final duels showed the viewers how they had progressed in dealing with their issues and how much further they still had to go. Saionji and Miki became more honest with themselves about their reasons for dueling. Touga affirmed the cynical and power-hungry nature he previously hid behind a "feminist" facade.

So what would Juri do to push her character development forward? One way or another, she'd have to deal with her feelings for Shiori. Two girls, one unrequited love, one unspoken hatred, and no guys to step in between. Juri's first episode offered the nameless boy Shiori "stole" from her as a red herring, but by the time her second duel came around he was ancient history and there were no more male characters with any reason for getting involved.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/7186-1/Series_ep17_139.jpg

In short, Juri was going to take the show on the gay train to Lesbian Town for a queer drama extravaganza, and as we know, certain people were dead-set against the inclusion of such themes in SKU. Maybe "Thorns of Death" squeaked by because it portrayed lesbian affection as something that happens when you're brainwashed by the ghost of an evil psychotherapist with an underage Indian boyfriend and invariably leads to sociopathic behavior and memory loss. But Juri's final storyline needed some way to bring her inner conflict to a climax, and Chiho Saito and possibly some of the TV network executives bristled at the thought that that climax might occur amidst a tangle of red and burgundy hair.

How to solve this problem? Send Ruka to inject some heterosexuality into the storyline. It's not a story about unrequited lesbian love anymore, it's a story about a noble playboy's desire to save the girl of his dreams that could never be by fucking another girl in the backseat of a car. I can almost hear Saito's blood pressure dropping as she reads the script. Many people think Ruka's design is based on Ikuhara, and if he is it could indicate that Ruka is not a character organic to the story but that he represents an intervention by Ikuhara to resolve a disagreement with other people involved in the production.

http://ohtori.nu/galerie/d/11678-1/Series_ep28_113.jpg

I think Ruka was well-developed enough for a character who came and went in two episodes, but everything about him screams "sudden change of plans." It's rumored that the last two episodes of Evangelion are what they are because after the scene where Kaworu got decapitated, the network demanded that Anno rewrite the final episodes to be less violent, thus delaying the already strained production schedule and forcing Anno to go surreal and simplistic so he could get something done by the air date. I think Ruka's introduction may be a less extreme example of the same kind of executive meddling.

Your thoughts?

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#2 | Back to Top09-19-2011 01:59:48 AM

Louchan
Rose Bride
Registered: 11-08-2006
Posts: 100

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

I don't really have much to say other than I don't think Ruka was a "forced" character. Perhaps it is like you say and they decided to insert him into Juri's storyline at a very late point, but I highly doubt that it was because they were forced to do so. If there really was some executive meddling, I highly doubt the lesbian subplot would be what they'd be upset about. (How about the principal of Ohtori fucking his sister and she getting stabbed by a million sword?) And besides, Ruka didn't save Juri from herself like you said. In episode 37 Juri makes it very clear that she still has feelings for Shiori that she has to struggle with.

Juri: Thinking back, despite being a member of the Student Council, I was thinking only of myself. And it's pathetic, but even now I do nothing but think of myself.
Utena: Are you talking about Shiori-san?
Juri: I wonder why...? Why can't I set my feelings free?

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#3 | Back to Top09-19-2011 06:22:32 AM

KaleMarsh
High Tripper
From: Washington, DC
Registered: 06-13-2011
Posts: 245

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Yes, but I don't think it's the same kind of all-consuming, self-loathing, obsessive feeling for Shiori of earlier in the series.  The locket represented that.  I always interpreted that exchange as an acknowledgment of the difference between being hung up on someone and having it be ridiculously unhealthy, which is a distinction that probably had to be made for the sake of representing a lesbian.  Because people are dicks who like to assume things.

The theory is also somewhat plausible because, really, people have weird standards about homosexuality, or at least Saito did.  I don't, however, like Davine's explanation because I don't think a confrontation between Juri and Shiori is really that believable at that stage anyway, especially not a sexual one.  After all, Shiori still hadn't changed, if we believe Anthy.  Juri's noble bitterness and self-victimization of "don't mess with Shiori," but still not really doing anything about it seemed far more likely to me.  Having her come up against a male just furthers the agenda of the show.  Is it unnecessary?  Maybe a little, but we don't really see Juri ever backing down from Touga or Miki or Saionji or even Akio.  It just shows that she does have a weakness where Shiori is concerned.  It also shows that, even well-intentioned, manipulation is still manipulation.  If he'd have stuck around any longer, we'd have gotten to know him too well.  Having him drift in and out makes him appear more noble, but if the audience knew him better, he'd likely appear just as selfish and screwed up as any other character is the series.  Or he'd be boring.

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#4 | Back to Top09-19-2011 06:47:24 AM

Louchan
Rose Bride
Registered: 11-08-2006
Posts: 100

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

KaleMarsh wrote:

people have weird standards about homosexuality, or at least Saito did.

Has Saito ever said anything concerning homosexuality? If so, could you link me to it? I'm very curious. emot-smile

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#5 | Back to Top09-19-2011 07:28:31 AM

KaleMarsh
High Tripper
From: Washington, DC
Registered: 06-13-2011
Posts: 245

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

From what I can tell, she wasn't so much against homosexuality; she just really didn't want it in Utena.  I heard it was for sales purposes, but I don't have any of her actual words to back that up.  The most recent account that I remember comes from a thread here.

I got into a discussion with Aelanie on this thread (thought it really has nothing to do with Saito and homosexuality), and I think she was posting her Saito information from the DVD commentaries on the Ohtori.nu website, but here's the relevant excerpt she posted there.

Q: "Was that [making Anthy and Utena a couple] your intention from the beginning?"

I: "Yes. I didn't tell Ms. Saito but I was planning on it."

S: "Initially I wasn't told anything about that. He asked me to draw something where the two were close, so I drew a piece where the two were next to each other looking rather friendly. He was extremely happy. I had no idea in the beginning what he was thinking but...I figured it out at the end that his goal was to make me draw the two girls looking friendly."

I: "In the beginning, I brought it up lightheartedly during a meeting...she got really angry and said, 'If that's the case, I'm out!' I realized it was something I wasn't supposed to say and I decided to keep it to myself."

S: "No, that wasn't it. If I recall correctly... We started a debate about how we should make it more entertaining for girls. We were on a workshop trip and the debate turned into a fight. Mr. Ikuhara wouldn't give any consideration about enjoyment for girls. As a professional manga artist, I couldn't offer such a joyless story to the target audience. We had this huge clash of opinions, which created a lot of friction between us."

I: "When that happened, the entire Utena project was almost scrapped. It was such a big fight, the entire project was in jeopardy. It was such a painful fight I got carried into the hospital the day after."

Last edited by KaleMarsh (09-19-2011 07:29:11 AM)

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#6 | Back to Top09-20-2011 01:45:03 AM

Davine Lu Linvega
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Posts: 88

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

The theory is also somewhat plausible because, really, people have weird standards about homosexuality, or at least Saito did.  I don't, however, like Davine's explanation because I don't think a confrontation between Juri and Shiori is really that believable at that stage anyway, especially not a sexual one.  After all, Shiori still hadn't changed, if we believe Anthy. Juri's noble bitterness and self-victimization of "don't mess with Shiori," but still not really doing anything about it seemed far more likely to me.

The Akio arc is all about the duelists pushing past their old limits, with Akio's car rides illustrating their progress toward adulthood. If Ruka wasn't around, what do you think Juri would have done after being shown the ends of the world? She'd probably make some kind of move toward resolution with Shiori. It certainly wouldn't be a happy ending with them as girlfriends, but like the other duelists, Juri would have to admit to herself what she wants and why she's really dueling.

One of the points I was making in the OP is that in the first two Juri-centric episodes, there's something that prevents Juri's attraction toward Shiori from being the sole focus of the plot. In "Unfulfilled Juri", you are led to think that Juri liked some random guy until the end. "Thorns of Death" is mainly focused on Shiori rather than Juri, and concerns Shiori's reaction to Juri's feelings. Gay relationships are never given center stage in SKU - Touga and Akio's scenes don't actually focus on their relationship but just provide a venue for them to comment on events in the plot. Other same-sex pairings are only vaguely hinted at, like Utena and Anthy and Mikage and Mamiya. Heterosexual relationships are portrayed in much more detail, as between Utena and Akio. Without Ruka, the main focus of Juri's final episode would have had to be Juri's feelings for Shiori and how she would deal with those feelings after having her worldview shaken by a car ride with Akio. The show would have to pull her lesbianism out of the background and shine a bright light on it, and I think someone, quite possibly Saito, didn't want that to happen.

Saito's quote about how an Utena/Anthy relationship would make for a "joyless story" with no appeal to girls suggests that she has some weird hangup with homosexuality to think that it would completely kill the appeal of the story. She's fine with telling stories that include much more controversial sexual themes, particularly incest, and if she paid any attention to Sailor Moon she would know that you can create the most popular girls' manga/anime in the world with prominent gay characters. It's thought that the reason Ikuhara sought her out for the Utena project was because he liked a manga of hers called Kanon, about a girl who plays the violin and has a sexual relationship with a violin teacher who turns out to be her long-lost father.

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#7 | Back to Top09-20-2011 02:46:13 AM

chrisb
Eternal Eschatologist
From: Tx,USA
Registered: 01-18-2010
Posts: 956

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

Saito's quote about how an Utena/Anthy relationship would make for a "joyless story" with no appeal to girls suggests that she has some weird hangup with homosexuality to think that it would completely kill the appeal of the story. She's fine with telling stories that include much more controversial sexual themes, particularly incest, and if she paid any attention to Sailor Moon she would know that you can create the most popular girls' manga/anime in the world with prominent gay characters.

I'm not a big fan of Saito, but I think that the main relationship in a shoujo being homosexual would probably take away some of the fantasy that the (mostly) young and straight audience looks for. That's probably what she meant by "joyless." The only time I've seen a lesbian romance between lead characters in a manga has been in josei series and those are usually geared towards 20 year olds while shoujo is directed at teen girls. Even in Sailor Moon the straight couples take center stage and are a lot more sensational than Haruka and Michiru's more straightforward, cool and mature relationship.

Last edited by chrisb (09-20-2011 02:48:48 AM)


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#8 | Back to Top09-20-2011 08:49:19 AM

OnlyInThisLight
KING OF ALL DUCKS
Registered: 01-15-2008
Posts: 4411

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

There's also the possibility that she was afraid that the lesbianism was only going to be used to objectify women and get male viewers rocks off -not to actually portray a healthy, romantic lesbian relationship and add a layer of depth to the show.

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#9 | Back to Top09-20-2011 09:06:14 AM

KaleMarsh
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From: Washington, DC
Registered: 06-13-2011
Posts: 245

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Right, and the idea that all the men Utena meets can't be made to see the errors of their ways and reformed into good life partners, but the girl can, is a little offensive and could corrupt young, impressionable female minds.

I have no idea.

In general, I don't think any moment in SKU is ever really about romance; it's more about how those feelings influence who an individual becomes.  Even the straight relationship between Akio and Utena is more about how self-involved Utena is, with the sex coming as a big shock, but even the sex scene isn't given more screen time than Akio's and Touga's, and there's only more of a focus because Utena is the main character.

Sure, Saito didn't want to see Anthy and Utena ending up together (it seems she would have been happier with an Utena and Touga ending), but the Juri and Shiori story is more about Juri's inability to let go, even from afar, even though she has cut contact off from Shiori.  I don't see how you can fix that without an intervening party or Shiori magically appearing in Juri's lap one day in a room that won't open until the latter acknowledges the former.

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#10 | Back to Top09-20-2011 08:42:18 PM

teyhy
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From: Ecuador
Registered: 04-27-2010
Posts: 245
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Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

KaleMarsh wrote:
Shiori magically appearing in Juri's lap one day in a room that won't open until the latter acknowledges the former.

I would definitely like to see that etc-saiowank

But seriously I just don't see Juri hopping into the Akio car on her own.

Last edited by teyhy (09-20-2011 08:43:27 PM)


Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils - H. Berlioz.
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#11 | Back to Top10-02-2011 12:00:37 AM

SaionjixAnthy
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From: dueling arena
Registered: 10-01-2011
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Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

...But Ruka IS gay.


"The bells signal the start of the duel, Anthy! You forget yourself."

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#12 | Back to Top10-09-2011 08:32:01 PM

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

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

One could make a pretty similar argument for Mikage's inclusion, given that he appeared to come in very randomly. However, by the end of the arc, one can deduce that Akio was saving the Black Rose scenarios to test a worthy candidate. Mikage's sudden appearance thus fit his motives. I think a similar machination can explain Ruka's sudden appearance. After all, Juri posed a lot more princely potential than any of the other candidates. She was the only duelist that sheer chance/Dios intervened to defeat. Touga won through trickery, but she possessed the nobility (arguably) to actually stand a chance. In Akio's eyes, that might have made her the most valuable test. And, as Mikage observed, Juri's obsession was her only true vulnerability. He needed a player that was an equally talented duelist, had a background of closeness with her, and finally had a motivation that coincided with his plans. Ruka was a perfect fit. As to why he wasn't mentioned before his couple of episodes...well, it's observed in the end of the series that someone who departs from Ohtori's illusory world is simply forgotten.

So, essentially, I don't think he's a pointless character that was intended to banish gayness from the plot. If that were the case, then I can't imagine Saito allowing all the suggestive homoerotic scenes. Still think he's an epic douche though.


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

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#13 | Back to Top10-25-2011 07:08:23 AM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
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Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Before we hop on the 'Saito hates gays' train, it's best to keep thr things in mind.

Firstly, by the time the movie came around Saito had obviously gotten over whatever issues she happened to have, because she wrote and drew the move manga. I know that the mangas tend to have a bad rep as a whole, but the movie manga is, IMHO, a very lovely piece. It's beautifully drawn and while the cult of Touga has never appealed, at the end of it it shows Utena and Anthy together, and makes it clear that they love each other and not in a platonic BFF type either.

And secondly, I think we should be very, very careful of taking Ikuhara's word as being the last and final say in this matter.

In real life EVERYONE is an unreliable narrator, to a certain degree. And while I'd be the first in line for worship at the Ikuhara altar, it's pretty clear that the man is off the bloody planet. Let's face it; that's exactly why we all love him. Saito is a writer/artist, member of a species that makes a marginal living regardless of what country they come from. Regardless of her personal attitudes to homosexuality, her first question at the time the pitch was made would have been, "Will this enable me to buy groceries this week?" And given that Utena was a beast that was in constant evolution up until the very last episode it's entirely possible that the pitch Saito heard was very different to the outcome that we all enjoy so much. Utena was a trailblazer; this series created the market, it didn't take advantage of it. And while ambition can create some marvellous things, there are often times where it doesn't work. And like any other person, Saito had to eat.

Also, I think we should not dismiss Saito's contribution to the series as a whole. She might have been the last to join Be-papas but. She. Joined. It. And she stayed with it until the end, through the television series, the movie, the novels, the video game, the t-shirt and the mobile phone decals. She didn't just do the mangas either. She was in on every meeting, she argued or supported or volunteered all steps of the way. Again, take into consideration the fact that Ikuhara is, shall we say, somewhat erratic; the man's a genius, but geniuses tend not to be all that attached to reality as a general rule. Believe me, I work with chemical engineers for a living and I know damn well that IQ and common-sense tend to have a very tenuous relationship. In order to be a great series, Utena needed ALL of Be-PAPAS fighting, squabbling, disagreeing and compromising and threatening Ikuhara with a big stick if he didn't behave. Certainly people might not think much of the manga versions, and that's entirely up to them. Personally, I think the mangas are very useful. They are rather simplistic, I'll agree there. However, what they do have going for them are much clearer themes and meanings; I see them as sort of a 'Utena for beginners'. I think that's useful.

Basically, to summarise: it took a team to make Utena. And Saito was part of that team. If she hadn't have been there, Utena would have been different in many different ways. So please remember this before jumping on that old anti-Saito bandwagon.

Back to the topic in hand: Ruka has always seemed like a last minute inclusion to me as well, but I honestly can't figure out how'd they have done the arc in question without him. I don't think they could have shoe-horned an existing character into the role at all. It's very possible that this episode was one of those things that sat prettily in everyone's heads until the actual production started and everyone realised that the two person Juri/Shori dynamic really needed a third to force it to evolve. In order to evolve Juri's character as an actual lesbian as opposed to one of those intense romantic relationships that sometimes happen in high school, Juri had to be offered the chance to have a heterosexual relationship so she could reject it. Yes, I know that this could denote a certain attitude of 'how can you be sure if you haven't tried it?' but frankly, given my personal experiences with my sexuality and the stories I've heard from many of my friends, many people DO try it to be certain.

Ruka is a manipulative bastard and rather a one dimensional character in many ways, but it's worth noting that of just about all of the characters in Utena, he is perhaps the only one who plays his games purely for the sake of making the one he cares for get out of her coffin. Just because he loved Juri it doesn't mean that she became any less of a lesbian; in fact, it only served to make her come to terms with many different aspects of her life; including her sexual orientation. Ruka would very likely been overjoyed if Juri had loved him back, but he loves her enough to want her to be happy and free of Shori; and let's face it, being free of Shori isn't all that bad of an idea.

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#14 | Back to Top10-26-2011 08:55:18 PM

Davine Lu Linvega
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Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Crystalwren, you make some good points about Saito - there's no real evidence that she opposed lesbian relationships in the show aside from Utena/Anthy, and she certainly didn't stop gay male content from appearing. So if Ruka did appear to make the show less gay, it may not have been due to objections she raised. I still suspect he came along for that purpose, though. Without him, the show was bound to take a head-on look at Juri and her attraction to Shiori, and Ruka prevented that from happening. As a result, the series never deals with same-sex attraction in a direct way, only taking an oblique view of it.

However, I don't consider Saito's contribution to be on par with that of other Be-Papas members, because her manga, from what I remember of them, don't share thematic elements that are common to the show, movie and game. They don't deconstruct much and the characters are shallower. As "Utena for beginners", they can be useful, but as literature they're pale shadows of the series and movie. Because of the manga's lack of depth compared to the other works, I suspect that after the basic ideas for the series were laid down, Saito didn't take a significant part in the creative process that Ikuhara, Enokido and the others were involved in.

Also, re "this series created the market, it didn't take advantage of it", what market do you think Utena created? To me it stands alone, though I've been out of the anime loop. Few creators have had the capability, much less the commercial support to tread where SKU went. There have been a few other series aimed at deconstructing traditional narrative tropes, and Penguindrum is the only other show I can think of that takes as mature an approach to sexuality. In a broad sense, you could say Utena was part of the market for complex, cerebral shows that Evangelion created in the 90s, which is all but dead now.

And to Katzenklavier, I don't think Ruka can be compared to Mikage. Mikage wasn't in the series from the beginning, but he felt like a natural part of the story - he was a dark reflection of Utena and his story contained some veiled hints about her, in particular her inaccurate memories concerning the prince.

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#15 | Back to Top10-29-2011 07:56:46 AM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
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Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

Crystalwren, you make some good points about Saito - there's no real evidence that she opposed lesbian relationships in the show aside from Utena/Anthy, and she certainly didn't stop gay male content from appearing. So if Ruka did appear to make the show less gay, it may not have been due to objections she raised. I still suspect he came along for that purpose, though. Without him, the show was bound to take a head-on look at Juri and her attraction to Shiori, and Ruka prevented that from happening. As a result, the series never deals with same-sex attraction in a direct way, only taking an oblique view of it.

I strongly disagree with this. It's been noted, but not nearly often enough, that (most of) the characters in Utena are teenagers. Touga is what? seventeen? eighteen? and Juri and Shori would neither of them be older than sixteen or seventeen. Utena herself is fourteen or fifteen. Miki is thirteen. THESE ARE CHILDREN. And while they are in a very intense world of complicated relationships, they aren't by any sense of the word, adults. Touga sure as hell isn't an adult by any possible definition, and I don't care what he's stuck his dick in or how many times he's done it.

Juri and Shori are NOT going to sit down over coffee and have a nice heart to heart chat. As much as they pretend to be adults they are NOT adults, and cannot relate to each other as such. Juri is NOT comfortably expressing her sexuality, not even in the privacy of her own head. She's sure as hell not going to wander up and say, "Hey Shiori, fancy a taco?" More to the point, even if Shiori is prepared to communicate directly with Juri, Juri is utterly incapable of doing so. It's transparently obvious that Juri CAN'T deal with her own emotions, let alone express them to other people. Of all the characters in Utena, Juri is probably the most isolated. And that's saying something. If Ruka hadn't appeared then NOTHING would have happened. Juri would have stayed static, trapped in that coffin motif that is persistently thrown around, while Shori would have continued to use her relationships with boys as an attempt to fulfil that depressing lack of self-worth she persistently suffers from. (And continuing to fail miserably doing this.)

In short, if Ruka hadn't of been there nothing would have happened. Because neither Juri or Shiori are willing or capable of acknowledging their own emotions, let alone confronting them. If it hadn't have been Ruka it would have been another character that acted as a catalyst. Without this catalyst there would have been nothing in Heaven, Hell, Earth or Ohtori that could have forced Juri and Shiori to confront their issues.

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

However, I don't consider Saito's contribution to be on par with that of other Be-Papas members, because her manga, from what I remember of them, don't share thematic elements that are common to the show, movie and game. They don't deconstruct much and the characters are shallower. As "Utena for beginners", they can be useful, but as literature they're pale shadows of the series and movie. Because of the manga's lack of depth compared to the other works, I suspect that after the basic ideas for the series were laid down, Saito didn't take a significant part in the creative process that Ikuhara, Enokido and the others were involved in.

Hmm. Rrrrrrreally? Never occurred to you that the development of the manga was a two way street? That Ikuhara, that man with ever so many fingers in ever so many pies, just chucked a character sheet at Saito and said, 'Do what thou wilt' and wandered off?

Not going to argue. Couldn't be bothered. I will suggest, however, that you turn your attention to a little manga called 'The World of S&M' or as the English- language version was retitled, 'The World Exists for Me'. You'll find that they are EXTREMELY similar to the Utena mangas, both in the styling, the pace, the story telling, the way the characterisation is dealt with, etc. And, rather importantly, the by line says 'Be-PAPAS'. And perhaps even more importantly, scattered throughout both volumes are those notes from the mangaka that tend to crop up from time to time. And just about all of them are about Saito and Ikuhara discussing, agreeing, arguing and bitching about who is doing the most work. (It's rather a bummer that it was cancelled after two volumes, but, well, that's the way it goes.)

All of Utena was done by committee, people! Series, manga, movie, novel, tea towel and toilet paper! Ikuhara was at the helm, but there were a lot of people flinging at lot of ideas about and all of them were paddling like mad in the deep end. Saito's name was on the manga, yes, this is true, but she sure as hell wasn't limited to it, any more than any other member of Be-PAPAS was limited to what their particular field of specification was.

In order to deconstruct something, one must have something to deconstruct. Evangelion had decades of mecha to work on. Utena didn't have any such thing, so it was forced to deconstruct itself.

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#16 | Back to Top10-29-2011 11:21:56 AM

Rotten Mooring
Precious One
Registered: 10-26-2011
Posts: 281

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

crystalwren wrote:

In order to deconstruct something, one must have something to deconstruct. Evangelion had decades of mecha to work on. Utena didn't have any such thing, so it was forced to deconstruct itself.

I wouldn't say Utena had was without material to go off of. It's just that that material is not so clearly designated as the various Giant Robot Anime. Because really, what do you need for it to be a mecha work? A mecha. The genres for different mecha series, characters, plot line and intended audiences can be highly diverse.

What does Utena have to go off of? The "shoujo" designation. (Which I know will frustrate some people to hear emot-wink but it's really no more diverse a designation than "mecha" is to work with.) Utena was most likely influenced by the Year 24 Group, "revolutionaries" of the shoujo genre, whose work has been around since the seventies.

From the wiki entries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_24_Group & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bildungsroman

Their works often examine "radical and philosophical issues", including sexuality and gender issues

and

used bildungsroman genre conventions in their works.

which purportedly defines a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, and in which character change is thus extremely important.

They were responsible for Kaze to Ki no Uta, Princess Knight and The Rose of Versailles among many others.cool

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#17 | Back to Top11-04-2011 10:20:20 AM

SaionjixAnthy
Mikage Mistruster
From: dueling arena
Registered: 10-01-2011
Posts: 64
Website

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

Crystalwren, you make some good points about Saito - there's no real evidence that she opposed lesbian relationships in the show aside from Utena/Anthy, and she certainly didn't stop gay male content from appearing. So if Ruka did appear to make the show less gay, it may not have been due to objections she raised. I still suspect he came along for that purpose, though. Without him, the show was bound to take a head-on look at Juri and her attraction to Shiori, and Ruka prevented that from happening. As a result, the series never deals with same-sex attraction in a direct way, only taking an oblique view of it.

Saito is beside the point, because RGU is meant to explore same-sex love innocently. Ikuhara pointed this out in interviews when he said no other anime did it like RGU.

Getting back to what I said a month ago, Ruka is gay, school-eng101 so he couldn't have been trying to pray the gay away. Yes, he's gay. I'm gay, and I know gay men when I see them. The only reason he wanted Juri is because he wasn't comfortable dating men yet. If he was, we would have seen a RukaxSaionji pairing. emot-gonk


"The bells signal the start of the duel, Anthy! You forget yourself."

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#18 | Back to Top11-05-2011 09:03:38 AM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
Website

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Of COURSE Ruka was comfortable dating men! Don't you remember Akio taking him and Touga for that ride in the Akio car? Once they're in the car, it's cannon, they've done it, they're flaming, they're making amateur videos and posting them on Gaytube. The only reason we didn't see it was because animating it would have made the show run over time.

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#19 | Back to Top11-07-2011 11:55:36 AM

Davine Lu Linvega
Spam Arsonist
Registered: 06-08-2011
Posts: 88

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

I think Utena's roots go a lot deeper than Evangelion's. It's a deconstruction of fairy tale tropes, so it has a much longer literary tradition to reference than shoujo manga or super robot shows. Evangelion was inspired by contemporary teenage angst and alienation, while Utena looks at the human condition - in particular, the female human condition - as it has existed for all of recorded history.

Anyway, my last word on the Juri/Ruka issue is that I think Juri's character could have developed without Ruka - any number of events could have occurred that would lead to her getting into the Akio car. Shiori was visiting the fencing club to watch Juri during the Akio arc, and this could cause her enough stress that she would start faltering in her fencing matches and approach a total psychological breakdown. Cue Touga showing up to ask if she can hear the sound that echoes through the End of the World.

A really interesting thing to do would be to have Juri beat Utena - her perfect winning streak after Touga was kind of boring, after all, and Juri came so close to winning the first time. Juri winning Anthy would bring an opportunity for a lot of uncomfortable character development. Anthy would probably make constant, subtle passes at Juri, ripping the scabs off her psychological wounds and using her denial to torment her. I imagine she might appear for brief moments with her skin a few shades lighter and her hair a more burgundy color. She would probably also treat Juri's apartment as a very clothing-optional environment. It could be wrapped up with a scene where Juri, maddened by Anthy's Shiori-related illusions, rips off her locket and smashes it. Utena would challenge Juri to a rematch and Juri would immediately forfeit, stating that she has better things to do than continue with the dueling game. Some signs of her obsession with Shiori would still show through, but she would have her outward confidence back.

A storyline like this could provide some good exposition of Anthy's witch persona, which we don't see much of in the series, and also open the question of whether Anthy felt some mercy toward Juri and intentionally helped her clear some psychological hurdles. Anyway, that's just how I would have handled the climax of Juri's character arc. I think it would be a better approach than introducing a new character for two episodes, although Ruka did bring some interesting ideas into the plot - the question of whether the ends justify the means, a test of the audience's ability to rationalize sexual assault, etc.

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#20 | Back to Top12-21-2011 02:47:31 PM

CausalityStar
Caretaker
From: Idaho
Registered: 09-12-2010
Posts: 215

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

Awesome Stuff

SaionjixAnthy wrote:

Getting back to what I said a month ago, Ruka is gay, school-eng101 so he couldn't have been trying to pray the gay away. Yes, he's gay. I'm gay, and I know gay men when I see them. The only reason he wanted Juri is because he wasn't comfortable dating men yet. If he was, we would have seen a RukaxSaionji pairing. emot-gonk

@ Davine Lu Linvega
I agree with the idea that Jury winning against Utena would have been awesome. It did get boring because after Utena defeated Touga, it becomes clear that Utena can never lose again because she's the main character. I really felt that Jury deserved to win against Utena at least once because Utena has never actually been able to out-duel her. Jury should have won in episode 7, but she lost because Utena performed the Fusion Dance with Dios and made a miracle happen. I also like the idea of Anthy viewing Jury's apartment as clothing optional. etc-jurishlicketc-wankgirl

@ SaionjixAnthy

Hm, Ruka/Saionji? Can't say I've ever though of it. I usually prefer Saionji/Touga and I sometimes like Saionji/Wakaba. And of course Saionji/Touga/Akio school-devil (You know it's canon people!) Even though I haven't thought about Ruka/Saionji, now I'm curious. Bring forth some fartart/fanfiction!

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#21 | Back to Top12-21-2011 05:54:07 PM

Rotten Mooring
Precious One
Registered: 10-26-2011
Posts: 281

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Ruka/Saionji, huh? I have to admit, in both food and fanfiction, I'm willing to try just about anything once. school-sherlock

The question this pairing brings to my mind is how would they hook up? My brain hits a wall trying to picture both Ruka approaching Saionji and Saionji approaching Ruka. Would it take a third party influence?

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#22 | Back to Top12-21-2011 11:31:03 PM

CausalityStar
Caretaker
From: Idaho
Registered: 09-12-2010
Posts: 215

Re: Ruka: An angel descended from Heaven to keep the gay away?

Rotten Mooring wrote:

Ruka/Saionji, huh? I have to admit, in both food and fanfiction, I'm willing to try just about anything once. school-sherlock

The question this pairing brings to my mind is how would they hook up? My brain hits a wall trying to picture both Ruka approaching Saionji and Saionji approaching Ruka. Would it take a third party influence?

A third party you say? Hm, now I'm imaging Touga inadvertently hooking them up while doing that shirtless thing he does to help Akio take people to the end of the world. Or maybe Jury gets them to hook off so that Ruka will back off from Shiori and she can have Shiori all to herself.

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