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HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top09-24-2011 05:31:27 PM

Riri-kins
World's End
From: Cloud Nine
Registered: 09-22-2008
Posts: 2346

Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

I think some of the characters in these two great works of art are a lot alike.


   For instance, the female characters are unimportant in Beowulf, right? Wrong. One of them is Queen Wealhtheow. She is King Hrothgar’s demure wife whose main role is that of a hostess and cup bearer.   During her first scene Beowulf is the last warrior she gives mead to and then he promises to kill the monster Grendel.  Of course, the queen is happy he promised them this but she is still just being polite.   However, once he kills Grendel he is the first person she serves after her husband. This signifies that Beowulf has earned a higher place in the court as well as her respect.
     This is just like Anthy. She is the sweet and demure Rose Bride who is just doing her job until episode twelve. When the Rose Bride sees Utena’s impressive performance she is the first person to truly earn her respect.


  Furthermore, Akio is kind of like King Hrothgar. Both are literally the ring-bearers. If Hrothgar does not praise you or give you treasure you're a bad warrior and you cannot be a duelist unless Akio gives you a rose crest ring.

   Any other thoughts?  Agree? Disagree?


Proud Saionji and Mikage fangirl
My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

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#2 | Back to Top09-24-2011 07:24:26 PM

QQQQQ
Cow Bellhop
From: Canada
Registered: 02-12-2011
Posts: 476

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

Did you read the actual play? Or watch Zemekis's movie adaptation of it? I've only seen the movie a long while ago - I'm not that familiar with Beowulf, and I imagine some things get lost in the adaptation.

Last edited by QQQQQ (09-24-2011 07:27:12 PM)

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#3 | Back to Top09-24-2011 07:26:52 PM

Android raptor
Rose Smilee
From: North GA, USA
Registered: 08-11-2009
Posts: 126
Website

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

I dunno, I'd like to think Utena is a bit more complex of a work than what's essentially a 2000 year-old Gary-Stu fanfic. Because that's all I could think when we read Beowulf my senior year.

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#4 | Back to Top09-24-2011 07:55:59 PM

QQQQQ
Cow Bellhop
From: Canada
Registered: 02-12-2011
Posts: 476

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

I wish I could have read Beowulf for high school.. it would be good to analyse why this warrior's awesomeness has saved Hrothgar from the evil Grendel. Oh well. I think though these noted little similarities seem superficial - I don't see anything else how Beowulf resembles Utena. (Other than that Anthy could be the caretaking mother to the Grendel of the faculty, Dios/Akio.)

On a somewhat digressive note, I could compare Ohtori Academy to be a Mafia-backed business with Akio being the head Don. Anthy would be Michael Corleone - at first she seems innocent and wants to be free of this clandestine power structure, but later on we see she always had this streak of hidden aggression that impels her to be just as manipulating as Akio, if not more. Utena is Kay Adams, in which she gets involved (and married) with Anthy and reluctant of this power corruption.

Last edited by QQQQQ (09-24-2011 07:56:36 PM)

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#5 | Back to Top09-25-2011 01:25:42 PM

Riri-kins
World's End
From: Cloud Nine
Registered: 09-22-2008
Posts: 2346

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

QQQQQ wrote:

Did you read the actual play? Or watch Zemekis's movie adaptation of it? I've only seen the movie a long while ago - I'm not that familiar with Beowulf, and I imagine some things get lost in the adaptation.

Yes, I read and am referring to the epic.

Android Raptor wrote:

I dunno, I'd like to think Utena is a bit more complex of a work than what's essentially a 2000 year-old Gary-Stu fanfic. Because that's all I could think when we read Beowulf my senior year.

Ha ha, me too.  I don't think Utena herself was as boring as he. It's just that the queen reminded me of Anthy. Furthermore, if you want to dwell on it you could draw some parallels between Unferth and Saionji. Both are arrogant and extremely jealous warriors who try to embarass the heroes in public.


Proud Saionji and Mikage fangirl
My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

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#6 | Back to Top10-09-2011 11:06:35 PM

jmie5
Precious One
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 296

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

Android raptor wrote:

I dunno, I'd like to think Utena is a bit more complex of a work than what's essentially a 2000 year-old Gary-Stu fanfic. Because that's all I could think when we read Beowulf my senior year.

Depending in what sort of class you read Beowulf, especially if it was in high school (where I think everyone first reads it and has a different interpretation,) I can truly understand why you would feel that way; however, I whole-heartedly disagree with you and am almost insulted on behalf of the poem.  To be fair, I'm a dork, spent far too much time working with that poem back in the day, and part of my degree hinged on it.  And to begin, I wouldn't want to choose between Utena and Beowulf or declare one better than the other.   Utena is my favorite anime, and I've often defended my choice by saying, "with a song like Allegory, Allegorier, Allegoriest, how can it be bad?"  Still, I don't see it as being any more "complex" than Beowulf.  I see that poem as such an important preservation of Anglo-Saxon culture in the larger picture of English history and so multi-faceted. 

Beowulf is rather like those old Anglo-Saxon riddles, which were written to have one meaning for the laugh, but there was another sub-meaning for supposed intellectual stimulation, depending on how you look at it.  For example (and to paraphrase without my materials available where I am to cite:)  What grows in a bed, has a ruddy-colored head, and makes maidens cry?  (Literal meaning = onion; figurative = male genitalia.)  Beowulf (the character) struggles so hard to be that Gary-Stu, and does appear to succeed!  Grendel is terrorizing Heorot, and Beowulf across the seas to aid King Hrothgar, publicly embarrasses Brecca (that nasty kin killer,) kills Grendel, kills his mother; sails back home with a boat-load of treasure, where he later becomes king; fights a dragon (albeit stupidly,) and dies, yet having won.  Well, that's one interpretation, and here's where I wish I had my better source material to cite, as Beowulf's failure to all that would constitute being a Gary-Stu in his culture are so very grave.

I think why I adore Beowulf can best be seen in the last few verses, when he dies.  There’s just too much for me to write here.  Beowulf did live a long life, trying to play the hero, slaying monsters, but that’s not what matters most in Anglo-Saxon culture, it‘s more so weaving connections, survival, greatness through these methods.  The first few verses of the poem give praise to Hrothgar, and we’re told more than once about him, “that was a good king,” and it‘s repeated even after the destruction of his great mead hall with the golden benches is alluded.  Also, when Beowulf arrives and brags about his many feats, which Brecca denounces, it isn’t lack of strength that Beowulf uses to denounce him; it’s the fact that Brecca is a “kin killer.”   At some point in this poem there’s a portion where you get a bunch of tribe names, who are all pissed and an equally long list of tribe names, warring nations.  In the process of Beowulf getting himself killed, two things happen: all his men but one abandon him, and he leaves his land exposed.

Beowulf, in his old age and without an heir to the throne, runs off to fight a fire-breathing dragon, sweeping across his lands with a very small band of men and then insists on facing it, himself.  All things considered, it really isn’t tragic that all his men but one leave him.  It’s a complete break-down of comitatus, and I always thought quite telling for his ability as a King.  Though, to be fair, he had to pull his weight, or he wouldn’t have survived that long with the dragon, and the other warring tribes would have invaded, by then.  But, at his funeral, we get this:  (Insert my choppily edited and highlighted lines):

Some of the last few lines pertaining to his funeral are (and horribly highlighted/edited:
. . . In heavy mood
their misery moaned they, their master's death.
Wailing her woe, the widow old,
her hair upbound, for Beowulf's death
sung in her sorrow, and said full oft
she dreaded the doleful days to come,
deaths enow, and doom of battle,
and shame.
-- The smoke by the sky was devoured.
The folk of the Weders fashioned there
on the headland a barrow broad and high,
by ocean-farers far descried:
in ten days' time their toil had raised it,
the battle-brave's beacon. Round brands of the pyre
a wall they built, the worthiest ever
. . .
of men he [Beowulf] was mildest and most beloved,
to his kin the kindest, keenest for fame"

That poor woman isn’t bewailing the fallen hero; she’s horrified because pretty soon their lands are going to be swarmed by other strong warriors, all the other nations that are greedy, ambitious, and angry, and Beowulf has left nothing in place but some useless treasure that might as well be burned with his body.  There lies the hero, the failed king, the great guy that was keenest for fame and left his defenseless people wailing in terror. 

I’m sorry, I love Utena, but I don't see it as being more complex or superior in any way than this… this poem that’s not at al what it seems to be; I just love it so.  I mean, when I first read it in high school, I thought, “this is it, the show-down story between that guy and that monster,” when in reality, the battle between Beowulf and Grendel was only a couple hundred lines out of a few thousand, and it’s for good reason; it's not the main point, so to speak.  In my opinion, it's impossible for Beowulf to be a Gary-Stu; he's far too flawed in the context of the times/story.   It'd be like saying Touga really was the perfect, noble prince. emot-smile  This whole tl;dr thing above is just the tip of the iceberg for me.


Riri-kins wrote:

I think some of the characters in these two great works of art are a lot alike.


   For instance, the female characters are unimportant in Beowulf, right? Wrong. One of them is Queen Wealhtheow. She is King Hrothgar’s demure wife whose main role is that of a hostess and cup bearer.   During her first scene Beowulf is the last warrior she gives mead to and then he promises to kill the monster Grendel.  Of course, the queen is happy he promised them this but she is still just being polite.   However, once he kills Grendel he is the first person she serves after her husband. This signifies that Beowulf has earned a higher place in the court as well as her respect.
     This is just like Anthy. She is the sweet and demure Rose Bride who is just doing her job until episode twelve. When the Rose Bride sees Utena’s impressive performance she is the first person to truly earn her respect.


  Furthermore, Akio is kind of like King Hrothgar. Both are literally the ring-bearers. If Hrothgar does not praise you or give you treasure you're a bad warrior and you cannot be a duelist unless Akio gives you a rose crest ring.

   Any other thoughts?  Agree? Disagree?

I’m sorry, I slightly disagree in some respects, but I would have never thought to think of this anime and text together!

I could see Anthy as similar to Wealtheow, but not quite in the same way.  A woman’s main function in that society was to be a “peace-weaver.”  She didn’t have any real power, per se, but you were married off from one land to another, in hopes that the tribes would have a sort of alliance or wouldn’t murder one another.  Sometimes, it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. 

I don’t know; the first adjective I’d use to describe Wealtheow is smart.  She may not have that internal “magical” power that Anthy does, but when Hrothgar is so favoring Beowulf at the table, she’s able to tactfully allude to the fact that Hrothgar would do best to concentrate on his own heirs, to not drive a rift between them.   Wealtheow may have an important role and have status as Queen; however, outside of that weaving role, women aren’t that important; they’re not powerful, and there‘s no such thing as a passive hero.  One of my favorite Anglo-Saxon poems, aside from Beowulf is The Dream of the Rood, in which people are just starting to be converted to Christianity, and the Anglo-Saxons seriously cannot see Christ as a heroic, someone worth following because he was killed.  The poem had to be written in such away that he’s described as being a triumphant warrior that practically leaps upon the cross, dying bravely in order to save everyone.  I would see Anthy and Wealtheow is being similar in having restrained positions of extreme importance, except Wealtheow’s peace-weaving worked, and people are fighting over Anthy. emot-biggrin  (Is happily amused and the thought.)

About Akio and Hrothgar, unfortunately, I disagree.  The way that the text flows, if there’s an exemplary pillar of who you should be in Beowulf, it’s hailed as Hrothgar, and I could never reconcile that with the snake that Akio is.  Yes, Hrothgar did give out gold, but it’s really a part of the comitatus; one follows and serves his lord faithfully (often loving him,) and you are rewarded with gold.  Whereas this could get sort of nasty with Akio, Hrothgar is quite generous, opening a great mead hall.   Also, you don’t have to wait for Hrothgar’s endorsement to go out and do battle or “manly things.” 

In fact, as long as we're talking about characters, I should be smacked for briefly imagining Saionji as Wealtheow.  After all, he later gets to be a rose bride of sorts, and my mind keeps coming back to episode 9, before he began to really lose his giblets and was a reasonable little boy.  I think of when he told Touga that it would be best not to leave Utena in her coffin, is all, and it strikes a small chord with Welatheow’s wisdom to Hrothgar to not forget about his own two sons, in favor of the amazing shiz that Beowulf just pulled off (even though Hrothgar acted unimpressed, when Beowulf arrived in the first place, just like ’Oh, you’re coming back to repay your father or grandfather’s old debt to me!’ -- I honestly forget which one it is.)  But Saionji as Wealtheow is just a fleeting thought that amuses me -- construable but not serious, I promise.   

However, after tonight tonight, I think I could make a half-way decent case for Touga as Beowulf: o-true-prince versus no-true-king, all in context and virtue of their respective times and places.  ;)  I wouldn't start the re-casting for anyone anytime soon, though.

I'm sorry to be a pain, Riri; I think you posed a wonderful question with these two... pieces of media that truly aren't commonly thought of together.  etc-love

Last edited by jmie5 (10-10-2011 12:00:38 AM)

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#7 | Back to Top10-10-2011 10:15:38 AM

Android raptor
Rose Smilee
From: North GA, USA
Registered: 08-11-2009
Posts: 126
Website

Re: Does anybody else notice the similarities between Beowulf and Utena?

Well yeah, I'm not saying it's not one of the most culturally important literary works of all time. I also should reread it, though there's no guarantees I still won't see a big, fat, obnoxious Sonic GokuVerine-ish Gary-Stu. People 2000 years ago were just as capable of writing self-indulgent wish fulfillment characters I'd think.

Hell, if the notorious My Immortal were the only surviving piece of writing from our culture 2000 years from now I think literature scholars might have a pretty high opinion of it too emot-tongue


For the record, my opinion garnered some hate amongst my classmates, especially the guys. I seem to be in the minority.

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