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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 Top09-12-2012 12:06:51 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Quest or Pilgrimage?

Obviously, SKU isn't in a European classic mode, as it's not European for one thing, and pilgrimages and quests share more than they don't often enough, but... for the sake of considering... is Utena more a quest narrative or a pilgrimage? Subjectively, to you, natch.

A quest requires an end goal that is pursued and (in the best) achieved, and we have some of that. It is marked by clearly memorable achievements and badass moments, and we have those. It's predicated on achievements and earnings.

A pilgrimage narrative is shaped, instead, by not knowing where the future is heading, but forging on, and Utena's got that. The journey is marked by "how this affected her as she went through it" more than "what she did and who she beat up when she got HERE and then THERE." The major achievements will be in the nature of a new understanding (however transient that understanding may be).

Any takers? I'm all curious and stuff.


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#2 | Back to Top09-12-2012 12:59:47 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

I think it depends on whether you look at the question from inside or outside the story.

From inside the story, I think SKU is closer to a quest story.  Utena wears her ring and gets caught up in the dueling game largely because she's looking for something -- her prince, or princeliness, or both.  She doesn't much care how she gets there; the journey itself (stupid dueling games) is of no significance to her.  She's like Indiana Jones looking for a lost idol.  Yes, there's wilderness in the way, but the point is the eventual discovery.  That makes it a quest.

From outside the story, I think SKU is closer to a pilgrimage.  We as viewers can see that the Utena of the Student Council Saga is not ready to be a prince.  She means well, but she's too self-righteous, too self-absorbed, and not self-aware enough.  She doesn't even know whether she wants to be a prince, or whether she might settle for being a princess if she could find the one who gave her that engagement ring.  Utena becomes a person who is ready to be a prince (or, as I prefer, to transcend princeliness) because of events that happen to her along the way to Episode 39 -- usually events she didn't want and wasn't looking for.  And from outside the narrative I think that journey is the point.  That's why Ikuni didn't bother to declare unambiguously whether Utena actually became a prince: it doesn't really matter, because what matters is how she was shaped and how she shaped others during the journey leading up to that moment.  And that is more like a pilgrimage.

When we argue about Akio's motivations, it's possible that we're sensing an inbuilt tension in how his character is written.  We expect him to be embedded in the story, a quest-oriented character like Utena, with a sinister hidden agenda he's working towards the whole time.  But in many ways he actually acts like an author figure outside the story, whose job is to throw obstacles in Utena's way to give her a narratively interesting pilgrimage.  (For example, the people who ask why the Black Rose Saga exists have a point.)  We usually reconcile this tension with somewhat lame-sounding explanations that he has to test and hone her in order to prepare her soul-sword for the denouement, so what looks like authorial behavior is actually part of his master plan after all.  And from within the story that might be the best explanation.  But from outside the story, it's clear to me that Ikuni makes Akio do what he does for the sake of enabling Utena's journey.

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#3 | Back to Top09-12-2012 01:11:01 PM

Atropos
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From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
Posts: 906

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

satyreyes wrote:

But from outside the story, it's clear to me that Ikuni makes Akio do what he does for the sake of enabling Utena's journey.

And to fill up about 15 hours of television.
(And what is the surprise secret of the Black Rose Saga? It's foreshadowing the ending.)

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#4 | Back to Top09-12-2012 02:29:24 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
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Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

Not that I don't see your point, satyr, but ss everything along the way meaningless to her? Ultimately, winning the duels is meaningless; how much she has grown up (so too, many other characters) has more meaning, more power, than winning the ostensible "power to revolutionize the world," yeah? Are the badass victories more important/memorable, to us, than when she learned this or felt that?


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#5 | Back to Top09-12-2012 03:26:23 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

Not that I don't see your point, satyr, but ss everything along the way meaningless to her? Ultimately, winning the duels is meaningless; how much she has grown up (so too, many other characters) has more meaning, more power, than winning the ostensible "power to revolutionize the world," yeah? Are the badass victories more important/memorable, to us, than when she learned this or felt that?

I think maybe you don't see my point!  emot-smile  I agree with you that to us, from outside the story, what's most important is when she learned this or felt that -- the stages of growth she went through on her pilgrimage.  But I don't think that's what's important to her.  Utena is task-oriented and goal-oriented.  She is trying to win duels and find her prince, not learn and feel and grow.  So through her eyes, I think it's a quest story.  Through mine, it's a pilgrimage story.  That was the distinction I was trying to draw: Utena's point of view from inside the story versus ours from outside the story.  I'm sorry if that didn't come across clearly!

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#6 | Back to Top09-12-2012 03:38:10 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

satyreyes wrote:

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

Not that I don't see your point, satyr, but ss everything along the way meaningless to her? Ultimately, winning the duels is meaningless; how much she has grown up (so too, many other characters) has more meaning, more power, than winning the ostensible "power to revolutionize the world," yeah? Are the badass victories more important/memorable, to us, than when she learned this or felt that?

I think maybe you don't see my point!  emot-smile  I agree with you that to us, from outside the story, what's most important is when she learned this or felt that -- the stages of growth she went through on her pilgrimage.  But I don't think that's what's important to her.  Utena is task-oriented and goal-oriented.  She is trying to win duels and find her prince, not learn and feel and grow.  So through her eyes, I think it's a quest story.  Through mine, it's a pilgrimage story.  That was the distinction I was trying to draw: Utena's point of view from inside the story versus ours from outside the story.  I'm sorry if that didn't come across clearly!

You're right; I missed your point.

And, yeah, that makes sense.


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#7 | Back to Top09-13-2012 01:26:36 PM

Riri-kins
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Registered: 09-22-2008
Posts: 2346

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

Well, a pilgrimage is defined as a spiritual journey, and I don't see Utena trying to do that. She just wants to find her prince. She isn't trying to search for herself because she already knows what she wants to be.  Utena's a very simple girl.


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My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

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#8 | Back to Top09-13-2012 02:19:47 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

Riri-kins wrote:

Well, a pilgrimage is defined as a spiritual journey, and I don't see Utena trying to do that. She just wants to find her prince. She isn't trying to search for herself because she already knows what she wants to be.  Utena's a very simple girl.

Pilgrimage narratives don't require a religious pilgrimage, though, unlike "pilgrimage" is understood in the real world.

The protagonist of Pilgrim's Progress was a very simple man (and in the sequel, his wife, her friend, and some kids are all such, too). He just wants to go to a city because it sounds interesting. It's what happens to him and how it changes/affects him, that makes the story a pilgrimage. What Utena endures through the series is a spiritual and social maturation.

I agree (after finally realizing that's what satyr was saying) that Utena wouldn't, herself, think she'd been on a pilgrimage of any kind. She thinks she's pursuing a goal and that's that. But, from the outside...

Maybe.


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#9 | Back to Top09-13-2012 02:52:35 PM

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

Re: Quest or Pilgrimage?

Riri-kins wrote:

Well, a pilgrimage is defined as a spiritual journey, and I don't see Utena trying to do that. She just wants to find her prince. She isn't trying to search for herself because she already knows what she wants to be.  Utena's a very simple girl.

To expand on Daytripper's response: I agree with every word you said about Utena's goals and character.  But isn't it interesting to notice that if Utena had been trying to find herself, then she did a pretty good job?  emot-smile  I think that's what led to DD's original question.

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