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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 Top11-16-2012 03:41:50 PM

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

What is the point of the duels?

Right, they're pretty much the focus of the show, and they happen in nearly every episode. But the characters aren't dependent on them, and the movie featured only 2 duels yet represented the themes of the show just fine. So WHY THE HELL WERE THEY EVEN INCLUDED?
My theory: it's to represent budding sexuality. Touga, Saionji, and Ruka are supposedly the most skilled swordsmen out of the cast, and they're all remarkably virile young men - well, Saionji less so. etc-saiowank On the other hand, you have Miki and Nanami, who are too young to be concerned with sex at all, and are easily Utena's least competent opponents.
Besides, look at the obvious innuendo: they're trying to deflower their opponents using a long rod that extends from their chest when a loved one touches them sensually.
But there must be other theories about why Ikuhara, Enokido, and Saito designed the duels the way they are. What's your theory?

EDIT: Oooh, here's another one:
The duels represent the 'end of the world'. The first half of most duel episodes is spent illustrating the worldview and beliefs of the opponent, up to the point where they challenge Utena to force their own vision of reality onto the world at large. Then, Utena defeats them, shattering that world and forcing them to rebuild their entire perception of reality.

Last edited by Atropos (11-16-2012 03:50:48 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top11-16-2012 04:12:54 PM

MikoGalatea
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From: England, UK
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

I recall reading that Ikuhara had an obsession with kendo as a kid, and that Saito used to be a big fan of The Three Musketeers, so perhaps the idea of having swordfighting in the series just appealed to them for those reasons. (Enokido wanted to have guns instead, didn't he?)

Atropos wrote:

The duels represent the 'end of the world'. The first half of most duel episodes is spent illustrating the worldview and beliefs of the opponent, up to the point where they challenge Utena to force their own vision of reality onto the world at large. Then, Utena defeats them, shattering that world and forcing them to rebuild their entire perception of reality.

Interesting theory; I think I like it.

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#3 | Back to Top11-16-2012 05:42:36 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Aren't the duels all fixed games hosted by the Double A Siblings to horn a sufficiently noble soul sword out of Utena (the pre-determined prized pawn since day one) to use as key to unlock the sealed power of Dios?  That's why they always interfere when it looks like Utena really might lose (especially in the Mikage duel), just so Anthy will stay as her Bride and keep watch over her progress.

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (11-16-2012 05:45:14 PM)


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#4 | Back to Top11-16-2012 07:04:14 PM

Atropos
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From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

gorgeousshutin wrote:

Aren't the duels all fixed games hosted by the Double A Siblings to horn a sufficiently noble soul sword out of Utena (the pre-determined prized pawn since day one) to use as key to unlock the sealed power of Dios?  That's why they always interfere when it looks like Utena really might lose (especially in the Mikage duel), just so Anthy will stay as her Bride and keep watch over her progress.

Of course, but why did the writers choose duels over, say, fighting 50-foot-tall monsters? That's the issue here.

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#5 | Back to Top11-16-2012 07:19:17 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Atropos wrote:

Of course, but why did the writers choose duels over, say, fighting 50-foot-tall monsters? That's the issue here.

I think that would be the author's way to get Utena directly and repeatedly clashing wills with members of the supporting cast, plus planting the seeds of change in them such that they all show "changes" alongside Anthy at the Ending, despite how none of them had anything to do with the Duel called Revolution.

Plus what you wrote in the first post:

The duels represent the 'end of the world'. The first half of most duel episodes is spent illustrating the worldview and beliefs of the opponent, up to the point where they challenge Utena to force their own vision of reality onto the world at large. Then, Utena defeats them, shattering that world and forcing them to rebuild their entire perception of reality.


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#6 | Back to Top11-16-2012 07:45:26 PM

Lurv
Pained Growlithe
Registered: 05-25-2012
Posts: 520

Re: What is the point of the duels?

Atropos wrote:

Of course, but why did the writers choose duels over, say, fighting 50-foot-tall monsters? That's the issue here.

It's just an example, but fighting actual monsters would be less personal. I mean, they could be symbolic monsters, since this is Utena, but I think a duel between two people is gonna look more personal anyway. And Utena is more about the people than the action.

And it's very "romantic." You know, people having duels over who gets the lady.

Last edited by Lurv (11-16-2012 07:46:42 PM)

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#7 | Back to Top11-19-2012 09:38:03 AM

Kita-Ysabell
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Yeah, I tend to read the duels almost as arguments: Utena generally wins by convincing her opponents that either they're wrong or that they don't really want what they thought they wanted.  I think one episode (Nanami's last duel?  I should know this stuff by heart, but I don't) even had a voiceover where Utena and her opponent were talking about what they were fighting about.

As for swords, I see them as a representation of agency.  Which apparently you need someone to pull out of your chest?


Edit: Sorry, this answer is a bit... eeeehhhh.  I don't feel like it accurately reflects my analytical capabilities.  I could pretty much feel my brain dripping out of my ears as I typed it.  I haven't had a good week, and I'm realizing that I can get drunk and have a hangover on half a glass of wine, (it happened twice) on top of everything.  Y'all are smarter than most online forums, I need to get my shite together to contribute properly, and I haven't got it together yet.

Last edited by Kita-Ysabell (11-23-2012 10:14:48 PM)


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#8 | Back to Top11-19-2012 11:33:05 PM

satyreyes
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From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Lurv wrote:

It's just an example, but fighting actual monsters would be less personal. I mean, they could be symbolic monsters, since this is Utena, but I think a duel between two people is gonna look more personal anyway. And Utena is more about the people than the action.

Damn right.  The point of the duels, when they're done well, is that they grow out of a genuine conflict of wills.  Sometimes the conflict is only over who gets to revolutionize the world.  Sometimes it's also over something else: who gets to go home with Anthy, whether there are such things as miracles, who is special.  But if you want to know why it's duels instead of giant monsters, I think it's because the duels grow organically out of the idea that there is such a thing as "the power to revolutionize the world" and only one person gets to have it.  Why that premise instead of another premise?  Because this one serves the themes well.  To take one theme as an example, we could pick dealing with adolescence, as Atropos suggests.  SKU doesn't give us very good adult role models.  Adults are people like Akio and Mikage and Touga.  I think the duels illustrate adolescence by showing how wrenching it is to treat adulthood as a game about who can accumulate the most power.  Adulthood is about more than who can die with the most toys.  You could use giant monsters to talk about adolescence, too -- Eva does it well, Gurren Lagann does it well, many others do it.  But you'd be saying something different if you did it with giant monsters.  Your premise would facilitate a different take on the theme.

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

As for swords, I see them as a representation of agency.  Which apparently you need someone to pull out of your chest?

It's a two-for-one special on themes: agency and friendship.  Duels are a great way of getting both these themes on the screen at once.  When you duel, you're taking your own life in your hands -- there's your agency.  But duels are traditionally fought with a second, and SKU preserves that tradition by making the duelists' seconds integral to the duels.  When Utena beats the other guy, she's not only proving her own strength, but also vindicating her friendship with Anthy.  (This is reinforced both by where the Sword of Dios comes from and by the fact that Anthy goes to whoever wins the duels.)  By the second and third arcs, when the other duelists get seconds, we're examining their relationship at the same time -- another twofer.

No one ever pulls a sword out of eir own chest, not even Anthy.  Some things you can do by yourself, and some things you need someone else's help with.  Pulling a sword out of your chest is that second kind of thing.  The writers could have made it the first kind of thing, but again, that's a different premise that would facilitate a different take on the themes.  "It takes two" brings friendship to the front.  I don't think this in any way diminishes the swords as symbols of agency, because agency and friendship are compatible, and this is in fact an important conclusion of SKU.

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#9 | Back to Top11-20-2012 07:29:43 AM

Decrescent Daytripper
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Registered: 04-09-2007
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

The primary goal: getting le magik sword.

Secondary goal: getting everyone to pay attention to Dios and how amazeballs awesome Dios is/was/will-be.

Outside the series reasons to make them duels: they appear to be personal conflicts between three entities each time; they are sexy; they're novel and unique; they have a phallic symbol and include deflowering; it's a kind of conflict that has built-in ideas and expectations of honor, skill, and formality.

The switch to racing video game at the end of the movie was inspired 'cause it hits most of those same targets and had the bonus it's A GAME motherfuckah!


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

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#10 | Back to Top11-20-2012 05:19:10 PM

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

Re: What is the point of the duels?

IIRC in the Black Rose booklet it says the original plan was to have the heroes fight monsters. The duels were added at Enokido's suggestion based on something Saito said to him about The Three Musketeers.

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#11 | Back to Top11-23-2012 10:27:17 AM

ShiningSanctum1
Touga Topper
Registered: 11-23-2012
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

The whole point of the duels is to win the Rose Bride and become the "Engaged" to eventually bring "revolution." In other words, to bring revolution in however way the duelist wishes. For the main cast in the student council, their intentions were very selfish (aside from Miki), but for Utena her reason to fight was to free Anthy from abuse.

However, the whole duel gig was a set-up by Anthy and her brother, as you learned in the last arc. They've been pulling the duelists' strings.


Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

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#12 | Back to Top11-23-2012 10:28:34 AM

Atropos
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From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

lol, you should read this

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#13 | Back to Top11-23-2012 11:36:44 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Be nice to the new guy, Atropos!  emot-smile  Sanctum, if you'll read the first post of this thread carefully, I think you'll find that the question is why SKU's creators decided to put duels in the show, not why the characters fight in them.  Though if that had been the question, I think your answer is very good!  (We can argue about the purity of Miki's motives later. emot-wink)  Also, welcome to IRG!

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#14 | Back to Top11-23-2012 11:12:30 PM

Kita-Ysabell
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

satyreyes wrote:

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

As for swords, I see them as a representation of agency.  Which apparently you need someone to pull out of your chest?

It's a two-for-one special on themes: agency and friendship.  Duels are a great way of getting both these themes on the screen at once.  When you duel, you're taking your own life in your hands -- there's your agency.  But duels are traditionally fought with a second, and SKU preserves that tradition by making the duelists' seconds integral to the duels.  When Utena beats the other guy, she's not only proving her own strength, but also vindicating her friendship with Anthy.  (This is reinforced both by where the Sword of Dios comes from and by the fact that Anthy goes to whoever wins the duels.)  By the second and third arcs, when the other duelists get seconds, we're examining their relationship at the same time -- another twofer.

No one ever pulls a sword out of teir own chest, not even Anthy.  Some things you can do by yourself, and some things you need someone else's help with.  Pulling a sword out of your chest is that second kind of thing.  The writers could have made it the first kind of thing, but again, that's a different premise that would facilitate a different take on the themes.  "It takes two" brings friendship to the front.  I don't think this in any way diminishes the swords as symbols of agency, because agency and friendship are compatible, and this is in fact an important conclusion of SKU.

Yeah, I was gonna elaborate, but then I realized that, as I just edited in above, my thoughts were not together.  Are they now?  Probably not, but alcohol leads to lowered inhibitions so WHEEE RESPONSE TIME.

I'm not sure I'd call it "friendship," but it is some sort of relationship.  Alliance?  Protection?  Advocacy?  Love?  All of the above?  Or are those just aspects of friendship, and one or more of them contribute to the kind of relationship that would be conductive to sword-pulling?  The thing I saw as being most analogous to the engaged/rose bride and duelist/second (thanks, I hadn't thought of that) relationship was the prince/princess relationship: one acts on the others' behalf and for the others' benefit, while the other takes a passive role in the affair.  I'm still not sure what I would say SKU's ultimate position is on that kind of chivalry, but the series is certainly critical of it.  I'm reminded of the quote, "If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.  But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

Anthy does pull a sword out her own chest through the first and second arcs-- the Sword of Dios.  On a re-watch, I'm pretty sure that's Exactly What it Says on the Tin, i.e: it's her brother's sword, not hers, and not some magical artifact MacGuffin.  In terms of swords=agency+relationship, this could be indicative of the way the two of them are orchestrating the duels, although there is the complication of it being the sword of Dios, who... honestly, seems to exist more as an idea than as a person.

This kind of raises the issue of: why does Akio think he needs a prince's sword?  Why can't he use the Sword of Dios?  What I can come up with:

a) Akio knows that he isn't a prince anymore, so if he even thinks the sword is his, he doesn't think it'll work.

b) Anthy stole the sword, so for some reason, that renders Akio unable to use it.

c) He tried it, it didn't work because swords don't work, and he just thought he needed a different sword.

d) Anthy's sword-pulling relationship was with Dios, not Akio, so it's Dios, not Akio, who can wield the sword, only Dios doesn't exist anymore.

Or possibly all of the above.


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#15 | Back to Top11-24-2012 02:31:42 AM

satyreyes
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From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

I'm not sure I'd call it "friendship," but it is some sort of relationship.  Alliance?  Protection?  Advocacy?  Love?  All of the above?  Or are those just aspects of friendship, and one or more of them contribute to the kind of relationship that would be conductive to sword-pulling?

You're right, "friendship" is overstating the case.  A better word might be attachment.  In one way or another, you have a relationship with a person where you're willing to pull a sword out of em and fight with it.

Anthy does pull a sword out her own chest through the first and second arcs-- the Sword of Dios.

Utena pulls the sword out of Anthy's chest throughout those arcs.  (Except in episodes 1 and 12, where Saionji and Touga respectively do the honors.)  If there were going to be an exception, I'm sure it would be Anthy, but I don't think even she ever pulls a sword out of herself.

On a re-watch, I'm pretty sure that's Exactly What it Says on the Tin, i.e: it's her brother's sword, not hers, and not some magical artifact MacGuffin.  In terms of swords=agency+relationship, this could be indicative of the way the two of them are orchestrating the duels, although there is the complication of it being the sword of Dios, who... honestly, seems to exist more as an idea than as a person.

I wrote up a whole big post in this space, and then I checked the title of the thread.  We are veering off-topic!  emot-gonk  Atropos' original question was about why SKU's creators put duels in the show, not about why Akio and Anthy orchestrate the duels.  I'll have to save my spiel about the Sword of Dios for another time!

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#16 | Back to Top11-24-2012 05:42:08 AM

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

Re: What is the point of the duels?

Akio does look pretty upset when the Sword of Dios fails to appear - not that this proves anything.
But again, OT.
Here's an evolution of the original question: is SKU still a complete story if the duels are done away with?

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#17 | Back to Top11-24-2012 07:58:33 AM

Decrescent Daytripper
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Atropos wrote:

is SKU still a complete story if the duels are done away with?

Unless they are replaced by something else, and for a variety of reasons, something else that is mock-committed at the school with regularity, like another sport, then no. Simply narratively it falls apart.

Aesthetically, they could be replaced with a variety of things, from boxing matches to staring contests or rounds of darts, but any change that isn't a shift to a secondary form of competition and not a full shift to a new form, loses so much that defines SKU and gives it its special frisson, I'm hard pressed to think of one that would be worthwhile.


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

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#18 | Back to Top11-24-2012 12:56:47 PM

satyreyes
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From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Atropos wrote:

is SKU still a complete story if the duels are done away with?

Now that is an interesting question!  emot-biggrin  And it hinges on what you think makes a story complete.

Can I envision SKU without duels?  Actually, yes, I can -- but count the number of times I have to say "other than duels" as I describe what the first arc of this show might look like.

Utena arrives at Ohtori Academy looking to become a prince, which to her, at that time, means protecting someone.  In episode 1, Utena, through some means other than duels, accidentally and reluctantly ends up in possession of the Rose Bride.  Over the next few episodes, this arbitrary connection between Utena and Anthy is challenged by some means other than duels, and Utena discovers that she won't give Anthy up so easily.  We gradually see that Utena's behavior towards Anthy grows out of her desire to protect her (from something other than duels).  At the end of the first arc, Utena's relationship with Anthy is terminated by some means other than duels, and Utena, having begun to realize that Anthy is more to her than a project, reclaims her by doing something other than dueling . . .

You see what I mean?  I think I'm trying to reinforce Daytripper's point here: you can do away with the duels, but they leave a huge narrative vacuum.  You would have to find another way to get Utena and Anthy to meet, to illustrate Utena's protectiveness, to put their relationship in jeopardy.  Now, of course that is possible to do!  You don't even need formalized competition; Maria-sama ga Miteru and Oniisama e, to name two, manage to deal with related themes without a single secret contest behind the school.  But it would be a different show, and you'd have to revise other parts of it accordingly.  (For example, a prince who doesn't fight is a rather different kind of prince than the one SKU envisions, so you'd have to overhaul the archetypes in a way that was thematically appropriate with the new narrative.)  SKU fits together pretty tightly.

One traditional way to answer this sort of question is to write an AU fanfic. emot-smile  Want to try?

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#19 | Back to Top11-24-2012 02:07:58 PM

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

Re: What is the point of the duels?

satyreyes wrote:

One traditional way to answer this sort of question is to write an AU fanfic. emot-smile  Want to try?

I'm not a great prose writer, and script fic feels wrong to me somehow. Besides, I can't see the point in it.

Last edited by Atropos (11-24-2012 04:46:39 PM)

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#20 | Back to Top11-24-2012 02:16:17 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Atropos wrote:

    is SKU still a complete story if the duels are done away with?

I thought the car race at the climax of the movie pretty much answered this question already.  As long as it's an activity capable of involving a clashing of views between diff. chars, then yes, I think it can replace the duels.

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (11-24-2012 02:17:49 PM)


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
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#21 | Back to Top11-24-2012 02:56:05 PM

Lurv
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Hmm, not sure I would enjoy the car racing as much. Utena's transformation is nice for the climax of the movie, but for a 39 episode show, I think it would get old after the novelty wore off.

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#22 | Back to Top11-24-2012 04:53:31 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

Lurv wrote:

Hmm, not sure I would enjoy the car racing as much. Utena's transformation is nice for the climax of the movie, but for a 39 episode show, I think it would get old after the novelty wore off.

Even with the sword duels, they have to change the arena setting from arc to arc to keep things (somewhat) fresh.  What if they use different track settings for different races to symbolize the different "path choices" the characters are currently facing at those points in the story as they race each other out of conflict of interest?


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#23 | Back to Top11-24-2012 05:21:41 PM

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

Re: What is the point of the duels?

It'd be tougher to make car chases as visually interesting as duels, mainly because the participants are more separated and less visible to the audience.
Plus, none of the characters are old enough to drive, it would make Akio's pimpmobile less special, etc.
Hmmm. I can't be the only one who would have liked another duel in the movie; the car chase was cool but not quite the same. Touga dueling Utena with Shiori acting as his bride could have stood in for the elevator scene; you could get the same revelation and tension with a more visually interesting stage.

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#24 | Back to Top11-24-2012 06:02:31 PM

Valeli
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Re: What is the point of the duels?

I thought the car race at the climax of the movie pretty much answered this question already.  As long as it's an activity capable of involving a clashing of views between diff. chars, then yes, I think it can replace the duels.

I'll agree that other competitive actions can work, but I think it's hard to find one that works quite as well. Personally, I didn't enjoy the movie nearly as much as the series and found the ending car scene to be more bizarre than it was dramatic. I teared up a bit at the ending of the TV series, but not so much in the movie (although the movie did do somethings neatly, to be fair). At any rate, with kendo clubs in all sorts of Japanese high schools, the idea of sword fighting isn't as patently outlandish as it might appear. There's a sort of historical militaristic and even national basis to kendo/fencing that gives the matches a kind of feel and import that would be lacking in competitive tennis matches or races or even boxing. That context also lends itself to the development of Utena's character, Saionji's character, and Akio's character as the "prince". And as has been said, sword fights where characters are trying to deflower each other also have got all sorts of great Freudian type interpretations.

You can still have the same sort of story existing without the sword fights, although clearly you'd have to do a huge restructuring of the whole series. The whole tone of the series would end up changing quite significantly I think.... The show is a personal drama both before and after, but I just feel it would come across as a different sort of drama if you rewrote it without these overtly competitive sequences. If you kept competitive sequences but had a different activity, I think it would still work as a narrative, but just not half as well. Interesting question. I have to step out now, I'll see if I can come back and add any more to this later tonight.

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#25 | Back to Top08-04-2015 06:26:19 AM

KissFromARose
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From: Austin, Tx
Registered: 09-29-2008
Posts: 506

Re: What is the point of the duels?

Valeli wrote:

That context also lends itself to the development of Utena's character, Saionji's character, and Akio's character as the "prince".

As i read through this entire thread-- I kept coming back to the question of -- what could you replace swords with? When I think of prince on a white horse i go back to the westernized prince of a Renaissance time period with fancy clothing, some kind of family crest, and always a sword. I haven't read the special dvd booklets yet, so i may come back and refute everything i'm saying, but I imagine when they were creating the Utena concept they discussed how to create this conflict, big monsters as mentioned above, and in the end settled on swords which sort of evolved the narrative from there, no? (Unless the booklets are saying that the BRS was the portion they'd be fighting monsters? or the whole series... again, im not sure).

If i had to venture down my guess path more i would say the events the creators took was something like this:

1) Have this idea for strong female protagonist that is na´ve and wants to save the world
2) How do we make them fight?
3) Three musketeers sounds cool, so give her a sword.
4) Oh, swords are closely regarded to prince-like stuff, so we should go with that...

and so forth.

All of that being said, I believe the duels were an evolution of the show which solidified the prince image. What other kind of prince could there be without swords? (im genuinely asking here. I cant think of one... except with a guitar emot-tongue, and that version of Utena in which they are all rock band heroes fighting one another sounds like a great concept haha!)


TL;DR:
If we remove swords, I feel like we are removing prince as well which has strings attached to the main themes of being saved and the like... so the show wouldn't feel the same.

Again, i've been really good at digging old posts up, so I apologize, but I hope you are enjoying revisiting these topics with me after my rewatch!

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