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Gougai! Gougai!

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

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

#1 | Back to Top07-06-2013 09:39:50 AM

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

SKU as Horror

Yeah, you read that right. Don't let the bright colors and slapstick fool you; Revolutionary Girl Utena is grade-A psychological horror.

No, I don't mean horror as in jump scares and gory murders. It's horror in the sense that it's about a supernatural force beyond our control intruding into our own world and slowly consuming the lives of several normal people. When you think about it, the premise sounds more like an H.P. Lovecraft story than a magical girl anime: an ancient and prestigious academy, its chalk-white walls belying the unnumbered sins committed between its walls, plays host to thousands of students - many of whom won't leave the school. The teachers are powerless; they're outclassed by the members of the student council, who watch the school from above and act at the behest of an unseen manipulator who communicates only in letters. Then there's the chairman - the acting chairman, really, but not even the oldest teachers at the school can remember a time when he wasn't in charge. He seems charming enough, with the slight problem that he might just be the Devil. As for his little sister? Yeah, steer clear of her if you value your life and sanity. If you really want to survive, listen to the shadows; they're the only ones in the entire place who can speak honestly.

Damn. This show is way more scary than I ever realized.

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#2 | Back to Top07-06-2013 10:45:10 AM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Two immortal sadomasochists pretending to youth (one a pretend victim and adorkable little sister to all, the other a pretend authority figure and cool big brother) and several trapped, naive children and teens with various traumas and hang ups, whom they can toy with, harass, confuse, terrify, beat, and rape all they damned like.

Surrounded by pastels, flower petals, and elegant lighting.

Tee, as they say, hee.

As rotten as Saionji or Nanami could be, look fairly at what Anthy and Akio do to them, not from their pretend positions as picked on student and her winking big bro with the fancy job, but as magically-manipulative, world-controlling scary immortals. Elephants attack Nanami. That's elephants to attack a girl barely in her teens. Saio's an ass, yeah, but he's what, seventeen? Anthy is a helluva lot older, a helluva lot more powerful, and eggs him on, fully aware of his hang ups and paranoias about not measuring up, not being man enough, not being, simply, good enough. The kids at Ohtori never had a chance.


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

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#3 | Back to Top07-06-2013 11:18:27 AM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: SKU as Horror

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

Entire Post.

Yep.  Can't say it better myself.


(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 Top07-06-2013 12:43:23 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Although it would never have been allowed, I would've removed the duels from the second half of the show and instead go into explicit horror, as Akio eliminates all of the SC members one by one (not everyone who goes to the Ends of the World comes back...) and seduces Utena at the same time. It would really have emphasized how Akio and Anthy's years of imprisonment have completely desensitized them.

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#5 | Back to Top07-06-2013 02:05:29 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: SKU as Horror

Atropos wrote:

Although it would never have been allowed, I would've removed the duels from the second half of the show and instead go into explicit horror, as Akio eliminates all of the SC members one by one (not everyone who goes to the Ends of the World comes back...) and seduces Utena at the same time. It would really have emphasized how Akio and Anthy's years of imprisonment have completely desensitized them.

This is a fascinating idea.  The show you describe would have been a very different show, of course.  If there is a central tenet of horror it is that we are ultimately powerless in the face of a malevolent universe, while SKU puts the ideas of empowerment and agency front and center in just about every character's plot arc.  And if SKU has a one-sentence moral, it is that even an ordinary person can stand up to the universe.  We can change things for the better for ourselves, and we can help our friends do the same.  There's hope for everyone, except maybe Akio.  It's a very hopeful show.  'Swhy I love it.

But your version would also be an absolute blast to watch!  If the elements of horror were played like they would've been in a genuine horror show -- if a trip to the Ends of the World might be one-way, if brainwashing someone with a black rose wasn't a temporary condition, if we got to see the psychological stress on Utena and the Student Council as these fates befell their classmates -- yeah.  That's a show I would watch.

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#6 | Back to Top07-06-2013 02:15:29 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Yes. The magic in the show is illusory; it only has as much power as people put faith in it. Utena's denseness is actually helpful to her: it keeps her from thinking too deeply about what's going on. If she ever stopped and contemplated what her life had become, she'd have completely broken down.

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#7 | Back to Top07-06-2013 02:32:14 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

To be honest I don't actually get that creeped out while watching SKU, but there's definitely potential for horror there.

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#8 | Back to Top07-06-2013 04:34:31 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

^Surrealism just freaks me out...the shadow girl bits were the most haunting parts of the show for me, the first time I watched it.

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#9 | Back to Top07-07-2013 06:57:17 AM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Atropos wrote:

^Surrealism just freaks me out...the shadow girl bits were the most haunting parts of the show for me, the first time I watched it.

I can see how unsettling it would be to live in such a world. emot-biggrin Where you might never quite tell reality from illusion...

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#10 | Back to Top07-07-2013 06:49:47 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
Posts: 2916

Re: SKU as Horror

This is all sounding a bit Silent Hill-esque (the movies, specifically).

school-devil I'm into that.


Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again.
It's so far and out of sight.
I really need someone to talk to and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight.

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#11 | Back to Top07-07-2013 07:14:06 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Is there such a thing as gross out horror? The incest alone could qualify it as that.

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

As rotten as Saionji or Nanami could be, look fairly at what Anthy and Akio do to them, not from their pretend positions as picked on student and her winking big bro with the fancy job, but as magically-manipulative, world-controlling scary immortals. Elephants attack Nanami. That's elephants to attack a girl barely in her teens. Saio's an ass, yeah, but he's what, seventeen? Anthy is a helluva lot older, a helluva lot more powerful, and eggs him on, fully aware of his hang ups and paranoias about not measuring up, not being man enough, not being, simply, good enough. The kids at Ohtori never had a chance.

Anthy's a bitter girl but she rarely acts maliciously for no reason. Akio's the real one to be feared.


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

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#12 | Back to Top07-08-2013 07:59:21 AM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Riri-kins wrote:

Anthy's a bitter girl but she rarely acts maliciously for no reason. Akio's the real one to be feared.

Anthy is both complicit in the entire Ohtori scheme and also sends elephants after Nanami and headfucks Utena, Saio, Wakaba and... well, everyone. She's a very old, very aware, very powerful being and she uses that to emotionally scar children (and sometimes send unusual mammals after them).

She's just shorter than her brother and better at making doe eyes.


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

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#13 | Back to Top07-08-2013 12:14:53 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: SKU as Horror

Riri-kins wrote:

Anthy's a bitter girl but she rarely acts maliciously for no reason. Akio's the real one to be feared.

To be very exact, neither of them act maliciously for "no reason", as the many malicious acts both committed in the show are shown executed for selfish, self-selring purpose (yes, I consider hurting others to empower one's own prince to be just as selfish as doing so to directly empower oneself).
The thing is that both will hurt people who'd done little to nothing wrong towards them if it further their goals (see what they did to Wakaba and little Tsuwabuki), so I'd say they're both evil-prone, and certainly worthy of the "horror-story-monster" status.

And let's not forget that Anthy will hurt even Utena - whom she actually cared for somewhat even before Ep 39 - to get what she wants.  Yes, many say Akio "made" her did it, but she is known making the choice herself to hurt someone meaningful to her for the sake of getting what she want herself (Dio's Power Awakening/Prince's Ressurection).  Compare that to Akio - shown caring for no one, thus feel little moral hangups about hurting everyone - and I'd say that Anthy's (willing to hurt even those she like out of selfishness) malevolence might possibly exceed even that of her "Devil" bro (who see all humans as merely "foolish lifeforms" as show in EP 38).

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

She's just shorter than her brother and better at making doe eyes.

Had the show portrayed Anthy always using "Mamiya's" ruthless expressions/mannerisms, I bet most fans will think differently of her even if her course of action remain unchanged.

P.S.  Am I the only one who thinks the entire BR Arc (Minus nanami fillers) fit the psycho-horror genre to a tee?

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (07-08-2013 12:21:19 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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#14 | Back to Top07-08-2013 12:16:23 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

I think DD has it right.  Even before you get into the mammals and the, uh, stabbing people in the back, Anthy is a very dangerous person and one to be feared.  If SKU is a horror movie, then Anthy is the kind neighbor who is sizing you up as a Satanic sacrifice.  Maybe she's not going to be the one who holds the dagger, but even if not, then she is the canny and willing tool of the person who will.  Or Anthy is the evil spirit who takes the form of a bound princess who will be eternally in your debt if you'll just remove these shackles.  Or, you know, she's the witch.  The reason SKU is such a good redemption story for Anthy is that she has a lot to redeem herself for!

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#15 | Back to Top07-08-2013 12:27:11 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: SKU as Horror

satyreyes wrote:

I think DD has it right.  Even before you get into the mammals and the, uh, stabbing people in the back, Anthy is a very dangerous person and one to be feared.  If SKU is a horror movie, then Anthy is the kind neighbor who is sizing you up as a Satanic sacrifice.  Maybe she's not going to be the one who holds the dagger, but even if not, then she is the canny and willing tool of the person who will.  Or Anthy is the evil spirit who takes the form of a bound princess who will be eternally in your debt if you'll just remove these shackles.  Or, you know, she's the witch.  The reason SKU is such a good redemption story for Anthy is that she has a lot to redeem herself for!

Agreed with most of the post + how SKU really can be interpreted as "horror" in a way. 

SKU's ending showed Anthy seemingly  being on a direction towards redeem herself without showing the audience how she'd actually do it (she didn't even apologize to Wakaba/Tsuwabuki + many others she wronged prior to supposedly leaving), so it feels very "open-to-interpretation" cause a lot of what the audience expect is purposely not show.


(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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#16 | Back to Top07-08-2013 12:28:35 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

gorgeousshutin wrote:

Am I the only one who thinks the entire BR Arc (Minus nanami fillers) fit the psycho-horror genre to a tee?

Yeah. The third and fourth arcs have plenty of campy charm to balance out the darkness; the BR arc is pretty much unrelenting. Not so much that they couldn't squeeze in a couple of Nanamoo episodes, though.

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#17 | Back to Top07-08-2013 12:40:03 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: SKU as Horror

That's very true, shutin, and I think in some ways that strengthens the connection between SKU and horror.  If Anthy had killed someone's kitten or pretended to be someone's lost love, then redemption might include an apology.  But how do you apologize to someone for subjecting them to supernatural torment and tempting them into a traumatic metaphysical dueling game?  Would most of Anthy's victims even understand what she was apologizing for?  That scene won't write, as they say.  At the end of a horror movie, if we luck into a happy ending and the ghosts are set at peace, they don't apologize to the protagonists; they just leave.  They have to.  What happened was unspeakable and beyond apology.  All they can do is move on.

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#18 | Back to Top07-08-2013 04:29:30 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

satyreyes wrote:

That scene won't write, as they say.

I have to agree with that. I feel like including such a scene would have felt a little out of place and maybe messed up the flow of the episode. So Anthy leaving while everyone else moves on in their own ways seems fitting to me.

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#19 | Back to Top07-08-2013 09:53:32 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
Website

Re: SKU as Horror

Raven Nightshade wrote:

This is all sounding a bit Silent Hill-esque (the movies, specifically).

school-devil I'm into that.

Akio as Pyramid Head? Slowly chasing you around stairwells while you crap your pants because you can't kill him? Oh no, this smooth brother is gonna put on a nice suit and lure you into his office. There he will then don a bloody apron, tear the skin off your legs, bind your hands with it, and rape your fading body until he's coming in a corpse.

I've never thought it that way, with SKU as horror. I'd definitely say psychological horror. I once, as an experiment, watched the show but skipped episodes not directly building the plot that were there to lighten the mood. The lightheartedness is set apart in these convenient little spaces, and without them, the show is STUPID DARK AS BALLS. Seriously, try it.

The idea of people not coming back from EoTW is awesome, and it'd make for some wicked alt-universe fanfic. And it doesn't really change the characters involved a great deal, I don't think. Akio and Anthy (and Mikage as well) don't murder their pawns after use because it's pretty easy not to, and doesn't really benefit them at all. Also, it would be a little dark, even for this show. It doesn't take much nudging to push them into murder, though. If their journey to EoTW breaks them, like truly psychologically breaks them, they're probably more trouble than they're worth. Interesting twist there--Utena would think she's responsible for these deaths because battling her is the connection. Furthermore, even as a murderer I doubt A&A feel the need to pull the trigger themselves--what if after all these innocent bloodless duels, people start dropping when the rose is knocked from their chests? Utena would refuse to duel of course, but they'll keep coming. First it'll be a mistake, then an accident, then self-defense...

This is fun. emot-biggrin


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#20 | Back to Top07-09-2013 06:07:43 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Giovanna wrote:

I've never thought it that way, with SKU as horror. I'd definitely say psychological horror. I once, as an experiment, watched the show but skipped episodes not directly building the plot that were there to lighten the mood. The lightheartedness is set apart in these convenient little spaces, and without them, the show is STUPID DARK AS BALLS. Seriously, try it.

I'd like to see what someone's impressions of SKU would be if that's how they watched it the first time.

EDIT: "Nanami who? And Tsuwabuki himself never gets a real introduction, so his Black Rose episode becomes incomprehensible...

Last edited by Atropos (07-10-2013 05:36:20 AM)

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#21 | Back to Top07-12-2013 07:01:39 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Nanami's big scene where she "stumbles(?)" on Akio and Anthy on that one special night has all the classic earmarks of horror.

Nobody has mentioned so far the incineration of 100 boys. What else can that be called except Moloch?

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#22 | Back to Top07-12-2013 08:44:54 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

brian wrote:

Nobody has mentioned so far the incineration of 100 boys. What else can that be called except Moloch?

Well, shutin and I both called the Black Rose arc the darkest part of the series. The Nemuro backstory definitely plays a hand in that. However, I was more reminded of Evangelion with that episode - in particular, episode 21 of NGE, which serves a similar role. Considering references in both themes and direction (the re-use of character animation in head-trip sequences) to NGE, I wonder if this was intentional on the part of Be-Papas - consider that Anno and Ikuhara are BFFs, and Hasegawa was an animator on Eva...

Back to horror! Anyway, in the 'Personal Canon' thread, I noted similarities between SKU and the tabletop role-playing game Unknown Armies. I think that game represents the type of horror seen in Utena very well. Unlike in Call of Cthulhu or the World of Darkness games, the powers that be in the world of UA aren't ageless monstrosities, they're humans or manifestations of human will. satyr said upthread that in SKU humans are capable of affecting their own world, and that's also true in Unknown Armies; it's just that UA takes a much more pessimistic stance on it.* ("You did it!") Although Akio and Anthy have supernatural abilities, they're still very human and have human wants and needs. It's not Lovecraftian horror, where the universe doesn't give a damn about anything we puny humans do, but it is definitely horrific.

Shay Guy said in his IWIW thread, "In Utena people probably die if the powers that be want them to die. In Madoka, people die if monsters get the munchies." I completely agree.

*Although SKU does consider the idea; the whole conceit of the series is that the victor of the duels will gain the power to re-shape the world, no? And most of them want it for completely petty, selfish reasons. Would you want these people to have the powers of life and death in their hands?

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#23 | Back to Top07-14-2013 10:20:36 AM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: SKU as Horror

A lot of good points have been raised upthread.  Just adding my 2 cents on how I think Kanae's entire story line - starting from BR and going to EP 39 where she is notably absent - really reads like standard horror.


(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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#24 | Back to Top07-14-2013 11:58:39 AM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

gorgeousshutin wrote:

A lot of good points have been raised upthread.  Just adding my 2 cents on how I think Kanae's entire story line - starting from BR and going to EP 39 where she is notably absent - really reads like standard horror.

True. Like I said earlier, the scene where Double A feeds her the apple is the creepiest scene for me. I wonder if anyone's written a fanfic from her point of view. emot-tongue

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#25 | Back to Top07-14-2013 12:26:02 PM

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

Re: SKU as Horror

Atropos wrote:

Would you want these people to have the powers of life and death in their hands?

Arguably they already do, they just don't know it because they're caught up in the game that will ostensibly award them that power. And, that's why they'll never feel they have it. Most of the motives we are privy to fall into one of two camps (or overlap them), those who want something they already have and those who want something they can't even functionally define. Most of the duelists are seeking justification.

Atropos wrote:

Considering references in both themes and direction (the re-use of character animation in head-trip sequences) to NGE, I wonder if this was intentional on the part of Be-Papas - consider that Anno and Ikuhara are BFFs, and Hasegawa was an animator on Eva...

There's at least one recorded conversation with Anno and Ikuhara discussing the reuse of in animation, with Anno giving it as a reason he's tired of animation and Ikuhara embracing it for the ritual or familiar sense it encourages. But, there's also talent crossover between Eva and Utena, most notably Yoji Enokido. So, I'm sure there was some back and forth there, amongst the talent, if not explicitly to the show. There's also the fact both shows were intended in some ways as homages to "classic" anime, though a lot of those tropes potentially felt very new and innovative to audiences who hadn't experiences those older shows.


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

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