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Didn't see a thread for this yet, so...
ANN's done episodic reviews for a couple older shows before, I believe just Paranoia Agent and Bakemonogatari so far. This time Jacob Chapman's doing ; so far , focusing on masculine/feminine dualities and arguing that Utena succeeds in part because she's capable of balancing the two forces in ways that the student council can't.
He details his approach as follows:
While Utena clearly speaks to its fans on a powerful level, and its influence on the anime industry is undeniably massive, people who don't "get" Utena often fall back on a reasonable question: "If this story is so important, couldn't it have been told in a more approachable way?"
No. The short answer is "no." At the same time, this short answer helped lead me to my long answer of what I could contribute to Utena analysis after so many words have already been written over the last twenty years.
My goal is not just to help new viewers understand what happens in Utena, I want to help people appreciate how it happens. I want this retrospective to make Utena feel less intimidating without ridding it of the power that could only come from that intimidating way that the story is told. Besides, offering a bulleted, definitive breakdown of all the symbolism won't help anyone feel the emotions Utena explores any more than explaining a joke makes it funny. (It would also be antithetical to the spirit of avant-garde theater that inspires Ikuhara's work, which I'll talk about next week. Ikuhara is notorious for "trolling" people who ask for direct answers to what symbols mean in his work, and I can't say I blame him.)
I don't want to tell you what Utena is supposed to mean. I want to tell you why Utena makes me and other fans feel the way it does. I want to prove that this show is more than a postmodern fairytale for lovestruck teen girls, revolutionary or otherwise. If you've ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or like the only broken person in a society you couldn't relate to (especially if it's because of your gender or sexuality), Utena is a story for you, and I want to make the journey fun.
He's planning on covering the series in 24 reviews. I'm interested to see where he goes.
Thanks for the tip, Shay Guy! I'll be following these. I love Jacob as a writer and analyst.
Noice. At least this will bring new fans to the series (hopefully).
I really want some 20th anniversary stuff happening. There's very little out there (that I have seen at leas)