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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

#326 | Back to Top07-14-2007 12:50:47 AM

Archambeau
Muffy, the Forums Trophy Wife
Registered: 11-20-2006
Posts: 499

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Hiraku wrote:

Let's see... the image of Touga and Akio...When I first saw that in episode 5, I got the idea that Miki slept with him, especially when Touga gave that comment about Kozue being pretty and agreeable just like Miki.

This scene, I think, was something off of Miki's memory, so unless he's slept with him, I doubt he would have the memory of the bed. But, then, we also realized that he's somewhat highly "imaginative" with the way he romanticized the scene where he played piano with Kozue. So, maybe that scene in his head was a romanticized version of Touga leaning against the piano at the time.

But if my former interpretation proves valid, and to go with the idea that Akio just so happens to be behind Touga (I doubt it, since Miki doesn't know Akio at that point)... Nah, it wouldn't make sense.[/color]

I'm going to have to disagree.  I didn't see it so much as a recollection of Miki's specifically as I did another take of the same line, something objective.  Touga's "easy-going" comment seemed to me facetious -- the realm of sex is certainly his.  He knows it, others know it, and he's plenty apt at wielding this power to gain some sort of upper hand, however jovial his delivery.  And even if Akio weren't present, his having influence makes plenty of sense.  We know Touga's his puppet, we know Akio is manipulating the duelists, and together it works to make quite a catalyst for our conflicted Miki.

Giovanna wrote:

I recall initially thinking the scene with Touga suggested Miki had slept with him, but now I think that it's just an imagined sexual idealization of Touga, who quite enthusiastically encourages that sort of thing. He knows Touga's banging Kozue, and there seems to me almost an envy about how Miki's seeing him as this freely sexual creature he's not allowed to be, especially with Kozue.

That also makes sense.  Miki certainly is not naive in matters of sex; in fact, it seems quite likely he got his feet wet too early and enforced a sort of self-flagellating attitude in response to it.  That would certainly fuel envy, and fits in with the duelists' overarching dilemma in that the core of their issues seem to be a simple contest of their idea(l) of self versus their true natures.

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#327 | Back to Top07-15-2007 07:27:02 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4694

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

More Kanae related analysis, but I was thinking about what Kanae said in the elevator again. "Her eyes were cold, alien!" For the Black Rose Duelists, their eyes seem much darker, and evil. "Those eyes, they're just like the others." "Then Tsuwabuki-kun is also..." "Not his usual self."

Perhaps the eyes that Kanae spoke of are similar to that of the Black Rose Duelists. Anthy was showing her true colors to Kanae when she misused her scarf, and for the Black Rose Duelists, they're showing their "true self." It could be that Anthy symbolizes Kanae. I always thought that it was kind of funny how Kanae talks about how Anthy's eyes made her shiver, even though they had the same eye color. In that case, perhaps Anthy's eyes were closed whenever she was around Kanae to show that Kanae was not acting like her true self around Akio.

Also, I wanted to write about something else...

The SKU Symbolism Game: A completely random and pointless game.

This started while I was hanging out with one of my friends. When we watched SKU together, I would explain some of the symbolism to her. Eventually, she started asking, "What does ____ symbolize?" for things in real life. When she asked me that, I would make something up.

How does the game work, exactly? Take any random object... your computer, for example. Now, what character from SKU can you relate your computer to? Mikage is said to be a living computer, so therefor your computer could symbolize Mikage.

Like I said, this game is pretty pointless, but it can be fun. "Stupid Dios... I can't believe that Anthy failed me. This is all Shiori's fault!" (Interpretation: This is what I said after I got a sunburn the other day. Dios is the sun, because the prince symbolizes the sun, Anthy is sunblock, because she blocks out the Prince, and Shiori symbolizes water, because I still think that Shiori symbolizes water at some point, which is also why my friend named her pool, "Shiori.") CapriSun and SunnyD also symbolize the Prince, so we like to say, "I'm drinking the Prince." emot-biggrin Also, anything that's a certain color can symbolize a character. Red for Touga, orange for Juri, etc.

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#328 | Back to Top07-15-2007 07:36:15 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
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Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Razara wrote:

The SKU Symbolism Game: A completely random and pointless game.

This started while I was hanging out with one of my friends. When we watched SKU together, I would explain some of the symbolism to her. Eventually, she started asking, "What does ____ symbolize?" for things in real life. When she asked me that, I would make something up.

How does the game work, exactly? Take any random object... your computer, for example. Now, what character from SKU can you relate your computer to? Mikage is said to be a living computer, so therefor your computer could symbolize Mikage.

Like I said, this game is pretty pointless, but it can be fun. "Stupid Dios... I can't believe that Anthy failed me. This is all Shiori's fault!" (Interpretation: This is what I said after I got a sunburn the other day. Dios is the sun, because the prince symbolizes the sun, Anthy is sunblock, because she blocks out the Prince, and Shiori symbolizes water, because I still think that Shiori symbolizes water at some point, which is also why my friend named her pool, "Shiori.") CapriSun and SunnyD also symbolize the Prince, so we like to say, "I'm drinking the Prince." emot-biggrin Also, anything that's a certain color can symbolize a character. Red for Touga, orange for Juri, etc.

That sounds fun emot-dance
I can come up with one right now since I desperately need Miki so I can be more punctual and less procrastinating. Okay, that was an obvious one.

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#329 | Back to Top07-15-2007 07:42:49 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4694

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Those are just the rules, but maybe I can try to find a way to turn it into a game that can be played on the forum. I could give an object, and everyone could try to relate it to someone. It might be fun. :3

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#330 | Back to Top07-15-2007 07:58:19 PM

SleepDebtFairy
Revolutionary
From: Virginia
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 2095

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

I think that game sounds really, really fun. It also helps to create a lot more awesome SKU inside jokes. etc-love Maybe there should be a separate thread for it?

Let's see.. my laundry represents Touga, Saionji, and Akio, because they are like the clothing that gets really, really dirty ( school-freud ), and flies off in the wind all dramatically. And then I have to wash them again.


"There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on"

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#331 | Back to Top07-15-2007 08:58:19 PM

dollface
Postmistress Elf of Subtext
From: North Carolina
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 5086
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Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

I've come to talk about Shiori!

What? Why would I do a thing like that? I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but there's just one little thing that I'd like to explain, at least the way I see it. It's been said before that episode 17, Thorns of Death, implies homophobia on Shiori's part, but I don't think that's true.

Shiori: No good! It's still no good!
Shiori: How could you look at me like that?!
Shiori: Why did it all turn out this way?

In the dub, rather than saying "It's no good", Shiori says "It's not enough." I'm not trying to base this on the dub, but that particular line gave me a little bit of insight as to what she could have meant. I don't really think she was trying to imply "A girl likes me, this is no good!" so much as "Juri likes me, this is no good!" Though she's already very happy that she has power over the one person who made her weak, she's also very distraught at the time, having come into this power suddenly. She tries her very hardest to make friends with Juri, but she is turned away. Shiori thinks this is because of her betrayal, or perhaps even that Juri has realized how low she is, and can't even bring herself to pity her. To be so low she can't even be looked down on must hurt a great deal. Her insecurities are storming back, and she's at a difficult point in her life. Suddenly having this power thrown at you recklessly can cause someone to become a bit unhinged, mentally. Though I can go on for hours about why I don't think Mikage's elevator brainwashes you, and I'm not trying to blame it at all on that, we can probably agree that she isn't exactly in her right mind. This is because of Juri, not because of Mikage. I think, in that moment, it finally hits her-- Juri is in love with her. The person within the pendant Juri kept hidden, even from her best friend, was Shiori. Because of her suddenly widening eyes, I believe that Shiori is just startled, having realized that the one who made her inferior all these years has been looking at her with hungry eyes. All the memories they share (the memories she tried to remind Juri of earlier in the episode) suddenly may become somewhat lewd in her mind. I know, this does seem to imply homophobia. But... I don't know how to explain it, really, but I don't think it's as black and white as it appears. I think it's just the reality that her friend loves her, that Juri loves her, getting to her. Not because Juri is female. Because Juri is Juri. I mean, this line:

Shiori: Why did it all turn out this way?

...implies that she wants to be Juri's friend. She didn't want things to happen the way they happened. Earlier in the episode, she expressed remorse for what she'd done. Now, she expresses it for what Juri has done, and what she will in turn do. It's really too late to fix what has happened, and she's not so eager to give up the power. She didn't want to feel so vulnerable and insignificant. She wanted control. But she didn't want it this way-- or at least, I don't think she did. If you were honestly and truly disgusted with someone, I don't think you'd regret losing their friendship.

Then again, perhaps I just don't think of Shiori being homophobic, as it's a trait I don't actively associate with her.

Last edited by dollface (06-09-2010 03:32:21 PM)


ah, man does not exist; ah, within the darkness; ah, the sound of the waves

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#332 | Back to Top07-15-2007 09:13:38 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4694

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

I think that you're right. And I've certainly never thought that Shiori's reaction in the elevator was due to homophobia. It seems very unlike that what pushed Shiori over the edge was simply thinking that, "Eww, a girl likes me. Gross." That doesn't make her inferior, nor does it add to her issues at all, making it seem foolish to believe that that's what caused her to snap.

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#333 | Back to Top07-16-2007 12:49:58 AM

SleepDebtFairy
Revolutionary
From: Virginia
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 2095

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

At some points I think it does sound kind of the wrong way.. that Shiori is homophobic.. but really, I don't think it is likely that she is. Perhaps it is because it is SKU... Then again, Nanami did call Utena something equivalent to a dyke. I don't know.. emot-frown I would have to rewatch that part to make up my mind. But all in all, I think Shiori is more blown away that Juri is in love with her, when she saw Juri as someone who looked down on her.


"There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on"

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#334 | Back to Top07-16-2007 01:18:10 AM

dlaire
A Whole Orange
From: Poland
Registered: 04-08-2007
Posts: 2322

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Maybe it's just a shock? Her point of view must change severely now. Maybe her complexes enables her to think that she could be loved by someone like Juri. And she doesn't want this love. As dollface said, she wants friendship. It irony that her fears turned into her disappointment.

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#335 | Back to Top07-17-2007 07:50:13 PM

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

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Okay, I know Gio mentioned in some other thread that episode 36 wasn't that good. I realized that I didn't even remember what the hell even happened in it. (Proving her point, I suppose. emot-tongue ) So I watched the first couple of minutes and came up with these extremely obvious questions:

1. In general, whenever Akio's shirt is unbuttoned, does it mean that:

a) He just had sex?
b) He's about to have sex?
c) Both?

2. Is episode 33 really the first time Utena and Akio had sex? I was under the impression that episode 30 was. That whole scene with Utena in the car and Akio with the footplay made me think this. Maybe he tried and she turned him down? emot-aaa

3. Do they have sex again in episode 36 at the beginning of the episode after the horseback ride? The fansub I have makes it sound like they did, based on the dialogue. That's the scene that brought up all these questions.


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It's so far and out of sight.
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#336 | Back to Top07-17-2007 10:03:41 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
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Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Raven Nightshade wrote:

1. In general, whenever Akio's shirt is unbuttoned, does it mean that:

a) He just had sex?
b) He's about to have sex?
c) Both?

I don't think it's necessarily that he has sex every time his clothing comes undone. Undressing seems to be used symbolically to suggest the usually negative view of adulthood that the series has. 'Grown up' dialogue tends to involve undressing, first and foremost Touga's scenes with Akio, but Touga and Saionji also ritualistically undress in their conversations, and I really don't think it suggests they're having sex. Then again, sex and 'adulthood' are connected ideas in Akio, and you could very easily argue he's slept with every person he's undressed at all in front of.

Not counting the car ride. I really don't think Akio fucked Juri.

Raven Nightshade wrote:

2. Is episode 33 really the first time Utena and Akio had sex? I was under the impression that episode 30 was. That whole scene with Utena in the car and Akio with the footplay made me think this. Maybe he tried and she turned him down? emot-aaa

3. Do they have sex again in episode 36 at the beginning of the episode after the horseback ride? The fansub I have makes it sound like they did, based on the dialogue. That's the scene that brought up all these questions.

I definitely don't think she slept with him in episode 30. Later in the episode she keeps rubbing her lips and she's still tense and worried about whether she's going to betray her prince. The tension is still there because she hasn't folded yet. I do think they have sex again in episode 36 though, one of those occasions of Akio's shirt being open for very dubious reasons. Also...he sees Touga right after banging Utena. Touga might even smell Utena on him. He'd love it. He's kinda a cunt that way.

I also think they screw again in episode 37, in front of the tower in his car when he climbs over onto her seat.


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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#337 | Back to Top07-17-2007 10:14:23 PM

SleepDebtFairy
Revolutionary
From: Virginia
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 2095

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

I don't think Akio had sex with Utena before the.. obvious sex scene. Mostly because it's Utena, and Akio knows how to get into her pants, even when she has a 'prince'. But to do that, he has to take it a bit slow, I think. If he tried to screw her very early on, it might not have worked as well, on account of how tense she is to begin with. Then again... Utena already knows he has a fiance, so I'm not sure how important trust in him would be.


"There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on"

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#338 | Back to Top08-29-2007 09:45:07 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
Website

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/shojomecha/Sequence057.jpg

I missed something obvious here...  Christ was crucified on a wooden cross.  Odin hung himself from a tree to gain knowledge of the runes.

In addition to the tree of life and dryads...  When Anthy's outfit hangs on the rose bush in this scene, it harkens to a common mythological theme:  sacrifice, martyrdom, to gain mystical power and knowledge.

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (08-29-2007 09:45:44 PM)


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#339 | Back to Top08-30-2007 03:36:07 AM

Epi_lepsia
Tragedian
From: Madrid, Spain
Registered: 11-26-2006
Posts: 1429
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Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Hey, while i was doing a manip, i noticed something somehow weird. I don't know if it is symbolism...

During Mikage's duel, there isn't almost any image when we can see the tables and Mikage at the same time. We don't see Mikage and the pictures on the tables at the same time (but we do see the tables and Utena) until Mamiya starts to talk him in his memories. When Mikage goes nuts and starts to search Mamiya, then he sees the pictures, and he realizes that Mamiya was dead, yari yari ya....


I find it.. somehow subliminal.

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#340 | Back to Top08-30-2007 01:14:00 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4694

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Epi_lepsia wrote:

Hey, while i was doing a manip, i noticed something somehow weird. I don't know if it is symbolism...

During Mikage's duel, there isn't almost any image when we can see the tables and Mikage at the same time. We don't see Mikage and the pictures on the tables at the same time (but we do see the tables and Utena) until Mamiya starts to talk him in his memories. When Mikage goes nuts and starts to search Mamiya, then he sees the pictures, and he realizes that Mamiya was dead, yari yari ya....


I find it.. somehow subliminal.

My friend is borrowing my DVD with Mikage so that she can get a picture for a vector trace, so all I can really say is based off of your description.

It does sound as though it's symbolic. I do recall them taking extra steps to make sure that Mikage is never in a position where you can see the pictures on the table, such as viewing him with the camera angle from under the table. (Ooh, I just remembered that I have screenshots.) They definitely are taking steps to make sure we don't actually see the picture.

Though we do see the picture with a Mamiya that looks like Anthy on it at the beginning of the duel, I think that the picture probably looked the way it does at the end of the duel the entire time, but Mikage never got a good look at the picture until then. He probably just imagined that that would be what it looked like until that point. After all, no one ever seems to notice what's on the tables during the duel, anyway.

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#341 | Back to Top08-30-2007 01:36:20 PM

Epi_lepsia
Tragedian
From: Madrid, Spain
Registered: 11-26-2006
Posts: 1429
Website

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/7319/qamahoujinshjokakumeiutwb2.jpg

http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/3474/qamahoujinshjokakumeiutpj1.jpg

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/3858/qamahoujinshjokakumeiutqn3.jpg



Then again, in a normal duel:

http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/8634/vlcsnap672231sn9.jpg

http://img108.imageshack.us/img108/1903/shjokakumeiutena180001ld9.jpg

http://img503.imageshack.us/img503/2435/shjokakumeiutena140001lu2.jpg

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#342 | Back to Top08-30-2007 02:30:35 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
Website

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

To me, for the other BR Duelists, the objects that represent their precious memories are presented to be more... clear-cut than the one for Mikage. I don't think their memories are in any way distorted as badly as that of Mikage.
For the Mikage duel, the way that the pictures are presented probably just emphasized how delusional and how Mikage is actually the manipulated, not the manipulator. (Unless the milkshake for Kozue is actually... emot-aaa, then that's something else) Sorry, ever since I discovered the loads of sexual innuendo in Utena, it just seems to be EVERYWHERE! Even the milkshakes!

In a way, that makes him more pathetic than the BR Duelists. <_<

Last edited by Hiraku (08-30-2007 02:30:57 PM)

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#343 | Back to Top08-30-2007 06:32:30 PM

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

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

rhyaniwyn wrote:

In addition to the tree of life and dryads...  When Anthy's outfit hangs on the rose bush in this scene, it harkens to a common mythological theme:  sacrifice, martyrdom, to gain mystical power and knowledge.

In the first manga Anthy actually is hanging (in mid-air) during the final duel. The 5 volumes have subtitles like "To Bud" and "To Blossom."

I like your idea but I don't see how it fits in with Utena's rose bush. Perhaps roses are symbols of blossoming sexuality but Anthy is mostly getting the thorns. Roses are clearly among the more complicated symbols in this story.

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#344 | Back to Top08-31-2007 01:40:08 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Well, personally, I've never seen a rose bush that looked like the rose bush in that scene (very tree-like), or even in the hothouse.  Maybe my family members with roses are just bad gardeners, haha! :-) 

So basically when I see that "bush", I see first a tree-like structure of wood, which then expands and sprouts rose blossoms (of illumination?).  The blossoms themselves (and the act of "blossoming") are full of sexual connotations--not necessarily so much in that particular clip, but certainly in other scenes and in general.

But I agree with you about that point: my personal "rose" associations prior to Utena would have been "cliche", "romance", "love"., etc.  My associations now have been completely altered, the rose has become almost an anti-symbol of its previous connotations, an image that makes me think of far more than sappy romance.  Something I am proud to have permenantly engraved on my wrist.

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (08-31-2007 01:42:31 AM)


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#345 | Back to Top08-31-2007 11:39:37 AM

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

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Changing the subject slightly: the movie DVD includes a behind-the-scenes depiction of Ikuhara briefing the American voice actors. He says, To the audience it will be extremely obvious what the roses mean but to Utena they are just roses.

Extremely obvious? Not to me. Maybe it's a guy thing but I don't get what the obviousness is. Any hints?

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#346 | Back to Top08-31-2007 01:28:35 PM

NajiMinkin
Hacker Ringleader
From: The Incredible Edible Egg
Registered: 06-23-2007
Posts: 2537

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

The roses are so fucking hard to figure out! emot-gonk I think they mean different things in different places, but fucked if I knew what those were.

Love?

The entangling vines of the dueling game?

The anus? They do call that a "rose bud," you know.

Wikipedia has some good little tidbits.

Wiki wrote:

The red rose, it is believed by many religions, cannot grow over a grave.

Woah! That's weird. Movie!Akio's grave was covered in red roses.

Any thoughts, people?


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#347 | Back to Top08-31-2007 05:39:53 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
Website

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

NajiMinkin wrote:

The roses are so fucking hard to figure out! emot-gonk I think they mean different things in different places, but fucked if I knew what those were.

Love?

The entangling vines of the dueling game?

The anus? They do call that a "rose bud," you know.

Wikipedia has some good little tidbits.

Wiki wrote:

The red rose, it is believed by many religions, cannot grow over a grave.

Woah! That's weird. Movie!Akio's grave was covered in red roses.

Any thoughts, people?

As Utena said, the prince probably never existed in the first place. I mean, yes, you see a body under the white cloth, but then, you see him reemerge as if he's never died at all. I mean, Anthy technically should've died too after that stab, but here she is. Hm... perhaps the red rose brings question to the value of existence, which is a central theme to the Utena Movie.

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#348 | Back to Top09-05-2007 02:49:13 PM

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

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Part of the problem is that roses have a wide range of meanings in Western culture that Ikuhara may not know about. Since the swooshing roses imply attraction then maybe that is their primary meaing in Utena. They may symbolize budding sexuality, and since all the characters have plant-related names, especially Utena and Anthy, then perhaps they symbolize growing up.

In the West roses can symbolize secrecy and also have many religious connotations but I don't think that is intended here.

Last edited by brian (09-05-2007 02:50:04 PM)

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#349 | Back to Top09-05-2007 06:28:50 PM

Almaser
Qualified Duellist
From: Brisbane
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 727

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

There's also the simple Freudian interpretation, that the rose, as a metaphor for the vagina, and the sword, the standard phallic symbol, are used in the duelling scenes to express a kind of struggle for sexual dominance. Whoever can 'strike the rose' with their sword is declared the victor, and the loser is left unempowered, both sexually and in the politics of the episode.
Of course, that's really only one way of looking at it - roses appear in so many places that you'd almost have to interpret individual roses on their contexts.

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#350 | Back to Top09-05-2007 06:35:17 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6340
Website

Re: Interpreting Symbolism in SKU

Almaser wrote:

There's also the simple Freudian interpretation, that the rose, as a metaphor for the vagina, and the sword, the standard phallic symbol, are used in the duelling scenes to express a kind of struggle for sexual dominance. Whoever can 'strike the rose' with their sword is declared the victor, and the loser is left unempowered, both sexually and in the politics of the episode.
Of course, that's really only one way of looking at it - roses appear in so many places that you'd almost have to interpret individual roses on their contexts.

Saionji got his sword cut in half during his second duel... man no wonder he is that way. Who would feel good about being penetrated AND castrated at the same time?

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