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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 Top02-10-2007 10:29:25 AM

Ivy-chan
Unfulfilled Juror
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 232

Shiori/Saionji Parallels

A while ago, I was discussing to a friend over IM how it seemed a little unusual for an avid Saionji fan to so utterly dspise Shiori, when the Saionji was about as nasty a person as Shiori was. Since then, I've been drawing some parallels between those two characters, and they really are strikingly similar. Saionji and Shiori are like male and female models of the same type.

Jealousy: Both of these characters have best friends that they feel are superior to them, and have unexpressed and unresolved feelings of jealousy and inferiority that heavily contribute to their overall personality, and have a one-sided mental rivalry with their friend. Both of them desire to 'triumph' over their friend and become on equal terms with them. Their friendships have been strained and destroyed because of this.

Love Interest: They both try to achieve their objective by, in essence, 'taking' a person they believe their friend to be interested in, regarding that person as a prize.

Shiori's un-named male student is the key to her triumph over Juri, or so she believed. By taking him and directing his love toward her, she wanted to 'win' against Juri, bringing her status up and knocking Juri's down. The male student, not even important enough to get a name, was just a tool.

In Saionji's case, the Rose Bride, Anthy, is more than just a female student- she's the key to the power of revolution. He decides that the way to bring himself up on equal or superior level to his friend is by defeating Touga in a duel, and winning Anthy, and all she represents from him. Anthy, of course, is more than just a girl, she's also the key to the miraculous power found in the castle.

Cruelty: They both tend toward outwardly and inwardly destructive traits, and they both have very low, shattered self esteem.  Saionji gets the masculine trait of violence and rage, physically abusing those around him as an outlet. Shiori gets the feminine trait of petty, manipulative behavior. She strikes out against Juri by attacking her emotions, giving her the cold shoulder at the end of 'Thorns of Death', and sneering at her attempt to help her when Juri warns her about Ruka.

...I could totally write an essay about this, so I'm restricting myself. Has anyone else noticed the parallel, and are there any others you can think of in the series?

Last edited by Ivy-chan (02-10-2007 10:29:39 AM)


If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
-Isaac Newton

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#2 | Back to Top02-10-2007 12:14:41 PM

brian
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Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Yet another reason why the movie is disappointing. Saionji is described as having "high ideals" while Shiori gets pulverized; and she doesn't even foam at the mouth.

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#3 | Back to Top02-10-2007 12:40:56 PM

Blade
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
From: Darkest Canada
Registered: 12-01-2006
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

I would in the strongest possible terms disagree with the common fan perception that Shiori "struck out against" Juri in either of those cases. Nor does she attack Juri's emotions; in fact, in Thorns of Death she comes back to the school, admits everything was her fault and apologises, and Juri gives HER the cold shoulder, an act she does not rectify at any point. The fact Shiori is polite to her at the end of the episode is more an example of Shiori being nice than Shiori being "petty and manipulative". Nor, I would argue, does she have the slightest reason to believe Juri has her best interests in mind when warning her about Ruka. Juri certainly gives no credible reason for Shiori to believe her.

I'd also say that Saionji is not quite as fixated on Touga as you imply. Not that there isn't those elements there, but there's an enormous amount less "Saionji fixates on Touga" then there is "Shiori fixates on Juri", despite Saionji being a significantly more major character than Shiori. I feel his character is more complex than that, with an inferiority complex to Touga merely being one part - not even the biggest part - of his overall makeup.

As far as parallels go, I always felt there was striking and deliberate parallels between Miki's fantasies about Anthy in his first duel arc with Utena, and Utena's fantasies about Anthy in her first duel with Touga.

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#4 | Back to Top02-10-2007 01:14:05 PM

Ivy-chan
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Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 232

Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Well, I have a different interpretation of Shiori's personality and motivation throughout the series, but I accept yours. As for her apology, I believe that on some level she really did want to resume her friendship with Juri as if nothing had happened, but I also think that she was taking pleasure in reminding Juri about the fact she'd taken Sir Nameless. We see her reminding Juri of it in her letter in 'Unfulfilled Juri', which was almost an apology in itself, and she goes and does it again in the confession scene on the balcony. When she says: 'It's not something that can be forgiven/You'll never forgive me for it", she gives Juri something like a resigned, but still pleased, smile. You can interpret that in a different way, of course, but I'm interpreting it as Shiori taking pleasure in the reminder of that one 'triumph' she had. Does she regret it? On some level, maybe, but I'm not too inclined to believe that she was going to just wipe the slate and continue on with no problems. Even at the end of the episode we get something of a hint that Shiori is still essentially the same as she was during her duel: Utena says she seems much different, Anthy smiles at her and says she hasn't changed. Not one bit.

As for Saionji fixating on Touga, I still think that makes up a large amount of his character. There's a lot of complexities within it, bit it still remains somewhat of a pillar, like Miki's relationship with Kozue and Juri's relationship with Shiori, Nanami's relationship with Touga, Utena's with Dios. There are a lot of these character-defining relationships going about in this series. Do the characters have live soutside of these people, complexities, characteristics without them? Sure. But take that relationship away, and you've drastically changed them.

On your parallel with Miki and Utena's fantasies: do you mean the way they see her an innocent, normal girl, or something less broad?emot-confused


If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
-Isaac Newton

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#5 | Back to Top02-10-2007 01:14:42 PM

Ivy-chan
Unfulfilled Juror
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 232

Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

brian wrote:

Yet another reason why the movie is disappointing. Saionji is described as having "high ideals" while Shiori gets pulverized; and she doesn't even foam at the mouth.

Yeah, why can't we have a female who goes batshit with a sword and foams at the mouth? I am severely let down. emot-mad


If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
-Isaac Newton

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#6 | Back to Top02-10-2007 01:46:54 PM

Blade
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
From: Darkest Canada
Registered: 12-01-2006
Posts: 181
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

I don't think it's a fair comparison to say a letter where she says "I did this and don't regret it" and an in-person conversation where she says "I did this, it was my fault, and I'm sorry" are basically the same thing - indeed, they're the opposite, since she's now saying that she does regret it. Shiori's motivation is not that she wants to particularly hurt Juri, it's that she wants to see herself as an equal or better of Juri on some level, a subtle but extremely important difference. As for Anthy's opinion, she's right in that Shiori doesn't seem changed, because Shiori is good at hiding what she really feels inside. I don't feel comfortable with any interpretation that makes Black Rose Shiori the "real" Shiori, any more than the real Wakaba would like to stab Utena with a sword - they were both under the influence of mind control that vastly distorted their personalities, as is specifically said by Mikage.

Not that Shiori is some kind of angel, but I find a description of her as petty and manipulative to be very unfair. Shiori never (of her own free will) uses the considerable power she's well aware she has over Juri, nor ever shows any inclinations of wanting to. She does come back, own up to what she did, and apologise - a mature response which is something she is shown to have deliberately not done before. I think she often doesn't get any credit for this, while the bad things she does are somewhat unreasonably magnified in significance.

As far as Saionji goes, that's my point entirely - I don't feel he's defined by Touga. I think it's quite important that his relationship with Touga isn't even explored in his original arc. Try to picture an introductory arc with Nanami that doesn't even touch on her relationship with Touga, or an introductory arc with Shiori that barely mentions Juri, or so forth, and I think you'll see why I don't feel it's the same level of importance.

The parallel, I feel, is that both Miki and Utena get a notion into their heads of what Anthy is "really like", and are determined to "free" her and make her what they feel she ought to be like. Both are decisively proven wrong when Anthy ultimately acts completely contrary to their fantasies (Miki when Anthy cheers for Utena, Utena when Anthy is won by Touga). I think Miki's duel is a foreshadowing of what is planned to happen when Utena duels Touga, and a lesson for Utena that she is completely oblivious to.

(P.S.: Oh, and I support more batshit crazy violent duellist women, too. Go, Chigusa!)

Last edited by Blade (02-10-2007 01:58:51 PM)

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#7 | Back to Top02-10-2007 02:54:35 PM

Ivy-chan
Unfulfilled Juror
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 232

Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

It's not that I think Shiori IS her Black Rose self, it's that I think that her Black Rose self is closer to her conscious mind than, say, Wakaba's. I do think she wants to hurt Juri, or at least is fine with the idea of her in pain. I think she enjoys the idea of Juri in emotional stress, because it makes her feel equal to her, stronger than her if she's the one who caused the stress, and also since it's a sign that Juri is a normal, human girl. Not because she's a sadistic bitch who pointlessly causes suffering, but because she wants to bring Juri down to a lower level than she currently occupies, and she's completely willing to make her hurt to do that. So, while apologizing to Juri after her transfer was a mature thing to do, it was a little overshadowed by her less than mature actions in the series.

As far as Saionji goes, that's my point entirely - I don't feel he's defined by Touga. I think it's quite important that his relationship with Touga isn't even explored in his original arc. Try to picture an introductory arc with Nanami that doesn't even touch on her relationship with Touga, or an introductory arc with Shiori that barely mentions Juri, or so forth, and I think you'll see why I don't feel it's the same level of importance.


No, I don't, really. In the first episode he's simply there as an antagonist figure. The first episode isn't at all 'Saionji's episode', even though Saionji was the one dueling in it. That was the  introductory episode for everyone, getting the foundations laid down. As for it not being explored in the original arc, they did all of that in "The Castle Said to Hold Eternity", what I hold as the actual Saionji-centric episode. In fact, Touga and Saionji's relationship is shown as very important throughout the whole series: they constantly showed it developing and repairing to the end of the anime.


If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
-Isaac Newton

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#8 | Back to Top02-10-2007 04:12:33 PM

Giovanna
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From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8728
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

OH NO YOU DIDN'T. (Write an essay dammit. MORE ESSAYS. emot-mad)

I definitely see parallels between Saionji and Shiori, but I don't think they were quite deliberate. Similarities, yes, inferiority complex, prone to defensive cruelty, yes. I think ultimately what sets them apart isn't them but the populations they represent. People like or dislike Shiori because many of them relate to her or know a number of people that remind them of Shiori. Shiori is, I think, probably the most 'common' character in the series, there are lots, and lots, and lots of people just like her. Saionji, however, is slightly less common, you don't meet a Saionji in every classroom. The difference that makes one more frequent than the other is where the parallels, I think, tend to break down. I admit though, that Shiori is not my specialty. emot-redface

Saionji, however, is. emot-biggrin Blade, you have a point that his relationship with Touga isn't stressed the same way other relationships in the series are, but I think that's a difference in how they approached developing his character and Touga's. Even Castle Said to Hold Eternity, which is very close to being Saionji-centric, is developing him while providing us with Utena's backstory. I linger on Saionji's end of it because he's the character more interesting to me, and most of us do the same because it's one of the few cases where he's developed, and we get plenty of Utena time, but a different viewer, that's focused more steadily on Utena, would hardly notice Saionji at all, because like many points in the series, he's being used as a catalyst or a lens to focus something else. Wakaba's episodes aren't about him, though he's developed a lot in them, it's totally indirect. His role late in the series is to develop and show us Touga, none of those conversations are about Saionji. This is something I'd say Saionji has in common with (naturally) Touga, Akio, and to a lesser extent, Anthy. The finer points of their life story are not given. We hear a lot of Miki and Juri's backstory, but these characters we end up figuring out by how they behave, which is why Saionji is so dynamic to me. His behavior changes radically in the series.

Now that I think of it, that's a lot of the reason I like the characters I do, I suspect. They offer you different characters for different approaches; whether you prefer to analyze by backstory and circumstances or by behavior, but the nature of the latter precludes their having their own episodes.

Christ, I'ma shut up. I need not to do this when I'm tired. emot-gonk


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#9 | Back to Top02-10-2007 04:26:04 PM

skewed_tartan
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From: El Terra De Richard Nixon
Registered: 10-16-2006
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Yeah, why can't we have a female who goes batshit with a sword and foams at the mouth? I am severely let down

What about Wakaba during the Black Rose Arch? I think she actually spits at least.

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#10 | Back to Top02-10-2007 04:31:37 PM

Giovanna
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From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8728
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Wakaba reminding you of anyone? emot-keke There's an argument to be made for the BRS duelists kinda tapping into the power and skill of the sword they carry, and it's very strong with her, she got his sword, the style, and his capacity for rage and fury. If Saionji was a girl, he'd pull your hair in a fight.


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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#11 | Back to Top02-10-2007 04:51:51 PM

Yasha
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From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Ivy-chan wrote:

Yeah, why can't we have a female who goes batshit with a sword and foams at the mouth? I am severely let down. emot-mad

Someone get me a sword.

Oh wait, you mean in the show, right?


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#12 | Back to Top02-10-2007 05:00:30 PM

Razara
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

I've compared Shiori to a lot of characters, but Saionji has never been one of them. There are quite a few similarities between them, but honestly, even now my mind isn't going crazy with all the possible connections. Maybe it's just because I'm not much of an expert on Saionji.

The only connection between Shiori and another character that may have actually been intentional is the connect between Shiori and Kozue. They have more in common than you would think, and I really love the mysterious connection between the two of them.

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#13 | Back to Top02-10-2007 05:05:00 PM

Ragnarok
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Registered: 10-20-2006
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Blade wrote:

Shiori never (of her own free will) uses the considerable power she's well aware she has over Juri, nor ever shows any inclinations of wanting to.

What power is Shiori well aware she has over Juri? Not that Juri's in love with her, as she only finds that out in Thorns of Death and doesn't remember it after.

The thread's most popular quote:
Yeah, why can't we have a female who goes batshit with a sword and foams at the mouth? I am severely let down. emot-mad

If the RP ever gets going...!


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#14 | Back to Top02-10-2007 05:06:08 PM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Giovanna wrote:

etc-loveetc-loveetc-love

I think you've hit it smack on the head, the reason why Saionji tends to be one of the more disliked characters of the series. We never get inside his head -- at least, not directly. And that's precisely why I ended up fascinated by him, because you have to work for Saionji. I have to admit I've never been a fan of Shiori myself, because as you say she's a "common" sort of character. I only had to turn around in school to see dozens of girls similar to her (or occasionally just look in a mirror), but Saionji? A little harder to pin down.

I also disagree with the thought that Touga's relationship with Saionji didn't in some way define his character for the audience. It certainly did for me, not least of all because Saionji -- despite being all but out of the duelling game although unlike Nanami he didn't chuck the ring at first opportunity; that says more about her than him, however -- acted as Touga's Rose Bride. You could perhaps say the Rose Bride is part of the heat of the moment (i.e. Ruka and Shiori) but given the history of Touga and Saionji, I sincerely doubt it. But that's just me. emot-keke

As for Shiori's "maturity" in apologising to Juri after her transfer...you know, I have never worked out how sincere she was being then. Given how viciously she turned on Juri later when Ruka presented himself as the new boy-we-never-knew, I don't think she'd learned her lesson. Perhaps she was just angling for position, given being Juri's former best friend could get her back into the it crowd at Ohtori? Not that Juri would really help much there, given what a loner she appears to be when it comes to socialising...

And er, I am totally off topic here. You know I was thinking, though -- Shiori sort of takes Saionji's place in the movie as Touga's confidant. They are talking different things, of course, but I really only see shades of anime!Touga in movie!Touga when he's disseminating in bed with Shiori.

...and sweet merciful crap, that sounded WAY dirtier than I actually intended. Dammit, I'm going to go sleep now before I find my foot permanently lodged in my mouth...


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#15 | Back to Top02-10-2007 05:32:02 PM

Giovanna
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From: Edmonton, AB
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

Clarice wrote:

You could perhaps say the Rose Bride is part of the heat of the moment (i.e. Ruka and Shiori) but given the history of Touga and Saionji, I sincerely doubt it. But that's just me. emot-keke

It takes someone hardheaded to know someone so hardheaded. I think Saionji was Touga's RB because he knew this was something Touga needed to do (lose) before he could really make any progress getting away from Akio. Touga thinks he's already done so by that point, Saionji I think knows better, but also knows Touga needs to have Akio's machinations defeat him, even when he means...slightly...well. Simply saying 'Hay you're walking right into it, this is what Akio wants you big dummy' just wouldn't have held any sway for Touga.

Clarice wrote:

As for Shiori's "maturity" in apologising to Juri after her transfer

This made me think...Saionji has nothing to apologize for with Touga. There's a parallel in Saionji and Shiori in terms of their viciousness, and that they behave blindly, although for different reasons. Saionji's hostility is quick, lashing out, motivated by fear and anger. Shiori's vicious moments seem to be motivated more by...I can't quite pin down the word I'm looking for. Let's assume her apology was heartfelt, but she goes and does it all over again given the chance. She gets caught up in the moment. When there's no temptation, she means well and doesn't want to be a bitch, but the opportunity presents itself, and she can't resist. They share that same kind of loss of control, though apart from such moments, they don't really mean to act that way. I think, though, that overall Shiori is far more malicious than Saionji, or at least Saionji's behavior hurts him more than Shiori's hurts her. Shiori's behavior doesn't personally bother her quite so much as she regrets that it gets her in trouble or whatever.

Anyway, Shiori lashes out directly at Juri. Saionji doesn't lash out at Touga, ever. (Nevermind the whole making sashimi of Touga's back, he didn't see him there.) This is also part of the fundamental difference, but interesting because Shiori attacks Juri unjustly, it's not Juri's fault and she doesn't do it on purpose. Saionji attacks everyone but Touga, though he'd be a bit more just in directing his aggression there, because Touga does do it on purpose.


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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#16 | Back to Top02-11-2007 09:15:52 AM

Syuria
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From: Brighton
Registered: 01-01-2007
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

I never noticed those similarities between Shiori and Saionji before. I don't see them matching up completely, but I like seeing the similar themes running through their characters.

I kind of imagine Shiori having more in common with Wakaba, though. Both characters seem to have rather large inferiority complexes, regarding Juri for Shiori and Utena along with the rest of the Student Concil for Wakaba, although their reactions are pretty different. Maybe Wakaba could've ended up like Shiori a few years down the line, if she'd been around Utena for much longer.

But by that please don't think I dislike Shiori. After Anthy and Kozue, she's one of my favourites from the series.

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#17 | Back to Top02-13-2007 12:55:45 AM

ShatteredMirror
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From: Sacramento, CA
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Re: Shiori/Saionji Parallels

I have to say I never really thought about this before. I always saw Saionji as having more in common with Juri than Shiori but there are some pretty interesting parallels, like how Giovanna put it - the loss of core control.


Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.

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