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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 Top02-20-2007 12:39:41 PM

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

Who is REALLY duelling who?

In Nanami's final duel she issues her challenge not to Utena but to Anthy.

Mikage seems to think he is duelling Tokiko.

I wonder, is anybody really duelling Utena? Has anyone ever made a list of who the duellists are really fighting when they challenge Utena?

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#2 | Back to Top02-20-2007 03:43:00 PM

dollface
Postmistress Elf of Subtext
From: North Carolina
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 5086
Website

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

This is a rather odd thought. I guess they aren't really duelling Utena as a person, but more just the champion. It wouldn't have mattered really who it was, save I guess for Juri and Nanami's first duels. Juri fought because Utena provoked her [unknowingly of course], and Nanami would fight anyone who moved in on Touga. If you'll recall, even after she lost her rose, Nanami continued to fight Utena.


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

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#3 | Back to Top02-20-2007 04:11:53 PM

MissMocha
Bettie Page Princess
From: Tallahassee, Fl
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 4632

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

I've always thought that it's not so much about Utena, but the ideals that she espouses. They all find a reason to fight for something, and usually it's a trait that she somehow embodies, but it's not Utena. The champion could be anyone of superior moral fiber or foolish idealism (we could argue that to the grave, I feel), but in the end, the challanger sees wholly the traits they either covet or despise. Each duelist, with a couple possible exceptions, duels Utena for something they want to defeat in her, or something they want to be in her. Nanami duels Utena both for her perceived injuring of Touga, but also for the attention that she receives from Touga. Something she despises and something she covets. I also think there are some independence issues in those duels, but that's more appropriate of a Nanami discussion.

Everyone projects something onto Utena. Everyone. The most obvious is Mikage who sees Tokiko as he's dueling, but there's also Wakaba who sees the perfect person, someone to look up to. Juri sees someone who is exactly like Shiori -defeat her, and she will destroy the hold Shiori has on her. Touga sees a Princess, and then later, someone who may just be Akio's equal. But really, is she any of these people? Not particularly. We don't really know much about Utena, in a way. You're never given anything except the Prince story, directly, and so, by starting there, we expand on her personality through her interactions with others. But! Her interactions with others, are all based on an assumed persona (in the case of Anthy), or a projection (in the case of just about everyone else). What's interesting here is that the person she's closest to -Anthy- and the people she doesn't know -the rest of the school, and that sadistic guidance counselor- gets the brunt of her I'm a Prince dealie psychosis. She doesn't know who she is, and so the person she's most intimate with, the person she wants most to impress, gets the act that Utena feels is appropriate. And so does the rest of the school -because she doesn't have anything else to be, other then a Prince. But get her around the student council, and it all falls apart.

Because they project their own desires on Utena, she's not sure how to react, or even who to be around them. Juri duels Utena, and sees Shiori, and wants to destroy that innocence. Utena can't see innocence as anything other then an admirable trait, and so is totally lost. Utena's growth was stunted by her parent's death, and then redirected by Dios/Akio's hand. She became what he thought he would need in order to obtain his goals. She's really just his bonsai project, which proves that she didn't develop as a person on her own. Dios projected his need for a Prince onto her, and then did an about face, and projected his needs (as Akio) for a Princess. Because this one is so totally about the persona that Utena has assumed, this confuses her the most. Should she be a Prince for Dios (who, imo she totally knows is Akio, but blocked), or be a Princess for Akio, and satisfy her physical and current emotional desires.

The only person that never projects anything onto her is Anthy. I'm not sure about that, I'll have to give it more thought. But I have to go make dinner now, my sister is threatening to eat the cablebox. Although,  I've always felt that Utena is an absolute (hah, unintentional!) cypher. There's not much more to her then the Prince desire, and by seeing how everyone reacts to those princely qualities, and what they project onto her, we learn quite a bit about the other characters. Even though Utena is the title character, for the most part, I think the show is about the problems of everyone else, and how she causes them to change, or be resolved. She doesn't bring Revolution to herself, or even by the duel, so much as a revolution in the lives of everyone else.

Edited for stupid typos. emot-mad

Last edited by morosemocha (02-21-2007 12:21:07 AM)


The first time you looked at her curves you were hooked
And the glances you took, took hold of you and demanded that you stay
And sunk in their teeth, bit your heart and released
Such a charge that you need another touch, another taste, another fix

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#4 | Back to Top02-20-2007 04:24:52 PM

A Day Without Me
Still Drunk in the Morning?
From: in the tulip garden!
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 1584

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

morosemocha wrote:

We don't really know much about Utena, in a way. You're never given anything except the Prince story, directly, and so, by starting there, we expand on her personality through her interactions with others. But! Her interactions with others, are all based on an assumed persona (in the case of Anthy), or a projection (in the case of just about everyone else). What's interesting here is that the person she's closest to -Anthy- and the people she doesn't know -the rest of the school, and that sadistic guidance counselor- gets the brunt of her I'm a Prince dealie psychosis. She doesn't know who she is, and so the person she's most intimate with, the person she wants most to impress, gets the act that Utena feels is appropriate. And so does the rest of the school -because she doesn't have anything else to be, other then a Prince.

This is where I find a bit of fault with the anime - in the manga we saw Utena before Ohtori, and therefore saw her interactions with her aunt, and her (apparently) childhood friend whom I cannot recall the name of. I feel like this gave us a better sense of what sort of person Utena was than we get in the anime.

Of course, you could always argue that Utena was just pulling the prince act with her childhood friend, too, though - she licks his tears away just like her prince did for her when her parents died. But I think her interactions with her aunt are probably the closest we get to seeing the 'real' Utena.


"I'm bringing paxil back. (Yup)
My HMO might just pick up the tab. (Yup)
I got the tremors and I need a nap. (Yup)
I gave my rent check to them Pfizer cats."

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#5 | Back to Top02-20-2007 04:50:30 PM

dollface
Postmistress Elf of Subtext
From: North Carolina
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 5086
Website

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

[[His name was Kaido, for the record]]


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

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#6 | Back to Top02-20-2007 05:54:52 PM

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

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

In terms of symbolism, I don't think that they really fight her. The Student Council duels Utena in order to obtain the Rose Bride. By obtaining the Rose Bride, they are obtaining whatever it is that they desire. By fighting Utena, they are trying to beat whatever it is that keeps them from obtaining what they desire. (Eternal Friendship, the Miracle of Love, ect.)

The only examples I can think of off the top of my head are that in Shiori's duel Utena symbolizes Juri(herself?), and that in Ruka's duel Utena symbolizes Shiori.

With the Black Rose Duelists, however, they fight Utena to destroy whatever it is that prevents them from obtaining what it is that they desire, rather than obtaining it by winning the duel.

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#7 | Back to Top03-21-2007 01:59:35 PM

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

Re: Who is REALLY duelling who?

I've always felt that the duels aren't important as physical fights (which is why I stay out of arguments on how much Akio manipulates the physical events during the fights).  They are (in the interpretation of all-taking-place-in-someone's-mind and in really-atleastsortof-happening) "battles" that take place mostly in the minds of the two opponents.  No one really loses due to skill, but really generally lose due to their psychological states.  (And, happily, sometimes they win by losing.)

Utena is rarely invested in the duels, actually, as morosemocha point out.  Some of them she is, bust mostly from her end the duels represent exposure to a more "real life" than the fantasy she lives in.  The duels are showing her the not-so-nice things that drive people, their darker feelings that they hide, their messy obsessions.  What I take away from them regarding Utena is that she truly is an oblivious fool, because what she sees slides off of her "like water off of a duck's back."  She always defaults back to the same way of looking at the world.  That's one of her best and worst traits.  "Everything in moderation."  Too much of anything is probably going to end up being bad.

As for the other duellists, morosemocha and Razara have eloquently expressed my feelings, which are basically that no one is fighting for the sake of the fight, or even (usually) for the sake of Revolution, but rather the duels are battles in the sense of moments of mental crisis.  They respresent climactic mental tumult that tells us a lot about what is inside the minds of each duellist, how they feel about the ideals Utena cherishes, about themselves, and about the most important people in their lives.

Which is also one of the reasons the bad animation in the actual fighting never bothered me--the most important parts are the cutscenes and the voiceovers.

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (03-21-2007 02:01:04 PM)


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