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Gougai! Gougai!

Beautiful Thorns, Chiho Saito's new manga featuring Juri, Shiori, and Ruka is now scanlated and ready for happy happy eyeballs! Download it in a zip here, or check it out in the gallery. Thank you everyone!! <3

#51 | Back to Top02-26-2008 08:21:53 AM

Asfalolh
Knight of Gates
From: Barcelona (Catalonia)
Registered: 10-23-2006
Posts: 2005

Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Stormcrow wrote:

...but...I thought Jesus was the lamb? I thought that was kind of the point? emot-confusedemot-confusedemot-confused


*is an ignorant Jew*

So did I... Isn't Jesus the Agnus Dei? I thought that was kind of included in the dogma.

I wish I knew more to be able to contribute to the thread, because it's just so damn interesting. Thanks to you all.

Edit: I'm late xD

Last edited by Asfalolh (02-26-2008 08:22:26 AM)

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#52 | Back to Top02-26-2008 08:30:43 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Yeah, it is.  Or so I think.  It's just that when you refer to Jesus as a super-sacrifice and remind some (not, by any means, all) Christians of the history of blood sacrifice, they don't much like the perspective.  I was raised mostly by Baptists.  My aunt had a hissy fit the first time the notion occurred to me.  This has led me to be ... careful with it, even though it seems like such a foundation of the faith.


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#53 | Back to Top02-27-2008 05:25:16 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

I reread my post and found that I had meandered too far from my point, particularly as I jumped to another subject at the end rather than summarizing.  So I wanted to add a clarification post. 

I do think it's somewhat of an artificial division that I'm making between the kinds of "grace" and the birth v. death angle.   For illustration's sake, I have, on one hand, a religious and, on the other, a secular/humanist grace.  Humanism isn't incompatible with religion, some religions are humanistic.  However, there is a curvy line that can be drawn between an absolute morality handed down to us by a God and subjective morality that we determine for ourselves.

Anthy couldn't live up to the standards under the first system.  Her failure made her a Witch.  Under the second system that was made available by Dios's death, she could be saved...though she had to do it for herself.  So Dios's death changes the way Anthy, and the rest of humanity, are able to go about finding fulfillment and grace, just the same way Jesus's birth/death did in Christianity.

Sorry if I am actually repeating myself.  When I reread my post I wasn't sure I could pick out what I meant to say.  Bad habit of mine.

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (02-27-2008 05:27:43 PM)


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#54 | Back to Top02-27-2008 09:24:34 PM

Stormcrow
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

That was how I understood it the first time, but I appreciate your clearing it up anyway, mostly because you talked a little about humanism, which always makes me happy inside.


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#55 | Back to Top02-27-2008 10:07:17 PM

brian
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Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Rhyaniwyn's comments about her former church surprise but don't astonish me. Some Southern Baptists are scandalously uninformed about some of the basic precepts of Christian doctrine. I have my own stories about that but it's off-topic. Part of the problem may be that they don't want to acknowledge the heavy debt that Christianity and Judaism owe to pagan religions. More sophisticated people like C.S. Lewis were fully aware of it, and far from being embarrassed thought that the pagan substrata could be a source of great power for telling Christian stories. J.K. Rowling has just re-proven that idea. Certain kinds of fundamentalists can be as humorlessly rationalistic and mechanistic as Communists.

Utena's name and some of the iconography from the first manga and the series imply that she is some kind of angel or deity who is trying to bring salvation to Anthy -- but she forgot her mission until it was almost too late. Maybe that is one of the underlying messages, that we are all metaphorical angels born with a mission that we are trying to remember. That "Michaelangelo" scene from the final episode could be seen as a marriage of Heaven and Earth, Anthy, ground down into the Earth, seeing Heaven for the first time, and Utena representing a Heavenly desire to connect with the Earth and perhaps to get a sense of groundedness that she did not have before.

Another possibility is that Dios/Akio represent an eternal battling duality that has gone into a kind of stasis; and Utena and Anthy both need to walk away from it and just live.

If Utena is a ministering spirit it may not be that she was destined to it but was just a mere mortal who was given a mission by a desperate and dying Dios who wanted her to help Anthy and bring balance back to the world. Therefore her victory was not inevitable.

Anthy could be seen as the Earth, or Humankind, or Womankind, violated and subjugated by thoughtless exploiters or Satan or the Male gender.

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#56 | Back to Top02-28-2008 08:29:51 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

brian wrote:

That "Michaelangelo" scene from the final episode could be seen as a marriage of Heaven and Earth, Anthy, ground down into the Earth, seeing Heaven for the first time, and Utena representing a Heavenly desire to connect with the Earth and perhaps to get a sense of groundedness that she did not have before.

I touched on this once before in my (sadly inadequate) Utena monomyth essay.  I see that scene as "Meeting with the Goddess".  Utena, as the hero, finds her culmination in a union with the misunderstood goddess Anthy.  Their contact is a symbolic marriage of sorts, reinforcing the yin/yang-esque dependence between male and female, heaven and earth, created and creator.  The reverberations of the meeting act as a renewal, a rebirth--that is the blessing of revolution that results.  That whole 'first spring rain' after a long bitter winter thing.

Oh, myth, how I love you.  Thank you for the mental image, brian  :-)

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (02-28-2008 08:30:41 PM)


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#57 | Back to Top02-29-2008 10:38:21 PM

brian
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

This may not be the best thread to post this thought but here goes. I've often fancied that Kozue is not really the incest-crazed monster that she is made out to be (by Ikuhara no less.) She may not be that much different from Nanami: inappropriately  possessive, jealous, and even violent about keeping their brothers but not really incestuous. Probably both have vaguely incestuous feelings but neither would actually act on them under normal circumstances.

But perhaps Anthy somehow draws vulnerable girls like them into her web: first she inflames their barely conscious passions to an extreme and then punishes them for starting to follow in the sin she committed. On the one hand it could be seen as horrible hypocrisy on her part but on the other she could be showing them before it is too late where their madness could lead. A one-goddess Scared Straight program. So is it a case of misery loving company or is she genuinely trying to warn people away from the shoals that she crashed upon?

For his part if Akio may, in some sense, be a Bringer of Light. An educator so to speak.

Anthy and Akio could be fallen angels still showing traces of the noble white wings they both once had. Or perhaps like the devil said in the novel Master and Magarita, (paraphrasing), "I always will evil and always do good."

Edit:
the sin she committed? Actually we don't know who first did what to who or precisely why. Utena's great insight though may have been to realize that those particular historical details did not really matter in the end.

Last edited by brian (02-29-2008 10:53:12 PM)

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#58 | Back to Top07-22-2008 12:00:30 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Thou Art That
Joseph Campbell 
 
pg 65 
"Understanding the Symbols of Judeo-Christian Spirituality"
"The Cave"
 
The motif of birth in a cave is also very ancient.  This symbol is assoiated particularly with the winter solstice, when the sun has traveled to its farthest point away from the tilted earth and the light is in the nadir of the abyss.  That is the date of the birth of the god Mithra, who is lord light.
 
The cave has always been the scene of the initiation, where the birth of the light takes plce. Here as well is found the whole idea of the cave of the heart, the dark chamber of the heart, where the light of the divine first appears.  This image is also associated with the emergence of lightin the beginning, out of the abyss of the early chaos, so that one senses the deep resonations of this theme.

Well, I don't know precisely why, but I associate the cave with Anthy & Dios.  Strictly speaking, they were in a barn or a cabin during 'Tale of the Rose', but they appeared to be in a cave-like place when Dios took Utena to see Anthy.  So this relates back to my talk about saviors and to brian's comments about bringing light.


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#59 | Back to Top07-23-2008 03:25:51 PM

Giovanna
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Could we not perhaps see the cave Anthy's in in the flashback as her true place of origin? Sure, it's outside the barn that Anthy takes on the swords, but it's not until she's placed in this cave, alone with her endless pain, that she takes her true place, her role, in events. In a matter of speaking, could you not argue Akio and Anthy (as the witch) are conceived in the barn, and born shortly after? That would certainly fit the stereotype of the barn as a popular locale for sex, and neither of them are truly what they're going to become at that point.

I don't know if Campbell says much about it (I need to read his work eventually here), but aren't caves also a popular place for burial?


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#60 | Back to Top07-23-2008 06:54:52 PM

Jellineck
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From: Under your bed
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

I sent Gio one of my essays pertaining to gender and mythology. The subject was the contrast between the role of women in early Irish secular myth and their status in medieval Christian society. Ireland has a very distinctive set of battle queens and warrior goddesses. Women are seen as part of nature - beyond the understanding of the male intellect, akin to beasts and barn animals. They are both frequently insulted for their inherent tendency towards sin and stupdiity, and deeply feared for their connection to the realm of the Sidhe lurking in every forest and field. Their sexuality, too, is deeply feared. Officially because a promiscuous woman would threaten the paterfamilias lineage in Ireland. But on a deeper level, because female sexuality was seen on the same level as witchcraft: dark, mysterious, and wreaking havoc on even the most controlled of men.

Anthy reminds me of this image of women: she is seen as something that is primal, deep, and vastly enigmatic. As much as Akio tries to impose his control on her, to impose his own supposedly infallible understanding, his perception of her is limited by the filter of masculinity. She can only be the Madonna or the whore. Naturally, she tends towards the latter in the minds of men. Her status is a deeply sexually evocative one - that of the perfect slave marauding as a bride. Yet it cannot be controlled or even understood. I don't think I could compare her directly to the likes of Medb or Badb, but she fits very well into the ancient Irish views of womanhood and the feminine essence.


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#61 | Back to Top07-23-2008 07:59:58 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Giovanna wrote:

I don't know if Campbell says much about it (I need to read his work eventually here), but aren't caves also a popular place for burial?

I don't have any particular quotes so far.

All in all, I think that's definitely a good way of looking at it, the sexually charged atmosphere and the idea of birth.  You could even say it's Anthy/Witch and Akio/Lucifer that are being born in the barn (due to the events in 'Tale of the Rose').  Where that falls apart a little for me is that at some time later, they are presumably in the cave together, because...

Interestingly enough, at some point yesterday I ended up learning some new info about Mithra, who Campbell mentions in the passage above.  The article I read said that a spinoff god of Mithra, Mithras, was a pre-Christian dying god who was, in most accounts, born in a barn surrounded by animals and was interred in a cave after his willing sacrifice (only to come back to life shortly thereafter, do some good stuff, & ascend to heaven).  He was supposedly born around Christmas/Yule, too.  I'm not sure about the 100% historical accuracy of which religion influenced which, of course, but the point is more that...  We have various cults, Christianity, and modern interpretations of old cyclical "pagan"/nature religons that have the general area of Christmas/Yule as the time of (and in 2 of those, the barn is the scene of) the rebirth of the god [of light/of the sun].  And a documented mythical cycle of virgin birth, followed by sacrificial-type death, followed by ressurection/rebirth.

Depending on how reliably we can trust Utena's flashback...AND on how reliably we can count on it as a timeline... We have them in a barn prior to Anthy's initial stabbing, when Akio was still Dios.  Then we have them in a cave.  They don't seem to be "dead", though--Anthy is actually still "crucified" and Dios/Akio appears to be in a state of flux.  Then later we have them walking around participating in life again at Ohtori.

So we have this birth of savior(light) in barn, followed by the destined death of savior(light) in some sacrificial way, followed by the ressurection/rebirth of the savior(light) from a cave.

So it seems to really be harkening to this cycle there'd have to be some transformation of them...  Well, actually, why?  Christ doesn't go from 'bad' to 'good' after his ressurection.  He's Christ the whole time.  I guess I'm just operating on the assumption that the transformation of Anthy into a Witch and Dios into Akio (taking away the light from the world) is kind of a negative thing and that neither of them is living their appropriate role...and that when they are "reborn" they will transform more positively.

I get two things from that...

1-Someone has always been the light of the world, they are just thinking they aren't.  Akio has always been Akio, how he viewed himself changed.  Anthy has always been Anthy, how she viewed herself changed.  The light was never really "taken" from the world.  And/or possibly...

2-"Stay in your coffin forever" is literal.  They aren't "really" at Ohtori, they are in the cave where they were interred after 'Tale of the Rose'.  Because they won't come back out of the cave/coffin, winter never turns back to spring, and the light is never reborn into the world.


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#62 | Back to Top07-25-2008 01:41:06 PM

Mishi
Pained Growlithe
From: Montreal
Registered: 04-11-2008
Posts: 528

Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

rhyaniwyn wrote:

So it seems to really be harkening to this cycle there'd have to be some transformation of them...  Well, actually, why?  Christ doesn't go from 'bad' to 'good' after his ressurection.  He's Christ the whole time.  I guess I'm just operating on the assumption that the transformation of Anthy into a Witch and Dios into Akio (taking away the light from the world) is kind of a negative thing and that neither of them is living their appropriate role...and that when they are "reborn" they will transform more positively.

So you're saying that Dios and Anthy were Akio and The Witch since forever, and the transformation was actually just them realizing that Dios and Anthy were just figments of their own head-trip? That doesn't sound right

Also, I seem to recall my religion teacher saying that Jesus wasn't really referred to as Christ until he was crucified. Jesus is the man who walked the earth for 33 years. Jesus-Christ is the godly being to whom Christians pray. They're the same person, but there's a definite separation. At least the way I understood it. There WAS a transformation. Not bad to good, but mortal to immortal.

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#63 | Back to Top07-25-2008 02:17:14 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

That's a far more complex subject than you give it credit for, Mishi.  :-) 

Within the Bible, Jesus is referred to as "Christ" by his followers, allegedly during his life.

“And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:16).
And Thomas the disciple once said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Historically, when Jesus was recognized by various people as being "The Messiah" and called Christ varies and there is a lot unknown about the early development of Christianity.  And, ultimately, some people don't recognize Jesus as "Jesus The Christ/The Messiah" at all.  Also, not everyone agrees about the gravity of the application of the "Christ" appellation, there are different outlooks on the word from a linguistic standpoint.  I think a lot of the stuff I've heard in that vein is modern re-assessing, but it still complicates the issue.  Furthermore, several of the denominational fragmentations of Christianity are based on such questions.  Was Jesus always fully human, always fully divine, or half human and half divine, or did he become fully divine after his resurrection after being not fully divine beforehand?  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christology.

I do agree with you that no matter what various denominations believe, there does appear from an objective standpoint to be a distinction of some sort, a distillation, or some other important confirmation of/change to Jesus's role after his resurrection.  And the most commonly accepted consensus seems to be that "Jesus" refers to to the guy during his life while "Christ" refers to him after his resurrection and assumption of his fully divine role.

What's interesting about all that is the camp that believes that he is fully human and fully divine at the same time, always.  That's in keeping with thought #1 in my last post.

But, no, what I am saying is that WE are drawing a clear distinction between Anthy/The Witch and Dios/Akio and saying there is a moment of transformation or an evolution.  That they "changed" from these more "positive" roles into more "negative" roles.  What I am implying is that they were always the same people and always had the "positive" sides of themselves inside as well as the "negative" sides and that it was their own folly to think otherwise.


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#64 | Back to Top09-10-2008 08:23:22 PM

Raven Nightshade
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From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

I have a random thought that needs a bit of help forming itself.

The "Nanami's Cowbell" episode keeps popping up in my head. Nanami turning into a cow reminds me of the story of Io, the girl who was turned into a cow by Zeus to hide her from Hera. I can't really explain beyond that, though.

It also reminds me that movie!Nanami, being in cow-form, could be a reference to Isis(or Hathor), who is often depicted with a cow's head/horns. If you consider that her brother, movie!Touga, is dead, he'd be an appropriate Osiris. The actual story of Osiris and Isis doesn't really line up with it, though the dynamic of Osiris and Isis as brother-husband and sister-wife does go with the theme of incestuous siblings.

And for the hat trick, there has to be some sort of overarching scheme at work since Nanami was sent to India in the curry episode, and is turned into a cow later. After all, cows are considered sacred in India.


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#65 | Back to Top09-11-2008 06:56:24 AM

Giovanna
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From: Edmonton, AB
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Raven Nightshade wrote:

The "Nanami's Cowbell" episode keeps popping up in my head. Nanami turning into a cow reminds me of the story of Io, the girl who was turned into a cow by Zeus to hide her from Hera. I can't really explain beyond that, though.

Oooooh. God knows it's easy to slip Anthy into the role of Hera there, as someone Nanami really should be hidden from, but can't be. I did always wonder about why they went with cow, when as far as I can tell the stereotypes only bear a small resemblance to Nanami's personality. But Io, sacred Indian cows, Hathor...guess I shouldn't be surprised! I'm curious about the sacred Indian cow thing, specifically why do they worship them, and are they viewed as wise? That might be the closest connection to Nanami. She's a bulking figure, self-centered, but wise by implication.


Akio, you have nice turns of phrase, but your points aren't clear and you have no textual support. I can't give this a passing grade.
~ Professor Arisa Konno, Eng 1001 (Freshman Literature and Composition)

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#66 | Back to Top09-11-2008 08:51:57 AM

Stormcrow
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From: Los Angeles
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Wiki wrote:

Hindu society honors the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.

...or maybe not...seriously, I've heard so many contradictory things about Hinduism and cows that I have no fucking idea how they really feel about them. I suspect that you'd get different answers from different sects of Hinduism. I do know for a fact that there is at least one sect that goes so far as to wash their faces in cow urine...that image suits Nanami as a cow more in my head somehow.


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#67 | Back to Top09-11-2008 06:12:06 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Wikipedia also told me that Krishna was a cowherd, which might explain some of it. Cows are also referred to in India as, "mothers of civilization". Also, they give so much and ask little in return besides food and water. We know Nanami's not a giver, but I think that may be part of the underlying lesson that Anthy intended to give. 

Another thing I forgot to mention is the Golden Calf story from the Old Testament. After reading it again, I'm sure a case could be made for a connection between Nanami and idolatry.

Also, it's not that hard to make Anthy into Hera, because Akio/Dios being Zeus is ridiculously easy. After all, Zeus slept with anything with a pulse, and Anthy has a bit of a jealous/overprotective streak. I should also add that Hera has been referred to as "the ox/cow-eyed goddess".


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#68 | Back to Top09-11-2008 07:38:28 PM

brian
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Be-papas surely knew about a lot of this cow symbolism. But maybe with Nanami it was a case of not being careful what you wish for. She wanted to be outstanding and high-status but she started to turn into an outstanding high-status cow. She was probably the best cow ever.

Last edited by brian (09-11-2008 07:39:30 PM)

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#69 | Back to Top09-11-2008 10:48:03 PM

Yasha
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Raven Nightshade wrote:

I should also add that Hera has been referred to as "the ox/cow-eyed goddess".

That epithet sounds funny to us, but it's actually an indicator of beauty. There's a definite similarity to 'doe-eyed' that my mythology prof pointed out-- and it's probably because both cows and does have wonderfully warm, mild brown eyes.


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#70 | Back to Top09-11-2008 11:57:51 PM

Stormcrow
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

All I ever think of when I think of cow eyes is Jessica Simpson. Seriously folks.

Back on topic though. I think Nanami would have more in common with Hera herself than she does with Io. I mean, Hera's main job in Greek mythology seems to have been to punish girls that Zeus raped, er, showed interest in...sort of like Nanami and anyone who looks sideways at Touga.


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#71 | Back to Top09-12-2008 04:02:34 PM

Anthiena
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Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

Stormcrow wrote:

All I ever think of when I think of cow eyes is Jessica Simpson. Seriously folks.

Back on topic though. I think Nanami would have more in common with Hera herself than she does with Io. I mean, Hera's main job in Greek mythology seems to have been to punish girls that Zeus raped, er, showed interest in...sort of like Nanami and anyone who looks sideways at Touga.

The only thing about that is that it would appear she didn't care about the girls who chased Touga, but the girls Touga chased: Anthy and Utena. From what I have seen, she didn't care about Kozue (who she probably has known for a long time) or Juri(who may give off a "brother in arms" vibe to Nanami), who are around Touga more than she is.

Which I find interesting.

As for the cow, it may also be referencing the labarynth with the ox(cattle) headed-man (the real word eludes me at the moment) and how it was this being who would sacrifice the ones wandering too far from the center of the labarynth and how Jason/Utena, the hero, instead "sacrifices" the bull-or in other terms, changed Nanami back by taking away the mask/cowbell. After it was gone, so was the role.


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#72 | Back to Top09-12-2008 04:05:56 PM

Aine Silveria
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From: Allegan, MI
Registered: 11-03-2006
Posts: 2098

Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

I think you might be talking about the minotaur, Anthiena?

But I'm not sure. >>;;;


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#73 | Back to Top09-12-2008 09:19:38 PM

End of the Tour
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From: The Nowhere Islands
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Posts: 143

Re: Religion, Mythology, and Utena

That is the minotaur, yes.  Although transforming into a cow and Greek mythology more make me think of Io.  ...yeah, the men of Ohtori Academy are sometimes a bit sexually tame compared to the Greek gods.


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