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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 Top12-29-2006 11:26:15 PM

A Day Without Me
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From: in the tulip garden!
Registered: 11-17-2006
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Males in SKU

Or, more specifically, post-pubescent boys SKU.

Overall, the older males in SKU are not portrayed very positively - we have:

Saionji, the abuser
Touga, the playboy
Akio, the villain of the piece
Miki's father, a man who has seemingly abandoned his children
Mikage, a delusional pederast whom leads children to violence
Nemuro, a young man whom burns down a building, effectively murdering 100 students
Ruka, a guy who doesn't shirk from treating others cruelly in order to "save" a girl who doesn't seem to have any interest in being saved

You'll notice that Tatsuya and any of the guys younger than he are excluded - they seem to still fall mainly into the category of "children" as opposed to beginning to straddle the line like Saionji, Touga, and Ruka (I would like to emphasize that I am not saying these three are in any way adults, though). Although, one could argue that these guys aren't really portrayed completely well - Tatsuya is a bit nasty to Wakaba, Mitsuru is willing to harm the person he cares about just to get her attention, and Miki seems like a Peter Pan complex waiting to happen.

However, over all, these young guys are portrayed in a way that is more likely to garner sympathy from the audience, whereas the older guys, while perhaps attracting more attention from audience members due to their appearance, are, even by admission of their own fans, not depicted in an entirely positive manner.

Now, yes, I know - no one in Utena is depicted 100% good, yet it would seem that adult males and those closer to adulthood are portrayed far more negatively than the adult females and those closer to adulthood of the show (I think the closest we get to an almost entirely negative portrait of a female is our dear Mrs. Ohtori).

I think a good example of this is Nemuro and Tokiko. Nemuro reacts to the death of Mamiya by, in a fit of madness, burning down the building where he was working on the project, killing 100 boys in the process. We aren't really shown Tokiko's direct reaction to her brother's death, although we know she certainly doesn't kill anyone in response - she instead leaves Ohtori, thereby accepting her brother's death and moving on in life. Advantage, Tokiko.


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#2 | Back to Top12-29-2006 11:35:36 PM

ShatteredMirror
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From: Sacramento, CA
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Re: Males in SKU

I was wondering when this thread was going to show up. The older guys (16+ I suppose) are definitely portrayed as worse than the younger guys, who while they aren't perfect are in many ways quite realistic and that makes us more sympathetic to their flaws. And they're just as definitely portrayed as worse than the older girls (I don't think they really qualify as women yet).

On the female front, we do have a few Anthy-slappers, but Juri is portrayed pretty sympathetically outside of that and Keiko and Nanami are more childish than anything else.


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#3 | Back to Top12-29-2006 11:54:58 PM

Valeli
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Registered: 12-05-2006
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Re: Males in SKU

I don't know if the guys are really depicted all that much worse than the women, necesarily. Although, I'll admit, you've got to dig a bit deeper to come up with defenses for most of them. The majority of them I felt, after watching this for the first time, were pretty tragic figures. I felt bad for a lot of them. Touga, for instance, I'm inclined to believe, really was kind of serious towards the end of the series when he felt he was getting changed by Utena. I think that stems from his initial charachter - he really did want to be chivalrous when he was young, but that desire just got twisted and warped over time (as someone in another post said, most likely because the only man he found who had been able to "save" women - Akio - took up that image himself).

I don't fit into the omgAkiois eeevil people either. Akio's certainly no good, but he's the same person as Dios. He's not inately flawed, a lot of his actions are the result of disilusionment with a world that betrayed him and his sister pretty harshly. He's a really complex charachter. I'm not sure if he actually has any desire to redeem himself or his sister by the time the series is over. But, I think, a case could be made... maybe....

Saionji is totally taken over by his hatred/envy/whatever with Touga. That warps his relation with Anthy (along with other factors i think... a tendancy to idealize maybe). He can be really nice and appreciative though, like he was with Wakaba after he had been kicked out of Touga's world. I don't think he's being insincere in his appreciation of her and what she did for him. He's just so consumed with his passions that he's able to kind of totally repress it all the moment Mikage offers him a realistic chance of reentry into Touga's world.

I won't really go on, but I don't think many of the men are really portrayed in a redeemable light.

The women in the series are, i think, equally overwhelmed by various flaws.

Even Utena, the heroine, has the same basic problem as lots of the men for most of the series - she's consumed by a desire to "save" girls who don't really need to be saved (or, rather, don't need to be saved by being turned into proverbial princesses.)

Ruka is abusive and uses people, but what about Shiori? She used people to get at Juri in what, one can only assume, must have been a pretty paralel fashion. Juri herself is pretty violent on occasion. She slapped Anthy and got into it with Utena on that night where she was sitting outside in her fashion clothes. Nanami does really really cruel things to various people as well.

Just some thoughts. It's an interesting topic.

Last edited by Valeli (12-30-2006 12:04:29 AM)

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#4 | Back to Top12-30-2006 12:26:33 AM

Frau Eva
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Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 803

Re: Males in SKU

I do think many of the older men were portrayed a little harshly, however, I think this also has a bit to do with gender politics and how an audience of (what is presumed for most viewers of the show) a primarily female audience.

Juri is no saint, as Valeli pointed out. Can we really count Juri's unnecessary abuse of Anthy and others as all that much worse than Saionji? It's only because we operate under the cultural history of men often having the upper-hand and using it towards abuse. Juri, as a female using aggression, is seen in a much more favorable light because portraying traditional masculine traits is sometimes seen as strong, feminist, bucking the trend! But really? Assaulting Anthy and Utena over nothing more than words? Even if something particularly strikes a nerve, that's still uncalled for. That and...honestly, fans give her way too much slack for all her emo crap. I love Juri dearly, but moping like that for so long over an old flame is pathetic.

Nanami, despite the fact that I love her, is possibly one of the most malicious. She does horrible things to people just for being within her brother's gaze, something I think even she realizes at times is often completely out of the victim's hands. The dress incident was ludicrous in its sheer malice. Nanami is enough of a socialite to know that Anthy tends to draw as little attention to herself in school as possible. The idea of Anthy actively trying to steal Touga away from Nanami is insane to most anyone(whether she could actually do it is another story, but the only people likely to know this would be Akio, Touga, and few else. Anyone else within the school wouldn't have a clue). Nanami just decided to torture someone else for what she perceived as a slight from Touga. Sure, it's a nice warning not to accept should Touga make the offer, but she's not stopping anything really. She knows it and doesn't really care.


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#5 | Back to Top12-30-2006 12:30:17 AM

ShatteredMirror
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From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 8858

Re: Males in SKU

I don't think it's so much that the women are better people, just that they're portrayed with more sympathy. When you get down to it, Ruka and Utena are a lot alike, but because we know more about Utena, we're more sympathetic to her desire to be a prince and save princesses than we are to Ruka and his desire to save Juri from herself. And in a way Juri and Saionji are a lot alike as well - they express it differently but they're pretty much equally obsessed with their objects of desire. But because we know Juri's backstory and how she went from being a reasonably happy child to the bitter, angst-ridden teenager that she is, we feel more sympathy for her than for Saionji, for whom we get one flashback that while it tells us a lot, it's not as much as the whole Juri/Shiori arc and it comes much later in the series.


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#6 | Back to Top12-30-2006 10:40:57 AM

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

Re: Males in SKU

I also think its important to note that many of the females who act maliciously have these malicious acts more closely tied to immaturity and childishness than the males do. Nanami, Keiko, Shiori - we're all given portraits of these three as being fairly lacking in maturity overall. Shiori's clinginess regarding Ruka makes her look immature; Nanami's clinginess regarding her brother makes her look immature; actually, now that I think on it, Keiko is probably the character whom we see the least immaturity in of the three, although no one would ever slip up and grant her as being mature.

Yes, the males of the show are immature in their own way, but I think the females whom act cruelly have their cruelty much more directly associated with immaturity than the males do.

Frau Eva wrote:

It's only because we operate under the cultural history of men often having the upper-hand and using it towards abuse. Juri, as a female using aggression, is seen in a much more favorable light because portraying traditional masculine traits is sometimes seen as strong, feminist, bucking the trend!

Well, actually, Juri being female but behaving aggressively is really all the more reason that we should, in theory, dislike her - men whom act out aggressively, hey, they're tough, they're manly! Women whom act out aggressively? Hey, what a bitch! There must be something wrong with her! Women are supposed the be passive, even it today's world - a woman in a competitve business setting who is active in trying to elevate her position is almost always labelled a bitch, whereas a guy doing the same does not gain this hateful label.

Anyway, to return to Utena...

Like ShatteredMirror said, it isn't necessarily the actions of the characters so much as how much of a sympathetic light they are portrayed in - Juri's cool, level-headedness makes her look better than Saionji, whom seems to be the closest thing to a loose-cannon that the series posesses. And of course, the back story Juri recieves helps - we get it sooner, and it is more detailed overall than Saionji's - we only see a snapshot of Saionji's past when he is a small child, whereas with Juri we see more of a specific portion of her life when she was a young teenager.


"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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#7 | Back to Top12-30-2006 11:12:23 AM

Frau Eva
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Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 803

Re: Males in SKU

A Day Without Me wrote:

Well, actually, Juri being female but behaving aggressively is really all the more reason that we should, in theory, dislike her - men whom act out aggressively, hey, they're tough, they're manly! Women whom act out aggressively? Hey, what a bitch! There must be something wrong with her! Women are supposed the be passive, even it today's world - a woman in a competitve business setting who is active in trying to elevate her position is almost always labelled a bitch, whereas a guy doing the same does not gain this hateful label.

While that is true of the general populace, it must be remembered that the people who watch Utena are far from that. Given the themes of Utena, the general populace will simply be turned off seeing Utena crossdress, lots of gay couples, and even incest.
It takes a pretty openminded person to watch it, and probably someone who's already been exposed to certain modes of thought on gender. There's a different segment of the population that's watching Utena, and the show itself brings together people of a certain view and already agrees with certain feminist principles. That, and even in the wider population, guys slapping girls is seen as brutish and abusive. Saionji isn't going to get slack from anyone for that. Girls slapping girls though? Catfight=hot! Even if it wasn't seen quite so...piggishly, the wider populace would be seen as much more acceptable for Juri to hit Anthy than Saionji because of the equal gender involved. She may be seen as a bit bitchy, but at least she's "picking on someone her own size."

But I certainly agree that the portrayal is simply different of the girls and guys. Saionji and Touga really don't get as much delving back into their history as other character's(which is a shame, because the little we do see raises SO many questions). How much we know about a person's youth seems to correlate with how many people sympathize with their plight.
Although, I will say that this board seems to have an unusual amount of Nanami-lovers that I've seen elsewhere. And given her portrayal sometimes--i.e. kitten-killing--it seems a little off. But then again, we're shown very active weakness in Nanami a couple of times, while it has to be interpreted out of Touga. Showing weakness in some way helps to endear a character to the audience.


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#8 | Back to Top12-30-2006 01:07:19 PM

Clarice
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From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
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Re: Males in SKU

Frau Eva wrote:

While that is true of the general populace, it must be remembered that the people who watch Utena are far from that. Given the themes of Utena, the general populace will simply be turned off seeing Utena crossdress, lots of gay couples, and even incest.
It takes a pretty openminded person to watch it, and probably someone who's already been exposed to certain modes of thought on gender. There's a different segment of the population that's watching Utena, and the show itself brings together people of a certain view and already agrees with certain feminist principles. That, and even in the wider population, guys slapping girls is seen as brutish and abusive. Saionji isn't going to get slack from anyone for that. Girls slapping girls though? Catfight=hot! Even if it wasn't seen quite so...piggishly, the wider populace would be seen as much more acceptable for Juri to hit Anthy than Saionji because of the equal gender involved. She may be seen as a bit bitchy, but at least she's "picking on someone her own size."

I think it still depends on the person watching the show -- I tend to lean more towards the "what the hell you doing you crazy bitch?!" end of the spectrum when it comes to the way Juri lashes out at Anthy and Utena. It shows an interesting side to her character, as she is usually so contained -- her superiority is usually demonstrated through a frigid and commanding persona that gives even adults the willies -- but Anthy makes her lose that poise, as does Utena. In that way, she actually has more in common with Saionji than one might think...because for all that Saionji has anger issues, they always seem to have some justification. We don't ever see him lash out at somebody for some random reason (because frankly if his violence was a knee-jerk non-thinking thing, I'd have fully expected him to smack Nanami upside the head when she sucker-punched him over an egg...).

Frau Eva wrote:

But I certainly agree that the portrayal is simply different of the girls and guys. Saionji and Touga really don't get as much delving back into their history as other character's(which is a shame, because the little we do see raises SO many questions). How much we know about a person's youth seems to correlate with how many people sympathize with their plight.
Although, I will say that this board seems to have an unusual amount of Nanami-lovers that I've seen elsewhere. And given her portrayal sometimes--i.e. kitten-killing--it seems a little off. But then again, we're shown very active weakness in Nanami a couple of times, while it has to be interpreted out of Touga. Showing weakness in some way helps to endear a character to the audience.

I think Nanami-love is an odd thing at the best of times, really. I personally adore the character because of her complexity -- despite her actions as a child, heinous as they were. But like you say, she has some reason for it; we humans like to search for reasons, for chaos without reason is a damn scary thing. But...yeah, actually, you were saying something else about the nastiness of Nanami when directed at Anthy, particularly in regards to the ballroom scene. Yes, I must admit, it's a horrible thing to do to someone, especially given Touga's focusing on Utena and not Anthy. I think, however, that even now -- even before Nanami meets Akio and realises this shining and bright older brother is eclipsing easily his demure and retiring younger sister -- Nanami is terrified of being what Anthy is. So why put Anthy out in the open like that? To prove her superiority. To prove they're different. It's, as I have said, a bastard of a thing to do...but Nanami, like most children, has only a limited perception of her actions as seen from someone else's viewpoint. It's not until the thing with the egg that Nanami starts to perceive another's needs as well as her own, which is yet another reason why a crazy eerie-ass Nanami-centric episode is actually one of the most telling of the lot. school-devil


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#9 | Back to Top12-30-2006 01:11:53 PM

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

Re: Males in SKU

Clarice wrote:

In that way, she actually has more in common with Saionji than one might think...because for all that Saionji has anger issues, they always seem to have some justification.

I would argue that Juri's aggressive actions do have a basis, though - Anthy giving her the rose in that manner is purposely done to remind her of Shiori - Anthy does a very good job of needling Juri here. As for her lashing out at Utena, this of course stems from Juri's irritation at Utena's attitude about princes and the like. I'm not trying to excuse Juri's violence, but it isn't like it's completely baseless.


"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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#10 | Back to Top12-30-2006 01:18:03 PM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
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Re: Males in SKU

A Day Without Me wrote:

Clarice wrote:

In that way, she actually has more in common with Saionji than one might think...because for all that Saionji has anger issues, they always seem to have some justification.

I would argue that Juri's aggressive actions do have a basis, though - Anthy giving her the rose in that manner is purposely done to remind her of Shiori - Anthy does a very good job of needling Juri here. As for her lashing out at Utena, this of course stems from Juri's irritation at Utena's attitude about princes and the like. I'm not trying to excuse Juri's violence, but it isn't like it's completely baseless.

Oh, no, no, I meant that Saionji and Juri have that justification in common -- Saionji tends only to lash out at people who have "hurt" him in some way (i.e. Touga, Anthy and Utena), and Juri's just the same. She doesn't lash out for no reason, and neither does Saionji. I also think that they shouldn't do it no matter what the provocation, but this is a show where girls turn into cows so well, you know. [shrugs] We can suspend reality for a while, eh? school-devil


It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

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#11 | Back to Top12-30-2006 01:19:51 PM

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

Re: Males in SKU

Oh, haha, my bad - I misunderstood.


"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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#12 | Back to Top12-30-2006 01:29:07 PM

Clarice
Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102
Website

Re: Males in SKU

A Day Without Me wrote:

Oh, haha, my bad - I misunderstood.

Heh, that's all right -- I can assure you that there are days where I talk completely out my ass and need to be kicked in the head. ...er, like most of the characters on this show, come to think of it. emot-tongue Which I suppose relates back to the topic in that the characters of the show -- both male and female -- need SOMEONE to do something to break them out of the cycles that they have trapped themselves in. Ruka's the only one who really makes an active attempt to do so (for Juri), but then the ultimate message of the show anyway is that although someone can show you the way, you need to walk the path yourself. I've always thought that Saionji and Touga were more or less doing that for one another, but...er, look, there I go, I've wandered off the path and got lost myself there. Dammit. school-chef


It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

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