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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 Top09-01-2008 11:40:27 AM

azuresquirrel
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Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Upon my most recent rewatch of SKU, episodes 22 and 23 stood out to me for several reasons (the last episodes of the Black Rose Arc and the episodes explaining Mikage/Nemuro) but what struck me most was Utena's behavior in episode 23 "Qualifications of a Duellist" and how surprising that I haven't seen it mentioned much in analysis of the Black Rose Arc or of Utena herself.

To me, this was some major backsliding for Utena. People like to point out how her second duel with Touga wasn't really about Anthy's friendship at all, and of course her utter stupidity and hypocrisy with the whole Akio affair, but this episode actually made me angry with her.

Okay, so she finds out that Mikage is behind the Black Rose Duellists, the ones that claim they are going to kill the Rose Bride. And she deals with this by challenging him to a duel . . . which he could win . . . . and then kill Anthy. WTF?? Way to protect your friend. (I think it's interesting to note that this is the ONLY time in the series in which it's the victor of the duels who challenges someone instead of vise versa. Hmmmm . . . .)

Of course, Utena's reasons for this duel have nothing to do with Anthy. Or even the other Black Rose Duellists (not even Wakaba). Utena did not lash out at Mikage (other note - she physically attacks him quite brutally. And yet we judge Saionji as a brute for smacking around Anthy, but not Utena as such? Hmmmm . . .) until he made the comparison between him and her about how they live their lives completely according to their precious memories. Utena is insulted by the comparison, and the duel is completely an issue of her own pride - she wants to prove that she is nothing like Mikage at all.

Except here's the really horrible part (as if it wasn't bad enough already) - Mikage is dead right about Utena. For all that he's currently dillusional and seeing her as Tokiko half the time, he has Utena pegged. In fact, their situations have far more in common than just treasuring memories, as Mikage points out to her. Both of their memories are false - the Mamiya Mikage thought he was fighting for is a fake and the real one has been long dead, and Utena's memories of the Prince and her motivation for becoming one have been severely Disney-fied. That moment of revelation for Mikage serves as foreshadowing that Utena's memories are also very much in suspect, as we've already seen from "The Castle Said to Hold Eternity," Utena was not a little Princess and she was certainly not bearing the loss of her parents with strength and nobility (her reaction is perfectly understandable, but it's definately not how she remembers it).

And yet Utena learns absolutely nothing from her encounter with Mikage. Even if the Black Rose Arc "didn't happen" in that everyone seemed to lose all memory from it, Utena would not have learned anything from it anyway. All throughout the duel she insists that she is better than Mikage and that there is nothing similar about them at all. But perhaps if she had taken his observation to heart, she would have questioned how much her life is tied to those supposed memories, and maybe she wouldn't have been stupid enough to fall for Akio and ignore Anthy's pain. But she didn't, because that certainly was not a part of Akio's plan, and while she eventually gets in together at the very end, in the meantime she's all the worse for it. emot-mad

Any thoughts on Utena's behavior here? Why is she so in denial? What other interesting things pop out in this episode? (because I love the ending of the Black Rose Arc, frustration with Utena and all) Long post is looooonnnnnggggggggg.

Last edited by azuresquirrel (09-01-2008 11:41:22 AM)


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#2 | Back to Top09-01-2008 12:40:46 PM

brian
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Registered: 10-22-2006
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

azuresquirrel wrote:

Okay, so she finds out that Mikage is behind the Black Rose Duellists, the ones that claim they are going to kill the Rose Bride. And she deals with this by challenging him to a duel . . . which he could win . . . . and then kill Anthy. WTF?? Way to protect your friend. (I think it's interesting to note that this is the ONLY time in the series in which it's the victor of the duels who challenges someone instead of vise versa. Hmmmm . . . .)

Interesting, I had not noticed that before. However it is evident even earlier than that that Utena is deluded and eventually we see that she is also corruptible. She doesn't really come to fully understand herself until Anthy stabs her, and perhaps not quite even then.

RGU is full of characters who see through Utena's delusions and yet don't see through their own. And Utena is in peril of becoming World's End until almost the last minute.

Last edited by brian (09-01-2008 12:42:40 PM)

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#3 | Back to Top09-01-2008 01:44:31 PM

Coco Melancholy
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Might I point you here? azuresquirrel? In any case to summarize, as I say my feelings on Utena are ambivalent, in a way Utena's character does somewhat torture me, but again it's the aspects of her that I have issues with that MAKE her a fully realised and all-rounded character. To try to round up what I've said in that thread, I think Mikage threatening Utena's memory sets her off because the memory is such an intrical part of who she is, under any other circumstances, say if they had become friends it's likely he's words would of haunted her in a stronger sense and even if she never fully took them on board she would have at least considered them, here all at once it's too much to accept, it's like telling someone who has spent their entire life devout to God that he doesn't exist and clicking off in their mind the possiblity this is true and that their whole life everything that has made them who they are everything that they believe in is false, it's of course very likely they'll get defensive, likewise I don't think Utena really wants to accept that Wakaba might be a little bitter towards her or that sweet Shiori might possibly hate her best friend, it's just easier to pin the blame on Mikage and blame him for being a monster, really don't get me started on Utena, she irritated the hell out of me on the FIRST watch, it was only on the second watch that I could absorb and appreciate her struggle to become a person on a path that has been too tightly and perfectly constructed for her, as I've stated in the essay above, neither Utena and Mikage had a chance and despite being somewhat main characters they are both the most lacking in free will, in these two characters is Akio's best manipulation in which he leaves no psychological tracks what so ever, the fact of the matter is in either characters situations most of us would end up doing the same things.

Edit: She challenges Touga to duel her and she sorta challenges Akio and Saionji

Last edited by Coco Melancholy (09-01-2008 02:47:32 PM)

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#4 | Back to Top09-01-2008 02:48:54 PM

Jellineck
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

I think that's what personally makes Utena an interesting character. She is intensely flawed. For all of her decent intent, she's naive and often comes across as downright idiotic in comparison to the rest of the characters. It's not really until those last couple of episodes that she proves herself to be the heroine. Despite all of her mistakes, she still throws herself in the path of a million swords to save someone who's manipulated her the whole series to the point she's finally stabbed in the back. Her sacrifice isn't forced. In essence, she ironically does become the Rose Bride of the series, willingly taking for Anthy what Anthy once took for Akio. But somehow, in the end, she seems to escape rather than fall to Anthy's fate. Before those episodes, however, she's often a very frustrating character. I mean, the usually oblivious Nanami notices what's going on way before Utena. But I think that's what makes her redemption so powerful.

To address your point more, I don't think your comparison between Utena and Mikage is entirely accurate and requires a bit more context. True, both of them place high value on memories. But the focus of those memories are very different. The former sees her memories as a source of strength and motivation to succeed. As much as they end up crippling her in the end, without them, she would have never developed the unique personality that draws people to her in the first place. She perceives her memories as the motive to be pure and noble.

When she encounters Mikage, it's just after discovering he's manipulated everyone to the point of near-insanity, including her best friend. She does seem to genuinely care for the Black Rose victims; that's what makes Mikage's comparison even more infuriating. He uses his memories as justification for playing god. If she were to acknowledge that the two of them were similar, it would be stating that her memories are a mask for purely selfish intent. A certain part of that is true (though I think it's an exaggeration to say it's solely selfish). But Utena can't handle that. And if you were in her place, could you? Think of your closest friend. Then think of that friend trying to kill you. Then realize your friend was brainwashed into doing it. Hopefully, you might be a bit angry too. In a similar case, when she lost Anthy. I always thought Utena got too little sympathy. I mean, true, she was focused on her pride. But she did very much care for the Rose Bride DESPITE the fact she realized she had been manipulated and used. Where someone else might have been a bit cold to Anthy after that, she was forgiving and kind. In that aspect, she very much is an admirable friend.

I'm not saying Utena's actions are completely justified. And it's always an interesting point - her attack on Mikage. I'm surprised there aren't like a thousand essays on the topic. That is really the only time we see her PISSED. I mean, she was beating the crap out of him. Mikage acknowledged that she could have killed him. She didn't pull out that kind of rage when Anthy betrayed her, or when Touga harassed her. The only real similarity is when Akio attacked her memories and intentions in a similar manner. No, she isn't always a heroine, but really...how could she be? She's human. Trying to create a pinnacle of morality would be unrealistic. In a world of complex characters, Utena is just as complicated. It's just not always as readily apparent.


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#5 | Back to Top09-01-2008 03:04:01 PM

Baka Kakumei Reanna
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Yes, Utena is very flawed, but I think this knowledge is made more dramatic by her desire to be the perfect prince, or even the delusion that she can be-- or, at times, is. We see she's flawed, but when she assesses herself that way, we call her on it and are surprised when those flaws become glaring, such as in your example.

I'm not nearly as good at analysis as some of the gals here, but that's what I think. Just her acting as though she's perfect makes her flaws hit harder when they show up.


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#6 | Back to Top09-01-2008 03:21:10 PM

dollface
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Coco Melancholy wrote:

Edit: She challenges Touga to duel her and she sorta challenges Akio and Saionji

Saionji and Touga were challenged by Utena, but at the time both duels occured, Utena was not the victor. She is the victor when she duels Akio, but I don't think she really had a choice in that position... that's a confusing one, I can't really say if it falls under the catagory that azuresquirrel was aiming for.

Anyway, Utena does some pretty selfish things all throughout the series. I think it's good to show that she isn't perfect, but it's also very annoying because it's never really brought into the light until the very end. We can clearly see when Saionji or Nanami or other characters are crossing between "good" and "bad", if such things really exist. There is a healthy dose of good intentions and bad intentions in everyone. However, Utena can do some pretty shitty things and completely ignore them-- not because she's cruel, but because she's a little ignorant about the world. She's really just more childish than others, in my opinion.

Last edited by dollface (09-01-2008 03:22:26 PM)


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#7 | Back to Top09-01-2008 04:02:21 PM

Coco Melancholy
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Registered: 06-04-2007
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

dollface wrote:

Coco Melancholy wrote:

Edit: She challenges Touga to duel her and she sorta challenges Akio and Saionji

Saionji and Touga were challenged by Utena, but at the time both duels occured, Utena was not the victor. She is the victor when she duels Akio, but I don't think she really had a choice in that position... that's a confusing one, I can't really say if it falls under the catagory that azuresquirrel was aiming for.

Anyway, Utena does some pretty selfish things all throughout the series. I think it's good to show that she isn't perfect, but it's also very annoying because it's never really brought into the light until the very end. We can clearly see when Saionji or Nanami or other characters are crossing between "good" and "bad", if such things really exist. There is a healthy dose of good intentions and bad intentions in everyone. However, Utena can do some pretty shitty things and completely ignore them-- not because she's cruel, but because she's a little ignorant about the world. She's really just more childish than others, in my opinion.

For me personally I think the problem is really the same problem I have with Miki, he could of been a favourite character of mine but he's character "appears" to be nice AND he's judgemental, and that can turn me off a character in a second.

Utena "appears" to be the epitome of all that is noble and good and pure and virtuous with the world and because of this she actually seems to think she has a right to judge other people-it is not arrogance it is a simple fact, in her world where nothing is more perfect than a prince the very thing she fancies herself to be and ultimately aspires to. Of course! Of course she's never gonna actually consider other peoples thoughts and feelings on a level that geuinely regards them as fully rounded people, she's already began to catergorise them into neat little boxes to better serve her goal, god help her if the world was more complicated--what would that mean for her oh so perfect but perhaps a little disturbingly blurry memory. The problem is because she thinks she's so right all the time her views never get challenged, there is no other view, the positive of this is as Akio most likely suspected, she gets far because her certainty is so firm, the negative is that for someone who saw these flaws halfway through the rose bride arc on a first viewing it was a nightmare to watch.

This might be why I have issues with the whole *prince* thing, I understand it and even accept it but just personally I always think of the intro song, I will take everything I have been and have the strengh to throw it away, SOMETHING like that, being a prince, acting like one is where Utena's worst flaws stem from, it's the biggest part of her ego-trip, to me that part of the song represents Utena's path as a prince and eventual friend, being a prince got her to the end but she never won, she failed in every aspect, Akio was right, even then, even when she's screaming she's gonna be a prince she has learnt NOTHING, she has got it all wrong it's not as simple as Akio turned Anthy into a witch and he's a big bad man Anthy was a *traitor* before but now (never mind the fact Anthy and Akio were together first or that Utena's the one having an affair with Akio), but oh now Anthy's said sorry she's the virgin Mary again, what does continuing to box people be pomp of pride and declare herself a prince get her, that's right, a sharp pointy object in the back. She says herself she was not able to be a prince, but she *was* able to be a friend, not even by going to Anthy, by this point Utena's attachment is almost like an illness, there was no big revolution, Akio was busy making the next letters in what feels like moments after the duel, it's pretty much the same old. BUT,

Utena touched Anthy.

She just geuinely told her friend she was important to her and cried, and Anthy was touched, Utena showed her without the blindfold of seeing Anthy how she wanted to see her that she was worth something, that Utena needed *her* instead of presuming the role to be that of Anthy the helpless damsel needing good old tough Utena to depend on. I could go on forever but this is my general opioun.

But yea I don't hate Utena but I don't love her either, and I can't be angry at her for hitting my favourite character or calling my second favourite character a fool for trying to surpass the brother she's been dependant on for all this time or ignoring the pain of my third favourite character in favour of a more pretty outlook on the world---simply because she got physically stabbed in the back, and if that isn't a hard slice of humble pie then I don't know what is, I sometimes feel pretty damn sorry for that girl.

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#8 | Back to Top09-03-2008 03:27:12 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Anthy had to do pretty extreme things to get Utena's attention.

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#9 | Back to Top09-07-2008 03:15:34 AM

Ragnarok
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Utena's confrontation with Mikage is very similar to what she does with Saionji in the very first episode. Playing the part of the prince, she decides to slay the monster, as it were, rather than deal with complicated issues. And it's very selfish of her, but some of that selfishness is justified. Mikage deserved the punch to the face and Saionji deserved to be knocked down several pegs. Neither of those are the best options, they're just the ones that Utena chooses by default. (Interestingly, while she gets involved in the duels unwittingly with Saionji, when it comes to Mikage she's reached a point there the duelling game she supposedly despises so much has become a crutch; which 'validates' anything she wants by winning and lets her address complex problems in a very simple method.)

To clarify: Saionji pins up Wakaba's letter and breaks her heart. Utena goes to Wakaba and basically confirms this fact, then runs off to kick Saionji's ass; rather than being there for her friend. Even though Wakaba is the motivator for Utena's actions, it's to make herself feel better than she wants to beat Saionji in a duel. Wakaba's certainly not going to be comforted by this course of action and Utena never mentions it to her either. She just wants to punish bad behaviour, not deal with something genuinely difficult.

When Utena finds out Mikage is responsible for the Black Rose duels it's the same thing. If she hadn't noticed his signet, she'd probably have broken his arm and... well, who knows for sure? As soon as she sees it, that provides an out for her. Even though it puts Anthy in jeopardy, she doesn't even think about that. (She's even gone to Mikage thinking he might get Anthy out of the duelling game, as if she didn't know the acting chairman of the school who'd have a bit more clout.)

Utena plays the hero (or prince) far more often than she actually manages to be one. On the other hand, in a more simplistic show her actions would be the normal, approved course of action. It's hard to have a story where the protagonist does something and have the viewer realize it's not the right and just thing to do; generally stories aren't told that way, or at least not as subtly.


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#10 | Back to Top09-07-2008 11:39:33 AM

satyreyes
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Jellineck wrote:

When she encounters Mikage, it's just after discovering he's manipulated everyone to the point of near-insanity, including her best friend. She does seem to genuinely care for the Black Rose victims; that's what makes Mikage's comparison even more infuriating. He uses his memories as justification for playing god. If she were to acknowledge that the two of them were similar, it would be stating that her memories are a mask for purely selfish intent. A certain part of that is true (though I think it's an exaggeration to say it's solely selfish). But Utena can't handle that. And if you were in her place, could you? Think of your closest friend. Then think of that friend trying to kill you. Then realize your friend was brainwashed into doing it. Hopefully, you might be a bit angry too.

This.

I very much agree with Ragnarok about Utena's impulsiveness and ultimate selfishness here and in Episode 1.  At the same time, though, that's part of why I love her.  She's the kind of person who feels it so strongly when her best friend is hurt that she has to go find a way to make it right.  Maybe that's not a mature impulse, in the sense that the way she "makes it right" prioritizes justice over helping the victim.  But it's a reflection of Utena's ultimate compassion.  The violent way that compassion manifests is part of the fake-princely persona that Utena spends the series outgrowing.

And so I think the Episode 23 incident is just as simple as Jellineck makes it above.  Utena's compassion drives her to outrage over what Mikage has done, and when he says "eh, I'm just like you," that's the last straw.  (Don't forget, either, that Mikage is even better than Akio at exploiting people's insecurities.  Akio plays on hope; Mikage plays on fear.  It doesn't seem quite fair to blame such an imperfect human as Utena for falling to the depredations of either of these inhumanly suave manipulators.)  Jelli is right; there is a grain of truth in Mikage's comparison, but Utena never manipulated anyone else into fighting for her.  It's always herself she puts out there in the arena.  That itself makes her more respectable than her lookalike.

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#11 | Back to Top09-07-2008 02:15:18 PM

brian
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

These  postings are great. The obvious connection I did not see before is the Mikage is an Utena who became End of the World.

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#12 | Back to Top09-11-2008 07:22:11 AM

Giovanna
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Jellineck wrote:

That is really the only time we see her PISSED. I mean, she was beating the crap out of him. Mikage acknowledged that she could have killed him. She didn't pull out that kind of rage when Anthy betrayed her, or when Touga harassed her. The only real similarity is when Akio attacked her memories and intentions in a similar manner.

Compared to how she reacted to Mikage, she took Akio's criticisms lying down. We always point at her moment with Mikage being when her prince thing falters the most, but if we go at it from a blind agent of justice standpoint, her reaction is, as Jelli says, princely enough, if still a little rash and unprocessed. With Akio, she only glares. There's no Hammer of Right being swung at his face*, and she knows, if only deep down, that he's both right and full of shit at once. It's not the argument for her sin, so to speak, that makes her less of a prince at that moment, it's her reaction to what he says. Her glowering and then her guilty expression. It's almost less princelike to realize she had been selfish or in the wrong than it would have been to be either but still absolutely sure she'd been in the right.

satyreyes wrote:

Don't forget, either, that Mikage is even better than Akio at exploiting people's insecurities.  Akio plays on hope; Mikage plays on fear.  It doesn't seem quite fair to blame such an imperfect human as Utena for falling to the depredations of either of these inhumanly suave manipulators.

etc-love etc-love etc-love I've never quite pinned it down that way. Now I want to write a fear/hope essay.

What's that smell? Garlic? Tomatoes? Bread? MACHIAVELLI.

*Then again, easier to sock someone in the face if they're short enough that you can reach it. school-eng101


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#13 | Back to Top09-11-2008 09:13:39 AM

Stormcrow
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

I do wonder what the better more mature response would have been to Mikage's wankery...I'm not a very violent person, but I'd have to say that Utena's violence in this scene is pretty well justified. I mean, this guy talked her dear friend Wakaba into drawing a sword on her in the hope of killing her friend Anthy. Was it so wrong of her to get strong with him? As for the duel, let's look at it from Utena's perspective. She's already fought 13 duels at this point. So she's learned that a duel is the way to get what you want. Most of the time she's reluctant, but she issues a challenge when something important is on the line.

In her first duel, she challenges Saionji in the hopes of humbling him. She fights with a practice sword, she certainly doesn't intend to injure him, she's just trying to take him down a peg. Utena frankly is terrible at the touchy-feely stuff, so it's not unreasonable of her to try to give Wakaba some space here. Maybe it's not what Wakaba would have wanted, but maybe it IS what Utena would have wanted in her place. I mean, look at Shiori.

The second challenge she issues, and the most controversial, is against Touga. Folks, I can't equivocate on this one. She was doing it solely for herself. Her pride, her self-esteem, what have you. And she was completely right to do so. I submit that acting in your own interest ISN'T wrong, especially if it happens to be good for those you care about too. You can't be a prince if you have no pride after all.

So in this context, look at the Mikage duel. Dueling is how Utena gets stuff done. Utena is very sensitive to power relationships, and has this nifty mechanism for working on them directly through dueling. What she originally intended as an outcome gets overshadowed by the fact that Mikage doesn't exist, but she was trying to get him to STOP. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether princeliness is actually admirable, I can't think of a more princely way for her to have handled the situation.


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#14 | Back to Top09-11-2008 02:58:24 PM

Ragnarok
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Stormcrow wrote:

Dueling is how Utena gets stuff done.

Totally true, so it's odd that she normally only does it to avoid getting expelled. On the other hand, the Black Rose duels have far more impact on duellists; since having their roses cut off frees them from Mikage's control. But as far as Utena knows, at least at this point in the series, Akio who cares so much about his sister could easily be brought in to clear up the whole mess. With Saionji it was a personal matter, Utena couldn't run up to a teacher and complain that Wakab's feelings had been hurt. Whereas the first person Mikage screws with is the chairman's daughter. And there is the possibility that Utena could lose her duel against Mikage, and in that case it wouldn't just be herself that was put on the line. It was very princely, but not especially smart.


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#15 | Back to Top09-13-2008 10:43:20 PM

OnlyInThisLight
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Exactly, Utena duels in order to solve problems, which for many of the above stated reasons, can be seen as a princely act.  And in addition, the way the duels are enacted serve to further emphasize this; Anthy and Utena's Princess and Prince garb, swords, uniforms, roses...etc.

But just like the idea of a Prince, such a thing only exists in fairy tales.  The duels, like the prince, are fake.  Fake solutions, preset paths, molds, la la.  Can fighting other people with swords mend friendships and broken hearts?  Can it re-inspire hope in life and belief in oneself?  No, it can't.  Only in Ohtori can it do what Utena needs it to do.  But this is only because the game is set up in her favor without her knowledge.  It's all a stage, with Anthy and Akio giving not only behind-the-scenes aid but providing "The Power of Dios", The ultimate deus ex machina.  She wins all but one duel, and even that was planned.

As far as some of the character's having their problems magically solved during the duels, was it really because Utena was slaying some monster or saving them from towers?  No, it was something other than what Utena was trying to do that occurred during the course of the duel itself, leading Utena to believe that she herself was the one who had somehow righted things, even though she is not particularly sure as to why or how. 

Saionji sees Anthy push Utena out of the path of his sword, and realizes not only that the Rosebride had a will all along and that he was being played, but that he himself had become the monster, not the prince nor the princess.  Miki is distracted by Kozue during his final duel-- Juri's locket is smashed and she hears Ruka talk about miracles and Shiori all throughout hers- and Nanami would have ended up the exact same way if she had won against Utena; the duel to her was a formality.  *

In fact, it's really only Touga's final duel that by simply duelling and beating him that Utena changes someone and solves a problem.   And this only happens because Touga himself puts so much weight on them and the roles they represent.  It wasn't about vanquishing or saving a princess in his case either though, it was simply by losing to Utena and in doing so realizing that the duels were all hullabaloo.  They played the fairy-tale game, Utena was in danger just as any good princess should be, and he, Touga, as any good prince should, had good intentions and a shiny sword, and yet it did not go as he had planned?  He, whom he believed was the "good guy" this time, lost?

And Touga's brain went, "Oh crap, is it because in the real world, people and destinies aren't defined by stereotyped roles?  That there are personalities, circumstances, and ideas not only beyond and despite my own beliefs and whims, but also the pre-written and outdated mentalities and traditions I have been taught?"

((Furthermore, in the duels themselves, the duelists fight to do something as nonviolent as removing a rose...with real, deadly swords, and in a few cases, real, deadly force.  Basically, children playing a child's game with adult toys.  Not all that practical in the least.)) 

But in each case, Utena connects whatever good transformation that the loosing duelists go through not with these circumstances, but with her victory and Dios's power.  She saveded the day with her magickal prince powurz!   

What I am basically trying to say is that the duels themselves, the whole cutting of roses and whatnot, do not actually solve anything, but that as long as in the end Utena wins and she thinks that they do, then they are indeed a princely thing to her, but they are only that.  Princely does not necessarily equal effective, best, proper or right, as both Akio, Anthy, and eventually Utena learn.


*She wasn't dueling thinking that the power of Dios could break her free of her brother, she was breaking free of him by, in an indirect way, competing with him, defying him,  by dueling with no intention whatsoever of sharing the power she would have supposedly won with him, by doing something for herself only.  It could have been a game of tic-tac-toe with a chocolate candy bar as the prize as far as Nanami cared.  As long as it was clear Touga wasn't getting a piece of chocolate from her one way or another, she was stating her independence from him.

Nanami cries after the duel is over not because she has lost, necessarily, but because now that she has 'broken free' of her obsession with her brother, she does not know what is to become of her as an individual.  She is truly independent, for the first time in a long time, and it is terrifying.  Of course, it is ironic to no end that immediately afterwords she fears becoming 'just another fly in the swarm', which shows that she still sees the world with the eyes of a girl who has been tainted by poor self-esteem, chauvinism, and a limited point of view --i.e- Touga.

P.S- It's late, I'm sick and my analysis suck.  Sorry. Also, screw focus, I'd rather get distracted by Nanami. :3

Last edited by OnlyInThisLight (09-14-2008 02:13:26 AM)

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#16 | Back to Top09-14-2008 03:34:02 AM

Giovanna
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

OnlyInThisLight wrote:

((Furthermore, in the duels themselves, the duelists fight to do something as nonviolent as removing a rose...with real, deadly swords, and in a few cases, real, deadly force.  Basically, children playing a child's game with adult toys.  Not all that practical in the least.))

Supposedly Ikuhara originally wanted to use guns. emot-confused emot-confused emot-confused

But that is really something that seems to repeat itself in the story. The use of violence, or the suggestion of violence, in ridiculous circumstances. And there's also some connection I can't quite get my finger on...Saionji and Nanami are the more observant characters, they seem to know better than the others that something is amiss here, even if it doesn't change anything for them, and they're also the ones that engage in true violence. For her part, Utena takes on the idea of duels quite easily, it seems to gel with her outlook on life that you can be a prince and solve problems this way. But that's very, very typical for some in an early stage of development--fighting a problem is easier than having to think out multiple solutions. But then it would be a little mean to suggest Utena's behind in her cognitive skills. emot-biggrin That said, does it seem to anyone else like she, despite herself, takes to the idea a lot better than most of the other characters? Juri and Miki seem skeptical about it, Touga knows it's bullshit, and Saionji loves it...but then he would love any opportunity to treat life like a duel.


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#17 | Back to Top02-26-2009 11:29:20 AM

Nights1stStar
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

azuresquirrel wrote:

Okay, so she finds out that Mikage is behind the Black Rose Duellists, the ones that claim they are going to kill the Rose Bride. And she deals with this by challenging him to a duel . . . which he could win . . . . and then kill Anthy. WTF?? Way to protect your friend.

I suppose the reason why Utena doesn't seem to EVER consider how losing the duel would kill Anthy is because she is absolutely positive that she would win. Drunk on anger and overconfident due to her large repertoire of duel victories, Utena charges into the Duel like a raging bull because she doesn't even remember that she can lose.

What interests me the most about the quoted observation is yet another parallel to Juri. In episode 29, "Azure Paler Than Sky", Juri asks that Ruka get back together with Shiori. When Ruka refuses, Juri angrily attacks Ruka, only to be forcibly kissed and almost get her locket crushed. It's only after Juri is kneeling on the ground, clutching at her locket, and glaring at Ruka like he's worse than Akio does Ruka finally agree to take back Shiori, and then he walks away. But at this point, Juri is downright humiliated, and Ruka had just rubbed (feels like too weak a word) her weakness over Shiori right into her face. She wants to BEAT RUKA DOWN and challenges him to a duel. If she wins, he gets back with Shiori. If Ruka wins, Juri does whatever he wants...except at this point, Ruka had already agreed to get back w/ Shiori, so if Shiori was Juri's first priority, she wouldn't have felt the need to do that. In fact, challenging him to a duel was actually riskier for Shiori because if Juri had lost, than Ruka's concession would've been moot (which ultimately turned out to be what happened). Thus, in that one moment of anger, Juri stops caring about Shiori. What's first on her mind NOW is Juri's pride and her need to reinforce her strength. For one of the few times in the series, Shiori is put on the back burner for something Juri wants to do for herself. Thus, this scene represents a step when Juri unconsiously but forcibly steps back from her obsession with Shiori, just like Utena's interaction with Mikage shows how Utena begins to diminish her love of Dios.

Last edited by Nights1stStar (02-26-2009 01:29:27 PM)


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#18 | Back to Top02-26-2009 01:36:31 PM

Nights1stStar
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Just a sudden thought: Perhaps Utena challenging Mikage to a duel was neither thoughtless nor more potentially risky for Anthy. After all, because Mikage was determined to "kill the Rose Bride", he would have eventually challenged Utena himself if she hadn't done it for him. Utena certainly had ample time to think while she was holding Mikage down. Perhaps, while trying to restrain herself from killing/hurting him further, she thought, "Sooner, later, what's the difference?" and then challenged him.


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#19 | Back to Top02-26-2009 01:47:53 PM

Riri-kins
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Nights1stStar wrote:

azuresquirrel wrote:

Okay, so she finds out that Mikage is behind the Black Rose Duellists, the ones that claim they are going to kill the Rose Bride. And she deals with this by challenging him to a duel . . . which he could win . . . . and then kill Anthy. WTF?? Way to protect your friend.

I suppose the reason why Utena doesn't seem to EVER consider how losing the duel would kill Anthy is because she is absolutely positive that she would win. Drunk on anger and overconfident due to her large repertoire of duel victories, Utena charges into the Duel like a raging bull because she doesn't even remember that she can lose.

I agree and also think the straw that broke the camel's back was that Mikage had messed with Anthy and Wakaba. Anthy's endangerment was bad enough, but when Utena saw how close Wakaba had come to morphing into a ruthless killer she lost it.  Utena's number one rule is PROTECT ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS and when she saw how careless she'd gotten she it only fueled the fire.


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My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

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#20 | Back to Top03-05-2009 08:52:13 PM

Stormcrow
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Re: Utena goes to Mikage for help instead of Akio.

I think there's a fair amount of evidence that Utena is reluctant to talk to Akio about the duels, to say the least. Obviously, he's the most powerful person on campus, and obviously, if she just wanted the whole thing to stop, he would be the guy to go to. What does stop her?

Part of it is certainly a reluctance to embarrass Anthy. Utena takes it for granted that Akio knows nothing about the duels, which leads to the inescapable (even for Utena) conclusion that Anthy has been hiding it from him. Clearly Anthy dotes on him, he's her only friend or family outside of Utena and Chu-Chu, so this is kind of significant. Now Utena probably didn't devote a whole lot of time and thought to the problem, but she must have realized that Anthy didn't want Akio to know, even if she never thought much about why. In fact, it seems very peculiar that Utena never pressed Anthy about how the whole thing got started and how she became the Rose Bride, etc., etc. Mind control? I mean, clearly no one else asks Anthy any close questions, even though it's painfully obvious that Anthy knows more than she lets on.

And then there's Utena's attraction to Akio, and resultant desire to impress him. Confiding in him about people's relationship issues is one thing, it gives them something to talk about, and even Utena is not immune to the desire to gossip. But the duels are a little different. If she goes to Akio, she'd appear weak, which is the last thing she wants. Mikage is a safer bet, since she's not into him, he's closer to being a peer, but he's not involved directly. Of course, she's dead wrong on the last count, and not as right as she thinks on the second, but you can't really blame those on her, can you?

One other thing, on the subject of this thread. Aw man, I had a phone call, and now I forgot what I was going to say...oh yeah! As far as the possibility of Anthy winding up dead goes, I can think of a few explanations for Utena not worrying about it. Most likely, she just hadn't thought that far ahead. It was a kind of a spur of the moment thing, and she was pretty hot at the time. Plus, Utena isn't exactly a master of strategy, eh? Contingency planning is not her strong suit. Secondly, assuming she was thinking about the outcome of the duel and not just "This guy needs a beating", she may well have expected to defeat him as Night1stStar suggests. She's pretty cocky most of the time. I mean, she doesn't back down in her first duel with Saionji, which is practically suicidal. Finally, giving her the most credit possible, she may have figured that even if Mikage was planning on killing Anthy, she could just run away with her (dress and all. It's magic, hush). Maybe at that point, she would have thought about going to Akio? The other thing about going to Akio is that the longer she waited before doing so, the more embarrassing it would have been. "So um....I had this swordfight with your fiancee...she was trying to kill your sister. So were these other five people I had swordfights with. What, I could take 'em!"

Something to bear in mind about adolescents is that they use the emotional centers of their brains a lot more in decision making than adults do. It's a pretty well-observed phenomenon through MRI. And Utena is only 14 after all. I feel like I've made that point before...


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#21 | Back to Top03-05-2009 10:07:29 PM

Aelanie
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

For one thing, who says Utena would just stand there and let Anthy be killed because her rose got cut? That's insane. She'd die herself before she let anything happen.

But there's another reason. I agree that Nights1stStar is onto it, but it's not simply that she's overconfident. The fact is, Utena has already figured out the secret to victory IS being supremely confident.

The duels are not truly contests of sword skill, they are battles of will. Utena only lost once, and it was only because she let Touga shake her spirit. She questioned herself, she doubted the rightness of her own intentions. That was what finished her.

It's a lesson she learns very well. After that duel Utena never loses again, because she knows winning comes from having absolute faith in her own will, and in the righteousness of her own cause.

(Whether her cause is actually as righteous as she thinks is debatable of course, but that's neither here nor there. All that matters is that she thinks it is.)

So it's not that she doesn't remember she can lose. She knows she is incapable of losing, and that confidence is the very reason it's true.

Last edited by Aelanie (03-05-2009 10:17:32 PM)

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#22 | Back to Top03-06-2009 08:46:12 AM

End of the Tour
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Stormcrow wrote:

but she must have realized that Anthy didn't want Akio to know, even if she never thought much about why.

Doesn't Anthy ask her not to tell Akio in the first Black Rose episode?  Or am I misremembering that?


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#23 | Back to Top03-06-2009 08:57:42 AM

Stormcrow
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From: Los Angeles
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

End of the Tour wrote:

Stormcrow wrote:

but she must have realized that Anthy didn't want Akio to know, even if she never thought much about why.

Doesn't Anthy ask her not to tell Akio in the first Black Rose episode?  Or am I misremembering that?

Yeah, that's familiar to me too, but I wasn't sure. Something about not wanting to worry him?


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#24 | Back to Top03-06-2009 09:42:19 AM

Nights1stStar
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From: Clawing Out of Her Coffin
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Stormcrow wrote:

End of the Tour wrote:

Stormcrow wrote:

but she must have realized that Anthy didn't want Akio to know, even if she never thought much about why.

Doesn't Anthy ask her not to tell Akio in the first Black Rose episode?  Or am I misremembering that?

Yeah, that's familiar to me too, but I wasn't sure. Something about not wanting to worry him?

Yes. After Utena meets Akio for the first time, Anthy verbally thanks her for not talking to Akio about the Duels and Rose Bride. In other words, Anthy demonstrates her trademark subtlety by quietly discouraging Utena from talking to Akio about the Duels.


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#25 | Back to Top03-06-2009 11:52:59 AM

rhyaniwyn
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From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Utena in Ep. 23 - What the hell, Miss Heroine?

Nights1stStar wrote:

Stormcrow wrote:

End of the Tour wrote:

Doesn't Anthy ask her not to tell Akio in the first Black Rose episode?  Or am I misremembering that?

Yeah, that's familiar to me too, but I wasn't sure. Something about not wanting to worry him?

Yes. After Utena meets Akio for the first time, Anthy verbally thanks her for not talking to Akio about the Duels and Rose Bride. In other words, Anthy demonstrates her trademark subtlety by quietly discouraging Utena from talking to Akio about the Duels.

Yep--when Utena meets Akio for the first time, he enumerates the positive qualities of Ohtori and says, "... and most of all [the students] never fight."  Utena jumps a little and responds that she hopes that stays true.  Then afterwards Anthy thanks Utena for not telling Akio about the duels, saying that she doesn't want to worry her brother about her participation as the Rose Bride.  Utena says it's no problem and that Akio doesn't need to know about their business.

Episode 14 wrote:

Akio:  I haven't been here long, but there is one thing I do know...
Akio:  The students of this academy are all free, have a love of learning,
Akio:  and above all, do not fight.
Akio:  Right?
Utena:  I hope it always stays that way.
...
Anthy:  Thank you very much, Utena-sama.
Utena:  Huh? What for?
Anthy:  For not telling my brother about my secrets.
Utena:  Oh, that.
Anthy:  I don't want him to know about anything that might worry him.
Anthy:  Like me being the Rose Bride, or the Duellist's Code...
Utena:  I get it.
Utena:  It's best for us to keep these things secret from your brother.

One thing that happens A LOT in this saga is Utena showing her...dense nature.  Even after 3 duels, Utena still spends the beginning of each duel acting like she's confused about why so-and-so is in the arena, wondering if they really mean to kill the Rose Bride, and trying to reason with them.  Each time Anthy has to say, "they are like the others.  this isn't the person we're familiar with."  So it doesn't surprise me that Utena would forget to think about Anthy *actually* getting killed?

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (03-06-2009 11:58:41 AM)


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