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Gougai! Gougai!

HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top12-15-2006 10:43:00 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I thought I'd post this thing I wrote analyzing Anthy as an abused girl, because of this post in the Anthy+Utena thread:

brian wrote:

However here is a scene no one has mentioned yet: Anthy is getting raped by Akio (for the first time?). Meanwhile Utena is sitting forlornly on her bed whispering, "Anthy, where are you?"

I think that's a controversial interpretation of Anthy & Akio's sexual encounters.  I never viewed it quite like that, although I do think Anthy has been abused her whole life.  I think one of her important functions in the series is to represent a repressed, emotionally warped abused girl.

So, here's the ... semi-essay I wrote.  I call it a semi-essay because of the style, but it isn't short:

I believe that Anthy represents an abused girl.  It's arguable that Anthy herself created her situation and made herself into a Witch by her own choice.  It's possible to suggest that she seduced her brother and that she takes pleasure from her passive-aggressive manipulations.  There's a case to be made that she is as bad as Akio, if not worse.  I think there's truth in those statements, but it makes her more sympathetic, rather than less.

Anthy is a textbook case of an abused woman.  She doesn't have normal social interactions with her peers.  She is isolated, withdrawn, prone to disassociative states.  She is extremely passive and overly obedient in her role as the Rose Bride.  She demonstrates age-inappropriate, childish behavior with Chu-Chu and her rabbit dance and lashes out spitefully (though subtly) as revenge against people who slight her.  She doesn't concentrate in school and makes terrible grades.  She is presumably promiscuous, probably having sex with whichever champions want to.  Her sexual behavior with her brother is consistently unhealthy and inappropriate.  She attempts suicide at least once that we see.

Anthy was, I believe, neglected as a child.  Her brother was out all the time, busy helping every girl become a Princess, saving all the girls from any threat.  All the girls except his sister.  The people of the world only cared about themselves and their own daughters.  Anthy was an outsider, the only one of her kind.  Her brother was essentially the god of their world and she, too, was more than human.  But while he had the duty of a Prince, she had nothing.  And no one cared.  When she finally asserted herself, she experienced the major trauma of being stabbed, and the consequent destruction of Dios for which she was partially to blame.  Then there followed an unspecified number of years of emotional abuse by Akio, physical abuse from the swords, and (at the very least) dysfunctional sexual behavior (maybe even sexual abuse).  If the events in the series are any indication, she also suffered constant abuse at the hands of students at Ohtori.

We can see that Anthy's motives for locking Dios away weren't entirely selfless.  On the one hand, the poor guy was exhausted and killing himself.  On the other hand, Anthy was certainly jealous and probably jumped at the chance to have Dios to herself, to take a small measure of revenge on a world that didn't care about her.  Her brother was killing himself over everyone but Anthy, while he and the entire world ignored her loneliness.  So she did what seemed right to her, encouraged by her own resentment.  She didn't deserve what happened, which even Akio agrees with--it's a large part of what made Akio the way he is. 

But Anthy begins to internalize the swords' label for her --Witch -- in order to give herself some small illusion of control over the situation.  She becomes the Witch, even relishes being the Witch, as protection against the pain of being hated.  This didn't happen overnight.  At first, Akio says himself, he thought of her as a goddess who had sacrificed herself for the one she loved.  At first, that was mostly what she was.  But over the years, Anthy deliberately locked away the better parts of herself.  Anthy blames herself for what happened to her, and for what her brother became as a result.  This causes her to self-identify as a Witch.  The only other person in the world that she cares about also calls her a Witch.  It's no wonder she has no faith in her own worth beyond that.

Anthy is also being constantly tormented at Ohtori.  Not only is she being impaled constantly by the swords, which are real within the context of the series, but there is the emotional torment.  The swords sticking out of her represent her chronic emotional pain, which manifests itself psychosomatically as physical pain.  At one point, Akio claims he is not the one who is torturing her.  Anthy doesn't blame Akio for not saving her because she herself feels guilty for creating the situation they are in.  She has made a martyr of herself out of feelings of shame.  She knows she didn't try to "save" Dios out of entirely pure intentions.  She also knows that she betrayed herself when she chose to become a Witch.  She is even betraying her brother, in a way, by enabling his cruelty and manipulations.  She twists and uses innocent (using that word loosely) duelists for her brother's ends.  She has a lot to feel guilty about, in her mind. 

Finally, there is the way Anthy is treated by the students at Ohtori--not just the duelists, but also the average student.  She is on several occasions confronted by students, accused, yelled at, and slapped.  This indicates that Anthy has suffered repetitions of the mob attack for years.  Her life in Ohtori has simply reinforced her dedication to her role as Rose Bride and Witch, as well as her innermost withdrawal from the world.

It's little wonder, given how Anthy has been hurt, that she has become someone that hurts others.  She does it in a quiet and passive way, unlike Saionji, who lashes out physically in visible rage.  That's part of what makes her so scary--someone who has gone through what she has should have empathy, but Anthy doesn't seem to.  And, furthermore, she perpetrates her cruelty in a calm, calculating way.  She does callous things for revenge and because she needs a sense of control.  Objectively, Anthy is as much a monster as Akio.  No one wanted to save her, so she took away the Prince so he couldn't save anyone.  The world called her a Witch and she became one.  She rejected the world that hurt her, essentially saying, "Who needs you, anyway?"; she choose to hate it instead.

Subjectively, she tells us herself: she locked away her heart believing she wouldn't feel any more pain.  She was wrong, but the pain she feels as the Rose Bride is apparently preferable to the alternative.  She certainly feels she is too far down her chosen road to ever turn back.  That, more than anything, is why she doesn't think Utena can save her.  For one thing, she doesn't trust anyone--she could hardly accept that Utena would go through the fires of hell to prove her sincerity.  Anthy is incapable of putting her heart at risk by trusting Utena to that extent; she's been "heartless" for too long.  But even if Anthy were to accept or suspect that Utena's dedication was complete, that wouldn't be enough.  Utena is naÔve and doesn't know anything about the real world, or about what Anthy really is.  From Anthy's point of view, Utena is an object of worthy of scorn for being so easily deceived and used.  Anthy cares about Utena, though, and so she pities her instead and makes a few attempts to dissuade Utena from dueling.  These attempts are lackluster, because subconsciously Anthy has always had some small hope that someday someone would try to save her, even if she didn't realize it.  Consciously, Anthy feels she cannot be saved, and certainly not by Utena.  This is distorted thinking, but accurate to Anthy's situation.

Anthy's relationship with Akio exemplifies every emotionally warped sentiment common to abuse victims.  Sexually abused children tend to become overly sexualized.  They often become promiscuous at a young age.  Emotionally abused children have a tendency to be passive-aggressive.  Physically abused children often end up in physically abusive relationships.  All abused children have a tendency to get stuck in loops of abuse and inappropriate attachments.  This is what Anthy's relationship with Akio is like.  The truth of this doesn't cast Akio as an evil villain hurting Anthy as an innocent victim.  Anthy is an active participant in everything that goes on at Ohtori and in everything she does with Akio.  The unhealthy attachment goes both ways.  However, Anthy's warped emotional development causes her to make choices that only hurt her more and push her further into her coffin.

That coffin symbolizes Anthy's death wish.  Not only is she killing herself figuratively inside with the choices she makes, she has a core of self-loathing.  That is the reason she tries to kill herself by jumping off of the tower.  She wouldn't have died, since she seems to be immortal, but her guilt over her deception of Utena created a depth of the despair that drove her to jump.  It's impossible to guess how many times she may have tried something similar in her early days at Ohtori. 

Anthy's suicide attempt was also an effective way for her to tell Utena that Anthy has spent her entire life trying to run away from pain.  Everything Anthy has done, everything that she has made of herself--Witch, Rose Bride--has been a misguided attempt to stop hurting.  Anthy tried her best to become a person who cares for and needs no one, who has no conscience, and who has no precious dreams.  She tried her best to become "a doll with no heart" who could feel no pain.  Acting the part made her so numb inside most of the time that she had to believe it worked.  But the truth is that she's only torturing herself further, creating more to regret.  If Anthy ever had the courage to step out of her coffin and face the world, to take a risk, she would have a chance to become whole.

Anthy's personality, her thinking, and her emotional development have been warped beyond credible recognition by the suffering she's gone through.  What Utena does for Anthy in her persistence is invaluable.  Utena struggled through most of the same pain as Anthy, without retreating, just to ask Anthy not to be afraid. 

It's notable that the bells toll when Anthy leaves Ohtori.  This very relevant to the meaning of the series; the bells, so far as we see, did not toll to signify the end of the duel Revolution until that moment.  I like to think that the last duel is only over when Anthy takes that final step out of Ohtori.


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#2 | Back to Top12-16-2006 12:19:08 AM

Valeli
Thorn of Death
Registered: 12-05-2006
Posts: 481
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Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

It's notable that the bells toll when Anthy leaves Ohtori.  This very relevant to the meaning of the series; the bells, so far as we see, did not toll to signify the end of the duel Revolution until that moment.

That's neat, I don't think I had consciously realized that (I certainly didn't remember it).

I agree with most of what you said. It's a pretty heavily Anthy-centric analysis though, focusing more on how she changes herself than how others change her. That's fine with me, because I think she really has been largely to blame for how she changed. What's harder (for me) to connect is her role in how Dios changed to Akio... if that was her doing at all.

Anthy changes as a lengthy result of a: her self-guilt at taking him away from others who also needed him and b: the hatred of those others that she experiences for her actions. Right? I mean, if you were going to boil it down to the basics.

But what makes Dios change from being some ideal of virtue to the completely manipulative self-centered individual we see in Akio? I never really saw how Anyth's action's could do that to him. Could he be /so/ embittered by her trying to save him (and subsequently hindering his life-purpose, i suppose) that he starts to actively abuse her? What's that? Would someone pure and noble would invert to the opposite form if someone/thing acted in a way to limit their actions (for their own good, no less)? If that kind of transition can take place, I wonder if they were really pure and noble to begin with.... Maybe that's the point the director is trying to make though. That there never was (or is) any absolute good.

Sorry if this is a bit tangential to your post, reading your thoughts on Anthy brought this up in my mind though. I think you did a great job explaining the forces that have been acting on her though. It's kind of hard to pin all this stuff down in words.

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#3 | Back to Top12-16-2006 01:14:37 AM

Blade
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
From: Darkest Canada
Registered: 12-01-2006
Posts: 181
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Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

How did Dios become Akio? There's many ways to postulate it, but if you don't mind, I'm going to quote from Hybrid Theory where we had him explain it from his own perspective, mostly because I think it's rather elegant (and also, we never do get his version of events in the series) and doesn't require any knowledge of Hybrid Theory to appreciate. If you'd rather not read it, the short version is: "Dios started to hate all people because of what they'd done to Anthy, and over time also began to hate Anthy for the same reasons he hated other people."

-

    The man smiled indulgently.  "I once thought as you did. Back before the
words 'time' and 'place' had meaning, I believed there was goodness in all
people.  Shall I tell you a story of that time?"
    The princess, not quite knowing what else to do, simply nodded.
    "Very well. Once upon a time, there was a prince.  He stood in a high
castle, and all the world was without.  And atop the tallest parapet, the prince
would gaze into the world, and see the troubles that plagued mankind.
    "The people loved the prince's benevolent gaze, for when it fell upon
them, their troubles were no more.  Even though many of their hearts were filled
with malice and jealousy and greed, the prince loved them all, and he aided them
all equally.  For he saw in them the pure things they could be, rather than the
base things they were.
    "And of all the peoples of the land that loved the prince, those who
loved him most were the girls.  For in this land outside the castle walls, all
girls were either princesses or witches.  And no matter how dark their heart
was, any girl the prince's gaze fell upon became a princess, and she need not be
a witch any longer.
    "And yet, there was one girl who was always a witch.  The prince took
her into his home behind the castle walls, and he loved her like a sister.  But
no matter how much love and affection the prince gave her, she remained a witch.
Perhaps a happy witch, but who can say what lives in the hearts of witches?
    "In time, the witch, who was the only one to see the prince in his own
home, came to understand the prince's great sadness.  For all other things he
could elevate, but he alone had to endure the malice and greed and jealousy he
was taking from the world.
    "And the witch, seeing this, decided that she loved him, and wanted him
to endure it no more."
    The princess was rapt in the man's words, which had the measured cadence
of a master storyteller.  She had fallen back upon the couch, her legs unwilling
or unable to support her.  The witch's brother's velvet voice encircled her, and
he drew her ever deeper into the story.
    "One day, while the prince was resting from his heroic endeavours, the
witch stepped outside his castle doors, and barred them forever.  She declared
in a loud voice: 'You people of this world, who give nothing to him but malice
and jealousy and greed, do not deserve the prince any longer.  I alone have not
burdened myself to him, and so I alone deserve his love.'
    "A great uproar rose across all the lands beyond the castle, and the
people came to the castle, drawing their flashing blades and demanding entrance,
but the witch was adamant.  And so, in their rage and grief, they fell upon her.
And that would have been the end of it, except such sins can not be punished
merely by simple death.  And so the witch has lingered, forever tormented by the
swords of those who had been deprived of their prince, since time started again.
And with each passing day, she grows more twisted by her punishment."
    The man's voice died away, and there was a moment of silence almost
immediately broken by a loud honk as the princess blew her nose.  Then she threw
her head back, wailing, "That's a terrible story!"
    The witch's brother smiled slightly again.  "Only storybook authors
should believe in happy endings."
    "But... but what happened to the prince?  Can't he come out of his
castle and help the poor witch?"
    The man shrugged, holding up his hands helplessly.  "I tried."  The
princess' eyes widened, but the witch's brother continued regardless, "But I
found that the only way to escape the castle walls was to leave behind all that
made me a prince."  Now he did pause, and his next words sounded reflective.
"At first, it was quite novel.  I enjoyed living without having to take all the
burdens of the world upon me.  At first, I truly believed the witch had done it
to save me, out of love.  And for awhile, I thought that my belief in the
goodness of all things had been justified."  His expression darkened, lip
twisting slightly.  "In time, however, I came to understand: what she had done
had not been done out of love for me, but out of the same malice, jealousy and
greed that all other people had within them.  And I hated her for it.  With each
passing day, I grew less and less interested in saving her from her eternal
punishment, and more and more interested in saving me from mine."

-

Granting that this, like every other telling of the story, is biased to a certain viewpoint, and granting that Akio is making a certain point, I do believe this is pretty close to how he'd think of what happened and is my general belief for why he became the way he did. Also I just like that particular Akio The Evil Storyteller moment. Hope you enjoyed. emot-wink

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#4 | Back to Top12-16-2006 11:33:14 AM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

If you think that's Anthy-centric, you should see the essay I wrote about how I think that there's a strong argument to be made that SKU is really Anthy's story more than anyone else's. ;)  Anthy's become my favorite character over the years somehow or another, and I'm going through a very Anthy-centric stage right now so far as SKU is concerned.  Heh.

The outside forces that act on her are pretty obvious, I think..and I hope I mentioned them.  But I was trying to explore how they affect Anthy, rather than simply what they are.  I find it confusing to understand why she stays with Akio so long, which is one of the topics I tried to touch on--an attachment disorder, guilt, lingering affection for Dios, indulging some of her self-destructive impulses, out of hope that he'd change, etc.

So far as what made Dios become Akio, I think he could use an essay like this from his perspective.  I agree with everything you two have pointed out.  I'll share a piece I wrote called "Displaced Gods"--which is more about the Dios/Witch myth than about Akio and Anthy personally, but it mentions the topic of why Dios became Akio and became a negative force in Anthy's life rather than remaining Dios and trying to save Anthy.

Displaced Gods

In the human mind, myths have power.  Ancient Sumerians believed that mankind had a duty to re-enact their religious myths.  This ensured, for example, that the sun would continue to rise each morning and that light would continue to triumph over darkness.  Time and chronology aren't important--we are being constantly redeemed by (for example) Christ's crucifixion.  That's why the symbol has power.  The act has lasting repercussions.  What if Prometheus knew that he would be caught and sentenced to his eternal torment?  It wouldn't have mattered, probably, because that was his role and his destiny.  Much like Christ knew he would suffer and die, but chose to do what he had to do anyway.

But what happens when mythological beings interfere with each others' destinies?  I believe the one who was to die that day was Dios.  It was the next step in his story as a Prince.  According to mythological destiny, both siblings were growing up--perhaps both reaching puberty--where their roles would change.

Anthy, however, chose to interfere.  What would have happened had Dios died?  Presumably, he eventually would have been resurrected, according to standard mythological tradition.  There would have been a period of darkness in the world, which his resurrection would have ended.  Even if he didn't return to the world as a living being, his death would have ultimately granted some boon to the world.  Had he died as he should, things would have gone on as they should.  (It's interesting to wonder what role Anthy would have played then...Witch who curses the world?  Goddess who turns her face away in despair, blighting the world a la Demeter and Persephone?  Gaia-like figure who gives birth to the resurrected Prince?)

As a result of her action, Anthy is thrown into eternal torment and the Prince is taken out of the world permenantly.  Dios necessarily became Akio.  His initial reaction of disillusionment and hatred, seeing what the people of the world had done to his sister took the bloom off of the Rose Prince.  And why should he sacrifice his life?  Dios's life has been thrown off course and his suppressed will to live is given a chance to take over--Akio.  Dios's power is lost with his disregard of his duty as Prince (his dual duty to die and to save the people who hurt his sister).  Both siblings are thrown into the limbo that is Ohtori, neither of them willing to make a different choice.

They both hate the world, and probably each other.  Their purposes have been twisted from their rightful paths.  Between the two of them is the ghost of sibling affection; but there is also incestuous love, jealousy, resentment, and disgust.


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#5 | Back to Top12-16-2006 08:11:04 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

That's a great essay rhyaniwyn. In one respect though I think it is impossible to say who originally did what to whom or why they did it. In the manga Dios was always two different people, it may well be that Akio talked Anthy into helping him overthrow Dios. First causes may be impossible to retrieve. It may be that neither one of them even remembers how it all started. In the end it is not important anymore how it started. Even though one can plausibly argue that it is all Anthy's fault and that she deserves her torment, it doesn't matter. Utena stumbled on an evil situation and decides to put a stop to it. She does not need to get to the bottom of it.

If one wants to get really trippy, you could picture Anthy as an abused and tortured girl in some hovel somewhere who is creating Ohtori out of her own mind while she dreams. Perhaps Utena does not exist, but is created by Anthy. Perhaps Utena is that part of Anthy that wants to live. Perhaps Utena creates Anthy out of her dreams, the embodiment of her own pain. In the movie manga Anthy is described as having such power to love than she can change physical reality. In the end the story is much the same whether Anthy is a mortal or a supernatural being.

In a different thread someone said that the core question of RGU is Utena's sexuality. I don't agree with that at all. Platonic or sexual is not that important, not a whole lot changes either way. The core of RGU is the love triangle. Within that Utena and Anthy are the more important and within that I think Anthy's story of love, guilt, hopelessness, hope, fear and redemption is the essenential spring of the story.

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#6 | Back to Top12-17-2006 12:39:19 AM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Thank you!

And I'm glad you brought that up!

It's definitely not the only way to interpret SKU, but I've always thought it's very interesting alternative to view SKU as something that's taking place entirely in someone's mind.  When I have considered that in the past, I've figured  probably Anthy's mind.  I find it fascinating to consider that none of the characters are entirely real people, but are basically personifications created of Anthy's emotions, memories, and desires.  My best friend has yet to watch any of Utena in its entirety except the movie.  Her reaction was, unsurprisingly, "Wha...?????????"  I offered as a possible explanation the idea that the whole thing was an analogy for a crisis taking place in someone's mind.

Someone had linked an interpretation based on that idea on, I think, IMDB, which I thought was the most complete analysis from that perspective that I've seen.  It's pretty cool.  (Although up until joining this forum I've tended to avoid reading other people's opinions on SKU, preferring to enjoy my own without influence from other people.  So the fact that it was the best one I've seen so far might not mean much. emot-biggrin)

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (12-17-2006 12:39:34 AM)


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#7 | Back to Top12-17-2006 06:31:10 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

As a matter of fact, I was the one who found and published that link. Having the whole story take place in the mind of just one or two people is not my favorite way of viewing the story but it is a good way to bore down to some of the elements that seem to be the most important. 

I am still trying to grasp some of the metaphysical elements of the story. There is a lot more yet to discover.

Take a look at the stylized pre-duel scenes where U & A change clothes. Parts of the routine, especially in the later episodes, looks as though Anthy is instilling life into Utena, even creating her out of red clay.

And the more I think about it the more I realize how difficult it is to figure out her true emotional age.

Last edited by brian (12-18-2006 06:02:52 PM)

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#8 | Back to Top01-24-2007 12:24:41 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

A question. Somewhere I thought I heard a remark that the other girls of Ohtori persecuted Anthy because they somehow sensed that she had taken their Prince from them. Is that anywhere in the canon?

Also, it's easy to forget that Akio has become the pimp of his own sister. Akio's rap sheet as a human being would make him a real monster of depravity.

Someone said that Anthy's mistake was in trying to stop Dios from fulfilling his destiny -- to die nobly.

Blade's recounting of the story does make an interesting point. Anthy probably was trying to be a good person when she locked Dios away, but since her motives were not pure, then the results were not pure. That's probably a basic principle of the universe. I wonder if that is why Utena thinks she failed in the end, because she realizes that even then her motives were not pure and cannot be pure because human beings aren't angels. Perhaps one of the points of the story is that people just have to do their best but never forget that their best will never be enough; nonetheless just try anyway and accept it and not be too hard on oneself.

It is probably very common for people to be nasty to cover over the pain of being rejected. It doubtless happens every day in every school in the world.

Upon re-reading this thread I noticed more clearly than before the original point that the bells signal that the duel of Revolution is not truly over until Anthy leaves.

Anthy has tried many different things: Princess, Witch, Victim; Jailer, Nemesis, Seductress, Scapegoat, Criminal, Enabler, and so on but now she will trying being just a normal person and a Friend. Given the abuse she was subjected to that role probably seemed more fantastical and unobtainable than any other.

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#9 | Back to Top01-24-2007 01:40:44 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I also think Anthy's a textbook case of abused woman, but I don't think she represents or symbolizes one so much as, well, she is. (Although, I still don't count her as a woman, but rather as a girl.) They do go rather metaphysical sometimes when they display her condition, such as the swords of humanity's hatred and her glass coffin, but I think both of those are outward influences. The coffin was something I believe was forced upon her at an early age, forcing her into the box labeled 'Witch' until she actively embraced it and took it into herself. To me, it wasn't a death wish any more than Utena, Touga, and Saionji's named but invisible and intangible coffins were, but a restrictive and oppressive worldview that limited and halted her growth and emotional development.

I also noted how the bells only tolled when Anthy left Ohtori. (Was glad of this, too, because in effect, Utena wouldn't have 'won' Revolution if Anthy had stayed.) It'd debatable whether or not Anthy could actually commit suicide in Ohtori, and whether she would, given the chance. I believe she had a strongly ingrained sense of obligation toward her brother, along with the mixed feelings of love and hatred she had near the end. In the final duel, we see how hard it is for her to go against him in any way. And so, while I do think she was trying to do something very final by jumping off of the tower, I don' think it would have actually killed her so much as temporarily soothed some of her anxiety. (Like self-mutilation.)

I do think sexuality and gender roles are pivotal in Utena, and this lends a lot to Anthy's character as a girl trapped by society's repressive view of female roles. (The sister of the Prince can not be a Princess, she must be a Witch.)


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

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#10 | Back to Top01-24-2007 04:16:16 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I think she is as well, but I try to take a more neutral tone, since I feel it's important to keep in mind at all times that she chooses to continue being a victim and that she also chooses to be cruel to others.  In short, she's human--not an angel.

I think the coffin also represents a self-inflicted repression--of her own true feelings and desires--another way for her to protect herself from further pain.  Her true "self" and her heart are in there.  If you are a doll with no heart, your heart can't be broken, etc.

brian -- I believe some of the shadow plays imply that the girls of the world aren't happy with the Witch, but it's not said that's why the Ohtori girls are cruel to Anthy.  But the fact that she did in several senses "steal" the Prince, it's a viable motive...

Last edited by rhyaniwyn (01-24-2007 04:17:30 PM)


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#11 | Back to Top01-24-2007 04:35:26 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I don't think I ever said that Anthy is an angel in any sense of the word. While she is severely oppressed, she does choose to be outwardly destructive as well as inwardly, lashing out at others with her cruelty. What I gave was the reason for her actions, but by no reason any excuses.

As for why the Ohtori girls are cruel to Anthy, it doesn't necessarily have to do with her status as Witch and Rose Bride. She's a withdrawn, antisocial, strange girl in high school. This is not a plot pattern alien to us anime-viewers, I've seen it happen to similar characters in anime across the board. It's typical high school bullying of an outcast.

Last edited by Ivy-chan (01-24-2007 05:06:57 PM)


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

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#12 | Back to Top01-24-2007 04:41:06 PM

Dani
IRG Messiah
From: Virginia, USA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 361

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Ivy-chan wrote:

Inciteful Anthy analyis

Nice, yes I agree with a lot of this and your further comments about Anthy bullied as an outcast.

Ivy-chan wrote:

I also noted how the bells only tolled when Anthy left Ohtori. (Was glad of this, too, because in effect, Utena wouldn't have 'won' Revolution if Anthy had stayed.)

Wow, you know, I just got this, thanks! I never put two and two together about the bells tolling when someone wins a duel with the bells that toll when Anthy leaves. I just thought it was a dramatic effect of her leaving, but I love the idea that it's because, until Anthy left Ohtori, Utena hadn't won the duel called Revolution. Awesome.

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#13 | Back to Top01-24-2007 04:59:22 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Ivy, I didn't mean to imply you thought she was an angel.  I meant to say I wrote to deliberately avoid portraying her as an angelic, completely innocent victim subjected to horrible abuse for (presumably) centuries.  I've noticed a general tendency for people to play up one side or the other of her actions; my point in the essay is to point out that she is dysfunctional.

And, yes, that is one side of the reason why the other girls bully Anthy--from the Normal High School perspective.  But as Utena is a series with a lot of layers of plot, symbolism, and meaning intersecting at all times, her role as Witch is pretty important.  As I pointed out, I feel they are basically re-enactments of the mob attacking her when she "sealed" Dios away, symbolic representations of the first time she was called Witch (and, thus, very important indications of why she ended up embracing that role).


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#14 | Back to Top01-24-2007 05:06:25 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Ah, well too many people seem to play up one side or the other: victim or crazy whore-bitch. I understand why you'd want to show her more abusive nature.

As for them representing the mob, I tend to think the reverse: the angry mob impaling Anthy with the swords is like a re-enactment of her abuse by the people in society she interacts with. The mob is the symbol of abuse and aggression, not the bullies.


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

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#15 | Back to Top01-25-2007 01:33:03 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

That necessarily depends on what you are accepting as "factual". 

My interpretation of the series means I'm of the opinion that pretty much everything in the series is both "real" AND symbolic.   It's perfectly valid to view all the mystical elements of the series as being metaphors for a normal, human Anthy's trials and tribulations in school and at home.  And on one level they are.  But on another level, they are presented as factual events in the plotline.  Just as you believe that Anthy's suicide attempt is more in the vein of self-mutilation than suicide, since she can't die.  She can't die because she isn't a normal human; the series shows us that when it shows us her magic and her mythological heritage.  There is also the fascinating idea that the magic occurs because the series is something like a dream someone is having, a symbolic representation of their psychological turmoil.

Within the context of the series, the mob attack is both a real event AND symbolic.  Similarly, her bullying, a "real" event in the life of High-School-Student-Anthy, re-enacts the mob attack.  The mob attack can't be a "re-enactment" of the bullying, since it happened first.  It can be an allegorical representation, and I believe it is that as well.  But they are *both* mob attacks--smaller mobs at Ohtori, yes--and they are both showing how society reacts to Anthy.  They are *both* symbolic of her alienation and the hostility of the society she lives in.  And they are both acts *of* aggression and abuse.

I am not attempting to play up her abusive side OR her abused side, rather remind the reader that Anthy is consistently abused.  She's not just a Witch, nor just a victim.  Also to point out the way each influences the other in a dysfunctional cycle.


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#16 | Back to Top01-25-2007 05:40:36 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Just as you say, I also believe that what is shown in the series is mainly both real and symbolic. However, I believe that the bullying is more factual than the mob attack, and is not a re-enactment of a mob attacking Anthy in her past. It's not a re-enactment of anything, it's an entirely different episode of cruelty. Why do I think this? Unlike the vague and nebulous history we are shown, full of obvious symbols such as the fax machine and the people waving swords, we are shown concrete events: normal schoolgirls insulting Anthy as they invade her personal space. What happened to Anthy with the mob must have been real, and it had some occult qualities: it left her soul eternally ripped apart by spirit swords. However, this element may have been brought about by Anthy's nature itself, not necessarily any magical doing by the mob. We simply don't know. The mob scene is more of a symbol than the bullying, which is not so much symbolic as representative of Anthy's social difficulties.

To Anthy, these problems with a crowd of antagonistic people may seem like a pattern, a repitition of past events. However, as the audience, we don't know anything about her past. The mob attack may have happened first in Anthy's history, but it was revealed much later in the actual story's plot, and that is more important to the viewers when it comes to the symbols. As it is, we are shown with visceral clarity why Anthy dislikes being with crowds, we run over previous scenes of bullying in our minds and think: 'It's like an ongoing pattern, here'. It's that later scene, (earlier in the historical timeline it may be,) that makes us comprehend the circular nature of her harassment and abuse at the hands of people around her. It pulls it into one cohesive whole.  And so, yes, that scene in particular is what I believe to be the actual symbol of her attack.


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

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#17 | Back to Top01-30-2007 05:48:49 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

<cliche>
Roses have thorns.
</cliche>

To some extent Anthy demonstrates that people in pain lash out, sometimes in unexpected or terrible ways. A very extreme example are children who are subject to bullying and respond by suicide and sometimes even decide to take their tormenters with them. Anthy is a pussy-cat in comparison. Compared to some others (like Touga) she is not all that wicked.

Still in many ways characters like Nanami become better people because of her machinations. Oddly, if Akio could be called a master of lies, she is a master of brutal truths even though that is how Akio would characterize himself. In some ways Anthy is a better friend to Nanami than Touga is.

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#18 | Back to Top02-11-2007 08:05:02 PM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

This does not fit such a serious thread but there is the one scene where Anthy is supposed to be doing homework with Miki's guidance. Instead she draws an animated cartoon on pages of a book and giggles. It's another example of her inappropriate behavior but I'll bet it is also the childhood memory of one or more the animators.

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#19 | Back to Top02-12-2007 06:09:26 AM

SleepDebtFairy
Revolutionary
From: Virginia
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 2095

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I had to subscribe to this thread, because I love reading about this kind of view of Anthy. I'm on the same boat about not wanting to view her as just the abused or just the abuser. She's both. It's a vicious cycle, really. I also noticed that a lot of Anthy's behavior was classic for someone who was abused and outcasted, such as how uncomfortable she gets around people. I thought it might have been an act before, but no, she seems genuinely weary of people and for a good reason.

I didn't even notice the bell tolling when Anthy left, but you're right. Wow. I love this series. etc-love


"Thereís no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on"

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#20 | Back to Top02-12-2007 11:30:06 AM

Lightice
Azure Paleontologist
From: Finland
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1255

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

brian wrote:

This does not fit such a serious thread but there is the one scene where Anthy is supposed to be doing homework with Miki's guidance. Instead she draws an animated cartoon on pages of a book and giggles. It's another example of her inappropriate behavior but I'll bet it is also the childhood memory of one or more the animators.

If you look at the events closely you see that she's actually giggling at Nanami's plight. The animation is just the false target for her amusement, since it wouldn't fit in Rose Bride's character to laugh at other people.


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#21 | Back to Top02-14-2007 06:37:56 AM

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

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

I never got that vibe there, but it makes a certain amount of sense.  And that's kind of insidious of her.  I often forget that Anthy acts maliciously at the beginning of the series, too, since so many revelations regarding her character (very important to clarify her behavior) come later.  When you look back at some of the things she does early on after seeing the later episodes; whoa.  I need to do a real re-watch. emot-smile

Anyway, that doesn't change what she's doing there, which is acting like someone much younger, or at least much more immature.  I thought it was kind of cute the first time I saw it, then later it became a little creepy--which is as it should be, I think.

I just saw a rerun of one of my favorite episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  I don't know if any of you have seen it, but the premise of this one is that the woman whose husband they are investigating was sexually abused by her father as a young girl. 

I think the actress did a pretty good job, she swings from seemingly normal behavior, to overly sexualized behavior, to overly childish behavior (which is, of course how Goron divines that she was abused). 

There's a part where her father cuts his hand and she squeezes a lemon on it, saying something like, "Hold still, this won't hurt a bit."  Talk about petty revenge.

Those behaviors come partially from stunted emotional development, but they are also defense mechanisms.


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#22 | Back to Top02-14-2007 09:37:46 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
Website

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

rhyaniwyn wrote:

I often forget that Anthy acts maliciously at the beginning of the series, too, since so many revelations regarding her character (very important to clarify her behavior) come later.  When you look back at some of the things she does early on after seeing the later episodes; whoa.  I need to do a real re-watch. emot-smile

Absolutely, yes. Looking back it's shocking how often her maliciousness bleeds through the mask she wears, especially in that arc. We either miss it because we're not looking for it, or it's hidden, tucked under something that could almost be innocuous. Rabbits dance, anyone? I've always felt that running train of thought she has in Touga's second duel is part of this, honesty when we're not expecting it. After all, how easy is it to take the series literally and assume she's thinking in terms of being Touga's rose bride? But the things she says, I think she's being honest in her skepticism and negativity. Of course the reasons she's thinking those things are different. Smells to me like a defense against optimism, which is something someone like her must find very painful after years of letdowns.


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#23 | Back to Top02-14-2007 10:14:01 AM

Yams
Nest Boxer
From: Crystal Millenium
Registered: 02-13-2007
Posts: 963

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

SleepDebtFairy wrote:

I didn't even notice the bell tolling when Anthy left, but you're right. Wow. I love this series. etc-love

I did notice the bell tolling and it was a great 'wow' moment for me...you know, when you stand up suddenly and start cheering and everyone gives you those funny looks? But I didn't realise that that they hadn't tolled for the actual duel. That makes it even better.

Of course, you could always say it was just a mistake on part of the creators, but that's no fun, is it?


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#24 | Back to Top02-20-2007 12:05:22 AM

Maarika
Someday Shiner
From: Estonia
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 2510
Website

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

SleepDebtFairy wrote:

I had to subscribe to this thread, because I love reading about this kind of view of Anthy. I'm on the same boat about not wanting to view her as just the abused or just the abuser. She's both. It's a vicious cycle, really. I also noticed that a lot of Anthy's behavior was classic for someone who was abused and outcasted, such as how uncomfortable she gets around people. I thought it might have been an act before, but no, she seems genuinely weary of people and for a good reason.

This always makes me wonder how much abuse can affect people subconsciously. People who are abused early in their life tend to see that as normal and that is why they may abuse others too. I think Anthy is no exception. And another thing I've always been thinking about is that how people can't really fully come out of that cycle, even though they might accept and face the way they treat others and themselves, could it be that a bit of abusiveness still remains that can never be completely healed? I'd like to think that in the end when Anthy leaves her coffin she has got over all that, but I still have a suspicion that something must be still there. If not the abuse as it used to be, then it might have transformed into something else, guilt or self-doubt maybe? But again, there's no proof about it, but it bothers me nonetheless. Another thing, I don't think the Anthy we see in the end would really abuse anyone, only herself, if she did it at all.

Also, note how it's implied that Anthy didn't leave Ohtori right after the last duel as Utena did. It took "a few months" as it was said. It made me think how after the final duel Anthy might have tried to continue to live on as the Rose Bride. Of course, she failed at that because she wasn't the same as she used to be. Perhaps she blamed herself for losing Utena like that and wanted to continue taking her "rightful punishment". Till she noticed that instead of passively abusing herself that way (I think Anthy wasn't only abusing others as they were abusing her, but she was also abusing herself) she found the courage to do something about it, thus leaving Ohtori behind. I think it was then that she could see things differently -- that she was the one who had been keeping herself in that coffin for so long; and that her eternal punishment was the outcome and also the reason of her selfabuse.
Or perhaps she finally understood what Utena was trying to do, that one does not need a reason to help someone.

Also, I've been thinking of SKU as it was Anthy's story, too. I remember reading your essey on Anthy a while ago, rhyaniwyn. I didn't realise you wrote it!


The Saionji Support Squad:
Believing in True Friendship Since 2008.

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#25 | Back to Top02-20-2007 11:55:44 AM

Drukqs
Ballgoer
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: 02-19-2007
Posts: 150
Website

Re: Anthy from a perspective of abuse

Time for me to make my first analysis contribution! emot-dance

I agree that Anthy is both abuser and abused.  But I won't add to that since everyone's said my thoughts already.  She does kind of remind me of Daisy from the Great Gatsby a bit in her abused/abusive nature.  (As much as I despise that book.)

My main thoughts on her is that at heart, Anthy is still a child.  For all we know she could have lived hundreds of years, but her actions and views throughout the series are as childish as Utena's, if not more.  To me, she stopped growing the moment the swords hit her.

I think the main evidence of her childish thoughts IMO are the fact that she believes she has no choice to prevent all the things that happened to her or the hurt that she's caused Akio, Dios, or countless other people.  I do think she realizes it was her choice to seal Dios away from everyone else and to be hit by the swords, but I think that her views are now that because she has done this, she feels she must do these things or let herself be subjected to the torment she endures as a result of her actions because she feels she deserves it.  To me this childish, because in order to grow up you have to realize that all things you have done throughout your life have been a result of YOUR decisions, nobody else's.  Utena realized this before Anthy did, and I think Anthy finally got it after the 'grab my hand!' scene at the end.  The reason Anthy left Ohtori (Besides finding Utena), is because she finally figured out (After a few months) she had the choice to leave Ohtori and live her life how she wanted, rather than continue to stay there and be Akio's plaything.  (Though to an extent he's her plaything, buuuuuuut that's another discussion entirely.)

Last edited by Drukqs (02-20-2007 11:57:26 AM)


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