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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 Top06-05-2013 10:10:22 AM

zevrem
Banned
Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Media with similar themes?

Utena, I think, seems to be fundamentally about the cruel myths that make society work. One of the most relevant depictions I have found is Perfect Blue by Satoshi Kon, which follows a pop star who switches careers and finds herself stalked by a psychotic fan who is unhappy about her choice. It's really good, and you'll probably be unable to enjoy pop culture after watching it.

Last edited by zevrem (06-05-2013 10:15:37 AM)


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#2 | Back to Top06-05-2013 12:06:37 PM

TheOnlyFlorence
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Registered: 09-16-2012
Posts: 454

Re: Media with similar themes?

I don't know if that's a perfect comparison, as the plot of Perfect Bluerevolves around characters with different mental psychoses. Utena, on the other hand, deals with adolescence, boundary breaking, and magical forces.


Trying to compare that to SKU would be like comparing CSI:Miami to Breaking Bad. I don't see how one could even remotely say they are parallel, save for that the protags for both are genetically female, which doesn't make it parallel at all.

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#3 | Back to Top06-05-2013 06:11:56 PM

Aelanie
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Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Media with similar themes?

That's a pretty harsh rebuttal. I think Perfect Blue could definitely be said to be tonally similar, in that both Mima and Utena are forced to confront how cynical and ugly the world can be, and how they struggle maintain their self-identities in the face of that.

Something else that might seem like a stretch to some people is the plot of Final Fantasy Tactics. Specifically the characters of Delita and Ramza, who are both shown graphically just how merciless their society is, but then take very different paths. Delita ironically goes on to become just the very same type of cynical monster, abusing the system and trampling others for his own goals.


    You and I are the same... Miserable people forced to live false lives.
    Always being used by someone... Try hard and you'll be rewarded they say.
    Lies... Only these close to the top are rewarded without trying. It's the
    way of the world. Most people have to act the roles given to them...
    Then again, most of them haven't even noticed they're even acting.
    No way I'd do that. I won't be used. I'll be the one using!
    Those who used me must pay for what they've done!

Meanwhile, Ramza manages to hold onto his ideals throughout the game, despite the whole world showing him its fangs at every turn.

I'm sure there are some more good examples but I'll have to think on it a bit.

Last edited by Aelanie (06-05-2013 06:38:13 PM)

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#4 | Back to Top06-06-2013 08:44:25 PM

zevrem
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Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Re: Media with similar themes?

Utena and Perfect Blue, IMO, have stronger thematic connections than you seem to think. Utena's about adolescence, but more specifically, it's about ETERNAL adolescence, just like Perfect Blue. They also both concern a disastrous weakening of the barrier between fact and fiction. And the masses serve as a looming menace in both, which is rather notable, IMO. Most pieces of fiction, if they show the masses at all, consider them to be irrelevant, while both Utena and Perfect Blue show them to be a source of tension. Utena has the gossipy, vicious student body, while Mima has her thuggish fans.

Last edited by zevrem (06-06-2013 08:52:50 PM)


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#5 | Back to Top06-06-2013 09:00:27 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: Media with similar themes?

I have to say I agree more with Florence's take.

There are actually many shows that feature protagonists being confronted with how cynical and ugly the world can be, and how they struggle maintain their self-identities in the face of that(死化妆师, 「ライフ」すえのぶけいこ, etc).  If the rest of the messages are largely different, I don't see how two shows can be said to have similar themes.

Also, most Japanese TV dramas, especially those with a serious edge, display masses as being source of tension - societal pressure is simply something that the average Japanese are very familiar with (and are deathly afraid of).

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (06-06-2013 09:33:11 PM)


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#6 | Back to Top06-06-2013 09:02:02 PM

zevrem
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Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Re: Media with similar themes?

Maybe I just have to watch more TV. But then again, not that many works take on the infantilism of consumer society or the blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction with such violent imagery.

Last edited by zevrem (06-06-2013 09:14:40 PM)


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#7 | Back to Top06-06-2013 09:14:19 PM

gorgeousshutin
Bare Footman
Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1312
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Re: Media with similar themes?

zevrem wrote:

Maybe I just have to watch more TV.

If you do, look out for TV Jdramas like Mother, Life, アイシテル~海容, etc, as they all feature characters who fell out of the socially accepted norms struggling to survive against the prying, judging masses surrounding them.


(PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 3 as of Sep 26, 2017) / (SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Updated to Part 43 as of Sep 08, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#8 | Back to Top06-07-2013 01:54:01 PM

Atropos
Atropos Turretslayer
From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
Posts: 906

Re: Media with similar themes?

Inception?

movie!Touga is to Utena as Mal is to Cobb.

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#9 | Back to Top06-07-2013 08:17:07 PM

zevrem
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Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Re: Media with similar themes?

Which itself seems like a ripoff of Paprika, also by Satoshi Kon, but is really a film version of Phillip K Dick's Ubik.


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#10 | Back to Top06-29-2013 08:16:09 PM

Eryn Cerise
Rose Smilee
From: Alberta, Canada
Registered: 07-27-2008
Posts: 123
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Re: Media with similar themes?

Honestly? I'd say the closest thing I've seen to Utena in terms of theme is the Scott Pilgrim comics. They're a lot lighter in tone, obviously, but the core of both series deals with young people who have various issues that keep them from growing up/advancing as people. Most of the issues are to do with being stuck in the past and hung up on emotional baggage, and those issues are dealt with in exaggerated ways within a semi-magical kind of world. Sound familiar?

Lemme break it down. Scott is a perpetual adolescent at 23 years old. He cannot see himself as anything other than a super awesome video game hero who deserves to fight for the girl of his dreams, despite his many glaring faults, one of which is his total lack of success with adult relationships. He also denies/represses his past mistakes and builds up rosier memories to cling to instead, and he doesn't think about how his actions can hurt others because he's "the hero of this story". On the surface, it first seems like the series is just going to be about his wacky hipster video game antics (series that appears to be something other than what it is? check). Around volume 4 or so, though, he finally starts getting his shit together, and his character arc from volumes 4-6 focuses on the ups and downs of him actually having to deal with maturity and act like a fucking adult already -- all while still dealing with evil ex-boyfriends and swords and robots and stuff.

Then there's Ramona Flowers, who seems to be more mature than Scott, but really, she just has a different list of things she's running from/hasn't figured out. The major thing with her is that she has never had a relationship that didn't end badly, and she has a gazillion issues related to pinning down her own identity and place in the world. While a big part of the series is about Scott's maturation, the series is also about hers, and not to spoil things, but both of them man/woman up in a big way by the end.

A bunch of the side characters also have their own stuff to deal with and arcs to go through as well, like Knives Chau, Kim Pine, Envy Adams, and even bit characters like Stephen Stills and Young Neil. *cough*Nevermindthebigbadvillain*cough* The thing that all the characters (except maybe Wallace) have in common is that they all have some level of self-absorption, naivety, and/or trouble with interpersonal relationships to deal with, and they all grow in that respect by the end. The creator has stated before that he feels the take-away of the series is just learning to understand other people (and yourself) on a more thoughtful, adult level, and building your relationships on that foundation.

Also, video games. And stuff.

Lastly, semi-spoilers, but the series also involves swords being pulled from people's chests, and a major setpiece in the final volume looks a lot like a certain thing in Utena (you'll know it when you see it). The author is a fan of older anime and manga, and an Utena poster even shows up on someone's bedroom wall in volume 3, so it is very likely that these things are direct inspirations from the series.

Last edited by Eryn Cerise (06-29-2013 08:19:31 PM)

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#11 | Back to Top12-03-2013 06:14:02 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Media with similar themes?

Home sick with a cold, so I'm watching Dario Argento's The Three Mothers trilogy (Suspiria, Inferno, and Mother of Tears) and in particular the set pieces, the set design and use, reminds me so strongly of the use of set-as-prop in Utena. They have a similar use of color to dramatize, and exaggeration in scale.

Suspiria, because there's no way to make that movie with actual little girls, cast slightly older and then they built the sets larger, to reduce the students to child-size. Doorknobs too high, towering hallways.

Inferno faces a similar problem to the rose motif in SKU, of how to layer scenes that are dominated by reds without just being awash in red.

(Of course, they also share queerness, uncertain youth, incestual tones, attraction to victims, attraction to victimizers, ancient evils running schools, gender politics, generational shifts, weird things that happen in the lost time one spends in elevators, the politics of witches, and fun with shadows that reveal things.)


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#12 | Back to Top12-03-2013 09:55:50 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Media with similar themes?

Matthew Bright's Freeway does a lot along some similar lines, with Sutherland's character presenting himself as a cool, married school official who uses that to lure a young girl into his car, buy her a nice dinner, and then psychologically destroy her so he can rape her corpse later. She hits him the back of the head a lot with a pistol and finally shoots him three or five times. The second half of the movie is the fallout from that. His delusional wife who's sure he's innocent. The legal and social systems that persecute her as she's prosecuted for it. Some good "school life" comedy and sad stuff about misremembered pasts or idealized family situations, too.


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#13 | Back to Top12-04-2013 01:16:57 PM

Kita-Ysabell
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Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 818
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Re: Media with similar themes?

Anyone seen Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs?  It's one of the few-ish things without a huge YouTube presence, but here's a scene wherein our asshat hero bitches out the antagonist-ish couple, who give me serious Anthy/Akio vibes.

Thematically, well, it's not got a whole lot to do with adolescence, but there is the whole concept of trying to "rescue" someone from a relationship where it's not clear how much they are complicit and how much they are controlled.  Also there is lots of sex.  Not so much in a porny way, but in terms of "how do I negotiate the contradictions between my own desires, the desires of others, and my social role."

Not to mention that it looks like it was made on acid and all the characters are stark raving mad, as is the world itself.

I think my favorite part has got to be the beginning, where Douchy McProtagonist turns up in a random lady's bedroom, on a boat, for no well-explained reason, and she looks at his wrists, which are marked from having been chained up in prison, and says, "Did the night hold you down by the wrists?"  I don't even know why, I just love that line.


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#14 | Back to Top12-04-2013 07:14:43 PM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
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Re: Media with similar themes?

Labyrinth with bells on.

Young, naieve, idealistic protagonist sucked in by sexually aware adult, who uses the protagonists own budding sexuality against her. H  offers to become her prince, and seeks to trap her in a garden where she never ages,  where she unknowingly becomes the source of his power.

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#15 | Back to Top12-04-2013 08:32:17 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8728
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Re: Media with similar themes?

Put that way, I know it's true, and yet my mind still rebels because I didn't enjoy Labyrinth and have been told for like 15 years now that Akio = Jareth. I'm very petty.

Innocence, which I believe I heard about right here on IRG. It's about a bizarre French boarding school where girls literally come out of coffins, and then proceed in various ways to lose their innocence, well meant or not, internally or not, and it goes into particular detail where it concerns the innocence and adult takes, the innocence other children take, and the innocence you cast off of your own will. Yasha and I didn't immediately fall in love with the movie. It seemed like it tried too hard at times to be deep, and was quite slow, but it was definitely worth the watch for the approach it took to the material.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#16 | Back to Top12-04-2013 09:09:42 PM

mistspinner
Ohtori Paramouri
Registered: 08-10-2013
Posts: 92

Re: Media with similar themes?

I'm surprised no one's mentioned it before, but Princess Tutu definitely for the metafictional aspect - may those who defy their fate be granted glory, anyone?

I also haven't seen it, but Le Chevalier D'Eon sounds promising? Black Swan also for an examination of the madonna-whore complex (though it has been years since I've seen it).

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#17 | Back to Top12-04-2013 09:21:52 PM

Lurv
Pained Growlithe
Registered: 05-25-2012
Posts: 520

Re: Media with similar themes?

Giovanna wrote:

Put that way, I know it's true, and yet my mind still rebels because I didn't enjoy Labyrinth and have been told for like 15 years now that Akio = Jareth. I'm very petty.

I liked Labyrinth but Jareth didn't do it for me. emot-tongue

Princess Tutu does have some similarities yeah. This time with a guy in the passive role. I liked the show a lot.

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#18 | Back to Top12-05-2013 04:27:49 AM

Orphic Okapi
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 10-31-2013
Posts: 15

Re: Media with similar themes?

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

Anyone seen Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs?  It's one of the few-ish things without a huge YouTube presence, but here's a scene wherein our asshat hero bitches out the antagonist-ish couple, who give me serious Anthy/Akio vibes.

Not just Twilight of the Ice Nymphs - I feel like all of Guy Maddin's work often deals with the same core themes, and a lot of those themes show up in Utena. The transition into adulthood, genderbending, forbidden sexuality (including incestuous urges), and the creation and distortion of memory all appear in Brand Upon the Brain! as well. His silent film pastiche style is pretty out there, but for Utena fans with adventurous tastes (and I'm guessing that's most of you, because, well, Utena) I'd recommend checking him out.

Last edited by Orphic Okapi (12-05-2013 04:28:26 AM)

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#19 | Back to Top12-05-2013 05:47:04 AM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Media with similar themes?

There's some mileage in thinking of The Worst Witch as the inversion of Utena. Most "special young girl" stories are going to go in some direction that parallels or contrasts to SKU, though. And most "young special boy" ones, too, really.

We should have a contest. Just lay something out, any movie on this green Earth, and see who can nail down a really good connection.

What do SKU and El Mariachi have in common? Or... El Muerto?


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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#20 | Back to Top12-10-2013 02:11:43 PM

zevrem
Banned
Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Re: Media with similar themes?

I still stand by my original belief that SKU and Perfect Blue are rare portrayals of the dangers of an excessive attachment to the culture of adolescence, which is a rarely acknowledged aspect of pretty much every culture. William Goldman believes that the pederasty (and low fertility) of ancient Greece was a product of their worship of youth.

Last edited by zevrem (12-10-2013 03:12:26 PM)


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#21 | Back to Top12-11-2013 03:47:12 AM

Orphic Okapi
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Registered: 10-31-2013
Posts: 15

Re: Media with similar themes?

Does Utena really critique youth-centered culture? There's, like, one adult character in the whole show. Who is the villain.

Perfect Blue I can totally understand, because that movie is actually set in modern Japan and clearly shows the negative effects of societal pressure on the main character's mental state. But Ohtori Academy feels so separate from society at large. I don't get the sense that outside pressure to remain youthful, or idealization of youth itself, is the source of everybody's psychological hangups. The show strikes me as much more critical of adults who exploit youthful naivety to their own ends.

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#22 | Back to Top12-11-2013 06:26:26 AM

Snow
Troublesome Insect
From: in the wolf
Registered: 09-30-2013
Posts: 642

Re: Media with similar themes?

Henrik Ibsen's play Nora shares some themes with SKU,  and the endings are eerily similar. It's a really great piece

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#23 | Back to Top12-17-2013 02:56:25 PM

zevrem
Banned
Registered: 03-23-2013
Posts: 387

Re: Media with similar themes?

Perfect Blue I can totally understand, because that movie is actually set in modern Japan and clearly shows the negative effects of societal pressure on the main character's mental state.

Also, Mima goes on stage in a little girl costume and all her fans are grown men, symbolizing the infantilism of the culture that she's a part of. The stalker's frustration stems from Mima's desire to move into more "mature" roles.

But Ohtori Academy feels so separate from society at large. I don't get the sense that outside pressure to remain youthful, or idealization of youth itself, is the source of everybody's psychological hangups. The show strikes me as much more critical of adults who exploit youthful naivety to their own ends.

The duelist all have their own "coffins" representing their attachment to some aspect of childhood. Akio is obsessed with becoming more like his adolescent self.


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#24 | Back to Top12-17-2013 06:41:10 PM

Snow
Troublesome Insect
From: in the wolf
Registered: 09-30-2013
Posts: 642

Re: Media with similar themes?

zevrem wrote:

Orphic wrote:

But Ohtori Academy feels so separate from society at large. I don't get the sense that outside pressure to remain youthful, or idealization of youth itself, is the source of everybody's psychological hangups. The show strikes me as much more critical of adults who exploit youthful naivety to their own ends.

The duelist all have their own "coffins" representing their attachment to some aspect of childhood. Akio is obsessed with becoming more like his adolescent self.

You are right, but I would argue that what he wants has little or nothing to do with a specific period in his life, but more with a general ideal he lost in the process of his fall.
The praise of youth in PB is for it's aesthetical and behavioral aspects ( looking and acting like a child ), rather than a set of elusive moral values and ideals that SKU encompasses under the term 'youth' or 'childhood'.

Off topic: There are a lot of 'box' symbols in the series: elevators, coffins, the nest box ( a 'cradle' of sorts, and Kozue and Miki's beds remind me a bit of cradles too ), usually connected to characters with especially pronounced stagnation and fear of change, those who cling to childhood, you said, or something else they lost.

To a phonenix, a 'coffin' is it's 'cradle', and vice versa. It is a creature that stagnates, endlessly repeating the same life cycle over and over again in the same form, never advancing.

(lack of sleep makes everything look symbolic)

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#25 | Back to Top12-18-2013 04:51:40 AM

Orphic Okapi
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 10-31-2013
Posts: 15

Re: Media with similar themes?

The duelist all have their own "coffins" representing their attachment to some aspect of childhood. Akio is obsessed with becoming more like his adolescent self.

You're definitely right about this, it's just the social criticism that's missing, in my opinion. Saionji doesn't want eternity because a youth-obsessed society is telling him "eternal youth is awesome," he wants it because he's afraid of death and/or he wants his relationship with Touga to be more like it was when they were kids. All the duelists strike me as being motivated either internally, or by a close relationship with a particular character, not by social pressure to act younger.

So while Utena might provide some insight into Japan's cultural fixation on adolescence, I don't really think it's critical of that. It's definitely critical of other aspects of Japanese culture, like rigid gender roles, no doubt, but I personally don't see Utena as a work that critically engages with the cult of adolescence in the same way as a movie like Perfect Blue.

Actually now I'm rethinking what I just wrote. You might be able to analyze Anthy from this perspective, since she actually is motivated to stay in her coffin by a fear of the outside world. But she also strikes me as, in many ways, being more "grown up" than the other characters. I don't know, I've never really thought about whether I would consider Anthy a child or an adult; like everyone in the show, she's probably a mixture of both. It's an interesting angle to consider nonetheless.

To a phonenix, a 'coffin' is it's 'cradle', and vice versa. It is a creature that stagnates, endlessly repeating the same life cycle over and over again in the same form, never advancing.

Thanks to you, I just now made the connection between the idea of the phoenix reborn from its own ashes, and the hundred duelists who burned to death only to be "reborn" later in the Black Rose Arc, their sacrifice equally meaningless the second time around. Whoaaa.

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