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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

#26 | Back to Top06-12-2016 07:23:55 PM

Chrome Homura
Poor Saionji :(
From: Oregon, USA
Registered: 06-07-2010
Posts: 517

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

My apologies to Satyr for continuing to stray further along the derailment, but I think there's something missing in regard to the scene at the fountain...


To start off, let's remind everyone of the obvious: Juri is into girls, and the societal views that surround such things are doubtlessly related to Juri's inability to confess to Shiori. It's an integral part of her internal struggle, something she's quite aware of but can't openly talk about with anyone. I mention this because it's relevant to what follows...


It isn't until Shiori's reappearance in her BR episode that Juri refers to Utena as being "Just like Shiori", But this observation is something she must have noticed from the very first time they met. In the hallway, Juri's the one who speaks up to get Utena's attention (Also, when the camera pans over the crowd of students below there are various girls with unnatural hair colors, including at least two who match Juri, while the guys all have standard shades of black or brown...)


Still, the discussion is too brief for anything terribly significant to come of it. Juri mentions the "miraculous" power to revolutionize the world, and Utena goes into stretches, trying to brush off the weight of what was just said. But when they talk again at the fountain, it becomes rather apparent that Utena sets off a lot of triggers for Juri simply by being there. She's attractive, she's quick to trust others, and... Wait. No. Please, stop, this can't be happening-


Needless to say, in a matter of seconds Utena goes from getting Juri's hopes up to crushing them and rubbing salt in the wound. She can't just sit there, can't bear the thought of listening to one more word, and under the circumstances there's nothing she can do but react in the expected manner for someone still trying to bury the pain of loss (rather than process it and move on) only to find reminders spewing forth from all angles: She lashes out. Juri has to hate this person, has to pin every once of her anguish squarely on Utena's shoulders in order to vindicate herself... Hatred keeps her from being attracted to her newfound enemy. Challenging her to a duel promises that she can shove all the pain back underground once her dedication to swordplay has paid off in the arena and she can once again safely assume that miracles don't exist after all. Maybe she'll get some answers from the Rose Bride afterward, but at that particular moment... The appearance of Utena herself must have seemed like a miracle. For a moment Juri must have wondered if this girl was single, if perhaps the time had finally come to put the locket away and feel for someone else. Openly this time, without the restraint and pretense that held her back before...


To me, it makes sense that this is where we see Juri at her absolute worst. The day that came before it carried a number of troublesome emotions... meeting her new rival/possible love interest, being openly insulted by Anthy literally the moment Utena left their sight, the Student Council meeting... Hell, she must have been tired by the time she sat down at the fountain, more than ready to close her eyes and forget that this day ever happened. But something kept her awake, and then... well.


Anyway, these are my thoughts and I'm not entirely sure what they add to the discussion but hey, I spent too long writing this to just close the tab :V


"My blood is steel, my heart is glass... I have emerged unvanquished from many battles... Never have I been put to flight, but neither have I stood victorious... This bearer stands here alone, forging steel atop a hill of blades... for that reason, my life has never needed meaning. My body has always...

been made of infinite swords!"

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#27 | Back to Top06-12-2016 11:26:57 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

Hah. Unsurprisingly, as a gargantuan yuri fan of nearly 20 years, I like that angle even more, although I'm not sure I buy it. It's a fact though that Juri, much much later, jokes about having been attracted to Utena. But was it really a joke? What about the moment where Juri unexpectedly supports Utena after her defeat by Touga, offering her a sword? It's an interesting idea. Certainly one that could help to explain the sudden vehemence of her response. Thanks for posting it.

...apparently, my lesbian best friend has always thought the same thing, that this is the reason for Juri's sudden fury. I guess it's time to consider it more seriously. Honestly it never occured to me because Juri's seemingly eternal self-sacrificial devotion to Shiori has been for me one of the hallmarks of her character. Even when Juri makes the "joke" about being attracted to Utena, she's still pining for Shiori as she always has been. But I definitely do like it as a possibility. Now I need to rewatch the scene with that viewpoint...

Last edited by Aelanie (06-12-2016 11:54:59 PM)

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#28 | Back to Top06-13-2016 01:12:45 AM

DefineMask
Saionji Slapper
Registered: 05-14-2016
Posts: 26

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

Lol you yuri fans, always thinking so deeply xD It's apparent that Juri was upset because Utena said that she believed in her "prince," which technically means that she believed in a miracle. Juri thought that miracles were bull so that's what riled her up. Juri is frustrated because she knows that miracles don't exist, yet someone like Utena is naively seeking them. So that pissed her off since in her eyes no one can live a miracle. She couldn't have Shiori, so a miracle never came to her. She was angry towards Utena for nonchalantly saying that she can find her prince one day. It's all in the conversation, people haha

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#29 | Back to Top06-13-2016 01:38:28 AM

Davine Lu Linvega
Spam Arsonist
Registered: 06-08-2011
Posts: 88

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

Huh, I never thought Juri's feelings during the fountain meeting scene were in dispute.

Just ask yourself: if she were attracted to someone besides Shiori, how would she behave toward them? I think her encounter with Utena checks all the boxes. She tries to get close to them -- in a much more guarded fashion than she would approach anyone else -- and when they do something to remind her of her unrequited crush, she lashes out. Her expressions in that scene really give it away.

Every woman in the show seems to me to represent a decidedly different take on femaleness.  By contrast, I see more uniformity in the way the men are presented, boiling down to just a few variations.  How different are Akio, Touga, and Ruka in their takes on maleness?  How different are Tsuwabuki, Tatsuya, and Miki?  We know that men in the real world usually get more latitude in how to perform their gender role than women do; why is SKU different?  Or is it only in my imagination that SKU is different?

I think there's a lot of variation in the male characters. Touga, Ruka and Akio aspire to something of a common standard, but even they have differences. Touga is more of a showoff than the other two, while Ruka is willing to depart from the glamorous archetype, veering into the brusque and even the brutish when it serves his purpose. Of course, Ruka is trying to accomplish a goal knowing he has an expiration date, so who knows how he'd normally act.

Tatsuya is much more of an average, somewhat shy adolescent than Miki, who appears to be kind of alienated from gender expression entirely. Tsuwabuki is hard to compare to anyone else given the age gap but he's already shown a much more proactive and outgoing nature than the other two so I think he'll be very different when he's their age. And Saionji brings a whole different masculine dimension with his traditional Japanese approach.

On the other hand, female gender conformity is a big running theme in SKU. Consider all the scenes with throngs of fawning, nigh-identical girls. Utena's non-conformity is called out, but this never happens with a male character -- not even Mikage or Miki. Most of the main female characters are really exceptional in some way, but ones that aren't so much, like Shiori and Nanami, seem to hew pretty closely to the Ohtori norm.

And IRL don't women have more latitude when it comes to gender performance? They can go from very feminine to fairly masculine before anyone looks askance, but for men the bounds are much narrower, at least until recently. They are allowed some range of movement within the masculine domain, but moving even slightly onto the feminine side of the spectrum has immediate negative social consequences.

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#30 | Back to Top06-13-2016 02:34:34 AM

Decrescent Daytripper
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Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2788

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

Davine Lu Linvega wrote:

And IRL don't women have more latitude when it comes to gender performance? They can go from very feminine to fairly masculine before anyone looks askance, but for men the bounds are much narrower, at least until recently. They are allowed some range of movement within the masculine domain, but moving even slightly onto the feminine side of the spectrum has immediate negative social consequences.

That doesn't quite ring up with my experience.

It depends on the culture, of course, and I wouldn't be prepared to speak for contemporary Japan, but in the States, at least, I see a lot more concern with "what girls are wearing" and a lot more warnings to we re rape and what can cause it, than I do similar policing of young men. The male dress code, in terms of work attire, is often much much more lax in most professions. Etc. Vocal fry as an applied criticism/descriptor solely of women, alone, should stand as a pretty good example that even enunciation and vocal range is limited for women. Resting bitch face.

Imagine Utena actually in a boys uniform, instead of a modified version of a little boy's short pants uniform. But, also imagine Utena, being Utena, basketball wiz, forthright, direct, but all girlygirled up. It's all performative. For the characters, but more importantly, probably, for us, the audience.


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

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#31 | Back to Top06-13-2016 12:22:27 PM

Davine Lu Linvega
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Registered: 06-08-2011
Posts: 88

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

That doesn't quite ring up with my experience.

It depends on the culture, of course, and I wouldn't be prepared to speak for contemporary Japan, but in the States, at least, I see a lot more concern with "what girls are wearing" and a lot more warnings to we re rape and what can cause it, than I do similar policing of young men. The male dress code, in terms of work attire, is often much much more lax in most professions. Etc. Vocal fry as an applied criticism/descriptor solely of women, alone, should stand as a pretty good example that even enunciation and vocal range is limited for women. Resting bitch face.

Interesting perspective. The concern over what women wear, rape etc. seems more like policing of sexual behavior than gender expression, and no doubt that's harsher for women than men; men are held much less responsible in that regard. Now, at work, currently women can range from skirts to pantsuits to men's suits, but imagine the reaction to a man wearing a skirt to the office. In the past it was more restrictive for both genders, of course.

And there's been some criticism of vocal fry and RBF, but it seems to me that "unmanly" trends among men always cause more of a shock. From skinny jeans and man-capris today to the goths and hippies in the past. "Oh my god, that guy's wearing eyeliner!" Also seems like a good way for a subculture to get attention, come to think of it.

Japan may actually be the other way around. Looking at the visual kei bands, hosts, actors and examples from Japanese history, men can go for a rougher or softer aesthetic but women who depart from femininity cause dismay. And it would feel a lot more discordant if Utena wore a real boys' uniform. I think it's the same in a lot of non-Western cultures -- in many, the only way for a woman to take on a non-feminine role is to go all out and disguise herself as a man.

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#32 | Back to Top06-14-2016 11:40:34 AM

Kita-Ysabell
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Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 818
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Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

I supposed, piggybacking off of Sat's observations a ways up-thread, that part of what SKU presents as the challenge of growing up is figuring out how to deal with gender.  Gender in SKU, as in life, exists as a set of norms, a force that acts upon the characters, their actions, and their sense of identity, rather than as an essential part of their character.  When they accept that force as a part of their identity, it shapes what they see as possible, thus shaping their actions and defining the way we see them in the show.

Developmentally speaking, identifying those norms and learning to abide by them is a part of growing up, but the show is ultimately critical of the idea that just accepting gender roles as a part of one's identity is the best final answer to the question of dealing with gender.  When characters are most accepting of their pre-determined genders- Nanami being a mean girl, Touga being a playboy, Shiori being Shiori, Saionji being an ass- the results are universally detrimental to all involved: it doesn't serve the emotional need of the character in question, and other people get hurt in the process.  That the guys come off looking especially bad is, I think, a commentary on how dangerous a masculine gender role in particular can be: that it promotes violence, disregards emotion, and promotes a sense of entitlement to power over others.

But the show creates the potential for characters and viewers to find other ways of relating to gender than to blindly accept it.  Towards the final episodes, all of them move away from trying (and failing) to solve their problems through gendered scripts, and away from defining themselves as what society expects of them, especially in regards to gender.  That's one reason that analysis of the series that focuses on identifying gender signifiers and their role in the plot and pretty much stops there, (such as that by the Consulting Analyst, also mentioned up-thread) failing to take into account the way the show discards, moves past, or is critical of such signifiers, feels like it's massively missing the point, however erudite it is otherwise.  As viewers, we are allowed, even encouraged, form sympathetic or positive opinions of characters who have acted badly in the series, such as by accepting social ideas of gender, like above, not because their actions don't matter or are excused, but because the series shows them becoming capable of moving past the mindsets that gave rise to those actions.


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#33 | Back to Top06-14-2016 11:07:28 PM

swordclash
New Student
Registered: 06-01-2016
Posts: 2

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

To add to the discussion of Juri from the fountain scene -
When Juri says to Utena, "I see you keep your uniform on even at night... Why do you wear a boy's uniform?", my immediate interpretation was that Juri suspected that Utena might be queer as well, and was seeking confirmation (check out Juri's posture and demeanor when she asks the question.) Utena's response immediately dashes this hope - she says that she wears the uniform because of her prince (a male figure,) and she heavily implies that she's in love with said prince. So I think part of the reason why Juri was so inflamed by Utena's response was because she was really hoping that Utena was like her (in the sense of being a queer woman.) Not necessarily because Juri was interested in Utena as a love interest, but because she was seeking solidarity. I don't think Juri's closeted queerness is the defining aspect of her character, but it probably contributes to her loneliness and distrust of others (as in, she feels like the heterosexual majority won't fully understand her struggles.) That's the interpretation that came naturally to me, as a queer woman myself. To clarify, I don't think that's the only reason why Juri lashed out (Utena's response definitely struck her in other ways,) but I think it was a contributing factor. So Juri's sudden anger in this scene has never really seemed OOC.

Last edited by swordclash (06-14-2016 11:09:47 PM)

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#34 | Back to Top06-15-2016 12:06:34 AM

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

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

swordclash wrote:

To add to the discussion of Juri from the fountain scene -
When Juri says to Utena, "I see you keep your uniform on even at night... Why do you wear a boy's uniform?", my immediate interpretation was that Juri suspected that Utena might be queer as well, and was seeking confirmation (check out Juri's posture and demeanor when she asks the question.) Utena's response immediately dashes this hope - she says that she wears the uniform because of her prince (a male figure,) and she heavily implies that she's in love with said prince. So I think part of the reason why Juri was so inflamed by Utena's response was because she was really hoping that Utena was like her (in the sense of being a queer woman.) Not necessarily because Juri was interested in Utena as a love interest, but because she was seeking solidarity.

I'm not sure I feel solidarity at all. Sizing her up? Sure. Being big woman on campus? Yeah.

I know I'm biased, but even so, I just don't see that.


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

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#35 | Back to Top06-15-2016 03:03:02 PM

deeds24
Miki Molester
From: Salisbury, Maryland, USA
Registered: 05-27-2016
Posts: 36

Re: Presentation of Men in SKU

During the fountain scene, there are two moments where Juri breaks eye contact with Utena. The first being when she asks Utena why she wears the uniform. Juri is looking down and fiddling with her fingers (or looking at her nails) at this moment.

https://s32.postimg.org/81sbiwso1/juri_admiring_her_nails.jpg

The second time her eyes are averted is when Utena says, "I remember the prince looked so impressive to me. And that's why I want to be like him. Yeah. I guess I wear this so I can be a little bit closer to him." Here Juri has her arms in a locked position by her sides. She then stands up and switches her arm position to one arm holding the other close to her side.

https://s31.postimg.org/7r1vm1bzb/juri_holding_her_arm.jpg

This posture is suggestive of seeking comfort since she has not received any comfort. Since she decides to look away from Utena during these moments it could be that she is insecure. Notice that these moments occur after Utena tells Juri, "You look pretty cool in your uniform...but I'll bet everyone would be really surprised if they saw you in such a girly outfit." While being told this, Juri's facial expression goes from this

https://s31.postimg.org/horln2dw7/juri_pleased_fountain_scene.png

to this.

https://s32.postimg.org/aqx83i369/juri_not_pleased_fountain_scene.png

Her eyebrows become furrowed and she begins to frown. Juri does not want to be associated with or seen "in such a girly outfit." Until this moment Juri seems at least content in her encounter with Utena by the fountain. From this moment onward, disappointment is written on her face. Perhaps this is due to Utena expressing her reasons for wearing her uniform as remembrance to the prince. With Utena's rhetoric in her explanation, Juri might not have heard an answer where Utena describes the uniform as a way of highlighting a male portion of her identity. Whether Utena herself sees the boy's uniform as a means to identify herself rather than the prince later on in the series may be something that requires more discussion. Yet it was not the message that was relayed to Juri. This situation leads to Juri feeling insecure once she is aware that Utena does not see her in the same way that Juri sees herself. I think it is a sound argument to claim that Juri is queer and seeking solidarity given the multiple instances of her changes in facial expression and body language.

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