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Gougai! Gougai!

Anime News Network asked Gio & Yasha to write an article about Utena, Empty Movement, and they totally called us superfans, omg. Think of it as a belated Valentine's to Utena, its fandom, and the excellent friendships we've made along the way. 20 Years of Utena Fandom with the Ultimate Superfans!!!

#1 | Back to Top03-05-2017 07:43:21 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2776

Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I used to be so anti-Nanami until it hit me how young she is, and that she has to live with Touga as a brother.

I used to cut Anthy a lot of slack because of her situation and who her brother is, and at some point, it just felt like, no, she's capable of making her own choices and she has and they're bad. She's a mean, mean meanie!

Teaching, especially teaching teens who can be a lot like Saionji has softened me to him enough that I at least remember he's a frustrated teen and can eventually grow out of it.

Akio still barely means anything to me. I'm almost ashamed in that. I should feel strongly one way or another, and instead, he's just this guy.


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

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#2 | Back to Top03-06-2017 01:09:06 AM

RoseandRelease
Juri Jeerer
Registered: 10-12-2013
Posts: 40
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

I used to be so anti-Nanami until it hit me how young she is, and that she has to live with Touga as a brother.

Ah, same here! I found her so annoying and unammusing until I, uh, grew up a bit and came to realise the sort of things she was going through.

I first watched the series when I was about fourteen, and I very strongly disliked a lot of the characters - Touga, Saionji, Shiori, Ruka, Akio, Mikage, Nanami - without ever understanding them or the reasons behind their actions.

Akio and Saionji I still dislike to the same degree, but now I feel more open to thinking about their characters - whereas before I just didn't want to see anything about Akio at all, I'll now gladly read a page of analysis on him because his role in the story really interests me.

With Touga, I've definitely gone from blindly hating him for manipulating Utena to viewing him a complex and tragically self-aware character. I haven't watched the Akio arc or Apocalypse arc for a while (currently making my way through Back Rose) but when I get there I'm looking forward to observing him closely. I still don't see Touga as a 'good' person (who is in sku) and his actions still make me kind of uncomfortable, but I definitely like him more as a character than the two I mentioned above.

Shiori is an interesting case, because it took me longer than all of the others to see her in a remotely positive light - I'd always seen people saying that they really liked her or felt sorry for her, and no matter how much I thought I couldn't understand why. Probably because I relate to Juri a lot and I couldn't see past that to consider her as a fully-rounded character. But now I'm on my third runthrough of the series and hell she's not the nicest person but she's also just a emotionally conflicted and isolated kid, the same as most of the rest of the cast.

Actually, I don't think my judgement on Ruka has changed at all. That is, indifferance mixed with a mild dislike. Maybe I'll have something more to say when I get to his episodes.

I guess Mikage is the last on the list? I didn't like him before for being a manipulator (that appears to have been a trend), and I think I continued to dislike him because I couldn't understand what was going on in episode 22. When I rewatched it last summer I just didn't connect with whatever reason I had to hate him beforehand, and I read a ton of analysis on the ending of the arc.

As for other characters, my view of those I really do like (Juri, Anthy, Utena, Kozue) hasn't changed quite so much, except that of course I feel that I understand them better. Utena is the exception - as a kid I only thought of her as a genuinely cool prince figure, but now I realise that she's also a tragically naive and misguided child.

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#3 | Back to Top03-06-2017 04:51:17 AM

malna
Caretaker
From: Poland
Registered: 10-03-2011
Posts: 209

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I don't think I care all that much for the characters I like to be morally pristine, although for some reason unethical deeds of one character may annoy me and I find them appalling whereas even worse actions of the other are fascinating. That doesn't seem fair but I'm comfortable with my bias.

It's been changing very little over time. I think I used to hold Juri in higher regard than I do now but she's still pretty amazing. It would appear that I'm just a good judge of character because my read on characters remains practically the same now that I've watched the show a gazillion times. Akio is terrible. Anthy is gorgeously horrible, Touga is at the crossroads, Juri and Utena are awesome if self-centered and arrogant, Miki is OCD and his sister is creepy but intriguing, Wakaba has low self-esteem and is an outsider who compensates with her overeager friendliness, Nanami is annoying but at the same time most pitiable and wonderful in her own way, Ruka is my favorite prince (really), and Shiori is myself at my very worst and I can't help but dislike her for that.

Last edited by malna (03-06-2017 05:07:51 AM)


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#4 | Back to Top03-08-2017 02:46:36 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

It was definitely Nanami for me also. Every time I watch the show, she becomes a little more interesting to me. Like you say, one has to remember she grew up Touga's shadow, which is like the second least healthy shadow to be in in that school. emot-gonk

She seems so militantly like a nasty little brat, and she totally is, but she's very like Saionji in that buried in the ego and vitriol, she'll drop truth bombs no one seems to hear because they don't listen to her for one reason or another.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#5 | Back to Top03-10-2017 09:21:00 AM

Yasha
Bitch Queen
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
Posts: 5955
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I feel like the outlier-- none of my opinions have changed much over the years, just gotten deeper and more complex.


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#6 | Back to Top03-11-2017 07:14:42 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2776

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I'm watching ep 10, and... Touga's not as savvy as I remember him. He can manipulate, yeah, but he stumbles a lot more than I realized even a few years ago.

(God, this show is stupid deep.)

And... is Chuchu making fun of Utena? I know he's wearing the tie of evil like he's the "ape of Akio," and he's Anthy's Tsuwabuki and all, but he imitates assholes at all their most assholey moments, doesn't he? Saionji. Touga. Little bastard.


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

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#7 | Back to Top03-13-2017 11:15:18 AM

Yams
Eternal Eschatologist
Registered: 02-13-2007
Posts: 939

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I used to like Mikki a lot, now I find him boring.

I was indifferent to Touga, now I strongly dislike him.

I've always liked Saionji and post-student-council-arc Nanami, now I really love them.

I'm always a little more fascinated by Mikage and Anthy each watch.

INTERESTINGLY, playing the Utena Sega game was a neat experience, because while playing I started to dislike Saionji and like Touga. Watching them onscreen is a totally different experience to actually 'interacting' with them. I think Saionji is marginally a better person (he'll slap your face rather than stab you in the back) but if I had to go out for coffee with one of them, it'd be Touga.

Last edited by YamPuff (04-06-2017 12:58:49 PM)


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#8 | Back to Top03-13-2017 01:57:52 PM

Kita-Ysabell
Covert Diarist
Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 809
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Well, I went into the series asking myself "which boy has the prettiest hair, so I can have a crush on them?"

So, you could say it's changed a bit, yes.

It took a second or third watch-through for me to really start seeing Touga as, well, a child.  I'm not even sure I can describe the shift or what precipitated it, maybe it's like DD said, that he's in over his head a lot more than he lets on, but one day a couple years ago I started a re-watch and… it just struck me how young he really was.  And when you see that… it's just, it's the saddest fucking thing.

Darkens my opinion of Akio a whole bunch, let me tell you.  I've not been too keen on trying to be understanding about him since then, to be honest.  As kind and forgiving as I usually am, as reluctant as I am to damn anyone, fictional or not, I hate Akio.

Miki feels more and more like an entitled prick.

I've gone from being kind of meh on Juri to really rather disliking her.  I've not got a lot of pity for people who make their own problems and then whine about it and use it as an excuse for being a dick because oh, they're so ~tragic~.  In my eyes, she's not tragic.  She made her own bed with Shiori; she was dishonest and refused to trust her, she let contempt taint her feelings, and at the point of the series (the beginning, even) she really needs to pull up her big girl panties and stop blaming other people for her problems.

The more I see Anthy's complicity and recognize the malice in her actions, the more I admire her for being able to walk away at the end of the series.

Saionji is my sweet darling and has been since shortly after my first watch-through. emot-biggrin


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#9 | Back to Top03-13-2017 01:58:27 PM

Kita-Ysabell
Covert Diarist
Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 809
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

YamPuff wrote:

I was indifferent to Touga, now I strongly dislike him.

I've always liked Touga and post-student-council-arc Nanami, now I really love them.

emot-confusedemot-confusedemot-confused


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#10 | Back to Top03-15-2017 04:44:57 PM

HonorableShadow
Cow Bellhop
From: Ohio
Registered: 11-03-2006
Posts: 464
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I used to really like Touga when I was young. Now he's one of my least favorite characters. I went in the opposite direction for Anthy, I didn't like her much when I was younger but now she's my favorite character.


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#11 | Back to Top03-18-2017 09:57:48 AM

Koshernova
Touga Topper
From: City 7
Registered: 08-22-2010
Posts: 53
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Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I used to think Miki was a misunderstood genius. Now I think he's a bit of a child.

I used to think Shiori and Saionji were really malevolent, now I thinkt they're children. I used to-- oh.

ok I'm seeing a pattern.

but yeah I used to ID with Miki a lot then I came out, transitioned, and now I ID with the sad lesbian even though I'm nowhere near as graceful or elegant.

Also I think my opinion of Akio has gotten even worse with time. I mean, I think he's an incredibly well written villain, but when I was a teenager I didn't fully realise just how much of a paedophilic rapist he truly is. So yeah.

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#12 | Back to Top03-25-2017 04:49:07 AM

itavin
Rose Bride
From: is-real
Registered: 10-21-2016
Posts: 119

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Unlike most people I started out hating Miki and Touga, but Now I can really relate to them and find them to be very well developed. As for characters I came to dislike more thorough the years, it is probably Wakaba. Used to relate to, but now I feel a little bit off with her and her psychopathic actions.


If you ever feel like wanting to ruin your life...  Chu...(mind_game)

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#13 | Back to Top04-06-2017 01:00:22 PM

Yams
Eternal Eschatologist
Registered: 02-13-2007
Posts: 939

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

YamPuff wrote:

I was indifferent to Touga, now I strongly dislike him.

I've always liked Touga and post-student-council-arc Nanami, now I really love them.

emot-confusedemot-confusedemot-confused

I've just edited my post, I meant that I like Saionji! XD


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#14 | Back to Top04-08-2017 10:30:12 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Kita-Ysabell wrote:

It took a second or third watch-through for me to really start seeing Touga as, well, a child.  I'm not even sure I can describe the shift or what precipitated it, maybe it's like DD said, that he's in over his head a lot more than he lets on, but one day a couple years ago I started a re-watch and… it just struck me how young he really was.  And when you see that… it's just, it's the saddest fucking thing.

I started out hating him because fuck off with that lame Prince shit, back when that was the prevailing opinion of the fandom. I felt this way 100% after a couple subsequent watches. He really is a child, and the show doesn't flaunt this exactly, but you know it, and it shadows his actions.

And then a couple more watches and I feel a little differently. He's a child, for sure. And he's being taken advantage of on an absolutely epic level. That said...at what point does a person become an adult compared to how Touga acts? He's a child, but I kind of wonder if he's not a child in the same way a not at all small number of legal adults are. If he'd been 23, would he have acted very different? Have I not seen grown-ass people act similarly? Maybe it's the jaded adult watching the show, but it becomes extremely hard to age him based on his behavior, and between him and Akio concepts like consent and adulthood become very nebulous.

I've tried watching from the assumption that he's a child. From the assumption him and Akio are both children. And from the assumption they're both adults. It's kind of scary how easily the show humors these premises, despite the wildly different implications they have for the characters.

At this point my internal viewpoint is somewhere between. He's a child, and Akio is...more or less not. It has a lot less to do with maturity than the power differential at that point, and while he's absolutely being manipulated, I wonder if he would have fared any better as an adult, with more experience. The vulnerabilities Akio uses against him aren't necessarily ones he'd outgrow over time, and while the behavior is absolutely reprehensible and sick...Akio wouldn't deserve a pass just because Touga was older.

I had written a long thing about Trump, Putin, and Bannon trying to illustrate the distinctions I'm trying to make. Then I started gagging because it worked too well and was making me very sad. So you just...do that yourself. emot-gonk


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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#15 | Back to Top04-09-2017 01:06:57 AM

Kita-Ysabell
Covert Diarist
Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 809
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Giovanna wrote:

I had written a long thing about Trump, Putin, and Bannon trying to illustrate the distinctions I'm trying to make. Then I started gagging because it worked too well and was making me very sad. So you just...do that yourself. emot-gonk

This is rife with photoshop potential.  Just sayin'.

(([I'd cast Putin as Akio, of course, which leaves… Trump as Touga? (lol hair) and Bannon as Saionji?  Well, at least Bannon's impending fall from grace maps well with the whole faked phone call and diary-burning from the end of the first arc.]))

I'm pretty sure that's not what you had in mind, but, well, this is where my mind goes.  I should really get some actual image editing software so that I can follow through on this shit.


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#16 | Back to Top04-09-2017 06:33:36 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Actually Akio is Putin and/or Bannon. Really depends on who you think is pulling the strings more, although given recent developments, yeah you're right. Bannon is going the way of Saionji--out the fucking door. One hopes. emot-aaa


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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#17 | Back to Top04-12-2017 01:30:40 PM

Yams
Eternal Eschatologist
Registered: 02-13-2007
Posts: 939

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

The real question is, who gets to do twirly flips over the car?


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#18 | Back to Top04-12-2017 05:35:30 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Well.... Putin is the only one in that miserable bunch that looks remotely fit enough to even get on top of a car, nevermind not have the frame crush in under his weight. emot-rolleyes

Then again, Trump's grab em by the pussy pedigree is a lot to live up to and I don't know if Touga's quite there yet.


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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#19 | Back to Top04-12-2017 07:39:41 PM

Kita-Ysabell
Covert Diarist
Registered: 11-18-2012
Posts: 809
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I thought I did cast Putin as Akio?  Can't check though 'cause I'm on my phone.

Also, of course Touga doesn't live up to Trump's sleaze, that's why he's so much more tragic and sympathetic-- he's too young to be that set in his ways.  emot-tongue


"Et in Arcadio ego..."

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#20 | Back to Top04-13-2017 01:27:55 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

Yes, we did cast him as Akio anyway. school-devil

I know we jest but there's a horrifying takehome here. Akio in the real world would do just fine.


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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#21 | Back to Top04-15-2017 10:40:53 PM

Razara
Marionette Mistress
From: Wuzzy Happy Akio Town (What?)
Registered: 10-17-2006
Posts: 4683

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

I used to strongly dislike Akio, but now I think he's kind of sexy. emot-redface

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#22 | Back to Top05-28-2017 08:36:39 PM

dollface
Postmistress Elf of Subtext
From: North Carolina
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 5068
Website

Re: Has Your Judgment of a Character Changed Over Time?

This seems like a great thread to just jump right into; considering I apparently "last posted in 2011" I've had a good while to reshape opinions!

...But despite that, I don't know how much the real meat of those opinions has changed, as much as my approach to the characters has.

Starting off where I always started, Shiori. As a long-time Shiori fan, it's been fascinating and butterfly-inducing and kind of unbelievable to watch popular opinions start to shift from quite an extreme level of hate to a more sympathetic view. It isn't across the board, certainly, and that's alright, because even just this much is enough to embarrassingly uplift my spirits. (I think I might have maybe almost cried about it once? That can't be proven.) My opinion on Shiori hasn't really changed, just evolved (can you believe I have even more things to say about her, jesus, wasn't it enough before?) and softened around the edges. That would be the real change, I think. When I look back at the, er, intensity I kind of just existed with, I can definitely see changes there even if the favored character still remains favored.

Touga is a character I always sort of felt at odds with. I found Akio to be very compelling as a villain and eventually as a character, I found Mikage pitiable more than despicable, and smaller "baddies" like Saionji or Nanami were enjoyable in their big personalities while lacking any actual leverage in the situation-- but Touga, for whatever reason, was the biggest outlier for me of this "antagonistic" grouping. I think I've come to understand one version of Touga's appeal now, though, and can enjoy his episodes and his part of the story much more by not looking at him through a princely lens (a lens he fell short of) but through the lens of, as others put it, a child. A child who is kind of an ass, and kind of feels unfulfilled by it but doesn't know how to feel anything else properly, and thinks he's an adult and can see the scope beyond his fellow student council members who are so easily manipulated, and is actually living in his coffin way deeper than the rest of the student council because of this belief that he understands the game or holds any cards in it. That's something I definitely failed to fully see in him before, and it's moved Touga into a more neutral light for me.

Miki is a character I found a bit bland, but have warmed to a good bit. I loved Kozue, and still do, but I've come to really love the way the twins play off each other in equal parts rather than so strongly favoring her half of the story. Like Touga, the stasis Miki kind of exists within didn't thrill me, and impacted how much I could really hook into his development, but now I've come to appreciate what that stasis says about the character and their place in the story.

With Juri, I often liked her but even more often ended up batting opposite her during discussions of her relationship with and to Shiori, but even during the supportive days there was still... some sort of barrier around her that I wasn't always interested in getting through. My feelings on Juri have expanded as I focused more on the ways Juri is so deeply self-indulgent with her own pain, and I love her so much more because of it. Like Touga, there was a time when Juri was regarded as a would-be prince a bit, and sometimes as a product of that a lot of her chips and cracks were smoothed away, and in the past few years I've really just gone nuts picking at all the little cracks until I could see a character that I truly loved. That's sort of a common thread, I guess-- the characters I used to think were a little too one-note are actually whole entire characters with like, flaws and dumb ideas and good intentions and bad followthrough and it's amazing how much that realization matters.

I used to think Tsuwabuki was relatable but not very likable; I think the same thing about myself and my posts from a decade ago.

Finally, I went through periods of liking Anthy, and then being a bit too hard on Anthy, and then being a bit too soft on Anthy, and finally I've settled on the belief that the depth and nuance of Anthy's writing is an actual masterpiece. Anthy is not the good guy. Anthy is not the bad guy. Anthy is not the villain. Anthy is not the martyr. Anthy avoids any neat characterization and goddamn does the series as a whole benefit from how well every facet of her was teased and then turned on its head. I think now that SKU's legacy is really owed to Anthy more than any single character.

Last edited by dollface (05-29-2017 01:25:11 AM)


ah, man does not exist; ah, within the darkness; ah, the sound of the waves

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