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#1 | Back to Top09-26-2017 09:43:38 PM

anthy_himemiya
Miki Molester
From: Jacksonville, FL
Registered: 08-05-2017
Posts: 33

Utena/Anthy and homophobia

I want to preface this thread by clarifying that I absolutely do NOT think that anyone who does not view Utena/Anthy as a couple is homophobic. I agree that given the context of the series, their relationship is subtle and can really be interpreted either way. No, what I don't understand are people who get SO offended when you insinuate that Utena/Anthy are more than friends. I remember back in the early 00's, like 2001 or 2002, posting on a Utena forum and talking about my opinion that Utena/Anthy were in love and I was immediately attacked by a bunch of people who were all "OMG, how dare you! They are completely straight and nothing more than friends! You must be some lesbo obsessed with her sexuality to even suggest something like that!"

I also remember during this time period, the owner of a Sailor Moon site, I think it was... She wrote some huge rant going off on people who liked to ship same-sex couples that weren't canon and included Utena/Anthy in this, going on about how "OMG, HOW DARE THEY MAKE STRAIGHT PEOPLE GAY!"

I mean, here's what I don't understand. A piece of art is generally open to interpretation, especially one as ambiguous and symbolic as Utena. So why aren't people allowed to interpret Utena/Anthy as a romantic pairing if they so wish? It isn't as if there absolutely isn't any basis for it in the show, and even Ikuhara has said that he intended for them to be a couple in the TV series, just wasn't able to be as overt with it as he would've liked. (That said, I do think Saito mostly intended for them to be viewed as just friends in the manga.)

However, I feel it necessary to note that most of this happened during the early 00's. I've noticed that since then, feelings about homosexuality have changed in general and people are a lot more open-minded. When I see people debate Utena/Anthy and the nature of their relationship nowadays, it's a lot more mature than what I saw back then. But still, I was a bit shocked and even offended back then by some of the reactions I got.

Last edited by anthy_himemiya (09-26-2017 09:45:37 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top09-27-2017 01:13:29 PM

Empress_Arcana
Ohtori Paramouri
From: omnipresent
Registered: 07-22-2016
Posts: 98

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Damn, that's some sad but interesting insight on a section of the fandom back then. emot-frown Which forum was that?
I've definitely noticed a huuuuuge amount of people support Utena x Anthy now (including myself). In fact, I think a lot of newer fans got interested because of the gay subtext (also including myself, but I stayed for more than just that).
I agree as well that other interpretations of their relationship are valid; hell, if someone wanted to say they were just friends in the big lesbian romp that is the movie, I could still see that. The way the franchise uses sexuality as more... er, sometimes more than just blatant sex appeal helps support that interpretation. And also because everybody sleeps with everybody in this darn series.
It's interesting to hear what the fandom was like back in the day, even if some people were immature. I joined in 2015, so it's kinda like a history lesson, hahaha emot-biggrin


"You don’t have to bend the whole world. I think it's better to just enjoy it. Pay your dues... and enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high... hooray for you."
- Dorian Corey, Paris Is Burning

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#3 | Back to Top09-28-2017 10:30:30 AM

purple-riot
Wakaba Wrangler
Registered: 08-02-2017
Posts: 12

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Wow that's rough. Also it's so strange to imagine that now. By now it's swung so far the other way that it can seem like suggesting they AREN'T a couple is a controversial view. Either way, it's kind of a shame, since I think that ambiguity is a strength of their relationship and the series in general.

Anyway, I guess it was a different time. I do remember many years ago internet fan communities being a bit like that. It probably didn't help that the people most visibly supporting same-sex relationships in their fiction of choice tended to be big yaoi shippers.


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#4 | Back to Top12-02-2017 06:06:57 PM

wlwutena
New Student
From: FL
Registered: 12-01-2017
Posts: 6
Website

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Honestly!
It saddens me to think there are people who don’t see Utena and Anthy as a couple, honestly, Ikuhara himself sees them as more than friends and I think even Chiho Saito, although she wrote them as more platonic, wrote them as being hinted to having a deeper relationship in many scenarios. Especially the movie manga, considering how explicitly gay the movie is haha.

I don’t really mind people’s headcanons and opinions, it’s up to you to decide how you view their relationship, but they have such a good and compelling one. Sucks to miss out on it lmao. My worst moment was talking about RGU at an anime store in front of my very homophobic mom. The clerk mentioned Anthy and Utena’s relationship and I feigned ignorance so my mom wouldn’t be pissed at my interest and I keep having war flashbacks bc I probably seemed like a homophobic idiot I just was avoiding getting in trouble. Meanwhile I’m a closeteted lesbian. Funny how that works

Anyways! I agree with everything u said. Don’t know why people get so offended over it?

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#5 | Back to Top12-19-2017 04:48:17 PM

anthy_himemiya
Miki Molester
From: Jacksonville, FL
Registered: 08-05-2017
Posts: 33

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

wlwutena wrote:

Honestly!
It saddens me to think there are people who don’t see Utena and Anthy as a couple, honestly, Ikuhara himself sees them as more than friends and I think even Chiho Saito, although she wrote them as more platonic, wrote them as being hinted to having a deeper relationship in many scenarios. Especially the movie manga, considering how explicitly gay the movie is haha.

I agree. I know that Ikuhara's original intent was always for them to be a romantic couple, and while Saito had some disagreement and didn't portray them as much in the original manga, I do think that she came around by time she wrote the movie-manga. In the movie manga, they share several kisses and [are even shown on a date at the end.]

One thing I was wondering about Utena and Anthy, though, is how much a type of "gaydar" comes into it. For example, those of us that watch Utena and are queer ourselves see the underlying queer subtext in their relationship, whereas someone who is straight sees them as just friends. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case a lot of the time.

And I agree that they have such a good and compelling relationship. Their ship is honestly about my all-time favorite one in all of fiction, and that's saying something. In spite of the the subtlety, I almost think I prefer their series relationship over the movie because of how more complex, natural and developed it is, and just how totally selfless their love is for one another. The movie relationship is good, too, and I love seeing them kiss and actually be all romantic, but my only issue is that if you view the movie as its own separate canon entirely, it feels a tad rushed and forced. Now, if you subscribe to the theory that the movie is a sequel of sorts (and I do)... then their relationship in the movie is freakin' amazing as well.

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#6 | Back to Top12-20-2017 09:12:37 AM

LadyButterflyNebula
Ballgoer
From: Arkansas
Registered: 03-23-2017
Posts: 148
Website

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

So I got into the fandom thanks to my first girlfriend back in 2000 or so when the movie was getting ready to come out.  She was SO EXCITED about the scene where Utena and Anthy first kiss in the garden.  I- having no context at that point- was like "Cool, as lesbian kiss that's canon".  The movie was my first intro to Utena (how the hell did I stay?) so going to the series after was easier for me to see their relationship as romantic, although problematic. (Gawd, going from the movie to the show was a trip)

I remember attitudes like this more in the Sailor Moon fandom.  There was some BS on Save our Sailor (SOS) about Uranus being a prince in their past lives and how they weren't really gay.  This was made worse by the "cousins" situation brought to us by Cloverway (what a cluster fuck).

I sincerely don't recall ever running into people claiming Anthy and Utena weren't a couple, but at that time I wasn't as deeply into Utena as I am now.  My money ran out somewhere about Nanami's Egg epsiode in the DVD run.  It would be more than a decade later when I was actually able to finish the series and have my love explode for it.  The fact that it isn't a clear cut happy ending, and revolutionizing the world was really revolutionizing ONE person's world- it knocked me off my feet. But I digress...

Sorry you had to go through that.  I'm glad the world has turned around for the most part.  Can oyu imagine if this series was done today and Utena and Anthy COULD get married?


Usubeni midarete manatsu no yo no yume yume
Tobitatsu kagerou koi kogarerou
Anata wo omoeba yume ni yume ni yume miru
Afureru yorokobi towa ni towa ni

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#7 | Back to Top12-21-2017 01:36:43 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Fandom
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8779
Website

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

LadyButterflyNebula wrote:

Can oyu imagine if this series was done today and Utena and Anthy COULD get married?

I think I'd have liked this less. emot-frown

TBH, I'm one of the garbage people that has never taken them to be a couple. I've been accused of homophobia because of this before, which is pretty rich given I'm a woman married to a woman. But I realize I don't present as especially well, queer, in the fandom since I'm known to be female and mostly scream about how much I love the male cast.

I think it's great that the reading of their characters has opened up so much over the years! That said... Ikuhara having wanted to make them a thing never registered to me as something that justified it in the canon--he didn't get to do that, and his wanting to doesn't change the content we're given. And I'm glad he was stopped, because the ambiguity about their relationship to me is the strongest thing about it. You can certainly read it as a romantic relationship, but you also don't necessarily have to. I read Utena and Anthy as almost...something else entirely. Whether it's romantic or not has become less important than just how deep it goes, because they've reached some kind of Other Thing.

Still, pretty much no reading on the spectrum between friends and lovers can't be backed up in the show, and that's to me damn impressive storytelling. It leaves so much up to you. I read them as straight to bisexual, which.. of course figures, since that describes me. But also, the storyline to me shifts to something far less compelling if you read Utena as not having any sexual or romantic interest in men. You're still left with something disturbing and interesting, but there's so much missing from any version where Touga and Akio aren't actually ever genuinely desirable to her, and what I admire about her journey and her resolution loses some of its potency without that.

It's so strange to me how the fandom has shifted and changed over the years, it leads to some fascinating conversations that would have been totally bonkers to us 15 years ago! We still thought Touga wasn't a piece of shit back then.


Akio, you have nice turns of phrase, but your points aren't clear and you have no textual support. I can't give this a passing grade.
~ Professor Arisa Konno, Eng 1001 (Freshman Literature and Composition)

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#8 | Back to Top12-22-2017 05:55:57 PM

anthy_himemiya
Miki Molester
From: Jacksonville, FL
Registered: 08-05-2017
Posts: 33

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Giovanna wrote:

LadyButterflyNebula wrote:

Can oyu imagine if this series was done today and Utena and Anthy COULD get married?

I think I'd have liked this less. emot-frown

TBH, I'm one of the garbage people that has never taken them to be a couple. I've been accused of homophobia because of this before, which is pretty rich given I'm a woman married to a woman. But I realize I don't present as especially well, queer, in the fandom since I'm known to be female and mostly scream about how much I love the male cast.

Well, I feel like I should make this clear, my post wasn't intended towards people who just think they're friends. I was more referring to the type that stated it as a fact and would force their opinion on others, like I encountered in the fandom back in the day. I was basically treated like an idiot just because I happened to view them romantically and as more than "just friends", and I think that's wrong. I'm glad that the fandom nowadays, and this forum especially, is more open-minded, where people can discuss different opinions, viewpoints and interpretations respectfully. Especially in a series like Utena, where so much really is ambiguous and open to interpretation.

And there's nothing wrong with being a queer female and preferring the male cast. I think it just goes to show how much opinions and preferences can vary in the fandom. Personally, I'm a queer female who definitely prefers the female cast, specifically Utena, Anthy and Juri -- who are my favorites. I'm actually not a fan of the male cast, with the exceptions of maybe Miki, Tsuwabuki, and Mikage. The rest of the male cast just come off as too abusive, misogynistic, and manipulative for my tastes. Not to say they don't have aspects of their characters that are definitely interesting and help make the show what it is, just that I can't say I particularly "like" them.

And I'm glad he was stopped, because the ambiguity about their relationship to me is the strongest thing about it. You can certainly read it as a romantic relationship, but you also don't necessarily have to.

This is interesting to me too, because personally, I think I'm torn between liking their relationship in the series being ambiguous, and wanting it to be more explicit. On one hand, as much as I ship them and love them as a couple, I would have loved to have seen them do more. On the other, I think some of the subtlety -- the subtext, the innuendo, the teasing -- is one of my favorite parts of their relationship.

There's also the fact despite how much I would have loved to see it, I think given the context of their characters and development in the series, I'm not entirely sure anything more physical between them, i.e. kissing and sex, would have been entirely appropriate. Mostly with how Utena's character development is about her being naive, immature, and in denial about a lot of things -- especially the extent of her feelings regarding Anthy, and with Anthy's character, you're never sure if anything with her is entirely consensual due to her subservient role as the Rose Bride. I don't think anything physical occurring would have entirely worked at least not until the end of the series, as in, the very last few episodes, where they finally start to grow up and come out of their shells.

I also agree that I definitely read Utena and Anthy as bisexual, not just lesbian. Mainly due to the fact that I feel they ARE depicted as showing romantic and sexual attraction to men in both the movie and the series, which - by definition - makes them bisexual, not gay. That said, there is the fact that Utena's love for Anthy is true love, whereas I tend to view her attraction to Akio in the series as just an innocent puppy crush -- which kind of makes it even more disturbing that he takes advantage of it. I could easily see Utena getting married to Anthy and spending the rest of her life with her. Akio, or any other male in the series? Not so much.

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#9 | Back to Top01-27-2018 04:18:12 AM

Koshernova
Touga Topper
From: City 7
Registered: 08-22-2010
Posts: 55
Website

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

I remember when I first came across people who argued the way the OP points out. It was about, I wanna say, 2008 or so?

When I moved to the English speaking world, I wasn't very involved in anime online fandom (my online fan activities were centered around Final Fantasy). My anime fandom as a teen had been with friends, irl, in fan clubs in Argentina. At the time we managed to find the first 12 eps of Utena from the Spanish dub (which I still think is an amazing dub). My then close-knit group of friends was 50% queer and 50% not, but we were all about anime that showed same-sex couples, because, well, we were starved for representation. We loved CLAMP, Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura, even more BECAUSE of the queer content. So when we watched Utena we were like 'this is awesome and this is so gay and we love it'.

I mean yeah, Giovanna is right, canon doesn't fully back it up either way which is the beauty of it. But, like, the idea that someone could be VEHEMENTLY against it was like... what? Like, why are you watching *THIS* show, then? If nothing else, Utena is SUPER queerbaity, so yeah, to me it was a very very weird thing to see, and I'm glad that a lot of anglophone anime fandom has moved on from that!

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#10 | Back to Top01-27-2018 07:09:40 AM

Ayu Ohseki
Miki Molester
Registered: 12-13-2011
Posts: 39

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

I don't know that I'd call SKU "queerbaity," but yeah, it's really funny to me (in an actually-not-very-funny way) that someone could watch this show and insist up and down that there's no possible way to read Utena and Anthy as romantic. Even if you watch strictly the TV series, the second ED has them make out and gaze lovingly into each other's eyes, which would seem to me to at least encourage a romantic view of their relationship even if it's never made explicit in the show itself.

I remember reading an Animerica article on the Utena movie before it was officially released, though I forget if it was before the Japanese release or just the English. Either way it was before I personally saw the movie. It had a picture of Utena and Anthy in the dancing scene and claimed that at this point in the movie, Anthy thought Utena was a boy and that's why she looked so happy to be dancing with her. I don't know if the article-writer actually believed that or if they were trying to cover their ass, but when I actually saw the movie and Anthy only ever kisses Utena AFTER she learns she's a girl, this claim became a source of LOL for me.


"My brother's partner would have to be ‬attractive in face and figure,‭ ‬good at all sports,‭ ‬excellent in her studies,‭ ‬quick-witted, pretty‬ and pure of heart... luxurious and gorgeous, smooth sailing, auspicious for all occasions, born of the Pure Land, a beauty fated to die young, scandalous max, and vexatiously mysterious, at the very least!" --Kiryuu Nanami

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#11 | Back to Top02-01-2018 07:32:58 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
Posts: 2925

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

I think what contributes to the ambiguity in their relationship is the lack of explicitness, and that's intentional. However, we're viewing Japanese media from a Western perspective, a 21st century Western perspective at that. 1997 Japan is pretty similar to 1977 America, so you have to view things with that in mind.

That said, it's worth mentioning that one of the issues with how adolescent homosexuality is seen in Japan is that it's almost the same as how Westerners see homosexuality in college. I'm sure we're all familiar with the concept of "gay until graduation" or "it's just an experimental phase". So we sit here and see a great romance beginning with Utena and Anthy because we know homosexuality isn't a phase or experiment, but the average Japanese person in 1997 probably thinks they're what's known as a "Class S" relationship.


Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again.
It's so far and out of sight.
I really need someone to talk to and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight.

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#12 | Back to Top02-04-2018 05:00:14 AM

SaigonAlice
Anthy Assailer
Registered: 09-13-2016
Posts: 77

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Raven Nightshade wrote:

I think what contributes to the ambiguity in their relationship is the lack of explicitness, and that's intentional. However, we're viewing Japanese media from a Western perspective, a 21st century Western perspective at that. 1997 Japan is pretty similar to 1977 America, so you have to view things with that in mind.

That said, it's worth mentioning that one of the issues with how adolescent homosexuality is seen in Japan is that it's almost the same as how Westerners see homosexuality in college. I'm sure we're all familiar with the concept of "gay until graduation" or "it's just an experimental phase". So we sit here and see a great romance beginning with Utena and Anthy because we know homosexuality isn't a phase or experiment, but the average Japanese person in 1997 probably thinks they're what's known as a "Class S" relationship.

This may be very petty of me, it may just be an issue of wording, but I don't really like the way we western progressives tend to...infantalise Japan.

Yes Japan (and the rest of us Asians) values community well-being over self-interest, which in itself isn't as bad as you might think, but it does give birth to very insular communities. Which in turn leads to suppression and ignorance, which in turn leads to bigotry, or at the very least the expectation that you shouldn't be open about your sexuality anywhere except for nichoume. But at the end of the day, Japanese people are still human, they're still capable of thinking for themselves, of learning from mistakes. You'd be surprised at how insightful Japanese feminists and gay rights activists are - they probably have things to teach us, having had to live in a society significantly different from ours for their entire lives.

Furthermore, I believe the legalisation of homophobia was something that was "exported" from the West and while this is no excuse for the oppression that happens now, it is something to consider.


Thân em như quả mít trên cây,
Vỏ nó sù sì, múi nó dày.
Quân tử có yêu thì đóng cọc,
Xin đừng mân mó nhựa ra tay. - Hồ Xuân Hương

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#13 | Back to Top02-05-2018 03:58:26 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
Posts: 2925

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

SaigonAlice wrote:

This may be very petty of me, it may just be an issue of wording, but I don't really like the way we western progressives tend to...infantalise Japan.

I was unaware that I was infantilising Japanese society/culture. My apologies. Thank you for informing me.


Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again.
It's so far and out of sight.
I really need someone to talk to and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight.

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#14 | Back to Top02-06-2018 07:57:04 AM

SaigonAlice
Anthy Assailer
Registered: 09-13-2016
Posts: 77

Re: Utena/Anthy and homophobia

Raven Nightshade wrote:

SaigonAlice wrote:

This may be very petty of me, it may just be an issue of wording, but I don't really like the way we western progressives tend to...infantalise Japan.

I was unaware that I was infantilising Japanese society/culture. My apologies. Thank you for informing me.

Oh no sweetie I don't fault you for that, it's a very easy pitfall to fall into and it's something we all do as western leftists. I've done it myself.

And haha sorry if I kind of used you as a launchboard into my own tangent. It's just very interesting to me.

Now that I see you are active, would you like to join our discord? PM me if you're interested.


Thân em như quả mít trên cây,
Vỏ nó sù sì, múi nó dày.
Quân tử có yêu thì đóng cọc,
Xin đừng mân mó nhựa ra tay. - Hồ Xuân Hương

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