This is a static copy of In the Rose Garden, which existed as the center of the western Utena fandom for years. Enjoy. :)

#1 | Back to Top04-07-2009 05:54:02 AM

Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 378

The (More) Benevolent Puppetmaster: A self-examination on Movie Anthy.

The (More) Benevolent Puppetmaster: A self-examination on Movie Anthy.

(Note: Anthy's backstory in the movie is mainly covered in my examination of Movie Akio. This examination will focus on Anthy's actions and feelings during the movie itself.)

Q. So what's up with Movie Anthy?
A. She is the one orchestrating the duels at Ohtori, and is effectively the ruler of its closed world. Her goal is to find her true prince, in contrast with her dead brother, who was a false prince.

Q. Why is Movie Anthy so different in personality from Series Anthy?
A. It's quite natural. In a way, you could say that Movie Anthy is already much farther on her way to being the person Series Anthy will become. They are the same character, but in very different circumstances. Movie Anthy is an Anthy without the guilt, the helplessness, the sense of responsibility that Series Anthy is burdened with until the end of the show.

Q. Why is that the case?
A. Series Anthy bore both the shame of sealing away her brother and turning him into the husk of human evil that Series Akio is, as well as taking Dios away from all the rest of the world. However, Movie Anthy has no cause for guilt. She loved her brother as her "prince", but when his true self was revealed to her, it shattered her illusions of him being such. He stabbed her and committed suicide, but it is clear that Anthy does not feel responsible for that. She's focused now on the hope of finding her true prince.

Q. She certainly seems much more upbeat, even lighthearted, doesn't she?
A. Perhaps. It might be too much to say she is "enjoying" her current life, but there is no doubt that Ohtori is a very comfortable place for her. She tends to her garden, plays at a normal school life, runs the duel game in the hopes of finding her prince, and "entertains" the winners. However, it's important to realize that Anthy's seemingly extroverted mood around Utena may simply be because of Utena. That is to say, it's a result of her attraction to Utena and her belief that Utena is the one she's been waiting for. Either way though, one thing is for certain: Movie Anthy is a vastly more empowered character. Throughout the movie, she makes choices and takes action in a way that Series Anthy could never have done.

Q. So when does this belief in Utena first show itself?
A. During the duel with Saionji. Anthy is at first startled that Utena has a Rose Crest and knows its name, despite never being given one by her. Remember, Anthy is the one running the duels. Who is this person that just shows up? However, Utena's forthright words after Saionji hits Anthy makes Anthy begin to believe that this strange girl might be the one she's been waiting for.

Q. But even before the duel starts, there's some indication that Anthy is predisposed toward Utena, isn't there?
A. It seems so. From the moment Anthy appears, she's cradling a single pink rose close to her heart. In floriography, the "language of flowers", the pink rose means "grace", or an expression of favor. This single rose is in contrast to the sea of red roses, which while beautiful are all the same. When Saionji appears he's given just one of the many red roses, and Anthy plucks it in a perfunctory, haphazard manner. The meaning is clear: He is nothing special. The single pink rose though, the special rose that Anthy has held close and signifies her favor, she gives to Utena. A clear expression of Utena's specialness, and a clear choice on Anthy's part.

Q. This fledgling belief in Utena is also the reason Anthy offers Utena the Sword of the Prince, isn't it?
A. Yes. Utena is on the verge of being defeated, but Anthy again makes a clear and bold choice to grant Utena her favor. It's notable that while Saionji is the current duel winner, he is not offered the Sword and does not seem aware of its existence. It's possible that Utena is the first person Anthy has ever offered it to, the first person she's believed in enough. This moment sets the first precedent of Anthy "rescuing" Utena, something that happens repeatedly throughout the movie.

Q. With Utena's victory over Saionji, what's Anthy thinking?
A. I believe that Anthy makes a firm decision that Utena is the one that she wants, and as we see in the Bedroom Scene, she begins to pursue Utena with a combination of teasing sensual invitation and earnest emotional appeal. She's not merely waiting around for Utena to become her prince, she takes proactive steps to make it happen by drawing Utena close to her and helping Utena free herself from her past.

Q. Touga is Anthy's rival; they both have their intentions for Utena. How do these two interact with each other?
A. They only directly interact once, during the Pool Scene. As I said in Utena's examination, Touga is attempting here to come between Anthy and Utena. His solicitous manner toward Anthy, and his evocative comments to Utena about what he might have done with Anthy sexually are intended to make Utena jealous, and turn her against Anthy. It works temporarily, although Anthy (being the master of resource as always) turns Utena to her side decisively during the Dance Scene.

Q. But what about Anthy's own behavior? Her manner toward Touga is playful, even comradely. How can that be?
A. Anthy sees Touga for what he is, a ghost of the past that is "haunting" Utena. However, at this point Anthy doesn't recognize what a threat Touga actually is. He is more than just a specter of Utena's lingering feelings. He has plans and weapons that Anthy doesn't yet realize. In any case, her playful manner toward him is not for his benefit, but is directed at Utena. Anthy is confident that she can free Utena from his memory; despite her remaining attachment to Touga, Utena is attracted to Anthy, and Anthy of course sees this. By playing herself off of Touga, who she recognizes as Utena's romantic past, Anthy is teasing Utena, trying to goad her into a release of her pent up feelings. That ambition, which begins here in the Pool Scene, comes to fruition later in the Dance Scene.

Q. How so?
A. As the Dance Scene begins, Anthy intentionally references Touga in order to catalyze a reaction from Utena, which she then turns to her own advantage. Anthy's physical actions mirror what just happened emotionally: just as she "cut open" Utena with Touga's name, causing her clashing feelings to come bursting out, she then cuts open the water pipe, sending the water spraying. This sets the stage for a beautiful and symbolic gift that becomes the turning point in their romance. The beginning of the dance recalls the climax of the TV series so very strongly, but again it is a total reversal. This time it is Anthy who stretches out her hand lovingly to Utena, and Utena who hesitantly accepts it.

Q. How about the Sketch Scene, which happens immediately after the dance?
A. It's very important character and relationship development scene. Utena declares she will not be dueling any more, and removes her ring. However, as she does it, Anthy only smiles wider. Utena continues to impress Anthy with her forthright behavior. Here, though she is now the "engaged", the winner to whom goes the luxury of Anthy's willingness to be used, Utena dismisses it all - dismisses the false grandeur of the duels, the prestige of winning, and her "claim" on Anthy as the victor's spoils. This is princely behavior, and Utena goes even further by trying to draw out Anthy as a person with thoughts and feelings. "Won't you open your heart up to me a little more?" Anthy responds to Utena's request by showing her scar and (as we learn a little later) telling her about the power of miracles which the duelists are competing for.

Q. Regarding the scar itself?
A. It is mostly straightforward. Its presence, in both a literal and figurative sense, represents the "death of the prince" - Anthy's loss of faith in Akio that was discussed in my examination of him. As Utena looks at the paintings, they become a composite of Anthy, but the space where her chest (and the scar) should be is missing. In its place is The Painting.

Q. What about the fact that Anthy's eyes are blindfolded in this composite picture?
A. That simply means that Anthy was blind to her brother's evil until she gained the scar - in other words, when he stabbed her.

Q. You haven't talked about it yet, but what's the significance of The Painting?
A. The Painting has two elements: the figure of a prince in a distant castle, and second, a waterlogged boat. This painting could very well be entitled "Death of the Prince", because that's exactly what these images mean for both Anthy and Utena. It represents Touga just as much as Akio; the waterlogged boat is the symbol of Touga's death, and this painting appears in the foreground during Utena's initial encounter with him at the beginning of the movie.

Q. Getting back to Utena's behavior, it's indeed a stark departure from that of the other duelists, isn't it?
A. It is. The other duelists, Saionji, Miki, and Juri, are all in such a fervor to gain the power they desire. Dreaming dreams of glory and fulfillment, they care nothing for Anthy; Saionji views her as his personal property, Juri is explicitly stated to despise her, and Miki appears to have no opinion of her at all. They have no regard for her wishes or feelings as a human being. The irony is that not only is Anthy the puppetmaster pulling all their strings, but by choosing to disdain her as a mere stepping stone to the power they're so zealously seeking, they stand absolutely no chance of ever attaining it.

Q. How do you mean?
A. Although Anthy claims the duelists can win "eternity, miracles, that which glows" by participating, it is an empty inducement. Anthy is the keeper of that power, and will give it only to the one who shows her the nobility, righteousness, empathy, and compassion that are a prince's badges. In other words, Anthy is testing the duelists, and what better way to test a person than to offer them the power to fulfill their deepest desires, then watch how they behave in order to gain it? This is also the reason Anthy offers herself to the duel winners. What better way to gauge how someone will treat you, than to give them permission to treat you however they want?

Q. But despite being impressed by Utena's behavior in this regard, Anthy still intends to get Utena to duel again, right?
A. Of course. Anthy's plan is to deepen their relationship while also keeping Utena on the path Anthy wants her to walk. In fact, Anthy accomplishes both goals at once. She opens up sincerely and candidly to Utena, and in doing so she gives Utena renewed incentive to way or another.

Q. One way or another? What do you mean?
A. Anthy is taking a calculated risk here. She knows that although she's made great progress in drawing Utena close to her, Utena's connection to Touga still remains. So, there are two ways Utena might react to being shown this secret, and offered this power.

#1. On the one hand, it might serve to strengthen her bond with Anthy. In compassion and understanding of Anthy's feelings, she could continue to display her nobility by rejoining the duels to safeguard her bond with Anthy, and to protect Anthy from exploitation. This is the path to becoming Anthy's true prince.

#2. On the other hand though, she might - like the other duelists - be tempted to grasp at the power Anthy offers, in order to fulfill a strong desire. Since childhood, Utena has wished that Touga had been a prince to her. Utena might come to envision that power as able to make her own long-cherished wishes a reality. This is the path to nowhere, because again that power can't actually be won, only given by Anthy to the one who becomes her prince.

In short, Anthy is venturing that Utena will choose her over her lingering attachment to Touga.

Q. So Anthy is testing Utena too?
A. Partially, but she is also trying to help Utena. Anthy wants Utena. More than just as a prince, she wants Utena's love and acceptance as a person, and she knows that she is the best thing for Utena too. Anthy trusts that Utena will fulfill her expectations IF Utena can free herself from Touga's emotional baggage. By tempting her in this way, Anthy is fundamentally asking Utena a question: What does she really want? Does she want Touga as her prince, or does she truly want to become a prince herself, for herself, as she claims?

Q. But in the end, Anthy is still tricking Utena in a sense, isn't she?
A. On one level or another, Anthy is "tricking" everyone...except Touga.

Q. Anthy and Touga clash again through the medium of Utena's duel with Juri, correct?
A. Indeed, the Juri duel is the main "battle scene" between them. The ostensible conflict between Utena and Juri is only a facade for the conflict between Anthy and Touga, who is using Shiori as a tool to manipulate Juri and sabotage the duel. At this point, Anthy still isn't aware that what she's attempting to dispel is more than just a ghost of Utena's past, and that lack of understanding proves to be her greatest weakness.

Q. As you said, Anthy got Utena to duel again "one way or another", but which "way" is it? What is Utena's mental state during the duel? Did Anthy's "calculated risk" succeed?
A. Of course. Anthy's gambit paid off beautifully. Until Anthy's revelation, Utena had no real understanding of Anthy's situation. Anthy had always shown nothing but willingness to participate as the Rose Bride, and Utena had no insight into her comfortable but empty existence. Now though, Utena understands the callousness and neglect that Anthy has been subjected to, and that's why, although Utena had renounced the duels and removed her ring in the previous scene, it is now back on her finger, and she duels Juri with a fierce drive. Even as Juri's counteroffensive begins to turn the tables, Utena cries "I can't afford to lose!" in passionate desperation. As she now knows, both her own feelings and Anthy's are at stake.

Q. During this part of the duel, there is a short flashback in which we learn the specifics of Anthy's revelation. The image of Utena and Anthy holding hands that appears briefly during this flashback is highly significant, is it not?
A. Although this image appears and disappears very quickly, it is a definitive statement on how Utena reacted to Anthy's revelation. As before with the dance, this shot very strongly recalls the joined hands at the climax of the TV series, but it is also a contrast. Painstaking visual analysis is not my area of enthusiasm (as should be obvious by now, character examination is), but it's interesting to compare these shots:

In the TV series, their hands are reaching out from across opposite sides of a literal and figurative gulf...their feelings and experiences, while vastly different, are attempting to reach out to each other. In the case of the movie though, Utena and Anthy are situated side by side, their hands not reaching out but bridging comfortably between their reposing bodies. To me, this indicates the unity of their feelings, their burgeoning trust and pleasure in each other, their fundamentally similar pasts (as discussed in my examination of Utena), and Utena's renewed commitment to Anthy, as shown by the fact that she is once again wearing the ring.

Q. But does that image actually take place in a literal sense? Or is it entirely figurative?
A. There's no reason it can't or shouldn't be taken literally. It's not really addressed, but although the Sketch Scene segues abruptly and directly into the Juri Duel, obviously some time had to pass between those two scenes. It could've been hours or days, and who knows what might've happened in that time? Why, Anthy and Utena might've even...mufufu...well, they were naked together, and then holding hands side by side? <fangirl scream> Uh, ignore that please...

Q. Leaving that aside...what's happening as the "battle" progresses?
A. Touga's first major offensive stroke comes out of nowhere, as Juri suddenly taunts Utena with Touga's name and ridicules Utena's feelings, both for him and for her goal of princehood. Juri was handed these weapons by Shiori, who got them directly from Touga. It's here that Anthy first begins to realize she's being actively plotted against; Anthy knows that no one else should know about Touga, and she is noticeably unhappy.

Q. How does Utena react to this?
A. It's not for no reason that Touga hasn't been sighted or referenced around Utena since the beginning of the Dance Scene. Despite how important Touga's memory had been to Utena for so long, Anthy has gradually supplanted him in Utena's mind, to the point that she had temporarily forgotten all about him. To have him - and all the pain and insecurities connected with him - shoved back into her face at this unsuspecting moment by a total stranger is a shocking ambush. Startled, Utena is forced back and beaten down by Juri's unmerciful blade.

Q. What happens then?
A. Something huge. As Utena picks herself up, she has taken on the aspect of the Prince in Anthy's eyes. As Anthy starts forward, amazed, Utena finishes an overconfident Juri with a single stroke. This is the final proof of Utena's answer to Anthy's question, and this is the moment when Anthy knows for certain that Utena is her true prince. It seems like a magnificent victory for both Utena and Anthy, but suddenly Touga makes his next move.

Q. Which is?
A. Which is revealing Anthy's deepest, most private secret: the death of her brother and her involvement in it. Anthy is visibly angered, and this is when she finally perceives the nature of her enemy - Touga - and what he's been after the whole time. Blindsided, she flees to the sanctuary of her garden.

Q. Is there no way Anthy might's seen this coming? Why is this such a blow to her?
A. Again, Anthy initially sees Touga simply as a phantom that is haunting Utena. Anthy did not expect him to be an active independent force with the ability to manipulate others to do his bidding, let alone to strike directly at her with knowledge no one other than she should possess. Anthy is a brilliant strategist, but she didn't anticipate outside interference, especially not a blatant exposure of her intimately cloaked past.  The result is that just when victory is in sight, Anthy is brutally outmaneuvered by an opponent she'd been unable to properly perceive.

Q. How does Anthy feel about Utena in relation to this exposure? Why does Anthy flee from Utena so abruptly?
A. Anthy is afraid of facing Utena's reaction. As I've said, Anthy feels no personal guilt or responsibility toward her role in Akio's death, but to have it revealed to Utena in this brazenly slanted, scandalized fashion is devastating - an enormous emotional crash after the "high" of seeing Utena as the image of the prince. Indeed, at the moment the stroke comes, Anthy is totally at Utena's mercy.

Q. How so?
A. Although Anthy accepted Utena early on as the one she wanted, Anthy also craves Utena's love and acceptance of her. Anthy nurtured Utena, freed her from her lonely resentment, gave her chances to affirm her "high goals", and the more Utena responded to Anthy, the more Anthy came to believe and trust in Utena too. In so doing though, Anthy became vulnerable to a new fear - not that Utena would fail, but that Utena might reject her. This is never more true than at the moment she sees Utena become the prince, and Touga's attack strikes that vulnerability in just the right way and at just the right time.

Q. So in running away, Anthy has given in to that fear?
A. That's right. It's important to remember that Anthy did not perceive Touga as an actual viable choice for Utena to make. Seeing Utena cling to a memory is one thing, but for Utena to become the prince right in front of Anthy's eyes, and then possibly discard her in favor of Touga - now revealed as a tangible rival for Utena's affection - because of her ignoble past? That's a nightmare scenario that Anthy cannot face. However, though Touga presses his advantage and makes one last earnest but misguided appeal to Utena, Utena has (thanks to Anthy) grown strong enough emotionally to bid farewell to her own past. Despite Anthy's fears of rejection, Utena comes to her, and their feelings are finally fully united. That's when something different starts to happen...

Q. In your self-conversation about Movie Akio, you said that the Key is symbolic of a p