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

#51 | Back to Top04-03-2009 07:40:33 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

I always interpreted that as being because her soul sword was being abused, but that's an interesting take on it too.

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#52 | Back to Top04-03-2009 11:00:58 PM

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

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

In Eva the symbolism works so well that the plot and the protagonist essentially become analogues of one another. Itís a highly structured system in which the structural and psychological elements play off of their respective literariness in a way that melds theme and narrative into a single cohesive literary unit. ... SKU, on the other hand, deals with roughly the same themes as Eva, and it perhaps deals with them more naturally, more effectively, and more poignantly than Anno could ever hope to. That is Ikuharaís strength. His weakness seems to be that heís, well, basically lazy and canít be arsed to make his symbolism work the way Anno does.

The world is chaotic and indistinct. However, even in such a world, there definitely exists such a thing as an 'absolute'. Even though they clearly exist in this world, they appear to be too beautiful, ugly, or simply routine, so that their true natures are only vaguely discerned. I don't wish to deliver such a concept intelligibly through arranged and analyzed animation. I don't wish to extract only the parts where the cels should be expressed numerically or lines could be articulated. If anything, I'd rather display unclear parts that can't be expressed numerically or lines that can't be articulated by using a picture to show such things indeed exist as clearly as chaos. - Ikuhara Kunihiko

Once again, you are presuming that internal symbolic consistency is a virtue, and lack of it is a flaw. As I've already said, Ikuhara never intended to be consistent. It isn't being lazy, it's having different methods and priorities. Who made Anno the last word in symbolism?

isnít that actually a more or less pretty accurate description of the philosophical rift between modernist and postmodernist sentiments in the visual arts?

Probably. I did write it with the intention of it being an interpretation that could make sense within its own (overwrought) sphere, though in fact I have only a very limited knowledge of art culture.

Even if the artist himself isnít really aware of this cultural influence on a conscious level, he is, if nothing else, aware that his painting wouldnít have been taken seriously if he had produced it a few decades ago.

At which point, the painter shows up and announces pleasantly that the design was taken from one of her grandmother's quilting patterns.

Read more carefully, and don't assume the default male, please.

So, two things about our pretentious egghead criticís analysis, 1) itís more or less factual (I think), and 2) itís pretty damn interesting as an art history analysis. This type of criticism implies that no art exists outside of a social context, and attempts to subsume it into that cultural atmosphere that informed it and, indeed, made it possible.

Considering I made it up almost entirely off-the-cuff, and that (as far as I can tell) a real work of geometric abstraction would be ridiculed by critics for being representational, let alone naturalistic, I think this is a real-life example of exactly the same thing the fictional example was portraying... emot-tongue

Last edited by Aelanie (04-03-2009 11:35:05 PM)

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#53 | Back to Top04-04-2009 12:30:33 PM

Triplerock
Saionji Slapper
From: Tampa Bay, FL
Registered: 03-22-2009
Posts: 20

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

About the view that Akio never really wanted to reclaim his identity as Dios Ė it makes sense in a lot of important ways, and itís something Iíll definitely give a considerable amount of thought to next time I watch the series. Though, the conversation here has kind of convinced me that Iím better off just focusing on appreciating the themes for what they are, and forgetting about trying to analyze the plot, because I guess down that path really is madness.

Aelianie wrote:

Once again, you are presuming that internal symbolic consistency is a virtue, and lack of it is a flaw.

Thatís my prerogative; I never said you had to agree. You can tell me that being inconsistent, contradictory, and basically incoherent is a narrative virtue all you want, and maybe thatís okay in some types of storytelling (Beckett, perhaps), but itís just not what I like. Maybe thatís just me. Again, I think the way Anno structures his symbolism is more effective than the way Ikuni does. I prefer Annoís style. You can disagree with that, and thatís fine, but I donít have to change my mind to match your opinion. Am I not entitled to my own? Is it not right to prefer one directorís style to anotherís?

And, again, the artistís intentions donít matter. If Ikuni said to himself Ďyou know what, I think Iím going to write a story that doesnít make senseí thatís fine, he can do that. But, basically, I pretty much completely disagree with his philosophy towards storytelling; that quote you posted is almost completely antithetical to my own views. And Iím completely within my bounds for having my own views and disagreeing with Ikuniís literary approach, though I still appreciate the themes he works with.

Poe loved and admired Hawthorne as a truly great writer, but he was really adamantly opposed to his storiesí reliance on allegory, which was a narrative style he detested. Is Poe wrong for having his own opinions on what narrative should be? The only author I think it is a carnal sin to disagree with on anything is Flaubert, because, well, Iím gay for Flaubert. emot-tongue

About calling it laziness, well, I was basically deriving that from the interview you referenced in your first post where Ikuni was more or less saying, in my mind, that ĎI put the effort into making the symbolism work sometimes, and other times . . . not so muchí Ė I just read that as a kind of nonchalant admittance of laziness. Maybe I read it wrong, so I take it back.

So, something you probably could point out then is that Iím probably not being quite as objective as I claim to be. But when I speak about objectivity, Iím just implying that Iím filtering my analysis through a set of established criteria. And yeah, itís my choice to adopt that particular critical style, but Iíve never asked you to agree with me; Iím just explaining how I see it. If you think the narrative is perfectly fine the way it is, thatís your call. It just seems to me, and I could be totally wrong about this so I apologize beforehand if Iím reading you the wrong way, but it just seems like you are reluctant to admit that SKU could potentially be flawed.

About the gender thing, it was actually something I thought about after I had written the post, but I didnít think anyone would really be bothered by something like that, so I didnít bother to change it.

Lastly, I already admitted in my previous post that I was going easy on or basically ignoring a lot of the obvious problems with the critique, and so youíre right, it is a Ďreal lifeí example, but youíre pointing that out after I already did. I understand perfectly well that what you wrote is more or less Sokal-esque fancy gibberish that ultimately has no real world application. So itís not like I was trying to completely justify that particular analysis, because that would obviously be absurd Ė I figured that went without saying. I was just using it as a sounding board to justify that style of analysis, and how itís based on looking at the social context rather than treating the painting as if it were produced in a vacuum. It is a legitimate style that goes hand in hand with Death of the Author, and again, Iím not asking you to agree with it, Iím just explaining why I personally find it interesting.

This may seem like it's dragging on off-topic, but I think it's a debate that's grown out of the thread, and was even kind of implied in my original post where I was asking if the series is consistent or not. I think contemplating whether Ikuni is really a good writer and whether or not SKU is a genuine literary accomplishment is an interesting discussion, so if anyone else wants to harp in on that angle of the topic, that'd be cool. You know where I stand, and I'm not going to shoot down anyone's opinions; if you think Ikuni is the best anime director ever and SKU is a complete literary masterpiece - cool. Let's hear why, or why not.

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#54 | Back to Top04-04-2009 12:36:03 PM

Bluesky
Chpn Dlst
From: Your window
Registered: 10-25-2008
Posts: 1939
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Triplerock wrote:

This may seem like it's dragging on off-topic, but I think it's a debate that's grown out of the thread, and was even kind of implied in my original post where I was asking if the series is consistent or not. I think contemplating whether Ikuni is really a good writer and whether or not SKU is a genuine literary accomplishment is an interesting discussion, so if anyone else wants to harp in on that angle of the topic, that'd be cool. You know where I stand, and I'm not going to shoot down anyone's opinions; if you think Ikuni is the best anime director ever and SKU is a complete literary masterpiece - cool. Let's hear why, or why not.

I'd like to ask a question about this point: what, in your eyes, qualifies as 'a genuine literary accomplishment'? I'm not being sarky here, I'm interested in hearing your views. Also, I have abolutely no grounding in this type of analysis whatsoever, so it would be very much appreciated if you could keep it relatively simple. emot-smile


/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

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#55 | Back to Top04-04-2009 01:13:43 PM

Triplerock
Saionji Slapper
From: Tampa Bay, FL
Registered: 03-22-2009
Posts: 20

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Cool, I mean, Iím not intending this to necessarily be too complex. Iíve been iterating my views throughout most of my posts, but Iím not asking you to do one of my types of analyses, but rather just whatever youíre comfortable with.

To put it simply (and these are just examples), do you think SKU can be put in the same class as Shakespeare? J.K. Rowling? Somewhere in between?

Do you think Freud (or a less snobby psychoanalyst) would watch this and laugh, or find it interesting?

Do you think Ikuni is as accomplished a writer/director as Hayao Miyazaki, or Satoshi Kon? As Stanley Kubrick or Akira Kurasawa? And I donít mean in terms of awards or recognition, but just creativity/talent, etc.

Any kind of comparison or analysis you want to make is cool, be it simple or complex.

If one of the mods shows up here and thinks I should just start a new thread, Iíll be happy to do that, but I think this fits into this discussion pretty well.

Edit:

I want to add another example I just thought of that kind of plays into what I was saying in my last post.

On some level, I can definitely see SKU as being sort of surrealist, and so in that regard I guess you could perhaps say that Ikuni is maybe taking a similar approach to David Lynchís work. And thatís a valid approach (not my favorite obviously, but one I can appreciate). The thing is, the plot in SKU, aside from the fact that it isnít cohesive, is essentially pretty linear and straightforward. So it doesnít really strike me as being inspired by the Theatre of the Absurd, or Dadaism, or any other movement like that. It basically just strikes me, in terms of the plot, as a high school love and betrayal type story with duels and magical girl elements thrown in as genre conventions. I just add that because I figure maybe thatís why I expect so much that the plot should make sense.

I think you could certainly say that Ikuni is taking the genre and intentionally applying a different methodology to it, but then the question is whether or not he was successful in doing so. I think thereís a chance he was, but itís something I just thought of, and Iíll have to put some more thought into it. Maybe you guys already have some ideas about that.

Last edited by Triplerock (04-04-2009 02:01:34 PM)

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#56 | Back to Top04-04-2009 01:48:46 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

It's your thread; take it where you want emot-smile  It's impossible to hijack your own bus.

I think Utena is a fantastically resonant romp.  There aren't a lot of romps that get called Literary Classics, possibly because when an author aims for complete internal consistency or some kind of genius psychological exegesis there are too many constraints on the writing to also make it just plain fun.  Catcher in the Rye is a good example.  Fantastic fricking book.  I'm not aware of another that focuses so completely on one character and succeeds so completely in examining his way of being.  Given that Holden is a truant, there was potentially a lot of room for this to be a romp.  But it isn't.  It is sometimes playful, but it's playful in a meta-textual knowing-wink-from-author-to-reader way, not in a Harry Potter way.  I don't mean at all to detract from Salinger's accomplishment, but if one Literary Classic could be just plain fun it would probably be Catcher in the Rye, and Catcher in the Rye isn't just plain fun.  Love it though I do.

By contrast, take Aristophanes' Frogs.  Aristophanes, for the benefit of those who don't know him, is the Greek playwright who practically invented comedy as we understand it.  The Frogs is one of his best-known comedies, and here is its plot.  The god of merriment and drama, Dionysus, concludes that Greece needs a good dramatist to see them through a war, so he goes down to the underworld to fetch back to Athens the recently dead Euripides (a famous "serious" Greek playwright known for his very human, Shakespearean tragedies).  There Euripides and Aeschylus (another famous Greek playwright, but known for his preachy dramas that extolled martial virtues) have a contest to see who should get to go back with Dionysus.  This doesn't sound like the stuff of comedy, but Aristophanes makes it fucking hilarious.  The Frogs also makes important and serious points about what makes a good play, as well as what makes a good warrior and what makes a good human being.  But you would never, ever accuse Aristophanes of being scrupulously fair to Euripides and Aeschylus, or consistent in his use of symbols or even his own premise.  He's trying to write a comedy, not a Literary Classic, and as a result he produces a nonsensical but thought-provoking romp that we still make students of ancient Greek literature read today.  And I love it.

So if what you demand of Utena is that everything makes sense, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  If SKU were a J.D. Salinger-level Bildungsroman about Tenjou Utena, or a Kurt Vonnegut-level social satire about the corruptions of power, Nanami would not go to India and get chased by surfboarding elephants.  Demand of Ikuni what you would demand of Aristophanes and I think you'll enjoy yourself more.

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#57 | Back to Top04-04-2009 02:17:55 PM

Triplerock
Saionji Slapper
From: Tampa Bay, FL
Registered: 03-22-2009
Posts: 20

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Satyreyes . . . I like you man! emot-biggrin Great post; really insightful. I would like to think that I am capable of pulling the stick at least a little of the way out of my ass, and I guess my problem is that I am, in fact, trying to put SKU on too high a pedestal for its own good. Thatís kind of what I guess Iíve been confused about all along; itís important to appreciate a work of art on the level itís meant to be appreciated, and I was just confused about where SKU stands. I guess in my own way, Iím kind of the guiltiest of not being able to accept that it might be flawed. I think you, again, hit it pretty much right on the mark. It really is too bad you didnít show up in this thread earlier, lol.

Keep em coming though, Iíd like to know what the rest of you think.

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#58 | Back to Top04-04-2009 03:21:23 PM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6342
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

On that note of Nanami being sent to India and trampled by elephants, I'd like to think that it's Anthy trying to screw with her and preventing her from "joining" with her brother Touga (How sexually you wanna take it is up to you). Is she doing Nanami a favor or plain torturing her...

But, I digress emot-biggrin

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#59 | Back to Top04-04-2009 09:31:53 PM

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

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

I guess my problem is that I am, in fact, trying to put SKU on too high a pedestal for its own good. Thatís kind of what I guess Iíve been confused about all along; itís important to appreciate a work of art on the level itís meant to be appreciated, and I was just confused about where SKU stands. I guess in my own way, Iím kind of the guiltiest of not being able to accept that it might be flawed. I think you, again, hit it pretty much right on the mark. It really is too bad you didnít show up in this thread earlier, lol.

That's odd, since this is what I've been saying all along...maybe it couldn't get through without being couched in terms of classical literature?  emot-confused

Well, at least we got there in the end.

Last edited by Aelanie (04-04-2009 10:37:18 PM)

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#60 | Back to Top04-04-2009 10:35:33 PM

Triplerock
Saionji Slapper
From: Tampa Bay, FL
Registered: 03-22-2009
Posts: 20

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Aelanie wrote:

I guess my problem is that I am, in fact, trying to put SKU on too high a pedestal for its own good. Thatís kind of what I guess Iíve been confused about all along; itís important to appreciate a work of art on the level itís meant to be appreciated, and I was just confused about where SKU stands. I guess in my own way, Iím kind of the guiltiest of not being able to accept that it might be flawed. I think you, again, hit it pretty much right on the mark. It really is too bad you didnít show up in this thread earlier, lol.

That's odd, since this is what I've been saying all along...

Heh, well, funny also how satyreyes managed in basically two posts to clarify and settle the issues in this thread that several of us, myself included, probably would have continued to beat around incessantly without ever resolving. All I can say is that heís a more effective communicator than either you or me.

What his post did was essentially answer a question Iíve had not just about SKU, but about anime in general ever since I took an interest in it a few years ago. So, thatís why it was just an awesome post for me to read, and probably spoke to me in a way he didnít even intend it to.

And yes, Iíll admit that youíve been right the whole time. But I still feel like SKUís themes are very literary themes, and I would still get a kick out of looking at them through the lens of literary theory if anyone comes along who wants to.

I am still genuinely interested in your, and anyone elseís, opinions on Ikuni as director, SKU as art, etc. And also whatever ideas might pertain to the original topic.

Edit after your edit:

Aelanie wrote:

That's odd, since this is what I've been saying all along...maybe it couldn't get through without being couched in terms of classical literature?  emot-confused

Well,  at least we got there in the end.

Yep, I agree. Cheers.

Last edited by Triplerock (04-04-2009 10:38:05 PM)

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#61 | Back to Top04-04-2009 10:57:26 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Triplerock wrote:

All I can say is that heís a more effective communicator than either you or me.

Don't be so sure!  Aelanie's post about Camps 1 and 2 helped clarify for me some of the feelings I've had about just how far it's possible to go in analyzing Ikuni and at what point you just have to say "he did it because it's awesome."  For me, that's still the best post in this thread.  Which is not to say I don't appreciate the flattery!  emot-redface

For what it's worth, I came to Utena from Camp 2.  That's not to say I was giving the analysis of Utena the rigor you were, Triplerock -- I'm not equipped to do that, as someone who reads some of the classics but doesn't read much about the classics -- but I wanted absolutely everything to hang together.  It took me a while to talk myself down and accept, even appreciate, that there are some things in this show that are not necessary, that are not part of Ikuni's grand scheme to encapsulate the tragedy and promise of human relationships in thirty-nine half hours of video, or that contribute to that scheme without making any sense.  It says something about this show that people all across the spectrum from Camp 1 to Camp 2 love Utena.  I for one wouldn't keep coming back to Utena if not for that strange and beautiful mix of the right amount of depth with the right amount of playfulness and absurdity.

Last edited by satyreyes (04-05-2009 12:18:22 AM)

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#62 | Back to Top04-05-2009 12:04:41 AM

Triplerock
Saionji Slapper
From: Tampa Bay, FL
Registered: 03-22-2009
Posts: 20

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

satyreyes wrote:

Triplerock wrote:

All I can say is that heís a more effective communicator than either you or me.

Don't be so sure!  Aelanie's post about Camps 1 and 2 helped clarify for me some blah blah blah blah

Eh . . . I see . . . so itís just me then huh? You know all those nice things I said about you? Yeah, I take all that back. emot-tongue

Nah, I'm completely kidding. It's actually cool to know I'm not the only one here who's had that trouble with it. See the thing thatís always confused the hell out of me about anime is that, well, Iím seeing fairly complex psychological and existential themes being developed on a pretty legitimate level . . . in a cartoon. Maybe if I were Japanese or if I grew up with it that wouldnít throw me off, but for the longest time I just havenít been sure exactly what to make of it.

Like I mentioned earlier, Iím not really a huge anime fan, there are just a couple series that Iíve been exposed to that I really like. Otherwise I might have worked this all out already. And even the few I do like are very much guilty pleasures for me. I think Miyazakiís films are the only anime I would actually admit to liking outside of internet forums.

Thatís not to say that I donít genuinely love the ones I love Ė Iím just not too keen about being looked at as a grown man who watches cartoons. If my friends ask me what Iíve been getting into lately, itís definitely Hawthorne, not Haibane Renmei (as much as I love it). And Iím not betraying my true feelings or anything Ė I honestly do like Hawthorne more. In fact, part of the reason I love SKU so much is that it reminds me very much of one of Hawthorneís short stories. The parallels between them in both themes and even imagery are almost uncanny, though Iím sure purely incidental; I donít know how popular 19th century American literature is in Japan.

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#63 | Back to Top04-05-2009 02:27:28 AM

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

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Don't be so sure!  Aelanie's post about Camps 1 and 2 helped clarify for me some of the feelings I've had about just how far it's possible to go in analyzing Ikuni and at what point you just have to say "he did it because it's awesome."  For me, that's still the best post in this thread.

I believe my feelings are best expressed thus:   emot-dance

Iím just not too keen about being looked at as a grown man who watches cartoons.

Ah, that male pride... emot-tongue

I have a few gifts for you.

Perhaps you know of Jules Michelet's La SorciŤre? I'm sure you must. During the 70s, an animated film, Kanashimi no Belladonna was created based on it. It tells the story of a woman raped on her wedding night and her resultant descent into witchcraft, which culminates in her being burned at the stake. This film is renowned for its beautiful, erotic, and violent psychedelic imagery, and Ikuhara names it as one of his influences.

Portions of the movie can be seen here. WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

Perhaps you know of Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor? I'm sure you must. In 2007, a short animated adaptation was created...an extremely unique one, as I'm sure you'll agree. It can be seen in its entirety:

Part 1 of 3
Part 2 of 3
Part 3 of 3

After that, perhaps you could also watch Feeling from Mountain and Water, which is basically a traditional Chinese painting come to life.

Animation is just another artistic medium. The conceit that it is, and must be, a medium for younger audiences only is a Western fabrication.

Last edited by Aelanie (04-05-2009 04:13:18 AM)

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#64 | Back to Top04-05-2009 07:44:04 AM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6342
Website

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Triplerock wrote:

Thatís not to say that I donít genuinely love the ones I love Ė Iím just not too keen about being looked at as a grown man who watches cartoons.  The parallels between them in both themes and even imagery are almost uncanny, though Iím sure purely incidental; I donít know how popular 19th century American literature is in Japan.

LOL, ahhhh...

You worried too much.

You'll be surprised how many college guys and grad guys are opening talking about anime in cafeteria. Sure, some people will look down on you, but that doesn't mean you will stop dishing out Hawthorne any less.

As far as 19th century literature's popularity in Japan... Would it be convincing to tell you that Japanese have made historical anime on French Revolution, manga on Napoleon and Ring of Nibelung (I love you, Ikeda-sensei), and even their own prequel on Anne of Green Gables and spin off of Jane Austen's novels (Forgot which one...)? emot-tongue

Yeah, French Revolution, don't you think that reflects pretty heavily on Utena? emot-rolleyes

And oh yeah, In Paradise Kiss, there's a scene where the heroine of the anime was reading "Catcher in the Rye"

Last edited by Hiraku (04-05-2009 07:46:19 AM)

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#65 | Back to Top04-06-2009 03:29:45 PM

hollow_rose
Egghead
From: Ohio
Registered: 10-26-2008
Posts: 1074

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

.... does anyone have more thoughts on Akio and his goals?  I started reading this thread because that question fascinates me and no one's discussed that for some time. I like the literary analysis, but I really wanted to hear more about what other people think about Akio's intentions.

For instance there's been some discussion that he won't leave because enjoys being the "Prince" of his own realm in Ohtori too much. Is it that he won't leave that fantasy behind or is it that he can't? How much of his own illusion has he bought into at this point? Any ideas?


20 threads dead so far.

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#66 | Back to Top04-06-2009 05:53:32 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

hollow_rose wrote:

For instance there's been some discussion that he won't leave because enjoys being the "Prince" of his own realm in Ohtori too much. Is it that he won't leave that fantasy behind or is it that he can't?

I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to leave Ohtori behind, so I'd say he won't.  But the way you phrased the question brings up the issue of whether he could if he wanted to.  I think the answer is yes, in principle, but no, in practice.  I don't think anyone is mystically forced to remain at Ohtori.  If you want to leave you just cross the threshold.  Tokiko, Ruka, Anthy, and presumably Utena all achieve this, and with the exception of Utena the departure is perfectly normal as far as we know.  No indication that any of them has to be released from any kind of curse to leave the school; they just decide they're done and walk out.  The reason leaving Ohtori has a nearly mythic significance in the series is that children choose to remain in the garden, so leaving Ohtori implies you've grown up.

So yes, in principle; if Akio wanted to leave Ohtori he too could walk out.  But no, in practice; he's not an adult in the truest sense, so he doesn't want to leave, so he can't leave.  If he grows up after the series ends -- as there's always a slim chance he will -- he can and most likely will move along of his own accord.

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#67 | Back to Top04-07-2009 08:42:22 AM

PrinceoftheLostEternity
Rose Assignee
From: Castle of Eternal Dark
Registered: 04-06-2009
Posts: 1720

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

I suppose the answer lies in your personal perception of the meaning conveyed in the symbolism. Sure, Akio revealed that the castle in the sky was nothing more than illusion, but afterwards, he did try and open the gate, which later turned into Anthy's coffin when Utena picked herself up and tried to open it. More symbolism, in my mind. My personal perception of the entire situation was that Akio was trying to literally pry open the metaphorical gate that was keeping him from the part of himself that he'd lost. When Utena approached the gate, she was trying to pry open the lid to the coffin that held Anthy. Both were seeking their hearts' true desires. Maybe the entire situation is meant to be one big heaping pile of symbolism. What that said to me was "Akio's trying to get to the one thing that he wants above all, but since he can't open the gate, that must mean that it's lost forever and that part of his soul (Dios) is forever lost to him and the rest of the world. But Utena started trying to open the gate and it turned into Anthy's coffin, so that must mean that Anthy, while almost lost to Utena (shown by the difficulties in opening the coffin) must still be attainable." There's one thing that I learned throughout watching the show, and that's to ignore the plot until you grasp a general idea of what you think the symbolism is trying to tell you.

To sum it up, here's my conclusion:

The gate is a symbol used to represent Akio's inability to reacquire the part of himself that he lost (Dios).

And now I have a question of my own...

What was up with the fruity beverage that Akio ahd during that scene? Just sayin.....


I want your love and I want your revenge, you and me can write a bad romance.

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#68 | Back to Top04-07-2009 08:44:05 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Fandom
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8797
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

satyreyes wrote:

I don't think anyone is mystically forced to remain at Ohtori.  If you want to leave you just cross the threshold.  Tokiko, Ruka, Anthy, and presumably Utena all achieve this, and with the exception of Utena the departure is perfectly normal as far as we know.

<blah blah blah>

The ordinary Ohtori students seem to come and go through the course of their school lives without interruption. The garden allows these children to pass unhindered, but captures others. Too simple to say Akio just picks and chooses victims; some are inclined to linger, to touch the flower, pick up its poison, and find themselves trapped. I would almost venture to say it's a quality those that stay possess, rather than a lacking that retards them. An introspection, a curiosity. Saionji and Touga linger in the garden because they see the adult world through the eyes of strangely adult-like children, but children they remain, terrified and disgusted and fascinated in turn. In contrast it's easy to see a child lacking this quality simply coursing toward adulthood without thinking to weigh its benefits and risks. Even Utena does that, less consciously than some of the others. Her desire to be a prince suggests an imagining inside of sustaining the worldview she possesses, and she finds herself somewhere that will humor such fantasy, instead of thrusting into the world both children who can't function as adults and children that don't want to. The children who got trapped in the garden don't leave until they stop trying to measure and figure out adulthood long enough to simply approach it. Like someone in a bar watching a woman he wants to approach. He watches, watches, analyzes her movements, observes what she drinks. Ends up knowing a lot about her, good and bad. But if he doesn't stop thinking and act, he goes nowhere. A lot of the time we think of the students in Ohtori as refusing to grow up. Sometimes perhaps it's the opposite. They're trying so hard to do so that they're blind to how easily it's done. Miki and Tsuwabuki are obvious examples. Akio is the best.

Anthy is willing to take this leap, Akio is not. Akio thinks if he observes long enough, he'll figure out what to do with this adulthood thing. If he tests, if he practices. He's man trapped on earth, trying to understand the vastness of space*, but refusing to venture forth into it, because it's warm and safe where he is. But surely if he stares long enough, takes enough photographs, analyzes red shift, sends up enough robots and monkeys, he'll figure out how to go into that vastness as its master, in comfort and utter control, knowing the whole of it. He's taken enough risks, surely...

He's pretty stupid that way. But forgive him. He's only a child.

*Use of space metaphor entirely coincidental.

</blah blah blah>

I'll return to my nursing hole now.


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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#69 | Back to Top04-07-2009 08:50:35 AM

PrinceoftheLostEternity
Rose Assignee
From: Castle of Eternal Dark
Registered: 04-06-2009
Posts: 1720

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Very well put.....Very well put indeed.


I want your love and I want your revenge, you and me can write a bad romance.

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#70 | Back to Top04-07-2009 08:36:00 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 589

Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

PrinceoftheLostEternity wrote:

What was up with the fruity beverage that Akio ahd during that scene?

That is very nearly the only thing to which Ikuhara has ever given a straight answer -- Akio is sucking the blood of Utena and Anthy.

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#71 | Back to Top04-12-2009 02:16:10 PM

Alan
Wakaba Wrangler
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 03-16-2009
Posts: 17
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

I suppose I shouldn't have stepped out of this thread for so long. Now I get to try to catch up...

Triplerock wrote:

Alan wrote:

That is, just because Dios actually was a prince as he remembers it doesn't mean that what he's trying to become is any more real - if you buy my claim that he was doomed as a prince, he's trying to return to a state that was real but can't be real ever again (at least not sustainably), much like adults who wish to return to the innocence of childhood.

The thing is, I honestly wish I could agree with that, because it would make things a lot simpler, but itís hard. See, most of the coming of age stories Iím familiar with generally depict a self-centered child that clings to a false identity based on some sort of romantic fantasy, whether mythologically or socially informed. Then, as this character develops, he/she graduates into an adult who is more self-aware, socially aware, and responsible. Tenjou Utena is a perfect example of this. The thing that confuses me, though, is that Akio supposedly develops in reverse; from self-aware, self-sacrificing, responsible *child* (is there such a thing?), into a man who is selfish, manipulative, and unrealistically power hungry. That just doesnít really make much sense from a literary or real life perspective. How does one progress from maturity to immaturity? Thatís just very counterintuitive to me. How exactly does Anthy Ďsavingí him turn him into such a bastard? How does Dios Ė God Ė become Lucifer? It just doesnít normally work that way. This is actually a huge part of the reason why I'm so reluctant to interpret Akio's past as literally true; because I just can't make sense of this. Maybe thereís a simple explanation to this that Iím just to thick-witted to pick up on, I donít know.

The reason it doesn't make sense from a literary standpoint is Akio is not the protagonist (though as far as he's concerned he is, of course), so his own story doesn't follow that of a typical protagonist. Maybe he even remembers a time in his life before he was a prince and how he improved himself to the point of becoming one, but that doesn't really matter; as far as the series is concerned, he was a prince and now he's not, because trying to be a prince is ultimately an impossible dream - you can't really save others. Really, Akio exists to illustrate the impossibility of that dream. In a knight-slays-the-dragon story, he's the dragon even if, like Fafner, he wasn't always a dragon.

Triplerock wrote:

Alan wrote:

but am I supposed to accept that she wasn't motivated to get back at Saionji?

She does get back at Saionji. After the first duel between Saionji and Tenjou, watch Anthy and Saionjiís faces as they speak to each other. Anthyís demeanor in this scene is very disdainful and dismissive, as she calls him Ďsempaií rather than Ďsamaí. You can see the evil satisfaction seething in her shit eating grin, and you can see the absolute despair that overcomes Saionji Ė sheís just brought his whole existence into question. The power to revolutionize the world was supposed to be his. She does the same thing to Tenjou at one point, as well as to Akio in some places. Thereís one episode preview where she tells Tenjou that she has really despised her the whole time. Anthy is really quite hateful, up until Tenjou finally shows her true friendship.

I'd taken the whole notion of Anthy getting back at duelists in the context of her having power, and frankly her revenge against Saionji doesn't demonstrate any sort of real power to me; she's only able to strike back at him once she's been taken by another master. So she thumbs her nose at her previous master - so what? I agree that she's passive-aggressive and deeply unhappy with the world and her apparent place in it, but she doesn't have the power to get back at anybody except insofar as they've already fallen - IIRC she's only able to hurt Utena when Utena's already suffering from some sort of doubt, and frankly Akio is a mess from the word go.

Triplerock wrote:

Alan wrote:

Also, I'm afraid I don't know what you mean about her misinterpretation of the prince role causing her to confuse her gender identity.

The series deals quite a bit with gender misidentification, which is an interesting literary theme. Iím not really saying much here aside from the fact that I think Tenjou misidentifies herself as a prince, rather than a princess.

Utena identifies herself as a prince because the princess role isn't about being female (which is sex-based, not gender-based), but about being feminine, and thus passive, submissive, in need of rescue, etc. Utena refuses to embody those traits, so she clearly doesn't fit the princess role. She makes the mistake of inverting the role and ending up with the stereotypically masculine: active (but not pro-active, or she'd see the Fisher King bit she's supposed to do with Anthy), assertive, and suited to rescuing others. That role is an illusion, but no more so than the princess role, so I don't see Utena as suffering gender misidentification - I think any gender identity issues she has are pretty subtle, and come down to the fact that even in trying to be a prince she's still looking for "her" prince, and even then I think you might be seeing more of a role-model/idol adoration type of desire (i.e. Utena:Dios::Simon:Kamina).

Urgh, I hope I'm not just repeating stuff that's been posted since I last looked at this thread.

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#72 | Back to Top04-12-2009 04:11:23 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Alan wrote:

(i.e. Utena:Dios::Simon:Kamina)

Wow, Gurren Lagann?  Nicely played!

This comparison is worth exploring.  Simon takes after Kamina, but by the end of the show he grows out of wanting to become Kamina; instead, he's content to stand for what Kamina stood for, without losing his own identity as a digger.  There's a similar relationship between Utena and Dios, but while Utena tries to save Anthy, Dios tried to save everyone but Anthy.  To me, that's a crucial and telling difference and keeps the analogy from really holding.  Utena is noble, but not in the way Dios was noble.  Utena becomes a prince, but not in the way Dios was a prince.  Whereas Simon becomes brave, noble, powerful, and even masculine in approximately the same way Kamina was brave, noble, powerful, and masculine.

Not to get too far off-topic, I would like to pursue the Lucifer thing, but sadly my Christian lore is not what it should be.  I do know that Lucifer was not just an angel, but indeed first among the angels, before he was Satan.  He was the bringer of light, Prometheus, Venus, the Morning Star and the Evening Star.  I don't know what made him rebel against God.  Was it pure hunger for power?  Are angels created so imperfectly?  I also don't know whether he was a guardian angel.  I imagine, though, that even an angel like Lucifer might be made to fall if he were forced to watch helplessly while the people he's spent all these years protecting ran their swords through his younger sister.  Hard to just go back to how things were before after that.  It would take the perfection of God to watch your own kin torn apart by the lions and feel only love for the lions.  (Happy Easter, by the way.)  So Lucifer, he figures, hey, the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.  And that's how he winds up pulling puppet strings at Ohtori Academy.

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#73 | Back to Top04-12-2009 05:27:44 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Fandom
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8797
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

When God created man, he demanded the angels bow before him, God's most loved child. Lucifer, who had been God's favored 'son', thought this was cockshit, and said fuck off.

In most versions of the creation story, Lucifer's rebellion is based on pride, not a desire for power, but just to preserve the power in things he'd had prior to the creation of man. If you know your Tolkien, you could put it as wondering why the immortal beautiful perfect elves are expected to give up Middle-Earth after a couple ages to those brutish weird humans that die as soon as they're born. What the fuck, Illuvatar?

To bring it back to Akio isn't too hard. Lucifer's sin was pride, pride that he, with all his powers, all his importance in the existance of things, should have to serve man. But the fact of the matter is Lucifer's power, like Akio's, is useless without man. And that's true of both their states, before they fall and after. They're both prideful of their powers, and bitter to admit that power has no value without this grossly inferior creature that doesn't even really understand the power they have.


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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#74 | Back to Top04-12-2009 10:51:26 PM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

Have to dispute you there, Gio. Lucifer was first among the angels too, so even without man, he was second only to god. Then with man thrown into the mix, Lucifer is kind of a nobody. I do agree with your assessment of Akio though. His line about "A child wouldn't see the value of this room" is sooooo revealing.


"The devil want me as is, but god he want more."
-Truck North
Honorary Hat Mafia Member

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#75 | Back to Top04-13-2009 09:14:27 AM

Hiraku
Easter Elf #40
From: Singapore
Registered: 02-21-2007
Posts: 6342
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Re: Are Akioís ambitions primarily rooted in realism or fantasy?

So, wait, I'm confused. Does Akio himself see the value of the room? Based on what Gios said about the "grossly inferior creature", for a minute there, I thought that was referring to Akio himself, which would indicate some kind of self-loathing going on.

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