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 Top04-22-2009 06:50:30 AM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
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Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

This discussion ties in with an essay thatís been kicking around in my head for a while; Iíve been thinking about gathering and comparing the four different flavours (ooh la la) of Akio. And Iíve come to a conclusion that doesnít seem to tally with anyone elseís opinion.

I think that Ikihara was deliberately making a point when it comes to movie vs. series Akio.

On the surface itís a simple dynamic; when one has limited scope, time and budget for a movie, one must pick oneís focus. If Akio was given a larger movie part the relationships would change drastically. It would no longer be abut Utena and Anthy, itíd be a triangle between Utena/Anthy/Akio, and that would very likely make the movie a very different beast to what it actually is. The series is about Utena and Anthy; the movie is about Anthy and Utena. Examining Anthyís relationship to Akio in detail would very likely derail the whole movie. So, for simplicityís sake, Akio had to go. But thereís more than that.

What is series Akio?

Heís a bastard. Heís fully-fledged predator, playing psychosexual games with vulnerable and emotionally fragile teenagers. Heís arguably immature, heís very good at seeming, and he manipulates and abuses his sister emotionally, physically and mentally (although there is a certain element of mutual abuse that I wonít get into here). The thing that distracts from the fact that heís a moral and mental cesspit is that he does it all with style. Even people whoíll say openly that they hate the man will often do so with a note of admiration in their voice.

Like a puppetmaster, he uses his charm, his looks, his utter lack of conscience and his uncanny judge of human character to manipulate the strings so that just about anyone does anything for him. He destroys and warps relationships for fun and profit. He abuses women and takes great pleasure in doing so; take Kanae, for instance, that single shot of her after the Black Rose duel, of her utterly vacant expression as he feeds her. That shot of the apple skewered with forks; donít tell me thatís not a metaphor for torture. I doubt that itís a coincidence that her complete mental breakdown is brought about after her duel, when he has no further use for her. And I rather think that he was enjoying the act of tearing her to pieces.

The fixation on his sister is another one; remember his astonishing jealousy of Anthy and Utenaís relationship. While itís debatable whether or not Akio loves Anthy, he certainly regards her as his. Even though itís in his own best interest to keep the relationship between the two close, he canít help himself when he sets out to sew the seeds of discord. He canít help himself there. Akio is without a doubt a bastard, but heís a magnificent bastard. With his car, looks, utter charm and the uncanny ability to pull the strings, and his style- as I said, even the most vocal of his critics canít help but admire him. Sort of like, ďDamn! Itís despicable, but itís still awesome in a warped way. I kinda sorta wish I was like that at times.Ē

And while I suspect that a fair percentage of what happened in both the movie and the series comes down to Ikihara saying, ďIf Iíll do this itíll really confuse Ďem! Hahaha!Ē I really do think that in the movie he was making a very pointed commentary on both Akio and his willing/unwilling fans.

Movie Akio: it starts off with Akioís charmed life. Servants, a manor house, a sweet-faced fiancť, a sexy car and a little gymnastics in tight pants to give the fangirls (and boys) some package. Everythingís there to make him appealing. All the shadowgirls fawn and the fangirls lean forward eagerly. And then- the servants disappear, so does Kanae. He does his gymnastics over the hood of a rather hideous taxi and suddenly looks, well, rather absurd. Without the trappings, he's just a vaguely charming lad with appalling dress sense. So he and Anthy retire to his studio and itís immediately obvious, even before the roofie in the wine, that something is seriously wrong with the picture. All of the pictures, in fact, because theyíre all of Anthy and Anthy alone. Akio has a fixation on her, and itís not a healthy one, given the way sheís posed in many of the paintings.

So this is what it comes down to: take away Akioís amazing ability to manipulate, to charm, to pull the strings either directly or indirectly, you have someone with an amazingly shallow personality, with a seriously warped and incestuous relationship with his sister that doubtless involves a shitload of emotional manipulation on his part. A man thatís incredibly charming on the surface but under that; whatís under that? A vague misogyny, sexual deviancy and likely a thinly veiled and unjustifiable superiority complex against the world.

Movie Akio is Series Akio with the stings cut and the gloss removed. I think, very much, that Ikuhara was making the point that Akio in any incarnation is not nearly as awesome as he appears to be.

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#52 | Back to Top04-22-2009 08:27:15 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

crystalwren wrote:

Movie Akio is Series Akio with the stings cut and the gloss removed. I think, very much, that Ikuhara was making the point that Akio in any incarnation is not nearly as awesome as he appears to be.

I would say no to the first and yes to the second.  As Aelanie pointed out elsewhere, don't the differences between these characters go beyond the surface?  Most obviously, Series!Akio is hubristic and sees himself as perfect (because otherwise his life would be intolerable), while Movie!Akio kills himself because he can't live with what he's doing when he learns his sister is complicit in it.  More subtly, Series!Akio used to be a prince because he literally used to go gallivanting around "saving" complete strangers from dire predicaments like not having dates, but he was explicitly not Anthy's prince (that was the whole point); Movie!Akio used to be a prince because Anthy loved him and that was enough to make him her prince in spite of all the incest.  There's no evidence that Movie!Akio was ever a self-sacrificing Dios.

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#53 | Back to Top04-22-2009 08:37:26 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Some intriguing ideas, crystalwren, I'll have to think about them. Different interpretations are always great for expanding my ever-expanding view of SKU's delicious characters. Nice analysis. etc-love

Slightly off-topic, welcome to IRG! poptart

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#54 | Back to Top04-22-2009 09:48:00 AM

Soukougnan
Black Rosarian
From: The Land of Heat and Traffic
Registered: 01-02-2009
Posts: 377
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Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Okay, so before going on, I need to say that my mind was blown, thinking of the argument that M-Anthy is more like series Akio, and vice versa due to her sealing away more of him into herself. !!There was always something that made me uncomfortable about Manthy, and I think that that's it-- she just doesn't seem sad, doesn't seem lonely, doesn't seem to be hurting. And that's not even taking into account how much more sexualized she seems. It's almost as if she really DOES want to be there.

I suppose that could also be a testament to how we can sometimes grow comfortable in our despair, our abuse.

Now, I feel like my entire perspective of the pair of them has turned on its head. Thank you, IRG.

As to how I feel about Makio {yes, i also had the "Mock-e-o" lol}, that has to be reassessed now. kthxbai.


hm. i'm... here again? catch me in the discord-- im fairybull

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#55 | Back to Top04-22-2009 11:10:08 AM

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

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

crystalwren wrote:

take Kanae, for instance, that single shot of her after the Black Rose duel, of her utterly vacant expression as he feeds her. That shot of the apple skewered with forks; donít tell me thatís not a metaphor for torture. I doubt that itís a coincidence that her complete mental breakdown is brought about after her duel, when he has no further use for her. And I rather think that he was enjoying the act of tearing her to pieces.

Actually I agree almost entirely with your post. The one quibble is the apple scene. I think you are on the right track but he cannot have left Kanae in too obviously a bad shape otherwise other people, possibly even her mother, might get upset.

satyreyes wrote:

There's no evidence that Movie!Akio was ever a self-sacrificing Dios.

That's another main difference. In the series you can see the characters as metaphors and archetypes and angels and spiritual forces. In the movie and movie manga it is obvious that Utena and Anthy, for example, are just a pair of emotionally disturbed teenagers wrestling with memories. It's much more claustophobic and limiting and less fun but also more focused.

Last edited by brian (04-22-2009 11:23:53 AM)

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#56 | Back to Top04-22-2009 02:56:15 PM

YostinAust
Pathtracer
From: Tallahassee, Florida
Registered: 04-02-2009
Posts: 352

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

crystalwren is now my pesonal lord and savior.

...

Ahem, moving on, it seemed to me that the movie was somewhat more abstract (and dare i say fun?) than the series. Just a personal preference.

A minor problem with christalwren's essay: was Makio and Manthy's relationship really that unhealthy? Makio's paintings more just made him seem like an obsessed loverboy, kinda like Saionji with actual artistic talent. Manthy seemed to enjoy the relationship, otherwise she probably would have resisted, her being concious and all (and Makio not being the overwhelming force Akio was). The whole "you were awake?!" scene seemed to show that Akio/Makio's fatal flaw is his black-or-white perception of morality. Yes its incest, but its consensual incest between two obsessive/loving siblings. Manthy can role with the idea that incest is ok in this case, but Makio can't handle that his darkness is now known. Thus Manthy gets stabbed and Makio dies.

Soukougnan brings up a constantly repeated complaint about Manthy - she's different from Anthy. Yes, she's not the creepy, passive aggressive doormat from the series. No, that is not a bad thing. Movie!Anthy is just more of what she actually is deep down, without being repressed by the legacy of Dios. And did you really think that Akio was the only member of the family with a raging libido?


"In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service"
     - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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#57 | Back to Top05-14-2009 06:16:03 AM

crystalwren
Dark Whisperer
From: Brisbane
Registered: 04-21-2009
Posts: 1172
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Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

(Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to everyone; I'm easily distracted.)

satyreyes, you are completely right when you point out that there's more to it than movie!Akio being merely a less charismatic version of series!Akio. My argument as it stands is fairly simplistic; it doesn't take into account that there they are very different characters in of themselves. I shall have to think more about it.

brian wrote:

Actually I agree almost entirely with your post. The one quibble is the apple scene. I think you are on the right track but he cannot have left Kanae in too obviously a bad shape otherwise other people, possibly even her mother, might get upset.

I disagree; it's pretty obvious that Akio well and truly has his claws embedded in the family. He's screwing Kanae's mother and has taken over the leadership of the family business. Kanae's father is ill. Akio and Anthy may or may not have something to do with this (Canterella, anyone?) but whatever's behind it, they are quick to take advantage. While my overwhelming feeling is that there has been something similar to Ohtori for a very long time before the series, a place to draw in the Intended and the Engaged into the duels, long enough for the ritual to be glossed to a smooth and shinning finish, there needs to be a structure in place for it to connect to the real world. While it's tempting to think of Ohtori as something very like Purgatory, the roles dynamic and changing but the history inconstant, each student getting the chance to play a different character (Utena as Shori, Shori as Juri, Juri as Touga...) it does exist in the real world, just slightly...separate. Akio and Anthy need a base. It may be that there has been a version of Ohtori going back to the time Dios fell. It may be that Anthy and Akio are floating parasites, attaching themselves or moving as the need strikes them. But whatever the background, they need something to base the dream that is Ohtori Academy. They need the land and the buildings, the students and the teachers. They need the reality. And in order to keep the dream going, they need to control the reality, utterly.

So, through methods unknown, Akio has wormed his way into the family. The mother is risking her position, status, and marriage in having an affair with him, and while it's very difficult to draw a definite conclusion from the very small glimpse we have of her, she doesn't appear to be particularly worried about handing her daughter off to a man she knows to be at best, a manipulative, faithless bastard. She also doesn't appear to be particularly worried about screwing the man her daughter will marry, a man the daughter loves or believes she loves. Even if Mrs Ohtori does love her daughter and is merely suffering the effects of lust upon the brain, Akio has her husband charmed enough to believe that a nineteen (?) year old is suitable person to take over the chairmanship of a whopping great business concern; he has a blackmail list on Mrs Ohtori as long as his arm; Kanae does not appear to be loved by her family. The husband is an invalid, Mrs Ohtori is rendered helpless, and Akio delights in smashing the helpless and naive.

brian wrote:

In the movie and movie manga it is obvious that Utena and Anthy, for example, are just a pair of emotionally disturbed teenagers wrestling with memories. It's much more claustophobic and limiting and less fun but also more focused.

This is true; it's tempting to think of the movie as tacking part earlier in the whole mythology, before Anthy and Akio became trapped in their coffins by time and resignation. The movie and the movie manga don't convey the same sense of agelessness- although Utena does ask Anthy in the movie manga whether she wants to keep doing the same thing sheís been doing for centuries-  that both the series and the series manga do. Itís worth noting that the series manga essentially states that Anthy, Akio and Dios are some form of Gods. In the movieverse Anthy is not resigned, she is hopeful even though it is her hope and desire for a form of perfect, unattainable love that ultimately traps her.  In the movie manga it says that her power to love was so strong that she was called a witch, and that her need to be loved and in love was what made the duellerís field rise into the sky. In the series, itís the desire for Revolution that drives the duels, although what that Revolution actually means is always debatable.

I think that the movie is the triple-distilled rendering of the themes that were present in the series, and lacking the bitter cynicism. Itís what might have happened if Anthy had been shown the way to freedom much, much earlier. In the series, Akio is built on Anthy. Emotionally, mentally, practically. Without her heís so much less. This begs the question, what was series Akio before she built him? Was he truly a Dios that became corrupted? Or did he start human, only to be affected by the illusions she had of him? In the movieverse, what would have happened if heíd said, ďI can do anything I like? SHIBBY!Ē

crystalwren is now my pesonal lord and savior.

Er...thanks?

Last edited by crystalwren (05-14-2009 06:20:49 AM)

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#58 | Back to Top05-18-2015 02:25:16 PM

Enea
Juri Jeerer
From: Poland
Registered: 04-25-2015
Posts: 45

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

I didn't find an appropriate thread so I'm just posting it there.
My own, mad theory of those weird dolls made of straw at the end of the movie. I realise it's completely impossible for Ikuhara to know it and it's just a funny coincidence but I like it anyway.
So in Poland there is a very, very famous national play, from XX century, called "Wesele" ("The Wedding"). It tells the story of the wedding party freshly married couple of a poet and countrywoman, what was unusual in those times. In short, weird stuff happens, the guest were encountering various wraiths connected with Polish history and other supernatural beings. One of those beings was "Chochoł". "Chochoł" is normally just a made from straw cover for roses in wintertime but in "Wesele" Chochoł is living, humanesque creature, obviously straw-made, who is also a symbol of stagnation, alienation. In the last act, the guests had wanted to create a new, national uprising in order to free Poland from Russian and German enslavement but the Chochoł stopped them by playing extraordinary music which forced the guests to dance and sleep at the same time instead of fighting.
Chochoł really reminds me of those straw-dolls. When real Anthy and Utena had managed to escape, they stayed in Ohtori, unable to reject the past and focus on the future and then all they have been was taken by the wind.
This is, in fact, more complicated but I didn't want to make an essay out of it.

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#59 | Back to Top05-19-2015 04:07:53 AM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2791

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Enea, I love this! So much.

And, movie-Akio is still the best Akio.


Toh!


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

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#60 | Back to Top05-30-2015 01:07:16 PM

Enea
Juri Jeerer
From: Poland
Registered: 04-25-2015
Posts: 45

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Thank you. emot-keke
I will make an essay on this one day, I want to do this so badly. emot-smile It's complicated because translating the rhymes is just pain.

Movie Akio had a really weird outfit, less classy than the one from TV series in my opinion.
But his hair was perfect. emot-biggrin

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#61 | Back to Top05-30-2015 04:45:33 PM

Yasha
Bitch Queen
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
Posts: 6031
Website

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Enea wrote:

I will make an essay on this one day, I want to do this so badly. emot-smile

I would love to see this essay! When you write it, let me know!


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#62 | Back to Top05-30-2015 06:56:46 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2791

Re: The long overdue thread about Movie-Akio (Makio)

Enea wrote:

But his hair was perfect. emot-biggrin

Now, I'm wondering about Akio the Werewolf. You know, very Wolf, pissing on shoes, exuding sex everywhere, eating a few fingers before a mai tai at Trader Vic's.


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

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