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

#26 | Back to Top06-06-2017 01:44:42 AM

Postmistress Elf of Subtext
From: North Carolina
Registered: 11-17-2006
Posts: 5086

Re: Deciphering the Shadow Plays

Sorry to necro such an old thread, but I've been having so much fun going through the analysis catalogue that Satyr (amazingly!) put together, it's hard not to want to jump in some and continue the discussion!

For as long as I can remember, I've had a particular favorite Shadow Girl play (excluding the events of Seal of the Rose as the most plot-central play to ever happen in the show) but also spent many of those years not pinning down any specific meaning to it, just accepted it-- as I do with several-- as having a vague relevance in some overall theme, less concerned with the little details. It's much more rewarding to really examine it though, especially because the plays do lend themselves to some of the broadest interpretations in the show and just about every one of them could be discussed from two or more equally compelling viewpoints.

My favorite play has to be the one from Keiko's duel episode, Troublesome Insects. No particular reason why I'm so fond of it, I just always found it to be very memorable and one that was entertaining to watch.

C-Ko: Any bad bugs here?!
C-Ko: Eek, the boogeyman!
C-Ko: No, I'm a mantis! Snip, snip, snip!
C-Ko: Run for your lives!
C-Ko: Snip, snip, snip!
C-Ko: Run, run, run!
C-Ko: Snip, snip, snip!
C-Ko: Run, run, run, run, run!
C-Ko: How long is this chase going to go on for?
C-Ko: Have some insecticide!
C-Ko: Argh, can't breathe!
C-Ko: We're going to die too! What rotten luck!

C-Ko is the lone player in this bit and is shown as both the mantis and the butterfly, as well as a human hand spraying insecticide (which Utena snarks to us is just air freshener.) For some time I assumed the mantis was Nanami, but I think in the context of this episode, the troublesome insects here actually both represent the relationship between Keiko and Nanami. The mantis in particular refers to the burdens of Keiko's status beneath Nanami, the suffering she endures as her underling, and the gradual (some might say parasitic) feelings of resentment and eventual hatred she harbors toward her-- the butterfly, however, is the benefit of the symbiotic relationship she has with Nanami: her inclusion in a group that has some bit of influence in this school and especially her proximity to Touga. Even if she doesn't have the ideal relationship with Touga as his romantic partner, she is granted some semblance of a relationship with him as an insect in his garden, as opposed to living completely outside the fence and never being able to get near him. The cost of living as a butterfly in the garden is the mantis, who chases the butterfly as Nanami's controlling behavior and protectiveness toward Touga push Keiko further and further away from him, and away from feeling content with the position she's in. To the observer, the only way to be free of this chase is to kill the mantis-- but the insecticide will kill the butterfly, too. Taking her chance at Touga is actually what severs her relationship with Nanami, which she may have wished at times to be free of, but this gives Nanami reason to effectively snip any ties she even vaguely had toward Touga.

One could also take Utena's comment at the end, that the insecticide was just air freshener, to mean that neither the extent of damage Keiko's psyche had suffered for Nanami nor Keiko's potential to be closer to Touga would "die" or no longer exist because of this. As Romance of the Dancing Girls shows, Keiko is in fact able to have a short rendezvous with Touga, and during the scene in question the emotion she expresses most strongly is not so much a love for Touga but schadenfreude at Nanami's pain, now that she too is tragically removed from her own relationship from Touga. The butterfly isn't truly dead, but neither is the mantis.

Last edited by dollface (06-06-2017 02:10:41 PM)

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



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