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 Top04-29-2010 01:42:43 AM

Well hello, Clarice...
From: New Zealand
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 3102

Re: Sex in SKU

minervana wrote:

In "Olympia," one of the symbols of prostitution is a black cat.

Kind of like this one:

Waaaaay back when I wrote an essay about Nemuro/Mikage, I mentioned that painting, specifically here (the entire essay isn't on-site -- actually, I should send the full text plus that other one about Nanami and her egg to Gio sometime -- but this part of it is at


One scene in the episode ‘Qualifications of a Duellist’ is perhaps very unusual in the manner it alludes to two famous paintings. It is most closely associated with Manet’s
Olympia, which is in turn a nineteenth century pre-Impressionist work based on Titian’s sixteenth century work Venus of Urbino[/i]. That in itself is perhaps an indication of why it is there; there are two versions of the painting, and there are two versions of the man principally in the “painting” as shown in the anime. There is Professor Nemuro, and then there is Souji Mikage.

The figure prominent in [/i]Olympia is very different to the prominent figure in Venus. While the latter is a goddess, the former is a courtesan. In fact, Olympia was widely condemned by critics of the time for precisely that reason – it was not customary to paint such  woman in such a manner. The way the painting was executed is also in a manner the critics called “childish” with obvious strokes and a very realistic “warts and all” impression. In fact, it has been said of the painting: “Instead of the carefully constructed perspective that leads the eye deep into the space of the painting, Manet offers a picture frame flattened into two planes. The foreground is the glowing white body of Olympia on the bed; the background is darkness.” This is reminiscent of Mikage; a two-dimensional “shadow” surrounded by darkness.

Of course, the most interesting thing is the composition of the painting. Why is Mikage/Nemuro represented as a courtesan? Why does Mamiya offer him roses? Why is the cat in Manet’s picture missing? All are very symbolic answers. In Manet’s painting, there is a black cat; this cat is missing from the scene depicted in the anime. Think back to the earlier symbols of the cats; they represent a family. In this scene, Nemuro has realised that he can not create a “family” situation – like the cats in the window – with Tokiko and Mamiya because Tokiko is involved with Akio. And so, the black cat – an implication of Tokiko’s presence – is noticeably missing.

Mamiya is shown in the scene to be presenting Nemuro with a bunch of roses, just as the servant girl does for the courtesan in the painting
Olympia. They are said to be in the original painting a gift from a client of the courtesan – and this is a heavy inference that Akio had in fact interfered with Mamiya himself. After all, Mamiya once told Nemuro he didn’t want to go on forever, liked the dried flowers his sister took such pleasure in making. It wasn’t until Akio asked Nemuro to burn the building down that Mamiya apparently changed his mind on the subject. This sudden change of heart – mixed with the implications of the roses Mamiya offers Nemuro – seems to indicate that Akio talked Mamiya into telling Nemuro he wanted to live forever.

And Nemuro/Mikage as the courtesan? The courtesan in the painting is perhaps identifiable with Mikage, while the Venus of Titian’s painting is identifiable with Nemuro. Why is this? Mikage is the “earthy” side of Nemuro, more sensual and more capable of manipulating people to his own ends. And it was “doubly disturbing” of Manet’s painting that the subject had a real identity, just as Mikage himself had a “real” identity – Professor Nemuro. And of course, what is a courtesan? “A woman whose body is a commodity.” Indeed, Mikage, the imaginary living body, is a commodity, a possession Akio does away with when he decides he has no further need of him.

(This particular frame – the one resembling Olympia and Venus of Urbino – is found in episode 23, when Mamiya discusses with Nemuro the nature of eternity.)

I went and saw this painting at Orsay in Paris, and giggled away in front of it for a bit. I think the people in the museum thought I was childish. I couldn't really explain to them that I liked it as an example of how to FUCK A GUY UP LIEK WOAH, mind French just isn't that good. (I did write this essay, mind you, TEN YEARS I barely remember it now. emot-gonk)

Incidentally, though I mentioned the cats there anyway, this is the original bit about them:

Treating each symbol in turn, we firstly look at the three cats, who appear one after the other in Tokiko’s window as she speaks to Nemuro about the research going on at the school. They appear to be symbolising a family, which becomes very important in determining the relationship between Mamiya and Mikage as opposed to the relationship between Professor Nemuro and the boy. There are two larger cats, and one smaller cat. They are a family: Nemuro, Tokiko and Mamiya. Of course, one can also take them as the classical symbol of bad luck, and they do say bad luck always comes in threes…and Professor Nemuro certainly gets his fair share of bad luck in Akio’s Academy.

As I understand it, too, cats can be trickster spirits in Japanese mythology too, though with that said the Japanese tend to see things as being neutral unless proven otherwise -- or so I was led to believe at a shinto shrine in Kyoto. school-devil Incidentally, I don't believe at all that Nemuro and the real Mamiya ever did anything; while I'm inclined to say Mamiya had a bit of a boy-crush on the elder professor, I think Nemuro was pretty much paternal towards him and nothing else. Anthy!Mamiya and Mikage, however, were totally doing it. We're given reason to believe that Akio uses sex for manipulation as freely as he pleases, and I would not put him above using his sister to vicariously achieve this goal for him. The whole thing with Mikage, after all, was to force him to to duel for a Rose Bride and Akio achieved this by taking his new and heightened emotions (Nemuro's love for Tokiko) and completely redirecting them to his own ends (Mikage for Anthy!Mamiya).

So...yeah. Although to be honest, in this context BOTH Nemuro and Anthy are the whores, here...Akio, you fucking pimpmaster, you. emot-gonk

Last edited by Clarice (04-29-2010 01:47:15 AM)

It takes forty-seven New Zealanders eight months to make just one batch of 42 Below Vodka. ...luckily, that leaves one of us free to be Prime Minister.

Beyond The Silver Leaves



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