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 Top08-08-2010 01:19:32 AM

Tour Guide to Crawling Chaos
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 719

Utena: the Second Stage Play, Summary and Review

So. In addition to the Utena musical that we all know, love (maybe), and have heard the soundtrack for, there were two additional Utena stage productions that are much less well-known. Apparently they were never taped, more's the pity.

The first of these two other productions was called "Hell Rebirth Apocalypse: Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty," or however you want to translate that bit of J.A. Seazer-speak. Unlike the musical, Kunihiko Ikuhara was involved in the show, as the producer. It was directed by a woman named Ei TAKATORI. It ran from May 26th to June 1st, 1999.

A Japanese fan named "hir" went to see the show on the 29th, and they posted their "theater-going diary" online. It includes a summary and review of the play. Before finding this journal, all I'd heard about the play's contents was that Anthy shoots zombies with a machine gun. Naturally, I was eager to find out more.

Glancing around the site, I couldn't determine hir's gender, and with a handle like "hir" I wouldn't dare to presume. However, among other things, the author hosts a short website about the Western fandom concept of "Mary Sues" and a Japanese translation of the "Dead Ale Wives" Dungeons and Dragons sketch, so clearly they are an awesome person.

Following is a partial translation of hir's review. The first two sections are more or less complete, though as always, please take my translations with a grain of salt. The latter two parts (of four) are only partially translated: [...] marks indicate sentences or paragraphs that I was having too much trouble with, or got too lazy to deal with.


hir wrote:

Shōjo Kakumei Utena Hell Rebirth Apocalypse: Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty
Theater-going Diary Part 1


One of the blogs I read regularly is "'Ura,' the Japanese Manufacturing Industry Newspaper!"

The author is a reporter on the manufacturing industry, and he writes a lot of random news related to his job and hobbies. The speed and breadth of his information could only come from a newspaper reporter (but it's still from a subculture perspective).

That's where I heard that the Lunar Eclipse Opera Company was doing a "Revolutionary Girl Utena" musical. My expectations were raised by the fact that Ikuhara was directing and producing it, and I thought it would probably better than the previous Utemyu*.

*When an anime I watch gets turned into a musical, I tend to abbreviate it to "___myu".

(Note: from the end of '97 to the beginning of the next year, a Revolutionary Girl Utena musical was performed at Hakuhinkan Theater in Ginza. A few cast members like Kimura Sanae (Uranus) and Saito Rei (Kiga [1]) came over from Sera Myu [2], and that connection was one reason for its popularity. It was directed by Mitsuya Yuuji, and I was a little worried about the quality, but thanks to the passable music, it ended up doing okay. The story went up through the Student Council arc.)

Here are some details. This time the venue was the Zamuza Asagaya, inside the Laputa Asagaya building [3]. The Lunar Eclipse Opera Company had also done the theater's inaugural performance. I looked it up on the net beforehand and found a lot of praise for it, so I had high hopes.

I met up with my usual companions ("A" and "T") in front of the station at about 12:00. The curtain raised at 2:00, and the gates and ticket sales opened 50 minutes before that. We decided to get there twenty minutes early, but there were already about fifty people lined up.

The ratio seemed to be about: 1 person in the "Discount Club Member" line; 3 in the line for people who'd bought their ticket through Pia or Saison; 5 others (people who'd made direct reservations by phone or e-mail, or who bought their tickets through another route), and 2 people buying same-day tickets directly.

The theater looked brand-new, with a pretty modern design. On the second floor was a theater for classic movies (their next screening was "Twenty-Four Eyes"), and on the third floor, a restaurant. Goods were being sold in the first-floor lobby. The theater itself was in the basement. ComicBox was managing it. I heard that the Lunar Eclipse Opera Company had done the theater's inaugural performance, too.

I took a look around to survey the customers. As always when I look look at the people attending a musical, there were a lot of women. A lot of Pink House clothes [4] jumped out at me, too. So that's how it is...

This time I'd made my reservation through the official site. It's pretty difficult for me to get to a ticket store, so I was really grateful for the service. Firing off an e-mail during a work break is simple as pie.

Ticket sales began. Numbered tickets were given out in order to the people in line. The time you were allowed to enter the theater was based on the number on your ticket. Ours were 33 through 35.

We sallied out to the station area to get something to eat, but a lot of our fellows were handed pamphlets for the quick and easy Lotteria [5] which was nearby. Of course we avoided that. We ate quickly at a nearby restaurant and returned. The yakiniku was tough and hard to eat.

Finally, opening time. People lined up in swarms. I think there were more than two hundred. Would we really all get in? We received plastic bags to put our shoes in. So this is one of those theaters you can't wear shoes into? What's more, the bag was too small and my shoes wouldn't really fit.

Inside the theater. It was the total opposite of the splendid exterior. It felt like it'd been standing fifteen years. Seriously, simple wooden benches stretching like stairs to the ceiling? Did they only renovate the outside? Benches which appeared to have originally been intended to seat one row had two rows of cushions lined up. Clearly they were over capacity. The cushions were tiny, only about 30 cm square. While we puzzled over the setup, the audience was rapidly filling the theater.

In the middle of the stage was a door, within which a cast member who appeared to be Dios was sitting quietly, holding a globe. Together with the quiet background music, it created a rather unearthly atmosphere. Occasionally, they would slowly dance, while still holding the globe reverently. Even stranger.

For those sitting a little higher up, the ceiling pillars and lower audience members blocked their field of vision. Even areas with no cushions were being filled up. It was really mismanaged. In the confusion, we sat in the center, but were told "the cast members dance here, so it's off-limits." It looked like the first row was open, but we hesitated a little and they were soon filled up. Oh well, couldn't be helped.

We took our seats.


Right in front!

We were no more than three meters from the stage. If I leaned forward, I could have touched it. They were seriously good seats. Revolutionary. For some reason, we saw lots of drips of wax on the floor. We wondered if there was a dance where they held candles.

For some reason, there were vinyl sheets lying on the stage. The staff brought us a sheet and unrolled it.

"During the play, there will be splatters of blood. Please protect yourself with this."

Oh, so that's why. Before they explained, the three of us were kind of speechless.

Before long, the stage lights went out. "Truth" and "Rinbu Revolution" played, and the curtains opened.

Next: Summary

[1] Kiga: Apparently, this is the author's personal nickname for Kiryuu Touga. No idea why they referred to Kimura's Sailor Moon part but Saito's Utena part, though.
[2] Sera Myu: the (extremely long-running) Sailor Moon musicals.
[3] Laputa Asagaya building: The author's link is dead. Here's the building's website, I believe.
[4] Pink House: A brand of clothing.
[5] Lotteria: A reasonably awful fast food restaurant.

Part 2: Summary (Lite)

I'm calling this a summary, but there's no way I could write out the lines in detail, so it ended up like this. The content of this play was pretty deep, so I had a hard time even trying to follow the main thrusts of the conversations. There are some detailed summaries of the anime episodes here, which were helpful when I needed to jog my memory.

It was all rearranged, but it faithfully preserved the point of the original anime. In just two hours on stage, they manage to cover the contents of the thirty-nine episodes pretty well.

After losing her two parents in a traffic accident, a girl feels despair at the world. The girl is shown eternity by a certain boy. So, the girl who saw the "eternally-suffering witch" resolves to become a prince who can save her...

So, Utena enters Ohtori Academy and duels Saionji, but then to save time it suddenly jumps forward to her duel against Touga.

Here's where it starts to develop differently.

In the Egyptian land of the dead, the dark power of the god Osiris resurrects the boys who died in the fire at Nemuro Memorial Hall as pawns under his control. Their objective is the death of the "witch," the Rose Bride.

The power of darkness defeats Touga in a duel and takes hold of him. He's conferred with Osiris's power, which exceeds that of Dios, and is ordered to deliver the Rose Bride to him. From the start, Touga is told to aim for Utena, and that when they win Utena will be his. Touga, who has yielded to this mysterious power, has no other choice.

All of the Student Council members are ordered by Akio (who has already appeared) to investigate the Nemuro Memorial Hall incident.

Touga, accompanied by the dead, challenges Utena. Utena, who has doubts about the Rose Bride system, fights without the Sword of Dios, and Touga defeats her. Anthy turns her back on Utena and accompanies Touga.

Akio appears before the despairing Utena. He says that now that Utena has lost on purpose, Anthy's life is in danger. Akio relates the fable of the prince and the bride, and urges Utena to fight again. And he tells her that he was her own prince.

The triumphant Touga entrusts Anthy to the power of darkness. Just as the swords surround Anthy, Utena once again challenges him to a duel. The Sword of Dios chooses her, and Touga is defeated. I guess there was no way he could win, huh? The frenzied Touga turns against the dead, but they strike him down instead.

The rest of the Student Council appears on the scene. But just like before, they're defeated by the power of darkness. The dead press in on them. Utena, the last one standing, fights, but no matter how many times she cuts them, the dead are unaffected by their wounds.

Anthy has escaped from the swords. Wielding a machine gun, she mows down the dead and escapes with Utena.

The head of the dark powers reports to Akio. The Student Council members' wounds have been treated. It has all been a plot to take back the Power of Dios.

Utena and Anthy have managed to get away. They talk. About future. About friendship. Anthy comes clean about how this has all been an artifice of Akio's, and apologizes. Utena realizes what a pretension her princeliness has been.

From here it roughly follows the original work.

Utena challenges Akio in order to save Anthy. Anthy stabs her. I guess their bonds as brother and sister are that firmly rooted. Even though he's coerced her into her role as the Rose Bride, the little sister continues to love her older brother.

With the Sword of Dios in hand, Akio opens the sealed gate. However, what emerges is a mob of the dead. They throw down Akio, who has taken the sword.

But when Utena, who has been touched by Dios, opens the door, she encounters Anthy. When they take each others' hands, the swords of the dead pierce them both.

The revolution failed. The duel system will start over again from the beginning. But Anthy has changed.

Abandoning Akio, Anthy begins walking. In search of Utena.

Next: Cast

Part 3: Cast

For such a small production, this show was certainly "diverse": it was put together from a wide variety of genres. I originally got into theater through Sera Myu, so my knowledge of this sort of thing is close to zero. Thus, please understand that my impressions are a little bit all over the place.

Utena: Megumi NOSE
She had short hair, but was a solid Utena. She really fit the part of a masculine girl. Perhaps she often plays that kind of role.

Actually, she wasn't as extreme as Utena is in the original story, and really gave off the impression of the sort of "robust, slightly-boyish girl" that I see around all the time. It felt like it was easier to relate to her.

She was wearing shoes with ten-centimeter heels to make her look taller than the people around her. I was afraid she was going to fall over.

When Touga drew himself close to her she got all catty. It was good.

Anthy: Kazuyo NOGUCHI
Her hair was in a sauvage style [1] instead of up in a bun like Sazae-san [2], but she was a solid Anthy. He voice and way of speaking were extremely accurate: it was great. For example, her "...Yes." I couldn't get enough of her.

When she saw Touga close to Utena she turned the other way.

Touga: Rei SAITO
A musical mainstay.
This time, she was defeated a lot. [...]

Akio: Misato Riryuu (?)
Her smooth voice was really impressive. [...]
That's exactly what you need from Akio.

Nanami: Narimiya Kannon (?)
She looked a lot like a woman I know... [...]

The others:

Next: Review

[1] sauvage: Some kind of hairstyle that seems to involve gentle perming. Like this?
[2] Sazae-san: A famous comic strip character who wears her hair in a bun. Also the main character of the longest-running animated series in history, by the way. (October 1969 to present.)

Part 4: Review

About the Troupe

About the Composition
In the end, the whole story was reconstructed, centered only around Utena and Anthy's relationship and Anthy's liberation. The Student Council arc was cut other than Saionji and Touga's duels, and the Black Rose arc was replaced by the Egyptian people. Then it proceeded directly to the End of the World Arc "talk about the future," and then to the end.

Utena's convictions and Akio's ambitions were also supposed to be major themes, but I felt like they weren't brought across very well.

Up until now I've only seen character musicals, so I was really impressed by the density of this play. Thanks to that, the summary was really hard to write... In musicals, the songs and dances always take up a lot of the energy. In this show, I guess that all went into the script and acting.

By the way, since "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is really Kunihiko Ikuhara's (and Yoji Enokido's) story ... [...]

All the assorted other characters from the original story were cut. Or perhaps I should say stabbed. [...] And afterwords, all the Student Council members that you thought died received treatment and were revived. (Although I wonder how exactly Miki survived having his throat cut and all that blood spurting out.)

After that, I fear that the subtleties of Utena and Anthy's relationship weren't developed enough. Utena didn't have an affair with Akio, so there wasn't any discord with Anthy over it. It must have been tough for people who hadn't seen the original TV series.

Anyway, I've been writing all kinds of stuff, but in the end I was very satisfied with my theater- going experience. The last scene especially was a real catharsis.

Your assessment of Lunar Eclipse and of Utena will probably be different.




#2 | Back to Top08-08-2010 07:20:20 AM

Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971

Re: Utena: the Second Stage Play, Summary and Review

Thanks so much for sharing, but I seem to recall that my very own dear roommate shiva_indis already posted this here. emot-wink

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



#3 | Back to Top08-08-2010 10:28:50 AM

Tour Guide to Crawling Chaos
Registered: 10-19-2006
Posts: 719

Re: Utena: the Second Stage Play, Summary and Review

Stormcrow wrote:

Thanks so much for sharing, but I seem to recall that my very own dear roommate shiva_indis already posted this here. emot-wink

Whoops, I sure didn't do my research. emot-redface Oh well, good practice anyway.



#4 | Back to Top08-20-2010 01:38:51 PM

Trench Kamen
Eternal Eschatologist
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: 12-08-2006
Posts: 903

Re: Utena: the Second Stage Play, Summary and Review

It's still awesome, though. It's always good to hear another synopsis. emot-biggrin



#5 | Back to Top08-20-2010 02:13:01 PM

IRG Messiah
From: Virginia, USA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 361

Re: Utena: the Second Stage Play, Summary and Review

I remember reading about this! Did anyone ever draw a picture of Anthy with the machine gun mowing down zombies? Totally win!



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