"For the Revolution of the World"
Revolutionary Girl Utena The Movie
Studio-JC Staff, Director-Kunihiko Ikuhara, Writer: Yoji Enokido
Ah yes, the conclusion of February reviews, which have been mainly
covering series about love or relationships. To cap it off, I saw
take a look at Revolutionary Girl Utena The Movie. One can view the
movie as a remake of the original TV Series or a slightly abridged
version of the events in the TV Series. I am on the fence about this,
for one reason: Of course, keep in mind I have yet to see the
original TV Series. It has been a show I have been meaning to watch
at some point, but never really had the chance to.
Utena is a new student at an elite academy which seems to be
rather strange place. She is on a quest to find her prince, which is
probably a red haired dude at the school. On the way, she meets with
Anthy (a dark skinned damsel) who is the 'Rose Bride'. The rings make
duelists for the fight for the Rose Bride, which are done by sword
duels. Theres duels, dealings and backstabbings and lots of sapphic
love. Of course, the first two-thirds of this 87 minute long film are
coherent at best. Past that point, I gave up on trying to summarize
this fecking movie.
This is in part is due to the writing. One trait of a Yoji Enokido
script that I have noticed is the use of spectacle at the expense of
common sense and/or logic. It is light on character and plot but big
on spectacle. Of course it isn't just in here, but also in other
shows Enokido has written, like Diebuster and FLCL, even his more
current stuff like Ouran (to a point) and Star Driver. The last third
of the movie kind of follows this; a flurry of scenes that do bring
some sense to story elements but in the end are glossed over in favor of 'Oh,
let's do something totally outlandish and crazy'. Fortunately,
Enkido's writing is complemented by Ikuhara's direction which seeks
to emphasize this point fully alongside being well very cinematic.
Oddly enough, this is the best animated portion of the film (of
course the movie on whole is glorious to look at).
For the most part, the Utena movie is about its characters and
their relationships, be it Utena and Anthy, Touga/Utena/Shiori, Miki
and his sister, Anthy and her brother prince, Miki/Juri and
Juri/Shiori...... god one needs a fecking chart on all the
relationships here. Granted, most of them are rather problematic
relationships to say the least. This leads the movie to be a bit
unsettling at times to watch, but I think that's part of the point.
There exist brief moments where it seems like they are referencing
the TV show (the scene with cow and elephants for instance). Fair
amount of WTF abounds as well, especially in the finale.
Of course, not all relationships are problematic. The one that
works, and dare I say, survives into tomorrow is....lesbian love?
Yes, Anthy and Utena do make a cute couple, even if it starts off as
somewhat sudden and forced. I also think that Utena and Anthy serves
as an early iteration of the typical yuri couple: one being prince,
tomboyish and 'bi-fauxnen' while the other is soft, demure and
feminine. But we as the audience spend enough time with them during
the course of the movie that by the finale, we root, nay cheer for
Of course, the animation has less problems than the writing,
that's for sure. It is rich and colorful setting, an exquisitely shot
production by JC Staff. In short, the animation is quite astounding
and artsy. Artistic symbolism abounds in the movie: roses, the
prince's ring (Mark of the Rose), sword fights, even the whole ending
sequence is one extended symbolic metaphor in of itself.
Lastly, the English Dub is serviceable though it hasn't aged well.
This, along with the TV Series, were dubbed and released by US Manga
Corps back in the day. US Manga Corps dubs that I have looked at in
the past tend to be hit or miss with me. With me, the dub for this is spotty at best. Standout performances from
Rachael Lillis and Crispin Freeman are there to be sure. However, the
rest of the cast seems either dry/stiff or OTT. Though I wouldn't rag
on the dub too much as Ikuhara-san did supervise the dub himself, as
documented on the behind the scenes video included on the DVD.
Overall, the Utena Movie is rather interesting. Granted, this is
an opinion based on me not having seen the series itself, so I might
find some character and plot details a bit fuzzy, but the animation
of the sheer spectatle makes up for it in the end. I will make a
point of watching the Utena series and maybe perhaps my opinion of
the movie will change somewhat.
Next review, well, its this:
'Til next time, dear readers