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Revolutionary Girl Utena

Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a shojo anime series that aired in Japan from April 2-December 24, 1997. The series mixes elements of a magical girl series with allegories and the metaphysical. Visually, it borrows elements from classic Shojo, shadow puppetry, and Takarazuka theater. In 1999, the feature film The Adolescence of Utena was released in Japan.

Utena Tenjou is the title character of Revolutionary Girl Utena. She is a tomboyish character, who is trying to emulate a prince figure from her childhood that she has idealized. This prince came to her as a young child, and he had the scent of roses. He gave Utena a ring with a rose crest and told her that someday, the ring would lead her to him.

Utena is an honest and friendly girl, and she is idolized by almost all of the girls at Ohtori Academy (where Utena goes to school). One of her friends is Wakaba Shinohara, and she has a crush on Kyouichi Saionji, the student council vice-president.

One day, Utena sees a girl named Anthy Himemiya tending to some roses, and witnesses Saionji slapping her across the face. Later, Utena comes across a group of boys reading a love letter that has been posted on a bulletin board. It turns out it was a love letter Wakaba had written to Saionji, and having the letter posted for all to see humiliated her. Utena goes to confront Saionji, and he challenges her to a duel after school in the dueling area in the forest.

As she heads to the duel, Utena discovers that her ring with the rose crest works as a kind of "key" to get to the dueling area. At the duel, Utena sees Anthy, and hears Saionji refer to her as the "Rose Bride." Anthy places a rose onto each duelist's chest, and it is explained that whoever knocks the rose off of the other first wins the duel. Then, Anthy says a chant and goes into a trance, and Saionji draws the Sword of Dios from her.

After a brief duel, Utena ends up the winner. She is now "engaged" to the Rose Bride, and ends up being assigned to a new dorm. It turns out the only other occupant in the dorm is Anthy, and they share a room. Over the course of the series, dark secrets about Anthy and the school's student council start to surface.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is not an anime that is aimed at young children. The rating on the box reads 13 and up, but with some of the themes that appear in the series, this might be better for an audience that is 16 and up.


Title
Episodes
Release Year(s)
Director
Studio
N.A. Licensor
Revolutionary Girl Utena391997Kunihiko IkuharaJ.C. StaffNozomi Entertainment
The Adolescence of UtenaN/A1997Kunihiko IkuharaJ.C. StaffNozomi Entertainment
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Content copyright © 2014 by Lesley Aeschliman. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lesley Aeschliman. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Brenda Chen for details.

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