A tomboyish schoolgirl finds herself forced into repeated duels for another girl who has a role in a world revolution.A tomboyish schoolgirl finds herself forced into repeated duels for another girl who has a role in a world revolution.A tomboyish schoolgirl finds herself forced into repeated duels for another girl who has a role in a world revolution.
The main character, Utena Tenjou, is a student at a boarding school. She meets Anthy Himemiya, a shy girl who is the Rose Bride, the key figure in a mysterious plot by the Student Counsel to "revolutionise the world". The main storyline revolves around Utena and her journey, through different trials and obstacles, to uncover this mystery. To support the main story, there are many subplots and filled with colourful supporting characters, who add drama, humour, and complexity.
The Student Counsel members often recite a poem with portions borrowed from Herman Hesse's Demian. Like the Demian, Utena is about the antagonist's personal journey uncovering truth within their world and within themselves, through the transitional periods of youth. Unlike in Demian, the hero's journey in Utena is highly metaphorical. Despite seeming childish and simple at first, this series is actually incredibly dark with themes that are both adult in nature and adult in meaning. It uses many traditional archetypes like the charming prince, the wicked witch, the naive hero but changes these elements' relationship with each other and within the story as the vehicle to drive these progressive elements. Some of the ideas touched upon are the meaning of gender, gender roles, the meaning of self, etc.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of my favourite television series. Both the plot and the characters are highly developed. I actually greatly enjoy the surrealism, with over the top drama that both pokes fun of itself and other series within the shoujo (manga and anime for women and girls) genre. The fantastic story components along with highly stylized visuals full of symbolism paint an almost dream-like setting. It's a post-modern fairytale that's indefinitely unforgettable. You'll either love it or hate it, there's no in between.
- May 23, 2008