Reasons to Watch Revolutionary Girl Utena

No picture. Hmm.

I’ll have to remedy that when I’m not in the middle of traveling through foreign backwoods (as opposed to American, redneck-infested backwoods) and have an internet connection that is slower than a dead donkey. For the time being, though, this shall suffice.

Anyway, apparently some sorry souls out there are still unconvinced of the necessity of watching Revolutionary Girl Utena and the fact that it is a Very Good Thing. My connection sucks so I can’t watch anything (Shiki!) and apparently there are some religious gatekeepers out there preventing me from downloading pornographic manga or looking at Baka-Raptor’s blog. These are two of my favorite things to do, obviously, so I’m feeling a bit put-out. But, more importantly, I can’t do some grand post on Shiki or pornographic BL, yet I wish to assure my dear readers that I do, in fact, still exist (since I’m not Moe Sucks) (stop vanishing!). So here we go:

  1. It’s awesome. Self-explanatory.
  2. It’s a ‘holy grail’ type show, which is to say, one of those shows that serious fans will watch at some point – so you’d be well-served by watching it so you aren’t the idiot tipping your head and blinking your eyes in confusion when it comes up.
  3. Of relation to the above, it has been fairly influential on other shows – Ouran High Host Club took nods from some of it’s animation quirks, for instance, and Melody of Oblivion was essentially an attempt by J.C. Staff to replicate the whole thing with a male protagonist (it failed miserably). Many a debonair leading lady from shoujo has been molded in the vein of the princely Utena.
  4. Discussing it is the best parlor game ever. There really is no end to the speculations one can have about it, or the meanings one can parse from it. Even single scenes can be gone over time and again and still leave a lot of room for analysis. This of course, is especially helpful to a blogger – easy way to solve a writer’s block is to just pick a random aspect of the show and then go to town on it.
  5. The fandom isn’t crazy. To sound a bit biased, I think part of it is due to the fact that the fandom skews a bit older, and so some of the crazier stuff is out of folks’ systems by then (yaoi paddles, glomping, Death Note t-shirts, Naruto headbands, etc.). It is very hard to find an argument in a room full of RGU fans. Of course, there’s probably the fact that parts of it are so esoteric as to be impossible for anyone to say that what they think is the end all to be all.
  6. It just got re-mastered. So if you’ve been putting it off, there’s no time like the present. And, for region one folks, Nozomi is bringing out the remasters in three boxsets starting early next year.
  7. The music is incredible, and truly unique. J.A. Seazer, a man who doesn’t normally do anime soundtracks, was commissioned to do the soundtrack for RGU. He is best known for the music he composed in the 1960’s and 70’s, music that was extremely popular with student movement groups of the time. The lyrics are bizarre, as are many of the arrangements, and there’s been absolutely nothing like it since.
  8. Its like nothing else you’ll ever see. There have been imitators (Melody of Oblivion), and there have been shows that show its influence, but nothing has been quite like it, and based on trends, I’d be sincerely shocked if there is ever anything like it again. The closest things to it are Afterschool Nightmare and Princess Tutu – but while they are similar, it’s only relative to the fact that nothing really is. Princess Tutu’s got the shoujo deviating from the norm feel to it, while Afterschool Nightmare is the same kind of allegory.
  9. Its legitimately good. Joking aside with my first point, this is a solid show. Certain individuals shy away from things that even have a faint whiff of typical shoujo to them, but the roses here have thorns (hurr hurr). The first arc is closer to the average shoujo than the remaining arcs are, but even here there are hints at something more sinister afoot – witness the brutal treatment Anthy must endure, for instance, or what happens with Nanami and the kitten. Not many sparkles there. Hold your nose if you really must, but you will certainly have managed to let go before you’ve even noticed, and probably have zapped through all thirty-nine episode before you even know it as well. And be looking around desperately for the movie.

GO WATCH IT GO WATCH IT GO WATCH IT. And no one is ever allowed to drop it unless they watch the first twenty or so episodes first. And even then if you drop it, then you must be a freedom hating communist be the sort of person who thought Strawberry Panic was a piece of high art.

Oh, and while this was written up with someone in particular in mind, it is meant as a general litany of reasons for anyone to go watch it (especially that last bit; obviously I wouldn’t be using Strawberry Panic as an example otherwise). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to freeze my ass off in the northern Atlantic now.

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16 Responses to Reasons to Watch Revolutionary Girl Utena

  1. kimaguresan says:

    I can’t say much more than you have, but yes: GO WATCH IT GO WATCH IT GO WATCH IT.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    Ok, you just posted porn last week, and I’m the one getting blocked?

    I watched RGU sometime in the spring. Haven’t seen the movie yet. The ending’s been spoiled about 5 times by 6 sources. I’ll watch it when I get over it.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, but even with the ending spoiled it makes for a good watch.

      Yeah, I’m amused, too, that I’m not blocked and you are. I guess I used my mega-moe powers on the ISP’s or something.

  3. glothelegend says:

    I still have yet to see this show, even though I always hear about how fucking good it is. Once I’m done watching every Tenchi Muyo show out there that isn’t gay, then maybe I’ll check this out finally. Maybe I won’t. Maybe go fuck yourself.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Has someone been watching The Departed?

      If you don’t watch this, you’ll actually just be fucking yourself.

  4. kadian1364 says:

    Utena is one of anime’s Holy Grails, just like one of the Holy Grails of serious anime blogging is to list reasons to watch Utena. The cycle endlessly spirals upward like that staircase to the floating castle.

  5. Yumeka says:

    I was blown away by Utena when I first watched it about 6-7 years ago. I once thought of it as the shojo version of Evangelion, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate description.

    Anyway, few series have had the amazing symbolism and unique plot that Utena has. The duel theme music “Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku” is quite memorable too.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I love Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku a lot; I also love the remixes that have been done of it, both those used in-show and not. It really is an excellent piece.

      I swear that RGU is a show that you can watch ten times and still find something you didn’t notice in it in the previous nine viewings.

  6. Caddy C says:

    Now that I’ve watched Rose of Versailles, this is next on my list of anime I seriously need to watch, seriously. 🙂

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Well, yeah, especially after having watched Rose of Versailles. If that wasn’t a big influence on the franchise, I don’t know what was.

  7. odorunara says:

    I was surprised at how much information you get through the whole Monster-of-the-Day sections of the show. Even the Black Rose Arc (the least interesting, in my opinion) can’t be skipped without losing valuable information. This is such a brilliant show.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Even the episodes that look like filler from the outside say a lot as well – in particular, the Nanami egg episode is a brilliant demonstration of how ill-suited Touga is to ever be considered a prince at all and how hideously hypocritical he is.

  8. Aile says:

    “I was blown away by Utena when I first watched it about 6-7 years ago. I once thought of it as the shojo version of Evangelion, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate description.”

    The comparison is as good as the arguments you use to support it. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a good shorthand description (I’ve heard it often enough), especially to draw in people who’d never watch the show (because “shoujo” or whatever).
    Both series are important mid-90s shows, the “flavour” is similar (heavy on symbolism, but not above using some lighter filler; as the monster-of-the-week formula of the beginning-middle decreases, the mindfuck increases to major proportions to the end), both shows are famed for ‘deconstructing the tropes of their respective genres’ (though in the age of TvTropes it seems nobody uses that term correctly anymore) and diving deep into the headspace of their characters. Both shows were highly influential and are often referenced (as they themselves are also built upon the heritage of their ancestors), copycats tried (and failed) to ride the same train (and you can attribute the full-circle motion of later “classic” revival shows to a conscious ante-positioning). And if you make it through all TV-episodes, both have a great movie for you to enjoy.

    @adaywithoutme: You might want to add a few words about if the show has ‘aged well’. 90s drawing-style and -delivery doesn’t bother me (I’m an oldfag anyway) but some young’uns can’t be bothered with anything pre-millenial.

    cheers!

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, the art hasn’t aged too badly, although more recent pieces of animation do make some of the animation look a bit rough. I also think that the level of recycled animation sequences can be a bit off-putting to folks, although I myself consider all the recycled animation to be fairly important to the story itself.

      I personally don’t think it looks bad at all, but I feel like I have a very poor sense of what younger and more recent fans expect for animation. I was perfectly willing to watch Rose of Versailles although its animation and art is almost archaic these days, but I don’t know how tolerant others are, y’know?

      • odorunara says:

        I felt like the style was very late-90s (when eyes were bigger across the board), but not in a bad way. I loved the stylized animation as much as when I saw it the first time.

        Rose of Versailles’s animation bothers me a little because it’s so inelegant compared to the manga. I was perfectly happy to overlook it, though. After reading 4/5 of the manga, the reason I don’t like the anime as much is because it handled the ending/love confessions/love scene rather poorly. I hate to say it, but, oh, the manga is like 100x better on those points. (And some of the other things that got changed, like Jeanne and Nicholas, seemed unnecessary and really changed their characters….)

        But that’s just comparing it to the manga. As a stand-alone work, the art didn’t bother me at all.

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