Clearly, spoilers; specifically, for the episode ‘The Prince Who Runs in the Night’.
So. That scene. You know exactly which one I’m talking about, even if you last watched Revolutionary Girl Utena ten years ago (for the record, last time I did a full watch-through was probably four years ago). Utena, our hoped-for prince, is seduced by Akio, a man playing at being her hoped-for prince. I personally find it a very squicky episode, which, based on the manner of presentation, I think is the intended effect.
But, I’m not interested in discussing the overall episode, or even the overall scene – instead, I wish to address a very specific moment within that scene, namely the moment when Utena winces and shakes. Within RGU fandom, this moment used to be a bit of a point of contention – is Utena orgasming here? Or is her hymen breaking? However, nowadays the generally accepted interpretation is that her hymen is tearing at this moment, given the way the scene continues after that. I agree with this take on it.
However! While I do think that hymen tear-age is what occurs, it is actually a bit odd that this would happen at all. Utena is fairly young, but she is also extremely active. It would be strange if her hymen were still “fully” intact; typically, in physically active girls, the hymen tears and stretches over time. Again, Utena is pretty active, so it’d be unlikely that she’d experience tearing of the hymen even during her first time having sex.
Anyway, enough about hymens. Othello! That’s the board game being played in that episode, and it actually was fairly popular in the 1970’s in Japan. Watch out, though; they try to claim it as a native game, which it isn’t. The modern version at least hails from England, although the trade name given to it was bestowed in Japan. Te name springs from the fact that it utilizes gamepieces with one white side and one black side, and that the object is to get as many to be your color as possible. So, yes, that Othello. The white/black pieces specifically are a nod both to the conflict between pale Iago and dark Othello, and Othello and the lily-white Desdemona. So its rather fitting that its the game presented here; Utena plays double-duty as Desdemona and Iago largely from a racial perspective. Additionally, Iago was Othello’s enemy, and we all know Utena and Akio are enemies ultimately. As for Desdemona, she and Othello are spouses and she is killed by Othello; not a perfect parallel, but Utena is fairly taken with Akio and he is willing to have her be killed (as evidenced by the sword-stabbing paired with his lack of care about whether she is fatally wounded or not).
So, yes, Othello, not checkers or Monopoly (let’s be honest – Utena herself is unlikely to know how to play chess). Oh, that Ikuhara!