We’re back at it again with more episodes of Shōjo Kakumei Utena, AKA Revolutionary Girl Utena! Last time we met several of our main characters, primarily Utena Tenjou and Anthy Himemiya. We saw Utena duel for possession of Anthy, something Utena finds very problematic, but the Student Council doesn’t really agree as they want the revolutionary power that comes from being Anthy’s fiancé. It’s a weird show, but that’s the 90’s for you. So let’s dive right in and meet the rest of the Student Council!
“The Sunlit Garden – Prelude” opens with a flash forward to Mickey, AKA Miki Kaoru, a blue haired boy on the Student Council, fighting Utena for Anthy. Going back a bit, we see he’s a piano prodigy playing a piece called “The Sunlit Garden” who laments missing his “shining thing,” which is part inspiration, part muse. He’s very friendly with Anthy, which results in her getting slapped yet again by some random schoolgirls thinking she’s bewitched him, or something. So we’re not done with the violence against her. Awesome. Both Utena and Anthy did poorly on a math test and have to retake it, so Mickey agrees to help them study. Utena’s a bit wary, so Mickey promises her that he won’t challenge her to a duel. But Nanami tagged along, thinking this another opportunity to humiliate Anthy. Her plans go… awry; it’s hard to put a snail in a pencil case and suggest the owner is a freak when it’s already filled with snails and no one else bats and eye. Eventually Nanami snaps, accusing Mickey of being in love with Anthy, which causes the shy girl to disappear. Utena, Mickey, and Nanami find her playing the same song Mickey was playing, reminding him of his little sister. This is it, though! Anthy is his “shining thing!” I’m sure this won’t cause any sort of trouble in the next episode!
The story continues in “The Sunlit Garden – Finale.” Turns out Mickey claims he and his twin sister wrote “The Sunlit Garden” when they were young. He encouraged her to play in a concert with him, but he got measles and missed it. Her anxiety at playing in front of people was on display before that, but having to play alone was too much; she ran from the concert and never played piano again, hence why Mickey really wants someone to be his “shining thing.” He hears Utena protest that Anthy is bound to do whatever her fiancé demands, so he goes to the Student Council and suggests dissolving the organization. After that we get to meet his sister, Kozue (although pretty sure she was never named), and we see that Mickey has an antagonistic relationship towards her. Doesn’t help that she just fucked Student Council president Touga Kiryuu. See, this was all part of his lesson to Mickey: if you don’t protect the things you love, someone will come and take them from you. This is followed by Anthy saying she’ll continue to play piano with him if Utena says it’s okay, and that she’d stop completely if ordered to. This is too much, so Mickey challenges Utena to a duel. He’s got fencing skills so he had the upper hand in battle, believing he could see in Anthy’s eyes that she wanted to be “freed.” So when she roots for Utena, his concentration breaks and he loses. He takes his loss in stride, but vows to do better next time. Then, just for an extra kick, the episode goes back to Kozue where she reveals to a friend that she was never good at piano; Mickey was just so good that no one noticed her mistakes. Nice faulty memories, my dude.
After that two-parter is episode 6, “Take Care, Mistress Nanami!” Oh joy, an episode focusing on her. A series of near accidents has Nanami suspect that someone is out to kill her, but her older brother, Touga, doesn’t seem bothered. But that’s because HE’S the one trying to kill her, along with Anthy! Only not, because this is a comedy episode and the obvious miscommunication Nanami takes as a plot to kill her is Anthy planning to spray the garden for bugs. But a runaway horse in the hallways heading straight for Nanami shows something’s up. She’s saved just in time by a little kid named Tsuwabuki, who becomes her boyfriend. Well, maybe “boyfriend” isn’t the right word… More like “servant.” Utena and Mickey are really weirded out by all of this, especially since Nanami’s only true love is her brother. Am… am I going to have to tag this series with “incest?” Anyway, turns out Tsuwabuki was behind all the close calls because he remembers a time long ago when a… runaway bull almost killed Nanami, but Touga swooped in to save her. Tsuwabuki vowed then and there to become an older brother figure to her. Nanami immediately finds out about that, but before any real fallout can happen, a… runaway boxing kangaroo… Hang on, I need to check my notes to make sure I’m not having a stroke. No, it’s all there. A runaway boxing kangaroo attacks the group, forcing Nanami to grab Tsuwabuki in an attempt to save him. But Touga leaps in and one-hit KO’s the beast, rekindling Nanami’s feelings (gross) and impressing Utena, which was probably his goal.
Oh, and Saionji shows his head again, but he’s treated as a joke. Good.
Then we wrap up this post with “Unfulfilled Juri,” focusing on the Student Council member we know the least about: bright orange haired Juri. She introduces herself to Utena, but the whole “Student Council keeps dueling me” thing has the other girl on edge. Doesn’t help that Juri–the fencing team captain–is known to be a harsh woman. Juri explains to Utena why the Council keeps dueling for Anthy: whoever is the fiancé of the Rose Bride will get powers to bring revolution to the world. Things seem to go well, but Juri slaps Anthy–SIGH–when she’s offered an orange rose. Turns out Juri was once in love with another girl, but that girl loved a boy, breaking up the friendship between the three of them. Juri never got over it, and the incident causes her to lash out against orange roses and the idea of miracles based on something the girl said to her. That last part comes up when Utena and Juri meet again and Utena mentions the prince that gave her the ring, thinking that meeting with him again could be a miracle. Juri snaps so IT’S TIME TO D-D-D-D-DUEL! I don’t think I’ve properly talked about the nature of the fights: each duelist has a rose in their chest pocket, and whoever has their rose knocked off loses. It seems to be fine now that Juri’s rose is orange, but whatever. The fight is a one-sided affair with Juri completely outclassing Utena. She knocks Utena’s sword away and prepares to go in for the kill (not literally… most likely), but the sword lands between them, knocking Juri’s rose off in the process. Could this be a miracle? She’ll never admit it, just like she’ll never admit that she keeps a picture of her lost love in a locket around her neck. So Juri’s sentimental! Volatile, but sentimental nonetheless.
Out of all the Student Council, Mickey is the best, hands down. Sure, he got stuck in his own head and challenged Utena, but the next episode the two are hanging out like friends. Saionji is awful, Juri is too tsundere for my liking, and Touga sure seems like he has an angle that hasn’t been revealed yet… But Mickey isn’t perfect. His strained relationship with his sister is proof of that, especially when you compare their stories of why she stopped playing. He has this ideal fantasy, while she remembers things very differently. Granted it’s a he said/she said situation, but I’m more inclined to believe her account, in part because the way the show framed it.
I’m starting to see some superfluous stuff happening. The extended sequence that plays before each duel is beginning to bore me. At least the sequence we see every time we cut to the Student Council is shorter, but you can only hear about privileged kids talking about “cracking the world’s shell” so many times before you start rolling your eyes and hitting that 10 second skip button. Also, the shadow puppet/Greek chorus girls didn’t actually add anything in episodes 6 and 7. Where previously they’d gossip about what’s going on and hint at things characters might not know, instead we got… the duo camping? And being sick to avoid a school trip? I’m not necessarily complaining, but at a certain point you start to realize that this is copy/pasted filler and that the actual runtime of relevant content isn’t as much as it probably should’ve been. Then again, I remember the Sailor Moon transformation sequences and attack animations fondly, so maybe that’s just a thing that 90’s shojo anime does.
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