CONTENT WARNING: EPISODE 10 FEATURES ANIMAL ABUSE
So, uh… hi. How have you been? It’s been a while, yeah? August was a shitty month for reasons I don’t want to get into and it messed up my posting schedule to the point that I dropped Sunday posts about Shōjo Kakumei Utena, AKA Revolutionary Girl Utena. But we’re back up and running! I still have
my friend’s my very own Funimation account, so let’s dive back into Utena Tenjou fighting for the honor–and ownership–of Anthy Himemiya, the character with the darkest skin in the series. Don’t think about that too much.
First up in this batch is episode 8, “Curried High Trip.” Odd title, but sure. We immediately see what that means when mean bitch Nanami plans on messing with Utena and Anthy by sabotaging Anthy’s curry. But what was supposed to be a spicy substitution was actually curry so hot it borders on apocalyptic, resulting in an explosion that swaps the bodies of Anthy and Utena. Oh, this is going to be a dumb episode. I can’t wait! We have yet another scene of some girls slapping Anthy, but due to the body swap this “Anthy” slaps back. Student council president Touga finds out this was Nanami’s fault and banishes his little sister until she can fix this. So she and her lackeys travel to India where they are constantly attacked by elephants who are actively trying to murder them. Like, elephants on surfboards stalking their prey. Back to the body swap shenanigans, “Anthy” is cornered by Saionji, but what starts out looking like him being a sex pest yet again turns out to be him returning a shared diary that he and Anthy have been writing in. “Anthy” takes umbrage at his libel of Utena, so she plays along just long enough to break his spirits. Then Nanami returns with the 9 billion level mystical spice! And she immediately drops it, scattering it in the wind. Right when Anthy and Utena are resigning themselves to be permanently swapped, it turns out that the mystical spice was never actually used in Nanami’s prank. Nope, it was Anthy’s awful cooking that caused the explosion, and also a second one in Saionji’s face when her new curry proves to be explosive. Anthy and Utena are returned to their rightful bodies, but the episode ends showing that Saionji and the monkey… rat… thing, Chu-Chu have swapped bodies. Whoopsie. Too bad he’s back to normal next episode
Then it’s “The Castle Said to Hold Eternity,” an episode that actually moves the plot forward. Saionji and Touga have a kendo duel, which Touga easily wins. Saionji’s bitter not just because he lost but because he’s resented Touga for years. See, ten years ago the two came upon a funeral where the daughter of dead parents had gone missing. Touga finds her in a convenient third coffin where she says nothing is eternal and she’s ready to stay there until she dies. She also has pink hair, in case it wasn’t painfully obvious that this was a young Utena. Neither boy is the prince who changed her heart, but Saionji believes Touga did something after the two boys left. He also seems to think that was Anthy, so he’s just an idiot. He gets a letter from End of the World–the Charlie to the student council’s Angels–saying that the mysterious upside down castle floating above the dueling area is coming down tonight. He abducts Anthy so he can show her something eternal. He also slaps her, because that’s just an unfortunate theme in the series. Utena arrives late and finds Saionji half drowned, but no Anthy. Turns out she’s in a coffin in the arena, which is raised up when everything starts going nuts and the castle looks like it’s going to collapse. Utena manages to grab the unconscious girl but Saionji is furious since it was supposed to be him who saved Anthy. He attacks Utena, but Touga appears out of nowhere and takes the hit, telling Utena he did it because her prince was someone like him. It was only a flesh wound, but that all seems part of Touga’s plan. The audience finds out that he sent the letter to Saionji and is pleased with himself that the green haired jackass got expelled.
Episode 10 is “Nanami’s Precious Thing,” a story that focuses on Nanami, who was–before this episode–my second least favorite character. And speaking of my previous least favorite, the episode opens with Saionji being expelled. Bye bitch! He gives the diary he’d been exchanging with Anthy to Touga, but Touga burns it when no one is looking because he’s a sociopath or something. We then cut to Utena getting slapped by Nanami, who blames Touga’s injuries on the pink haired girl. Utena blames herself a little as well, so she and Anthy go to a party he’s holding. Nanami’s furious at their appearances, first slapping roses out of Utena’s hands and then slapping Anthy when the meek girl tries to speak up. Around this time we get flashbacks to a birthday party Touga had years ago where Nanami gave him a kitten, a present he treasured. Treasured too much, in fact, because she believed he was spending more time with it than her, so she… um… Wait, wait, hold the fuck up. She murdered a kitten?! She fucking drowned a kitten because her brother wasn’t giving her enough attention?! Wow, we just got rid of Saionji but this series makes up for it by making Nanami somehow worse. Jesus Christ. Touga gives his sister a rose ring, making her a duelist able to challenge Utena. The duel is rather short, featuring Utena calling on the spirit of Dios and cutting Nanami’s rose off in a way that triggers a white censorship rose (last seen in episode 2). But Nanami’s not fighting for Anthy, so she breaks the rules and continues to attack Utena. Touga finally steps in to stop this, feeding into Nanami’s unhealthy obsession with him. Turns out this was all part of his plan to gather information on how Utena duels, preparing to truly beat her next time.
I get that villains are, by their very nature, typically bad people. And I understand that when a character does a bad thing, this does not mean the author is endorsing the behavior. That being said, holy fucking shit, most of the student council are awful monsters. Saionji was bordering on becoming a rapist who had an unhealthy obsession with Anthy, Touga is some kind of scheming sociopath, Nanami is now my most hated character, Juri is a cold bitch, and I have nothing bad to say about Miki. Sure, his love for Anthy sure seems one sided, but he is the least awful of the bunch. At least he’s never hit Anthy! And on that note, I gotta say I’m getting a little tired of Anthy being slapped in nearly every episode. And on top of that, I can’t unsee that the human woman who everyone is fighting to own has the darkest skin out of all the characters so far. I know Japan doesn’t have the same racial history that America does, but come the fuck on. I don’t dislike the series, but this level of consistent abuse was not what I was expecting.
Also, hey, when does this show become queer? We’ve got a lot of fluff episodes and repeated sequences that sure seem like padding, but the queer content is real muted. Juri–an explicit sapphic woman–hasn’t been more than a side character since episode 7, and the relationship between Anthy and Utena comes off at the moment as platonic friends with one of the two having to defend the honor of the other. I haven’t looked up too much of what happens later and what I did see suggests that most of the characters in this are going to be some flavor of bisexual/pansexual, but right now the biggest romantic relationships have been one-sided: Saionji for Anthy, Miki for Anthy, and Nanami for her older brother (which still grosses me out). I know, I have to keep reminding myself that this is from the 90’s when things were very different, but the queerest part of the show so far has been the title sequence with sensual hand holding and knowing looks.
Feels good to be back on track! Next week will be the end of the so-called “Student Council Saga,” but I highly doubt that the constant duels for Anthy are going to stop after that. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
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Next: Episodes 11-13
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