Many people have ‘their song’; we have ‘our anime’. This is the story of how an anime revolutionized our world and how we met. (mildly NSFW photos)
Five years ago, I just happened to read about a female anime character, named Utena Tenjou. She was called awesome, sweet and autonomous. I was immediately interested in her case, but it took me two years to sit down and watch her series, Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena).
Like with most cases of love at first sight, you cannot describe what exactly just happened. I could not either, for all I could actually do was keep repeating to myself “this is good, very good, so very good.” Had you asked me at the time, I would have told you that I was amazed by the simple, yet elegant, animation that reminded me of how anime were done back in the 1970s (RGU was broadcasted during the 1997-1999 period); that I could not stop singing the awesome soundtrack; and that I thought Utena was the best female protagonist I had ever come across. It took almost no time (six episodes that is) to realize that this series was, in one word, epic.
It was not only Utena that I liked. Most characters in the series had something special to inspire me. Wakaba and her effort to to awaken her depressed friend, close to the end of season one, made me think of how I could help my own buds when they got into trouble. Juri’s effort to prove there are no miracle made me hope that there is going to be an Utena to show me miracles exist. The craziness Touga has been is the reason I have been trolled many times by my lovely friends. Last but not least, Utena is the kind of a person I wish to be; protective for the ones she loves, always there when they need her, honest and emotional. In a few short words, RGU may be a surreal anime, yet it provides one with inspiration for everyday life. This is why I suggest this anime to all people I know. Whether you enjoy shoujo or not, even if you feel like many things in the show make no sense, we have the opportunity to find some of the most heart touching personalities in anime history there. That is why, Shoujo Kakumei Utena will always own a part of my heart.
I think I had bumped onto it a long time ago as a site- Utena that is. It must have been after some Fushigi Yuugi and Sailor Moon. If I remember well, it was the AnimeMyth With You site with the explanations of symbolisms that mentioned Utena at the lemmas… anima & animus, roses, brother & sister, princess & prince. That lead me to “rinbu Academy’ site. When I read about the weird plot and homosexuality, at that time, I felt repented. I was a naive teenager back then raised in a homophobic family and discovering the truth about Michiru and Haruka was enough dose of shock. After many years, when I felt more at ease with the colors of sexuality and after having watched Rose of Versailles, I saw essays talking about Utena, comparing it with RoV, not only for the gender bender but for the feminist spirit, too. And I was in a mood of discovering myself and old anime. And said ‘why not?’
In the beginning, I remember, I watched it in a pretty slow pace. I must have put it on hiatus for the shake of Honey and Clover, but after resuming with and finishing the Student Council Arc I started realizing that Shoujo Kakumei Utena was serious stuff. Black Rose Arc with its psychoanalytical and dark edge sparked inside me great excitement.
And although the characters aren’t that likeable (since they have huge issues and a bunch of infatuations), you can sympathize with them and find common links – that hurt a lot. I once had that pure view of the world Miki had, which I was forced to abandon while growing up. I also valued ideas over everything else like him until high school. I could relate to the detestable Saionji who had latched on the rose-colored idea of friendship, trying to make it last forever. My stubborn self who believed that could change the world was mirrored in Utena’s valiant ideals. And most of all, Anthy’s crumbled self-esteem, her loneliness and resignation to her fate that lead to her betraying Utena echoed painfully in me.
Revolutionary Girl Utena rubbed in my face truths I didn’t want to face and gave me hope of finding my way in life. Princes aren’t to be trusted, they only turn you into a disabled person. I can make my own grandiose exit, like Anthy, and breathe freely.
Once upon a time, there was a boy with a huge love for Utena; so huge that he wrote an equally huge review about it in a forum thread. And there was also a girl who was enchanted by the same anime and who, upon seeing the thread, rushed to check the thread. Back then, in the pre-Mawaru Penguindrum era, very few people had watched Utena, and thus the thread had also very few replies. She didn’t lose time and commented immediately, leaving some links and praising the anime as ‘anti-drug’ (because watching this series is like doing drugs). The boy liked the comment and expressed his wish to give her ‘popularity points’, if they were still in function. The girl got flattered, pmed the boy and fate started unraveling what had in store for the both of them, as…
F: We started talking in pms about the anime, the discussion moved onto gender roles, homosexuality etc and then we exchanged mails to do the Utena review for the proper review section. But when i saw your mail, i freaked out and then we took a break…
N: Because you were oversensitive of my high and elegant sense of humor.
F: Oh yeah I’m sure… who would trust a guy with the word porn and the devil’s number in his mail address?
N: All people are special. Sometimes their name is too 😛
F: Oh and their avatars as well, right? Can you remember the avatar you had back then in msn when we first signed in to chat?
N: Yes. No, actually no… tokyo akazukin I think?
F: Nope. It was a photo focusing in a woman’s tied hands behind her back and her rear … Can you imagine what went through my head? lol
N: Aaaah well, I think you might have thought “oh, my future Master”.
F: Sure, sure, dream on.
N: *blush* moooo… You know, I never thought that this way I would meet the woman of my lifetime so I did not think of such a thing when i picked up my avatar.
And well, once they started communicating through msn, things developed quite fast. The girl was a bit more careful in the beginning, not dropping the nickname, like the boy did. They went on discussing for hours about miscellaneous topics such as violence and religion- Utena review got completely forgotten and was used as a preface in the end for a phone call. There she dropped the nickname, since it would be weird if he called her through the phone with the nickname. And damn her heart was beating so fast when they talked through the phone. His voice did show he was shy which she found cute. She was fascinated by the boy’s intelligence and kindness, so soon enough the boy got a confession which made him jump up to the ceiling from joy. Although he was surprised, the girl’s feelings were more than welcome and he returned them.
Some months later, and in spite of the many difficulties, they met in person. Oh, the boy was sure then that he got in deep waters with the beauty he had in front of him. The girl was a little more hesitant, but she recognized the beloved voice and the same wit and Utena was once again the connecting link. They met again and again even if it wasn’t that often (because her stepfather was a bad wizard). They broke their shell little by little, they reached out for each other and the rest is history…
We are together 4 years now and we anticipate the moment when the girl, like another Anthy, will be able to follow the path of freedom…