Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Idealist Interpretation of Revolutionary Girl Utena

Introduction to the Setting of the Ohtori Academy

"Revolutionary Girl Utena" is a shōjo, or 'magical girl', animated series which presents the adventures of a tomboyish girl, Utena Tenjou and her ambition to become a prince. The series is set at the prestigious Ohtori Academy for teenage students. The Ohtori Academy is apparently ruled by a Student Council of tremendous authority and self-importance, whose five select members wear a rose-seal ring and are uniquely permitted to enter the forbidden forest dueling arena. The Student Council is directed by a succession of letters mailed from the mysterious "End of the World", whose millenarian instructions are said will soon bring about the about the "World Revolution". The Academy is richly decorated in French fantasy-gothic architecture, stained-glass windows, and accompanied by grandiose organ music. French ornament, letters and Empire-style costumes are continually employed throughout the series, lending the Academy a classical north-European motif (at one point in the series, a teacher mentions there is a sister-school in the Netherlands). The geographic dislocation of this foreign occidental design hints at the spacio-temporal dislocation of the setting. Through a baffling variety of surreal psychosexual imagery and supernatural occurrences "Revolutionary Girl Utena" continuously destabilizes a coherent or literal interpretation of the characters and themes. For this reason, "Revolutionary Girl Utena" has been described as an example of a post-modernist fairy-tale.

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Mike and the Rose Bride from Episode 5, "the Sunlit Garden"(4:45)

Utena and Juri duel in Episode 7, "Unfulfilled Juri"(3:27)

Indecision at the End of the World in Episode 37, "the One to Revolutionize the World"(2:25)


Alice said...

Thankyou for this. This will add to my ideas of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Ryan said...

You're welcome. I am pleased that you enjoyed reading my essay.

Victor said...

An enlightening essay. I'm now going to watch the whole show again. Thanks!