Anime Japan Just for fun Uncategorized

Absolute Destiny Apocalypse, Take 3

You may wish to read Absolute Destiny Apocalypse, Take 1 & Take 2 to understand what I’m going on about ^^

Revolutionary Girl Utena abounds with many exemplary female characters. Utena is the first example, she is courageous willing to defend her friends. Yet at the same time she is naive, she embodies the innocence*** that must be lost when coming of age. She really is pure-hearted and does not even notice the most obvious things going on literally under her nose such as the incestuous relationship between Anthy and her brother, Akio Ohtori whose dual nature is the Prince/Devil. I hate Akio because he came between Utena and Anthy. He is a bastard.

Anthy is dynamic in her own right and her being the ‘witch’ also makes her character even more interesting and complex. Supporting female characters include Juri Arisugawa who is an excellent fencer and the only female member of the Student Council in the beginning. She also duels for the ‘Rose Bride’. There is Nanami Kiryuu (image of her and brother on the left) who is the comic relief of the series. Her character is really bull-headed and she has a serious brother complex. Her older brother Touga Kiryuu is the Student Council President and to say she is in love with him will be an understatement. Nanami is also a drama queen and a bully who punishes anyone who she views as lower than her or who her brother pays attention to. She is a really silly character but can get serious when its time to, I love the way she easily occupies the role of the Student Council president when her brother is wounded and in a foul mood after his duel with Utena. Nanami is not a bad dueller herself and fights with two blades. Almost all the female characters fight in duels excluding Anthy because she is the Rose Bride. Another interesting point is that the sword used by the dueller has to be called forth from Anthy’s body.

The Student Council president Touga Kiryuu deserves special mention. He is Nanami’s older brother and the object of all her affection. He is a playboy and an expert manipulator who is always cold, calculating and is willing to use his own sister who loves him so dearly to reach his ends. In the progress of the series, he develops ‘feelings’ for Utena however he never accepts her for who she is and insists on seeing her in a stereotypical feminine role; as the woman who can never be a prince and still needs to be saved. In other words, he believes and tries to convince Utena that she can never be a Prince as she is a girl and that it is not her job to go around saving other people. Touga is portrayed differently in the TV anime and the anime movie though, in the movie his character is more sympathetic.

For the most part of the TV anime, Touga wants Utena to be a ‘normal girl’ presumably so he can play the part of her prince. At a point Touga convinces Utena to be a ‘normal girl’. After duelling with Touga and losing, Utena gets confused when Touga wins Himemiya from her. During this troubled time, Utena starts doubting herself and lets Touga’s words get to her. In that period, she attempts to be ‘normal’ by wearing girl’s uniform, she becomes submissive and lets Touga flirt with her in that disturbing playboy I-have-several-women-under-my-thumb manner. It is only with help from Wakaba who reacted so strongly to Utena’s change telling Utena that what is ‘normal’ for others does not have to be ‘normal’ for her and vice versa. Utena realises that girls uniform is not ‘normal’ for her, indeed the uniform was only a representation of what the others expect from a ‘normal girl’. Basically, after this incident, I saw Utena gain acceptance of herself (which is I believe important for even real life girls) and she challenges Touga in order to get Anthy back surprising both Touga and Anthy. Before Utena challenges him, Touga thinks she is coming to submit to him while Anthy is supposed to have moved on happily with her new possessor (a.k.a fiance). While the duel is taking place, Anthy (who watches all the duels) is touched to see the way Utena is willing to fight and defend herself against Touga that she [Anthy] weeps.

I also find what this anime has to say about relationships very interesting. We have a lot of suggested incestuous relationships in Miki Kaoru another member of the student council who plays the piano. He originally wants to win Anthy because he wants to regain the ‘rhythm that he lost’ when he was younger. When he was younger he used to play the piano with his sister and that time may be what he wants to return to. Also we have Nanami who has a great brother complex. She continuously insists that Touga is the only man for her yet when she discovers the relationship between Anthy and Akio she is disgusted. She confronts Utena saying ‘can you not see what is going on here?’ referring to the fact that Anthy and Akio are in an incestuous relationship yet Utena cannot see because she is not only clueless but innocent. Let us not forget Anthy and Akio’s horrible relationship, I am not sure but I believe it is hinted that the reason Anthy sleeps with her brother is to gain absolution or something. I don’t know to be honest, maybe it is what she thinks she deserves because, you know, she is the ‘witch’.

Oh no Anthy! Not with your own brother!!

Saionji Kyouichi is another interesting character who is basically an abuser. When we first meet him, he is slapping Anthy for no reason. Yet he claims he loves her. He does not seem to stop hitting her, sometimes he talks to her trying to get her to see his point of view and when she doesn’t he hits her. Saionji is confusing, I think he’s seriously obsessed with Anthy and he is an odd character that wants to force his ‘love’ for Anthy on her. He wants to own her. I believe that Saionji’s character is there to showcase the kind of ‘love’ that should be avoided.

I also cannot believe I wrote this much without mentioning that Anthy and Utena come to love each other! This manga is classified as yuri after all, their love is obviously subtle but I like that it is ‘pure’ compared to the other sorts of relationships going around. They are my favourite couple in anime and I must also say that after watching Revolutionary Girl Utena, I have become an avid reader of yuri manga, I will hopefully talk about that in another post.


Whoever made it this far, well done! I hope I was able to convey the complexity and specialness of the anime/manga Revolutionary Girl Utena. I believe this anime should be required watching for all teenage girls mostly because I love its themes but also because I believe watching this anime helped be grow up. I know it seems a bit much to place this much importance on a cartoon but Revolutionary Girl Utena means that much to me. And I am definitely not alone in my appreciation for these series. Though it is a bit old (to me because it was made in the 90s), there are tons of resources online dedicated to Revolutionary Girl Utena. My favourite has to be (that site also has beautiful images and every single image of Utena and the rest is from that website) and I completely adore this forum that addresses the symbolism behind the series and this forum from the same site that tried to interpret the series. I think only those who have watched the series can fully understand though which is why you should watch it!

***Ultimately Revolutionary Girl Utena seems to suggest that innocence has no place in the big bad grown up world. Utena is the one who dies in the end while Anthy is able to start her life over again, this time with more independence. Anthy made the choice to leave her brother and the members of the Student Council who were still searching for the power to bring revolution to the world.


  1. where did you say you found this manga again? it's so interesting! i have a question though: why does Utena wear shorts instead of trousers?

  2. oh, and have you read Tamora Pierce's Song of The Lioness quartet? It's about a girl who dresses like a boy to become a knight. not quite as complex as revolutionary girl utena, but definitely worth reading.

  3. i first came across it through some books i was reading that critically analysed manga. as Revolutionary Girl Utena is from the 90s and not as popular as the other big names in anime/manga, it is quite difficult to come across. the anime box set is crazy expensive but i think you can find the manga on Amazon and such sites. and you've raised an excellent question! i think Utena wears shorts to show that she is the naive, infantile one. interestingly in the movie, she wears trousers and i feel her character in the anime movie is different from her character in the televised anime. she seems much more assertive and independent (i guess 'stronger') though she still maintains the innocence meme. i never really thought about the shorts but i'm sure it has been talked about in a forum somewhere. i'll begin my search.and i'll also check out Song of the Lioness. it sounds cool! do you have any idea when it was written? i happened to recall this article i read that pondered why in the earlier shoujo days there were more feisty heroines willing to dress as guys and fight etc but lately most shoujo heroines are more 'homely' and 'feminine', they get their strength through being motherly as opposed to been fighters.

  4. the Song of The Lioness books were written in the 80s. BUT, i found through some reading that Revolutionary Girl Utena draws heavily from Osama Tezuka's Princess Knight, which was really the first shoujo manga. it ran in the 50s and 60s, and it features a girl who was born with both a boy's heart and a girl's heart who wants to be a knight. Another v. popular shoujo with this androgyny theme is The Rose of Versailles, written by a woman, Riyoko Ikeda in the 70s. so these ideas were around for a long time. And let's not forget Shakespeare's Twelfth Night!!! Could you draw a parallel? Could they all be somehow related??? Maybe! I think it's interesting though that early shoujo featured a lot of these themes, but now they're not so common. even Song of The Lioness is as far as i know one of the few books written for young adults in modern western literature that features this theme. the difference, however, is that the protagonist, Alanna, is mostly in the company of men, since she's hiding her identity, so there's no yuri element in those books.You're terrible, you know – you keep introducing me to new things that distract me from my work, lol. I will definitely be watching the Utena anime from now on! and trying to read the manga at some point since the stories and characters seem to be different. the whole story is wonderfully complex and compelling – as all good anime and manga should be. one day we should get together and talk about all this! That day will have to be after my exams though….

  5. i totally ignored Tamora Pierce's name and assumed Song of the Lioness was a manga! girl, you call yourself a shounen fan but i see you've got your shoujo facts down! yeah it's a sad truth that the offical first shoujo manga was written by a man. Rose of Versailles falls under feminist anime as well. i've never watched it though. it took much effort to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena and i wasn't even sure i was going to like it but i'll have to check the Rose of Versailles. i don't know if a parallel can be draw with the Twelfth Night. it is possible though but i guess it depends on what inspired Tezaku to write Princess Knight. oh this is interesting, i'm pretty sure there is a manga out there called Prince Princess or Princess Princess and that one is about a prince who has to dress as a princess in order to please his father the king. after the queen died, the king got depressed and the prince resembles her so much, they decided for him to grow up as a girl to make the king're the one who's terrible! i almost got a heart attack when i read that before continuing. hehe your opinion means that much to me ^^ i can lend you my single volume of the manga though some people don't like the manga. i guess it is important to note that the manga, the TV anime and the anime movie portray the characters differently. i feel that the TV anime developed the characters excellently.

  6. aww, i'm sorry! i didn't mean it that way! you know i love reading your stuff :)i only know about Princess Knight from looking up RGU and Osama Tezuka a while ago, so i'm not THAT knowledgeable about shoujo. though the whole issue of feminism etc etc in manga is a topic that needs to be discussed more fully. even this revolutionary girl stuff is super complex and has many themes. i'm sure gender bending in literature and media is a topic large enough to be a class on it's own. there's so much of it!!!p.s. you said you watched Revolutionary Girl when you were younger? where did you watch it? and did you understand it at all?

  7. You didn't have to apologize at all! I got your point after reading the whole sentence though I was a bit surprised by my first reaction ^^I was young two years ago you know. Lol, I call those days 'the days of darkness/ignorance' (a la Mecca before Prophet Muhammed) I definitely understood the amine because I was at the stage that the characters were. Growing up to me was basically learning to accept myself, get rid of childish innocent notions and brace myself for the future. So it was like the anime spoke to my subconscious though I was not bothered with the latent symbolism back then. So I must have been 17 or 18 when I watched RGU and 'grew up' to become the lovely butterfly I am today :PI watched RGU on my laptop! I must have downloaded a torrent that took ages to complete. Plus you've given me a bucket full of ideas! I absolutely love reading and writing about manga! Oh and lest I forget gender bending us ever present in shoujo!

  8. lol, okay. i wonder if i'll grow up a little if I read this.random comment, but you totally used a picture of Touga and Saionji in one of your posts on homosexuality! i didn't realize it until i was browsing through a fan site for RGU and found it! lol

  9. mellowyel, i think you're pretty grown up already! i dunno if it'lll affect you as much as it did me. yeah i've used pics from RGU before in other posts! glad you noticed.

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