English: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 2, 1997 to Dec 24, 1997
23 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.161 (scored by 14235 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action drama fantasy shoujo
SynopsisJust after Utena's parents died she was consoled by a prince who gave her a ring with a rose crest on it. Utena was so impressed by the Prince that she vowed to become one herself one day. A few years later Utena is attending Ohtori Academy where she gives all the teachers headaches because she dresses in a boys uniform so she can be like the prince she met long ago.
After Utena's friend is insulted by a member of the Student Council, Utena fights in a duel for her friends honor. Utena's rose crest allows her to enter the dueling arena where Utena wins the duel and becomes engaged to the Rose Bride. Unknowingly, Utena is pulled into a series of duels with other members of the Student Council for the possession of the Rose Bride. As she becomes fond of Anthy, the Rose Bride, she must fight to keep her friend safe and to discover the horrifying secret behind Ohtori Academy.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Shoujo Kakumei Utena
Alternative version: Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku
Characters & Voice Actors
Admittedly, I'm biased when it comes to reviewing this anime. I started watching it at a very impressionable age, and the impact it had on me at that particular time in my life is astronomical. I also have a huge soft spot for anything surreal, gender-bending, absurd, existential, or psychological.
That being said, Utena fulfills all of those criteria beautifully. And it is enjoyable on multiple levels. I enjoy it as much now, at age 20, as I did at age 12. My understanding of the characters, the symbolism, and the message inherent in each episode has changed dramatically. At a young age I saw everything as Utena did; I viewed the series from her standpoint, agreed with her fully, and essentially played the role of the fool. In the final episodes when she does not understand what Akio was saying, I did not either. Now I do. Now I sympathize with him, understand his cynicism and manipulation of adolescence, and now I realize just how truly revolutionary and powerful one Tenjou Utena was. Now I understand Akio's shock. He's lost the ability to see things as the iconoclast--the fool who is an iconoclast without being self-aware of the full implications of what he or she is doing.
But then, I digress.
"Utena" borrows heavily from the philosophies of Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse, most notably the latter's incredible novel "Demian". I highly recommend that those who enjoyed this series read the works of both men. The anime incorporates a brilliant and deft weave of existentialism and psychological analysis with excellent characterization and a degree of slice-of-life realism. There is a running theme of the discomfort inherent in becoming self-aware, adolescent discomfort, budding sexuality, and dissatisfaction with the status quo that is inherent in these realizations. These are teenagers who look for the meaning in everything; they cannot yet except there IS no meaning in everything. They want to rebuild the world. In this sense, these turbulent, anarchic sentiments are a throwback to "Demian"; they are the same sentiments that had an entire generation of disillusioned German youth hailing the book as a voice speaking on their behalf for the first time. In many ways, that voice is universal. "Utena" does it justice.
From a technical standpoint, Utena is top-notch. The artwork is gorgeous, the music lush, and the direction lucid. It hearkens to the era of cel-based animation with a minimum of CGI, especially as compared to current offerings. The seiyuu all do an excellent job with their characters. J.A. Seazer's musical compositions are worthy of stand-alone acclaim. They are quite unlike anything else known in the anime genre.
I suppose I am obligated to warn of the exploration of various taboo subjects beyond homosexuality (Utena and Anthy being one of few canon yuri couples out there outside of hentai), including incest; if you are squiked beyond your comfort threshold by this, don't watch the show. Otherwise, I cannot recommend this show highly enough. I acknowledge it is not for everyone, but if you are that sort of twisted, abstract person who would enjoy this show, and if you remember the growing pains of adolescence (or are currently undergoing them), you can't watch it soon enough. read more
Warning: Epically long review ahead, mainly because I love this series so much.
Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Manga, Anime: Revolutionary Girl Utena was originally a manga with story by Be-Papas and art by Chiho Saito that ran in Shogakugan's Ciao magazine from 1996 to 1997. It has been licensed Stateside by Viz Media, and the final volume, which covers the movie, was released on December 3rd, 2007.
Revolutionary Girl Utena has two anime incarnations. One is the original TV show, which is made of 39 total episodes, and was produced by JC Staff (famous for their work on Honey and Clover and Potemayo), and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (famous for becoming the director Sailor Moon after the second half of the R season up until the SuperS season). It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1997 till December 24th, 1997. The second is a movie adaptation, which will be covered later in this review. Both have been licensed Stateside by Central Park Media, which is now defunct. Let's just say it's been out for a long time Stateside.
Story: "Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her father and mother had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. 'Little one,' he said, 'who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength and nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.' Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but she was so impressed by him that the princess vowed to become a prince one day. But was that really such a good idea?" This is the story that a younger Utena Tenjou tells us as her older self, still aspiring to be a prince and dressing like a boy, goes to the prestigious Ohtori Academy. After her close friend Wakaba is cruelly treated by a member of the Student Council, Saionji and she sees him slapping Anthy, his supposed girfriend, she challenges him to a duel. The ring she wears unknowingly admits her to a secret duelling arena in the forest where Saionji meets her with Anthy, who is apparently the Rose Bride. Saionji then pulls a sword out of Anthy's chest, and things only get odder from there on out...
Utena is an absolutely amazing series.
On the surface, Utena is just a duelist of the week series, with recurring duelists. However, what makes this show so much more than that is the depth of character development that you get with the duelists, and even with the recurring minor characters. Each duel shows another side to them, and, in addition, reveals even more reasons why these people should go to a psychiatrist. Seriously, you could probably do a good case study on every one of the main characters, and a good deal of the minor recurring characters. Hell, even the girl who's mainly used as comedic relief gets excellent development and light shed on her psychological problems!
The other thing about this series is that nothing, nothing is what it seems to be at first. There are layers and layers to every single character and aspect of this show, and as the show goes on, you realize exactly what is going on at Ohtori Academy. There's some very heavy symbolism that uses some fairly mundane objects and allegories that foreshadow what's going to happen long before it ever does, and you'll only catch this on another watchthrough of the series.
Which, by the way, would probably be best after you've watched this the first time through. There's a lot of things that you only get in subsequent watchthroughs, and you'll realize just how much there is to this series when you do. I am convinced that someone could probably write a master's thesis on this show.
Warning: There are some fairly blatant innuendos and sexual images in this, along with hints of incest and major age differences and definite abuse. Oh, and there's lots of girls and boys feeling up/kissing their respective genders. So, if you don't like that, you should stay away from this series.
Art: The art takes a bit of getting used to, admittedly, with blank eyes, sharp edges, and heavy lines. In general, Utena is heavily stylized, but when compared to other shows airing around that time (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Beserk), the quality is fairly high. A lot of work goes into the background art and all the symbolism as well, all of which figure heavily into the show.
There's a lot of stock footage in this show, but luckily it's animated well enough that it doesn't bother you, and every time it plays, you can catch some new little detail about it.
Music: The background music for Utena is done by Shinkinchi Mitsumune, who also did work on Rozen Maiden's background music. From what I've heard from him, this is probably his best work, and I wonder what happened that he put so little effort forth with Rozen Maiden, compared to the effort that had to have gone into this. Every theme is memorable, and is probably some of my favorite music from a series ever.
And then there are the vocal songs that play while the duels happen, done by J.A Seazer. When you're looking at a translation of the songs, you're going to realize that they make absolutely no sense and just seem like random words thrown together. And, at first glance, they do. However, as you're watching the show through again, you realize just how much effort went into those random words, and that yes, they actually do mean something.
The OP, which never changes, is one of my favorites. It's not anything out of the normal standard for OPs out there, upbeat female JPop number, like with Ouran, but for whatever reason, I really like it. It's the same thing with the three EDs; all upbeat female JPop numbers that I normally wouldn't like, but really work for the series.
Seiyuu: Takehito Koyasu (known for his roles as Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi and Haruhi's dad in Ouran High School Host Club) appears as the voice of Touga, one of the more interesting male characters in here and one of my favorites, and Kotono Mitsuishi (known for her role as Sailor Moon in the show of the same name and Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion) appears as the voice of Juri Arisugawa, probably the most interesting female character after Utena and Anthy. Akio's seiyuu, juurouta Kosugi, was also Fernand d'Morcerf's seiyuu in Gankutsuou, and sounds like sex and malice incarnate. And Anthy's seiyuu, Yuriko Fuchizaki, brings an amazing amount of depth to her character, just barely hinting at what's going on beneath the surface and letting hints slip as to what she really is throughout the series.
All in all, an amazing cast.
Length: Thirty-nine episodes may seem a bit lengthy at first glance. And admittedly, there are elements that get a bit repetitive. But I'm fine with the length, as it allows you to see a lot of detail that you might not necessarily see in a shorter series, which works to the benefit of Utena.
Overall: An absolutely amazingly written and acted series with lots of depth, heavy character development, stylization, symbolism and allegories, and people with lots of issues, that has a lot of details you'll notice on subsequent watchthroughs.
Tied for my all-time favorite series. Watch this. You will not regret it.
Overall: 48/50; 96% (A) read more
Basically if you've seen Utena and loved it, then Penguindrum is a must watch. Both shows are directed by Ikuhara Kunihiko, which means you'll expect to see similar themes and artistic flare.
Both have the same director, are heavily symbolic to the point that almost everything is directed in a very specific way to enhance the symbolism , have a fun vibe on the surface while being psychologically darker and have similar basic and underlying philosophical themes while some of their characters share the same traits.
They are similar in a way that the more twisted and complicated everything gets, the better it becomes, first episodes start off slow but by the end - every episode is like a piece of a puzzle that adds up to make a complete picture. Both are unusual, visually beautiful and artistic.
Similar topics are explored in both shows (they also share the same director). Mawaru Penguin Drum has multiple references to Utena.
Leading characters go to great lengths to save the ill fated, moe, fellow lead whilst venturing into a high level conspiracy plot.
same director, same unique style........must experience his world. Utterly different than all the rest :)
Both directed by the genius Ikuhara. Lots of symbolism, motifs, random screen shots and dialogue. Beautiful characters and bishounens :) and cute animals hehe
They are both are directed, created, and written by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Similarities between the two:
- Unique style and great artistic direction.
- Similar character designs (the character designers, however, are not the same).
- Very unpredictable at times.
- An animation/music sequence that is repeated in several episodes (Seizon Senryaku in Penguindrum, Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku in Utena)
- A lot of visual symbolism and metaphors. A LOT.
- Involve changing the world.
- Deal with fate and destiny. Penguindrum more so than Utena.
- Very similar character development.
Both have the same director and I get Utena vibes everywhere from Penguindrum. They have a similar style and use of repeated scenes and phrases. Although I don't know yet, Akio seems really similar to Sanetoshi, and the whole library thing seemed really similar to the Black Rose arc. Penguindrum has a Fate Bride and Utena has a Rose Bride.
If you liked Utena, then you will love this anime. They were directed by the same director and Penguindrum is just as exciting and just as mind screwy as Utena was.
Both were directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara and in fact are very similar in ideas & details of the plot. Also both have great characters & art.
If you are an Utena fan do yourself a favor and just give it a watch.
You'll be feeling the Utena vibes.
Simply amazing, you have to watch it!!!fun and sad!!a surprising story, for me is the best anime of 2011, a masterpiece of Ikuhara ;_;
Both are surreal, highly symbolic coming of age stories where the young protagonists deal with the after effects of trauma, an incomprehensible world, and accepting loss as a rite of passage to adulthood. Both shows rely on absurdist humor and parodying shojo tropes before growing steadily darker in tone. And both are directed by Ikuhara.
It's no surprise that Princess Tutu has been called Utena-lite. Both series look like they're made for young girls and have, to some degree, fairly typical shoujo plots in the beginning. Soon, though, they become much more complex, twisting the definitions of friend and foe; of what it means to be yourself or to grow up. In addition, they're both heavily influenced by traditional fairy tales yet eventually change the norms of those tales to be something completely different.
Princess Tutu is often referred to as "Utena 101" by fans of the series. While it lacks some of the complexities that Utena has, it still has a similar feeling. Fairy tales/ballets permeate the story, the concepts of what it means to be a "prince" and ideas of protecting others for love, and they both have their fair share of bittersweet moments with characters who are neither black nor white, but rather varying shades of gray.
Both Utena and Tutu contain a strong fairy tale motif and themes of accepting or defying one's fairy tale role. In a way, Utena feels like a more sophisticated/jaded exploration of the same themes touched upon in Tutu. They also both have a little bit of that surreal/reality-bending element, though Tutu never gets quite as surreal or symbolic as Utena. Basically, they're both really great series that you should watch, period.
Princess Tutu and Revolutionary Girl Utena have quite a bit in common. Both have the feel of a "modern fairy tale" and start off feeling like your typical, light-hearted shojo or magical girl series. However, both eventually obtain a darker atmosphere, become something new, and make themselves stand out in certain ways. Tutu is more family friendly and has more of a "magical girl" feel to it, while Utena is more intense and has more of a "girl warrior" feel to it. The heroines of both stories mature quite a bit throughout the story and learn concepts such as love, romance, friendship, self-sacrifice, and selflessness. Both series also have a lot of plot twists to the point that you aren't exactly sure which characters are the "good guys" and which are the "bad guys" until you're practically at the end. Love them or hate them, these series certainly aren't forgettable.
Both series have the feel of a modern fairytale. Despite being a more family friendly anime, Princess Tutu is not afraid to have stories as rich in symbolism as Utena.
Postmodernist fairy tales, basically.
The first recomender pretty much got it spot-on. Both are dark magical girl shows that, rather than focusing on the magical girl theme, focus more on the fairy-tale prince-princess theme. Utena is quite a bit more adult, however, and is a direct deconstruction of the Prince- Princess fairy tale genre, whereas Princess TuTu is just more of a darker 'Grimm' version of a fairy tale.
Utena is more psychological and explores more themes and has a more drastic use of metaphors.
Both series deal with the archetypes present in most fairy tales. While Princess Tutu explores the way the pure archetypes would interact in the real world, Utena looks at how these same archetypes would be either muddled or destroyed by the many shades of grey that exist around us, as compared to the black and white heroes and villains of a storybook.
Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena) managed to twist the classic magical girl anime expectations before Madoka Magica did, like Princess Tutu also did.
Both animes provide very interesting perspectives on the roles, struggles and responsibilities of having great power, but whilst Princess Tutu used ballet and fairytale themes to tell the tragedy, Utena explores the main character's exploration of growing up and challenges of herself and others using sword duels
for the hand of the Rose Bride.
Utena and Princess Tutu both explore the darker side of magical girl stories, Utena is more focused on mature and personal concepts such as breaking traditional gender roles, sexuality, classic shoujo anime tropes, fairytale tropes and even psychology and philosophy used in a strange mixture of ongoing themes of the series.
Opening Theme"Rinbu Revolution" by Masami Okui
Ending Theme#1: "Truth" by Luca Yumi (eps 1-24)
#2: "バーチャルスター発生学 (Virtual Star Hasseigaku)" by Maki Kamiya (eps 25-38)
#3: "Rose & release" by Masami Okui (ep 39)
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