Aug 14, 2007
elricbro15 (All reviews)
This series continues to flirt with the #1 spot among my favorites, and Utena stands high above any other female character in anime that I have seen. Her character is so strong and holds to her ideals of nobility so much that it's hard not to like her.

Some of the terminology took a little getting used to, as it takes normal ideas of gender roles and throws them out the window. Utena, for example, wants to become a prince. No, she doesn't want to become a man - she wants to be strong and noble and rescue princesses. Why can't a girl do this, too? Yes, Anthy is considered the Rose Bride, and she becomes "engaged" to the people that are the current champion. Does this mean they're going to get married? Not sure. Once the words are out of the way, though, you're good to go.

The plot starts off relatively simple: Utena arrives at school, manages to find her way into a duel, fights, repeat next time. However, all throughout the story are little subplots that need to be resolved. Who is this "End of the World" that keeps sending letters? What is this world revolution the student council keeps talking about? What mysteries are the individual characters keeping secret? Thankfully, the show doesn't disappoint in answering all these questions, compounding the complexity of the situation at Ohtori Academy until it all comes to fruition in the final arc. The duels are bigger, the stakes are higher, and the mysteries are all answered.

However, over the course of the series, there are a few episodes that stand out as being superfluous or poorly done. For most of these, I feel they at least have some pseudo-symbolic reason for existing within the series. The only episode that really seemed ill-plotted-out is one of the duels in the second arc.

The art, while full of images of castles, fancy architecture, roses, fancy uniforms, and other such things as well as pretty fluid (while oft recycled) animation, looks a little more dated than the show actually is, which is one of the shows only drawbacks.

Soundwise, this show is very well acted, and the soundtrack is probably one of the best orchestrated I've ever heard. The music fits the atmosphere incredibly well, and the songs they play during the duels are quirky to say the least. Their rock background and full chorus vocals help to create a mysterious yet serious atmosphere.

As for the characters, there's lots of big brother/sibling complexes going on here, and frankly, it's a little creepy. However, only one of these ever comes to any fruition over the course of the series, so for the most part it stays innocent. This is why I marked the series down. Most of the characters really stand out and are dynamic to the things happening around them, and even if they don't change, most of them have distinct personalities.

Enjoyment-wise, this show is a lot of fun, and is very engrossing. The really quirky-yet-chivalry-laden atmosphere really drew me in, kept me hooked, and still keeps me coming back to this day. I've probably watched this series more than any other. Some will say it's too episodic, and to them I say, who cares? With a show this unique, I never get sick of it. Also, it's not like there isn't a single overarching plotline keeping the whole thing moving. It also helps to know that the repetition doesn't go on forever - it's only 39 episodes long, after all, and even then, the show does plenty to keep switching things up before they get too boring.