Sorry, something came up, so I can’t post a full-length review this week. Instead, I’ll just recommend one of my favourite anime: Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Utena is a parody, a tragedy, a bildungsroman, a queer love story, a feminist text, a magical realist tale, a critique of ideals and seeming perfection, a fairy-tale that has outgrown fairy-tales, and most of all a thoroughly entertaining anime. Utena is a coming-of age-story, but not sentimental. It does not see the death of childhood as a sad, if necessary, fact of life.
To Utena, childhood means ignorance, self-righteousness, and received ideas. A true adult abandons false ideals, and cultivates their truest self. The show first presents our hero, Utena, as a ‘gender rebel’, a girl who dresses as a boy and aspires to be a prince. But her rebellion is not revolution, as she still operates under false ideals. As a girl, she refuses to play the role she was cast, the princess – yet she still plays a role, the prince. Even ‘rebelling’ against the gender binary, she plays into it. Her journey through the series requires her to move beyond ‘prince’ and ‘princess’, to fight not for these ideals, but for tangible things.
Here, I have shallowly dug into a single theme in this sprawling series. I could go on about the show’s exploration of self-pity, incest, the Problem of Evil, patriarchy, teenage pretension, self-delusion, etc.,etc.
When the Blu-Ray set of Utena comes out, I plan to do an analysis of it.