Explaining Revolutionary Girl Utena

In what has become a grand tradition, I’m going to relaunch this blog with words by qyandri, who finally got me to understand a little bit about Revolutionary Girl Utena a couple of years ago. Her explanation is still the best I’ve heard- just add a couple of years since she’s seen the series. ^_^

Person X: Exactly how did Dios turn into Akio, and how can Dios’s power still come down into Utena during duels if Dios has become Akio?

Ok, look at it this way. Utena is the product of a mental breakdown. Akio, Utena, Anthy and all the rest of the cast are all aspects of Utena’s psyche and the whole world is one created inside herself to deal with her problems. The basic problem is one of nobility in an ignoble world. Each pair (Miki and Kozue, Juri and Shiori, Saionji and Wakuba, Akio and his fiancee, Touga and Nanami) represent a skewed relationship between two people. Utena desperately wants to be more than a sum of a dangerous relationship and this is why she eventually refuses Akio and Touga. In someways, I think that Utena is the self aware Ego, while Anthy is the overpossessed Super Ego, and Akio is the Id, out for his own power. Utena choses an unconventional path to join the self aware ego and the super ego over the will of the id, honoring friendship in the face of power. It is something most people have to struggle with as they attain success: will you betray your relationships to gain more power, or will you chose those relationships in the face of hardship? This is a particularly important question in Japan as they join the world economy. They are brought up believing in the group and putting those relationships first, but as business and western values enter their society, they are more often facing the idea of big CEOs sacrificing factory cogs for their own gain. On another facet, it is about women’s power and self value. In this way, Utena choses a woman over a man in refutation of traditional gender roles. That Utena and Anthy are the same person, I think, is hinted at in their similar relationship with Akio, and in the switch of Anthy and Utena in the coffins during the last episode. I won’t analyze everything right now (its been two years since I’ve seen the series) in the terms of Ego and Super Ego and the inner world, but Utena’s healing is finally achieved at the end of the story where she goes out into the real (not so messed up) world, the conscious self, and Anthy is soon to follow her.

So, for your question: Dios is merely a portion of Akio, a power he possessed in the past. When Utena and Anthy and Akio were one, before the fall, nobility was a power they all possessed. However, nobility and self sacrifice for others is not a power associated with the selfish Id, so try as he might, he cannot attain that power. Anthy becomes a real person because after we mature, we are able to develop our super egos, our conscience, in a way that controls and usurps the id and assists the ego. A beautiful relationship born of higher ideals than survival.

Person X: And how could Dios have shown 8-year-old-Utena the eternal suffering of Anthy/Rose Bride if the Rose Bride didn’t get strung up until after she stopped Dios from being a prince?

Time lines don’t matter when we battle our selves, because we fight the same battles over and over again, every time we face tough choices or decisions. So, Utena can see the effects of her decisions before they happen, and she still makes the same decision. But I don’t remember Utena stopping Dios from being a prince. Remember also, some of these things are only as clear as your subtitler’s translation.

Person X: And what exactly WAS Akio trying to accomplish with all the dueling? Just to see if Utena still had that nobility? If so, why did he care? And what did he expect the World Revolution to do?

Akio wanted to force nobility by creating situations for people to fight for what the wanted, and thus, force nobility. But those relationships and battles (are they one person? more than one person? Watch the movie to ask yourself more questions about this: in that movie, Utena and Anthy go off together- are shallow dualities. True noblity belongs to the person who looks beyond her own desires to help someone else. Like they just said on TV about the popularity of reality TV “You can’t write this stuff!” and Akio can’t force that stuff. In the end, he is bested by his own game. In the end, your instincts can sabotage you, unless you fight them. Akio also figured, if he could control Utena, he could control her power. Through the sensual. The World Revolution: Who gets control, the ego or the id? (The id and super ego is still a dangerous combination, the sociopathic creature, the creature who justifies his nastier urges).

Person X: And why did Anthy stab Utena in the back (literally)? And why does she do the nasty with Akio?

Anthy stabbing Utena is the way we sabotage our selves through self doubt, and desire. Anthy and Akio having sex: how else would the id express his dominance?

Person X: And I still don’t understand how the Black Rose Society ended up in all this business. I hate to think of Utena out there somewhere on her own, thinking she failed, not knowing that Anthy has been freed and is coming to find her.

The black rose society is a plot arc that exists for the sake of A. developing characters, B. showcasing tragic human relationships C. stretching the series out. It does not occur in the manga expect in something of an epilogue and is not the best of the show.

If there is one word to describe Utena, it is “SYMBOLIC”. Do you remember an episode where a little arrow would appear and point out a lip stick stain on a coffee cup, a cat in a window behind a conversation? Still trying to rationalize that episode, but it’s sort of the strongest hinting about what Utena really is. The only thing I can think is that it makes you notice the things that are normally invisible, the things that you wouldn’t normally call out and recognize in the flow of life.

Other points: It happens at a school, a self contained world of education. The movie is called the “Adolescence of Utena.” You’d like the movie. Haven’t you seen it yet? And the relationship of Utena and Anthy transcends “finding” because they are together, now held together by a strong bond, the bond of maturity. Even if innocence is lost, they have each other.

5 thoughts on “Explaining Revolutionary Girl Utena

  1. Not a question about your Anime addiction :P
    Which version of WordPress are you running? I’ve been curious about updating to 2.2.2 from 1.5

  2. thank you so much! i wanted so long to fully understand this series because i love it so much. and now i do!

    thank you so much

  3. Amazing your explenation cleared up some things I was confused on, I’d like to talk to you through E-mail, there are some interpretations I’d like to get your outlook on if you don’t mind

    thank you so much for your explenation of the series, it was very helpful and brilliant.

  4. Just finished Utena and was in search of an explanation.
    Nice job. It’s perfectly understandable and reasonable.
    Bye! ;)

  5. I found this by google “Dios Utena symbolism.” I think that Dios is that pure and perfect ideal of nobility that simply can’t exist in an imperfect world. Anthy sealed him away but to stop him from dying but he disappeared anyway. He exists only as a phantom now.

    How did he appear to Utena when she was in the coffin during her parents’ funeral? That was a dream, IMO. Dios is only in spirit form now.

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