Friday, January 13, 2006

The Adolescence of Utena [manga]

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena
This is a manga version of the anime film of the same name. The overall plot is the same but with much more explanations into the motivations of Utena and Anthy. It roots Utena's story firmly into that of Touga having been her lover in a past that Utena is now trying to escape. The manga has very little surreal elements so this is a perfect guide for those who just watched the movie and whose heads are spinning with "WTF?"

In comparison to the series/movie... I wasn't too keen on the whole Utena/Touga story (though better than Utena/Akio) and Anthy seemed a bit shallow because the manga doesn't give much time for character development. I'm amazed they were able to trim it down so much but I guess it's not too hard - the majority of the duels were pretty pointless in the grand scheme of the overall story in the anime other than to proove Utena's worth as a prince but I can definetly see that element being proved in a much shorter span of time.

As far as yuri goes, the vibes between Utena and Anthy were barely there, particularly with Utena appearing shocked and in distaste of the kisses. Ugh. Also, I don't think there are many ways they could top the drawing of the Sword of Dios from Anthy's chest the way it was done in the anime. O_O; Kiss or no kiss. I mean, the way Utena draws the sword in this manga, she's very reluctant and it's about the sword, not the connection between the two characters.

All in all, its entertaining enough for $9 and very re-readable when the Utena mood strikes me. It's also surreal enough in structure to make you have to think about the characters motivations in why they each block out the past and re-create their realities, so there's still fodder for brain excercise, which I like.

Revolutionary Girl Utena [anime]

This review is built out of three reviews from my LiveJournal, so it's a bit choppy.

The Yuri content of Revolutionary Girl Utena (RGU), for me, so far ranks third behind MariMite and Kannazuki no Miko, but not by far. Although with the opening sequence alone, it possibly ranks first. Oh, and if this doesn't convince you, Utena drawing the magical sword of Dios out of Anthy's chest in nearly every single episode is the sexiest scene I've EVER seen in anime. ^_^; I know, I'm a sucker.

RGU is very obviously 90's. Which is obvious once you hit the music. I'm not overly keen on any of the music, particularly the duel music. The "Truth" ending theme wasn't too horrible and the opening theme slowly grew on me, though I wouldn't go too out of my way to listen to it - it's catchier than a lot of other series. "Virtual Star Hasseigaku" is by far the best ending theme/song in the series, accompanied by the best closing sequence animation.

Superficially, the series is structured in one of those typical fight/arena series, where each episode cumulates in the protagonist having a showdown with some other character, and right before the fight you get the same song with the same animation with it every single time. Utena has to duel everyone three times in three arcs of the series (one arc for each 13 episodes). Though there was an evolution to these arcs, it was very obvious to me the second time I watched RGU that the entire series could of been condensed into 13 episodes and saved us all time.

One thing I like about RGU is the lack of outright stereotypes. Once you think you've found one, you discover they've put a twist on it. Also, I really appreciate the theme of "Normal is what normal is for YOU" - epitomized by Utena herself.

The shadow puppet things are really annoying and some episodes (like the cowbell one) seem absolutely pointless. But as a whole, so far I'm having an easier time following along than, say, Yamibou or Kannazuki no Miko.

Solid storyline, if a bit tedious at moments with pointless bizarreness at times, good character development with realism and honor paid to all the characters (at least, for the main characters), and the entire thing was wrapped up well without any loose threads, as long as you aren't opposed to endings that make you think for yourself. As for yuri content, there was more of that in the opening and ending sequences (second version of the ending) than in the entire series, all three seasons but I think that's mostly if you're measuring by fan-service. ;) RGU addresses gender roles in an obvious way without making it a main point, which I really liked - it is just worked into "that's how life is" and any f/f relationships are treated pretty much the same. In that respect, I rank it second only to Maria-sama ga Miteru in terms of queer awareness in anime I have seen personally.

I have watched all of RGU twice and after the second time I felt I'd wasted my time and felt more than ever that this series could of done with some hefty condensing of the entire thing into way fewer episodes. The repetitiousness drives me crazy, boring me to the point that I no longer cared to try and decypher all the fun surrealness. I can see how everyone benefited from the creators creating the film Adolescence of Utena - which basically condenses not only the characters, duels, and Anthy and Utena's relationship but also condenses all the surreal elements into a single 90 minute film. Perfect.