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> Two Princes

This analysis was donated by Ashnod.

    The earliest appearances of Juri reveal just enough about her to make her an antagonist to the far more likeable Utena. Ikuhara himself, in the director's commentary to the UTENA movie, all but says that Juri was developed specifically to play against Utena, despite their similarities. Certainly, we see her being fairly polite with Miki and carefully observing his duel with Utena from a distance. But it's the slap at Anthy in Episode 7 that most viewers identify with Juri. It's not until much later in the series when it's made obvious how much Anthy was baiting Juri in that moment, but by then, the damage is done. The berating of Utena at the fountain later in the episode amplifies this. Only her acknowledged dislike of Touga and his manipulations keeps her from remaining a completely unsympathetic character until the Black Rose saga.

    However, just before the Black Rose saga, something important happens. Juri actively works to help Utena defeat Touga to regain the status of the One Engaged. From a narrative standpoint, the simple donation of her sword to Utena seems out of place: this moment is far more suited to Miki, who was not only on far better terms with Utena but had far more reason to work against Touga (Kozue's tryst with Touga a few episodes earlier). This becomes focal when examining the totality of Juri's character in the series.

    Her story with Shiori paints her to be the sympathetic party, and it's interesting to note that Shiori is the most negatively written of all the Black Rose duelists. Unlike Kozue, Tsuwabuki, Kanae, Keiko, and Wakaba, only Shiori actively wants to hurt the person whose sword she takes, and only Shiori continues to torment the object of her obsession into the next story arc.

    Shiori's statement to Mikage in the elevator is confusing: Juri is popular and loved by all? When did that happen? We know that Touga and Saionji have hoardes of devoted girls, but Juri? This is the character that everyone not on the Student Council fears, including teachers. As Shiori and her companions pass by Juri at the end of the episode, even her companions take time to mention, "Isn't Arisugawa-sempai scary?"

    Come the Ohtori Akio saga, we're finally given a glimpse into the person Juri really is. One of her fencing students is injured, and Juri takes the time to console her and visit her in the hospital. This is quite unlike the imperious girl we've seen throughout the series, but it's focal to understanding who she really is. This is a girl who has a very high sense of duty and honor, and who honestly cares about those she's responsible for, but in the sense of the overall narrative of Utena, someone who has to be seen as an antagonist. Her portrayal as a bitter and cold victim is played up to give her a reason to duel and to oppose Utena.

    Note: Juri is the only Duelist that Utena never defeated. Every other member of the Student Council had their rose cut from their breast by Utena, but even with Dios' power Utena could not defeat Juri. That the Sword of Dios fell EXACTLY where it needed to (also completely impossible by the angle Juri took it out of Utena's hand from) was not a miracle in so much as it was Anthy intervening to prevent Utena's defeat. (This was not something Anthy could do against the first duel with Touga, as Utena walked mindlessly and broken into Touga's trap. And it’s also possible that Anthy let Utena lose, knowing how Utena felt about Touga at that time.) Anthy is certainly capable of it: she demonstrated obvious free-will in distracting Miki and betraying Touga in other duels, and it's obvious by her consistent torture of Nanami and the body switch with Utena that she's capable of magic. Utena was no closer to defeating Juri in their second duel when the Dios lunge took the one thing that would prevent Juri from continuing the duel: the locket with Shiori's picture. As significant as the first duel was in illustrating Juri’s fencing skill, the second duel brings up a far more interesting facet of her character.

    Was the locket strike a distraction? There’s a lot of conjecture that Utena/Dios struck the locket for the purpose of freeing Juri, but another possibility exists. After all, none of the other Duelists had such a favor granted them by Dios, and it’s highly doubtful Utena knew to take the locket, which leaves the lunge in Dios’s control. Why the locket and not the rose? First off, Juri had blocked the Dios lunge before. It was therefore unlikely to succeed on a second attempt. Additionally, Juri wasn’t expected Utena to try to the locket. Utena didn’t even realize it. She wouldn’t have been defending there and in all likelihood, was defending the rose. Finally, taking the locket eliminates Juri from being an effective opponent. It’s a tactic that Ruka used earlier in the episode to infuriate Juri sufficiently so that she was easy prey for him in their duel. Even if Juri hadn’t forfeited the duel after the locket broke, it’s doubtful she would have been emotionally able to put up a reasonable offense against Utena after that. Either way, Utena wins.

    Concurrently, Juri is also the only member of the Student Council that wasn't coerced into dueling by Akio (or working with him in some fashion). Her agreement with Ruka was made before Akio showed her whatever it was he showed the other members of the Council. This is important because unlike Ruka’s duel one episode previously, Juri is dueling for entirely selfless reasons. At this point, she knows she isn’t going to win Shiori over. She can’t move past her, but she recognizes that her love will always be unrequited. She’s dueling to free Shiori from Ruka, and isn’t expecting to get anything out of it except that. Ruka, as a comparison, obviously wants something from Juri even if it is only a kind word for his help, or acknowledgement that he was in some way important to her.

    Which is why his duel failed as much as Touga’s third duel failed: both of them were dueling for another but not completely selflessly. Juri, on the other hand, was dueling selflessly at that moment and that makes her, in the second duel, Utena’s equal. As Utena duels for Anthy, Juri is dueling for Shiori. In some ways, Juri’s nobility goes completely unrecognized here. She is dueling for someone who by all appearances despises her. Dios can’t defeat Juri, since Juri is now operating on the same plane of nobility as Utena and is a far better swordswoman. The only option open to prevent Juri from winning is to make Juri lose heart, ergo, take the locket. That Juri isn’t over Shiori after the locket’s destruction indicates that it’s doubtful Dios (possibly Anthy?) was doing Juri a favor by destroying it, and instead, knew that Utena was going to lose otherwise.

    This aspect of Juri is marred, almost irreparably so, by the focus on her love for Shiori, her cold nature towards Utena and Anthy, and her fear of having her lesbianism discovered. Utena reminds Juri of the person she used to be, innocent and idealistic. Of course Juri is going to react negatively to someone so similar. She sees more of herself in Utena than she sees Shiori, despite her own words, and it frustrates her to think that she was ever so vulnerable. Juri is what Utena would have been had Utena been crushed as Juri was. Utena, on the other hand, is what Juri used to be and showed the potential to be again: a Prince. Albeit a broken Prince, but the strength and nobility that is admired in Utena was present in Juri as well.

Personality + Relationship + Narrative + Miscellany + Music

Introduction + Characters + Reference + Submission

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Analysis of Utena + Empty Movement

Akio is no rapist, he is just an opportunist that makes his home a school full of emotionally compromised teenagers. This frame is actually pulled from the Metropolitan Museum of Art archives.
I considered making this a time gif that would occasionally flash Dios as having a ponytail. Then I got lazy.
I know this layout is sort of a spoiler, but so was the closing of the first season, so suck it.
This is far and away the most complex layout I have coded, and I know it does not look like it.
So are they waltzing or foxtrotting or what?
Because according to Ikuhara, if it were Akio, they would be doing the lambada.
These swords ended up looking like the crosses in Evangelion. I left it on purpose because hellz yeah.
I wanted this layout to look like a fairy tale. It ended up looking like a French textile exhibit. Oops.
Polly want some C4? Sorry, coding and Colbert do not mix.
It is March. It is snowing. It is Canada.
You know what is an awesome idea? Coding on your rag. That is smart.