I just coded all night.
> A Link in Obscurity

Written by Yasha.

    There are often connections in Revolutionary Girl Utena that we, as the audience, take for granted. We never really think about some of the things that underlie the turmoil of Utena’s quest, Anthy’s quiet struggles, and the manipulations of the master chess player, Akio. The fact is that while these events make up the story at the forefront, there is much to wonder at in the background of the series—for instance, what is the connection between Nanami and Anthy? Though their ends are opposite, why is there a strange similarity between Kozue and Shiori? Where is the hidden connection?

    The series is fueled by personality—not just characterization, personality. Ikuhara and Saito could not have made this series work without injecting life into the characters, a life that can be drawn out and seen for what it is if one looks closely enough. The little details about the characters can illustrate a much larger life, a history of sorts that gives us insight into how they came to be the way they are, and how the pieces in Akio’s master plan fit so beautifully together.

    One of the most overlooked factors is, in my opinion, the interaction between Touga and Miki. The fan favorites amongst the males of the cast, Miki is favored for his innocence, his earnest desire to do right, and of course, the tenderness and vulnerability he displays. Touga, on the other hand, is generally viewed as a dominant and emotionally stable character with no real inclination to tenderness unless he’s in the company of someone who desires it from him—naturally, women. So what is the strange connection between these two characters? (You shut up. I’m talking to you, yaoi fans.)

    Miki and Touga seem to have no real connection at first glance—one wouldn’t think that these two would have anything to talk about outside of Seitokai business. In the cases where Miki’s not being manipulated by his sister, however, Touga plays a key part in his inclination to duel and furthermore, in the way Miki acts and views himself as a person.

    Think back, now, to episodes four and five, Miki’s first duel. As you will remember, Miki is, in the beginning, opposed to dueling entirely. He does not wish to own the Rose Bride, and has very little interest in making an enemy out of Utena for a goal that seems unimportant at best. Even Juri, the closest thing Miki has to a confidante at the school, thinks little of the idea that Miki could or would duel, though she herself does intend to. It’s as if Miki is being portrayed as too ‘good’ to duel—in effect, too pure to dirty himself with the petty squabbles of the duels. And, as you will also undoubtedly remember, it’s Touga that knocks Miki off his pedestal of purity. This is no coincidence, friends, and not something that just anyone could have done.

    We know that Miki and his parents are not close at all, and we can guess through seeing the house that he and Kozue live in that there is virtually no adult supervision or guidance in Miki’s life. His parents are rich enough to keep a house specifically for their children, so we can assume that perhaps they’d have a cleaning lady, but that’s no substitute for a parent. At school, the situation seems to be much the same. The only guidance the students receive is from the guidance counselor, an unpleasant woman who’s rarely seen without her riding crop. Most people, especially Miki, would not want to approach this woman with problems of any sort. Being the sensitive soul that he is, he would not like to open himself to the kind of criticism this woman would give, and though he would tell himself that it was because he didn’t wish to trouble her with his problems, his real reason for not approaching her would be very different. If you were a thirteen-year-old boy looking for advice on how to be a man, would you go to a loud and insensitive woman who was more concerned about the fashion sense of the chairman than the embarrassing and uncomfortable revelations of adolescence?

    Touga and Miki have very little in common. In his own life, Miki has none of the things Touga flaunts. We don’t see him buying expensive presents for his friends, so it’s safe to assume that he’s money-conscious because of an allowance. Touga will buy flowers at the drop of a hat, being the romantic that he is, or a dress for a girl he barely knows. Miki is a junior member of the Seitokai, taking minutes at the meetings, demonstrating very few special perks and no reason to be involved other than his college application. Touga is the most powerful person in the school due to the lack of teacher involvement, and seems to set his own hours and level of involvement in class and homework. Miki has popularity and adorers of his own, but he pays them very little attention. He ignores them because he feels self-conscious under their scrutiny. Again, Touga is the exact opposite, basking in the attention of his admirers without any sign of shyness.

    In other circumstances, Miki would not be drawn to the sort of person Touga appears to be. He might envy Touga, but it would be a distant envy, with little reason for Miki to act on it or even think about it. However, there is one very important factor in Miki’s psychological makeup that causes him to lend weight to Touga’s words and actions. Miki’s childhood interaction with Kozue undoubtedly involved sexual experimentation of some sort, the same childish sexual experimentation most people experience in their earlier years. In the case of Kozue and Miki, however, it was carried too far for Miki’s comfort, and he identified it as something dangerous, subsequently breaking off the experimentation and damaging his relationship with Kozue. To him, sex is something that only adults can handle without hurting themselves and others.

    It is here that Touga’s hordes of paramours stand him in good manipulative stead; by indulging himself, Touga gains maturity in Miki’s eyes. After the emotional scars left on him by his own sexual experimentation, Miki cannot help but identify sexual activity with adulthood and emotional pain. By virtue (or should I have said vice?) of Touga’s endless string of lovers and his ability to treat his affairs lightly, he becomes ideal in Miki’s eyes as a model of what an adult should be. Touga has it all—money, power, women, looks, and style. It’s no surprise that with Miki’s background, he would unconsciously admire Touga, and perhaps even emulate him when dealing with a woman he desires, namely Anthy. Though it’s very much in his nature to be upset by someone being hurt, his actions in stopping Anthy’s tormentors in episode four have a chivalrous cast, and though to be sure Miki is nothing if not helpful, his aid in Anthy’s gardening seems like it wants to be the kind of disinterested, offhand help Touga would give to one of his admirers. Those two examples are pure conjecture, however, as they are not outside of Miki’s personality. The real evidence is the small smile, almost a smirk, that Miki wears when he’s trying to impress Anthy, only seen in his interaction with her while they are alone together in the episodes that concentrate on Miki’s duels. On his own, Miki would never smile that way, but Touga’s influence would guarantee it.

    For his part, Touga sees Miki as another toy to play with. He’s not the nicest person in the world, as he’s proven many times over, and he likes to manipulate people for his own amusement. Miki is much less important in his eyes than, say, Saionji, and therefore we can conclude that Miki is less amusing than Saionji. But due to Touga’s fixation on emotional reactions as a source of power and humor, Miki does become a target.

    An explanation of Touga’s sense of humor is prudent at this point; to put it plainly, Touga thinks it’s funny when people fall for his ploys. He has everything in the world that he needs to live, and not only that, be popular, adored, and powerful, but everyone gets tired of too much cake after a while. Touga has nothing more amusing to do than stick his nose where it doesn’t belong, and due to his innate talent for manipulation and his lack of scruples, he indulges himself in making other people uncomfortable, upset, ecstatic, and nervous whenever he likes. He very rarely cares that he’s toying with real people and real emotions, having decided that if they don’t have the intelligence not to believe him, they’re lesser beings, and he has a free rein to laugh at their antics whenever he likes. From that point of view, it’s hard not to identify with him—it must be really funny to see some peon’s jaw drop over a few words and a piece of paper that says ‘School Transfer Request’ (episode 32).

    This is not always the norm in Miki and Touga’s relationship. Outside of the Seitokai meetings, the first time Touga and Miki are seen together is in the music room in episode four, Touga standing to the side listening while Miki plays the piano. Touga says that Miki’s technique isn’t as overpowering as usual, implying that this is a fairly regular occurrence, and Miki shows no sign of Touga’s presence being a surprise. Even further, Touga mentions Miki’s shining thing, something that is, while not something Miki hides, very personal to him. Again, Miki shows no sign that this is odd or unwanted. This scene establishes that Miki and Touga are quite comfortable in each other’s presence, and enjoy it to the degree that they will go out of their way once in a while to spend time with each other. No doubt Touga does it because he enjoys the inflation of his ego. Miki does, after all, think of him as a role model. For his part, Miki enjoys the chance to speak with someone who is no doubt knowledgeable about music, and to covertly observe someone he admires. Miki and Touga would generally interact in this fashion, in a quiet, intimate but impersonal way, with their motives hidden and their minds mostly on the music.

    Outside the norm comes Touga’s manipulation of Miki. There’s no question that Touga knows about Miki’s view of him and the sexual context it has. However oblique, Touga saying that Miki is as cute as his sister is questionable at best, and intensely sexual when paired with his obvious actions with said sister only a few moments before. This was no accident; Miki lends his words credence because of sex in the first place. Referencing it would serve to sharpen the main point in Miki’s mind—that Touga, Miki’s only model of manhood, is telling him to protect the things he loves. Not only that, but Touga himself has acted out the taking beforehand by at the very least making out with Kozue, reminding Miki of the pain of losing the close relationship he once had with his twin.

    There was no question that Miki would duel after that. And ironically, Miki probably felt grateful for the warning after he got over being disturbed by it.

    Since Touga is an important example of how to be a man in Miki’s eyes, it’s safe to assume that their quiet hours in the music room continued after Miki’s duel. This is not the only part that Touga plays in Miki’s life, however. Miki can often be found in Nanami’s company, attends parties given by Touga, and can be seen eating lunch with the two of them. In fact, he seems to have almost as much contact with the Kiryuu siblings as Saionji does. This suggests that Miki thinks of them as a replacement for his own delinquent family, with Nanami playing a sisterly role and Touga playing the role of a much older brother. It’s possible that he even thinks of Touga as a father figure, though unlikely, as even he must realize that Touga is far too young for the job. In any case, he does treat them like a somewhat distant family, distant only because of his conscious knowledge that he cannot claim blood relation to them and his idea that it would be impolite to force his company on them. Juri may be his friend, but in Touga and Nanami, he’s replaced the mother, father, and sister who abandoned him with people who satisfy his need for a family atmosphere. It may even be that this bond was the reason Miki offered to duel Utena again when Touga was injured. If his role model couldn’t, for whatever reasons, he would try again.

    It’s impossible that Touga doesn’t know about this familial aspect to Miki’s relationship with him. Secondary evidence shows Touga’s childhood to be one lacking in authority and family figures except for his sister, and his intelligence is enough to connect his previous situation with Miki’s current circumstances. Unlike Akio, Touga does not manipulate solely by logical calculation and forethought; Touga does what amuses him the most, and though he does think ahead, it’s with much less clarity and a much more intuitive approach than Akio would. That may be the reason Touga does not take advantage of Miki’s position on the fringes of the family during the first arc of the series—as a child, he likely wished to be in the same peripheral position in a family, and though Touga would never admit that he sees himself in that situation if he were a little different, it is enough like his childhood that he would feel uncomfortable taking advantage of Miki’s foothold in his own family.

    On a side note, this makes the Seitokai meeting in episode 7 much more interesting analytically. In the context of the relationship between Miki and Touga, the thrown knives that outline Miki hint at Touga’s unwillingness to hurt Miki in a dangerous situation, even one that Touga himself creates, and also at Miki’s willingness to trust Touga in a position where he may be hurt.

    Naturally, because of the depression Touga goes through in the BRS and his subsequent decision to gain power for himself at the cost of his friends and family upon his return, Touga doesn’t let this sit for long. In episode 26, Touga is yet again called on to manipulate Miki into readiness for his duel. This may seem as though he was setting a pattern, but truth be told, the only pattern that is ever set in the events leading up to a ride in the Akio car is that Touga is the one to preface its arrival with his speech about ‘the sound resounding across the ends of the world’. Apart from Miki, the other two duelists that Touga influences in this fashion are Nanami and Saionji, while the one he does not influence at all is the one he has the least contact with—Juri. It is by having Touga always prepare Miki for the manipulation to come that the series gives its nod to the connection between these two dissimilar characters.

    At the beginning of this scene, Miki plays his piano as Touga watches, hidden in the shadows. When Touga speaks, Miki shows very little surprise at his presence, again an indication that he’s used to Touga’s comings and goings while he plays the piano. There is obviously still a basis of trust between the two of them, as Miki seems neither offended nor surprised when Touga asks him if something’s wrong. This indicates that Miki has heard the question before, and perhaps has answered it differently in other circumstances. Touga is a persuasive fellow, after all. Throughout this scene, the tone is very much one of a sympathetic older brother reminding his young sibling of his responsibilities—not quite a scolding, just a serious but gentle warning. In the next shot, Touga and Miki sit back to back in the chair, talking quietly. It’s quite a comforting position to be in, as anyone can understand. The implied sense of trust and dependence on each other is very reminiscent of the way a family should be. Family should be able to lean on each other. Miki’s trust for Touga is weakening, however, and it is shown by the way he sits straighter, pulling away from Touga. It is here that Miki broaches the subject of Touga’s suspicious behavior, and that he does it at all is worthy of note. Miki is a very proper fellow, and asking a question like that of a stranger would be prying, to him… but since Touga is family, he feels that Touga should be able to reveal the reason for his strange behavior.

    Throughout this scene, we can see that Touga’s words have an impact on Miki. What’s more, Touga knows it, using his position as Miki’s role model and older brother figure to manipulate Miki into readiness for Akio and Kozue. Had it been anyone else, there is no doubt in my mind that Miki would have put up more resistance to dueling, though as we all know, Akio would never let his plans go awry because of such a minor flaw.

    In the flow of the series, these interactions take up very little time. The main part of Touga and Miki’s interaction is in the episodes concerning Miki’s duels, but there are hints scattered throughout, such as the scenes where they’re eating lunch together, or Nanami’s familiarity with Kozue. All of this paints a picture of what would be, in any other school, an extended family of Miki’s own choosing. However, this is Ohtori, and we all know that things aren’t so simple there. Though by no means especially important to the series, and by no means given center stage, the bond between Touga and Miki is one of those subtle flourishes that make Revolutionary Girl Utena, worth watching over and over

Personality + Relationship + Narrative + Miscellany + Music

Introduction + Characters + Reference + Submission

Go Home
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.
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