I just coded all night.
> Touga and the Fangirls that Adore Him

Written by Yasha.

    Who doesn’t love that charming red-haired man? (Gio: Me, dammit!) Well, listen to almost any Touga fan talk, and they’ll spout off about how handsome he is, how charming, how princely, brave, and heroic. He seems a paragon of virtue—just like all the other long-haired bishounen out there. I won’t deny it. The person Touga appears to be is very characteristic of the type, and very attractive to those who dream that ‘someday my prince will come’.

    Unfortunately, it’s made very clear that Touga is not the prince of anyone’s dreams. But all the manipulation and lies in the world don’t seem to sway these fans that are so determined to adore him. Like his flock of admirers from school, they persist in believing that he is a prince, that he is heroic, and that he truly does care about someone, anyone, other than himself.

    Sorry, girls. Touga may be many things, but he sure ain’t no prince.

    Now, before anyone starts wondering whether this is just another rant by just another Touga-hater, I’ll make this very clear: he is my favorite character. I, however, won’t look at him through those rose-colored lenses most people seem to wear when they gaze lovingly into his blue eyes. Truly, he’s infinitely more interesting once those blinders are gone.

    So why the horrible mutilation of character, forcing him into the prince’s mold? Why the obstinate refusal to see any action of his as wrong? For one answer to that, I’ll point you to the sister to this essay—Akio and the Fangirls that Hate Him. Many of the reasons Gio has stated apply here; to sum up, women shy away from attraction to ‘bad’ men. Morality seems to have much stronger roots in women, so much that our dark sides are places that generally go unexplored, and women are afraid of what others will say if they admit that a ‘bad’ man is sexually attractive. While there are parts of this essay that do not apply, the main thrust of it does, but with a twist: Touga’s motivations are somewhat indistinct, making it easy to interpret his actions in wildly different ways, as compared to Akio, who is generally fairly easy to pin down as evil. And indeed, given the circumstances of Touga’s last duel and the events before and after, it is easy to forgive him his faults and choose to see only the good in him. Touga, however, does not lend himself to sharp definitions between good and evil—instead of black and white, he is a character that is best viewed in colors and shades.

    And really, red hair suits him far better than black would.

    Fangirls of the sort that malign Touga by forcing him to be a prince are generally the kind that adore the Hotohori type—handsome, romantic, powerful, and confident. Without a doubt, all these qualities are present in Touga. Arrogance may be passed off as simple confidence, womanizing may be the sign of a heart that hasn’t found what it’s searching for, deeds done out of selfishness go through a mysterious alchemy that renders them pure. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wishful thinking when the character is as magnetic and charismatic as Touga. In fact, that’s what he counts on. What lures his hordes of girlfriends isn’t simply his good looks—the ambiguity of his actions toward them and their own wishes to see him in the best possible light appeal to all of his fans. They’d like to see him as princely, and he unfailingly delivers by making sure his actions can be interpreted that way.

    It should be much easier for the audience to distinguish between the façade and the reality, seeing as we do the more distasteful side of his character, but apparently for most Touga fans, it’s not. Dazzled by the romance of all the other long-haired beauties and the wonderfully sexy voice of Takehito, fangirls flock instantly to Touga, expecting him to be just the kind of man they like. And when he steps out of character—that is to say, when he shows his true nature—they fall back on those wonderful defense mechanisms: rationalization or complete disregard.

‘Touga’s not really such a bad guy, if only Akio would leave him alone.’
‘He really is Utena’s prince.’

    And, my personal favorite…

He even saved Utena from getting hurt by Saionji! He’s so brave!’

    As I said before, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wishful thinking, especially when he does his best to exploit it. Even Utena fell for his princely act, for a little while. But honestly, it’s not that easy. Episode nine is the first vivid sight of Touga’s true colors, and the only scene I will dissect. There is more than enough proof in that scene alone, and if you need more, what are you doing reading this essay? Go watch the series again. Shoo.

    Everything about that last scene is designed to show the audience that Touga is most definitely not a prince. Though the phone call never gives any names, it is made perfectly clear that Touga is, in fact, speaking to Ends of the World. While this may not seem damning at this point, for those of us who know the identity of Ends of the World, it most definitely is. Touga seems to be working with Akio of his own free will. And what has he accomplished? Why, he’s gotten his ‘best friend’ expelled so that he can look princely for Utena. Perhaps I may be leaping to conclusions here, but this doesn’t seem like the way to treat a friend—Saionji is obviously not from a wealthy family, and being expelled will likely not endear him to his possibly abusive parents. Also, the very fact that Touga has to notify Akio of that wonderful development suggests that it was not something Akio had planned—that it was something Touga did all on his own, because he wanted to. Because he could.

    Such a prince.

    h, and we mustn’t forget the three girls in bed with him. That should be a large hint that Touga’s affections are limited to the physical, casting doubt on the nature of his feelings for Utena. If Touga cannot feel simple friendship, and if he’s so experienced (or might I suggest ‘jaded’) that a foursome is ordinary enough to interrupt with a phone call, there certainly isn’t any reason to believe that he is actually in love with Utena.

    His womanizing is continued throughout the series, until he seems to realize that Utena does, perhaps, mean a little more to him than just one of the fans he amuses himself with. That realization, spurred on by Akio’s obvious triumph where he himself has failed, causes him to rethink his methods and his position as the resident playboy of the school. But why does this make it easier to forgive his actions for the greater part of the series? Because he suddenly realizes that Utena may indeed be important to him, does it mean that he has suddenly become noble? Apparently, in the eyes of most of his fangirls, it does. Because he recognizes that his actions have been betraying his attempts to woo Utena, he apparently becomes her prince.

    Not so. While it is true that he has gained something in the way of morals, he is no prince just because he figured out that sleeping with other women isn’t the way to attract a girl like Utena. So why does the rabid Touga fangirl refuse to see that?

    Because during the end of the series, Touga begins to develop the potential to be a prince. And that is far more powerful a lure than all his previous pretenses. While before he was simply playing the romancer, he now shows some sort of real feeling for Utena. The rabid Touga fangirl, armed with her wishful thinking, takes this as proof that he really was a good guy all along because she likes to be vindicated, ignoring the fact that this is perhaps the first concrete evidence that points to Utena being anything more than a different face for the foursome. But indeed, the glimpse of a soul finally beginning the long struggle to better itself is a powerful and, dare I say, noble image.

    The movie, too, has done Touga’s character a disservice, at least as far as understanding and interpretation come into play. The movie’s Touga was the prince that the fangirls believe him to be; brave, self-sacrificing, noble, and again, utterly delicious to look at. Depending on the interpretation of the movie, he was through no fault of his own the barrier that held Utena back from reaching the real world. This version of Touga is held up as proof that ‘he really really is a prince deep down inside’ when the series is discussed, completely disregarding the drastic changes in character in both Anthy and Utena and how they might affect the interpretation of the series version of both those characters. For almost all intent and purposes, however, the series and movie versions of the characters are completely different, despite a fondness for women in general and a predilection for running their fingers through their long red locks. It appears that the movie only affects the series character interpretations when trying to prove that Touga is a prince or that Akio is really a dork—a great disservice to his character as well, I might add.

    The reinforcement in the fangirl’s brain, however, cannot be ignored. Since Touga in the movie was a prince, it proves to them that Touga had good intentions all along in the series, a highly improbable speculation at best. But again, it seems to support their views, so in an astounding display of selective perception, they disregard the fact that the movie and the series are totally different. By now, you must be asking how this comes about. How can any person manage to blind herself enough to completely ignore all hints that Touga may not be the prince he portrays?

    Consider, now, the growth of the rabid Touga fangirl. Fresh from Fushigi Yuugi and Weiß Kreuz, she decides to watch this new series she’s been hearing about, directed by the same person that directed Sailor Moon. Her expectations are high—this should be a good one. And so, watching the first few episodes, her eye is caught by the man with the red hair, his refinement, his obvious charm, and his defense of Anthy from Saionji’s depredations. Even the girls of the school adore him, fawn on him, and he returns their interest with kind, but somewhat distant, smiles. He fits the pattern of the long-haired bishounen to a tee; the mold of his character is set. She decides that he must be the ‘hero’ of the story, aided by his obvious attraction to our heroine, Utena. After a few more episodes, she is unsure—he seems like he has ulterior motives, and maybe not very good ones. ‘This cannot be,’ she says. ‘He is the love interest, the one Utena deserves!’

    Note the lack of logical thought here. Touga’s insidious charm protects him from those who would doubt him by using his particular combination of good looks, popularity, and some seemingly altruistic action to trick girls into thinking that the façade he shows to his female flock is his true self.

    Having satisfied herself with this explanation, the rabid fangirl watches on, to the end of his duels when, bothered once again by Touga’s seeming defection into the realms of villainy, a revolutionary thought strikes her. ‘What if he’s not exactly good, but he’s trying to be?’ She eagerly watches the next episode so that she can test her theory.

    Lo and behold! Touga has locked himself in his room, no longer willing to face the world. ‘That must be it!’ she cries excitedly. ‘He didn’t understand that what he was doing was wrong—now that he knows, he’s so full of regret that he can’t face the rest of them!’ Full of self-congratulation, the rabid Touga fan waits for the triumphant return of her object of adoration. Through the Black Rose arc, she watches, catching mere glimpses of her beloved in Keiko’s duel episode, and even those appear to support her theory. And then, once Mikage has finished his duel, he reappears—except this time, he is accompanied by the handsome and mysterious Ohtori Akio.

    ‘Oh no!’ the Touga fan cries. ‘How can Touga associate with this evil, evil man?’ Then, another revolutionary thought strikes her: Akio is using Touga. ‘That must be it! Akio has tricked him!’

    Note the way the blame is placed neatly on Akio. He is the villain, tricking and using poor Touga, who would never do the things he does without some sort of outside influence. Of course not.

    The cruelty in Touga’s manipulations increases, but, content with her assessment of the situation, the Touga fan’s hatred of Akio grows and her pity for poor Touga increases with every episode she watches. Until suddenly, Touga seems to break free of Akio’s sway. He starts to become more princely—he even duels to prevent Utena from the danger ahead! And he begins to question his lifestyle as a playboy, wondering whether it has truly served him! Flushed with vindication, the Touga fan watches on until the end, and erases all trace of doubt from her mind. She knew he was a prince all along, and now Touga has proven it.

    During her viewing of the series, the Touga fan has also been speaking with other fans of Revolutionary Girl Utena,. Now, in the first glow of her triumph, she begins to search out webpages devoted to her favorite bishounen, or perhaps begins to make one. Fans like myself avoid these webpages, because the mutilation of his character is nauseating to watch. But this Touga fangirl finds others, likeminded, and they begin to trade ideas back and forth. In the most militant of these groups, any suggestion that Touga may have done wrong is met with outrage, or worse, ridicule; the Touga fangirl wants the approval of her friends, and so she conforms to the ideas that are accepted by the group. The movie, watched at any time throughout, only reinforces the ideas she has in place. And finally, once her beliefs about Touga are so deep-rooted that she cannot stand to have his name tarnished by any hint of unprincely action in her presence, she begins to quote the scene where he first realizes he’s become a slut to anyone who dares cast doubt on her beloved.

“Kiryuu Touga, the playboy Seitokaicho, is it? ‘Playboy’ sounds old-fashioned…”

    Frightening, isn’t it?

    In any case, you can see the line of reasoning. With a character so accustomed to swaying the thoughts and emotions of the female half of the populace of Ohtori, how can we blame these poor creatures for being taken in by his charms? His character, however, is clear to anyone willing to see it. Cold, predatory, sexually driven, and arrogant to a fault, Touga is hardly the model of a prince. Those that believe him to be so are tricked by a combination of the bishounen stereotype, their own unwillingness to admit that they find a morally bankrupt character attractive, the potential to be a prince that he gains near the end of the series, and his own machinations throughout. The rabid Touga fangirls place more emphasis than is warranted on the few actions that could be considered good and then either disregard the blatantly selfish actions or twist them into highly implausible princely parodies of what he truly intended. It's ironic that, were these girls ever to meet him, they would be nothing more to him than the swarms that surround him every day at Ohtori.

    All right, ladies—who wants to be in the foursome tonight?

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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