was donated by Celeste.
The first time I saw "Shoujo Kakumei Utena" was back in
late 1999. It's now February of 2003 and I still haven't exorcised
the ghosts of the series from my brain. I thought perhaps that by
writing an unnecessarily long essay on
my favourite character of the piece, Souji Mikage, I might get out
habit of daydreaming through lectures about the insane symbolism I
quite understood. But no, I continued to develop fascinations, and
currently living in fear of the desire to write an extensive narrative
the character of Nanami Kiryuu, a character in whom I see far too
myself, God help us.
despite my attempts to step away from the series, I still find myself
popping tapes into the VCR at odd moments, only to discover new
mysteries to ponder over instead of doing my biopharmaceutical chemistry
homework. Even though I tried both essay-writing and fanfic-writing
to get rid of Mikage, I still have to contend with the rest of the
whole damn cast. And it is from that fascination that after almost
two years of note-taking and abstract thinking, I have completed
an analysis of the bloody confusing filler episode "The Prince
Who Runs In The Night." I thought about this during physiology
lectures and tried to explain it to Holly and Sara, I really did.
I wrote notes on this during smoko at the aluminium smelter and
did not even attempt to explain it to Carolyn and Stephanie. [grin]
But hopefully I do not have to explain myself to anyone reading
even this far. I made up a question and I attempted to answer it,
and now, the night before my twenty-first birthday. Christ am I
glad to see the back of it. Perhaps now I can work on a twelve-step
programme to completely cure myself of this "Utena" addiction
at long last.
Or maybe not. I mentioned my Nanami fixation, didn't I? And even
curbed my analysis-desire for most the of the major characters with
essay and the Mikage one, Nanami gets little exposure here. [buries
hands] I give up. I shall retire to my field now and become a Nanami-cow.
It's about the only option left to an ageing "Utena" obsessive
Wednesday, 12th February, 2003
~ * ~
* The Prince Who Runs in the Night *
"The filler/summary episode 'The Prince Who Runs Through The
upon closer examination, to be a rich commentary on the recent events
series and hints subtly at the dark future that is yet to come.
this statement, with reference to the symbolism displayed in the
the series in general) and the use/importance of the dysfunctional
relationships of the cast that are utilised to illustrate this summary
provide the foreshadowing."
~ Episode Analysis ~
The episode "The Prince Who Runs In The Night" (which
mirrors an earlier
summary episode of the series called "Tracing A Path")
was designed for two
key purposes — one of these was to give closure to and commentary
last duels of the three permanent Student Council Members already
and the other was to show an important turning point in the relationship
Utena Tenjou and Akio Ohtori. In this manner, this episode reflects
past to illustrate the paths of the future. It indicates in its
manner the fact that the lives of all duellists are intertwined
of one another and that the end is swiftly drawing nigh. The duel
Revolution is riding high on the horizon already.
* The Shadow Play Begins *
The episode begins with the classic "Utena"-ism of the
illustrating the transformation of an ordinary young girl into a
girl-prince. The story itself is, as we all know from various sources
show, hardly true in the strictest sense of the word. In a funny
like the English dub of certain Japanese anime programmes. The true
of the story has been toned down and turned into a pleasant open-ended
tale. However, one only needs to view the following episode ("The
The Rose") and one of the earlier episodes ("The Castle
Dwells") to understand that the story we are told by one of
the Kage Shoujo
is not accurate in the strictest sense of the word *at all*. This
important for several reasons; it's a powerful reflection on the
relationship between Anthy and Utena, as well as indicating more
nature of the reasons why Touga and Saionji's friendship is disintegrating
fast. There is the truth and then there is the reality beneath the
is so often said, all that glitters is not gold and what we see
always what is really true in the case of the "Utena"
characters and their
However that is not the key for the simplest analysis of the opening
sequence. One must note that the background is not the stylised
a simple fairy tale that the audience has become accustomed to by
now. It is
scenes of a carnival at night, most notably a Ferris wheel. That
is, to an English speaking audience, a reflection of the word "kakumei,"
term bandied around during the series like nobody's business. It's
that this was intended in the original Japanese, but it is worth
this English analysis. A revolution is a great change, but it is
empty movement for it literally goes nowhere; this can be taken
foreshadowing of or reflection on Akio's recurrent failures in his
to bring about the revolution that will reinstate him with the lost
Dios. One can also note that there is the simple fact that there
lights against darkness; it's a more common theme in "Utena"
otherwise appear, and may in fact reflect the stars that Akio studies.
in fact said later in the series that Akio cares little for stars,
this we can perhaps see that the carnival itself has little relevance
actual proceedings. Taking Utena there was a means to an end; it
a way of achieving the privacy he needed with her. Indeed, Akio
displays behaviour illustrating how he will use anything to suit
ends and have no regard for it afterwards.
* Anthy's Phone Call *
The story ends abruptly with a switch over to Anthy herself, and
slamming of the tall windows of the chairman's room at the top of
that so dominates the school below. In a way it is easy to immediately
associate it this with someone closing their eyes against something
not want to see, and this thought is echoed by many of the following
occurrences. For instance, Anthy stands in darkness, the only light
eventually being provided by the projector. One can note that while
in frontal view her glasses hide her eyes by bright reflections
projector, another allusion to blindness, to not wanting to see
Anthy's apparent desire to be "blinded" is shown by the
she engages in while staring at the stars the projector provides.
hear her words, and she is very quiet and unresponsive even though
apparent (both from the implied dialling during the eyecatch and
replay of the conversation from Akio's point of view) that she made
herself. Most notable about Anthy's words is that she is being told
person on the other end that she should be looking at the sky outside.
response is that she doesn't want to look at the real stars. She
illusion before her. What does this mean?
Anthy does not want to look at the real stars even though it is
in the episode that the stars outside that night are particularly
The projection before her is beautiful as well, however — both the
the fake provide beauty to look at. Anthy prefers the fake to the
real — and
this can be taken as a reflection of Anthy's attitude towards her
Akio hides many things beneath a smooth, beautiful surface, and
here that even though Anthy is aware of this, she does not want
to look at
the *real* stars, which are just as beautiful. One could perhaps
the real stars are Utena herself, a girl who plays prince because
to save Anthy, whereas Akio plays a dashing prince to regain the
Does Anthy's phone conversation reveal in its roundabout fashion
struggle between Akio and Utena, between understanding which of
the two she
wants to play Bride to? And what of her allusion to the roses that
* Utena Opens Up *
We are next treated to a picture of the roses Anthy mentioned in
call. Utena herself is sitting at a table across from the roses,
onto the carnival out the window and lamenting the fact that Anthy
come. Here begins one of the most interesting mechanisms of this
one that is not used often during the series. Utena adopts a tone
confessional, as if she is confiding in the viewer themselves. It
more obvious as the episode progresses that Utena is in fact speaking
Akio, and this intimate one-on-one conversation seems to say something
the nature of the feelings between them as the episode continues.
that it is just a simple twist of fate that Utena and Akio have
alone together, but is that really so?
Now that they are alone, however, Utena sets up an intimate confidant
with the simple question "Did you know that I am an only child?"
* Radio Play *
One of the major curiosities of the "Utena"-verse is
the Kage Shoujo — the
Shadow Play Girls who so often break up the flow of an episode to
their own haphazard narrative on what has happened and what will
Often their plays are complicated metaphors and other times simple
but they truly outdo themselves in this episode by providing us
with a Radio
Show on the speakers of the infamous Akio Car.
they demonstrate an understanding of what is going on in the world
around them with their simple comment that the stars are beautiful.
They suggest that people listening to the show should go and look
out their windows at the sky — completely contradictory to what
Anthy did earlier in shutting the heavy windows of her brother's
tower room. It is also an eerie "prediction" when they
state that two people together on a night like this will be together
forever...a reflection on later actions taken by Akio and Utena
during the episode.
The stray comment about it not being time yet for the autumn constellations
could mean several things. The autumn constellations are Libra,
Sagittarius; the scales, the scorpion and the archer. Autumn is
also a time
of great change, when summer ends and winter begins an approach.
context of what the Kage Shoujo have said it is easier to take it
that a change is approaching. The usual meanings of the three astrological
signs are harder to pin down in relation to the current goings-on,
is possible to draw theoretical parallels between Akio and Scorpio,
and Libra, then Utena and Sagittarius. This is highly subjective,
and in the end would not prove as much as the simple fact that autumn
beginning of what is almost a sacrificial season. The trees must
their leaves before they can blossom again in the spring; what is
in Ohtori Gakuen now that reflects this sentiment? It is also easy
Tokiko Chida's observation in "Nemuro Memorial Hall" that
flowers must cast
off their petals sometime. Indeed, we are yet to see some literal
deflowering in this very episode.
as they say, it is not yet *quite* the time for these constellations...echoing
the tone of this episode. It is only a taste of that which is yet
to come, after all.
Just a Little Pop Quiz
One of the greater curiosities about this aural-only Shadow Play
is the fact
that they utilise what is really an interactive game — this has
seen before. Until now, we were not even entirely sure that the
Girls were ever *seen* or even heard by the cast members, Utena's
responses to C-ko aside. This is a direct conversation between Akio,
Despite the fact that Akio has already proved himself to be the
of the events that have been directing Utena towards the duel called
Revolution, this scene puts him in more of a passive role. At least,
appears this way at first because he is the one being *asked* all
questions. One could point out, however, that Akio was the one who
the postcard to "enter" the quiz in the first place. This
begs a common
question throughout the series — between Akio and the Kage Shoujo,
what strings and who is really controlling who?
"He sure has a weird name," says one of the Kage Shoujo
before they call
Akio on his car phone; this is a rather ironic comment as until
the name has been a shadow over the lives of the Student Council.
Of The World, after all, has been controlling everything that has
on...and yet the Kage Shoujo simply find the name strange rather than
Akio's manner with the girls is very easy despite any underlying
any kind of power struggle between the two. One must wonder how
lets them away with, and how much they get away with of their own
When they ask him what he does, he simply replies that he is an
(read into that any way you wish, for it's very ironic in a lot
However, he openly says he has a "part-time job" on the
side. And when they
ask him "Are educators really allowed to moonlight?" he
"Well, I've had good luck so far keeping it a secret."
Akio's confidence, for what is the point in trying to keep a secret
are just going to announce it on the radio? The fact that the Kage
directly acknowledge his voice as being sexy makes one think that
anyone who had heard it would remember it.
The important thing here, however, is the quiz itself...introduced
same manner as the traditional Shadow Play, hinting that we are
about to be
treated to further exposition. It is a multiple choice question
Which of the following three things is eternal?
1. A diamond
2. A beautiful memory
3. Canned peaches
Though Akio himself does not answer the question — more on this
later — the
answer is obvious enough to anyone who paid any attention during
previous thirty-two episodes. It is the beautiful memory — for as
Mikage was heard to utter, "It's that memory that has been
supporting you up
until now." It is Utena's beautiful memory that has allowed
her to go on
without her dead parents, has allowed her to try and become a prince.
The other two choices are obviously incorrect for they do not last
A diamond is the hardest substance on a Moh scale, but a diamond
enough cleaved if you strike it along one of its facets. A can of
will last a long time sealed away from oxidation, but when it is
cannot be closed again, and the peaches will rot.
is much harder to destroy a beautiful memory...though perhaps in
Akio's world of illusion and make-believe it can be done. However,
we do not only think of Utena's beautiful memory here.one must remember
that there is another prominent character who, while not holding
onto a "beautiful" memory, is indeed looking for something
eternal...or at least, something that he can make last forever.
Even though it should be obvious to the audience what the correct
Akio avoids the question by means of answering a convenient other
cuts off the girls — showing that he does in fact show some power
they can say to him — and takes his call. It is simple and straightforward,
and when he switches back to the girls he tells them goodbye and
hangs up on
them. We are never told who is on the other end, though most clues
towards Touga Kiryuu.
The next sequence rings true of the usual run-up to the trip the
take to the Ends of the World, one after the other. The speed limits
road double repeatedly — and then we have Touga opening his arms
infinity before a baffled Saionji.
We are delving back now into the past duels that are supporting
up until this moment.
* Kyouichi Saionji — "There's No Such Thing as Friendship
in This World" *
of the key comments that opens this summary of Saionji's last duel
is the comment that "The Rose Bride is mine." Not an unusual
comment to hear from the kendo team captain, but it is pointed out
by Touga that Saionji doesn't seem to know what he wants, exactly...or
how to take it. There is a brief flash to the manner in which Saionji
backhanded Miki away from Anthy, which is more a reflection on the
key difference between Miki and Saionji than anything else. After
all, both duellists claim to be enamoured of Anthy, and while it
would appear Saionji can take Anthy if he pleases, he is in fact
no better at doing so than is the reticent Miki. One could say that
Saionji knows what he wants and that he will at least attempt to
take it, or at least create a lot of trouble for others in his violent
However, is this really so?
Akio takes Saionji to the Ends Of The World to reveal some home
will lead him to desire again to defeat Utena in the duelling arena,
is not Akio's show in that respect. The spotlight is, fittingly
given to Touga Kiryuu, one of the key reasons why Saionji duels
in the first
* "Aren't You My One and Only Friend?" *
"What do you want?"
"What are you after?"
"Where do you want to be?"
These three questions are asked by Touga of his "friend,"
and they seem to
be perfectly valid on the face of things. The future is a recurring
the series, and in fact this conversation is echoed by Wakaba and
friends in the final episode of the series. But there is an ironic
this line of questioning for several reasons — Touga is not, after
best definition of "confidant" and Touga is subtly hinting
that he, in a
way, is affecting Saionji's future himself. Saionji himself appears
this with his suspicious: "And what would you do if I told
you?" The trust
in their former relationship is gone, as is illustrated by the flashback
the bandage Touga once wrapped a wound in, a wound he himself had
Saionji. When Saionji perceives that Touga has betrayed him (or
on without him), the bandage falls loose; it reflects the unravelling
very fabric of their friendship.
The friendship between Touga and Saionji has always very obviously
peculiar, inconstant association. In some ways, the violence shown
Anthy — as in the scene where he takes Anthy from Miki and Utena
— seems to
coincide with his frustration towards Touga. After all, though in
the pair seem to be evenly matched, there is no way that Saionji
Touga the way he does Anthy. His violence towards Anthy is perhaps
likely to be born of his frustration experienced in his friendship
Touga. After all, the reason why Saionji wishes to take Anthy to
is not only to "save" her to prove to Touga that he can
do it too, but
because he wants from the castle something eternal for himself.
friendship. Touga seems to enjoy belittling this desire at every
Saionji can't seem to explain to Touga how much it hurts. He's left
with Anthy to use as a punching bag, even though his frustration
at *Touga.* It makes one wonder why Saionji would even want Touga
friend in the first place. Their positions as princes of the school
the reason why they have only each other to turn to.
Touga says to Saionji: "Aren't you my one and only friend?"
He tosses it off
as a sort of challenge, knowing that Saionji's dearest wish is eternal
friendship. It is important to infer from this statement that Saionji
Touga are actually isolated from the rest of the student body in
equals. Given that Saionji is Touga's only friend, in turn it could
that Touga is Saionji's only friend. It would not seem unusual to
this, simply because it becomes obvious throughout the show that
member of the Seitokai is treated as a normal student. As two of
(think back to what Mikage's secretary told him about the Chosen
as she was
fired), perhaps Saionji and Touga are the only ones who could possibly
understand one another enough to be friends. Touga knows this, and
knows of Saionji's need to have a friend. He then uses this knowledge
manipulate the passionate and half-mad Saionji into doing the craziest
things just so he can feel like he has a tenth of Akio's power.
Still, what Saionji truly wanted can be heard in the young Utena's
words: "Why does everybody go on living if they all have to
This is a direct reflection on what it is that Saionji spends his
looking for. He wishes to have access to or create "something
though he qualifies the eternal thing as being friendship. Despite
acute need he forever reacts badly to his "old friend."
In response to being
called "shinyuu" by Touga, he responds with "Who's
your *dear friend*?" Is
this a reflection upon the way he treats Anthy? For after all, it
Saionji actually expects to be betrayed sooner or later, that he
eternal friendship he desires is as much an illusion as the upside-down
castle. Saionji actually points out that he knows this to Touga
with an echo
of Touga's own words "There's no such thing as friendship in
Touga replies with a mocking "Oh really?" when it is Touga
who has so often
pointed out that only a fool believes he has friends. Saionji's
repeating back of something Touga said earlier actually serves to
while Touga manipulates a lot of people in the course of the show,
*Saionji* who shows any real resistance to it, along with Utena.
are the two people who Touga seems unable to stop chasing. Even
though it is
Saionji who wants the eternal friendship it is *Touga* who will
not let the
friendship die even as he claims it does not exist. The lines of
communication here are not only down, they've been buried six feet
(It is perhaps worth noting that what Saionji wants from the castle
"eternal friendship" and that in some ways, this may be
what he wants from
*Anthy*. In a way he's pushed what he needs from Touga onto Anthy,
with Anthy there is an illusion of control. With Touga this illusion
not exist. This therefore explains somewhat his frustration and
towards Anthy, although it must be noted that Saionji did share
diary with Anthy. It's not very clear at any point that Saionji
anything deeper than friendship with Touga, although the entire
show is a
virtual wellspring of mixed signals!)
* "We Can't Let Her Do This Crazy Thing!" *
Saionji's reasons for being in the duelling game are extremely
the beginning of this flashback one of those reasons is clearly
wants eternal friendship. But we are treated to another memory here:
the memory of the coffins in the church that Touga and Saionji encountered
as children. We have seen this once before when Saionji tried to
Utena the reasons why he wanted to go to the castle in the sky.
sense to bring this up, because this is where it all began for Saionji.
Until that point his friendship with Touga was close, with *friendly*
rivalry. He obviously lived a sheltered existence, for he finds
that Utena has been "spirited away" to be somewhat amusing,
because he can't comprehend that such things actually happen. But
— who already knows from his own troubled childhood the darkness
in the world — leads Saionji into the dim church to where Utena
her dead parents, Saionji for the first time realises that the world
always kind. That things *end*, inexplicably and without warning.
a little girl can become so disenchanted that she wants to lie in
while still alive and just stay there forever. From the beginning
see that Saionji wasn't ready for any of this, for while Touga opened
coffin without hesitation Saionji closed his eyes, covered his ears
screamed at him to stop. But Touga didn't, and Saionji heard everything
young Utena had to say.
alive is rather sickening, isn't it?...it's making me sick. ...why
did I never realise it before today? ...so I am never leaving this
coffin ever again." As time passes, Saionji calms down enough
to even speak to Utena, to have her tell him why she wants to stay
in the coffin. Touga is silent and watchful. It's actually easy
enough to guess that Touga's memories of the entire incident are
far more reliable that Saionji's, though we are never treated to
his interpretation. Touga does realise that Utena was the girl in
the coffin, while Saionji seems unable to grasp that fact. It's
peculiar, if only because of Saionji's intense desire to rescue
the girl. In that we see perhaps the selfish nature of Saionji's
desire to "save" the girl. The girl herself isn't what
was important, it was the act of saving her. It's Saionji who shouts
at Touga as he makes to leave the church "We can't let her
do this crazy thing!" Touga tells him to save her by showing
her something eternal, which Saionji cannot do. The next day, she
left the coffin and Saionji assumes Touga was responsible, thus
begins his intense jealousy. He wanted to save her and Touga did
not, yet it appears to him that Touga was the only one of them both
who could actually do it.
importance of this memory is this: Saionji, up until that point,
was a child. However, in meeting a child hiding in a coffin beside
her dead parents, he was shown that all things have an end. Life
is not an unbroken circle. But even though he was being pulled out
of the mindset of a child, he saw that he was *still* a child because
he could do nothing to save her. Touga, the more mature of the pair,
apparently did do something to save her, and it made Saionji realise
that his friendship with Touga was not as equal as he had once believed.
Saionji seeks to find an eternal thing because he wants to take
back the childhood he lost when Touga opened the coffin — the childhood
where he was able to be Touga's friend without the bitter rivalry
of their later days, where they were equals...the childhood where
people did not die and instead went on and on and on. Saionji *did*
want to save the girl in the coffin that day, but it was because
he wanted his own innocence back. His assumption that Touga could
do this is what drove him on in these duels, and what drives him
mad. And yet during the fateful car ride, Touga lets him on in the
shattering truth — *Akio saved Utena*.
We now switch to remembering one of Akio's most famous stargazing
he moves close to Utena, puts an arm around her to indicate the
Venus. The Morning Star. He explains to her that it is just another
saying "Lucifer." The devil and a fallen angel, and it
is from there that
his name originates. It is a haunting image to be given immediately
have been reminded that it was Akio who saved Utena from her coffin
those years beforehand. The Prince and Angel saved her, but it is
in this moment that the Devil manifested as Akio is not going to
And so, Akio saved Utena by showing her something eternal, and
is what created Saionji's own desire to show Anthy something eternal
save her. (In the episode "The Castle Where Eternity Dwells"
explicitly states to Saionji she wants to go to the castle to see
eternal," though it is later implied that Anthy's own desires
more than a pale reflection of what the One Engaged wants most).
after being taken for a ride by Touga and Akio, he tells Utena that
though he once thought of her feelings, wishing to take her to the
because she *wanted* something eternal, he now understands that
she has no
feelings of her own. She's only the Rose Bride, a doll with no heart.
suggests that until he understood that, it was the direct reason
why he "got
so passionate." This in turn suggests that perhaps a part of
knew that Anthy was only playing along with him, much as Touga openly
humours Saionji's whims (remember the bitter way Saionji tells Touga
knows Touga believes Saionji's skill in kendo tournaments are nothing
than child's play?). It might be the source of Saionji's physical
towards Anthy as well, though Saionji is still violent with Anthy
We are also shown a flashback to Anthy's infamous and repeated
This runs contradictory to what Saionji has been shown — Anthy
will, but she represses it for the sake of what her brother wishes
to do. By
showing that Touga and Akio led Saionji to duel under false assumptions,
is clearly shown to us the lengths to which Akio will go to have
duellists duel again even when they have pulled out of the game,
gives the audience evidence that Anthy is already questioning her
in all of this. She's primarily Akio's doll, but when the Sword
of Dios is
lost (leaving Utena to the considerably alarming prospect of duelling
deranged Saionji without a sword while he's got a katana!) she makes
obvious independent choice. Anthy "saves" Utena and draws
from her Utena's
soul-sword, setting up the *modus operandi* for the duels that follow.
action causes Saionji to lose. The irony is terrible. Saionji was
duel again by realising that Anthy had no emotions of her own, and
because it was proved to him that she had them. This entire set-up
foreshadows Anthy's choice at the end of the series. Utena is moving
"save" her, and attempts valiantly to do so. But as the
song says "let go of
me/take my revolution." Utena can only lead Anthy to the choice:
the one who has to make it. We are shown here that Anthy does not
ability to make her own decisions, and while this is bad news for
the knowledge at least acts to set him free.
In the end, Saionji is the duellist first shown the degree of manipulation
that all the duellists are subject to, and he is the first to step
it all by being the first duellist defeated after a ride to the
Ends of the
World. What is worth noting, however, is that Saionji actually gets
wants, as the others do. Saionji and Touga's friendship returns
to a more
even keel as the series skids towards its conclusion, and Saionji
makes an attempt to convince Touga to leave the duels before his
defeat, for his own good (for Saionji knows from experience how
shattering of all illusions *hurts*). And in the end, isn't that
friends are for?
* "Just Four More Matches and It'll be Time to Fight the Glorious Grand Champion of the Kings of Impersonation!" *
After the emotional gauntlet of Saionji's final duel is run, we
to Utena, who is by now watching television. The announcers (sounding
*suspiciously* like A-ko and B-ko) tell us incredulously "That
just barely lost!" Is this a reference to Saionji? Perhaps.
something of a fanatic and didn't easily give up on anything, and
to have his eternal thing rather badly. Still, the Kage Shoujo go
on to say:
"Now the King of Impersonation has been on top for the last
Calculating things out, Utena has herself been at the top of the
game for longer than that (having beaten Touga at the end of the
Hen to regain her place as the One Engaged, she has also since defeated
Kanae, Kozue, Shiori, Wakaba, Tsuwabuki, Keiko, Mikage, Saionji,
Juri and Nanami), but is *Utena* actually the King of Impersonation?
theory, of course she is! She's a girl playing at being a prince.
at the end of the series Utena herself admits that she was just
to be the prince who could save Anthy.
The interesting thing is that the Kage Shoujo now say "Just
matches and it'll be time to fight the glorious Grand Champion of
of Impersonation!" And who could this be referring to but Akio?
He is also
pretending to be a prince, when perhaps he never was one even in
place. When he cries his crocodile tears in "The Ends Of The
World" he tells
Utena "There was never any such thing as the prince in the
first place!" But
whatever the true origins of the prince, there is something very
to note in what Utena says next. Even though she claims the challenger
amazing, she wonders if the challenger can beat the Grand Champion.
subtle way we are introduced to Utena's self-confidence and where
After all, she got this far, but she seems to realise even now that
illusion of playing prince can only do so much and take her so far.
once accused her of only having come this far by standing on the
an illusion, and even though she has forgotten the Black Rose Seminar
seems that he talked less bullshit than she told him he did. Her
statement that she realises she might not be strong enough to win
is telling, for she will be sorely tested in the end. Unlike Souji
who took his own elevator and shattered his own illusions only to
mad by them, Utena's realism might just be the thing that gave Anthy
opportunity to choose her own destiny. This little aside seems to
it, at the very least.
* Sacred Images *
The second duellist to come under the microscope in this episode
Kaoru. The influence of his sister on his life and his beliefs cannot be
denied, and thus Kozue Kaoru is also instrumental in these flashbacks.
fact, it all starts with Kozue offering to do as a cute sister should
"bow out" — she is referring to the fact that Anthy, her
brother's crush, is
in the house and that she is "interfering." Her tone is
suggestive and in
stark contrast to the innocence Miki has displayed the entire series.
even says "Take your time," directing the comment at Miki
and Anthy, who
don't appear to catch the meaning therein (this is probably an honest
reaction on Miki's part; Anthy almost certainly knows what Kozue
Kozue's suggestive demeanour freezes when she sees a letter on
upon hearing that it is from their parents she claims they don't
parents. Chu-Chu is interestingly floating around in the background,
seemingly full of hot-air, as Utena says how nice it is to get letters
one's parents. Utena misses a lot of things, and this is yet another
them. Kozue's claim that they are "wild animals" who don't
makes little sense to Utena, but Miki reacts by telling her to stop
bad-mouthing them, that they are "always concerned" about
(who are apparently living alone, and are perhaps "wild"
in the sense that
they are *abandoned*). Kozue refuses to rise to her brother, laughs,
comments that she made him get "all serious." With that,
she discards both
parents, brother, conversation and letter by dropping said missive
From this we move to a picture of the childhood garden where Miki
played the piano together as children — hikari sasu niwa, the sunny
in the infamous song Miki wrote. The music that has played in the
of this scene is notable in title — it is called "Sacred Image"
and speaks a
lot towards what is being illustrated by the conversation between
Kozue. Kozue seemed rather amused at the time by Miki's attitude
their parents, which he seems to hold to a set notion in his mind.
mistaken belief that he and Kozue played beautifully together as
his conviction that their parents care for them is a sacred image.
attempts to undermine it playfully and seemingly cruelly, but her
actions suggest that his childish notions upset her deeply.
The song "Hikari Sasu Niwa" is actually a very useful
plot device in and of
itself when it is examined deeply. It is about the illusion of youth
clinging to of memories. In that respect it reflects even the mysterious
second arc of the series, the Kurobara Hen. People hold on to their
and the rose-tinted way they see the past — in the case of Miki,
remembers a sunny garden where he and his sister made beautiful
music. He is
wrongly convinced that his illness before a concert shattered the
picture and he struggles to get it back, playing the piano and admiring
Himemiya (who, according to Utena, doesn't actually play the piano
anyway; in a roundabout way, it actually suggests that Miki knew
that Kozue couldn't play the piano but prefers his made-up memories
real ones). Miki seems to be escaping harsh reality by believing
sunny garden, and that is a theme of the song. It is after all played
Anthy's suicide attempt, when Utena is forced to realise that Anthy's
emotions are as dark and complicated as anyone else's as she recognises
own darkness within herself. It is played during the lovely telling
Legend of the Prince as seen at the start of this episode, when
we will soon
see the much more unpleasant truth behind the tale of the Rose Prince.
himself plays the song early on while he pretends that Anthy wants
rescued for her own reasons, not for the ones he forces upon her.
curious song of childhood and fantasy, and the events of "Miki's
(The Sunny Garden /Arranged)" illustrate this aptly.
Miki is engaged in a phone call with his father about his new stepmother
when we see him next. He says that they are not opposed to the marriage
(which is, at least definitely in Kozue's case, a direct lie) but
can not make it to the ceremony. It's a contradictory type of thing
that you don't mind but that you can't come. It suggests that Miki
on a happy voice but not a happy face. We must also note that it
being spoken to, it is Miki who is being asked if he minds. His
probably well aware that Miki would never dare complain even if
compared with the hot-tempered and expressive Kozue. Miki does say
end that they will send a telegram to the wedding. (It's a traditional
slightly impersonal) thing to do, but it also makes it even harder
to put an
exact time on any of the events at Ohtori Gakuen.) Overlaid with
conversation is Kozue's dramatic rescue of the baby birds. The next
that is shown is the new stepmother saying she didn't want to be
their mother so quickly, or talk to Miki because it would be "too
shameless." But what kind of parents do Miki and Kozue have
in the first
place, and does it really matter?
(Side note: the fiancée of Miki and Kozue's father is clearly
Anthy, as the
audience should be quick to recognise not only her voice, but the
distinctive dress of the Rose Bride. This is most strongly an indicator
the fact that the influence of Anthy and Akio *can* stretch outside
Academy, and that the pair are forcing the duellists to their final
eliminate them from the running for the duel called Revolution.
In each of
these final pushes, they are refining Utena's soul-sword and creating
what Akio needs to open the Rose Gate.)
Kozue's rescue of the baby birds at the risk of her own injury
is one of the
most telling things we are ever shown about the character. Kozue
character of extremes: she seduces older men and "adds"
boyfriends to her
collection. She pushes a teacher down the stairs because she thinks
interested in Miki. But she then proceeds to climb out a high window
tree that is to be cut down for no greater reason than to save a
infant birds. She in fact does hurt herself in the process, but
we see from
the way she uncurls her hand from where the birds were clutched
to her chest
that she thought of them first when she fell. When we see this again
flashback, we hear Miki say: "If duelling means being manipulated
adults, then I'm stopping right now." Where does this bitterness
and what changes his mind? And what does this have to do with the
Kozue nearly broke her neck over?
Kozue and Miki still share a room — and if you look at their headboards,
you'll find that they have baby birds painted on them. Miki and
represented by the baby birds in the nest: they are the baby birds,
manipulated by selfish adults. After all, it must have been adults
the school who decided to cut down the tree despite the family living
It was Miki and Kozue's parents who cut down their tree as well
divorced and left the children behind, presumably as the baby birds
left behind when the parents realised the tree was getting cut down.
and Miki were actually manipulated by their parents in the fact
were driven apart by the piano fiasco, for Miki and Kozue haven't
since then. It's also suggested that the end of Kozue's "piano
resulted in the breakdown of the Kaoru marriage. The nest was lost,
taken away, and the children were split by their differing ways
at their parents' divorce. Miki is an idealist and Kozue is a realist.
were driven into these roles by the divorce of their parents and
piano recital that culminated in disaster.
We are treated to a close-up of the tree stump now — it is a symbol
stable world taken away from Miki and Kozue when their parents left
fly their separate ways. Miki and Kozue weren't saved like the baby
however, and are still trying to get by. They had to build their
once more, as is suggested by the fact that Kozue and Miki together
put up a
bird house for the chicks. Still, we also see Miki playing the piano
at night, Kozue standing alone outside. They are separated even
are all that the other has. Kozue is in the cold but she prefers
while Miki is safe inside with his music but never sees the truth
Something gives, however, and Miki's entire viewpoint changes during
* Return of the Challenger *
It's back to Utena again, who has apparently continued to watch
programme in our absence. She starts by commenting "I swear
that she just
won't quit!" which can be taken as a direct reference to Kozue
she's talking about one of the challengers). She names the challenger
"Alum," saying that before that she used to be known as
that, Utena has no idea. The significance of the names is hard to
though "alum" could be referring to several things. It
could be a shortened
version of "alumni," a graduate of a school. It could
also refer to the
chemical aluminium hydroxide, which is used as a topical astringent,
agent to activate leaving groups or, most curiously, as an adjuvant,
is used to increase the potency of a vaccine. The symbolism of the
as equally bizarre. Perhaps the only thing that can be taken from
that Kozue is like a dog with a bone, and we are shown that soon
Utena is drying her hair after a shower, and is stretching as she
realises that she has left some rolls out on the bench. She hopes
Anthy will find them and think to put them in a plastic bag before
start to smell. This is perhaps a reflection on Miki's own need
to hide his
memories away in a safe place so *they* don't start to smell. He's
them all up in plastic to preserve them and he refuses to see things
they are. This is the way that Akio is able to get under his skin.
* "If Everything Around You is Dirty, You Have No Choice but to Get Dirty As Well." *
Miki claims earlier that he does not want to duel because it means
manipulation by "selfish adults" (and indeed, Kozue shows
Akio is an adult
by going out on a date with the "long-legged older man").
He changes his
mind after his trip to the Ends of the World, and why is this? It
he realises that he doesn't have to be manipulated as he always
*He can manipulate as well*. Kozue, our token wild animal, tells
"There's no need to be bashful. Make her yours." In trying
to convince him
to take Anthy she says she only wants him to be happy, and that
lie because she is always honest with her feelings. And indeed,
with Miki, she is far more honest with her cynicism that he ever
is with his
rose-tinted glasses. She's playing devil's advocate, riding in the
with Miki, guiding him onto the road with no speed limits, with
no stops. It
is her school tie that covers his eyes and gives him the fantasy
the car with a provocatively posed Anthy reclining in the front
seat. The illusion both Akio and Kozue are offering is *control*
— and Miki
has never been in control before, has never controlled another.
He is led to
duel again in the belief that the only way to avoid his own manipulation
to manipulate somebody else.
We're back in the duelling arena, with Kozue's telling words: "If
around you is dirty, you have no choice but to get dirty as well.
choice but to get dirty, and then *get what you want*." It
is exactly what
Miki is unable to do, and Kozue shows him the way by taking what
from Anthy in the seduction of the doll-like Bride in the Akio Car
about the edges of the duelling platform. "You'll lose if you
she coolly tells him, but Miki can't concentrate on Utena when he
manipulation of Anthy Kozue has engaged in. He sees what it is getting
is all about and he can't accept it.
wonder what made Miki duel again so suddenly." Miki has lost
the duel, and Utena's confusion afterward is poignant. She was actually
unable to understand in the first place what made him duel her again
(her shock at being offered the rose was palpable). Anthy has no
answer, which is naturally ironic because it was Anthy's impending
marriage to Miki's father that brought up a lot of painful memories
for both of the Kaoru twins, forcing Miki to see the selfishness
of parents (shown by his father's expectation for Miki to address
her as "mother" right off the bat!) and to attempt to
accept that selfishness in himself. Utena ends by saying "I
mean, Miki's more..." Anthy's only reply is "...more?"
The flashback ends with Miki and his bird box, watching it from
if he is still trying to recreate the happy home that was wrenched
under him when he and his sister were still children. He'd rather
than accept the truth, and that is why Kozue, the ultimate realist,
underneath him with accusing eyes to call him "Coward!"
Miki will not let go
of the past because the sunny garden is a nicer place within his
than it ever is outside. Even though the game is over for Miki,
in some ways
he really hasn't grown up at all. Utena finds Miki to be more.what?
never said, but by the end of the series Miki seems to have relaxed
around his sister. The more things change, perhaps, the more they
same. At this moment, however, we leave him clinging to his "shining
the sacred image of his pure memories.
* Studio Callback *
As the flashback of the Kaoru twins concludes, we have the car
again. When Akio answers, it becomes very swiftly apparent that
show's quiz isn't over yet. The girls finally got through to him,
they say —
it makes one wonder what Akio was doing at the time. Still, they're
ask him the next question:
Which one of these is the miracle?
1. Edison's invention
2. Meeting with a prince
3. A can of coelacanth
The question is itself indication that we are to speak of Juri
next — but in
considering the answers to the question, one might wonder what it
has to do
with *Juri*, specifically. Of the three answers, the second option
correct in context of the series. Thomas Edison invented many things
as the lightbulb, to name but one of his countless inventions —
but he came
across these things by logic and by luck. They're not miracles,
not in the
fairytale-sense. You could think of it in terms of Disney's movie
and the Beast." Maurice's inventions are outlandish and incredible,
pale in comparison to the miracle that is the genuine love that
Belle's Beast back into the Prince. The third option is really kind
funny. In effect, they're saying "Would you like a can of an
like they're offering a kind of exotic tuna. The thing about the
however, is that even though it exists in the fossil record and
prehistoric creature, not long ago it was fished up out of the ocean.
living specimen. A miracle? Perhaps. But then, can humans really
know all the species on the planet after all? Like the discovery
"extinct" takahe in New Zealand some years after they
thought it had
vanished forever, it's not so much a miracle. It just shows that
looking hard enough.
given that the meeting with a prince is the assumed miracle...what
does this mean from Juri's viewpoint? It is implied from the beginning
that Juri's miracle is the return of her love for Shiori (which,
given the attitude and prejudices of the girl, is extremely unlikely),
while the meeting with the prince (as illustrated in the famous
opening sequence) is *Utena's* miracle, the miracle that gave her
the strength to leave the coffin. In this roundabout manner it is
shown that Utena's future is being foretold by recent events in
Juri's life. How is this? Why, by Juri being forced to meet her
own "Prince," Ruka Tsuchiya, and being shown that the
real miracles are those that happen while you aren't even watching.
* "Isn't Your Miracle Going to Happen, Oujisama?" *
Wheels begin to turn upon the re-entrance of former Fencing Club
Ruka Tsuchiya. His opening shot at Juri, whom he has just defeated
unexpected duel — "I was hoping you'd grown while I was away,
but I can see
now I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up" — is a direct reference
fencing ability, but the undertone is that he is well aware she's
up on Shiori (and as we discover, he is here to set her free). The
short-lived debate over who is the actual captain of the club is
telling. Even though technically Juri *is* only acting, Ruka insists
now the captain, implying perhaps the short-term nature of his stay.
sits well with the later implication that the dying Ruka only left
hospital not to have some "fun" as he tells Juri, but
because he wanted to
set the one he loved free...he wanted to give her the power of miracles.
Juri makes a comment to Ruka that she doesn't know why Ruka chose
re-enter the game of duelling now, but she clearly states that he
is to keep
his hands off Shiori. When he chuckles and asks why, there is a
events from earlier episodes that remind the audience of *all* the
why Juri wants Ruka away from Shiori. And yet she says Shiori is
more than an old friend. Juri lies to herself as much as she lies
and the ironic thing is that even while Juri wishes desperately
miracle, she doesn't believe in them at all. Ruka states in reply
will live the "carefree academy life" if it pleases him,
and have a romance
if the chance occurs. His attitude is stark in contrast to Juri's,
never led the carefree life, or had romances with whoever she pleases.
fact, Juri is considered frigid and is known for scaring both students
teachers into submission.
And the trouble really begins with the first attempt Ruka makes
Juri free — with the sword in the locker (which resembles his soul
and the well-timed opportunity Shiori is given to ab-lib her way
bed. Ruka is going to play this game, but in some ways it would
better had he heard something Juri told Utena in a much earlier
said: "That nobility of yours — you only have it because some
you into having it!" Despite being one of Akio's pawn-duellists,
Juri is not
the type to be led into believing or doing anything she does not
believe or do. Ruka would have a care to remember this — as Utena
* Keeping Your Eye on the Board *
One of the curious aspects of this episode is the unwitting commentary
provides on the past events — her simplifications actually tell
a good deal not only about her own personality, but give us a new
looking at what has passed. This interruption shows Utena playing
appears to be "Othello," with six black and seven white
pieces upon the
board. Placement implies Utena is playing the white pieces, which
to the fact that her duelling rose is white. (There is an interesting
question about the colour of her rose, incidentally. While all the
duellists have roses the same colour as their hair, Utena's rose
pink, it is white. It suggests, perhaps, the purity of her motives;
duels not for herself or her own desires, but to free Anthy from
This mystery deepens if one considers that Akio wears a purple rose
hair is much lighter — in fact, the rose seems to resonate more
than with Akio. Why is this?)
To return to Utena's game, even though she is at first examining
evenly-matched board with what appears to be concentration, she
upon an interesting (and very distracting) conversational tack.
talking about cooking, of all things. One of the first things she
that it is particularly easy to mess up measures. She then mentions
macaroni, and how she once made a mistake and filled a "great
big pot" with
the pasta. Despite all this, she says that it is worse to make mistakes
it comes to the seasonings: "if you're not careful, you start
more and more, and end up screwing up."
Taken at face value, it sounds like Utena is just making light
over a game of "Othello." Taken in context with what we
have just seen,
Utena is describing to a tee the motivations of Ruka Tsuchiya in
Juri Arisugawa from the bonds he perceived he to be chained by.
She is also
offering an explanation as to why he appeared to fail. In the end
trying to do right by Juri; he saw that she was unhappy and that
Takatsuki was never going to be the one to alleviate that unhappiness.
may have avoided the cliché of too many cooks ruining the
broth, but he took
an extremely heavy-handed approach with Juri and completely messed
measures. As Utena notes, it is easy enough to do. Ruka knew that
have to press Juri very hard to make her move, but overfilling the
not enough, if one takes note of the fact that overfilling the pot
corresponds with his treatment of Shiori. He messed up the seasonings
well, in trying to reveal his own feelings to the hurt and furious
his second attempt. He put too much into the mixture and in the
though he set Juri free, she ended up "hating" him for
what he had done.
There are suggestions within the episode itself that Juri forgives
Ruka — her letter, and the remarkable imagery of the three chairs
become a rearranged pair — but Utena's own spin on the situation
good metaphor. Ruka tried to force a change in Juri, but added too
the boiling pot, and it boiled over.
At this point, white is still winning the game of "Othello."
Utena is continuing her metaphor by saying: "And you can't
exactly undo it."
It's true: you can't remove ingredients already dissolved into a
what Ruka had done could never be undone. Every step he took on
was decisive and left no room for going back. Utena mentions that
things are easier to make: like hamburgers and lunchboxes. These
essentially jigsaw metaphors, for once they are put together they
taken apart. But as said earlier, "That won't work for stews."
A stew is a
fusion mixture, after all. It is like melting cheese: you're never
get the original block back once it's gone. Utena is essentially
that messing in other people's affairs is a messy business, and
Ruka is a
reflection of this.
Up until this point Utena has spent her entire one-sided conversation
staring at the board. She then looks up for the first time at her
(who is providing the angle that the viewers see Utena from) and
"Isn't that what they always say in books?" It's an interesting
she could just be referring to a recipe book. Perhaps this could
attributed to fairytales, and the introduction of this particular
itself. What is she implying by this comment and allusion? That
have messy endings? True enough, most of them do, despite the flowery
interpretations we are often given as children. Things change as
we grow up,
and that is a key theme in the later arcs of this show. What is
than fairytale allusions, however, is that this is the only time
away from the game, wrapped up as she is in talking about recipes
"You just do what it says and the flavour comes out wrong,"
Utena says, and
it is true enough. Ruka is doing what they always say in books,
fairytales — he is acting as the Prince, attempting to rescue the
and Juri ends up hating him for his attempt (at least during the
the resolution of the episode does suggest otherwise). "I wonder
muses, and it shows her innocence. Juri actually referred to Utena
in a much
earlier episode ("Thorns of Death") as being "cruelly
innocent," and it
shows during her brief interference in the Juri/Ruka/Shiori triangle.
simply doesn't understand the approach Ruka used, and she was inclined
hope for a happy ending. With the implied death of Ruka this doesn't
have occurred, but one does have to remember that deviating from
of a recipe and producing something entirely unexpected does not
the product is inedible, or even unpalatable when the taste becomes
We look back at the board: it's a complete black out with the single
token completely surrounded. Utena exclaims in surprise: "Oh!
A weak point!"
An underestimation if there ever was one. She looked up from the
and she proceeded to begin to lose miserably. The brief metaphor
"Othello" game is a curious one that is never really explained.
What is most
notable, perhaps, is that the playing pieces are double-sided: black
side, white the other. Taking the traditional association of white
and black with evil, it suggests that the two are interchangeable,
if you take your eye off the ball one can easily become the other.
dark foreshadowing for a later event in the episode. Utena will
her eye off her goal, and while she is looking away her motives
continuing to stay within the duelling game will change from white
Aside from the game, the montage of events from "Azure Paler
Than The Sky"
and its preceding episode continue. We see the sword in the locker
the sword Shiori had pretended to clean everyday. Is it perhaps
Ruka's own descent and impending death? Or is it reminiscent of
eventual fall from Juri's graces, the catalyst for that fall being
himself? We see Shiori's acting, and know that she's not the only
the episodes, and feel the irony. Ruka tells her he knew she was
pretending to have cleaned his sword while he was away, and we realise
lows to which he would go just to set Juri free. The shattering
locket is the culmination of all that Ruka worked for, the chains
Juri struggles to walk back to the broken object. Her hand is to
she is gasping as she cries, like she cannot breathe the fresh
air of the
freedom Ruka has gifted her with. Her life has been snatched away,
doesn't seem able to live without it. And with this, we see a black
white photographic portrait of Shiori from the days of The Unnamed
suggests not only the loss of the past, but the fact that Juri saw
only in black and white, never in the greys that all humans operate
Her own image of Shiori was rose-tinted and about as far from the
one could get (let us not forget the way Juri steadfastly ignored
telling fit in the school courtyard while the entire student body
fascination). Forced to a precipice of realisation, Juri throws
the duel in
that moment, dropping her rose and standing alone.
We are then treated to a mixture of the speeches of the Shadow
and Ruka in reaction to the incident: they were previously discrete
left to be associated by the audience. Now it is obvious who was
spoken of. The Shadow Play Girls said he always wanted to give the
loved the power of miracles. He tells her not to worry. They say
to give her the power of miracles, wanted to set her free. In throwing
duel, the duel she fought for possession of the Rose Bride and the
take her miracle power, suggests she has let it go. The rain is
the upside down castle, providing tears for the stoic figure that
become, cleansing tears from a castle she does not even believe
comforts her: he did it all for her, leaving the hospital though
he knew he
would die for it (and this makes him the very definition of a chivalrous
prince). Juri seems to have accepted his final gift to her, and
in a way the
rain is like a cleansing. She is now able to see Ruka's actions
from a more
objective viewpoint, and the rain may indeed be the beginning of
forgiveness for him. Now freed from the need for a miracle — for
Shiori returning her love as a miracle — she sees she no longer
duel, and so she takes her own rose from her breast. What need does
to fight for miracles when she has been given one, and now realises
power of miracles is not in the receiving, but in the giving?
Curiously, we see the windshield wipers of the Akio Cars brushing
rain, Juri's "tears." Is it the brush-off of the now-useless
Juri, who sees
that miracles happen every day? She no longer has a use in this
It also possibly reflects Akio's own dismissive attitude towards
of Anthy breaking free of her own chains. Juri's "Prince"
released her, but
Akio is already undermining Utena's own desire to do the same for
Note too, Utena's uncomprehending "Why, sempai?" when
Juri throws the duel.
Utena doesn't seem to realise that while Ruka brought Juri to this
Juri was the one who had to accept the loss of her desire to have
she could never have, something she allowed to define herself. Juri
the hold Shiori held over her heart — illustrated earlier in "Unfulfilled
Juri" and "Thorns of Death" adequately enough — but
the important thing was
that *Juri was unable to imagine living without those bonds.* She
shake them aside herself — illustrated by the way she flung the
the lake, but it came right back and she couldn't do it twice —
when Ruka offered to do it for her (by crushing the locket under
his foot in
the salle) she couldn't let him. It had become a defining part of
and the loss for her was great despite the freedom offered. Utena's
incomprehension of the complexity of what Ruka did is tragically
the end of the series when she apologises in tears for letting Anthy
In light of what Ruka did for Juri, letting Anthy go was the best
Utena could have done for her. And yet even then, Utena does not
understand that you can always lead a horse to water, but you can
it drink. A prince can try to save a princess, but in the end even
princess must make the effort to save herself.
* Turn Out the Lights *
The light is turned off as we return to Utena again, who has by
to retire for the night (presumably after losing the "Othello"
miserably). She is silent for a long period, which is perhaps reminiscent
the fact that all nights before this she has had a nightly confession
sorts with Anthy. Has it already crept to a point where she cannot sleep
without it? Or is it guilt that Anthy refused to come and was left
Eventually she ceases staring at the ceiling, turning silently towards
audience and presumably towards her opponent in the "Othello"
* And to Return to Our Quiz. *
"Miracles happen every day. It's just that people don't realise
it." This is
the only time in the quiz show that Akio even begins to answer any
questions put to him. It's a direct reflection of Juri's earlier
and the lifting of her blinkers by Ruka's actions. Akio sums up
"rebirth" accurately in those two sentences and it is
with that we leave the
topic of miracles completely for the most convoluted and striking
the entire episode.
* No Free Lunch *
"Is it all right? Having fun until this late?" asks Utena,
and for the first
time we are beginning to see the sinister roots of what is growing
mind in regards to her "crusade" in acting as Anthy's
prince. She is
basically implying that she still wants to save Anthy (she seems
experiencing guilt over leaving Anthy home alone in the dark while
Akio go to the carnival) and she *does* have her own life. She seems
to cope with this guilt by bringing up the seemingly innocuous topic
*lunch*. Yes, Utena, who is lying on her back staring at the ceiling,
that she will have to make lunch when they get back, right away.
starts listing ingredients: salmon, asparagus, omelette, boiled
suggests they can use leftovers from dinner, make do. This whole
conversation reminds one of the rolls comment during the Kaoru flashback
the stew comments made about Ruka's motives and actions. But this
have a more sinister turn to it, as is soon seen.
She says there is enough for two: she's always trying to think
of Anthy, for
she has long since set herself up in her own mind as Himemiya's
she recognises she *only has enough for two*. She's going to make
sandwiches, with mayonnaise and egg, and she suddenly asks in despair
there anything else?" It's obvious she isn't sure what to do,
for she can
only provide so much. It's an early recognition of the fact that
eventually going to give in to the inevitable and think of herself
Anthy. (Akio's later accusation that Utena has been doing precisely
actually carries a lot less weight when one views this scene: Utena
change her priorities lightly, and in fact the flipping of her game
seemed to take place when she was looking away from the board entirely,
focusing on her opponent and not the game — i.e. Akio and not the
Utena is by now babbling about having run out of this and that,
talking about the fridge. The whole thing appears to be a forced
now from what is going on in the physical aspect of the scene. She
averted her eyes, and it seems to be a "see no evil" implication.
becoming more and more agitated, and before us we see a road passing
beneath everything. It is the road travelled by the Akio Car, and
written there over and over and over again? STOP. The Akio Car goes
people do not necessarily wish to understand — Akio has driven many
duellists (all, it seems, but Touga Kiryuu) to a place they do not
go. The Ends Of The World, the truth of everything. Utena is taken
to this place, seemingly against her will, and what is her reaction
"What is eternity?"
She looks directly towards the audience, and it is a chilling return
question of a child in an earlier episode: "Eternity couldn't
exist, could it?" Utena is childlike even as it becomes obvious
hand covering hers) that Akio has just seduced her, her journey
have been taken under the illusion that it was what she wanted.
moved from wanting to believe that eternity does not exist to begging
know what it means. We are finally seeing Utena's own motivations
wanting to go to the castle in the sky.she is slipping, not wanting
Anthy foremost. She is falling in love with her own prince, in the
that he can show her that there is something worth living for after
happy ending, just like in all *nice* fairytales.
* Full Circle *
The revolution of this episode brings us right back to where we
is the phone call of the beginning, restated, only this time we
confirmation that Anthy had been speaking to Akio for we see it
their viewpoints this time around. Akio tells her that it was good
suggesting that this entire incident was planned by Anthy, or at
implemented by her willing co-operation. At this point the motivations
behind such actions are unclear to the audience, but the last episodes
that by undermining Utena's need to behave as a prince, forcing
her into the
role of princess, was something Akio needed to achieve in order
her soul-sword and attempt to use it to breach the Rose Gate. Anthy's
reticence to speak, to look at real stars, suggest that she didn't
want things to happen this way. She will content herself with the
of Akio's false stars, false promises, but she seems well aware
of the truth
of the matter (as will be illustrated by her dramatic attempt to
herself from atop the academy in her nightgown towards the end of
series, later claiming she was motivated to do it because she "betrayed"
As Akio hangs up the car phone, dismissing his supposedly "willing"
accomplice, our attention is drawn to the passenger seat of his
vehicle. Utena is sleeping there, and when he reaches out a hand
her cheekbone, she awakens. Sleeping Beauty, perhaps, awakened by
prince? To draw this allusion is to understand the inversion of
in the series, becoming feminine princess instead of masculine prince.
whole incident has actually been like a dream to her, and she admits
saying "I never expected this to happen." She apparently
only came along
because Anthy refused, not wanting to disappoint Akio. "I only
today to deliver roses." Once again, the imagery of roses is
all-pervasive.and we are never told who the roses were for. They
delivered, and no more is mentioned of them again. Akio has already
take from Utena what he needs.
In the end, the *true* function of this episode is to mark the
Anthy's obvious betrayal of Utena in helping her brother create
a way of
taking her soul-sword from her for his own dark purposes. We will
Anthy's decision affects the way she looks at both herself and her
eventually, but for now her rebellion against this is minimal. Utena's
influence on Anthy's manner of thinking is yet to completely manifest.
from this, the episode also clearly illustrates the way Akio uses
duellists to his own ends (even though it is not yet apparent what
for Nanami, Touga and eventually Utena quite are), dismissing them
Revolution when he has taken from them all he can. In a way, Saionji,
Ruka and Juri have all been graduated as clearly as Mikage was in
"Qualifications of a Duellist." Yet they remain, for the
game is not yet
completed. This episode calls on the past to illustrate the beginning
Endgame, and with the initiation of a sexual relationship between
Utena the stakes have risen much higher than they were before. "The
Who Runs Through The Night" is an episode designed to comment
upon the past
and the future, and from the angle it provides, not even the present
very bright at all.
* End *
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