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> 'Internal Clock, Municipal Orrery' Explained

This essay is posted with the permission of Caleb, who, I dare say, has done a stunning job of explaining Seazer's seemingly random lyrics, and has, in the process, given new meaning to the climatic moments of show.

     Following is my interpretation of the final duel chorus. First I'd liked to thank Verthandi for the translation, though I have altered it in places. I'd also like to thank Gio, not only for hosting this essay, but for clearing up a misconception of mine that was preventing me from understanding Revolutionary Girl Utena and without which writing this essay would have been impossible.

     If at all possible watch the final duel while or after reading this essay, for the chorus can't really be separated from the duel. Often times the lines in the song directly correlate with what's happening on screen. I was continually amazed as I delved into this chorus at how subtly it tied in with the duel. Any thoughts or comments are welcome at caleb_david_!REMOVE!_@angelfire.com.

     NOTE ON TRANSLATION: Translating Japanese is rather subjective. Often times the lyrics are collections of impressions instead of phrases which are western ears are more accustomed to. For this interpretation I've often taken the individual elements and made a phrase. This is based on the impressions I get, not on my fanboy knowledge of Japanese. Those familiar with Verthandi's translation will also noted that I've reorganized the lines in places. Verthandi's translations (I believe) follow how the lyrics are written in the CD booklets and are also much better if you want to sing along in English. The purpose of this translation is to explain the meaning behind the song, thus my grouping and phrasing are designed to serve this purpose and will naturally be slightly different than Verthandi's.

'Internal Clock, Municipal Orrery' Explained

      Orrery is such an obscure term that I had to dig out the old Oxford dictionary to find the definition. "Clock of astronomy" sums it up pretty well. More specifically they're the old models of the solar system made in the 17th century that automate the orbits of the planets by means of clockwork gears.

     Clocks are a recurring metaphor for order in this song. Clock = order. A clock smoothly follows a predestined circular path over and over again (eternally). The observant will note the parallel to the orbits of the planets (which are a constant metaphor throughout the show). The orrery brings both the astrology and clock metaphor together. They belong together because both have been (and still are by some) thought to control destiny.

     In ancient times astrology was believed to tell how the clockwork movement of the heavens controlled human destiny. And until quantum physics it was accepted that God had made a Universe of perfectly ordered clockwork which, due to Newtonian physics, had all events preordained since day one. Both of these models are impersonal and don't allow for internal determination.

     Municipal means self governing, but in concert with the larger whole. This quote from Chiho Sato (Animerica Vol. 8 Issue 12) sums up municipality nicely, "So as a human being, I will do what I need to do to pursue happiness regardless of others restrictions..." however, "... I can't act as I want, because I have to communicate with other people and interact with society." So the title is about the finding ones internal self governing order. An apt title as the climax is Utena discovering her own internal self governing order instead of being governed by Akio's illusions.

An image of Death rocks my mind

     Preceding this line the projector shows us all the outlines from the hundred duelists. "Images of death." This is to remind us that the last game ended with duelists dying and foreshadow that Utena is in danger.

     Who is the "my" in these following lines? I'd attribute the first part of the song to the "old orrery"; the old order, though it could also be applied to Anthy. The projector is the symbol for the old orrery; it's a mechanism that automates the movements of the heavens, and we get a nice close up of it with this line. It also controls the movements of the duelists by luring them with projections of their desires. The old orrery can be thought of as the desires that keep people from growing up. The externally imposed myths of manipulative adults (Akio).

     Since Revolutionary Girl Utena is a retelling of the ancient story of the life, passion, death, and rebirth of the "prince" (a metaphor for God), Utena is to be ritually sacrificed in this duel (more on this below). In this line the old orrery affirms that it's time for Utena to die. This is also Anthy realizing that Utena's not likely to come out of this alive. However, Utena's not the only one who has death hovering over her.

     The old orrery itself "dies" in a sense (the projector is "destroyed" by the swords near the end). When all is said and done Utena and the other duelists are no longer controlled by the old orrery. Akio also "dies" in the sense that he ultimately loses this duel, control over the duelists, and the only person to him that matters (it's not improbable to think that losing Anthy would make Akio commit suicide. The movie tends to support this).

I pull the cord, toll the bells

     Where there's death, there are funeral bells. This is also a nod to the bells that normally toll at the beginning of the duels.

The cock beats its wings when the window opens

     But after death a new day always comes, and the rooster (cock) is the one who heralds it in. The cock also signals that its time to wake up. Time for everyone to wake up from their dreams and face reality, which is what Revolutionary Girl Utena is all about.

     Of course, the cock is a bird (the chick), one of those symbols that constantly is showing up throughout the show. This line evokes the chick flying free as the egg (castle/window) cracks (crumbles/opens).

     At first glance Seazer's songs seem quite random and insane, but there's an order to the madness. We had the progression from death, to a funeral, to the new day, and this line also provides the transition to line about the twelve disciples as it's a reference to the cock in the scriptures which Christ predicted would crow after Peter had denied him three times.

     Utena is devoted to Dios, (God) her prince, and tries to resists falling in love because she sees is as betraying her love for her prince. Thus the three big progressions in her relationship with Akio can be seen as three denials of Dios. #1 when she accepts Akio's kiss (Ep 30) #2 When she half-heartedly lets him fuck her in the hotel room (Ep 33) #3 When she full-heartedly has sex with him in the woods (Ep 36).

     In this episode Utena discovers that Akio is her prince, and yet she refuses him three times. #1 When he offers to live happily ever after with her for eternity in the castle she refuses by taking back her sword. #2 Akio asks for the sword again in the elevator, but she doesn't hand it over. #3 At the beginning of the duel Akio warns her that this isn't a play duel and gives her one more chance to "put up her sword", but she continues to fight.

     Most people would be quite proud at managing to slip so many layers of meaning into such a subtle transition line, but Seazer's not done yet. This line makes me think of the start of a cock fight, with cage doors being opened and the cocks showing off with wing beating before they charge into the ring. This metaphor goes even deeper as a cock fight works on another level as a very apt name to call the duels by. I mean, what would you call a fight that takes place in the head of a giant penis as beautiful bisexual combatants surrounded by erections attempt to deflower each other?

The twelve disciples are mere dolls;
Unblinking, a grand parade;
The old orrery (clock of astronomy): an automatic mechanism

     Twelve disciples is of course the disciples of Christ. Twelve is also a recurring number in this song, which just happens to coincide with the number of major players:

#1 Akio
#2 Anthy
#3 Utena
#4 Mikage
#5 Kozue
#6 Miki
#7 Shiori
#8 Ruka
#9 Juri
#10 Nanami
#11 Touga
#12 Saionji

     Twelve also just happens the be the number of bodies in an "old orrery":

#1 Earth
#2 Moon
#3 Sun
#4 Mercury
#5 Venus
#6 Mars
#7 Asteroid belt
#8 Jupiter
#9 Saturn
#10 Neptune
#11 Uranus
#12 Pluto

     "Unblinking, a grand parade" links the preceding and following line, as it applies to both. The disciple line is about the duelist who are dolls unblinking following the grand master plan, unblinkingly marching around and around the automated orbits that have been prepared for them.

     But is it right to lump Akio and Anthy in with the other duelists as "mere dolls?" Very much so. More than any of the other duelists, Akio is a slave to his desire. His desire for the power of God is at the heart of all his actions and thus controls him. And Anthy's memory of her love for God controls her and binds her to Akio. She even tells Utena that she's a "doll without a heart".

     Besides helping paint Utena as the sacrificial savior figure and fitting into the other Christian imagery in the song, the twelve disciples are a very apt metaphor as the characters are controlled by things like their admiration for God (Dios), desire for the power of God, wishing for miracles, or longing for eternity.

     Orrery is such an obscure term that they threw in the definition.

The twelve constellations of the ecliptic me:
The zodiac, I, the zodiac

     Once again the number twelve. As everyone knows there are twelve constellations that make up the zodiac of astrology, and the signs of the zodiac are said to control human fate. This line applies to Anthy as well as the old orrery/projector, and helps transition to the next stanza which will be from Anthy's viewpoint.

     Just as the zodiac controls the movement of the twelve constellations and the fates of those born under them so the projector controls the movements of the twelve characters with its projections of their desires. Anthy also embodies these desires, so she controls the cast in a similar manner. Thus they can both claim to be the zodiac that controls people.

     Note that the camera gives us a shot of Anthy as this line starts, and goes in for a close up when we reach "Ecliptic me", which is definitely about Anthy. The moon has long been associated with the goddess (Anthy), and is what causes eclipses by blocking the light. Just as Anthy is said to have sealed away the light of Dios. She's also going to attempt to snuff out Utena's light, just as she's helped bring down many other victors through out the ages. The old orrery also keeps people from growing up, blocking their light by keeping them trapped within their desire.

From within my body from olden times
A twelve tiered pagoda rises above
A visceral landscape; Utopia

     As mentioned above, these lines are from Anthy's perspective (they work for Utena also), and so the camera starts giving us lots of Anthy shots. This line is about how the duelists build there hopes for their ideal (utopian) future upon Anthy. The Sword of God which has the power to revolutionize the world and create Utopia literally rise from within Anthy's body.

      Once again the number twelve. Only one pagoda in Japan has twelve tiers, and that's the Emperor's pagoda.

      Utopia coming from within a body also brings to mind human sacrifice that was practiced in olden times ("from olden times" also means Anthy has been doing this for a long time). Humans were often sacrificed to the old gods because it was thought that the blood from within their body would bless the nation and bring about prosperity. So from Anthy's sacrifice to the Swords of Hate, Akio (the emperor of the pagoda) aims to achieve Utopia (recover the power of God).

      What's interesting is that when we look at the line from the perspective of human sacrifice these lines also apply to Utena (except for the olden time line, unless we look at Utena as symbolizing the archetype of the sacrificial "prince"). Utena's soul sword which can revolutionize the world and create Utopia rises from within her body too. The camera goes along with this, giving us a close up shot of Utena after the close ups of Anthy,

In a cemetery, a church, a cloister

     Now we come from the "olden times" to the beginning of this current game, the scene where Utena caught a glimpse of her Utopia. This line also brings the focus on Utena and the camera goes along, helping provide a transition into the next verse which is about Utena. This is also where Akio caught a glimpse of a specimen with noble enough motives that could produce a soul sword from within her body strong enough to bring about his Utopia.

Eye of Earth; motive specimen

     Akio asks Utena if she knows what she's doing to which she responds "Sure I do!" and then strikes her dramatic pose, making all eyes focus on her to see what her next critical move is, thus the "Eye of earth" line in the dramatic pause. "Motive specimen" line coincides with Utena's declaration that'll she become a prince. Utena herself is the "motive specimen," Akio's chosen specimen who's he's nurtured to have a noble enough motives to revolutionize the world.

Intellectual organ of stone; the sign of Motive Power

     Intellectual organ is the mind. Stone means the mind is set in stone, frozen in one thought; Be a Prince and save Himemiyia. A single unshakable thought that's set in stone is actually a very powerful thing, many people have overcome enormous odds by keeping one inspiring thought in their heads throughout an ordeal. Utena has resolved her conflicting desire of becoming a prince and reuniting with her prince, thus unleashing the "Motive Power" of a set in stone conviction. Because Utena's found her Motive Power all hell starts breaking loose; the stone statue of Dios explodes here because Akio no longer controls Utena through her memory of the Prince. The Akio cars that mark his territory also disappear as he's no longer in control.

Unfinished embryo The secret of death

     This line relates to the preceding in that it shows another reason why Akio's hold on Utena has broken and he's going to lose. Utena is an unfinished embryo in that she's not grown up yet, she's still a girl. The goal in Revolutionary Girl Utena is to grow up. And how does one do that? Through "death", or letting go of your imaginary world. Utena has let go of the false Prince of her memory and can now beat him.

     "Secret of death" has a long religious history. All the way back to primitive people we find the myth of the god who through dying is reborn. In Greece this took the form of the Elysian Mysteries where the initiate took place in a symbolic ritual death which was said to grant eternal life. We're most familiar with the Christian version where Christ states that those who would live must die. This is often taken as our death of our self or ego, our worldly nature. Another common motif of this is the Phoenix that is reborn from the ashes of its death (its not a coincidence that the Ohtori Academy is the Phoenix Academy). The secret of death is that through letting go of our selves we can find new life. All of the duelists experience this renewed life through the letting go of their personal worlds.

From the theatre, to the hospital, to the historical museum

     Utena is on Akio's stage right now. After word she's going to need to be hospitalized considering what Anthy is about to do. Then Utena will be regulated to history, becoming a legend. This is the process with all important things. Consider the city of Rome. It was once the main player on the international stage, but then it declined and was severely injured (in need of hospitalization). Now its little more than a big historical museum and a piece of ancient history to most of us.

Artificial flesh; grotto, labyrinth
Illusionary construction; marble
Artificial clock; weight, spring
Spinning and turning, individual time

     All three things here are basically the same things, symbols for the artificial illusions which trap people in a labyrinth that keeps them from growing up. As Verthandi points out the grotto is probably a reference to the cave where Christ was entombed, thus adding to the Christian imagery. So the artificial flesh is made up of an entombing labyrinth. The illusionary construction (the castle) is made up of marble. And the artificial clock operates by the impersonal mechanical functions of weight and spring.

     The artificial clock also is a symbol for the artificial externally imposed order, the old orrery. The external artificial order changes from time to time, morals and cultural beliefs are always "spinning and turning." But then we come to individual time. One's own order. Utena is no longer controlled by Akio's external order, but has found her own individual order. Note that at "spinning and turning" we have an intact shot of the castle, but when "individual time" comes up the castle starts to fall apart. That's because when someone finds there individual order they are no longer controlled by others myths. Individual time also brings us squarely back to Utena, which is good since the next lines are hers.

From the ancient city to me
It ends with that day; quotidian clock, the sun in daytime

     The me is Utena. Akio's games been played since the time of the ancient cities, but it's now going to end with Utena. The quotidian (everyday) clock is the old orrery, and we're treating to a prominent shot of the projector along with those words. And when they sing "the sun in daytime," the camera gives us a close up of Akio. Akio is the ascendant sun right now. But its going to end for the old orrery and him soon.

The moon at night; The natural clock of a day

     The coming of night signals the fall of the sun. Note at this line we get a picture of the Utena lunge. Just as the moon heralds the coming of night, Utena heralds the coming of Akio's fall, the setting of his sun. The natural clock is the one that dictates the inevitable rises and falls. Right at the end of "The moon at night" line we switch to a picture of Anthy. We have the moon/goddess connection as mentioned above, but this also indicates how Anthy will be bringing down Utena. Also, in the end Anthy also brings down her brother and the old orrery by choosing to leave. The natural clock line also provides for the transition to clock sounds.

Bong, bong, ding dong ding

     Here's the natural clock signaling that time is running out. For a lot of people actually; Utena, Akio, and the old orrery. You can see as Utena fights Akio that she's pushing him back from the light into the darkness.

The corporeal city and the mystery of the clock
Geometric law, puritanical construction

     Corporeal city is a metaphor for form, the clock a metaphor for order. Form is bounded by geometric law and order in cities, states, and civilization always starts bound by puritan morals. Utena herself is a pure and noble construct.

Monotonous is eternity;
The present; perpetuity

     These lines are Anthy's and Akio's POV I believe. I imagine these fairly cynical lines are going through Anthy's mind to prepare her for and justify her betrayal of Utena. The same monotonous patterns play themselves out again and again before these eternal gods. The present is just the same patterns perpetuating themselves.

The reality of all Creation is infinitely changing monotony

     Though creation and reality keep changing, the basic monotonous pattern of rise and fall keeps repeating. These set of lines probably are a reflection of the pessimistic and weary view of the world held by Anthy (and Akio).

I will take the form of a corporeal city
I shall take the form of a suspended clock

     This is Utena saying I will take my own form created by my own order as she defiantly stares Akio down.

Municipal clock, a discovery
Municipal clock, an understanding
Municipal clock... annihilation!

     Utena has discovered and understands her own self governing order which allows her to stand on her own. And then Anthy has to come along and mortally wound her, betraying her with a kiss just as Judas did to Christ. Of course, the prince has to get betrayed and "annihilated" towards the end.

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.
I considered making this a time gif that would occasionally flash Dios as having a ponytail. Then I got lazy.
I know this layout is sort of a spoiler, but so was the closing of the first season, so suck it.
This is far and away the most complex layout I have coded, and I know it does not look like it.
So are they waltzing or foxtrotting or what?
Because according to Ikuhara, if it were Akio, they would be doing the lambada.
These swords ended up looking like the crosses in Evangelion. I left it on purpose because hellz yeah.
I wanted this layout to look like a fairy tale. It ended up looking like a French textile exhibit. Oops.
Polly want some C4? Sorry, coding and Colbert do not mix.
It is March. It is snowing. It is Canada.
You know what is an awesome idea? Coding on your rag. That is smart.