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Gio's Note: The Central Park Media release of the last DVD (no longer available) included audio commentaries of the episodes by Ikuhara and Saito together. This is episode 39, lovingly transcribed by In the Rose Garden's very own admin, satyreyes!

Ikuhara & Saito Audio Commentary: Episode 39

Someday, Shine With Me

Interviewed by Hideki Mori, Translation by Mayumi Kobayashi, Subtitles by Justin Sevakis

HM: We've finally come to the last episode. How were you planning to bring closure to this story and what were your intentions in doing this last episode?

KI: I don't remember. (laughter)

HM: Were you thinking about surprising the viewers?

KI: I was. What comes to mind is... you know the visuals that get shown during the opening? The visuals shown during the opening theme song? More than likely, in the case of Japanese animation, they follow a formula ["jouseki"] for that. There's a movie called Jouseki -- no, I mean, it's a word in Japanese. In English... I wonder what it translates to in English.

HM: You mean a standardized pattern?

KI: Standard! A standardized pattern. And what that is, is... usually the visual shown while the opening theme song is playing is that anime's... how do I say this? The end? It's common practice to show what's going to happen at the end. Examples are "Something's going to reveal itself at the end!" or "A fearsome enemy at the end!" or "Something's going to happen!" They express those things in the opening and usually, they're images from the final scene of the anime. This anime is no exception. There's this visual where at the end Utena and Anthy go to the castle, which expresses something great is going to happen!

CS: And the castle turns to ruin?

KI: And then the castle turns to ruin! In the beginning I really was planning to do that. (laughs) I was thinking about doing that but as I was making it, I changed my mind. I thought it wouldn't be interesting if I did that.

CS: Weren't they wearing armor in the opening?

KI: Yes, I was really planning to make them wear that! I really like it. (laughter) That armor was so cool.

CS: It is. Even though it didn't get used.

KI: No, it did. That's why I used it for an insert sleeve.

CS: Did you really?

KI: Yes. I used it for an insert sleeve for the DVD. I'm pretty positive the insert sleeve for this DVD uses the armor artwork.

CS: Oh, really?

KI: Yes.

CS: So the castle turns to ruin, and what were you saying last?

KI: At the end the castle would turn into ruin and Anthy would disappear.

CS: It was? Oh, right. She was going to end up by herself.

KI: At the end they let go of their hands and Anthy was going to disappear. That was the original plan, but I reversed that at the end. I thought it'd be more interesting if Utena disappeared.

CS: That's the surprise?

KI: I figured the viewers would predict that Anthy would disappear as they were watching it, but I thought there wouldn't be too many people who'd guess that Utena would disappear.

CS: Well, she is the main character.

KI: Exactly. So what I do is, uh... I can't say this in Japan, but... (laughter) I'm thinking about the surprises first. Like, "Didn't expect that, did you?" "Where's the logic in that?"

CS: But Utena supposedly wins, and -- we planned that Utena wins, right?

KI: She wins? She's losing rather than winning in the last episode.

CS: She's losing, but...

KI: In a sense she wins by opening up Anthy's heart. (pause)

CS: In Japan the last episode was aired on Christmas.

KI: Yes, it was Christmas.

CS: We all got together and watched the last episode. I received a bouquet of roses and things...

KI: I was so let down when the last episode was aired.

CS: You were?

KI: I was. Because...

CS: Why? But there was so much detail and the art was beautiful...

KI: The art was detailed, but, I wonder which part it was... after the story and the ending credits finish scrolling there's a shot of a picture of Utena and Anthy. That picture is shown in a way where you wonder if that's a scene from maybe ten years later. Then a commercial was supposed to come on, and it was supposed to signify that it was over. That was what I'd planned. I was watching the show as it was getting aired and the picture came on. I was like, "It's over!", but then a commercial for the Utena game came on! [Transcriber's note: he's probably talking about "Itsuka Kakumei Sareru Monogatari" for the Sega Saturn.] You couldn't tell when the anime actually ended! (laughter) Utena's face just popped back on! After watching it for a while it said, "Utena the Video Game, On Sale Now!" I was like, "When did the anime end and when did the commercial start?" The end sequence is completely ruined!

CS: Basically you wanted it to be this mesmeric scene, but it ended up getting ruined by commercialism.

KI (laughing): I couldn't tell when it ended! If I can't tell when it ended -- and I'm the one who made it! How are the viewers going to be able to tell?

CS: Really? I was able to tell.

KI: I was so shocked when it happened.

CS: The viewers see the commercial every time they watch it, so it's okay. I'm sure they were able to tell.

KI: No, that's not the point. At the time I was so furious at the producer at the advertising agency.

CS: You were?

KI: I hunted him down, gave him a piece of my mind and I said, "What the hell were you thinking?"

HM: You can't count on the commercials, really.

KI: He said, "Oh right, that did happen." That pissed me off even more. (laughter) Then he continued, "I guess we should have changed it." I was thinking, "If you noticed you should have changed it!"

CS: We put in a lot of love in creating this.

KI: I was in complete shock.

CS: I can't blame you.

HM: When did the plans to do a full-length movie come up?

KI: I think the idea was getting tossed around about doing a movie around this time.

HM: What kind of parallels and changes were you going to make in the full-length movie version?

KI: I wasn't thinking about it at all.

CS: (laughs)

KI: I think we made the announcement in a magazine, right after the TV series was over.

CS: I think that's what it was.

KI: I vaguely remember the day after the TV series was over, we announced that we're going to be doing a movie in a magazine.

CS: Yes. Then we all got together to discuss the project and none of us could come up with anything. (laughs) So we ended up eating tonkatsu and kept saying, "What should we do?"

KI: Really?

CS: I think that was when the car idea came up.

KI: No, we weren't discussing anything like that at that point.

CS: Really? The idea about the car came up fairly early. Mr. Ikuhara was like, "Heh heh heh." He was giggling to himself and he said, "I just got a great idea."

KI: No, that didn't come until way later. It took a while until the car idea came up.

CS: Are you sure?

KI: That took a while --

CS: Did it?

KI: -- for the car idea to come up.

HM: We get a lot of questions about this, but what's the meaning of the car at the end? What is the symbolism? Several people asked me to ask you about it.

KI: Are you talking about the movie?

HM: Yes.

KI: Simple. I wanted a car. That's it. (laughter)

HM: Is there any symbolism behind it?

KI: You know how boys name their new cars with a girl's name?

CS (laughing): They do? Is that what they do?

KI: What do Americans name their new cars? Something like Linda?

HM: I think that depends on the person...

KI: What else? Christy, maybe?

HM: I named my car Sven back in the day.

KI: Sven? Why'd you name it Sven?

HM: I owned a Volvo from Sweden... no, a Saab. That's why I named it Sven, after a Swedish name.

KI: Didn't you consider the car as your girlfriend?

HM: No, Sven's a guy. (laughter)

KI: Why? You enjoy riding a guy?

HM: At the time I named my car Sven...

CS: (laughing throughout)

KI: Are you gay?

HM: No, I'm not.

KI: Being gay is fine.

HM: Well, I have a wife, so...

KI: Well, there's the possibility that you might go both ways... and why are we going this route? (laughter)

CS: So?

HM: So how did you get this car idea?

KI: In my case, I name my car after girls' names.

CS: You do?

KI: Like Christina.

CS: Then did that red car you owned in Los Angeles have a name?

KI: It did.

CS: What did you name it? Linda?

KI: Christina.

CS: Christina?

KI: No, I don't remember.

CS: Did you seriously call it Christina?

KI: No, no! I wonder what I named it. Um... What did I name it? I named it... I don't think I named it.

CS: You didn't? You're such a liar! (laughter)

KI: You understand why you'd name your car, right?

HM: I understand.

KI: People usually name their cars.

CS: Do they? Fine, then. So?

KI: So... well... when Utena turns into a car, don't you feel like you want to own that car?

HM: The fans?

KI: No, me! What's important is that I want that car. I'm the one that's making it!

CS: So you want to ride that pink car that's named Utena?

KI: Yes.

HM: So you had your heart set on bringing that in at the end.

KI: I did. (laughter)

KI: Why do you look speechless?

CS: And so Anthy rides it?

KI: Yes. Because at that point the two were like "Go Love!"

CS: They were?

KI: Isn't that how they were in the movie?

CS: When I saw the last scene of the movie I was quite speechless.

HM: You were trying to express that riding they became one. Is that the symbolism?

KI: Yeah, I guess. I really don't remember.

CS: Anyway, in Utena, wasn't there always supposed to be an important meaning behind riding a car? Maybe the desire to become one with power was very strong?

KI: I wonder what it was... I don't remember. Hmm... I wonder what it was. ... Oh! I just remembered the name of my car! Rachael! (laughter)

CS: Really?

KI: No, she's the voice actress for Utena!

HM: The show has been adapted into a theater piece and a musical.

KI: Yes, it has. It's been adapted to theater twice.

HM: I'm not too familiar with it.

KI: I think they had a difficult time with it because the animation is already like a theater piece. I think it's really difficult to bring that back into theater.

HM: Ms. Saito, have you seen it?

CS: Yes, it was a lot of fun. A couple of Takarazuka members were in it.

KI: Oh, that's right. A couple of the Takarazuka members were cast. They were great. Akio was great.

CS: Yes, she was great!

HM: Was the world of Utena recreated faithfully?

CS: Not exactly! (laughs)

KI: You can't recreate a world like this faithfully! It's not that you can't, but... it's that the animation itself is theatric. We express a lot of things in a more theatrical manner. How do I say this? When you bring that on stage, it looks extremely cheesy. It's impossible for it to outdo the anime. Normally the stage is an imaginary world, but in this case, the anime has done the imagining already. So on stage it rather looks... how do I say this?... Even though they try to do it with their imagination, it looks inferior compared to the anime, to me. A theater piece just can't help but compete against the anime. A theater piece and a TV drama series have their different -- what do you call it? -- the two genres have their different creative direction, so it doesn't matter too much if they differ slightly in the imagery. It's kind of passed off as it being a theater piece, but in Utena's case I don't think they were as forgiving. Well, that has nothing to do with me, so I just sit back and enjoy it!

CS: Chu Chu was so big! (giggles) They have a gigantic Chu Chu!

KI: Yeah, in the first show they did that.

CS [over Akio sipping a drink]: That was mind-boggling. ... Chu Chu is so cute in this episode.

KI [apparently talking about Akio]: He's drinking juice. This is funny. The slurping sound effect is in there, too.

CS: The slurping sound effect ["chuuu"] was very important, right?

KI: Yes, yes, yes. I just remembered. I was being very particular about the slurping sound effect, where he's sucking the straw.

CS: Really? Why is that?

KI: Because I thought it'd be funny. (laughter)

CS: Is that why? You were aiming for this part to be funny?

KI: I was...

CS: This is such a serious part and he's drinking his juice, making the slurping noises.

KI: Him drinking the juice means he's sucking Anthy and Utena's life force. It's symbolism.

CS: Is that it? That's what it means?

KI: Yes.

CS (laughing): I had no idea.

KI: You couldn't tell?

CS: I had no idea!

KI: But it's so obvious!

CS: You think?

KI: It is.

CS: I've seen the last episode a couple of times but I had no idea.

KI: He's not just lounging around!

CS: I was thinking today what a horrible person he is after seeing this slurping part. So that's what it meant.

KI: Yes, that's the meaning behind it.

CS: So him enjoying his drink and slurping it was important?

KI: Yes.

HM: Are you very keen about the spatial grandness?

KI: Spatial grandness?

HM: I mean, you have scenes that show space and an observatory. You seem to mind the atmosphere above and I get this sense that you want to portray the spatial grandness.

CS: Mr. Ikuhara likes to be on top.

KI: Likes to be on top? (laughter)

CS: A while back when we went to dinner together, he really liked this restaurant at the top of this building and he got reservations there. He told me that he really liked being high above where he's able to see the nightly view. I think that's what's being reflected here. I think that also reflects your desire to be successful.

KI: I don't know. I think I was poor back then.

CS: True.

KI: True?! (laughter)

CS: I gave Mr. Ikuhara my TV the other day. Aren't I nice? Mr. Ikuhara kept saying he didn't have a TV so I offered to give him a TV from my house.

KI: If someone who doesn't know me heard that, they'd think that I'm in desperate need of money.

CS (laughing): That's true, but you were successful, so it's OK.

KI: That's right, I was successful.

CS: The TV I gave you is a really nice TV. (laughter) Please enjoy it.

KI: Yes. I'll finally be able to watch TV.

HM: This DVD will be released in the United States, and... do you hae the foreign audience in mind when you are creating a series?

KI: No, I wasn't thinking about it at all for this.

HM: I ask because Sailor Moon was so popular overseas.

KI: I may have a little bit, in the initial planning... I might have in the beginning. Maybe the reason why i was against her using a gun is because I had that at the back of my mind somewhere.

CS: Is the reason why Anthy's skin color is darker because you were thinking about the overseas audience?

KI: No, I really wasn't thinking that. I didn't put much though into it.

CS: Did you do it because you thought it'd be cool ["suteki"]?

KI: Cool, yes. I just did it because I thought it'd be cool.

CS: Cool as in cool when yo usee someone with a beauty mark on the center of their forehead?

KI: I saw it in your manga first.

CS: That's right! Thank you.

KI: Characters similar to Anthy appear in a couple of Ms. Saito's manga. I thought they were cool.

CS: Thank you very much. (pause, as Anthy reaches out and briefly takes Utena's hand)

CS: Aa, ma...

KI: What?

CS: I was being sympathetic ["kawai sou"] towards her.

KI: It's really been a while since I've seen this.

CS: When I went to go see the last dubbing session... in Japan it's Ms. Tomoko Kawakami who does the voice. She was crying while she was doing it.

KI: Really? I don't remember that at all!

CS: You don't? You're so horrible. I was so touched when I saw that.

KI: That happened?

CS: Yes.

KI: You saw the dubbing session for the last episode?

CS: I think so. Maybe I'm wrong. Oh, it might have been for the movie.

KI: You might have gone to see it because it was the last recording.

CS: I'm not sure.

KI: That might have happened. ... Most of the time the visuals weren't even there for the TV dubbing sessions because we didn't finish on time. I told them on a number of occasions to dub the voices without the visuals.

HM: How do you choose your voice actors and actresses?

KI: They have to audition. We held an audition for this show, too.

HM: Did you have an idea of the type of voice you wanted for each character?

KI: No, I didn't have anything precisely in mind.

HM: So you'd listen to their voices?

KI: Yes.

HM: And are you like, she's the one?

KI: Once the main character's voice is decided, I think, if she's the main character, the other characters would sound something like this. Until the main character's voice is decided I can't really envision the other characters. It's very rare for me to start from the other characters.

CS: You make the decisions without looking at their faces, right?

KI: Usually, yes.

CS: Is that because your decision will get hampered if you see their face?

KI: Not really.

CS (laughing): Really?

KI: Everyone is pretty... the men are very refined-looking.

CS: What? What do you mean, refined-looking men? (laughter)

KI: I thought it'd be weird to call the men pretty. ... [over a playful sports scene from post-apocalypse Ohtori] I wonder who this volleyball teacher is.

CS: Huh? What?

KI: Nothing. Oh, that's right!

CS: What is it?

KI: Wasn't there some meaning to that volleyball teacher?

CS: What volleyball teacher?

KI: There was a volleyball teacher that was on for a split second. A man holding a volleyball...

CS: Oh.

KI: Was that the teacher that Tsuwabuki or someone was chasing around? Or was it the teacher that liked Tsuwabuki?

CS: Oh, there was!

KI: That part is barely expressed in the show. (laughter) You only see his back the entire time and only for a split second. People who know will know. And this is where he's finally on screen.

CS: Is that what this is?

KI: Yes. It's to show we were playing around with jokes all the way until the very last important scene.

CS: Really?

KI: Yes. I think that's what it was.

CS: Really? I had no idea you did that.

KI: Yes, yes, yes.

CS: Why does Miki carry around a stopwatch?

KI: He's counting the seconds of the previous person's lines.

CS: Oh, I see. Is this some sort of touch as a director?

KI: I wonder.

CS: Isn't it?

KI: When I always measure people's lines I measure using seconds. I thought he'd do the same, too. That's why I did that.

CS: Is Miki going to become a director?

KI: I don't know about that. (giggling)

CS [as Wakaba gets glomped]: It's going to end...

HM: There was a scene earlier where they made tea using a Japanese teapot. There'd be these Asian themes thrown in sporadically. Did you think it'd be more interesting if you put that in?

KI: Probably so.

HM: Because there was a Japanese collapsible dining table somewhere.

KI: That's the storyboarder's taste. Oh, but the collapsible dining table might have been in the script.

CS: Chu Chu is so cute here. [i.e. sitting on Akio's desk facing away from his laptop]

KI: He's cute, isn't he?

CS: I rewound this part and watched it over and over.

KI: You rewound it and watched it?

CS: Just this end part --

KI: The part where he pulls it out? This part where he pulls his tie out?

CS: Yes. The part with the frog that's at the end is so...

KI: Makes you teary-eyed, doesn't it? (laughter) And what's the point of getting teary-eyed there?

CS: This room [the planetarium] is so big!

KI: It is big. I think my desire to live in a big room is getting reflected here too.

CS (laughting): It's too big. ... You can't do without a car here.

HM: You also see these bells a lot. Is there any kind of symbolism here?

KI: The bells? It's the bells of Notre Dame.

CS: (laughs)

KI: This thing! The frog. He was also Chu Chu's rival. But who's gonna remember that? (laughter) That frog comes on twice or so and he pops up at the very end suddenly!

CS: The furoshiki [Chu Chu's cloth sack] is a part of Japanese culture. When you leave the house you always wrap your things in a furoshiki.

KI: Yes. Back in the day in Japan, there used to be this common practice where you would disappear into the night when you couldn't pay your debts back. When you were going to run off, you'd always wrap your household items that you wanted to take with you in a furoshiki, hoist it onto your back and run. That was the tradition. What kind of tradition is that?!

HM: There was even a movie called Yonigeya Honpo (Flight by Night) about it in Japan. I think it's still around.

CS: I missed my name [in the credits]!

KI: You did?

CS: I always look at that part in awe.

KI: Really? You've seen this that many times?

CS: Yes. I've especially seen the end part where my name comes up after Chu Chu, over and over.

KI [talking about Rose Release]: The last scene... notice how it's a scat version only for the last episode?

CS: Yes.

KI: I reallly wanted to do it like this so I asked them to record it. The reason why I did that is because when this series was first starting, I listened to the demo tape and it was a scat version. That left a really strong impression on me. That's why I wanted to end this with the initial impression that I had of Utena. That's why I asked them to do an official recording of it. ... Did my name come up? It didn't come up! Where's my name?! (laughter)

CS: Yours is at the beginning, I think.

KI: Really? ... That's the picture. Thank you, everyone. I'm Ikuhara.

CS: Thank you very much. I'm Chiho Saito.

HM: Thank you very much. I'm Mori.

Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena) is © Kunihiko Ikuhara, Chiho Saito, Shogakukan and bePapas/TV Tokyo and/or their respective copyright holders. The US release of the Revolutionary Girl Utena series and movie was © Central Park Media and now belongs to Right Stuf. The US release of the Utena manga is © VIZ. The various sources used in this site are noted where their content is presented. Don't sue us, seriously. Blood. Stone.