Chapter 1

Shinohara Wakaba


The students of Ohtori Academy stirred to life to greet the day. Students rushed through the halls to get to class, or chatted about common interests in groups with their friends. As dawn ended, some students were still wearing sportswear from early morning sports practices.

One student dashed down the hall. She wore an Ohtori Academy girls' uniform - her high-cut skirt fluttered as she ran. She dodged between loudly laughing girls and clumps of boys. Her target was the girl in a boys' uniform who was headed towards Middle School 2nd Year, Class C - Tenjou Utena.

"U~tena! <3"

She threw herself forcefully onto Utena's back. It would have been enough to knock most people over, but Utena kept on her feet. She made a slightly sour face while she gave Wakaba a piggy-back ride.

"Morning, Wakaba. You seem lively as ever."

"Yep! <3 Thanks, Utena!" the girl – Shinohara Wakaba – replied happily from Utena’s back. This was their usual morning greeting.

“Hey, Utena, listen!” Still clinging to Utena's back, Wakaba began chattering at great speed. "Last night, my favorite compact broke, it was terrible! It was the one with the blue and gold eyeliner in it. It made me look so mature, I really liked it, it was such a shock! And to top it off, there was glass scattered all over my room, I cleaned it up but it seriously took all night... hey, are you listening, Utena?"

"Sure," Utena answered, half annoyed and half impressed by Wakaba's rapid-fire speech. "But before you keep going, do you mind getting off my back?"

"Aww, why? It's just a little 'skinship' between lovers. How about just a little longer?"

"Who are you calling lovers?"

"You and me, duh. <3"

Wakaba hugged Utena. Or, to be more accurate, she was latched on to her.

It had been about one month since that day - when Utena had taken Wakaba's love letter down from the hall, had her first duel, and become engaged to Anthy Himemiya. Wakaba had gone back to being her perfectly cheerful self, at least as far as Utena could tell. Maybe one month had been long enough to heal her broken heart.

For her part, Utena was finally recovering her balance from the disruption of her second duel. No new challenger had appeared since Miki. The members of the Student Council seemed to be lying low, and she'd returned to a peaceful daily routine.

"Oh yeah, and speaking of my compact breaking, it's because I was watching this drama last night, and it was so crazy! The tooootally beautiful but ordinary heroine got another new boyfriend, again! Talk about being fickle, geez!"

Wakaba hopped off Utena's back, but kept talking. She began to relate the entire plot of the drama in question.

"...but she didn't go to the meeting place at all! And in the window of the store... hey, Utena, didn't you see it? Everyone was watching it in my dorm."

"Nope. My dorm doesn't even have a TV."

Utena and Anthy lived in the East Dorm. People called it haunted, and it was indeed old, not the sort of place that would have a television.

"But aren't you bored in the evenings, without a TV?"

"Nah, not really. Anthy's there, too. We chat and drink tea and stuff. It's nice. Right, Anthy?"

"Yes, Utena-sama," Himemiya Anthy smiled back from Utena's side. It was the first time Wakaba had heard her speak today.

"You chat, huh...?" Wakaba eyed Anthy. They'd been in the same class since last year, but Wakaba had never seen her chat with anybody. Even recently, she only really talked to Utena - to anyone else, she would usually just smile and nod.

       I still think it'd be pretty boring to hang out with her...

Anthy didn't respond to Wakaba's impolite stare. Ordinarily, someone getting eyeballed like this would show some reaction, but...

"Yes, Wakaba-san?"

"No, nothing." Wakaba ended up being the one forced to avert her gaze. And feeling Anthy's eyes on her, she hurried to change the subject.

"Anyway, Utena. Did you do today's math homework? What with my compact breaking yesterday, I totally didn't have time to do it."

"Yeah, right. You had the time, you just didn't do it."

"Aww, don't be that way! A good boyfriend would be more sympathetic."

"I told you, I'm not your boyfriend, okay?"

At Utena's heartless response, Wakaba clapped her hands to her face and began to pretend she was crying.

"You're so cruel! And to think, I've changed my hairstyle, my lipstick, my hobbies, and my clothes, all to please you! But you..."

"...You're quoting the heroine from last night's drama, right? I get it." Utena gave a wry smile at Wakaba's heartfelt performance.

Seeing Utena smile, Wakaba began grinning again, too. Making Utena laugh always made her happy.

Anthy just watched the two of them, her own smile unchanged. She'd been smiling like that ever since Wakaba had launched herself onto Utena's back. It was the sort of smile that made her look like she was wearing a mask.

***   ***

"So Utena, about my compact. You wanna meet up after school tomorrow? I want to go buy a new one."

It was lunch break. While she spoke, Wakaba was busily picking the green peas out of her pilaf. She already had a small mountain of green piled at the side of her tray. Utena watched it grow, both surprised and impressed.

"Hey, Wakaba, you should eat your peas. They're good for you."

"No way," Wakaba replied without hesitation. Apparently, eating green peas wasn't even an option to her.

"Maybe you shouldn't have ordered pilaf, then."

"But they didn't have any green peas in the pilaf until last week! This is... it's... it's a conspiracy! Tyranny! Thievery!"

"Uh, I don't think you can really call it thievery." Utena seemed untroubled by Wakaba's passionate speech.

Wakaba didn't mind, though. Her mood soon lightened... although she continued her project of de-peaing her food... and she changed the subject.

"Anyway, how about we meet up after school day after tomorrow? Today you have that tennis match, and tomorrow is the soccer game, but you're free the day after that, right? The basketball game is next Monday, and so is helping out the Archery team..." Wakaba rattled off Utena's schedule. She was kind of proud of knowing it by heart.

"Yeah, that's fine. Day after tomorrow, after school, right?"

"But Utena-sama... day after tomorrow is..." Anthy suddenly spoke up. Utena and Wakaba both turned toward her in surprise. It was rare for her to say something of her own volition. There were many days where she didn't say anything at all, besides responding to Utena.

"Huh? Is something happening then?"

"Yes. You promised to buy Chu-Chu a new necktie..."

"Oh, right."

Come to think of it, Utena had... embarrassingly enough... lost to Chu-Chu at cards last night, and as a result had promised to do just that.

"Sorry, Wakaba! Is another day okay?"

"Awww!" Wakaba complained, clearly disappointed.

"Sorry, but I promised."


"I'm sorry, Wakaba-san."

"What're you apologizing for?"

"Yeah, Anthy. You don't have anything to be sorry about." 

Wakaba and Utena responded reproachfully and encouragingly, respectively.

"But Chu-Chu is my..."

"He's my friend too, Anthy."

"Yes, Utena-sama." Anthy raised her eyes at Utena's kind words.

To Wakaba, the two of them seemed almost like a pair of lovers. A gentle girlfriend and sympathetic boyfriend - that's the kind of strange atmosphere they gave off. It felt like there was no room for a third person to butt in.

"Hey, what about my shopping trip, Utena?" Wakaba sounded blatantly annoyed at the whole situation. She called herself Utena's best friend, but recently Utena had only been spending time with Anthy. It wasn't much fun.

"Oh, right. How about the next day... Thursday?"

"Okay, Thursday it is! It's settled, okay? We've gotta get matching compacts, see."

"Gah." Utena made a face at Wakaba's counter-proposal. "Uh, I think I'll pass. Compacts aren't exactly my style..."

"It's not a matter of style, it's a matter of basic female grooming! A middle school student must have at least one compact!"

"Is that right?"

"Yep. You've got to put on a bit of makeup before going out to meet a boy you like. That's just fundamental. Fun. da. men. tal."

"But there's not really anyone I like..." Utena said sullenly, shoveling potato into her mouth. However, the face of the Student Council President - Kiryuu Touga - leapt unwelcome to her mind. 

       Man, why am I thinking about him again...?

Although Touga had enthusiastically hit on her during the uproar surrounding her last duel, she hadn't seen him around lately. She hadn't heard anything about him being sick or injured... was he still coming to school...?

"What's up, Utena? You're quiet. Don't tell me you have a crush on someone after all!" Wakaba stopped separating her peas. She had a good intuition about this sort of thing. "That's no good! I'm already your lover! You're not allowed to start liking a boy!"

"C'mon now, Wakaba..."

"Nuh-uh, nuh-uh! You're my own personal prince! I don't like boys anymore either, so you're with me, okay? Okay?"

"What do you mean, don't like boys either? I like normal boys, you know." Utena could only smile wryly at Wakaba's words.

***   ***

Ohtori Academy's buildings were all designed in western styles.

School buildings with Gothic architecture. Greenhouses that looked like bird cages. An enormous arched front gate. The chairman's tower housed an observatory. Every structure could be mistaken for an art museum.

Only the kendo dojo, placed slightly apart from the main school buildings, gave an essentially Japanese impression. Of course, the wood used was of the highest quality, and it had been built by top-notch craftsmen. However, it didn't give off the same feeling of luxury as the other structures. On the contrary, it felt utilitarian. It stood as a calm monument to the good taste of its architects.

However, this serene dojo was currently filled with the excited shrieks of girls.

“Touga-sama, you're so dreamy!”

“Saionji-sama is so manly!”

“Eeeee, they're both so cool!”

“Look over here...!”

Female students were gathered outside the kendo dojo. Some were cheering, some were taking pictures, and some were simply waiting breathlessly. But all their eyes were locked on the figures of two boys, facing off in the center of the dojo.

Long hair. Tall. Finely-chiseled faces. There was no mistaking that both of these boys were gorgeous.

The refined-looking one with deep red hair was Kiryuu Touga. He was Ohtori Academy's Student Council President, as well as the Vice President of this Kendo Club.

The other boy, with the wavy green hair, was Saionji Kyouichi. He served as the Vice President of the Student Council, and President of the Kendo Club. Compared to Touga, he had a somewhat thicker figure. And unlike Touga, who was a well-known playboy, he had a reputation for being a stoic guy who didn't get close to girls.

"How many times does this make?" Touga asked, holding his practice sword, or 'shinai,' in a low stance.

"Who knows? I stopped counting after a hundred." Saionji didn't loosen his guard, either.

The two of them had had innumerable matches since they were young. Thus, to them, this was nothing special. To the girls outside, however, it was a huge event. Here were the pair of Touga and Saionji, the two princes who split the affections of the school's girls between them. Moreover, it was a kendo match between them. The excitement in the gallery rose to new heights as their wondered which of the boys would win.

In contrast, Touga and Saionji continued to speak casually.

“I hear you were hitting on Tenjou Utena.”

“Are you jealous? I thought you were more interested in the Rose Bride than in princes.”

“Don't mock me.” Looking irritated, Saionji shifted, raising his weapon above his head. It was a powerful stance – just seeing the strength Saionji displayed was enough to overwhelm an opponent.

“Heh... well, don't you look in good shape? Are you planning on trying again?”

“Naturally. That last duel was a mistake. I'm the only one fit to be engaged to the Rose Bride.” Saionji answered without hesitation. He showed not a hint of doubt in the truth of his words.

At that, the two of them began to circle each other. The shrill cheers of the assembled girls continued, surrounding the two contestants and urging the duel on.

Lovely, cheering voices.

A feeling of tension.

Their eyes on each other.

Saionji vs Touga

A connection between them.




All these things swirled through the dojo, clashing with each other.


As if to cut through all that, Saionji let out a battle cry. He brought down his shinai with all his might, in one swift motion. Touga brought his own shinai up as well – a clever strike aimed at Saionji's throat. It looked as if their blows would land at the same time.

Like the cries of wounded birds, the girls' voices swelled, and...

***   ***

Utena and Anthy, as well as Wakaba, passed outside the kendo dojo. They were headed toward the tennis court beyond it.

"What's going on?" Utena asked in bewilderment, seeing the flock of girls gathered outside it.

"I wonder?" Anthy tilted her head.

"I'll bet the President and Vice President are having a match," Wakaba answered instead. On top of every new fad, Wakaba knew all kinds of things. That made her an important source of information for the clueless Utena.

"The President and Vice President?"

"You know..." Wakaba responded, faltering just slightly. "Of, uh, the Student Council."

"Oh, Touga and Saionji?"

Hearing Utena mention Saionji's name, Wakaba turned her head away slightly.

       Man, I'm hopeless. Guess I still haven't gotten over him...

Wakaba wasn't strong or stoic enough to have completely forgotten the events of one month ago. Although she'd regained her energy, it remained a thorn nestled deep in her heart.

Utena didn't notice the change in Wakaba's demeanor.

"Oh yeah, those two are both in the Kendo Club. Who's better? Probably Saionji, since he's the club president, right?"

"I wonder?" Anthy looked impassive and disinterested as always. Utena, used to her behavior, continued casually staring towards the kendo dojo.

"Hey, Utena, let's get going. The tennis match is going to start."

"Oh, sure." At Wakaba's words, Utena started walking again, not looking particularly concerned. Of course, Anthy immediately followed her. However...

       I'm hopeless...

Only Wakaba lingered, staring at the kenjo hall. The hall that, until a month ago, she'd passed countless times...

***   ***

"And what's this?" Arisugawa Juri smiled, taking the ticket handed to her by Kaoru Miki. Normally quite stern, only her club members and other intimates saw the softer side of her.

"There's a concert coming up. I thought you might like to come."

As she listened, Juri ran her eyes across the ticket. Indeed, 'Piano - Kaoru Miki' was clearly printed there.

"Well, thank you. What a feat - holding a concert at thirteen."

"It's not that big a deal. I'm not the only performer or anything." Miki blushed slightly and averted his eyes. "It's a concert for young pianists. I've been invited before, but..."

"But this time, you decided to accept," Juri finished his thought. "Why all of a sudden?"

"...I just changed my mind, is all. There's no particular reason."

"I see." Juri didn't ask any further. She wasn't one to pry into other peoples' business.

The two of them walked towards the school gates together.

Ordinarily, they'd still have been at fencing practice, but today Juri had cut practice short, and invited Miki out... to review the new order of equipment for the club. She was businesslike through and through.

“Actually, Juri-sempai, I have a favor to ask you,” Miki spoke up, somewhat stiffly. In club and in the Student Council, Miki always called Juri “Juri-sempai.” But when the two of them were alone, he usually called her “Juri-san.”

When Miki had first entered the Fencing Club, Juri had been the one to teach him the basics. Back then, he'd liked to practice so hard it seemed like his body would break. He'd even asked Juri to coach him more strictly.

Juri, recognizing his natural talent, had obliged, and they'd begun training together both before school and after club practice. At some point during the course of that, Miki had begun calling her “san.” The fact that he still called her “sempai” in front of others just showed what a proper young man he was.

Anyway, hearing him call her “sempai” now made Juri worry slightly.

“Would you begin practicing with me, starting tomorrow morning? Practicing without a partner is...”

Just as she'd feared. Juri's expression clouded over.

“Don't you think you've been training a little too hard lately? I don't think your body can take it. You'll hurt yourself if you keep it up.”

Miki was silent. But his face clearly showed his disappointment.

“What's your hurry? This isn't like you. There's no need to push yourself this much, in piano or in fencing.”

“I want to get stronger.”


“To obtain what I desire... and to protect what I love, I've realized that I have to be stronger.”


“I'm sorry, forget I said anything. It was rude of me.”


Juri had an inkling of what Miki was talking about. She knew about his involvement with Touga, and with Utena. And she had her suspicions about what had happened in the Dueling Arena...

So she didn't inquire further. The hell with playing the role of the wise sempai or the gossipy girl. She knew that in the end, Miki would have to deal with his problems himself.

“I understand. Let's train together.”


“Yeah. But you're going to have to follow a training regimen of my creation. Is that alright?”

“Yes. Thank you, Juri-san.” Miki was smiling at last. His androgynous, youthful face beamed beautifully. He had a smile fit for an angel.

Juri returned his smile. She was glad to practice with him until he could resolve his own issues.

But just then...

“Hello, you two. You look like you're enjoying yourselves.”

Miki's smile froze at Touga's sudden appearance.

“Isn't it a little early for practice to be over...?” As he spoke, Touga's gaze trapped Miki like clamping jaws. Miki immediately looked away, as if fearing that something terrible would happen if their eyes met.

“Looks like an unusual day for you, too. How often do you wear that kendo uniform?” Juri stepped forward, as if to protect Miki from Touga's eyes.

“Well, as the club's Vice President, sometimes it's unavoidable.” Holding the skirt of his uniform like a ballerina, Touga jokingly showed it off. The bruise on his shoulder was clearly visible.

“You were up against Saionji?”

“Yes, indeed. Well-deduced.”

“Nobody else could leave you with a wound like that. He's certainly good at kendo... if nothing else.”

“How harsh. You shouldn't insult a man's best friend in front of him.”

Juri didn't react to Touga's latest jest. Nor did she seem likely to offer even an amiable smile. “And where has this best friend of yours gone? You were together, correct?”

“Well,” said Touga, shrugging off Juri's frigid gaze. “He wandered off somewhere, still in his uniform. I wonder where he's gotten to. He's always been a capricious one.”

As he spoke, Touga looked down the path, in the very direction that Juri and Miki were headed.

***   ***

“Utena, you were so amazing, as always! Takasaki competed nationally last year, you know!”

Wakaba was almost dancing around Utena. She looked much happier than the girl who'd actually won the match.

“Hey, Utena! I bet if you practiced hard, you could win the nationals yourself! No, better, you could become a pro and go to Wimbledon!”

“I don't think I'm quite that good.” Utena's match against Takasaki Kenichi of the Tennis Club had gone into a tie-break, and she'd managed to squeak out a narrow victory. It could easily have gone either way.

“Well, anyway, you remember we're going shopping on Thursday, right? So no promising to help out any teams then, okay?”

“Remember yourself! You're the one who signed me up for this tennis match, you know.”

“I was? Well, that's a minor detail.” Wakaba was cheery as ever. And although she was smiling wryly, Utena was enjoying herself as well.

Anthy, as usual, followed Utena silently. She had a faint smile on her lips, but it probably had nothing to do with Utena and Wakaba's back-and-forth.

Suddenly, a large shadow loomed before the three of them. A man in a kendo uniform – Saionji Kyouichi. He glowered sourly at Utena, then shifted his gaze to Anthy, who was standing behind her. A variety of expressions that Wakaba had never seen on him... sorrow, pain... flickered across his face.

“Anthy, you're still by Tenjou's side?” Saionji spoke rudely, but his voice held a hint of gentleness as well. “That's not the place for you.”

“Stop it, Saionji.” Utena stepped in front of Anthy, to protect her from him. “Our duel is over, okay? If you want Anthy back, feel free to challenge me again.”

“I was simply careless then. You haven't seen my true strength.” Saionji didn't sound like he was bluffing; his voice was filled with confidence. “Now, Anthy, come to me. On the day we were engaged, you swore to me. That you...”

“Dammit, Saionji, the duel...”

“Shut up! This is between me and Anthy.”

“Can't you see she doesn't like you? Anthy, tell Saionji you don't want to go with him!”

“That's ridiculous. Isn't that right, Anthy?”

“I...” Anthy spoke up softly from behind Utena. Saionji and Utena stared intently at her, while she gave a strangely out-of-place smile. “I do not want to go with you, Saionji-sempai.”

Hearing this, Saionji suddenly exploded in anger.

“Tenjou Utena! What are you making Anthy say!?”

“You don't get it! This is how Anthy feels now!”

“Shut up! The Rose Bride belongs to me!” Saionji tried to shove Utena aside, but she didn't fall over. She stood fast against Saionji, stopping him from approaching Anthy.

“We were engaged! I am Anthy's true...”

However, even a sports prodigy like Utena couldn't match a boy in raw power. Moreover, Saionji was a head taller than Utena, and a high-school kendo rank holder. It was only a matter of time before she couldn't hold him off any longer.

Wakaba looked on in a daze, watching Utena and Saionji struggle against each other.

***   ***

Wakaba had fallen in love with Saionji when she went to watch a kendo practice. A fan of his didn't have the courage to go by herself, so she'd invited Wakaba along.

However, when they tried to enter the kendo hall, Saionji had kicked them out.

“The dojo is a sacred place,” was all he said.

Wakaba had completely fallen for that cool attitude.

From then on, she'd kept her eye on him, and gone to his matches without fail. She treasured the photos that she secretly took during his fights, and tried any number of love charms. When her spells were ineffective, she was forced into more direct action.

She wrote him a love letter.

But that had ended in tragedy. He threw the letter away, and it had been tacked up in the hall, an object of ridicule.

Wakaba had cried that entire night, and afterward put Saionji entirely out of her mind.

That's what she'd intended to do, at least. However, watching Utena and Saionji grapple in front of her, Wakaba could hardly stay calm.

       Duel? The Rose Bride? Engaged? What are those two talking about? To Wakaba, who didn't know about the Dueling Game, their conversation was completely incomprehensible.

       What are you saying, Saionji-sama? I don't get it. I...

The same Saionji who had once tossed out her love letter was now fighting with Utena. And the reason for their conflict seemed to be Anthy.

The scene struck Wakaba as unbearably sad.

       Stop it, Saionji-sama. Why are you acting like this over Anthy? You're always so tough, and cool, and stoic... You're so cold to the girls who come to watch you fight. You don't even let them inside. That coolness is what's so great about you. That's why I started liking you... So why are you acting like this? Why? Why!?


The next thing she knew, Wakaba found herself slapping Saionji across the face.


Saionji, who had been focused entirely on Utena and Anthy, was stunned by this completely unexpected blow. He didn't recognize Wakaba at all. But this unknown girl had slapped his cheek, and her eyes were brimming over with tears. Obviously, he ceased his scuffle with Utena and stared at her.

“Stop it already!” Wakaba shouted. “Just stop it. Don't let me see you all miserable like this.”


“If the boy I fell in love with is this pathetic, doesn't that make me a pretty sorry person, too? So please, keep being cool!”

“Wakaba...” Utena spoke to her, comfortingly. But Wakaba didn't seem to hear her.

“If you rejected me, then okay, that can't be helped, but... at least don't destroy my memories! I want you to stay that strong, cold, cool Saionji-sama!”

Saionji had no idea what Wakaba was talking about. Still, he was overwhelmed by the force of her words.

“Right now, you're not even the tiniest bit cool! The Saionji I loved was more... more...”

“That's enough.” A strict, but also somehow kindly, voice stopped Wakaba's tirade.

“The Student Council...?”

Standing there were Juri and Miki. Of course, Juri had been the one to speak.

“Continuing is only going to hurt you more.” Juri's tone was kind, hiding only a trace of its usual leopard-like harshness.

“I... I...” Upset, Wakaba looked around. Utena was looking at her with concern. Anthy was gazing at her coolly.

And Saionji, his cheek swelling red, was starting at her, too, almost like she was some strange wild animal.

The whole situation suddenly struck Wakaba. Shame and regret came crashing down on her, and she could no longer stand still.

         ...I've got to get out of here.

That was the only thing going through her head at that moment. So she ran. Dropping her bag where she stood, she suddenly bolted.

“Wakaba!” Utena took off after her. She had no idea what to say to Wakaba... she just felt like first of all, she had to go find her.

Anthy didn't follow, or even react visibly. She simply silently picked up Wakaba and Utena's fallen bags. Neither Juri or Miki had any stake in the situation, or any reason to follow after a stranger.

Only Saionji hesitated. His red, burning cheek. The tear-filled eyes of the strange girl. Himself, who had been left behind. He couldn't grasp how they were all connected.

At last, even after Juri and the others had departed, Saionji stood, unable to either follow or leave.



Cover & Translation Notes
Chapter 1 * Chapter 2 * Chapter 3 * Chapter 4 * Chapter 5 * Chapter 6



Translated by Dallbun, coded by Giovanna, and hosted on Empty Movement.