Monday, November 12, 2012
ANI-MOVIES, *Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie
Since the Utena anime TV series was such a phenomenon, there just had to be a movie of it too. Originally titled Adolescence Of Utena, this took the shojo-ai premise of the story to full blown yuri proportions. Unlike Cowboy Bebop, Naruto, DBZ, or Sailor Moon, this one is a total remake of the show instead of being a sequel/midquel/prequel. Similar to the Escaflowne movie, this film retells the original plot but in a "parallel universe" sort of way. BTW, I'd like to point out that not all remakes of an anime are parallel universe stories, like Tenchi Universe or El-Hazard: The Wanderers.
The movie sets out with the mysterious Utena Tenjou just arriving at the illustrious Ohtori Academy, the campus of which is designed like an M.C. Escher wetdream. She finds out that her ex-lover Touga is there, who is a member of the student council. Utena then recieves a signet ring from a glowing flower, which indicates that she is now one of the duelists for the hand of the Anthy, the Rose Bride and sister of the student chairman. Utena "wins" Anthy away from the lecherous Saionji in a match after releasing a soul-sword from Anthy's body. The two of them become increasingly close throughout the course of the movie, and way more intimate than they did in the TV series. Alot of hints involving the supporting characters come into play, but these are mostly only relevent if you've seen the original show. Utena is then challenged by the student duelist Juri, although she beats her after tapping into the spirit of Anthy's brother. It is suddenly revealed that the student chairman supposedly killed himself after thinking Anthy had died. Not only him but Touga has been dead since Utena was a child too. This leads to the conclusion that the world the academy lies in is an alternate one from the outside world. Utena decides to leave with Anthy, but is then turned into a car(sure, why not?)! The rest of the film deals with Anthy now driving the Autobot-Utena in a big Speed Racer-style chase where most the other students(dead or alive is unknown)take on the forms of black race cars and chase after them. Anthy is saved at the last second by the surviving members of the student council, but only to have to be attacked by Cinderella's castle on wheels. Anthy escapes the clutches of her brother(who might be Satan!), and she and Utena drive off totally naked into a desolate wasteland.
Okay, lemme first state that the movie sports some really keen animation, although not always in scope with theatrical quality, but a definate improvement from the TV series. At least there wasn't that redundant bit of Utena walking up the stairs to the castle that they used in every freakin' episode! However, trying to grasp the whole concept of this story is harder than trying to figure out the entire Evangelion series while watching it backwards and dropping acid at the same time(don't ask me how I know that). There are so many overlaying themes going on that it would take at least multiple screenings to even come close to understanding them all and how they might possibly all fit together. Utena and Anthy's relationship is amped up to being something more out of a hentai dojinshi than a plot for an official movie. The idea of the world where everything is happening is in itself like the land of the dead is done fairly well, but the rest of the premise for this is really hard to wrap your head around. I'd suggest that watching the entire TV series is a must before looking up the movie, otherwise you'll be really lost.