It's my favorite anime for making extremely good use of its medium. Really liked how into 70s avant garde theater Ikuni was, I've rarely seen a show work with its budget so well. The final episode and Utenas Mishima-esque nihilistic choice was really great, I had just read Runaway Horses and it reminded me of it in a symbolic way.
It's also pretty confrontational towards Japanese society, but Penguindrum topped it there really hard.
I kinda struggled to stay engaged with it until it hit the final arc, but it did always feel like there was a lot of care and effort put into it. It's hard to care about these characters since I think the commentary surrounding them is a lot more interesting than just watching them on screen.
>>137136918 It was just about identity and personal truths and delusions and how the line between the latter two can be blurry. Utena was lead to believe she was delusional, but in spite of that stuck to her ideals and was able to escape Akios manipulative grasp.
The academy wasnt purgatory per se, moee like an adolescent hellscape constructed by Akio, who had no real idea what it meant to be an adult. Thats what "graduating" is. I.e. the boy utena dude from black rose arc and utena/anthy themselves.
Its a more universal message about conviction and self, and can be construed as corny in a certain light, but the context of its execution makes it more remarkable, and in a place as conformist as Japan it was really harsh.
Watch Penguindrum next. But first read After the Quake (about the 1995 subway gas attacks), Superfrog Saves Tokyo and Night On the Galactic Railroad if you want it to be cooler.
>>137136918 I'd say the main message of Utena is "You can rescue someone but you can't save them". What this means is that while you can destroy the physical chanes that bind a slave there is still the mentality of a slave that binds him and that isn't something anyone can destroy accept for that person themselves. That's how Anthy is. Utena constantly fights for her and tells her she wants her to be free acting like a prince. But for Anthy by saving her she just becomes that person's property, she doesn't became free because she doesn't know how.
In the end Utena realizes this, it's not that she can't be a prince because she's too weak or because she's a girl. It's because princes don't exist, it's idealism. She does the only thing she can, she decides to not just phisically rescue Anthy. She decides to inspire her and show her one can be free and leaves the academy. But since it's up to Anthy to become free, she has to make the steps herself.
>>137136918 It's about truth and lies/illusions. Every character was pretty much lying to themselves the entire show. The whole student council would be happier if they knew or could be honest about what they really wanted. The people in the Black Rose arc couldn't find a true path to their goals and got misled. Hell Anthy knowing lies to herself about her brother the whole time because she's noe dependent on him. Utena had in a sense been living a lie because she originally was only a prince because that's what she felt it would take to meet her prince, not out of nobility like a true prince should be.
It's also about ideals and reality. Broadly it's about how there's no perfect prince, but there's always a true prinxe inside.
Also guys what the hell did Akio even plan to do after getting his powers back?
>>137139772 Princes aren't that great though. They're fairy tales, existing in a world where girls have to be princesses otherwise they become witches. The whole problem arose in the first place because Dios got everyone used to him solving their problems for them until he collapsed.
Princes are a false ideal in the end. Utena didn't succeeed because she became an ideal prince, there were other who played the game before her and failed too. She got through because she reached out to Anthy as a person but it was Anthy who had to get herself up in the end. Gotta leave that mindset behind to grow up.
>>137139772 You're wrong, what you're speaking of is not a prince. At least not a prince in the way the show presents, the type of prince Utena thinks she wants to be. She realizes this is a false ideal hence her line: "I guess, in the end, I couldn't be a prince. Forgive me, Anthy, for pretending to be a prince."
In Utena the fall of idealism is an important theme, but doesn't decent into nihilism.
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