Summary "Once upon a time years and years ago, there was a little princess and she was very sad for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a travelling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. 'Little one,' he said, 'who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.' Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but so impressed was she by him that the princess vowed to become a prince herself one day. But was that really such a good idea?" Thus opens Revolutionary Girl Utena Searching for her prince, Utena Tenjou enters Ohtori Academy with the rose-signet ring her only clue. But Utena soon discovers that she is not the only one at the Acedemy with a rose-signet. At the acedemy, the rose-signet is a sign of the Duelist--those who battle for Possession of Anthy Himemiya, the Rose Bride, in order to obtain the power to reach eternity, obtain the power of miracles, and revolutionize the world. Utena's nobel character and desire to protect Anthy from being used as a pawn draw her into the duels, but she remains a part from the other dualists--all student council members--and their letters from the End of the World. But who is the prince from her childhood, and how does he relate to the duelists? Who is the Rose Bride and why does she consent to her role in the duels? And who or what is the End of the World that commands the duels? If Utena is to discover the truth about her childhood encounter, she must answer all these questions.
Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena is an excellent series. It is divided into three sagas, the first and third being far better than the second. The plot is original and complex, yet understandable. A few of the episodes are incredibly bizzarre seemingly just for the sake of being bizzarre, but they are amusing. The characterization in Utena is superb. While there is plenty of conflict, and characters that I like more than others, there are no true "bad guys." Most of the supporting characters are given an unusual depth. Each has his or her own reason to seek miracles. The reason that the second saga (episodes 13-26) is weaker than the first and third is that it, for the most part, lacks that characterization. The animation is unremarkable, and the series relies a little too heavily on stock footage. After seeing Utena climb the seeminly endless flight of stairs to the duelling arena, it is quite a relieve to see her get an elevator in the third saga.
Ratings: Characterization: 9 Plot: 9 Animation: 6
Things to note: Revolutionary Girl Utena is not for young children, although it is probably fine for junior high aged kids. The duels contain no actual bloodshed, although there are a few scenes of actual physical violence. There is lesbian innuendo, both with Utena and Anthy (who, as the Rose Bride becomes engaged to whomever wins the duels) whose relationship is always slightly unclear, and elsewhere in the series. There is also incestual relations, though nothing explicit is shown.