Saionji is handsome. In my opinion, more handsome than Touga. He is popular with the girls on campus. He is a talented fencer and captain of the kendo team at Ohtori. He is also vice-president of the Student Council. With all this going for him, why is Saionji murderously jealous of Utena and Touga? Does he really love Anthy as he claims, or is he using her as means to a greater end?
Saionji has more problems with his ego than just Utena. He was a close childhood friend of Touga's, but that friendship is strained to the breaking point during the series. Saionji is jealous of Touga. He hates Touga for being chivalrous, for always being the hero, and for always making Saionji come in second. Saionji's attraction to Anthy stems from the fact that he wants to be her prince, and to unleash the power of Dios and show her "something eternal." He is also jealous of Utena, because Utena turns out to be Anthy's prince.
If Saionji wants to be chivalrous, and Anthy's prince, he certainly doesn't know how to go about it. While they were engaged, he beat her and abused her. In contrast, he wrote romantic confessions of love in their exchange diary. Saionji was taking a few steps in the right direction, but his need to possess the Rose Bride outweighed his afterthoughts of being affectionate towards her.
Later in the series, Saionji reveals a repressed, softer side. After flying into a violent rage against Utena and Touga causes Saionji to be expelled, he rooms with Wakaba and becomes enamored of her. Or at least seems to. He puts great effort into making a leaf pin for her hair (how romantic!), but ends up giving it to Anthy instead. This is because Mikage offers to give Saionji re-admittance to Ohtori, provided he dumps Wakaba and continues to fight for Anthy. Saionji, of course, gives in to Mikage's demands, completely crushing Wakaba's feelings. So, who's the real jerk here - Saionji, Mikage, or both?
As the series progresses, Saionji attempts to break free of the Rose Seal. He begins to realize that the Ends of the World have been manipulating himself and the other Duelists, and resents the fact that he has been used as a puppet. Despite these misgivings, Saionji allows Touga to talk him into another duel with Utena. And, of course, he loses. Who didn't see that one coming?
In the manga, Saionji is essentially the same character, but he has a different role to play in the story. Some aspects of Saionji are the same - He is still challenged and defeated by Utena in the first volume, and he still attempts to kill her at one point. However, after the first volume of the manga, Saionji is used primarily for comic relief. No longer a serious threat to any other character, Saionji's arrogance and moodiness are exploited for comic purposes. He seems to fulfill the role that Nanami plays in the anime. For some reason, Saionji keeps getting involved in these weird short stories centering around Chu-Chu. One such story is "The Curry Transformation", which was made into an episode of the anime.
Despite the exceptions, Saionji's personality remains controlling, aggressive, and moody. Underneath all that, however, is a gentler man who just wants a chance to be the handsome prince for once. It's too bad that even though Saionji gets his chances - with Anthy, and with Wakaba - he can never overcome his own faults enought to become the prince he wants to be.
Search for Eternity