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Character Analysis: Jury Arisugawa

When considering Jury's character, there's one little detail about her I try to keep in mind: Jury is a model. We learn this in episode 16, where she shows off a necklace given her by a jewelry company to thank her for modeling it. Despite some stereotypes, a good model is a good actor in the sense that she is able to put on whatever face, whatever posture is required of her, and also to convincingly change that demeanor every second if need be. A model's role is vested entirely in her appearance: without words, with only a pose and a facial expression, models are to tell a whole story, to make you believe in something or want something from them. If the model is showing off a fashion, it is she that makes us believe the object is glamorous because of her own compelling glamour; without her, it would be nothing more than another accessory. However, in reality, we have no idea what the model is thinking or feeling; it could be, "I wish this photographer would shut up," or, "I can't wait to get away from these hot lights," but she never betrays these feelings to her audience. Jury is a model, and she is all about appearances: her hair is perfect and controlled, as is her stance, her clothing, her walk. Without saying a word she can enter a room and awe the crowd with her beauty, or frighten them with a single icy glare. She can don a fencing uniform and a sharp stare and command the immediate respect of her teammates, or drape herself in a silky, ruffly robe and stun a companion with her startling femininity. Jury is so good at making people believe in the reality of her appearance that her elders fear her and her closest friends are often unaware of her true emotional state. Even as a viewer of Revolutionary Girl Utena, one finds it easy to be taken in by her appearance and believe she truly is the fearsome, imposing, predatory, and beautiful swordswoman she presents herself to be.

It's all right, It's okay,
if I freeze I can't decay
You touch, and I freeze,
there is ice where my heart should be
I'm a snowman
Cold is all I understand
I'm a snowman
If you can't hurt me, no one can

But we know better than that, don't we? Because behind the fencing mask, beneath the military-style uniform, inside a prettily ornate but cold metal pendant, Jury guards a broken heart she refuses to let mend. She burns sentimental meaning into objects and places, like her locket or the place where she and Ruka trained together, when real people or feelings fail her, so she can continue to hold onto certain feelings. She makes private displays of her romantic nature, dressing up glamourously to brood alone by the fountain late at night. In other words, she's a textbook broody romantic, joining the likes of Romeo and Silvius, putting all her energy into yearning most for what cannot be attained. For as long as she keeps it inside herself, she can enjoy the thrill and pain of love without the fear that someone might take that away from her–even if, ultimately, it might be for the better.

If we look at it another way and put her romanticism aside for a moment, Jury may also simply fear being vulnerable. Ever the fencer even out of uniform, Jury constantly remains "en garde," refusing to let anyone past her defenses, simply on the grounds that she does not want to appear weak or powerless. To paraphrase Akio, she has that "something inside she wants no one to touch"–so much so that being untouchable has transcended the importance of whatever it is inside she is trying to protect. If it is not her romantic nature or her love for Shiori, Jury herself may not even know what it is. All she knows is that to break her mask is to become vulnerable to both those whom she hates and whom she loves, and she prefers to endure the pain of remaining closed than risk the defeat that could come with showing her true face–even though that risk could also result in the reward of miracles.

However, as Jury spends so much energy protecting herself, the noble swordswoman does have protective feelings toward others. Those who have managed to worm their way past her armor have managed to see the softer side of Jury. True, still not her deepest, most loving side–but Jury does occasionally drop the Ice Queen act to show someone warmer beneath. Most often this is in front of Miki, whom she can relax enough around to tease and even be teased. She also eventually shows this friendly and more nurturing side of herself–call it the Sempai side–to Utena, when Jury later determines Utena's goals and motivations are honest. When she's actually not being an Ice Queen or brooding, Jury acts as the collective big sister to the campus–something definitely needed with all those naughty big brothers running around.

Go back to the Jury Character Summary to see what other analysis is available


Death Quaker's Realm All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard. Revolutionary Girl Utena and all related concepts belong to Chiho Saito, Be-Papas, Shogakukan, Shokaku, TV Tokyo
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