Anime

DVD Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena Volume 3

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena

The Apocalypse Saga

Right Stuf / Nozomi

 

 

 

Utena fights in the hope of finding something ‘eternal.’  She had one fleeting moment of perfect happiness in her life, and now believes that that eternal thing can make the happiness she once felt last forever.  But that happiness is long gone.  To have eternity now would only mean that the sadness she feels at this moment would be unending, because eternity never changes.  If she wishes to find happiness again, she must embrace change; embrace revolution.

Anthy is someone who has attained eternity, and now suffers perpetual torment as a result.  Throughout the series, ‘The Rose Bride’ has been shown to have little will of her own; she is essentially an automaton, molding itself to its current owner.  The ‘eternal’ has robbed her of the ability to change her own future, to make choices or seek happiness.

The last story arc of the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series is called ‘The Apocalypse Saga.’  The End of the World make his appearance, in the form of Anthy’s ‘brother.’  He is a man driven by his goals; he is ruthless in their pursuit.  If Anthy is the personification of ‘eternal,’ The End of the World is the personification of ‘revolution.’  He is not content to simply exist in the world, he wants to mold it to his will, whatever that may be.

Anthy and The End of the World’s personal relationship reflects their metaphorical one.  He uses her in the most deplorable sense of the word.  He uses her for his own sexual gratification, and he uses her as currency, in offering her to others as a reward in exchange for their allegiance.

While the other duelists sought revolution, Utena wanted the eternal.  For that reason, Anthy’s value to Utena was not in what she may give her (as the other said, ‘grant me the power to revolutionize the world), but in what she was. As a prince, Utena’s goal was the princess, The Rose Bride, and just being with her was the end unto itself.

The End of the World reignites the desires of the Student Council duelists.  He takes them on a nighttime ride in a car, along with the object of their lost happiness; the sibling they’ve drifted away from, the lover that never loved them back.  Despite being the antagonist, The End of the World’s message to the duelists is a positive one, to keep fighting for that which you love.  Having been defeated by Utena in the first story arc, they have been left drifting and directionless; The End of the World imparts on them the same ‘drive’ for revolution that he feels.  (I don’t know if  there’s any significance to the fact that he takes them on a car ride and the word ‘drive,’ since the show is Japanese, and I don’t know if the world has the same double meaning there).

It’s a complex and meaningful end to one of the greatest anime series ever made.  The central mysteries of the series are explained, though in a sort-of fairytale-esque style, which, while appropriate, leaves it feeling a little hazy.  The resolution is satisfying without being melodramatic.  There is no one revolution after all.  Everyone lives in their own world, and to revolutionize it, they need only change themselves.

This box set also includes the movie, an alternate telling of the series, which will be reviewed separately.

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