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Revolutionary Girl Utena: Adolescent Apocalypse


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: weird
  • genre: shoujo
  • source: fansub
  • form: sub
  • dur: 80
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Tue Sep 18 15:55:51 EST 2001
  • mod: none

While clearly incapable of truly understanding shoujo due to an unfortunate birth defect (I'm male) I'd always thought I'd overcome this disadvantage. But I must admit I don't understand the point behind this one. Is it a version of Utena for the chronically impatient who thought the TV series was too realistic?


Wow, now this is a real challenge. Um. Okay, we rejoin Ohtori academy where a young student named Utena is just beginning her studies. It seems she's broken up with her boyfriend (Touga, for those who know) and as such has decided to live to her ideals of being a prince. Even though it turns out that Touga himself is also at this school.

And indeed the school itself is more than a little strange. And when a mysterious ring appears Utena finds herself embroiled in a conspiracy to possess the mysterious rose bride. The promise being the power to revolutionize the world. However Utena is more interested in her as a person, and indeed comes to see that the entire situation is little more than an expression of trapped desire.


Which sounds a hell of a lot more sensible and logical than the actual movie is. The first thing to consider is what the point of this was. I watched the full TV series and, while it was a bit much at times, I became quite addicted to the stories and characters. And the allusions to the past, and the somewhat ambiguous conclusion, seemed to leave lots of space for more depth to be added. Thus I am confused that this show decides to, effectively, try and cram the entire sequence into 80 minutes. In the process making massive revisions to the characters, scenes and relationships of the TV series. It doesn't add to the TV series, I can't imagine it pleasing Utena fans and I doubt it will make much sense to those who haven't seen the TV series.

Partly as a result of this condensed time scale, and also partly to `wow' you with the increased budget available, this one turns the symbolism "up to 11". The entire show is like some incredibly arty stage-play, with no suggestion of a real environment at all. Everything is staged, lit, and designed for maximum impact. Every line of dialogue reads like some minimalist script and each interaction a strangely choreographed dance. And don't even begin to ask why the scenery is dancing around in the background.

And then comes the conclusion. Perhaps the thing that can explain this movie and even add to the depth of the original. Sadly the only thing I can say is that never has a conclusion been more aggressively over-blown than this. Full of action, and you can read meaning into it if you're generous, but I think a lot of people are simply going to see it as being awfully silly. I don't know I've ever heard the term `excessively symbolic', but this one deserves it. I'm not sure, but I suspect only the most generous are going to enjoy this. And Utena fans might be the first to stand up and scream at what is being done to the essence of the original series.

Is there a positive? Well, yeah. Since they have the freedom to effectively re-design the characters there are some interesting treats. This version of Himemiya Anthy is a lot more active and aggressive than the TV version, and it actually works quite well. Meanwhile Utena herself is much weaker, without the very direct character of the TV series and considerably more `flawed' in her nature and history. It's actually rather interesting. And there are some rather nice, although extremely artificial (even compared to the original), scenes and interaction to be had. There's also much more action, and a bucket load of sexual references, to spice things up.

In other words definitely try this one before you buy. It's probably going to be one for the hard core `weird shoujo' crowd, and who knows how many members that club actually has. Meanwhile it is probably best treated as separate from the TV series, since the feel and nature is very different. Although I would have to suggest watching the TV series first as there are some potential spoilers. Although I think, in practice, they'd be lost amongst all the other elements in this title.

In terms of production values the piece is quite strange. It keeps the appearance and style of the TV series which makes it look a little bit rough for a movie. At the same time is has more money to spend on incidental and scenic animation which it uses with a vengeance. The ultimate feeling, as mentioned, being like some exotic stage-play. The conclusion is different, computer assistance being obvious, the detail level being higher and the over all feel much more like an action movie...even if the actual content is weird beyond words. It's an unusual mix of elements, in a very idiosyncratic style, but it certainly fits the contents of the movie. The voices are good, the same as the TV series, and the music is rather good as well as containing echoes of some of the the TV themes.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review Hm, interesting to note that it's the female part of THEM that offers a review for this one. And she has no problems with most of it. She also mentions the positive nature of the character revisions but also adores the visual style. However even this most positive of reviewers finds the end overly contrived and ultimately diappointing. Great review though (3/5).
  • Lord Carnage Review Damn, but I love Carnage. Clearly his bullshit detector has gone off and he's not going to let anything stand in his way from giving this film the kicking he feels it deserves. As a result it's entertaining, contains quite a few spoilers, and is every bit as valid as the review above. I alternated between nodding in agreement and laughing at the wonderfully entertaining way in which he dissects the film (and the fans). Great read (2/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009