Utena: Kozue's Milkshake

[Utena Content Note: Abuse, Sexual Assault]

Links: Froborr's excellent posts and color symbolism guide are here. I'm watching the subtitled episodes contained in the blu-ray collection here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 15: "The Landscape Framed by Kozue"

Miki walks through the halls and draws up short at the sight of his sister, Kozue, flirting with a boy. Kissmate observes that the placement of the boy means there is someone literally *between* Miki and his sister, with a real physical barrier representing an emotional barrier. A teacher (in purple!) stops Miki in the hallway and touches Miki in an inappropriate manner, drawing Kozue's attention; when the boy asks her what's wrong she just shoves him away as irrelevant.

A wounded Touga rests in shadow. I notice the shadows make his white uniform a pale green and his hair is less vibrantly red: his confidence has been tinged with doubt? The world outside is a blue haze which I don't understand unless this is him "regrouping" as it were, using logic to plan his next approach. Nanami begs him to eat something while a music record is stuck in a loop at the end. Kissmate notes that the blue record represents his "stuck" state of mind now. He's stuck in a memory trying to work out what he did wrong and where he goes from here. (I still wonder if losing the Duel named Self means he's actually lost his sense of self.) Nanami is still in her dueling outfit, which is interesting. Neither of them have moved on from that day.

In the basement, Mamiya speculates that the council members might have hearts strong enough to defeat Utena, since Kanae was a bust last time. Mikage says they already lost their duels and Mamiya says they may have people close to them who can "use" the strength of their hearts. I did tell Kissmate that the first season was about introducing all the council members and that the second season is about exploring the "other side" of their stories; Kissmate notes that it's a very Prince/Princess duality that the one draws strength from the other. Without a princess, there is no prince.

Kozue is at the school pool. She tells her friends "I didn't really change boyfriends. I just added one." and we stan a legend. The girls ask for an introduction to Miki and Kozue says there's a girl he's been attracted to lately; we see Miki visiting Anthy at their dorm. Kissmate notes a thing I didn't remember from my first watch: the audio cues. The elevator dings, the music stings, and now a wind chime that sounds every time Miki has an emotional outburst, unlike his usual cool logical self. He invites Anthy to come meet his music teacher, which we then see fleeing from Kozue. Juri tells Kozue that a teacher fell down some stairs last week and has since been warned by anonymous phone call that his next "accident" would be worse.

WE STAN A LEGEND. Kozue is wreaking revenge on the teacher for manhandling Miki. "I can't forgive anyone who would hurt Miki," she says with a perfectly calm expression. [Kissmate: "That is the face of a man-killer."] I really like that she actually draws attention to the fact that the problem was "hurting" Miki and not just "touching" him; she recognizes that the teacher was preying on her brother. There's a contrast here, too, that the innocent Miki misread the situation to the point of praising the teacher to Anthy and attempting to arrange an introduction. The more experienced Kozue saw the truth.

Nighttime. Miki has a blue mug and a purple one, and offers a milkshake to his sleeping sister. On my god, they share a room and it looks like a *child's* bedroom. [Kissmate: "Or a church?" Me: "Their parents have been treating them like child prodigies worthy of worship..."] Their beds show two doves soaring towards the sun from differing angles; the mosaics look similar but aren't mirror images. (The twins! They look similar but aren't actually the same at all.) The beds are green, the color of friendship and doubt. Kozue's blanket is purple, of course, and Miki's is his blue. But only Miki's sheets fit the decor; Kozue's clash with everything. [Kissmate: "This looks like a room she's borrowing rather than one she lives in."] Also? This looks like a boy's bedroom. Like the parents decorated for him and not for her. And since he's the golden child now... [Kissmate: "She did run off the stage that one time; I bet the parents ignored or neglected her after that."]

Oh! Even the mugs are personalized: Miki's has a stylized blue M and Kozue's has a purple K. Kozue says she can't drink something so sweet. I feel like this is all adding up to Miki being the more childlike one? He was innocent of the teacher's intent while Kozue was not, he "fits" in a child's bedroom in a way she does not, and he drinks a child's drink before bed while she rejects too much sugar. They're twins and the same physical age, but emotionally she's his elder. Oh! And she adds boyfriends without a second thought but he's shy and awkward and barely able to ask Anthy to play piano with him.

Kozue watches Anthy and Miki play and I want to know if *she* knows that Miki is seeking to emotionally replace her. [Kissmate: "He's empty and unfulfilled, like the empty milkshake mug. He keeps trying to fill himself." Me: "Also, from an abuse perspective, that's what makes him easy for an authority figure to abuse."]

Council scene! Instead of smashing the world's egg, we're now smashing cages. "The chamber of freedom and the cage of freedom." I think the egg is the chamber and the cage is what's outside the egg. "Without revealing the vastness of the sky, both care for the chick." The egg nourishes the chick and the cage keeps it safe from outside threats? But neither let the chick see the wide world? "Smash the world's cage! For the revolution of the world!" Season 1 broke the shell only to find there was now a cage constricting them? [Kissmate: "That's true for Utena. She thought she just needed to beat the duelists but now there's a new threat." Me: "She thought she just needed the world to accept her gender presentation, but now she has to face the world trying to split her and Anthy apart. We've moved from, like, a butch lesbian wanting the right to be butch to a butch lesbian wanting the right to be a lesbian. Basically."] Kissmate notes that the "world egg" is a recurring cosmology meaning the beginning of creation. Breaking the egg could mean being born or reborn.

Nanami is taking Touga's place on the council. Miki and Juri face away from Nanami while a desk fan sits on the table. [Me: "Is this Five Nights at Freddy's?" Kissmate: "Do we have a Phone Guy?" Me: "Yes, he's called The End of the World." Kissmate: "And we have a Purple Guy!" Colors-wise, Nanami has to be Chica; Miki is Bonnie; and Juri is Foxy.] Nanami steamrolls over the others, with the fan moving towards Juri and Miki whenever Nanami turns her attention to them. (The fan is light green. Is Nanami blowing doubt?) Juri and Miki accept her proposed leadership but a wall of red pinwheels dance on the wind when Juri notes that the End of the World hasn't been sending letters: *he* may not accept Nanami. (Nanami also wasn't his choice; Touga was the one who gave her a ring.) Kissmate notes that pinwheels are a child's toy, suggesting that all Nanami's supposed force of personality is really just a child's temper tantrum as far as Juri is concerned.

Utena is visiting Akio, probably because she still feels like she doesn't know much about her friend and roommate. Utena, who doesn't have any siblings, asks what a Big Brother is usually for. Akio gives her a projector slide of the moon and tells her that it doesn't have a purpose but when you look up at it, you feel better. Given the white princely color of the moon, and given Akio's thoughts about princes and Dios, I really do wonder if he's saying that princes are useless decoration but looking up to them makes you feel good. Also, a big brother is often a girl's first prince, as we see with Nanami.

Miki stops his watch at 42 minutes and Kissmate notes that's unusually long for his measurements. Oh! He's been timing how late Anthy is to their session. Kozue walks in to the beat of the metronome. A blender (the milkshake???) appears in their faded childhood picture. [Kissmate: "It's yellow. Making her milkshakes is how he shows his affection?" He points out the patterns on the glass means that Kozue's mug makes a beautiful design only when emptied: when she partakes of Miki's kindness and affection.] Two butterflies, two twins. [Kissmates: "Butterflies are metaphors for souls."] She notices Anthy at the door and has the same musical startle sting as Miki; I like that.

Miki wakes and completely ignores Kozue, just happy to see Anthy. [Kissmate: "He was even turned away from her while resting."] Kozue slam-cuts to waiting for a student counseling interview. The lights flicker and turn her hair a darker purple. The roses on the wall start out as black this time but turn purple as the elevator descends. Kozue talks about her brother, saying that he appears to be all right but that she's been intentionally dating bad boys in order to stay in Miki's thoughts--so that she's all he'll think of. She's holding sheet music, which feels significant given that she doesn't like to play. (Me: "Does he always offer her milkshakes or did he do that because he saw her earlier with a predatory boy?" Kissmate: "He deals with her being preyed upon by giving her comfort; she deals with him being preyed upon by hurting the problem.")

Kozue complains that Miki's heart is drifting away from her towards Anthy. She's led out of the elevator, leaving scattered sheet music behind. [Kissmate: "She's left him behind."] The elevator is blue which I still feel is a science reference; season 1 was very magical and mystical while season 2 seems to be about circumventing the rules with science. Instead of letting the rose crests be given out by princes, Mikage is making new duelists by taking rings from the dead and stabbing people in the heart with black roses; there's something very Frankenstein-y about the way he's stitching this together with his mind.

No number given and we don't see the black rose stabbery. [Kissmate: "He refers to them by ID and not by name. He's so detached from who these people used to be."] Miki walks to the music room to find his sister playing beautifully with a black crest on her finger. When Miki sees the crest he reels backwards as the green chalkboard turns red [Kisssmate: "Friendship to manipulation and power."] and dozens of butterflies fill the sky ["the dead duelists"]. A sword erupts from Miki's heart at Kozue's call.


Kissmate: "The swords are relationships! The first sword we saw was Utena grabbing a kendo sword, which was her relationship with Wakaba. Brown and common and fragile, sure, but important to her. Then we see the duelists using the sword of Dios as a representative of their relationship with the Bride. When Saionji challenges Utena a second time he uses a katana, and we only ever see Touga as another person to use a katana--they both have a relationship together."

Me: "I don't think Saionji was bringing his relationship with Touga into the arena, though- shit, no, he said his entire motivation was to beat Touga at being the prince."

Kissmate: "Then we see Miki using a fencing sword after seeing him fence with his friend Juri."

Me: "Juri doesn't use a fencing sword, does she? She uses the lesbian sword. Oh, she brought the lesbian sword to the arena because she was thinking about her ex-girlfriend. I'm still calling it 'the lesbian sword', by the way."

Kissmate: "No, that's the correct term." (laughs) "We then see Juri lend her relationship to Utena so she'll have a sword."

Me: "Oh! I already thought it was interesting that Nanami had two blades. The sword is her brother and the knife is her, isn't it?"

Kissmate: "I think they're both the relationship she has with her brother, it's just that it has two sides: the longer blade curves and lashes out at everyone and the shorter blade is how he's hurting her. Instead of using it to defend herself and the rose, she's using it to lash out further."

Me: "And she justified her fighting skills as having learned from her brother, but he didn't fight like her at all."

Kissmate: "He didn't fight at *all*. He used his relationship with Utena to completely disarm her."

Me: "...so. The blowjob?"

Kissmate: "It powers up the sword-"

Me: (claps) "He was the one who insisted the bride stay by his side all the time. He wasn't taking pleasure from her company, it wasn't even really to needle Utena, he just wanted her there. He's deepening the relationship by spending time with her! It's not a *good* relationship, but they have a relationship just by virtue of proximity."

Kissmate: "Being around her all the time gave him something he could use. But her realization that she cares about Utena was what caused the power to dissipate. The relationship between him and the bride was essentially severed."

Me: "He was hurting someone she cared about. ...Honestly, that's why I left my first husband, so I mean. RELATABLE. That's sometimes all it takes to cut someone off; 'it's fine to hurt *me* but not my loved one'."


Me: "Wait, no, one more thing: Kanae was the weakest duelist and I'm going to argue has the weakest, most tenuous relationship. She wants Akio but knows he doesn't love her, and her own feelings are colored with doubt about their marriage."

Kissmate: "...We've only seen two people who can take swords from hearts, making relationships physical. Er, take physical form. Anthy makes swords from herself in a burst of light; Mamiya makes them from others' hearts through darkness."

Shadow Girls! A stewardess offers to sell refreshments on a train but there's only one passenger. She doesn't want to buy anything but instead of being able to ignore the steward, she ends up purchasing after all. ["Miki is the steward. Kozue doesn't want what he keeps offering but she can't ignore him. When the stewardess pulls away, she realizes she wants after all. The moment it's no longer hers for the taking, she wants it."] Once again, we see Utena interact with the shadow girls.

Now we have desks with milkshakes on them, all the M for Miki. [Me: "Now I'm wondering if the white flowers in Kanae's were for the dead duelists or for her." Kissmate: "Kanae means 'fragrant seedling' and those were lilies. Hard to say."] Kozue has a black fencing sword that looks just like Miki's sword except for the color and Utena notes her stance is the same as Miki's. Duel song! A time machine back to when Kozue was a younger child: the last time she and her brother were close before their separation.

Me: (smacks leg) "...You *did* point out a few episodes back that the green hilt of the sword-"

Kissmate: "-represents friendship and relationship!" (laughs) "I thought the sword represented Anthy, but it's Anthy's relationship with the bearer. And while we always see her profile on one half of the sword, the other half is on the bearer's side."

Anthy pauses to drink at least eight milkshakes, which is just hilarious. [SPOILERS] Or she's thirsty for a brother's actual love. Kozue yells that she wants everyone to disappear, leaving only her and Miki. She lunges for them and Utena has to leap backwards to Anthy, flipping the sword backwards so Anthy can power it up. Whereas Touga held the sword so Anthy had to kneel before him, Utena kneels and presents the sword upwards to Anthy (who then manages to kneel anyway). [Kissmate: "Touga's was about providing him service. Utena is taking a protective stance in front of Anthy."]

[Kissmate: "Do we know if the Rose Bride is eternal? Like, if someone else can become the Rose Bride, does that mean Anthy is the current flavor of the week or has she been doing this for centuries?" Me: "That's a good question!" Kissmate: "...well, that's terrifying as is the possibility that Anthy has watched hundreds of duelists die before."]

Dios descends, Utena does her thing, Kozue falls into a dead duelist's silhouette, and Miki wakes up in the music room. Another duelist falls into the furnace and- oh shit, it's actually two people to a locker. Twins, holding hands in the coffin, with blue and purple hair. One of them is still wearing a black ring. They were both duelists, and Kissmate has to be right that the "issues" have to match in order for the interviewee to be granted a ring. They gave the blue one's ring to Kozue, which is interesting.

Both the milkshakes are empty now! [Kissmate: "I feel like I'm in a Jane Austen novel squealing over, like, obscure flower language."] The beds are no longer green and the white clouds have been literally lined with silver. Akio and Anthy fade to black while he promises to comfort her "as always" (like the moon, like the prince). Anthy says "choo-choo" which is a callback to the earlier conversation with Miki about Chu-Chu but also, Kissmate informs me, an onomatopoeia for kissing in Japan.

A side note: I thought to myself earlier that the "boyish" bedroom would make more sense if both the twins were assigned male at birth and Kozue is a trans girl, but I dismissed the idea because Miki being a golden child fit just as well. But both the dead duelists being boys is an interesting detail in light of that theory.


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