Utena: Meet the Sex Car

[Utena Content Note: Abuse, Sexual Assault, Stalking]

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 25: "Their Eternal Apocalypse"

Third arc!!! Streetlights and a car. ["The car is sex," I tell Kissmate.] Touga and Akio ride together and Akio offers to let him take the wheel. At the Chairman's apartment, Wakaba arrives looking for Utena and ready to help: the girls are moving in. Akio says he wanted his sister to live with him but couldn't separate her from her friends. Wakaba falls all over herself demonstrating her friendship with Anthy in order to justify coming up to visit the pretty Akio. Anthy giggles and Akio stares at her in a worrying manner. [Kissmate: "That was horrifying."]

Student Council! Saionji is back... somehow! I mean, Mikage got him accepted back so either we go with my theory that the events still happened but the memories faded, or the events didn't happen and Saionji came back via a different route. He says he's through with the duels while baseball is played in the background. "Strike!" when he says he can't trust the letters from the End of the World, and Juri notes he was fooled by a false letter. Miki says he's verified the latest letter: he passed through the gate to the arena and found a gondola in the spiral staircase. Confetti appears when Saionji refuses to fight anymore just because someone tells him to. They're playing a game they don't understand and the only way to win is to stop?

In the planetarium, Akio holds Utena closer as he points out Venus, the morning star, and tells Utena that his name is based on it--and that its other name is Lucifer, the star who was once an angel but chose to be king of hell. Anthy watches, light glancing off her glasses so that her mood is unknown to us. The girls go to bed and sleep side-by-side, their faces to each other. (Anthy looks so pretty with her hair down.) Anthy says Utena feels familiar to her, and is surprised and pleased when Utena says she's glad. Utena promises to help her through anything, no matter the problem. Anthy flashes back to hugging a prince and promising that from now on they'd live to help each other. Anthy takes her hand and nearly tells her the truth.

Touga approaches Saionji at night in the kendo room and says he'll be champion this year. Saionji says he *will* be champion and that he knows Touga considers the honor childish and is laughing at him. Touga tells him there's someone he wants him to meet, and that he can hear if his soul hasn't given up. Shirt flying off, Touga tells Saionji to "follow us!" I'm pretty sure this entire arc is, like, a Pied Piper sexual awakening. In the backseat of the car, Touga caresses the car and asks Saionji what he really wants out of life: eternal friendship, perhaps?

Saionji demands Akio explain who he is and what he wants. "The throb of the engine feels good, doesn't it?" Akio says he reveals the End of the World, revs the engine, and jumps to ride the hood with legs spread and chest naked. [Kissmate: "Is... is End of the World what he calls his dick? Did I get it right?"]

At the greenhouse, Miki and Utena discuss the new gondola. A refreshed Saionji stands at the door with his hands resting on the car and announces that the gondola is the wings with which he and his bride will fly to the End of the World and the castle where eternity dwells.


Me: Okay. If I try to wrap my mind around the metaphor here, we have these growing young adults who are discovering and/or being introduced to the concept of sex. Where they'd previously been stuck on how to revolutionize the world--which we saw with both the baseball game and the railroad crossing--now they have a new angle from which to view their lives and problems. "Revolutionize the world" seems to be, in a general sense, finding the power to solve their problems or define their lives or answer the questions plaguing them. Inasmuch as they're having a sexual awakening, they're learning more about themselves and others in the process, and coming back to their old problems (from season one) with new eyes.

Saionji's problem is he doesn't believe in eternal friendship because the person he loved most seemed to betray him. (Touga, when Saionji thought he shared "something eternal" with the pink girl and not with him.) He's just learned that wasn't Touga, it was Akio, which means that his old proof that friendships are all false has to be reexamined. He's had an intimate experience with Touga (which may or may not have been sexual in nature), and is using that experience to color his future choices: with a renewed belief that something eternal exists, he again wants to reach the castle. In a sense, they are like Tsuwabuki all over again: feeling like adults because they've had an adult experience. But until they can learn how to healthily deal with their old problems, a part of them remains childish.

The tragedy here, of course, is that Saionji had done the adult thing and moved on until Touga showed up with the car. As for whether the car is sex or not, I agree with Kissmate that it's probably a more general "glimpse of adulthood" thing: sex, drugs, power, beauty, glamor, freedom. Akio is offering the trappings of adulthood to the children trapped at Ohtori Academy like the Lucifer he has named himself after.


Shadow Girls come back in their UFO and crash into the Phallic Chairman's Tower. They ask the hero whether she knows how hard it is to work as a team. Akio and Anthy, or Utena and Anthy? If the former, Akio may be displeased by Anthy growing closer to Utena at night; if the latter, their newfound collaborations in the arena may not signal smooth sailing elsewhere.

New Arena opening! We see the lead-up to the forest and the stairs up to the waterfall. Anthy waits in the new gondola and then disappears, her clothing fluttering to the ground like she's been Raptured. As Utena rides up the gondola, a naked Anthy rises before her and the Rose Bride dress appears on her. Her school clothes left on the floor below now contains a seedling that grows to a shrubbery as the gondola rises: the plant is growing as the girls ascend, and "wears" Anthy's clothes in the process. Utena is pink as Anthy frames her face, covers her breast, and sweeps both uniform and rose onto her chest. Utena's arm is caressed for a sleeve, and her hips for the skirt and shorts. Utena's eyes open and the seedling sprouts pink roses. Utena and Anthy are framed against an orange and yellow sky (love and adoration) with pink roses for protection. [Kissmate: "It even stands between the viewer and the girls, protecting them as a physical barrier."]

One more thing! They ascend the arena as a team now, instead of Utena walking up to join her. Saionji enters with his shiny car and Utena tells him to consider Anthy's feelings. Saionji says the Rose Bride has no will of her own. Utena calls for her sword and dozens of cars erupt in the arena, thrusting up through the ground. Utena holds her own well until the Dios sword vanishes from her hands--Saionji, seizing his chance rushes in to press the advantage.

Anthy watches dispassionately but remembers Utena's words from the night before: to come to her first with any problem because she wants to be that kind of friend. Her eyes widen with worry for Utena and she throws herself into Utena, protecting her from Saionji. Suggesting that they work together, Anthy pulls a blade from Utena's heart (like the Black Rose duelists) and they *both* ask for the power to revolutionize the world. Every headlight from every car in the arena goes off like a spotlight signaling Dios' arrival, and Utena cuts Saionji's green rose.

The duel song is about origins and birth, eggs and seeds, pistil and stamen, growth and eternity. There's a strong theme here of sex, or at least of fertilization. The cars, too, are heavily symbolic of...something: they break when Saionji's sword is blocked, and accelerate with each swing of his sword. The cars being sex or erections is probably a little too on-the-nose, but if there's a better way to metaphorically tie a phallic sword to a throbbing engine, I'm all ears. Although, I suppose we could link them both through traditional toxic masculinity, which has always been Saionji's toolbox: he's always ready to slap or manhandle Anthy (and Chu-Chu), and enjoys hurting Utena and Wakaba whenever he can. His ongoing battle with Touga is literally for male dominance over each other, with Saionji determined to be the better man. Tangentially, the cutting of his rose sounds like a car wreck, we see tire tracks from the swerve, and Saionji sprawls like a collision victim on the ground.

Kissmate notes that Saionji stated the Rose Bride has no will of her own, but she very clearly intervened on Utena's behalf because of her free will. And it's worth noting that he doesn't choose to stop in the face of such clear evidence that he was wrong and she is a person. Elsewhere, Akio and Touga roll about on a bed half-naked and discuss their mutual enjoyment of the game and disappointment with Saionji. [Kissmate: "He is not invited to any more three-ways."]

Back in the tower, Akio tells Anthy to "come here". Unlike before, she hesitates. He grabs her. Instead of seeing her glasses folded neatly up, they've fallen to the floor. Kissmate notes they're a pale pink: her protection, taken away.

Ending note: There's a new ending credit sequence I haven't seen before. The duel song is sung again while Utena rides the gondola. The most clitoris-looking rose I've ever seen is held by Anthy, and the rose is opened when Utena touches her hand. This is pretty standard iconography for vaginal arousal. When their hands interlace the rose opens into full bloom and is even "exploding" a petal shower. Anthy places the rose on Utena's breast, then nuzzles the flower while Utena's hand frames both breast and rose. Then Utena cups Anthy's face while Anthy has her hair down and both have half-lidded eyes. A kiss occurs "off-screen" but we can see the embrace and observe the way their chins touch. Anthy's skirt billows wildly. The rest of the sequence has them silhouetted while a princess-esque Anthy gazes up at a princely (but still skirted) Utena. If all that isn't a metaphorical sex scene, I don't know what is.

The last shot of the credits is a bird flying to the sky castle. I here quote Froborr regarding the bird:

The last two lines of the egg speech from Demian, which the student council always leaves out, are "The bird flies to God. That God is Abraxas." Abraxas is the two-faced god who created both good and evil.


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