Utena: Adult Things

[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 26: "Miki's Nest Box"

We open in Akio's car where Miki's 'Sunlit Garden' plays on the radio. Akio wants Utena defeated and Anthy re-engaged as soon as possible. I think he noticed Anthy's hesitation the night before--and that she intervened in the duel to prompt Utena to work together--and he mistrusts Anthy's loyalties. Like any capable abuser, he wants to isolate her from the person who cares about her. Touga asks if Utena isn't the golden goose and Akio says their value is only in the eggs they lay. He has the eggs--the previous "improvements" to the battles that Utena has been a part of--and doesn't want the goose.

It's unclear right now what Akio's end goal is, but he seems to be "refining" the duels in some way. Back in the Nemuro timeline (the first one), the big technological advance seemed to be Nemuro opening the arena. Then the boys (and Mamiya) apparently had to burn as fuel for a future eternity gate. By the time we get to season one, everyone is using the arena as normal and not as some "new" thing recently discovered. The technological advance of this new generation seems to be the "power-ups" that Touga unlocks with Anthy and Utena later utilizes. Season two introduce the idea of pulling swords from hearts *other* than that of the Rose Bride, and we receive the gondola when Mikage leaves the school. Now here at the start of season three, our most recent discovery has been that the Rose Bride can pull swords from duelists' hearts. It seems Akio wants these refinements, but he's willing to toss Utena aside now that Anthy is getting too close to her.

Miki plays by moonlight, and it's still Sunlit Garden. (I love him, but he seems so stuck in the past.) Outside, Kozue clings to the side of a building as she tries to rescue a bird's nest. When she sees Miki, she falls into his arms and he carries her home. [Kissmate: "Even her bag is leaning on his!"] When they get home, Kozue sees a letter from "that person" and we see a silhouette of their mother leaving. She throws it away without reading it.

In the garden, two chairs are solid but two more are derelict, with one falling over. [Me: "But is it the parents who are broken or the kids?" Kissmate: "Ahh, now there's the question."] Utena muses to Anthy against an orange sky, and Anthy reports back the conversation to Akio. (My heart, ouch.) Akio asks Anthy what she thinks of Utena. "In what way?" she asks, nervously rubbing her hands. He repeats the question, grabbing and pulling her hard enough to break her cup. [Kissmate: "The last teacup we saw was at the start of a relationship between Chida and Mikage. Now this teacup is broken."]

Utena arrives in the elevator as Anthy is picking up the pieces and asks if she's interrupting. Akio says the three of them are like family, but Anthy's eyes are hidden from us. At night, Anthy apologizes that Akio didn't ask Utena's opinion before declaring that. Anthy says her brother is so decisive he's more like her father.

Student Council! We're back to weird symbolism! One table, one letter, three types of chairs scattered all over the balcony, with Miki and Juri sitting apparently at random, and nowhere near the letter. Nanami sits in a massage-chair. The letter says to defeat Utena for their own good. Miki stands angrily, noting that adults who talk like that can never be trusted! He's not wrong, but it's interesting because he was the one who said to Kozue that parents always love their children. Some buried hostility there. "If dueling means letting some selfish adult use me," he declares, he won't. He's quitting like Saionji tried.

Miki takes a call from his father and talks about an upcoming marriage to his new wife. Miki won't be able to attend, but he'll send a telegram. His father hands the phone to the "new mother" and we see Anthy in her Rose Bride outfit. The only thing I can make of this is that maybe Miki is imagining Anthy in that space, having no other image available. He idealizes Anthy and she was just telling him how to raise chicks in a "motherly" fashion. Kissmate asks if Anthy is just a stand-in face for loved ones, given Mamiya and Mikage and the fact that she's "not there". Either that, or Akio's reach is so far that he's able to arrange for Anthy to marry Miki's father in order to spur Miki into the arena, which seems pretty roundabout.

Miki plays the Sunlit Garden by moonlight and outside Kozue listens. She tells Nanami she's waiting for someone and walks off with Akio. Touga appears in the music room to speak with Miki, setting up a wind-up chick to walk the floor. Touga tells Miki there are things you can only possess by taking, which is an interesting contrast to his season one lesson which was that if he doesn't protect the things he loves, they would be taken from him. He's being enticed to join the takers. He and Touga sit in the same chair at the piano, signaling they're coming to the same point of view.

The car bursts into the room and can I just say how much I appreciate the, like, boss music build-up of the car? It's the sort of thing you'd hear in Claymore right before a major battle. It's great. Kozue sits in the passenger seat looking pleased as punch, announcing she's on a date with Akio. She tells Miki to take Anthy for himself and that Akio says it's for his own good. "But...he's an adult," Miki protests. "So what?" she replies. She reclines her chair and her blouse is undone with her arms crossed provocatively over her chest. "When everything around you is impure, you'll have to become impure as well. The only way to get what you want is to lose your purity."

Miki imagines driving the car with Anthy beside him in a pose similar to Kozue's. He correctly deduces that Akio got Saionji to fight, and that he seduced Touga. [Kissmate: "Is he an incubus- wait, he already said he was Lucifer, the most beautiful of god's creations."]

At school, Miki and Kozue put up a nesting box for the birds. Utena approaches as a friend and is hurt when Miki gives her a challenge rose. The car is nearby but less... intrusive, I suppose, than it was for Saionji. The Shadow Girls run a casino and one of them loses everything on roulette. The casino worker notes that the gambler has never played before, and she stalks off promising to return after emptying her bank account. The roulette ball grins. [Kissmate: "You're being hustled, honey."] Miki went along with Akio's reasoning because it seemed logical, but didn't realize the game is rigged against him.

Arena! Miki arrives in the arena with Kozue in tow and dressed in a blue Rose Bride uniform. Anthy pulls a sword from Utena while Kozue pulls from Miki. Let's pause here and ask: why is she able to do this? Obviously Akio taught her, but is this from seeing the End of the World (whatever that continues to be) or from some aspect of found adulthood? If anyone can be a Rose Bride, what does it mean to be a Rose Bride?

Miki chases Utena around the arena and once again a car rides the outer wall, but this time it has a passenger: Kozue. On the second circuit, a disinterested Anthy sits patiently in the driver's seat. Kozue reclines Anthy and covers her with her body, asking to be shown the mysterious power she grants to her engaged. Miki is unable to concentrate because of his sister's aggressive nearby seduction, Dios comes down, and Utena cuts the rose. The car crashes, with Kozue and Miki now unconscious.

Me: "What do we think just happened? I think Miki accepted that he needed to be impure to gain Anthy, but he wasn't willing to go as far-"

Kissmate: "As to make Anthy impure."

Me: "Ah! I was going to say 'as far as Kozue was willing to go', but no, that makes more sense. He idealizes Anthy and wants her to be that pure sister he lost as a child. Seeing her seduced by Kozue was just too much."

Duel Song! This one is a lot, but a repeated motif is "never change" even despite the sorts of things that would normally accompany change: books, disgrace, indulgence. The only thing I can think is Miki is still clinging to that idealized little sister who he doesn't want to grow up and become impure. This would at least tie-in to why I think he lost his concentration and therefore the duel. Kissmate notes that the song contains elements of Miki's ideal shining thing that he's looking for.

Utena notes that Miki's sword is still that of a child's. After the duel, he sits by the nesting box watching the baby birds. Kozue walks by and calls him a coward. [Kissmate: "Because she thinks he wasn't ready yet for adult things."]


Post a Comment