Utena: Forced to Dance

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

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 30: "The Barefoot Girl"

Tatsuya talks to Wakaba and he's still a compulsive liar, this time about first kisses. Utena reminisces about Dios and his kiss when she was a little girl.

Akio bakes a cake and the girls enthuse over him. Kissmate notes that Chu-Chu has been associated more with Utena of late. If he's associate with Anthy's emotions, does that mean her thoughts are with Utena these days? Wakaba, and then teachers, pressure Utena to act more like a girl and wear skirts instead of her boy uniform. Akio comes to her rescue, putting his arm around her and guiding her off before telling them to let Utena be more independent.

Oranges and pinks surround the two as Akio says he admired her noble style and wanted to protect her from the teachers. He says Utena is his "special friend" and we see the candles on the cake flutter with the wind. [Kissmate: "Oh god, he's fanning the flames."] Akio takes her to see his car, and Utena talks to Wakaba while Akio rubs his car door in a suggestive manner because, I don't know, he can't go five minutes without being a sex metaphor. Oh, and Wakaba asks for a ride.

Gushing over the ride later, Wakaba accuses Utena of being jealous. Anthy walks up and Utena keeps doing this thing where she blushes at Akio but her eyes waver and water at Anthy. She's always thought she only loves her Prince, but she's quite literally falling for Akio--seeing his face as her fingers slip from the basketball goal. Kissmate notes the juxtaposition of Utena's boy uniform and Akio's cake-baking skills. He probably feels like a kindred spirit: celebrating her "nobility" (which the Prince told her to cultivate) and engaging in gender-bending roles with her. She limps home, holding onto Anthy for support. Utena begins to tell Anthy something when Akio drives up--and one of the candles blows out.

Akio offers to take Utena to the hospital. She tries to bring Anthy along but Akio says "three's a crowd with dates". Anthy waves goodbye while her glasses shine in that eerie way that hides her emotions from us. In the car, Utena tries to talk about his wedding and fiancee, but Akio is quiet; back at the tower, he reminds her to keep her weight off the foot before taking away her shoe and leaning in to massage her foot. Utena innocently stammers that he's a playboy because he's "so good at making girls feel good". He tells her that they're similar, and she protests that she wears her uniform for her Prince. He insists on carrying her in his arms and another candle blows out.

We see Anthy holding the candelabra with its last remaining candle. [Kissmate: "The connection between Utena and the Rose Bride is being extinguished; that's what it is. Someone else is trying to make her a princess again! Hi, Touga!"] We see her glowing glasses in the background as Akio suggestively pins Utena to the seat. [Kissmate: "Anthy is *terrifying*."] Akio and Utena kiss and then Anthy is gone.

Shadow Girls! One girl counsels the other to take her dancing shoes off or she'll be forced to dance forever. The dancer points out the other girl has dancing shoes too, but she defensively replies that she only carries hers. Life's too short never to dance, sings the cursed girl. I'm sitting here in my genderfeels. Utena doesn't want to be a girly princess; she feels like if she takes a step in that direction, if she gives even an inch on the boy-uniform issue, she'll be stereotyped into the rest of the whole nine yards. But she hasn't fully given up on the idea, because of her Prince; she carries the idea of being a girl around with her, just in case she finds a guy who makes her want to buy into... whatever all that entails. And yet, waiting takes a lot of patience and life is so short. She's tempted, by Akio, to slip into that princess role just to see what it's like.

Kissmate notes that this also works as a metaphor for falling in love or having a good time; "putting on your red shoes and have a good time" is a common turn of phrase for going out and enjoying yourself. (Dancing is also often a metaphor for sex, but that might be a more conservative Christian thing than a Japanese thing, lolsob.) Utena's been trying hard to not fall in love because she's waiting for her Prince--she only began to fall for Touga because she thought he was her Prince. But life is too short to wait around forever, and there's someone princely right here and now.

He notes the three candles could be prerequisites for falling in love, mirroring the prince's behavior in the flashbacks. He drives up in his car when she's wounded and the candle blows out; in the flashback, the prince rode up on his white horse. He insists on carrying her in his arms for the second candle; the prince wrapped the princess "in a rose-scented embrace". It will be interesting to see what the third candle is. In bed, Utena tells Anthy what Wakaba said about no love being "wrong". Anthy says she doesn't know about that, but that love isn't something a person can entirely control. Chu-Chu is on Anthy's side of the bed again and I'm sobbing, IT'S FINE. Utena asks if there's someone Anthy loves and she says she has a prince of her own.

Later, Utena struggles how to answer when Akio asks her if she's unwell--she didn't eat much. Kanae arrives unannounced with her mother. A red rose spins for Akio as a white one spins for Mother. She sees him as a manipulator and he sees her as someone with society on her side? She primly asks him if he's been avoiding her daughter, and reminds him that his position at the academy depends on their marriage and that engagements can be canceled. Akio rapidly seduces her with his patented "reverse Cinderella" and the tower shutters close. [Kissmate: "Yep, he's Lucifer."]


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