Utena: Girls Who Lay Eggs

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

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 27: "Nanami's Egg"

We're in a Nanami flashback. In a sandbox she finds a pretty Easter egg. She awakens from the dream and finds the same egg, yellow and red, in her bed. ...Okay, so this is either a menstruation metaphor or some kind of pregnancy metaphor. On the way to school, Tsuwabuki tells her she has a "girls-only health and hygiene class" so I'm putting all my chips on "menstruation metaphor".

Nanami is carrying the egg in her pocket. The colors now seem to be green and red. Kissmate has noted that green often accompanies "secrets" and that would be a valid addition to confusion and doubt. Self + Confusion/Secrets? Nanami is panicking because she's never heard of people laying eggs before, and this rings true for menstruating folks who didn't get any kind of heads-up before their first bleed. Her body feels alien and wrong because this can't be normal.

Utena slams her with a soccer ball and Nanami logically deduces that the eggs must be Utena's idea of a practical joke. Nanami takes the egg to Miki looking for information and he asks where she got it. Only when she decides to lie to him do the whites of her eyes return, so I really do think that indicates the presence of her "social face", with the non-white eyes indicating her "true face". What is interesting is that since the whites are so rare after the cowbell episode, this implies she's being more genuine. (I really like Nanami, so I'm fascinated by her emotional journey.)

Everyone who runs into Nanami asks her if she's sick. She wonders now if all girls lay eggs and she's the only one who didn't know--or, worse, a late-bloomer. She runs through the hallways until she bumps into Juri, who is holding a bowling ball bag. She tells Nanami to be more careful as she could've damaged Juri's ball and a helpful translation note tells us that "ball" and "egg" are similar. Nanami is alarmed at the size of the ball, and Juri says she used to get smaller ones. She keeps hers at home and has since she was 7. Nanami is impressed at how mature Juri is and goes home to polish her egg.

She takes it to school every day, spending time with her little egg. This is very interesting to me because I do know that some women apparently find menstruation, or at least first menstruation, very validating but it's never been anything but detested by me (which may be a transfeels thing). Kissmates notes this isn't the first time she's received a mysterious gift and just leaned 100% into it.

Tsuwabuki notices her singing to herself and asks if she's okay; Nanami tells him "it's getting bigger everyday" and he turns serious, promising to help her with anything she needs. (He thinks she's pregnant?) Nanami has a hell of a mood swing, pointing out that he can't do "anything" she asks him because some things are flatly impossible. Tsuwabuki goes to Utena and Anthy to ask for help and Utena calls it "maternity blues" while Anthy asks if she just laid an egg. Oh, of course, Anthy means her pet hen, Nanami, who just laid an egg.

Nanami sings to her egg at the table while Touga asks about her good mood. Nanami strokes the egg and asks if Touga would like a boy or a girl. Touga says he likes girls more and Nanami says she does too, so he thinks she just came out as sapphic. He starts in on a homophobic lecture about boys and girls "fitting better" together [Kissmate: "Bitch, you are fucking BISEXUAL, don't even start!"] and Nanami interrupts in confusion, saying he's the only one she loves. Nanami asks what he would think about her laying an egg. "Nanami, do you know why we've been able to live together so happily? It's because you aren't the type of girl who lays eggs."

My read of this situation is that Touga is comfortable telling Nanami what kind of girl she "is" in order to keep her to his idealized image of a dependent little sister. Kissmate notes the idiom "laid an egg [on stage, etc]" means to fail, so Touga could be saying that failure isn't tolerated in their family. In the cafeteria, Nanami ponders the unfairness of his words, then wonders what the other women are doing with their eggs. She recoils in horror at the idea that they might be eating them.

Shadow Girls appear and explain that things are only impossible because we think they are. They try to use chopsticks to keep the egg up before recognizing that maybe their egg isn't an egg. This one seems pretty straightforward? Nanami's egg isn't an egg. Nanami gently abandons her egg in the forest, saying she can't bear to eat it. She dreams again of Touga's words and tries to believe that he said it out of a desire to protect her. But she can't do it; she runs back to find her egg. Except... it's gone now. Where did it go? A nearby Saionji fries up an egg and Nanami is horrified. She kicks his ass until she gets her egg back from his bowl of gathered eggs.

In bed, Anthy asks Utena if she believes in reincarnation. When elephants die, they leave the herd to die in secret. Utena says maybe they don't want their children to feel sad, and the girls suggest that inter-generational teachings are a type of reincarnation. Nanami dreams of her egg, but when she wakes the egg in her bed is cracked. At the tower, Utena says she hasn't seen "him" lately and Anthy says he should be back soon. The doorbell rings and Chu-Chu is there.

Kissmate's verdict: She's fucking with Nanami some more. And Anthy's green eyes are for secrets.

Here's me doing my best at bullshit: We don't really know what Chu-Chu is for in all this metaphor-laden series, but my belief has always been that he's the representation of Anthy's feelings and emotions. He hates Saionji and can be seen stabbing at his foot with, like, forks and things. He refuses to visit Akio when Anthy goes on Saturday nights. And so on. Anthy is an abuse victim, pretty clearly, and abuse victims are great at masking their emotions so they aren't punished for them. My thought is that Anthy has masked so hard, so deeply, that Chu-Chu was created as sort of pressure valve to grant some relief: he expresses what she can't hold inside.

We've been seeing Anthy get closer to Utena, emotionally, and she's been punished for it by Akio. Maybe she occasionally has to realign her emotions in order to stay safe with her brother, and this might cause a sort of reincarnation-y rebooting of Chu-Chu. He keeps the memories he had, but Anthy remembers to be more careful with her feelings so she doesn't get hurt again. Having said all that, why she chose Nanami for this dubious honor is a complete unknown to me except the ever-popular "she's fucking with Nanami some more". But it might explain why her face in the final scene is so sorrowful; it's not the same cheeky grin from the cowbell episode reveal. She doesn't really look happy to see Chu-Chu.


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