Utena: Crumbling Castle

[Utena Content Note: Abuse, Sexual Assault, Stalking, Self-Harm]

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 38: "End of the World"

Zettai unmei!! We get one more! Utena opens the rose gate and, at the end of the song, takes Anthy's hand. A walkway appears and we see a decorative orb materialize upon which sits Prince Dios. Akio walks out and confirms he's the End of the World but says he's also her prince and the reason she came here. [Kissmate: "Ha! He's wrong and this 'memory' isn't right. He still doesn't have her figured out. She didn't come here for him. She came here for Anthy."]

Utena demands to know what he's doing with the school and making everyone duel. Akio says all he dreams about is the castle where a prince and princess will live happily ever after, forever and ever. He takes Utena's hand and says he's the prince and she's the princess. At this, Anthy collapses like a ragdoll, and disappears only to reappear at the base of the stairs at Dios' feet. Akio say she's done well not to lose her noble heart, and pulls a sword from her chest and transforms her into a pink Rose Bride dress. [Kissmate: "Wait! Usually the Rose Bride pulls it out of the duelist these days, but he's going back to season one where the duelist pulls it out of the rose bride!"]

Akio says her noble heart qualifies her to be his princess and Kissmate is delighted to have called in advance that all the duelists appeared to be engaged to the prince rather than to the Rose Bride, by virtue of them all wearing his engagement rings. I'm still annoyed that none of the Rose Bride men have worn that dress, because I feel that that would continue the themes this show plays with regarding gender and roles and presentation. Were the authors creatively stymied on that point by censors?

He says a sword is unsuited to her, so he's taking up this sword and will be her protector from now on. "And then what?" Utena asks. Akio says they'll be happy and love each other for eternity. [Kissmate: "He isn't saying a damn thing about Anthy."] He tries to kiss her but she turns away, asking what will happen to Anthy. Akio says she'll remain the Rose Bride for eternity, suffering forever.

Utena flashes back to the night before when she pulled Anthy back from the ledge. Anthy tells her she's a heartless doll, that she thought she couldn't feel pain on the inside. "The pain I feel comes with the curse of being the Rose Bride, but the pain I caused you...! You were swept up into all this against your will." Anthy says she used, cheated, betrayed, and took advantage of Utena and her kindness. Utena says, no, that *she* never noticed how much Anthy was suffering. "I kept acting like I was a noble prince who would save you! The truth is, my protecting you was just for my ego!" Well, now we're both crying because Utena and Anthy are both crying and apologizing. Anthy begs Utena to just leave the school and forget about her, to save herself.

Utena snatches the sword from Akio and holds it up against him, swearing to rescue Anthy from him. Akio says he never expected her to get this far, but admits that the castle and the prince are both illusions. He will now reveal reality: the End of the World. The windows come up and they're in the tower with the projector and I nearly fall out of my seat because he has a projector because the castle itself is a big projection. [We break for a second so Kissmate can rant about Plato's cave of shadows only to scream "OH MY GOD THE SHADOW GIRLS" and stomp out of the room while I cackle.]

Akio confirms that the planetarium equipment is for projecting illusions for people who believe in miracles, and mocks Utena for childishly choosing a castle in the sky over the school chairman's residence. (Such an interesting limitation he has; yes, Ohtori is his world and he's at the peak of it, but there's a whole world outside the school that Akio has forgotten about. He's the one who can't grow up.) Utena shames him for sleeping with Anthy up here and he tells her she's equally guilty, not shoving him away when he has a fiancee. He asks if it isn't unfair for her to pretend she's noble and right. [Kissmate: "What, like you're doing?!"]

Akio says she should remain a girl, that she's better as an innocent. He takes her back to the coffin and the church of her childhood, saying he's still the same person he was when she met him as a prince. He tells her there's no reason for her to carry a sword and fight, that she's become a lovely and unspoiled princess. He asks her to relinquish her sword. [Kissmate: "Don't give him your relationship!"] Utena asks him what he plans to do with it. "Bring revolution to the world."

Utena demands to know why he isn't willing to help Anthy when he's her brother. He weeps and says there was never a prince in this world to begin with, even as the blue Reason light turns on. She points out that he called himself a prince and we see Dios again. "The grave of Dios, the prince." When Anthy became known as a witch, the prince ceased to exist. "The prince I was no longer exists." [Kissmate: "Oooh. As soon as they murdered his sister, he didn't want to save people anymore. I mean, I can see that, but wow." Me: "Also, the Lucifer imagery. When she fell and became the witch, he fell and became Lucifer."]

She says she has no choice but to fight Akio. He asks if she fights for Anthy's sake; he once thought of her as a goddess who sacrificed herself for me, the one she loved. [Kissmate: "But then he decided to put her on the slut side of a virgin/slut dichotomy because he's a douchebag. Oh, and she's the Rose Bride. She's beautiful but she has thorns constantly stabbing at her. Thanks."] Utena yells that he made her a witch, but he says they love each other and she can be happy no other way. He pulls a sword from her chest but the handle is red instead of green, a reverse-Dios sword.

The council elevator, now with Anthy's watering pot. Touga tells us a chick will die without being born if it cannot break its egg. "We are the chick, the world is our egg," adds Miki and Juri. Nanami and Saionji add their two cents, all agreeing that the world's shell needs smashing. The final ordeal for Utena, the duel named Revolution, begins. [Me: "It's purple." Kissmate: "It's hatred? A duel of hatred? Wait, but that means purple means revolution."]

Akio tells her that she's only ever played at duels, that she's a child that doesn't know what a real fight is. Utena glowers and swears she won't lose to him. He tells her that a child can't understand the value of this room. The projector thrums and we see the one hundred memorial desks again and the red outlines of the burned bodies. THE CARS ARE BACK, and also this duel song is boss. This one is tricky as fuck, but we're pretty sure it's about Anthy. She should be dead (the omens of death) but she's here. She's an ancient city, a theater, a museum, a hospital--she was a healer, trying to heal Dios. But that was a long time ago; now she's an illusory construct of marble and pain. I'm not sure what to do with the zodiac here except to apply it to Anthy's mercurial personality, able to become all things to all people.

Utena asks what the value of the room is when all it does is torture Anthy. Akio says she's the Rose Bride by her own free will. Utena promises to free Anthy from him, determined to be a prince. At her words, the statue of Dios shatters and the castle crumbles into ruins while Anthy stands to watch idly. Utena goes on the offensive and Akio pushes Anthy in her arms. Utena presses Anthy behind her and Anthy slips a sword into her from behind and stabs her in the back.

Utena falls to the ground asking why, while the Rose Bride dress pools around them like blood.


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