Utena: Eternal Suffering

[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 35: "The Love That Blossomed In Wintertime"

We open with the "once upon a time" spiel, but updated to reflect what we learned in the last episode. Then we're back in Akio's car while he and Touga talk strategy. Akio says the next match will determine who brings revolution to the world.

Utena watches Anthy in the rose garden as we get the sense that memories are starting to trickle back. [Kissmate: "She's holding water--her emotions--and they're suddenly so heavy she has to set them down."] Anthy asks her if she's been dreaming and Utena says she feels like she promised someone something very important. She asks Anthy to let her see her face and almost seems to recognize her until Akio interrupts them to take her for a walk. He asks Anthy if he can steal Utena from her. Anthy smiles and agrees, but her face falls when they leave.

Akio guides her through a maze of poppies, which either means remembrance (she's remembering what happened in her past) or ties to stories of people falling asleep in fields of poppies (suggesting Akio is trying to lull her back to sleep). They end up in a dead end while his Sex Car stalks them from the far side of the field, over where the orange love flowers are. She isn't going where Akio wants her?

Touga accuses Akio of playing with Utena. They discuss her and Akio asks Touga to give Utena a present from him. Touga says she's not the sort of girl to be plied with presents, and Akio gloats that she treasures an old ring given to her by a man whose name she doesn't know. He doesn't understand her at all; she didn't keep the ring because of him, she kept it because of Anthy.

At school, Touga approaches Utena and Wakaba and gives Utena a pair of earrings from the Chairman. Utena doesn't think the earrings suit her, but Wakaba pressures her to keep them. Touga asks her to come talk with him, dangling a carrot (both literally and metaphorically) and Utena ends up riding on a horse with him. [Kissmate: "A black horse, meaning this is not socially acceptable at all."] Touga rides too fast and Utena falls, but Akio appears on a white horse to catch her.

Touga stands alone, looking like he's more than a little peeved at having been cast as the black knight in Akio's and Utena's romance. He ponders that it's time for him to go back to being the playboy, manipulative to the core. I think he's giving up on the feelings he claims to have to Utena, or more broadly, on any chance that he might become a better person. He meets Saionji in the sparring room and Saionji notes that his confidence is gone, and that he's never really loved anyone. "People are nothing but tools to you."

Shadow Girls! A playboy fisherman brings in fish by the dozens but instead of catching another fish, love caught him. So, yeah, either Touga fell in love with Utena or he wants her merely because he can't have her--or, if I'm going to be more charitable than I think Touga deserves, he could've been attracted to the idea of being a better person with her. I think it matters that Touga has been hanging out in Akio's adult car for so long and for so many rides; he's tired of the luxurious "fun" parts of adulthood and attracted to someone who is both still childish and yet represents adult ideals of nobility. She's not cynical, whereas he's been cynical for so long that someone who isn't cynical and yet is still strong is appealing to him.

Anthy waits alone in bed while Utena looks at the earrings and thinks about her afternoon with Akio. Anthy eventually leaves bed to ask Utena to come with her, but Utena is asleep with the earring in her hand. Akio gloats to Touga that he's won the game and that Utena would make a charming princess, not a prince. He says he hopes Touga wins the duel, and an orange cactus blossom opens in Touga's hand.

Touga and Saionji ride the elevator to the council and consider Utena's words when she was a girl. Touga says she's still all alone in the coffin and that in order to save her he has to defeat her. He has an idealized version of what Utena should be, a version that he made up for her and didn't even ask her. He's thinking about the Utena he met years ago and trying to shover her back into that role, without making any allowances that she might have changed as a person in all that time. If we take the colors to mean that Touga loves Utena, then we see how a "prince" treats his "princess": instead of helping her achieve her dreams in a supportive way, he's determined to beat her in order to "save" her.

Saionji asks if Touga loves her and microphones shove in his face; he says he's not sure. Saionji says they've all received so many letters from the End of the World and Touga says this is the last one. Saionji calls Touga his lapdog and asks if he's content to serve Akio. Touga says Akio saved her a long time ago and that he wants to be like him, to have the power he has. Saionji, being the smart one for once, points out that if the chairman saved Utena, it's weird that she's, you know, "still trapped in that coffin" like Touga says. What kind of bargain basement "saving" is this? "We're all trapped", he says, as their younger selves. They're all obsessed with that day, with that memory. [Kissmate: "You still see her as a little kid? Guess what, bitch. You're one too. So am I. We're all stuck in here together."]

Utena plays with her earrings and lies back on the grass, smiling up at Anthy. For just a heartbreaking moment she sees the swords piercing Anthy from every angle. [Kissmate: "She's still suffering, even now."]


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