The dueling comes to an end, the meaning of the Rose Bride
is discovered and the End of the World is revealed all in the final
of Revolutionary Girl Utena: The
Apocalypse Saga. It's a great collection
that includes the animated theatrical movie that was based on the show,
couple of commentary tracks, and a massive book as well as an entire
devoted to extras. Fans of the show are
going to be pleased with this exemplary set.
When Utena Tenjou was a child both of her parents died.
She was distraught and miserable until a
prince stumbled upon her. He said "Never
loose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up" and gave her a
with a rose seal on it. He said that the
ring would one day lead Utena back to him, and she hasn't taken it off
She was so inspired by the prince's words that Utena decided
that she wanted to be a prince herself.
Now, years later, she's attending Ohtori Academy but dresses in
uniform, and her best girl friend keeps proclaiming her love for the
One day Utena sees a member of the student council, Saionji,
slapping and berating his girlfriend, Anthy Himemiya.
Utena runs to the protection of the young and
charming Anthy but Saionji just laughs when she tries to interfere. It turns out that Anthy is his betrothed, and
the only way Utena can stop him from mistreating her is to 'win' the
girl in a
That evening Utena travels to a walled off section of the
campus and using her rose ring she's able to open the large imposing
gate. Climbing to the top of a long spiral
staircase she reaches a dueling platform with a large city floating,
above it. Here she learns of the duels. Certain members of the student council are
duelist, following written instructions they receive from "The End of
World" they compete in a series of sword fights to try to win the Rose
Anthy. Whomever has the bride at the end
will win the power to "revolutionize the world." Whatever
that may mean.
In the first saga, Utena duels all of the members of the
student council and retains Anthy as her bride.
But they are not the only foe she needs to face.
The second collection sees certain members of
the school brainwashed and having their insecurities used against them
to make them physically more of a challenge in the arena for Utena.
Though Utena has bested all challenges and still has control
of Anthy, the Rose Bride, that doesn't mean that the other members of
student council are going to stop trying, or that the person pulling
strings behind all of this will want them to just give up either.
The chairman of Ohtori
brother, Akio, starts taking the duelists out late at night in his
and showing them "the end of the world."
After seeing this site (which isn't revealed to viewers at home)
member takes a bride for themselves.
Like Utena does with Anthy, the council members are now able to
swords from the bodies of their chosen partners and with this newfound
take on the reigning champion. The
strength of the sword that the challenger obtains is directly
the strength of the bond the two people share, and Utena and Anthy have
After this series of duels, there's one final
challenge: Utena must face The End of
the World, the person who has been sending letters to the student
whole time. Is she strong enough to
defeat him, and if she does, what happens.
I'd be willing to wager that the question on the mind's of
most people who have been following this series so far is this: does this show have a good ending or do we
get another a bizarre, nonsensical conclusion that will leave me pissed
scratching my head? (As I like to call
it, the Neon Genesis Evengelion Syndrome.)
I'm happy to report that the show does wrap up a lot of the
lines. Just how Anthy became the Rose
Bride and what her significance is, the meaning of the End of the
who Utena's Prince is (along with why she decided to dress like a boy)
revealed by the end of the show. That's
not to say that everything is wrapped up nicely in a bow, after all,
this is Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Viewers, like myself, who enjoyed pondering
the symbolism in the show and the meaning of some of the more surreal
will still have a lot to think about.
There are mysterious things in the conclusion, but it's wrapped
more completely, and much more satisfactorily, than I thought it would
This set contains a whopping five discs: the
final 15 episodes on three, another disc
for the movie, and one devoted to extras.
Like the other releases, these come in thinpak cases which are
a nice thick cardboard slipcase along with a 132-page book. It's a very attractive package.
Viewers have the choice of watching the show with the
original Japanese 2.0 soundtrack, a new 5.1 Japanese track, or a stereo
track. I viewed this with the 5.1 audio
and found it excellent. The sound was
nice and crisp with good use made of the whole soundstage, especially
the dueling scenes. I spot checked the
other tracks and while they seemed fine, the 5.1 audio is definitely
the way to
go. (And as one who had to choose
between an English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 soundtracks that have been
traditionally offered, I was happy to see the original language track
extra attention.) There are optional
English subtitles as well as a 'signs only' option.
The newly restored 4:3 image looks very good as well.
Originally created on 16 mm film and restored
in HD, the lines are tight, the colors are bright and the overall image
excellent. Aliasing, something that
mars animation, is absent and the same can be said for other
artifacts. My only complaint is that
this series isn't being releasing on Blu-ray.
Each disc comes with some trailers and a commentary track to
one episode, but the main bonus items are on the last two discs. First off is the Adolescence of Utena, the
theatrically released movie. I'm not
really a fan of TV show-based movies, but this one is very good. It's a retelling of the story but from a
different angle, with some significant changes (including the
conclusion). It's very interesting and the
significant enough that you'll want to watch it, but not so great that
won't recognize the characters.
The final disc in the set has extras for both the TV show
and the movie. For the former, there are
animated storyboards, karaoke videos, interviews with the cast and
several trailers. The movie includes a
commentary track with director Kunihiko Ikuhara which I spot checked
pretty interesting. He talks about what
he was going for and some of the symbolism in the movie.
I'll have to watch the movie again with the
commentary track soon. There's also a
behind the scene peak at the recording of the English dub track, as
Definitely not your ordinary anime show, Revolutionary
Girl Utena is a strange
yet compelling program and one that's definitely worth checking out. The newly restored video makes this an easy
one to give a highly recommended
rating to, but only for those who are looking for something a bit
off the beaten path.