Story Pile: Revolutionary Girl Utena
When I hear people talk about ’90s anime’ it seems to be used to refer to the early 90s, with long-running, heavily episodic series that often didn’t have satisfying endings, but that was okay because you were always there for the ride. Stuff like Ranma 1/2 (take a drink), Yu Yu Hakusho, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball. Thing is, while that stuff has lasted (and is great and fine), that is the early 90s. Seemingly split in half, it’s the late 90s where the anime making a splash in English language areas took a sharp turn; you got Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain and Trigun, all anime I remember watching at the time. I don’t know if I saw the change at the time, but I do now in hindsight.
Revolutionary GIrl Utena was one of the Very Noticeable anime of the late 1990s; from that period when suddenly the anime you were getting were a bit less ‘whacky hammerspace’ and a bit more ‘you need to watch every episode and also here the villain fist-fights a rogue kangaroo.’
Revolutionary Girl Utena is visually splendid, has lovely music, is steeped knee-deep in metaphorical symbolism, and queer in the way that its faintest fig leaf stands between it and the audience. It’s a fairy tale but one where the fairies are like, the horrifying kind. Revolutionary Girl Utena was my, and many other anime fans’ introduction to an anime that resisted easy answers.
Anyway, there are some sort-of-spoilers after the fold, if you really care about spoilers for a 25 year old anime you weren’t going to watch don’t lie to me.Continue Reading →