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A podcast review of Revolutionary Girl Utena (Part 1)

If you’re into your Sailor Moon, you may have come across Revolutionary Girl Utena at some point in your anime career.

For one, it was written and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, a frequent episode director of Sailor Moon, but more importantly the series director of Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS. He famously left Toei after being constrained on the SuperS series, then kicked off the SuperS film – his original vision for the film was much darker, involving an apocalypse.

So Revolutionary Girl Utena was what he created post-Sailor Moon, which also featured many of the Sailor Moon production staff he nicked as he left. He even got a couple of the Senshi’s voice actors to do some main characters…

This review on my podcast Transformation Sequence comes at a rather good time, as I’ve recently seen Ikuhara’s latest work Yurikuma Arashi, of which I’ve written about previously. Utena is a completely strange and wonderful series, and I think you’ll enjoy the first part of our review.

Check in next Sunday for Part 2.


  1. Pre-listening obligatory squeeing:

    I’m actually watching this show right now with my boyfriends! We just finished Episode 34, and got into such a fight over it we had to take a break from watching.

    I know that sounds horrible, but the show has that profound an impact on all of us. Untangling the symbolism is only half of the fun of watching! The other half, for me at least, is deciding where you stand on the moral dimensions of the show.

    It’s a show that keeps me thinking, and I respect the hell out of that.

      • I felt Nanami basically crossed a moral event horizon when she beat up the ‘Ko Squad (Anko, Yuko, and Keiko? I think?). They argued she’d been terrible all along (which was true) and was going through a major identity crisis (also true). I felt that what she did was a bit too far to forgive.

        This is an argunent I feel we can only solve with a rewatch of the episode. So let’s hope I can shelve my moral outrage and look at it a little more analytically this time.

      • Hrmmm I think that the moment was actually played off as humorous but I did recoil a bit. I also think the series as a whole plays on the viewers opinion of Nanami. She starts out hateful, becomes laughable, then pitiable and pathetic, and finally I think you’re meant to weirdly root for her?

        The show sold the moment to me as as, I was hoping Nanami would fall at the start of the series, but in the moment I was rooting for her, then I saw her innate viciousness and pettiness and was mildly appalled at her again.

        Bit of a moral quandary, yes

      • UPDATE:

        Post-rewatch of the Nanami episode, my feelings about her remain fundamentally unchanged (vicious, self-centered, entitled bitch), but I understand the depths of her quandaries a lot more. Now I feel like I understand where she is and where she felt like she needed to get.

        Getting why she challenged Utena that second (third? I’m getting mixed up) time doesn’t make me LIKE her any better, but I can respect her fighting to grow past her brother-fixation despite that. Touga is still a horrible person who a) does not deserve such fantastic hair and b) can go die in a fire plzkthx.

      • I see Touga as a victim of machismo as much as Utena is. In the film I think we find out he was abused as a child…? Either way, he wishes to emulate Akio, the poster child of the patriarchy.

        I hate Touga, but I also pity him.

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