Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Student Council Boxed Set
by Ruben R. Rosario
Available now on DVD from Nozomi Entertainment.
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Kunihiko Ikuhara’s Revolutionary Girl Utena is an absolute masterpiece of an anime and is a prime example of the power of the eastern animation tradition. Broadcasted in 1997 in Japan, the story contains a fairy tale introduction by a princess that has been abandoned by her parents, due to their untimely death. A handsome prince comes along, comforts her and tells her that one day that shall meet once again. After placing a rose crest ring on her finger, the prince rides off, leaving the princess so enamored by the princes charm, that the princess herself decides to become a prince, in order to bestow comfort and kindness to those in need. Flash forward to the present day, we follow Utena Tenjou, a high school student enrolled in the Ohtori Academy, where she wears a tradition male uniform and must deal with members of the student council, who bear the same exact rose crest ring. Each of them challenge Utena to sword duels, in order for the hand of the Rose Bride, that shall help bring about the power of revolutionizing the world. The Student Council Saga Boxed Set by Nozomi Entertainment contains the first 12 episodes of the series, with some fantastic extras and brand new HD transfer that make this set an absolute must own.
Ikuhara’s rose to fame and fortune by taking over the Sailor Moon TV series, during its second season and furthered it to be a huge success. After the fourth season of the series. Ikuhara decided to leave the show and wanted to create something with like minded people. Be-Papas was born of this and their first creation was Revolutionary Girl Utena. Like his work on Sailor Moon, Ikuhara creates very bold and strong female characters, that can take care of themselves physically and be beautiful whilst doing it. This was something that wasn’t commonplace in Shojo anime but has now become commonplace, due to Ikuhara. While it may seem strange that a girl is wearing a boy’s uniform, the gender roles that Ikuhara addresses in Utena create a fascinating story, great character development and interesting character motivations. From Miki’s attempt to “Protect” the rose bride to Jury’s disbelief in miracles, every episode counts for something and constantly progresses the plot forward.
While there is plenty of depth and thought that has gone into the series, Utena contains plenty of comedy and high school hijinks, in order to break some of the tension that constantly builds. From the lovable Chu Chu, to Nanami’s plans to get her brother’s attention, Ikuhara knows exactly when to make one laugh and do a great job at it. While the series is overflowing with great ideas, characters and visual sensibilities, there is just one small problem. Every time Utena enters a duel with another student, the same animation is used, over and over again. If it weren’t for J.A. Ceazar’s catchy tune “Zettai Unmei Mokushiro” (Absolute Destiny Apocalypse), I’d just fast forward the entire part.
The video and audio for the rerelease is fantastic and is one the best releases from Nozomi Entertainment. It contains the original dub from the CPM Manga release, the Japanese 2.0 track and a new remastered Japanese 5.1 audio track. Utena has always been a colorful and lively show and the video restoration looks superb. The extras that are included are various trailers of Japanese releases, music videos and textless opening and closing songs. There’s also a booklet that includes interviews, key art, episode commentary, liner notes and an essay that make it quite the supplement.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is a phenomenal work of anime that rightfully stands next to works seminal works like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop. It was one of the few shows that never seemed like it would come back here in the states, after CPM Manga closed up shop, but Nozomi has taken care of that in spades. This rerelease is one of the best anime releases of the year and essential viewing for any anime fan. Highly Recommended!
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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