Parental Guidance Recommended
1999. Kunihiko Ikuhara (director) J.C. Staff. Shogakukan / Shou Kaku Committee / TV Tokyo / Be-Papas.
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Utena in Beauty
...New student Utena Tenjoh is suddenly thrust into sword duels with classmates to protect her new friend and room-mate, the mysterious Anthy Himemiya. Utena seeks to become a heroic prince that rescues the maiden in distress, but what is it that Anthy wants? On the road to happiness, both Utena and Anthy will have to face the truth about themselves and endure their own apocalypse of adolescence.
Highly unusual non-stereotype shoujo >>> by firesenshi
Even the characters called their peers "strange" despite being in weird, sometimes erotic situations themselves. But then even the Shoujo Kakumei Utena series is full of ironies and metaphors. Film teachers always speak of how to utillize great metaphors, even those taken in their literal sense as in the movie Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). There are some of those here. And some more -- exaggeration, a play of visual imagery (consider a juxtaposition or mix of backgrounds), some intertwining of flashback scenes (I like how they did this one, especially in the last scene with Touga and Utena, the scene the most fans remember very well... let me give you a hint: I cried), some cut scenes interchanging Utena with Dios, the dialogues. The Utena movie, like its original series, has a lot of metaphors to suit its world. It's a world with a castle, a prince, princess and duels with a
backdrop of showering rose petals. In a world where pink and bright colored orange and blue hairs thrive however, the shoujo elements like that we recently spoke of come with a lead female character who fights duels, a prince with an almost hollow mindset, a castle where its princess wants to escape from as if everything was made to shatter all stereotype shoujo concepts.
But this is still shoujo. Strange. Dark. Full of symbolism you might have a hard time identifying. But it is shoujo. If you're familiar with the series, you'll find the stark differences in character design here. Utena here is more reserved than her series counterpart. The opposite can be said of Anthy. Anthy being a flirtatious, playful Rose Bride is different from the series Rose Bride I know! But I still don't like her. I love Touga. His character plays a much more different, more romantic and absolutely more crucial role here than in the series. But I still cried. The story itself is good and intriguingly surreal! But because I was too attached to the character portrayal in the series, I was disappointed with the outcome of the characters in the movie. The story is different from the series. It tells the story of Utena in an alternate universe yet the original concepts are there. Expect yuri scenes too.
Even if you didn't see the series, you will get to appreciate the movie. But since this anime proves that it is not at all stereotype shoujo in many respects, don't expect to get the usual 'happily ever after' ending here.
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 10; Story 9; Characters 7; Sounds 9