The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie

Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie aka Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: Movie; 80 minutes.
Dates: 14 Aug 1999

Synopsis: Tenjou Utena is a new student at the elaborate Ohtori Academy. Just as she is becoming used to day to day life, she is suddenly thrown into another world, one full of nostalgia, sword duels, and a mysterious roommate known as the Rose Bride. As she battles her vices and defends those close to her, will she find a way out of this nightmarish world that holds her mind and body and those around her prisoner?

The Highlights
A masterpiece in their own right; amazing.
Characters: Interact well; they create a unique plotline with their turmoils.
Plot: Just remember: nothing is as it seems!
Music: Pulsating at times, delicate at others.

How does one describe this indescribable feat of an anime? Whacked out? On crack? Visually amazing? Mental? Personally, I would agree with two of these choices. Revolutionary Girl Utena(1,2) is not your regular bag of tricks; yet, I do believe this movie has out-done the series in the animation, the plot (it’s there), mystery and everything else.

I doubt that any piece of Baroque artwork could present more detail than that of Revolutionary Girl Utena. In all my years of anime-viewing, literally nothing has ever amazed me more in that respect than this film. The scenes moved like liquid before my eyes. Every character, every postmodern structure, every substance and material in this film oozes with the elegance of amazing animation. That, alone, is enough of a reason to watch. But this movie is multifaceted.

And, when I say “multifaceted”, I am particularly referring to the music and plot. This movie defiantly shares the series’ love of sophisticated ear candy. Whether it is the marvelous talents of Okui Masami or the Tokyo Mixed Choir, or perhaps the signature piano interludes, both a musical expert and an utter novice will appreciate the listening as much as the seeing. The plot itself is a more subliminal masterpiece, taking the viewer through a completely revised, alternate universe to that of the Utena series that we all know and love. Is this particularly a bad thing? That varies from person to person, fan to fan.

How could you have Utena without the excessive use of symbolism? Whether it is the colour red or a little girl’s shoe, symbolism is in every scene. Quite honestly, in the eighty minutes that is Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie, the excessive use can bog down some viewers. Taking anything in the movie, whether scenes and events, too literally would be asking for trouble; everything flows like a dream, open to different interpretations.

Although Ikuhara Kunihiro is well known for his involvement in other projects (such as Sailor Moon), his true talents lie in this rosy, metaphysical, postmodern fairytale. I can surely guarantee that you will never see, hear, or think like you do during this movie. You have my word.

The Rating: 10

Reviewed by: Pachinko

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