Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: -
What They Say
"Another me, for the power to revolutionize the world."
Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku, or The Adolescence of Utena (the official English title), was perhaps the most hyped and anticipated anime theatrical release of last summer. Much like the 1984 movie version of Macross, Adolescence Mokushiroku (Adolescence Apocalypse) offers an abridged, slightly different version of a popular TV series, with much more visual panache.
To say that the animation in the Utena movie surpasses the quality of the TV series is an understatement; technically, the movie is on par with the likes of Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories, Rin Taro's X, and Hideaki Anno's End of Evangelion. Like the Evangelion movie, Utena makes extensive use of computer graphics (about half of the film is CG), but the melding of the more traditional cel animation with the CG sequences is virtually seamless (the only anime that perhaps does this better is Cowboy Bebop). It's obvious just by looking at a few scenes that serious money was lavished on this film (and it has nearly as many company logos before it as Eva). You'll have to watch this film at least twice once, to savor the stunning visuals, and again, to absorb the nuances of the story. The movie's plot is, as one would expect from a movie based on Utena, surreal and mysterious but not quite as subtle, due to the shorter running time. Things that were only implied in the TV series are fully shown in the movie, for better or for worse (this is not a movie for small children nor for the prudish).
I won't give away any of the plot here, but suffice it to say that the movie will satisfy most Utena fans and those who enjoy "experimental" anime. One caveat: People who haven't seen the TV series may miss out on a few things, including the funniest joke in the movie (overall, though, the film is very serious more in line with the later, more dramatic episodes). The DVD's main menu is the "Kage O.S.," a clever nod to the omnipresent Shadow Play girls (the menu design will make more sense once you've seen the movie).
I knocked half a point off the menu's rating because for some odd reason, the "play" button will start the movie from the beginning or access the trailer/TV spot menu, but you must press the "enter" button to access the other selections on the menu ("Revolution Clip" and "Chapter"). This caused some people to believe those features didn't work on the Apex AD-600A, due to the Apex player's poorly designed remote (you just have to make sure you're hitting the right button, and they will work). "Revolution Clip" allows you to skip immediately to the "cool parts" of the movie, such as the duels or the "transformation" sequence. The menu for this is fully animated--you can watch thumbnail versions of all the scenes simultaneously (a bit like the chapter select menu on The Matrix).
The chapter select menu on Utena, while not animated, does play music in the background (which changes when you get to the last page of chapters to the BGM from the movie's finale).
The video, which features a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfer, is flawless from what I can tell truly a superb transfer (with all the digital effects, it almost seems made for the DVD format). On a Dolby Surround system, it sounded very clear and crisp, although the sound effects overpowered the music a bit at times. The packaging is quite interesting the DVD comes in a see-through keepcase with a reversible sleeve; what this means is that you can remove the sleeve, flip it over, and have a totally different cover!
Other extras include three collectible cards and a full-color fold-out with scenes from the movie, a character guide, and a full list of credits. Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku may not mean quite as much to those who haven't finished (or didn't care for) the TV series, but for longtime fans, it's a sensational treat.
Japanese Language,"Revolution Clip" (play highlights from the film)
"Movie Flash" (movie trailers and TV spots),Transparent keepcase,Reversible cover art,Collectors' cards,Full-color fold-out booklet
24" Sony WEGA TV, S-video connection, Apex AD-600A DVD player
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Starchild/King Records
Running time: 87
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena