Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #08: Unveiling (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, September 07, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003
What They Say
Nanami, discovering a horrible truth about her relationship with her brother, runs away from home. Sheltering herself within the confines of Acting Chairman Akio's quarters, she bares witness to a horrible secret... this assault on Nanami's senses, her confusion, it all spirals down to one thing: trouble for Utena...
Contains episodes 31-33.
Racing closer to the end of the series, Nanami gets her final focus and we get one of the best recap episodes ever.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The shows stereo mix continues to be strongest with the music, with that aspect sounding the richest and fullest across the forward soundstage. Dialogue throughout is nice and clear, though there isn’t quite that much in terms of directionality.
In some ways, Utena will simply never look gorgeous; especially for those hoping these episodes will look like the movie they’ve seen. The transfer for Utena here looks quite similar to the Japanese release, with its pale large swathes of color that look solid, but just have that feel like they’re going to break up. Characters are fairly minimally drawn at mid to long range, and they often look little more than little blocks of color. Cross coloration is shows up in a few places but isn’t terribly distracting and there’s only some slight aliasing during a few panning sequences.
With a large amount of white, the border strip of dusky red looks great here with the erotic looking character artwork for Akio and Utena. The back cover does the background in reverse, with the white section providing the discs special features and episode summaries while mixing in some animation shots. The reverse side of the cover has some nice black and white artwork of the front cover image while providing scene selections for all four episodes, a full bilingual main cast listing and the basic production credits for the show.
Using the stylized spinning roses in the frame as the basis of the menu, they added in a transition piece of character artwork in the lower right corner that runs through as animation plays underneath and the opening song hurls along. Selections are quick and easy to make (and I continue to dislike the episodes being called “movie”. The menus have definitely come along nicely from their earlier ones, but I still dislike the way it plays automatically after a few run-throughs.
After this many volumes, it’s not surprising the extras are getting weaker. Beyond the trailer, we get a new art gallery and the continuation of the “storyline so far” pieces that have been with most of the releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With three episodes on this volume and one of them being a recap, it feels like this one simply flew by faster than I could believe.
The two part storyline that opens the disc carries though in taking care of Nanami in her last big role here where she gets all the attention. As she continues to deal with the every growing number of girls who try to get into Touga’s pants, she becomes more creative in getting rid of them. Her simple glares still work on most of them, such as when a group of them try to find out his blood type, but for others she finds herself being even more nasty than normal.
During one sequence, after being treated like a little girl by Touga, she sneaks into the bathroom where he’s taking a shower and we see his body, done in a very Greek god style shadow. She feels herself wanting to give everything to him, but still feeling bad about how he treated her, she ends up sneaking back out with his cell phone. From there, she continues to make a mess of anyone who calls looking for Touga, telling the girls that he’s either got a new number or that he’s dumped them. She varies between even tempered about it to outright virulent.
What ends up setting her off though is the realization that Touga’s blood type doesn’t match anyone else in the family. Finding that the bond of family is now gone between them and they’re not really related, she pushes herself to become more than he was, aspire to become something bigger and do something he hasn’t been able to, which results in a duel.
The recap episode covers most of the material in the last arc, from Kozue to Ruka, and how they’ve impacted things in Utena’s world. What makes this one stand out is the framework that it plays in, which has Utena out in the real world in a hotel room. Gone is the uniform and the usual clothes, instead a simple white and pink striped dress. We see her simply talking about the stars to playing Go and then to a really nice little segment where she ends up twisting and rolling herself around completely without thinking about it. But it’s the extremely small subtle moment where we find out who she was with and what they were doing that brings it up high, toying with those who would otherwise skip a recap episode.
With this one, they also take the time to re-examine Utena herself. With her removed from her normal environs and clothes, the structure of her face and how she carries herself changes. Watching her laying there on the bed, head to the side, talking about inconsequentials after what is about to/has already happened, to the biting of her finger as she worries about bread, is exhilarating. The way her face alone takes on a new dimension, accented later in the car as the wind moves through her dress and hair as she gazes off into the distance… just a few well placed moments in an episode otherwise devoted to reusing animation, and it changes nearly everything in how you view Utena.
This volume closes up the first half of this arc and sets things up to be properly manipulated for the final part of the series. The anticipation and eagerness in the remaining episodes begins to climb here, just from the preview alone. Though something of a minor set of episodes, this is one of my favorite areas of the series. I can’t wait to get into the juicy material now.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Storyline Summary
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena