Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 87
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie
By Roman Martel
February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 23, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.8
(on a scale of 1-5)
Gosh two great movies in a row, and both from CPM. Lucky guys. Of course this movie is going to be great for some people and really confusing for others, but I think fan's of Utena will be pleased. I think fans of Night on the Galactic Railroad will be pleased. I think fans of beautiful animation, and excellent use of music and sound design will also be excited. Wait, I'm all three of those... no wonder I liked it.
This movie looked and sounded very good. And for this type of movie the sound and picture should be top notch. The menu keeps the theme and feel of the movie and works quickly enough (it's still not as good as some the nightjar stuff, but coming close). In addition to being a charming shade of pink, this keepcase has all the vital info including, region coding, rating, length of the disc, number of audio channels, number of languages and extras listing. And of course this disc is packed with extras. You get a director's commentary (always a great extra!), behind the scenes with the English dub cast, Japanese TV spots, Japanese Trailers, CPM's trailer and teaser (which are very cool), production art (with directors notes), a fan tribute, and a trivia game (watch a clip from the movie and answer a question). On the DVD-ROM side you get an Art Gallery, script for the director's commentary, script for the movie, more trivia, more fan tribute madness, not to mention the spiffy menu for the DVD ROM extras. With that all said and done, you've got a really great disc here. It's a great movie so what else do you want?
One the big obstacles facing a movie made from a popular series is deciding which direction to take it. Do you want it to be a continuation of the series, in it's own separate universe, or is it the culmination the story? Or you can basically do all three at the same time, like this film. With this approach you can not only continue the story for your fans, but also make a movie that people who have never seen the series will enjoy or at least be able to follow.
The plot is very similar to the television series. Utena arrives as school (high school this time), and makes an impression with the kids in her class. She dresses like a boy (or a prince) and acts about as tough as one. She meets Anthy (sporting long purple locks) who is the Rose Princess. It seems that a peculiar game is going on that involves various members of the school dueling for the hand of the Rose Bride. Utena gets pulled into the game, and into a mystery. Especially when the handsome Touga shows up. Putting a spin on the familiar story and mixing it around with some disturbing and off the wall visuals, this movie takes Utena and Anthy and allows them to take the hero's journey to adulthood.
The animation and sound design are very much the high point of the movie, especially if you have never seen the series or have only seen the first 13 episodes. Although it builds upon familiar images and ideas from the television show, it also takes things to a new level. The school is a maze of moving platforms and shifting columns. It makes it seem more like a labyrinth and more like dream then the previous incarnation. The huge dueling platform, with it's roses and water is beautiful, especially during the wonderful dancing scene about halfway through the series. Combined with the design is the use of light, shadows, darkness, and camera movement. There are tons of mood setting moments that serve to create an uncanny atmosphere. Sequences (like the racing scene) are almost ridiculous and yet seem to work. Added to the visuals is the sound design. This furthers the dream like imagery and sometimes disturbing feelings that appear in the film. The scene before the dance, where the water is rushing out of the hose, acts as a building to that moment. This director has done a great job using all the elements at his disposal to create a work of art.
The plot is your typical journey of the hero myth again. Much like Night on the Galactic Railroad, we are following a character (or characters) into adulthood. The title of the film is The Adolescence of Utena, and that is exactly what the film entails. It can be viewed as a culmination of the series. But at times the film seems to be about Anthy as well as Utena. One of the things that makes the Journey of the Hero story so appealing to story tellers is the fact that you can use different imagery to tell the story. This movie does that wonderfully and makes this classic tale turn upside down.
I wasn't too crazy about the dub for the television series. Some actors seemed a bit confused on how to play the parts, or how to make them effective. But it seems that dub crew got a little help from the Japanese director. The result is a much better dub, one that does justice to the movie. It was a first class effort. Some things still seem a bit off here and there, so it's not quite a perfect score, but if you were turned off by the television dub, give this one a try, it works much better.
To make a film very effective it takes a blend of visuals and audio. And it's important not to forget that the music is just as important as the visuals and sound. The score takes many of the familiar themes from the Utena television series and tweaks them just a bit. I love the score from the television series and felt that it not only works well with the visuals but on it's own as well. So to me the score was not a problem. In addition we also have some new songs with some of the familiar ones. My new favorite song is the one during the dancing scene. All the elements work wonderfully in that moment. Great stuff. You also get some of the familiar dueling music (like 70's rock opera). It's grown on me, but for some it just pulls them out of the movie. Your mileage may vary in those cases. For me the music was used to great effect and really adds to the film.
Revolutionary Girl Utena - The Movie is another piece of anime as art. It works on so many levels and can stand up to repeat viewings. The symbolism will begin to unravel the more you watch it, and make it more rewarding. No this is not a sit back veg-out type of film. It requires some thought and reflection. For me it was great. But for others it might be too abstract and even boring. The dancing scene is one of my new favorite scenes from an anime, and it works well to show how all the elements of film can be used to make a piece of animated art.
Roman J. Martel
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Phillips Flatscreen (27 Inch), Sony Playstation 2