Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #04: Impatience & Longing - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #04: Impatience & Longing

By Chris Beveridge     January 17, 2003
Release Date: January 14, 2003


Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #04: Impatience & Longing
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Utena’s best friend Wakaba entertains a secret gentleman caller. But mysterious forces twist her tender feelings into jealousy and hate. Will Utena lose her friend forever?

The Review!
Audio:
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.

Video:
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 fairly well non-existent and there’s only some slight aliasing during a few panning sequences.

Packaging:
The great looking new style for the covers continues here with a more blue/purple mix this time as Miki and his sister take the center stage. 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 for both Miki and his sister while providing scene selections for all four episodes, a full bilingual cast listing and the basic production credits for the show.

Menu:
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 (though I continue to dislike the episodes being called “movie”. The menus have definitely come along nicely from their earlier ones, though I dislike the way it plays automatically after a few run-throughs.

Extras:
The extras are rounded out a bit more here with some interesting things. There’s a video art gallery that runs about a minute but provides some gorgeous full color artwork as its set to the usual theme from the show. Ikuhara gets another brief couple of questions thrown to him, some bringing about some really amusing replies and there are also a couple more text sections, such as one about the Be-papas and another about the shows storyline. For English language fans, there’s a new four-minute video interview with another voice actress here, this time Mandy Bonhomme.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the long drought, going to a bi-monthly schedule with the series is like a dream come true, even with the reduced episode counts from what the first couple of volumes were like. With only three episodes on this disc, the show flows by pretty fast but provides a solid piece of entertainment.

With the Black Rose Saga fully underway and Mikage doing what he’s been doing in bringing in people to get them to want to change the world, the show is definitely repetitive. There’s no simple way to refute that aspect of it, and it’s a reason given for many people dropping out of the series at this point. It was at this point in the series that my wife and I really became even more hooked on it because of what it was doing.

Each episode here plays out the same. We get half an episode of actions and dialogue, often ending with someone going down into the basement where Mikage smoothly wins them over to his plans. The second half provides some surprise on Utena’s part and she then deals with the out-of-character person who’s decided to take her down in a sword fight.

That first half often packs more characterization than a lot of shows do over half a dozen episodes or more. Three very interesting characters go through the change here and each of them provides some very interesting aspects to the cast at large as we experience aspects of their lives and how it builds up the world around Utena. One of the more under appreciated characters in the form of Tsuwabaki gets to take center stage first, as he finds himself continually at odds with Nanami and his desires for her. His youth and naiveté, even being only a few scant years younger than her, continues to be the strongest barrier. His subservience to her doesn’t go over well with those his own age either, which causes him to eventually lose heart and become a prime suspect for Mikage.

The next two episodes tie together and bring some elements from the past back to light, but not after wringing a few of the characters a bit. One of Wakaba’s childhood friends ends up being recognized by her and she suddenly finds herself interested in him again. A lot of this goes back to her early years when she was called a lot of names because of her appearance and hairstyle, and he inadvertently helped her out. Her fond memories of that are still quite strong, but she ends up getting them confused when it turns out the boy is actually interested in Utena instead.

This leads into one of the best segments in Mikage’s basement yet and provides some excellent material for a long lost character whose come back. Akio also manages to make some appearances in these episodes, ever so slightly tipping his hat for things to come that he’ll be more directly involved in. There’s a lot of strength and emotion in these episodes, from the revelations the character make to Mikage to the passion that flows forth from them during their duels. These episodes provided just about every element I’ve come to enjoy with this series, from the out of place laughter to the quiet somber moments and to the very intense emotional releases. This is great stuff and one of the best series of recent years that gets me every time I see it.


Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Director Kunihiko Ikuhara,Interview with U.S. Voice Actor Mandy Bonhomme,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers

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