Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #09: Revelation - 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: 29.99
  • 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. #09: Revelation

By Chris Beveridge     October 07, 2003
Release Date: October 14, 2003


Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #09: Revelation
© Central Park Media


What They Say
The unthinkable has happened: Utena has
allen in love with her best friend's older brother. Although he is engaged to another woman, he seems to return her affections. But to be his princess, Utena must give up her goal of becoming a prince. Will her budding romance destroy her lifelong dream...and her precious friendship with Anthy

The Review!
The penultimate volume to the series lives up to its name with a series of intriguing revelations.

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 shows up in a few places but isn’t terribly distracting and there’s only some slight aliasing during a few panning sequences.

Packaging:
With a large amount of white, the border strip of purple and blues looks great here with the very erotic looking image of Utena and Anthy in some form of an embrace while wearing their stylized uniforms. I’d almost say this is the most emotion we’ve seen from Anthy yet. 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.

Menu:
Changing style for the last two volumes, the menu layout has a stripe along the right now that has the spinning rose in it while animation form the show plays underneath it and the selections as well as a nice shot of Utena and Anthy in duelist mode. Selections are quick and easy to make. The menus have definitely come along nicely from their earlier ones and appreciate the change from playing automatically to when I select it to start. Whether this makes up for the inclusion of transitional animations is up for debate.

Extras:
There’s a thirty second video art gallery showcasing cels from these episodes, though a third of it is made up of the intro screen. The storyline summary continues so that people can attempt to jump into the show at this late date and another voice actor interview is included, this time a five-minute piece with Josh Mosby, the actors for Akio.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With some series, the volume labeling can be either spot on or it can make no sense or relation to the actual episodes. Utena has lucked out by being pretty much spot on and they simply can’t go wrong by labeling this one Revelation. With it containing three episodes in the final arc that basically provide a number of new bits that, well, reveals a number of motivations.

Suffice to say, spoilers seriously ensue.

Several pieces of backs story start to come together throughout these three episodes that bring elements only lightly touched upon right to the forefront of the plot and how it will affect things going into the finale. One of the main points has been in dealing with the prince’s of the past, and the mysterious image we see when Utena is in her dueling mode and we see it float down from the upside down castle above.

To tell the tale, we’re presented with an interesting and amusing way for it to be told. Utilizing the shadow girls, they put on a play that talks about the prince who fought back the darkness in the world and saved many a women, women who are all princess’ in his eyes. With the shadow images dancing across the stage, a stage where the only attendants are Anthy, Utena and Akio, the tale mixes the creepy and the comical as the two girls illustrate how the young handsome prince was tricked into being a captive in the castle. The light that he intended to protect turns out to be himself, and now darkness rules the land.

Taken into context with the past, this segment brings a number of things into clarity but still leaves plenty of others a mystery. When the shadow girls’ performance is then played out in a form of fantasy/reality flashbacks and we see Anthy taking care of the prince and going to sacrifice herself for his life, the suffering that she endures becomes painfully apparent. With a young Utena being ushered to the image by the prince, she learns that only another prince in another time can save her from this. Utena’s desire to become a prince starts to make more sense and adjustments to her own childhood belief of her reasoning why becomes clear.

To help filter more of what she imagined with what really happened, we examine the bond between Saionji and Touga instead. At first, this makes little sense outside of the fact that Touga seems to be torn over his feelings for Utena. His basic reasoning comes down to the fact that he must either defeat her to save her or lose to her to save her, and he’s not sure which salvation is the right one. But why does he feel so strongly for her?

This gets explored as we learn about a time far in Utena’s past when she keeps herself inside a coffin, keeping the world at bay and trying to deal with what was happening to her. Saionji and Touga came across her in this time and something happened there. This event, much like the film Stand By Me, made an impression on the two boys that changed their perceptions from then on. While they hadn’t made the connection early on with Utena, Touga has since realized it while Saionji now gets up to speed. This revelation brings a new twist on the relationship not only between the two men but also with Utena, who apparently has little to no recollection of this.

The imagery of the coffins and the comments about all of us living within them is intriguing and presents an interesting way to present various arguments. Tied with what we learned earlier about Utena wanting to free Anthy from her suffering by becoming a prince, the layers are being peeled back at just the right pace. These are the spiraling last segment of episodes where so much comes out and ties all things together that it’s fascinating to watch and highly re-watchable.

The only downside comes in that the next volume isn’t immediately available and the desire to see how it’s all wrapped up is powerful. There is so much enticing new bits in these three episodes that it’s quite the tease to have even a month between releases. This is the beginning of the payoff section of the series and it pays out handsomely. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actor Josh Mosby interview,Art Gallery,Storyline,Revolutionary Girl Utena Trailers

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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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