Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #10: Finale - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A+
  • 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. #10: Finale

By Chris Beveridge     November 11, 2003
Release Date: November 11, 2003


Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #10: Finale
© Central Park Media


What They Say
From Kunihiko Ikuhara (Director of Sailor Moon), Shinya Hasegawa (Key Animation Supervisor of Neon Genesis Evangelion), and based on the original manga by Chiho Saito. The final, shocking conclusion! Utena is about to discover the truth behind the secrets, the duels, and her own forgotten past. To do this, she must confront the prince who once saved her life, and face her most terrifying nightmare. For the last time, Utena must draw her sword and fight her own inner demons. Will there be a happy ending? Contains episodes 37-39.

The Review!
After four years and a lot of waiting, Revolutionary Girl Utena finally comes to a close and one of the most intriguing stories filled with blunt symbolism tries to wrap it all up in three episodes.

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 forest green looks great here with the highly charged image of Utena being “manhandled” between Touga and Saionji. I just adore this piece of artwork and the way her face shows her giving in to all of it. 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:
Depending on your level of interest, this is the best Utena disc in terms of extras. The art gallery provides a number of shots from the final episodes that are much cleaner than the show themselves. An amusing extra is a Chu Chu Montage, which is a 90 second or so video that’s all about Chu Chu and some of his best moments. Also about the same time is the Ohtori Academy Scrapbook, which is a montage of English language lines and animation for the main leads of the series in the form of photographs on a scrapbook. The final voice actor interview is here as well, this time with Sharon Becker, who plays Anthy in the series. To cap it off, there’s also several entries from a fan art/cosplay contest, including at least one name I’m familiar with.

Though not included in the extras section but in the languages area, there is a full length commentary track that’s been done with series director Kunihiko Ikuhara and collaborator Chiho Saito. With someone from Central Park Media attempting to mediate the discussion and direct questions, the commentary is one of the best pieces I’ve heard in some time. Ikuhara and Utena are so intriguing that anytime that he gets to talking about it and its blatant symbolism there are new things revealed. What makes this one even more fun is that Saito reveals so many things that Ikuhara wasn’t aware of at the time the show was being done about it and Ikuhara himself that it’s almost comical. Her initial impressions of him to her first thoughts upon seeing Akio half naked astride his car are priceless. This commentary is simply a must for fans of the series to get more insights into things.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After four years and ten volumes plus a theatrical movie, Revolutionary Girl Utena has come to a close. And depending on whether you’ve seen it before or this is the first time, the last three episodes provide so much in terms of visual storytelling that it’s easy to get confused in what’s being said.

The first time we had seen the series and finished the last episode, at least until the final credits rolled, we simply looked at each other and wondered what it was all about. The series ends in such a powerfully visual way with the raw emotions and angst of youth reaching out through Utena that when it almost seems to end with a whimper and not much in the way of a real explanation, it takes you back a moment and you try to figure out what it was you just saw.

The last three episodes brings things up to a fast and very symbolic conclusion, as Akio forces events so that he can find out whether Utena is really the prince that he needs to unlock the Rose Gate and thereby revolutionize the world. There’s all sorts of back and forth between Touga and Akio as they almost walk around each other like wary tigers. Most of the others have made their peace with Utena and wonder which way she’s going to go, as she’s taken off the rose ring and seems to be less interested in all the dueling that’s been going on.

But once Akio manages to bring Utena back into the realm of the End of the World, having cast off his other duelists, more revelations come up from the previous episodes as we get things clarified about Anthy’s being the witch and the role that Akio wants Utena to play. Visually, it’s almost impossible to really describe once Akio sets the stage properly and the Rose Gate appears and the million swords begin their tinkling movements all around the arena. The finale, with all its talk of revolution and changing the world, can be interpreted in a number of ways and most of them will be based on each individual viewers own experiences. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve seen the ending originally, I still haven’t formulated exactly how or what I feel about the actual ending.

Much like both Ikuhara and Saito talk about in the commentary, Utena was something that had not been done before and I still think hasn’t been done since. It tried and did so many things that weren’t the norm or visually untested before that it broke new ground and challenged the viewers. Utena is a series that, while I haven’t figured it all out myself, is one that the journey is indeed much more than the ending itself. Though with the repetition and continual bluntness in getting various themes and things across, it’s easy to see why people can be turned away from the series, but it was the small movements that were made during the repetitions, the minor changes and tweaks that subtly moved things ahead, that continually brought me back to the show and wondering how they’d build upon it later on.

In Summary:
Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of my favorite series and one of the more visually arresting theatrical films I’ve ever seen. It’s a series where I can continually go back to it and gain new perspectives and appreciation for it, especially as I hear others views on it and my own life changes to give me a new view on it. There’s something about the show that lets it be continually remolded into whatever my life is at the moment and to pull in aspects of it. With it’s striking character designs, gorgeous music and almost fairytale magical feel, Revolutionary Girl Utena is a series that will always be close at hand to be watched again when the mood strikes. Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Commentary track (Kunihiko Ikuhara & Chiho Saito),Ohtori Academy Yearbook - A Video Retrospective ,Chu Chu Video Montage ,Interview with U.S. Voice Actor Sharon Becker ,Farewell to Utena Fan Art Contest,Art Gallery

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 Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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