|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Like Stretch, I made the foolish choice to watch this movie adaptation of Utena before the TV series. But I chose to neglect reviewing this movie until I got the chance to see the TV series.|
Now seeing both, I can say that this movie makes for an intriguing adaptation of Utena. The sexual symbolism of the TV series is more visible throughout this version, especially with the changes in Utena and Anthy's characters. The lesbianism of the series is more blatant in this movie clearly shown through the development of Utena and Anthy's relationship. The roles of their characters also seem to take a change as well with dominance residing with Anthy who is a sexual tease in the movie representing adulthood and Utena being arkward and frustrated with the changes around her representing adolescence. All of the symbolism in this movie have to do with the characters being trapped in the cage of adolescence where a difficult escape into the real world will lead one to adulthood and sexual freedom thus the purpose of the Rose Duels. Compared to the TV series though, the symbolism in this movie is more difficult to take in and could take several watches to get a grasp of everything. Even now, I'm still baffled by some of what I was seeing.
Many of the characters who had critical roles in the TV series are reduced to cameo roles for this movie and those still around had their roles changed. One big example is Touga being changed to the prince that Utena was once in love with instead of Dios/ Akio. It's nothing much for me to complain about since having too many characters to focus on would have hindered the character depth that was put on Utena and Anthy.
The art and character designs are improved from the TV series as the settings have more detail and lush color with character designs looking more attractive. Rose Duels were better choreographed and fluid for this movie as more of the action is shown instead of relying on reused animation cels like the TV series.
The Utena movie is one of the better movie adaptations of an anime TV series or manga that I've seen by staying faithful to the symbolism and character depth of the TV series without forcing too much presence from other characters. It's a baffling movie of symbolizing the end of adolescence and the coming of adulthood.
Last updated Friday, May 09 2008. Created Friday, May 09 2008.
Okay, here's a review written by somebody who committed the cardinal sin of watching this movie without knowing anything about the TV series. I had been intrigued to read that the Utena sub-genre was the product of some disgruntled anime talents who felt they had been shortchanged for their work on the fantastically successful Sailor Moon series. These people had supposedly created a new series of their own to compete with their former project. I was also under the impression that this movie would be an abbreviated retelling of the TV plot, so I wasn't expecting a particularly complex story. Big mistake! The first half seemed painfully boring and confusing since I didn't have the slightest idea what was going on. I did notice the unusual art style and plentiful lesbian overtones. It was hard to believe anyone mistook Utena for a man--unless men commonly dye their long hair pink at this particular academy. Around halfway through one phrase started coming to mind repeatedly: "What the f---?!". The last half-hour or so reminded me of nothing so much as the movie "Tron". Well, there you have it, the impressions of a fool who watched a movie that turned out to be nothing like what he had expected. I'll leave this "Unevaluated" so as not to corrupt the average grade given by people who knew what they were talking about.
Last updated Tuesday, November 23 2004. Created Tuesday, November 23 2004.
The Utena movie is interesting to say the least. I had never seen any of the tv series when I got the movie but I did know who everybody was already. The animation, first of all, is some of the best you'll ever see. I am also very partial to the movie character designs. The story has symbolism and metaphors all over the place, with some blatant while others hidden. It's all one giant puzzle really, the pieces fit but it forms an odd picture. While it is a strange movie, it is also very unique. Which is a big plus in my book. The ending was also very intriguing to me and I think Alex Black summed up my opinions on this movie very well so just read that one. ^_^
Last updated Monday, December 23 2002. Created Monday, December 23 2002.
|Buy 4||9||9||8||9||9||Almost Eilonwy||[series:341#428]|
Before you watch this movie, you have to separate it from the Utena TV series. This movie takes roughly those characters and roughly that setting and roughly that concept and goes somewhere completely different with it. Actually, the movie seems to be one, long metaphor for adolesence and growing up(Which baffles me as to why they would change the title when bringing it over to America, but I digress).|
Take the symbolism from the Utena series and mulitply it by a factor of 1000. That's the movie. Chock full of symbolism and ideals, this movie's one that leave you staring at the screen in a daze when it's over. Don't try to look for much of a plot, because there isn't much of one.
Rather than try to explain what I think happened at the end, I'll just say that I think every person who watches it will have a different interpretation, because it is something that can have a different meaning to each person. I would recommend this movie to everyone, though, because it is a gorgeous film with wonderful animation(The dance scene is one of my alltime favorite anime scenes), a very dark and intriguing setting, and an ending that will leave you thinking for days on end as to what it was about.
Last updated Thursday, November 21 2002. Created Thursday, November 21 2002.
|Buy 4||9||9||9||7||8||Alex Black||[series:341#128]|
Adolescence Mokushiroku was simply brilliant.
Most of you out there already know what happens when you take a popular long-running manga series or television show and squeeze it down into ninety minutes of programming...it gets so condensed that it loses it's character development, key events, and the overall charm...(Look at The Escaflowne Movie...*sigh*). It just seems like a foolhardy task for a company to undertake.
Utena: Adolescence pulls it off in style. Instead of trying to hint at all the deep relationships of it's thirty-nine episode predecessor, </i>Revolutionary Girl Utena</i>, it brings you into a new universe and presents you with the same characters and ideas with a different spin. This movie is more than a ninety minute commercial for the series...it's an amazingly crafted story crammed with metaphor and symbolism so intense that it deserves it's own classification.
Before I get to far ahead of myself, I'd like to say that the animation, art, characters, and overall design of this movie are incredible. The style is definitely not your standard anime fare...it's unique unto itself. The character redesigns are wonderful...Anthy's redesign in particular serves to really bring out her character, evolving from the shy, bookish girl from the series into the long-haired, enthusiastic maiden of desire that everyone wants to own. The animation is some of the best to date, with beautiful, vibrant colors, smooth, fluid action, even realistic hair movements (which we all know can be the bane of animators). Last, but not least, there's the background art...a constantly shifting world of grace and mystery...they're truly the most stunning thing about the art overall, in my estimation.
The dub is very well done. Having seen both the subtitled and dubbed versions, I can say without hesitation that you should watch the dub (I never thought I'd say that...). The American voice actors (the same ones from the tv series)are excellent, each bringing a uniqueness to their character. Rachel Lillis reprises her role from the TV series as the definitive Utena, with her beautiful womanly voice (I say 'womanly', because the Japanese voice actress sounds more girlish, in my estimation).
The music is great; the score is one of the things I enjoyed most about the film. Full of beautiful orchestration combined with j-pop and j-rock, this soundtrack is a great buy. However, sometimes the presence of the music detracts from the intent of the film, specifically the songs from the series like "Revolution," which is a grqeat song, but far too playful fro the scene it's paired with.
The plot is very well done; the movie is replete with intrigue, romance, swordfighting (always a plus). The main characters, Utena and Anthy, are very well-rounded and even believable, despite their confused surroundings.
Unfortunately, the side characters suffer from cardboard-cutout syndrome...while their motivations are clear (except for Shiori...)they serve only as minor antagonists, while the real antagonist is the actual environment they attempt to escape.
That brings me to a point of some dispute...why the bizarre turn at the end? (I suggest you not read this if you haven't seen the movie yet.)
My take on the metaphor-laden ending...Anthy and Utena are trapped in a world of inconstancy and confusion...but it is a self-imposed prision...it is their safe world of fantasy and untruth that protects them from the 'real' world outside: a harsh, terrifying place into which they plunge, vulnerable and by themselves...but with the solace that each other provides.
OK, so what does all of that mean? Here's what I think it means...and this is purely speculative...Utena represents one facet of femininity...the non-conforming strong woman, independant but still vulnerable. Anthy is another facet of womanhood: she is a demure, beautiful prize given for the winner of the duel to do whatever they want with...she is the subverted sexual 'doll' that women are expected to be in a male-dominant society. Utena is trying to save Anthy from that stereotype...trying to convince her that she does not have to be owned by anyone, and the story is about just that...setting women free of the shackles of subserviance that they've been forced into for centuries. The presented sexual dynamic isn't the point of the film (I know there are guys out there who will see this one just for the lesbians...*sigh*), but rather supports the overall idea that a woman is free to choose her partner...and be in control of her own life.
They break free of the confines of that world and enter a new place where there are few roads to travel...they are trailblazers of sexual equality.
Getting back into review mode here...I'd just like to encourage everone out there to see this film...I'm very fond of it, and even if you don't love it as much as I did, you'll be sure to enjoy it (although it's a whole lot more enjoyable if you've seen the series beforehand).
Last updated Monday, April 22 2002. Created Monday, April 22 2002.
Utena: the Movie was beautiful looking. I'm not sure I completely understood it, but it looked damn nice. |
The high-end animation was a treat, with some truly inspired visuals, particularly the scene of Utena and Anthy dancing under the stars. Fans of the TV show will undoubtably appreciate the vast improvement in animation quality, enhanced by some unobtrusive CG.
I thought the character designs were better in this movie. I far prefer Utena with the short haircut. Still, the non-connected mouths irritated me, and cheapened the overall glossy "look."
The story seems to be about Utena and Anthy's escape from their self-imposed prison of emotional attachment and past tragedies (?) but I can't really say for sure, since there was much metaphorical imagery and convoluted dialogue. I've only seen about a fourth of the Utena TV series, so perhaps it would help if I was well versed in it.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Utena: the Movie. I feel that it works well enough as a stand alone film that doesn't require knowledge of the TV show (but it probably helps.) Excellent animation is the strong point of this visually stunning and engrossing anime.
Last updated Thursday, February 14 2002. Created Thursday, February 14 2002.
TOTAL GRADE: 74% C|
Forget everything you knew, forget everything youve seen is part of American Trailers for THE ADOLESCENCE OF UTENA and theyre more or less absolutely rights. A lot about this movie is like a dream about the life you knowsome things are the same, some things are different, some things are cryptic, and some things simply dont have any place in it at all. This is how I would compare this movie to REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA.
For the first half, roughly, I was enthralled with the visually stunning and very much surreal animation and was exceptionally amused by the liberties taken with the UTENA mythology. While I am a fan of the original television series on many levels and think of it as the CITIZEN KANE of anime in lots of respects, I always thought the series lacked something overall. After the ADOLESCENCE OF UTENA, I realize it was lacking maturity, appropriately enough.
This movie was dark, sensual, and very complimenting on the premise UTENA is supposed to operate under. Anthy, the Rose Bride, is supposed to be the submissive and willing fiancée of whoever possesses her. When you think of a series filled with teenagers who are ambitious, arrogant, and sometimes sadistic and abusive dont you think the concept of a young woman devoted to pleasing you would become perverse? Aside from Anthy, and the nature of the duels, all the characters are out to revolutionize the world in a manner that suits their own desires. Most of the student council members and other characters involved in the duels through some means or another play power games where the goal is to always have something to hold over someone and the prize is nothing short of dominating the wills of the people they desire most. With such cruel and manipulative interactions, wouldnt a bit for sexual, mature, and dark feel be far more flattering?
The first half of the movie toys with everything I mentioned above like a cat with a mouse. Then it all falls flat. The last half of ADOLESCENCE OF UTENA works very hard to make as little sense as possible as it forsakes plot and characters simply to be surreal, metaphorical, and ultimately disappointing to the point of tears. Weird for the sake of being weird, the movie seemed to strive only to upstage its parent series on the strange bizarre. Little is coherent and almost nothing feels true of the series, as its simply a twisted commentary on something that felt like a fever dream.
If you havent seen REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA or enough to have a grasp on the series, skip this movie as its very confusing and painful even to someone who fancies herself a fan of the series. Not a must see for UTENA fans of all shapes and sizes, but its interesting to see the characters express emotions and desires that were only alluded to and enshadowed in the original series. Ill wager youll be disappointed overall, but I think that if it happens to be on, it couldnt hurt to check it out as long as you dont hold the TV show sacred.
For more cloak and dagger surrealism:
REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA
SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN
Last updated Monday, December 24 2001. Created Monday, December 24 2001.
|Watch 4||8||7||7||7||Kaitou Juliet||[series:341#137]|
I've got mixed feelings about this movie, which probably stem partly from having finished watching the TV series shortly before I saw it. On the one hand, it will drench you in stylish, surreal, sumptuous visuals. And although it didn't completely rewrite the plot the way A Girl in Gaea did with Escaflowne, it still puts enough of a different spin on things that the movie stands on its own.
Most of the characters are pretty different from the way they are in the TV series (Shoujo Kakumei Utena). Utena and Anthy are pawing each other sexually practically from the moment they meet. Miki barely appears but says he's looking for power instead of his "shining thing." Touga is Utena's ex-boyfriend (!), and he has a very different past from the TV series character. Nanami isn't around at all except for a brief "cameo." This probably isn't too hard to take if you haven't seen the series, and of course a person can't expect as much complexity in a 90-minute movie as in a 39-episode TV series, but the all the same I missed the nuances. There were times when I just had to keep chanting "different continuity, different continuity" to myself.
The movie doesn't exactly have spoilers for the TV series; the two go in different directions and seem to take place in slightly different universes. You do find out a few of the TV series' surprises in the movie, but they seem to mean different things. The whole Utena/Touga plot seems to be expanded from an incidental speech toward the end of the TV series.
Well, I'm rambling now, and I'm sure I'll be revising this review later. This movie is definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, not even for all Utena fans. But it's worth a look at least.
Last updated Sunday, January 06 2002. Created Friday, October 19 2001.