Shoujo Kakumei Utena

Title:Shoujo Kakumei Utena
Fille Révolutionnaire Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - BePapas
Animation - JC Staff
KOYASU Takehito
Music - MITSUMUNE Shinkichi
R1 License - Right Stuf Intl
YOSHINO Hiroyuki

Once upon a time there was a princess grieving over the deaths of her mother and father. Before this princess appeared a prince traveling upon a white horse.

His appearance gallant and his smile gentle, the prince enveloped the princess in the scent of roses, and wiped away her tears.

"Little one is bearing up alone under grief, please lose not thy strength and nobility when thou growest up."

"As a token of this day, please retain this."

"Pray, shall we meet once more?"

"This ring should guide thee to me."

Was the ring from the prince meant as an engagement ring?

That part was good, but because of the strength of her admiration for the prince, the princess made up her mind to become a prince herself! But is that really good for her?

(taken from the translation of episode 1 by Robert Paige & Yasuyuki Sato, on the "Utena Encyclopedia" - see links section.)

[TV series, 1997, 39 episodes, 25 min; see also: Adolescence Mokushiroku]
1:30min Series Opening - YouTube Video
1:17min English Language Trailer - ANN Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 7 8 9 10 9 Ggultra2764 [series:56#1552]
Utena has been an anime title I've been wanting to see since I first heard of it three years ago and I finally got the opportunity of seeing the entire series.

Utena is an anime with a complex amount of symbolism to take in. The objects and various surroundings that one can see throughout the series features hints that elude to specific motivations of the characters or events to the series that have yet to come. Such themes that you can find symbolism with are the objectification of women, incest, power, submission, hypocrisy, and lesbianism. And always keep an eye out for the Shadow Gals, A-ko and B-ko, who appear in every episode to do shadow plays. Their routines always hint to specific events or traits of the characters that wouldn't normally be indicated otherwise by the other characters. The symbolism of the series gets more darker as the series progresses which helps symbolize the transition from the innocence of adolescence to the perils of adulthood which these characters are undergoing. The symbolism is easy enough to follow and doesn't get baffling like Shin Seiki Evangelion.

Another aspect to Utena that makes the series remarkable are the plot and characters. Each of the characters have fleshed-out personalities and motivations for their involvements in the Rose Duels. The Black Rose arc did an especially good job with psychological depth by exploring the inner angsts of those close to members of the Student Council, Utena, and Anthy. Revolutionary Girl Utena features one plot twist after another testing Utena's commitment to her ideals and beliefs of the 'prince' role she took up.

There are some issues that I do have with Utena though. First would have to be with the animation for the duels. I've noticed that there is a heavy amount of reused animation cels which does hamper the experience of seeing the elegant settings and beautiful-looking character designs. Utena always seems to use the same finishing move on her opponents which make the duels seem kind of stale most of the time I see them. Another issue I had would have to be with many of the Nanami-centered episodes. These episodes often featured over-the-top comedic elements which seemed to go against the mood and environment of the series.

Otherwise, Revolutionary Girl Utena makes for a great watch for those who crave heavy symbolism and shoujo themes with their anime titles.

Last updated Saturday, May 03 2008. Created Saturday, May 03 2008.
Rent aoneish [series:56#1615]
this is one series that i would love to have remastered, hell, reanimate it. it is damn worth it. it's gorgeous without hardly trying. it's by no means perfect. the dueling gets tedious (especially if you watch the entire series in one sitting), but there are tons of complexities and subtleties and mysteries for you to unravel. this was the first anime i ever watched, years and years ago. i didn't understand a lick of it, being as i was maybe 13 or something at the time, but it stuck with me. and even now when i watch it again, i don't understand a lot of things, being as i'm not too good with symbolism and imagery and whatever else methods used to tell the story indirectly. but it's a fantastical series, an exploration into characters that we would never usually consider with an illusionary twist to it--that is, nothing is as it seems. it's an eerie series to be sure, and the ost, especially that dueling apocalypse song, will kill you by ep 10 or so. but everything else is well worth it.

although, i dislike how it ended. even if i see why it had to be done that way.

Last updated Thursday, November 09 2006. Created Thursday, November 09 2006.
Rent Forbin [series:56#1573]
Drama : Low
Comedy : Med
Action : Med
SciFi : Med
Ecchi : Low

3 Episodes Watched.
I stayed away from this series because it just looks so Yuri. Made by SoftX and JCStaff (Are they the same company?) by a bunch of disgruntled employees who worked on Sailor Moon (And didn't get any credit). But watching 3 episodes I realized while there are Yuri tones, it isn't on the main character. As Utena says 'I may dress like a boy, but I am all woman inside, and I like boys'. So far it's pretty good, the main fight song/Maho Shojou scene is starting to grate on me a bit though.

Animation looks slightly off, but then this is such an old series I'll overlook it.

At the moment I'll rate this a Rent lets see if the other episodes will bring it up to a buy. But considering I love almost anything from JC Staff this will probably become a Buy.

Last updated Wednesday, September 07 2005. Created Wednesday, September 07 2005.
Buy 10 10 10 10 10 10 ohtori_akio [series:56#1835]
This anime is one of the best around. It is arguably the best Shojo anime ever made, although it breaks away from that fold very fast. The show slowly moves into a darker territory that many shows do not dare approach. The biggest surprise is how subtlely and tastefully it explores things like *spoiler* incest, lesbanism, obsession and adoration. This show achieves all these spectacularly well, in fact you could still go on decoding imagery and sounds after viewing the series 30 times because it includes so much. The animation is exquisite in this show, one thing that springs to mind to point that out is in the second last episode, badmington was used as a symbol and the detail put in the racket or the shuttlecock is breathtaking. The characters and the backgrounds are also extremely well suited for each other unlike shows like Naruto or Ranma where characters can look juxtaposed onto the background. The sound of Utena is another one of its strengths and it is so well suited to the battles or the overall theme of a particular episode, not to mention Rinbu Revolution and Zettai Umnei Mokushiroku which are just amazing left of the centre pop songs. The story seems quite simple at first but the layers that it is wrapped into makes it very complex and entertaining. Even the filler episodes include footage that can answer questions one might still hold over a particular situation or character. The characters in this show are also amazing. I can't think of another show (except maybe Rose Of Versailles) that has such full and deep characters, even Nanami who can seem quite shallow has a strong presence and further episodes explain her character very well. This show has the best value of any show I can think of as you will definitely have to watch the whole thing twice and maybe more to understand all the subtleties. It is also a great, enjoyable show that no one should miss. It is jaw droppingly good!!!!!

Last updated Monday, February 07 2005. Created Monday, February 07 2005.
Buy 10 8 9 10 10 10 Anshii [series:56#810]
I am biased. In my opinion, SKU is by far the best shoujo anime ever and is definitely in the Top 10 best anime series ever made. Please keep this in mind.
You know how some people will make a judgment on a series based on the first few episodes? Shoujo Kakumei Utena is a prime example of an anime that withholds itself until the very end, and even when you're done looking at all the episodes, half the fun is trying to figure out just what you saw! Is it an allegory? Is it a fairy tale? Is it a middle finger to the stereotypes of shoujo anime? I think the answer is simply, "yes".
SKU is an anime that traditionally defies reviewers. In order to give your opinion on the story, you have to either spoil or come dangerously close to spoiling the entire story. It is for that reason that most reviewers choose to be extremely vague about this series. My hat goes off to everyone who posted their opinion on this series; I know you all had to hold back!
Honestly, you're either going to really love Shoujo Kakumei Utena or you're really going to hate it. And you won't know which camp you're in until you see all 39 episodes.
A cautionary note: the covers of the American release of SKU have "from the director of Sailor Moon" ... because Sailor Moon was marketed to a young audience here in the States, many parents will assume that this title is child-friendly. Shoujo Kakumei Utena is NOT FOR CHILDREN. Any parent who does not heed this warning had better be prepared to answer some uncomfortable questions about unsavory and mature themes that come up in the second half of the series.

Last updated Friday, June 27 2003. Created Friday, June 27 2003.
Buy 10 8 9 10 10 10 MizuKagami [series:56#670]
Okay...I've read the reviews in here, and what the heck is wrong with the music in the series?! I happen to enjoy it very what if the lyrics are a little funky, the tunes are awesome, and the rock-like beat is great!
I loved the storyline and the character designs as is like a funky mixed-up fairy tale, and that's what makes it so appealing, besides the beautiful roses that represent nearly the whole series. I like how the storyline develops slowly so we can get to know the characters better.
And saying that the storyline DOES NOT help people get to know them, is totally wrong...If you look at it, near the end of the series, everything does fall into place, and things are explained so you can better understand them.
If you like sword duels, good music, and a good overall storyline, then see this show, you wont be disappointed.

Last updated Wednesday, June 18 2003. Created Wednesday, June 18 2003.
Rent 10 7 7 8 8 8 Sesen Kelader [series:56#471]
I give the Art 10 because the anime uses some kinds of illustration that I can't understand, so the art must be good.
This story is surreal. The way it expresses each character's inner world is artful but requires time to figure out. The background and costume setting are unreal but very gorgeous, especially the fighting stage. However, it does not well describe each character since it's too "surreal" and misses some important setup. But generally it's a good anime that makes one thinks crazy.
Utena is not a suitble anime for kids under 12 because it's simply too hard for them to understand.
The first O/E songs are great, but I don't know why later they change into some really "psychic" songs that I completely dislike.

Last updated Thursday, January 02 2003. Created Thursday, January 02 2003.
Buy 9 8 8 8 10 9 Almost Eilonwy [series:56#428]
I will say this straight off: This is my favorite anime series. Don't let that scare you off, though. Unlike others who LOVE this series for the sensuality(I hesitate to say sex) and because it seems real mature, I love this series for the deeper meanings in it. Utena is, truly, an upside-down fairytale. There are probably some spoilers in this review, so be warned.
Utena is a story told from the point of view of Tenjou Utena, a classic tragic hero who remains virtually clueless as to what's going on until the end. The actual story, though, belongs to Himemiya Anthy, a witch who is trapped by humanity's hatred and whose only savior, Dios, the prince, had fallen into evil. This story is about Anthy looking for her prince who would be the one to save her. But in order for that to happen, her prince must sacrifice their freedom and become the Rose Bride, in essence, taking Anthy's fate upon themselves.
Pretty heavy stuff, right? Throw in lessons about letting go of the memories that are keeping you back(Ever wonder what Ohtori's all about?), the breaking of gender roles(Can a girl become a prince?), and heavy sacrifices(Ruka, Anthy, Utena) and you have an outstanding and intelligent series that seems to go over so many people's heads. The opening sequence really describes the series perfectly, though it isn't until the end that you realize this. It's an anime that will make you think and wonder about what happened. My sister and I would discuss it for hours trying to figure out all of the symbolism(Yes, there is a lot of symbolism) and concepts, and we still sometimes have "Aha" moments where something about the series clicks.
I would recommend this series to anyone. Yes, it has some risque subjects such as incest, homosexuality, statutory rape, torture, and even death. The series, as a whole, though, has a wonderful message and is a beautiful fairy tale.

Last updated Wednesday, November 20 2002. Created Wednesday, November 20 2002.
Buy 9 9 10 10 10 10 kakyuu_prince [series:56#404]
Best anime ever! This is definitely my favorite series. The whole series is fantastic, Utena is easily one of the most unique and memorable characters of anime. Everyone is so interesting to watch right up until that incredible ending. Though the show is strange, metaphoric, and very symbolic and might turn some people off, it is really such an amazing work. The opening theme is one of my favorite songs as well. I don't think that guys will like it as much as girls, but it is possible for both to enjoy this series. The animation also starts out okay, goes down a little, but it gets progressively better and stays that way. Another thing I love about Shoujo Kakumei Utena is that you figure something else out every time you watch the show or relearn something so that it never becomes boring. The duels were also great, especially the Black Rose Saga duels. Seeing the Black Rose Duellists' anger, issues, and personal drives were fascinating. Especially Wakaba's duel, one of the best parts of the whole series in my opinion. All of the characters become developed, even Nanami and Tsuwabuki. Everything falls into place by the time the ending roles along. What I really liked about the ending was how mcuh it fitted, it was a perfect ending and I really don't think people could've seen what was coming in the end. The best way to describe Utena would be an upside down, sideways, and shaken up fairy tale with a lot of roses thrown in. I think that Utena is up there with Evangelion in terms of best anime series.

Last updated Sunday, November 03 2002. Created Sunday, October 13 2002.
Buy Robbie [series:56#192]
What can I say about this absolutely wonderful show other than... IT'S GREAT!!!! Believe me what everyone else pretty much said is true. This show has to be one of the most weird. But then again, that's why it's so engaging. It started by watching the first episode and I didn't really feel anything. But when I woke up the next day I was literally dying to know what happened next! This is an excellent show and there's no reason not to watch it, unless you don't want to get addicted to it like the rest of us here! ^_^

Last updated Monday, July 01 2002. Created Monday, July 01 2002.
Buy 7 7 8 10 10 Kaitou Juliet [series:56#137]

This was the first series I ever bought fansubs for, because I simply had to see how it ended. I was hooked on it before I even decided that I liked it; it's very strange, but compelling. I'm very glad that I decided to take the plunge, because you really have to see this through to the end to get the full impact. The first 13 episodes (all that is available commercially at this time) barely scratch the surface. (Good news--it has been announced that the whole rest of the series has been licensed for distribution in North America! The first disc of the second season should be available in November 2002.)

The artwork takes some getting used to, but it seems to work for the tone of the series. This is the kind of show that you can sit around debating for hours on end, with tons of weird symbolism and twisted takes on folktales. The characters are all incrediby real and drawn in great detail within an unreal framework. It's not overly sweet, either; all those roses have thorns that can draw real blood.

Much as I love this show, however, I have to admit that it's not going to be for everyone. The sheer weirdness of it is going to turn some people off. Some people may find the tone too bitter, although for others that will be a drawing card!

Last updated Thursday, July 25 2002. Created Thursday, November 01 2001.
Buy 8 8 9 10 10 10 isabella [series:56#229]
Since the moment i stumbled across an unknown website dedicated to shoujo kakumei utena, i've always been interested in the series. it always sat there at the back of my mind... waiting to be revived... until one day... when i truly had the oppurtunity to rent and view the series itself. I was completely captivated.
Utena is a series that stands out as a great anime - it's unlike any other. Completely unique, it holds my constant fascination.
I rented and watched the first 13 dubbed epsiodes of the Student Council saga with a male friend of mine... as episode 13 came to a cliffhanger close, we realized we were hooked. Dissapointed that no others had been dubbed... i ordered the rest of the series in the original japanese (all 14 to 39 ^^) - yes, it cost a pretty penny ^^;; but personally, it was worth every single cent ^__~
Utena stands out as a truly unique anime in the sense of it's complex story, indepth characters (designed to actually Have realistic flaws), and a perspective on life itself, as well as humanity.
I love all the characters in this anime, b/c each brings his/her own passion to what takes place throughout the series and how they each deal with every passing situation. Each character has truly humanistic flaws which allows them to be very comparable to one's self or others - it is also important to note that these character flaws/attributes, and each they're own personal styles, are very much imbellished and "pushed to the extreme." Traditional western stereotypes are twisted as well as indulged, as characters become either the opposite of what society deems they should be, or fit perfectly into the pigeon holes assigned them (well ^^;; perhaps not - or atleast we see how some react against their being fitted into a specific role, ie. Keiko, Wakaba... and anthy is most definately your "stereotypical" princess, submissive female).
This is a fabulous series that delves deeply into the minds of primary and secondary characters alike - relationships, love, truth, life/death, fate/choice, existensialism, reality, and the "forbidden," are prominant themes bravely and wonderfully portrayed in SKUtena.
The series is simple yet complex, filled with allusions to classical myth, bibblical refrences, and other refrences from worldwide beliefs, mythologies and folktales. There are also a ton of zany addatives which tend to make no sense at all, which only adds to the "conept" that is utena lol Shoujo Kakumei Utena maps the human psyche in such a passionate and evocative way that displays human emotion on every level and in every sense - as well as invoke it inside the viewer themselves.
On a personal note, i'd say that the last arc is my most beloved. this is the arc where everything comes to a head *no pun intended ^^;;* - the arc where sex, manipulation, trust and emotion are truly evoked. This is an arc for secondary and major characters alike, not to mention the animetion has been upped quite abit.
The music from every arc is fabulous as well - of course, i'm talking mainly about BGM. Concerning the duelling songs and Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku, personal i love them, or atleast the majority, but these songs tend not to appeal to everyone, so it all comes down to personal likes once more ^__~
All in all *and if you've stuck around to read this far i commend you ^^* shoujo kakumei utena is one of the most amazing and well thought out anime series i've ever known, and is one of my most beloved. I highly recommend that you rent these epsiodes and research them on the internet if you're interested in discovering more about the series (best to see them for yourself though ^__~). It's especially important to note at this point, that utena isn't a series for all - everyone finds different meanings within, everyone sees the portrail of Utena as a series in different ways (it was too obvious, it was too obscure, it was just perfect ^^* it all depends on personal preferance, ne!)
To me, Utena is like a well crafted poem - you can sit and analyze every meaning of every word to diverge the true meaning laying dorment inside. This is an anime that represents and portrays the human condition, and teaches us that we must look inside ourselves to save ourselves - that only we can change who we are and learn to love those around us, and to escape those negative fantasies we lock ourselves into (ie. only "you" can live in, and create, your own personal "hell," and you're the only one capable of pulling yourself free from that hell). Some may find Utena strange and bizarre... while others will embrace those unique qualities to gain something remarkable from this splendid anime.
last note: i think this series is for everyone of an adult and mature age, male or female alike. i love it (19 year old female), my friend brian loves it (19 year old male), and suffice to say, i've gotten my mother intersted in the series ^__~ then again... she actually understands and recognizes most of the symbolism that many fans, i;ve noted, haven't even touched on yet (that i know of). Go mom ^^
check it out minna ^^*

Last updated Tuesday, October 23 2001. Created Sunday, October 21 2001.
Buy 7 6 10 7 10 Courtney [series:56#80]
I just got around to rewatching the first 14 episodes of UTENA and had an exceptional change of heart comparatively to my previous evaluation. Maybe I needed to watch it all at once or look at it in a different way, but UTENA, which I initially viewed as too-modern art to be overtly entertaining now has grown on me considerably. Despite that being said, my conscious simply will not allow me to blindly praise every facet of UTENA like some reviewers above me.
The stock footage is both unimpressive and annoying, perhaps I wouldn't find it nearly so grating if the animation quality of UTENA wasn't so rough around the edges (something I don't fault it for too much considering when the series was initially released). For those of you who were reminded of SAILORMOON in this aspect that's not surprising since both titles have the same director. Pragmatically, I can understand the money saved by the use of stock footage, but it's redundancy and the time it eats up still makes me feel short-changed.
The music is another feature that doesn't sit well with me. I like the choice in almost a choir-like feel to the melodies but I HATE the lyrics. They're simply weird for the sake of weird and usually have nothing to do with ANYTHING! The opening theme is superb on almost every level (One of the best op-themes I've seen for an anime) redeems some of the musical content of the series (That and the music box-esque background music) but not enough.
Despite my gripes and grudges, I find UTENA to still be a quality show. The characters are amazingly developed and unique in personality, background, and motivation as everyone seems to be operating on a very complex level (Juri and Nanami are two prize examples of this). While some episodes have a "filler" quality to them (not nearly as many as SAILORMOON) they contained some of the most hilarious sense in the series. As for the plot, well, imagine this scenario appropriate to UTENA.
You're sitting at a table with a large jigsaw puzzle, which looks like someone attempted to put it together but stopped not long into it. While looking at the image of the puzzle, you capable of understanding what the image probably is, though the details and finer points are lost in the mysterious holes. Every so often, someone comes into the room and leaves you with a few more pieces to work with, making the picture clearer, but still too vague to be certain about anything. After you get handful after handful of the puzzle pieces you begin to ask yourself "What if, when its time to leave the table, I didn't get all the pieceswhat assurance do I even have that this puzzle has all its pieces?"
Such is UTENA. From the shadow puppet scenes to the surreal content of memories and internal monologs, UTENA is a ride that might be too weird for most but fans of the genre will find a healthy blend of maturity and innocence of a tale that is what one would imagine a project composed by Disney and the Brothers' Grimm to be like.
Other Charming Fairy Tales:

Last updated Thursday, November 29 2001. Created Wednesday, October 10 2001.
Buy 10 10 10 10 10 10 Lickylick [series:56#133]
OK, now that that has been drilled into your head, I shall point out in my completely biased (I got my username from the manga, Utena's nickname for her prince) review just how great Utena is.
The animation and artwork are great, superb, but not quite as good as some.
The character designs are very good, including hair every color of the rainbow.
The music is the best I have ever heard in an anime. Ranging from J-pop orchestral to tring-quartet to a funky jazz to even a nearly industrial style, there is just so much to take in, and to love. I have fallen madly in love with the opening and both ending songs, as well as the "akio car song" and "the sunlit garden" just to name one out of thousands.
The storyline is probably the most involving, interesting I have ever heard. The list of lovers and who-loves-who is so confusing and intertwining that it works perfectly. It is a generally dirty storyline (just watch 24 and on and you will completely agree) complete with incest, lesbians, and (a major argument between me and my friends as to whether or not, me siding with no) gays. Everybody sleeps with everybody else, and the magic is, they never show the sex or any nudity.
The rest of the story is very odd and very good also. The whole deulist/rose bride thing isn't very well cleared up until the final few episodes. On a whole, the story is...
The fight sequences a fairly well done, (the repetitiveness of some fights that could only come from the director of Sailor Moon).
This is the series that tops them all for me... even beating out Fushigi Yuugi, Evangelion, Rurouni Kenshin OAV, and Lain. I am on a mad hunt for a fairly cheap deulist ring (e-mail me if you find one... pretty pretty please) and I already have a deck of cards and planning to have my license plate read "Ohtori" or "Utena".

Last updated Wednesday, March 07 2001. Created Wednesday, March 07 2001.
Buy 7 7 8 6 9 7 Krisha [series:56#68]
Ah, how wonderful, a world where gender rolls don't matter. From the worrisome infatuation that Utena's best friend has with her to the insestuious infatuation that Nanami has with her brother, this show keeps you wondering about...things.
It's got some great fight scenes and I quite enjoy the use of SD in this series.
I would have given a higher rating on the music but it takes a lot of getting used to and it's not for everyone.
The story is really great, although a bit confusing and does a really good job of not letting you know too much so you never know what might happen.
This is a series that I highly recomend.

Last updated Monday, July 08 2002. Created Saturday, November 18 2000.
Buy Jenn-chan [series:56#31]
I'm gonna go with Rebecca on this one. It is defintely strange. The character designs are quite unique, and not in a good way. It's got Marmalade Boy syndrome...sorry folks, but no one is THAT thin. However, this title has alot going for it. The fencing theme is awesome. The music to go along with the fencing is even more awesome (Zettai...Unmei....). Utena's a pretty kick butt heroine too. It'd be interesting to see her and Yohko battle it out. But let me tell you something...Chu Chu is scary! Is that thing suppose to be cute?!?! A pair of ears with legs doesn't really need to be there does it?

Last updated Thursday, April 27 2000. Created Thursday, April 27 2000.
Buy 8 8 8 10 10 10 Tsuki [series:56#8]
Waaaaaaai! This show is just awesome! It alludes to some classics (Damien, anyone?), has plenty of action, and just plain wacky humor! Highly recommended! ^_^ I like the music, too. The OP is by the goddess Okui Masami, and is bound to get stuck in your head...

Last updated Thursday, November 25 1999. Created Thursday, November 25 1999.

Other Sites
Anime Web Turnpike: Utena Links

Community Anime Reviews

anime mikomi org