Throwback Thursday’s: Revolutionary Girl Utena Review & Characters- Grant Me the Power to Revolutionize the World!

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Grant Me the Power to Revolutionize the World!

  • Episodes : 39
  • Genre : Shoujo, Mystery, Magical Girl
  • Airing Date : April 2, 1997 – December 24, 1997
  • Producers : J.C. Staff, TV Tokyo, Funimation

Revolutionary Girl Utena Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Middle school student Utena Tenjou is the star of her grade, garnering the attention of both males and females for her athletic abilities and rebel attitude. Her best friend, Wakaba, is her number one fan and supporter, but life quickly changes when Utena is given a new room assignment in the formerly empty dorms across campus. Upon entering her new building, she finds that she is the only occupant aside from her new roommate, Anthy Himemiya. Her and Anthy become friends and soon she witnesses another student, Saionji, bullying Anthy. Utena challenges him to a duel, unknowingly agreeing to something much larger. Utena wins and is awarded Anthy who is revealed to be the Rose Bride, an entity who grants power to her master, the power to change the world. Thus, Utena is thrust into constant battles in an attempt to keep Anthy safe as well as questioning what she is truly trying to accomplish through fighting.

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Who does Revolutionary Girl Utena cater to?

The series is set up similar to most other magical girl anime in structure, but the twists and turns of the series will most definitely attract fans of mystery, shoujo, and supernatural genres as well. The director formerly worked on Sailor Moon, so most of his influence derives from similar magical girl anime clichés with more serious and bizarre twists to spice things up. His most recent anime is Mawaru Penguindrum, so viewers who have watched and loved this series will love Utena.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

The overall strangeness of the show is one of the series strongest points. The plot takes itself way too seriously, but the visuals are all over the place by pulling ideas from Takarazuka Theater and combining them with normal mundane actions. Watching this show makes viewers question if they are overanalyzing or if the director is just messing with the audience. The story itself is one of growing up and maturing through allegorical visuals.


Revolutionary Girl Utena Main Characters List

Utena Tenjou

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Voice Actor : Tomoko Kawakami

Saved by a prince after her parents died when she was a child, Utena became so impressed with him she decided to become a prince herself one day. As a result, she frequently wears men’s clothing, including her school uniform, and radiates confidence. She was left a rose ring by her prince, and her goal is to one day find him. The emblem on her ring led her to Ohtori Academy where she is quite popular with the young women. She becomes involved with the Rose Bride duels after trying to defend her roommate Anthy Himemiya, but is unaware of the mystery and power behind the duels leading her into harm’s way many times. Utena’s ideals of justice, equality, and compassion ultimately lead her to victory time and time again as she never backs down from a challenge. Her relationship with Anthy is questionable at best as it tip-toes the line between friend and something more.

Anthy Himemya

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Voice Actor :Yuriko Fuchizaki

Anthy is the sister of the school’s chairmen, Akio Ohtori, and is quite reserved in nature. As the Rose Bride, she often allows those who have won her to do what they will and in the process is often abused and mistreated which forces Utena to feel the need to protect her. Anthy has a hidden power that lies within her that can only be drawn forth by her master during duels. The current master will call forth the power to revolutionize the world and a sword will be drawn from Anthy’s chest. Her personality reflects whatever her current owner desires, but deep down she is truly a spiteful person. Her true backstory lies in an age old fairy tale passed down through the centuries. Can she really be considered Utena’s friend?

Akio Ohtori

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Voice Actor :Jurota Kosugi

Akio is the acting chairman of Ohtori Academy and is engaged to another, but becomes very interested in Utena romantically despite the age difference though there may be ulterior motives involved. He’s rich and owns a convertible used throughout the series and although he may come across as a white knight, his goals are quite dubious. Secretly, he controls Anthy from the shadows and manipulates the Student Council to his whims, even working with Touga and Saonji towards the end. Akio is charming and it’s difficult for many of the other characters to imagine he has anything but the purist intentions, but beneath that prince-like exterior lies something truly sinister.

Touga Kiryuu

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Voice Actor :Takehito Koyasu

As the acting President of the Student Council, Touga often gets what he wants. He is well known as the school’s resident playboy and can be often seen with a cell phone in hand talking to another woman. As a child, Touga was unable to save a young girl from her suffering and witnessed Akio do what he could not. As such, Touga is perpetually jealous of the power Akio holds and agrees to work with Akio in order to obtain that power for himself. At times, Touga can be cruel and manipulative, playing head games tih Utena and even his own sister Nanami, but near the end he finally realizes Akio’s end game and attempts to thwart his plans. Touga may be a playboy, but he certainly isn’t lacking in the intelligence department.

Nanami Kiryuu

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Voice Actor :Yuri Shiratori

Brother-obsessed Nanami is hard to take seriously for the first half of the series. She is often the butt of jokes and tends to get herself into the weirdest situations. Despite her over-exaggerated, valley-girl persona lies someone with real issues and she eventually becomes a voice of reason. Nanami has a brother complex for older brother, Touga, and uses her position as leverage to gain popularity with the other young women at the school. She often barges into situations without thinking through her entire plan only to have it blow up in her face. Nanami is the ultimate mean girl.

Contains Spoilers

Revolutionary Girl Utena Review

One of many reasons Revolutionary Girl Utena stands out above the rest is its ability to defy all expectations. As a magical girl anime, there are certain criteria that viewers expect such as transformation sequences and formulaic episode patterns, but Utena not only embraces these trite tropes that fans have come to love and turned them on their heads, transforming the series into something with a much deeper meaning than “Love Triumphs Over All!”
The basic premise of the series is a familiar one to most anime fans. Utena is the popular girl in her middle school who becomes wrapped up in a series of duels and fights to protect what she holds dear in an attempt to “save” the world while also seeking to find someone she briefly remembers from her childhood. The only item guiding her is a ring she received with a rose crest that leads her to Ohtori Academy which has a similar mark as their school’s crest. The first arc of the story focuses on school life and explaining the purpose of the Rose Tournament with its duels while also introducing the audience to the main characters and their various backstories.

In the beginning the audience meets Utena who was saved by a prince as a child. He explained to her that if she never lost her noble spirit, she too could become a prince one day. As a result, Utena became so impressed and infatuated by the encounter that she took on the persona of a prince from that day forward even going so far as to wear a boy’s uniform to school and to play scrimmage games of basketball with the boy’s team. Despite technically being a girl, many of the students’ female populace adores her. Her best friend Wakaba can often be found nearby and often teases about the prospect of marrying her best friend.

During the first episode, new dormitory assignments are revealed and Utena receives a letter telling her to report to some of the more abandoned buildings on campus. Upon arrival, she is met only with quiet corridor as she attempts to find who she could be living with in this odd assignment. She eventually finds her room and notices another name attached to the door besides her own. Walking into the room, she is greeted with fresh tea and a smiling Anthy and Chuchu her tiny monkey-like creature. From here on, Utena’s life is turned upside down as the Student Council reveals themselves as duelists fighting for the power to change the world. The Rose Tournament is set up by a mysterious man only known by the alias “End of the World”.

The rest of the first arc involves a jealous Nanami and determined Touga who is upset his normal charms have no effect on Utena whatsoever. Anthy and Utena’s “friendship” blossoms as the duels become more heated and Utena discovers that Anthy’s role as the Rose Bride leaves her open to abuse.

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Utena takes it upon herself to protect Anthy from those who would use her as a pawn in their attempts to gain the power to revolutionize the world. When asked what she would do with the power, Utena responds candidly by saying, “Nothing.” She understands that there are reasons why the world is the way it is and without the bad experiences, no one would ever grow.

The Black Rose Saga is the second arc in the series which involves heavier character development. Each of the duelists on the Student Council carries great secrets involving other students who are remain close and a dark force named Souji Mikage prays on these fears in order to suit his own purposes. Posing as a genius councilor, Mikage calls in these students and gives them false rose crests which allow them to duel against Utena.

Through these duels, each of the Student Council’s members are expanded upon and their personal stakes in the tournament are revealed. While Utena ultimately defeats all of the fake duelists, the arc serves an important purpose in developing its existing characters and introducing Akio Ohtori who will become the pinnacle of conflict during the last arc of the series.

Many fans dispute whether there are three or four arcs in the series, but for the purposes of making this plot easier to understand I will split it into three just as the box sets have. The last and final arc delves deeper in the mythos of the world surrounding the school and reveals a deep personal struggle within Utena. Akio, Anthy’s brother, invites the two girls to live in the school’s tower with him and naturally both oblige.

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Seeing as Akio is the school’s chairman, he holds much influence over the school and uses it to weasel himself into Utena’s good graces. As Utena and Akio become more involved with each other, Utena is torn between her commitment to Anthy and becoming a prince or her feelings for Akio. Utena’s dark past rears its ugly head once more as she is haunted by images of her parents’ funeral and what she witnessed after trapping herself inside their coffin. She vaguely remembers the prince guiding her out and leading her to a most horrible scene.

A young girl is repeatedly stabbed by millions of swords repeatedly as a sacrifice to save her brother, the prince, from the countless demands from the girls of the world. She becomes a witch and seals him away forever, leaving only a dark and sinister man in place of a prince. The prince explains to Utena that if she truly wished to save this young girl from her suffering, she would have to become a prince to believe in.

Utena is truly unique. Unlike other magical girl anime such as Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon, our main heroin is truly a tomboy with no interest in anything girly of the sort. She’s headstrong, doesn’t back away from a challenge, and has genuine flaws. She knows her responsibilities and does not run away. I love this series because I can see a lot of my personal struggles in Utena as she constantly questions herself, wondering what actually makes up a “girl” and should she fit the mold expected of her. At one point, she wonders if she may have actually fallen in love with Akio and her demeanor changes drastically as she ditches her usual uniform and abandons the ring give to her as a sign of her quest.

The other characters take note and realize that this is not the real Utena. Can she be a girl and a prince? She finally decides that the answer is that she can and that she should remain true to who she is because changing for society’s expectations can only hurt yourself and others.

Japan as a country lacks much of the individuality that other more Western countries pride themselves on. Outsiders are often shunned, so an anime like Utena is actually quite surprising given the topics and material covered. Utena as a main character is a breath of fresh air in a sea of cookie-cutter magical girls.

1. The Student Council

shoujo kakumei utena highlight1 student council

This organization is only the governing body of the student population on the surface. Its true purpose is to organize the duelists into one place so that the Tournament can be kept a secret. The group has various members from all grades and personality types, but it is unknown how or why each of them were chose to take place in the duels. Once Utena appears, she poses a challenge to each of their goals.

2. The Black Rose Duelists

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While not exactly a united front, Mikage is the sole manipulator of those known as the Black Rose Duelists. He uses his talents and power as a counselor to brainwash those who seek help from him into dueling Utena. His end goal is to win Anthy so that he may kill her and install a new Rose Bride so that he may save a sick, young boy with no hope for treatment.

3. The Drama Club

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A mysterious presence throughout the series, this group helps the story move along by adding extra context to the story through shadows and puppetry. While only seen in person from behind once, their identities are never revealed.

For those who love a good magical girl show, you are in for one wild ride and do not expect the usual fluff. Fans of mystery and suspense will be happy as well as those who love fantasy and fairy-tales. One this if for certain, those who watch the show remain fans for life. This is once series that is a must see for anime fans both young and old.

Nikki Flores


Author: Nikki Flores

You may know me by my witty and excellent prose, but I assure you there is a real person underneath this brilliant exterior. As a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I traveled to Okinawa, Japan in search of the One Piece. Together my crew consisting of a white dog named Yuki, an evil cat named Kyubei, the wise feline Pickles, and my ever supportive husband Aaron, we travel the globe seeking life’s greatest treasures. Oh, and I’m sure one day I’ll eventually meet Trafalgar Law in the New World. I hope. Please? *pout*

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