Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ep. 3: On the Night of the Ball

This episode analysis(musing) contains spoilers.  This episode analysis skims over topics and doesn't go into huge detail because each detail is really worth it's own post.  This analysis does not cover every detail to analyze but ones that I have chosen to discuss.  Also, these are my opinions and nothing official.  You do not have to accept or agree with any of this.

"Butōkai no yoru ni" 
April 16, 1997
No duel.

Did you forget the story about the princess who was sad because her mom and dad just died?  I didn't think so because we open again to Utena reflecting on this.  I think her frequent reflection while her life was idle is interesting to note as we will begin to see her reflecting on this less frequently as time goes on.

Utena awakens from the dream about her prince as she and Anthy dine together.  Alone in that giant dormitory.
I find it interesting to note how Utena crosses over her fork and knife on her plate as she announces that she is done with the meal.  This act is very proper following formal table etiquette.  To be a prince or from her "royal" upbringing?  

Anthy and Utena discuss their feelings about being the only ones there.  Utena longing for the company of others while Anthy is quite content in the silent atmosphere.  This will be important later in the episode.
Walking to school Utena requests that Anthy stop calling her Utena-sama (Mistress Utena).  This request gets a little lost on Anthy as all of the schoolgirls are calling Utena "Utena-sama" as they pass through.  Utena tries to explain the difference between the schoolgirls saying it in admiration and Anthy saying it implying Utena having ownership over her but I honestly don't think she had a calm enough mind to properly articulate this.
She tries to explain that contrary to how she might dress, she is interested in men.  Cue Touga.

Touga demonstrates here that either he remembers what happened that day so long ago, Akio gave him the right cues to play off of, or his information gathering skills from his playboy abilities served him well.  He comments on her nobility, he runs his fingers through her hair just like he did back then, saying that he has the ring so he could meet her.  He's well-stacked with an arsenal of words and actions to throw Utena off of her game.
Utena's reaction to seeing Touga with a rose seal isn't because she didn't know he was a duelist, he makes it clear early in their conversation.  I don't think Shena quite gotten used to the idea still of seeing the ring that she believed to be so special on another person.  She has only seen it on herself and Saionji before now. Even with Anthy having explained to her that people with that ring are marked as duelists, she still is growing accustomed to seeing this.  Seeing it almost made her believe, possibly somehow could it be? Touga her prince?

Elevator with Touga delivering the egg speech and we're at the student council platform.  Only three members are present as Saionji has locked himself in his room since losing the duel with Utena.  You really don't see Saionji much ever at these meetings for the whole rest of the show any way so it really doesn't make that much of a difference.
Anyway, the Student Council picks away at who Utena is and what her motivations could be in the duels.  No one is certain.  Except maybe possibly Touga?  Why indeed?

Cut to Wakaba giving a hug attack to Utena as she observes Touga from an open window.  They need to shut those things.  Wakaba' gonna kill someone one of these days with her attack hugs. Wakaba identifies what we see with all of the girls flocking around Touga, he's a playboy.

SLAP!  We're introduced to Keiko and the other lackies.  They come across as mean and cruel bullies which aren't stopped in their berating of Anthy until Nanami arrives.  Saving Anthy and acting so sweet and gentle.  A good front so that no one ever realizes Keiko and crew do Nanami's dirty work while keeping her hands clean.  I guess this presentation here of Nanami would be what most students see.  Sweet and caring popular girl.  We get to see so much more.

Cut to Anthy playing Old Maid with Chu-Chu.  Shock gasp, guess who draws the old maid.  Foreshadow much?  So subtle, golf clap for you Ikuhara. 
Dress delivery!  So Anthy's been nominated for "dance queen" and gets this pretty cute green dress.  Utena gets a pink dress with this GIANT red rose on the bust from our campus playboy.  No Chu-Chu!  Don't eat the packaging thing!

Utena says that she isn't going so Anthy boxes up her dress noting that crowds unnerve her as everyone's faces begin to look the same.  I bet.  Especially after that one time they all came as an unruly mob to your door and stabbed you with the swords of hate.  I'd be apprehensive about crowds too if it happened to me.
Utena then voices that Anthy needs to go.  She needs friends.  Ignoring everything Anthy has just told her about how she feels and pushes her ideals on Anthy.  I think Utena truly believes that she is helping Anthy by pushing that she expand her social circle, but sometimes to help you must respect people as they are.

Shadow girl sequence.  What appears as a ball is really a man trap?  It's just a trap!  Run!!

First glance of the Kiryuu residence and man are they loaded.  That place is HUGE.  At least three stories with chandeliers and party tables and more.  What?!  
Oh and how I LOVE Nanami's gown.  That giant purple bow in that back is great!  She rocks that dress and I never get tired of seeing it.  She is seriously best dressed at the ball.
We see how when she tries to childishly play with Touga on the balcony where she still clings to their sibling love and he is growing detached.  

Wow, they have announcer at the ball in their house too?  Well, while this might look like the life people would love to trade places with the Kiryuu kids to have, we all know those halls are full of some dark secrets behind closed doors.  
Enter Utena in that eh dress and I don't care what anyone says, the green dress looks cute on Anthy but she could totally lose the green hairbows.  She's not six, that ain't cute.
Nanami divulges that she invited and dressed up Anthy because she's overheard her brother talking so much about her not even noticing that he's more captured with Utena.  Nanami pulls Anthy away from Utena to a place where all of the nominees must stand.  Heh, we'll get there but first; the ugliest face you'll see Touga make this whole series:

Okay, so while Touga tries laying on his smooth talk to Utena let's return to Nanami and Anthy.  Nanami takes Anthy into the center of the room and then flits away, leaving Anthy to shut down.
Back to Nanami's henchgirls (Yuuko winning best dressed out of that group) and we see Nanami's true face revealed. The dress Nanami sent Anthy is a "special" make that when sprayed with water is dissolves away.  It looks kind of scary how it melts away.  When I was younger I almost thought she was sprayed with acid or something.  
Again, Nanami didn't do anything directly but had other people set this up for her.  
This action plays poorly for Nanami but acts in Utena's favor.  Utena got really close to Touga and very open to him about her personal thoughts about him maybe being her prince.  The scream breaks that from happening but I think that also is the start of Touga's desire to obtain the one that escaped his charms.

Utena tears off her dress restoring her princely attired which was underneath (bullshit, I saw that dress and I could see your shoulders).  What's interesting is this isn't just her school uniform, it is her dueling attire.  She's got the frills and whistles of it all.  She grabs a tablecloth and works some magic that would make Tim Gunn proud to create Anthy a new dress.  They dance around the room wowing the crowd (y'all think that's cool just wait until you see them dance in the movie).  
Nanami is upset that her plan didn't work and Touga calls her out on the prank in a tone that shows this isn't the first time that he's had to put up with her queen bee nonsense.  Touga expresses disappointment that Utena took off the dress he sent which Nanami's ears sure did not miss hearing that.  Cue jealousy.  This episode clearly establishes Nanami and her crew.

Big Brother gave a dress to her? To THAT girl?! 


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