Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ep. 12 - For Friendship, Perhaps

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.

"Tabun yūjō no tame" 
June 18, 1997
Duel theme: soi - Self
Duel song:  Nanibito mo Kataru Koto Ari

For the longest time, I only had Utena in the form of the first three VHS tapes (the first tape not being mine but available to rent from blockbuster).  I was always curious for this episode in seeing online art of Utena in her school uniform.  
I hate it on her when I watch the episode.  She doesn't wear it and still carry herself as usual.  She is broken when she wears it.  Touga broke her verbally after taking Anthy.  " the end you were just a girl." "Well, this is a good chance for you to be a normal girl, isn't it?"
She was already in a low spot and he kicked her further making her believe that she should wear the uniform and change her behavior.  

After this, Utena is absent from class so Wakaba comes to the dorm to check on her dear friend.  I can't stop praising Wakaba's friendship enough and in this episode she busts her butt to raise her friend back up.  
Also, Utena is out after the dissolving of her and Anthy's relationship.  After Wakaba's public humiliation in this first episode, Wakaba didn't take a day out but showed right back at school anyway. I think Utena's actions here shock Wakaba in that she expected Utena to be stronger than her.  Plus, Wakaba really has been neglected and unseen while being the best friend alone for so long.  Utena didn't even come to her for help but closed herself away and doesn't open up even when she gets out of the dorm.  This is just a part of what gets under Wakaba's skin that makes her such a powerful duelist in the next arc.

Utena doesn't turn Wakaba away when she knocks.  She invites her in immediately.  This is a small acknowledgment of how connected those two are.  We see Shiori and Juri in a similar position later in the series and the interaction is much different. 

I love how Wakaba doesn't directly attack the elephant in the room.  She tries to diagnose Utena, calls her a goof off, then "oh yeah, where's Anthy?"  She knows Anthy was gone from the start with the tape over her name outside the dorm but doesn't address it head-on.  Utena, of course, doesn't really divulge on what happened or why she missed class.  She won't even look at Wakaba, hiding the truth even further from her best friend.  

Wakaba notices a tear in Utena's uniform.  Oh no!  She even offers to fix it for Utena who declines to wear a spare she has.  The regular girls' uniform.  

Everyone talks about how good it looks on her.  She doesn't look good in it though.  She holds her head down, she lacks the confidence and more that she had and it shows even more clearly with her in that uniform.  Wakaba expresses her distaste for it in the way she addresses how others feel about the uniform.  

Utena actually seems to catch her step and stride, stepping ahead of Wakaba but is immediately stopped in her tracks by the sound of Anthy's voice telling her good morning.  Wakaba picks up on Utena being pulled back down by this exchange and immediately sets to trying to cheer Utena up.  

Touga is such a, guh.  Going to hold a student council meeting, make everyone come up the elevator and mess, just to announce that he is now the one engaged to the Rose Bride.  Juri asks how he won implying that he couldn't by skill alone and must have utilized manipulation as well.  Him saying that the prince and princess should end up together in the end rubs Juri and you can see it in her "we haven't reached the last scene yet."  She's thinking internally about her feelings and Miki responds in his as well.  

Wakaba is done pussy-footing and tries addressing the issue head-on with Utena.  Utena only sits silently giving no response.  Then Touga appears in the middle of this with Anthy by his side.  Touga compliments Utena on her girls uniform, asks her on a date, and wraps his arm around her all in front of Wakaba as if she wasn't just there talking to this person.  Wakaba is bothered by Utena's compliance during all of this as Touga continues to move his hands over Utena, manipulating her movements for her.

Wakaba finally breaks in and stands up for her friend herself by throwing a glass of water at Touga who conveniently steps aside, dousing Anthy in water.  At first, Wakaba is apologetic because she honestly didn't mean to get Anthy wet and she used to hang with Anthy in Utena's company but then retracts her apology saying that it really was Anthy's fault.  Not just for simply standing there but because Wakaba is just as upset with Anthy for breaking Utena down like this. 

This is finally something Utena reacts to.  She gets up and defends Anthy even though she isn't hers to defend anymore.  Wakaba is actually quite pleased that Utena has finally reacted because it means that she has finally reached her to begin pulling Utena back up again.  

Utena finally begins to open to Wakaba after this.  "You wouldn't understand.."  This is your best friend, the girl who a guy stomped on her heart in episode one, this girl can get it even if she doesn't have the whole story!  

On the student council deck, Anthy has tea while Touga is on the phone with a potential hook up.  He hangs up and leaves Anthy alone on the deck with the order of "wait for me here."  He doesn't say that absent-mindedly like Utena might have.  He knows that as Rose Bride she will comply.  So now she is left there, cannot leave, alone with Chu-Chu.
We see her imagine the image of Utena sitting across the table smiling at her, but Anthy's expression doesn't change.  

Utena catches up to Wakaba and begins to apologize before Wakaba cuts her off. "You can't just end this by apologizing." Wakaba doesn't want the day's events to get swept under a carpet.  She wants to keep moving her friend forward.  She admits that she doesn't fully understand what is going on but that she does understand that Utena isn't herself right now.  She might not know why or for what reasons but she knows that clearly this is upsetting her friend.  So then why keep doing it?  Take yourself back!

Utena finally gets it and begins an apology that Wakaba doesn't stop because it isn't an apology to end things but something sincere.  Utena kisses Wakaba on the forehead and moves on to challenging Touga in Anthy's presence.  Anthy and Touga clearly express shock to this.

Ah!  A-Ko and B-ko's farewell!  The Shadow Girls discuss normality before packing in a UFO and flying off!  What is normal and who is it for?  Find your normal and run with it!

Utena climbs the stairs for the first time NOT to Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku with Juri's sword in tow.  Some people think their are hidden implications to Juri offering her sword in this duel but I think it is more expressing how the other student council members feel toward Touga.  You could see it in their faces earlier as he flaunted possession of the Rose Bride.  

Immediately the duel starts differently as Touga showcases to Utena something the Rise Bride could do to amplify the sword's ability that she had never seen before.  Though the way the Rose Bride interacts with the sword in this sequence seems oddly sexual.  She slowly brings the sword to her lips then gently reaches to her mouth after, Utena even turns away during it.  With a flick of the wrist he blows out a wall with this sword.  

Anthy's thoughts during this are interesting and if you want a true reveal into Anthy, then this is it.  "She can't win". "I pity her."  "I hope it will end quickly."  These are your insight into the Rose Bride.  

Utena breaks Juri's sword against the sword of Dios and most of her clothing becomes torn.  We continue to get insight to Anthy as she questions why Utena even bothers knowing that she could die.  "It's over Utena.  I've seen this many times before.  I know what this is." She's even got a slight smile to her.  Goodness woman.  Once she realizes that Utena is fighting for her and herself, she shatters and so does the strength that she applied to the sword.  

Nothing looks cooler than Utena holding Juri's broken sword in those tattered clothes.  Not just because she looks BA but because of her confidence and how she carries herself in that moment.  Whole and complete.

Come on, let's just go home.

Screenshots from the lovely except for one of them that I capped myself (Touga talking to Utena at the end of their first duel).


Post a Comment