Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ep. 14 - Boys of the Black Rose

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.

"Kurobara no Shōnen-tachi"
Duel song:  Fujingenkon Gattaijutsu 
Duel theme: aliénation - Alienation

Our episode begins with visual introduction to Nemuro Hall with audio of an elevator taking is down to Anthy!Mamiya tending to a black Rose in a solitary tank.

"Even underground this rose still blooms nicely."
When you think about how all of these roses are representative of the Black Rose duelists repressed feelings, this is so true.  Bottle in your feelings and they will grow.
Maybe that is also part of why Black Rose duelists never win.  When bottled up emotions finally release, it's usually toxic to that person and those around them.  Uncrollable release of emotions.  Mikage hopes to focus them into a powerful drive.  

Next we have Anthy leaving Akio's tower as Utena's heading home from Saturday class.  She seems confused by Anthy not being home.  She finally clicks that Anthy isn't home every Saturday night and asks ChuChu about it.  ChuChu's reaction is perfect as he shows shock and falls out of the window as if to say "what?  yeah I know but you don't need to meet that guy!"

Utena confronts Anthy with the question of where does she go every Saturday.  To see her brother for her weekly obligation of course.  Utena reacts in shock that Anthy has a brother but really, this goes to show how little Utena has involved herself in Anthy's life until now.  She's BEEN leaving every Saturday and Utena only just now pieced it together to even ask.  She could have asked the first Saturday it happened but she seriously has waited this long to actually take interest in what Anthy does.  

This change comes from regaining Anthy from Touga.  There is an actual change from the Student Council arc to now in how Utena engages with Anthy.  Before she was trying to change Anthy into what Utena thought was best for her but now she's actually taken interest in Anthy and many conversations actually seems to listen to what Anthy has to say.

Anthy takes Utena to meet her brother.  Upon seeing a huge planetarium projector, Utena asks if that's the thing Anthy has been going to visit and just calls it a big brother.  With many of Anthy's quirks, I'm sure this would not have surprised her.

Utena accidentally walks in on Akio and Kozue kissing and immediately tries to leave.  I don't know if Utena and Anthy leave to come back or Akio calls them back but suddenly they're all sitting on the couch and introducing themselves.  Akio seems to have a light blush to his cheeks.  Not like the full blush on Utena's.  I think more his is the adult blush of having been worked up while Utena's is the innocent blush of seeing something she didn't think that she should.

Akio and Kanae have some "obliviously we are so engaged" dialogue then Akio tries to bait Utena talking about how peaceful the school is.  She tactfully replies that that would be nice and Kanae's "nothing bad ever happens at Ohtori" shows just how disconnected from school life she really is as a student. Even the way that she dresses says that. Anthy and Utena are wearing their school uniforms and Kanae wears a nice dress and scarf.  As the chairman's daughter, she really is in a world of her own.

Kanae requests that Anthy begin to call her "sister" since as the fiancé of her brother that she soon would be her sister-in-law.  Usually in this case, a person would respond to that request using the title the person just requested to be called by.  Anthy does not but only simply answers yes.  Doesn't sound harmless but to a mannerly woman like Kanae, it matters.

We're introduced further to the character of Mikage.  He works among people but does not connect with them.  
Kanae's duel of alienation really is the tone as a whole for the Black Rose saga.  Every duelist and even Mikage himself are characters that are separated, isolated, alienated.  They aren't the "main" characters and many of them simply want to touch their lives.  Reaching desperately to be included by some way or means. 
Welcome to the Black Rose saga.

Mikage is talked about as a high school genius and then enters Miki, the middle school genius.  They sit down to talk with a giant pillar separating them.  Even though they are both geniuses, there is no connection (visual metaphor yay).  This scene also shows how different the two are from each other.  Mikage lays back in his chair while Miki sits up, Mikage drinks while Miki's drink remains unopened.  Don't think these two geniuses to be similar because they're doing their best to show that they aren't.

Anthy thanks Utena for not bringing up the duels or the Rose Bride because "I don't want to be the cause of any concern to him."  I really don't know what to say to this.  He really doesn't concern himself to her well-being or any of that and he does know about the duels and her role.  I think more that perhaps Anthy did not want for Utena to express her care and concern about Anthy's well-being as the Rose Bride in front of Kanae.  

They bump into Miki and we get a smidge more light shed on Nemuro Hall.  100 boys there buried alive.  I get the feeling that this sets the events of Nemuro Hall to before Akio met Utena as a child.  A time when the duelists were only men because only a male could become a prince.  I think in meeting Utena as a child and her declaring to save Anthy gave Akio more duelists to involve and utilize to try.  Nemuro Hall was before.  That's why there are 100 duelists in there and that they are all male.  Maybe.

All of the shoes for the 100 duelists laying against the wall and then Mikage standing in as one of the pairs.  A ghost of Nemuro Hall kept alive by Ohtori magic?  Even Anthy!Mamiya is standing outside of the room, not really connected with the Hall or Mikage himself.

Mikage talks of beating Utena, taking the Rose Bride, and killing her to make Mamiya the Rose Bride.  I think with having been through the duels previously and knowing the Rose Bride's face as the Witch, he really wishes to kill her.  I believe he really wishes to give those powers that he saw as ideal in the Rose Bride to Mamiya.  Not Anthy!Mamiya but the real Mamiya.  He's just misremembered so much...

The interview room.  Kanae divulges her disgust for Anthy.  It isn't just that she can't connect but she understands that Anthy visits her family and is part of the reason that her dad is sick.  

Interesting theory that I've heard in regards to Kanae is that she once was a victor of the duels herself.  Instead of declining Akio's offer to become his princess, she took it.  I think that this is also some of her latent distrust for Anthy and where her dueling ability comes from.  She and Mikage are the only two not shown taking their sword (fighting ability) from someone.  She has to have had some herself.

When Mikage mentions revolutionizing the world, Kanae stops sobbing and turns to him.  When Anthy!Mamiya is behind her, ready to insert the black rose, she freezes in terror.  She recognized the words from Mikage and froze in fear from the voice of Anthy behind her.  

Shadow girl sequence as the excitement of something very mundane (getting a wisdom tooth pulled) is what C-Ko carries on about.  Utena tells her to just pull it out.  This is the only shadow girl that Utena interacts with.  It's almost responding to how Utena feels about the duel invitation.  "Oh? Another duel?  Fight, win, move on."

The stairway climb hasn't really changed itself but the song has more male singers this go around as well as other deeper instruments added.  This gives the climb a heavier and darker feel as these duels are that compared to the student council.  

The dueling arena is covered in desks with white lilies in black vases atop each desk.  White lilies represent innocence but then why are they not featured in weddings?  Because they're a funeral flower.  These are flowers commonly placed at tombstones or at viewings.  A great flower to introduce the Black Rose duelists if ever there were. 

Then Utena steps on one of the outlines which was clear to even my six-year old daughter who walked through.  "That's where someone died."  

Kanae seems to blend in with the lilies and vases as Utena explores the new decor of the duelist arena.  Kanae announces her goal to win the duel and kill the Rose Bride.  This take Utena aback.  One, it's Kanae who seemed so sweet and two, kill the Rose Bride.  This has turned into more than just a game now.

Anthy announces that this is not the Kanae that Utena had met before.  Kanae admits that no it isn't but her repressed self.  Every duelist this season will open to exposing their repressed selves and wow does Kanae set the stage wonderfully.  

Kanae's sword is a mystery to me.  Is it borrow of a dead duelist?  Did she pull from Akio?  Was that her sword from when she dueled?  Where did she get her sword?

Did you recognize it for a moment?  The power of Dios before Utena cut the Rose from your chest?  

Utena's mind weighs heavy in concern to how Kanae is after the duel.  Anthy actually reassures her that she is okay and remembers nothing which I don't think is true.  I think that's why Akio began poisoning her.  She remembered dueling and didn't forget.

Utena notes that Chu-Chu doesn't go with Anthy and questions him on it.  He squeaks in distress.  Utena why can't you catch on that that means Akio is bad bad news???

In the chairman's office, she removes her glasses and turns to her brother, laid out on the couch, after he summons her to him.  And that's when the shutters fall down and the room fills with stars.  And we all know what is implied here so I'm going to walk away now.

Yes, Big Brother.

Screenshots from the lovely


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