[Podcast] Chatty AF 2: Revolutionary Girl Utena Retrospective

I’m very pleased to announce that our trial podcast episode received such positive feedback that we’ve decided to make it a regular feature!

Podcasts will be fortnightly to begin with, and will increase to weekly as soon as we can pay our editor, currently a volunteer, $15 an hour. Editing a podcast twice a month is already a big favour; doing it weekly becomes a job and deserves to be compensated just as our writers and administrators already are. We can justify a weekly podcast once we reach $900 in Patreon pledges and can spare at least $120 a month in editing fees. We are, at the time of writing, just $52 away from this goal.

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Chatty AF 2: Revolutionary Girl Utena Retrospective

In its 20th anniversary year, Caitlin, Dee and Vrai talk about a series they have all loved and analysed for many years: the game-changing Revolutionary Girl Utena.

SPOILERS: For Revolutionary Girl Utena and The Adolescence of Utena

0:00 Intro: How did everyone first watch Utena?
06:15 The dub and localization
10:32 Characterization, worldbuilding, themes and thesis
20:11 Japanese and western cultural context
26:30 The impact of watching Utena at different ages and in different decades
31:24 The handling of unsympathetic characters: Nanami, Saionji, Touga
37:45 Subverting 90s/shojo tropes of romance and sexuality
45:50 Anthy’s character
50:45 Director Kunihiko Ikuhara’s other works
55:43 The staying power of Utena and its fandom
1:04:49 Outro: Where you can find Caitlin, Dee and Vrai’s work

Recorded Sunday 19th February 2017

Music: Open Those Bright Eyes by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


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  • Thanks for doing this. As someone who enjoys reading all three of the participants’ blogs, and who in particular was first introduced to Utena by Dee’s “newbies” series and her quotes from Vrai’s “consulting analyst” series, it was a delight to be able to virtually sit in on a conversation among what I consider to be a dream team of Utena critics.

  • ML Tyler

    Now I need to watch this again. I think I may have been a victim of having Utena oversold. Still I found it fascinating but problematic. And Nanami is my favorite character as well. A “mean girl” who we come to understand, if not exactly like.
    This podcast was actually a real tonic! I’m ready to jump back into YOOTOOB land again. Would you suggest watching the series through a second time before watching the movie? Thanks again.

    • Dee

      I see the film as something of a spiritual sequel to the TV series, so yeah, I’d definitely say rewatch the show and then check out the movie!

    • Teka the Budgie

      I love Nanami: eventually sympathetic and consistently entertaining.

  • The Nickscast

    Was always fascinated by Utena during its heyday but never got to watching it. Excited to do so now keeping in mind some of the themes and imagery y’all talked about.

    Hype as heck for the coming Fushigi Yugi cast! 😀 It’s been awhile but that was my jam and also possibly tears?

  • anony

    I’m curious that one of you first watched the show at 13. I first watched it at 14-15, and almost everything it had to say about sex and relationships completely went over my head, but I was still intrigued by the whole thing. But at the same time, I think that’s a good age to get inspired from the show, as you’re dealing with growing up. I wonder how many people really ‘get’ the show on the first watch.

    • anony

      Also, thanks so much for doing this! I always get so excited when I see people talking about Utena. I’m rewatching it at the moment with my friend and it’s really interesting.

      More thoughts –
      About Evangelion Rebuild, Enokido Yoji was a writer on both Utena and the Rebuild movies, so I guess he decided to reuse that finale scene.
      I think of Akane-sensei in Scum’s Wish as another example of mature sexuality & sexual power, and playing a similar role to Akio. I see other parallels too, like Moka’s princess storyline.
      Somehow I never really considered that the incest themes were a rebuke to shoujo tropes (and anime more generally). I think Penguindrum complicates the issue too because the incest there isn’t so explicitly condemned.
      It’d be nice to look at the racial implications of Akio and Anthy being desi and (seemingly) Hindu. I think there are some positive and some negative implications (like, they’re basically gods, ‘othered’ and exotic) but it’s a bit odd that their race is never touched upon in the show.
      I’m interested in how people feel about the finale of Utena, Utena’s failure to be a prince and all those angry swords, and how they felt the first time watching it. I was totally heartbroken by the finale at first, but now it makes me feel really happy and hopeful for Anthy. I also wonder if the revolutionary power would’ve been different for different duelists.

      Mawaru Penguindrum’s finale aired on Dec 23rd, so maybe it really is deliberate that Ikuni wants to ruin everyone’s christmas.

  • Matthew Kelly

    Thanks! I enjoyed the pod cast. I look forward to more in depth retrospectives …. like the next episode, which I shall listen to next.