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[ café reviews ]

[Utena makes her entrance at school]
[Shoujo Kakumei Utena logo]

Shoujo Kakumei Utena
(Revolutionary Girl Utena)

Episode 1: Bara no Hana Yome
(The Rose Bride)

Copyright: © 1997 B-Babas / Chiho Saito TV / Tokyo Shonen Iinkai, © 1998 Central Park Media and Software Sculptors
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR, Parental Guidance Advised
Format: Japanese Language/English Subtitled (VHS)

Director: Ikuhara Kunihiko Original Story and Character Design: Saito Chiho Character Design: Hasegawa Shinya

[ plot summary ]

VHS jacket

Tenjo Utena returns as a sophmore of middle school at the prestigous Ohtori Academy, once again wearing a school uniform... a male school uniform, which causes the headmistress no end of grief. But, as Utena points out, there is no rule which specifically stipulates that girls must wear girl's uniforms...

While wandering the great halls during a class break, she spies a beautiful young woman, Himemiya Anthy, being struck by a senior, Saionji Kyoichi, near the rose conservatory. Luckily, the president of the school's student council, Touga Kiryu is on hand to prevent any further violence...

Later that day, a crowd has gathered around a local bulletin board. On the board is posted a love letter, addressed to none other than Saionji, and written by Utena's close friend, Wakaba. Disgusted that such private matters were on public display, Utena confronts Saionji, only to learn that he made no attempt to keep the matter private. Infuriated by his cavalier attitude towards women, Tenjo Utena challenges Saionji Kyoichi, captain of the school kendo team, to a match. Unbeknownst to her, the challenge of a duel sets in motion a struggle for the betrothal of the Rose Bride -- Anthy Himemiya -- and the secrets of the 'End of the World!'

[ capsule review ]

Wow. I'd be the first to admit that I'm not very fond of most shoujo anime... but this one starts out of the gate, running. The opening theme, Revolution is instantly addictive... as a matter of fact, the music throughout this entire episode is wonderfully rich, complex, varied and moving. We have variations on modern pop, sweeping orchestrals, marches, heavy metal and delicate piano sonatas -- and that's just in this opener. If that's not enough, the ending theme, Truth, carries an awesome dance beat. Animation is likewise eye-popping. Stark, angular character designs are set against richly detailed backgrounds, and in some cases, augmented by computer generated graphics. It was a most pleasant surprise to see this level of attention paid to a mere television series.

The Japanese cast is well-cast for their roles, with Kusao Takeshi (Parn of Lodoss to Senki) perfoming well as the abusive Saionji, and Fuchizaki Yuriko portraying the part of the very submissive Anthy... and letting slip a little bit of ironic humour on occasion, though some may find such a submissive role utterly self-depricating.

Of course, all this eye and ear candy would be wasted without any sort of story, and direction to bind it all together. Luckily, Utena has both. We're immediately launched into a mysterious conspiracy plot involving the elite student's council, and its strange instructions as dictated by an unknown entity known only as 'the End of the World.' The entire opener is presented in a mixture of comedy, suspense, action and high melodrama, which is briefly interrupted with a kage-e (shadow puppet) intermission, used to quickly review the events to date. This might well be a sleeper of a series if the remaining episodes can maintain this level of quality. This is a series that I could get excited about!
- AN, 99.03.16

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/A 4 stars N/A
Direction: N/A 4 stars N/A
Acting: N/A 4 stars N/A
Animation: N/A 5 stars N/A
Music: N/A 5 stars N/A
Translation: N/A 4 stars N/R
Overall Rating: N/A 4 stars N/A

[ café trivia ]

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Page last modified 1999.03.16