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[ café reviews ]

[Utena is Anthy's Knight]
[Shoujo Kakumei Utena logo]

Shoujo Kakumei Utena
(Revolutionary Girl Utena)

Episode 3: Butokai No Yoru Ni
(On the Night of the Ball)

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

After the excitement of two duels with Saionji, Tenjou Utena is finally able to sit down to a calm breakfast in the dorm hall. Still, she finds it rather odd that she and Anthy are the only two assigned to the large building...

Utena is also having a difficult time adjusting to life with Himemiya Anthy waiting on her hand and foot and being formally addressed as "Utena-sama" -- not to mention being her engaged to the so-called "Rose Bride."

Saionji hasn't been taking his losses well. More than a little disappointed and embarrassed with the results, he has confined himself to the kendo dojo, refusing to come out. His admiring school mates find this situation intolerable, and place the blame squarely on Anthy -- who seems to have become the target of hostility from Saionji's admirers. Luckily, Kiryu Nanami, younger sister to the president of the student's council, steps in and prevents any serious harm when a group of three young women decide to take out their frustrations on the Rose Bride.

Much to Anthy's surprise, Nanami informs her that Anthy is the object of affections by many of the young men at Ohtori Academy, and that she has been nominated to compete for the position of the prom queen at an upcoming ball. Nanami invites both Anthy and Utena to attend...

Before the ball, the two young ladies receive their formal gowns for the gala... Anthy's dress from Nanami, and much to Utena's chagrin, her dress from Kiryuu Touga. But why is Nanami being so kind to Anthy? And could student council president possibly be the gallant prince that Utena met so many years ago?

[ capsule review ]

Meet Touga's younger sister, Nanami. Cute, intelligent, scheming, and totally in awe of her older brother. In short, she's annoying. This episode brought this series back into perspective -- after all, it is a television series, and we can't expect a huge budget for each and every episode. Animation was much more limited than in the previous two, with a lot of 'pan and hold' shots that we typically see in low-budget productions. One item that's bothered me with the Hasegawa Shinya character designs is the lack of pupils in the character's eyes. I find this rather uncomfortable to look at, perhaps because we've become so accustomed to associating the fully dialated pupil with being drugged. Personally, I think that the animators are missing out on one of the classic means by which Japanese animators have conveyed the emotions of their creations...

A lot more humour was evident here as well; and in keeping with the tone, we see considerable amout of use of super-deformed character expressions, especially in the case of Utena herself.

The soundtrack continues to be a very strong point in this series; it's well scored, and works very well with the scene at hand. I'm especially fond of the string pieces used in this episode.

But when the final scenes at the dance finally arrive, I was mostly disappointed. While Nanami's little ploy to embarass Anthy was typical, the convenient manner (and almost ridiculous) way Utena comes to her rescue felt very out of place. I'm sure the writers were trying to stress Utena's commitment to her goal of being a "prince" herself, but I found the end result awkward.

The interaction between Touga and Utena holds a lot more promise, however. The tension between the two school leaders is razor-sharp, and alludes to a much more interesting conflict to come. Hopefully, the future will bring something a little more substantial than this episode.
- AN, 99.03.18

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/A 2 stars N/A
Direction: N/A 3 stars N/A
Acting: N/A 4 stars N/A
Animation: N/A 3 stars N/A
Music: N/A 5 stars N/A
Translation: N/A 4 stars N/R
Overall Rating: N/A 2 stars N/A

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