Can you believe all these cool bloggers are still letting me sit at their table? I’m going to try not to make them regret that decision.. too much. Although I, myself have only been a member for a few short months, this January marks the one year anniversary of the Owls blog tours and it seems everybody has chosen to celebrate by posting just fantastic pieces. No pressure on you guys that are up next but we expect perfection! (*cough, Scott, cough*)
This month again we had an absolutely wonderful prompt. It seems like this should be a given by now since they’ve all been fantastic. We should give Lynlyn a proper title to mark her skill. Master Prompter? Mother of all Inspiration? ….jr?
This month’s topic:
“A new year implies “new beginnings.” Yet, rather than discussing the “new,” we will be discussing the “revival.” “Revival” has multiple definitions, but the meaning we will be focusing on is the improvement, development, or refinement of something. Our posts will be about characters that undergo a positive or negative transformation and what we can learn from them.”
Revival, rebirth, redemption. No matter how you choose to call it, it is a classic theme that has inspired artists for millennia to create little dreams to fan the flames of our hopes. Dozens of potential shows crowded my mind as soon as I read this marvelous prompt but in the end I’m a simple creature and I went with the literal.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is a generous show. As long as you provide a dollop of imagination it will agreeably lend itself to a myriad of interpretations and offer pearls of wisdom on any topic you dare imagine. This said, you don’t need to look very far to see the themes of revival and redemption that thrive throughout the narrative. Just about every character has a chance to recreate themselves but none more obviously so than the Rose Bride herself, Anthy.
My fellowl (I just can’t stop myself) blogger and all around just, deeply lovable human being, Zel already did a fantastic character study of Anthy in her own April 2017 Owls blog tour post (“colours”). In that post she presented an insightful thesis on the implication of Anthy’s visible difference and how her own actions and other people’s perception of her was affected by it. She also establishes a lot of Anthy’s base character in order to make her point. I’m not going to attempt anything that grand here, but I strongly suggest you go read that post to get a truly complete image of a spectacularly nuanced character.
As mentioned in Hayzel’s post, Anthy is in many respects a non-character. Most people see her merely as a prize, a symbol of power, an abstract notion rather than an actual person. It’s not so much that her desires and feelings do not matter, it’s that for most, they do not exist. As such, she is given exactly the same consideration as any other mindless object would be. Anthy is not alive. That is until Utena comes along.
Utena’s presence is a catalyst. Her refusal to simply go along with everyone else’s reality sends shockwaves throughout the entire universe and compels all those she comes into contact with to adapt or succumb. She is a force to be reckoned with and a pure hero worthy of legend but to me, this was never her story. The only true obstacle to ever stand in Utena’s way, the only will capable of challenging her own, the immovable stone to clash with her unstoppable force, was always meek, ignored and maligned Anthy.
The somewhat biting irony of Revolutionary Girl Utena’s universe is that for all the abuse she suffers, Anthy is in fact the most powerful character in the story. Not only the most important, as everyone else clearly revolves around her, but in a very straightforward way, the story assigns her almost god like powers implying that she is capable of just about anything. The catch is, she has to actually want to do something… anything…
Anthy is a character almost defined by her oppression. She walks two steps behind the others with eyes downcast responding only when she is spoken to. She never asks questions, expresses desires or seemingly feels disappointments. She truly sees no evil, speaks no evil and hears no evil. The true tragedy being that she does all this willingly. This ultimate victim role is one she has cast herself into. She silenced her own voice and stripped herself of her own will because the alternative had gotten too painful. Wanting, feeling, even being a true person was a burden that no longer appealed to her and, so she made herself into nothing more than a reflection. Years of abuse and betrayal had rendered her unrecognizable to her own eyes. And so, she shut away her power and since she was the only one capable of doing so in the first place, she remains the only one capable of drawing it out again.
Anthy is a sleepwalker, quietly dreaming her life away while passively observing the nightmares around her. It is possible that she would have done so forever. Slowly wasting away until her mind became an unsalvageable wasteland, but one person was desperately trying to shake her awake.
I liked Revolutionary Girl Utena. I liked it a lot, but I have the hardest time explaining it. It’s like a kaleidoscope, it changes drastically depending on how you look at it. I assume it’s one of those shows that means a lot of different things to different people. That’s part of the appeal really. I only realized what the series means to me after having watched the last few frames. It’s amazing when a show can manage to redefine and shift its entire thesis in the last few seconds like that.
To me Revolutionary Girl Utena is the inspiring story of a young woman remembering that some things are worth risking grief for and rediscovering that the pain of living offers its own rewards. That sorrow is only the flip side of joy. It’s the story of a deeply hurt girl who had locked her soul away to keep it safe and accidentally had forgotten who she was, finding her way back to the light again. It’s about the finding the will to come back to life.
Fairy tales have always been to some degree cautionary in nature. They are meant to warn us of dangers and teach us lessons. The prince and princess live happily ever after only if they manage to learn what’s important.
So what can we learn from Anthy and Utena’s tale? Love and compassion have their price. Caring for others means sharing their sorrows and despairs. These add up, they weigh you down. You can never really expect love to be returned. It’s fickle and can turn on you or disappear without warning. Passions cool, loyalties change. Desires lead to despair. Feeling, wanting and trying are all difficult and painful. But without them, we’re just empty shells. And as long as you keep your eyes open, as long as you force yourself to see, reasons to keep going are all around you. Sometimes we just need someone to remind us.
When Utena crashed into Ohtori Academy she did just that for Anthy, and that ultimately brought her back to life. Through sheer stubbornness she got the girl to raise herself from her self-imposed slumber and rejoin the living. And when Anthy woke up the entire world changed. Anthy’s awakening is the last scene of the show and the beginning of the story. It marks the end of the long-frozen complacency all the characters had sunk into and the start of their brand new lives, as a finally fully sentient and self-aware Anthy stood in the very center on endless possibilities. Anthy’s revival brought the entire world back to life.
I have been accused of blind optimism at times. I challenge that. I may be recklessly hopeful but I’m hardly blind. I’m simply confident in the knowledge that as long as there’s still life, there’s hope and the best part is – with effort, we can all revive.
Oh great – I’ve pepped talked myself into one of those annoyingly gleeful states. People around me are going to pretend they’re taking phone calls in order to ignore me again…Well it was worth it. This was an amazing topic to explore and I had a blast writing this post. I hope some of you enjoyed it too.
I was gonna rant and rave about Carla’s amazing CCS post from yesterday. If you haven’t had a chance go NOW. However, in all honesty, everyone’s outdone themselves this month. If you’ve missed any posts, you should take a minute and catch up. It’s been a great tour so far!
- Lita (Lita Kino Anime Corner) and her post on Cross Ange Ronda Of Angels And Demons – an anime I had never heard of before and now I really want to see it
- Moonid (Random Garage) explored a web novel called Release that Witch that was a refreshing departure from our usual anime centric posts
- Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe), well duh Takuto’s post on Land of the Lustrous was phenomenal – phenomenal is this guy’s bare minimum
- Zoe (Let’s Talk Anime) I’m sort of kicking myself for not having thought of ReLife, then again Zoe wrote such a great post
- Hazelyn (Archi-Anime), Barakamon has such a delicate, fragile beauty to it and it was no small feat for Hazelyn to capture it
- Naja B. (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero), possibly the most interesting take on the theme so far and on Samurai Flamenco at that, amazing post by Naja
- Mel (Mel in Anime Land), this was a blast from the past for me and one I really enjoyed just as I had Gunslinger Girl.
So, no pressure or anything, but I’m sure these guys will also be publishing their best posts ever!
And make sure you keep a close eye on the tour as we may get a very special surprise guest – or not…
The coward does it with a kiss, the brave man with a sword!
Suggested drink: Rob Rose
- Every time Anthy gets abused – take a sip
- Every time Utena defends Anthy – cheers
- Every time Anthy is with her brother – take a gulp
- Every time someone draws a sword from Anthy – take a sip
- Every time Anthy tends to the roses – take a sip
- Every time Anthy lets her hair down – take a sip
- Every time Anthy gets scary shiny glasses – worry
- Every time Anthy is with animals – take a sip
- Every time Anthy stands up for herself – raise your glass