+++ ANALYSIS +++

The child of destiny, she was born into revolution...with a tragic ending? Shoujo Kakumei Utena is very similar to Shakespearean tragedy in that the protagonist, Tenjou Utena, is blessed with a virtue or virtues, which eventually cause her downfall. Her virtues are her innocence and sense of nobility. These characteristics are retained throughout the whole series, and although these traits are never corrupted (in Shakespearean tragedies, usually this quality is corrupted which leads to the character's downfall, ex. Macbeth), they lead up to her eventual downfall because they blind her and she is lost in a world of illusions.

Her innocence is what pushes Utena along and what also handicaps her. In a symbolic note, Utena is very much the representation of the hope in life due to her innocence, however, this innocence also makes her not realize the burdens and the evils of the world, which ultimately will fall upon her and destroy her perception of the world she thinks she knows. This trait is what makes Utena accept life as what it is, she merely accepts what is presented to her because she cannot see what lies behind, and never fully understands or learns how the world really is. Trapping her into a contained world, it stunts Utena's growth and development into an adult, and because of it, she remains as a child because she is not capable of realizing the hidden truths and evils of life.

The following is the storyline from the anime series, explaining how Utena's life was played out until the end, and how her personality and her virtues are all major factors of her tragic fate.

We are first introduced to Tenjou Utena when Shinohara Wakaba, Utena's best friend, is waiting for her "boyfriend" as she claims. In reality, she is waiting for Utena, who, that morning seemed to have forgotten to meet Wakaba before class. Later, when Wakaba finds her, she pounces on Utena's back and demands she carry her around as punishment for not showing up. Utena, being a strong and good-natured girl, doesn't mind.

Utena was just an ordinary girl. Well, almost ordinary. She had striking bubble-gum pink hair, and paraded around the school in a black male school uniform with little red biker shorts. Clearly, Utena always did stand out in a sea of skirt wearing girls at her private school, Ohtori Academy. But Utena thought she had an ordinary existence. She went to school, played basketball with boys, carried Wakaba around campus on her back, and lived in a dorm. She lived a normal life. No one knew that she would revolutionize the world, and touch the lives of all of those who knew her...

Utena herself was a bright, young, and sunny girl. A 14-year old tomboy, who enjoyed collecting rose teacups, she attended Ohtori Academy at the grade eight level. Orphaned as a young child, she lost her way and met a prince. The prince saved her and made her tears go away, and promised they would meet again. As a sign of this fated meeting, he gave her a silver ring with a rose emblem on it, saying it would lead her back to him. Utena then had a burning desire to to become a prince herself so that when she would meet her prince again, she would prove that she had retained her sense of nobility that the prince had told her to keep. She always wanted to be the prince protecting the princess instead of the princess being protected. Little did she know she would do just that...

She was noble and self-righteous, and wanted to right the wrongs of the world. She was kind, but brutally naive and innocent. Because of this flaw, she could never see clearly what lay before her, and it is this innocence that allows others to take advantage of her, and destroys Utena.

A loyal and devoted friend, Utena manages to get caught in a world of duels and cruel fantasy that became reality. Wakaba had written a love letter to the Student Council vice-president, Kyouichi Saionji. To humiliate her, the letter was posted on a bulletin board for all to read. Enraged by this act, Utena tracks down Saionji, and knowing that he was the captain of the kendo club, she challenges him to a duel. This was a misunderstood act, because Saionji was surprised that someone as "ordinary" as Utena would know about the duels the Student Council held. Utena, of course, did not, Saionji just assumed so. He invites her into the arena hidden in the forbidden forest north of the campus for their duel. Utena unknowingly enters the forest after school and discovers the gates that will open up her fate and lead her to her destiny...

In the arena, which is perched mysteriously in the sky, as though it were floating (but can't be seen by students), there is an upside-down castle hanging above it; it seems to symbolize the upside-down fairy tale Shoujo Kakumei Utena is. Utena discovers a new world. Apparently, Saionji wants to battle for the hand of a certain girl, one he refers to as the Rose Bride - Himemiya Anthy. The goal of the duel was to cut away the rose inserted into the breast pocket of both duellists by Anthy at the beginning of the duel. This can be done by any means necessary, taking a life isn't an issue. The prize? Anthy. Anthy becomes "engaged" to the new Victor of the Duellists. This means she must live with the current Victor and does as he/she pleases. She is merely a servant in a way, but believed to grant the power to revolutionize the world to the Victor.

Utena defeated Saionji. Though just an amateur at swordplay, something from the upside-down castle posesses her and leads her to victory. Saionji is humiliated, and Anthy becomes Utena's flower. Utena is the new Victor.

Right off the bat, Utena is forced to accept all other duel challenges and becomes entangled with the offbeat Student Council of Ohtori Academy. One by one, she must fight them all, as she has no choice but to do so (the price of declining a challenge would be expulsion from the school); the price of being the Victor. Utena has no real desire to stay as the Victor though, she was unenthused by all these ideas of Rose Brides and duels and revolutionizing the world. But she gets trapped in this game, and because of her naivete, she becomes a pawn in the game.

Anthy and Utena develop a quick bond and fast friendship. Much to Utena's shock, Anthy has no desire of her own. Uncomfortable with the idea that Anthy is willing to take orders from her, Utena decides that Anthy should become a normal girl and urges her to make friends.

At a point, early in the series, Utena decides that she will purposely lose to get out of the duels. But once at the duel, she realizes her fierce devotion to Anthy and feels as though she can't abandon her with Saionji again, since he slapped her and mis-treated her. So out of friendship and Anthy's sake, as well as the help of the mysterious power that posessed her during her first duel, she wins the duel.

Utena keeps winning every duel, until she faces Kiryuu Touga. Touga was the Student Council president and self-proclaimed playboy of Ohtori Academy. He has a strong attraction to Utena, but she is unimpressed by his charms. Nonetheless, Touga persists on romancing Utena, though she is not so easily swayed as other girls are. At the duels, he watches Utena and her movements from afar. He knows that something posesses her to win. He then realizes her weakness and uses it against her. Touga pretends and implies the idea that he may be her prince, but once at the duel, Touga makes Utena realize that Anthy only pretended to want to be a normal girl and make real friends because Utena wanted her to. This sudden realization is a slap in the face for Utena, and she loses Anthy to Touga. Once again, Utena loses her way and seems to be depressed. She changes drastically, for once, agreeing to wear Ohtori's girls' school uniform, and acts like a statue. It seems as though Touga had broken Utena. But Utena finds her way back by herself and challenges Touga. This time she would fight for Anthy and herself. She wins.

Back to her normal ways, Utena reverts back to wearing her black jacket/red shorts ensemble, and meets Anthy's brother and chairman of Ohtori Academy, Ohtori Akio. Utena falls for Akio, but he just seems to be toying with her, pulling on her emotions. Utena never realized it though, for her innocence blinded her. Instead of Touga, Utena thinks maybe Akio was her prince all along. Utena makes it to the duel known as Revolution. There, she must face Akio and a deep realization sinks in. Anthy stabs Utena in the back, because Utena was like the prince Anthy used to love, but because she was a girl, she couldn't love her in this world. Akio and Anthy open up the gates to revolution. Anthy must be sacrificed, but Akio doesn't care; he will gain the power to revolutionize the world and become the prince he once was. But Utena still wants to save Anthy from the Million Swords of Hatred that stab her. The fate of the Rose Bride was the protect the prince from the Million Swords of Hatred when the door to revolution opened. At this, Akio asks her what she will become if she saves Anthy now. Utena replies, saying she will become a prince. She would no longer be just a girl, she would be a prince. And with that, she pries open the door to revolution and reaches for Anthy's hand, but the Million Swords of Hatred lash out. Anthy starts to fall, and Utena reaches out for her hand to save her. But Anthy couldn't reach it in time, and the swords hit Utena.

Her tragic destiny fulfilled, Utena is forgotten. What happened to her is not clearly identified. But even so, life continues on without her. Was she really the one to revolutionize the world? Had she given her life for nothing? No. Though forgotten, she brought on a revolution; one so quiet that most others probably didn't notice. She had freed the lives of other who were trapped in the game of Akio's. The Student Council were free from their pasts, the ones they so desperately clutched onto. And Anthy became an ordinary girl. No longer subjected to being the Rose Bride, she broke free from Akio and his world, as did the others, and Utena. Utena brought on a revolution that touched everyone's lives of those who knew her.

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