Movies / Home Theatre

Revolutionary Girl Utena: the Black Rose Saga

By Chris Zimmerman
November 14, 2011 - 12:45

In reviewing the first Revolutionary Girl Utena set, I noted that the series offered a break from the clichés of the magical girl genre. The series relied heavily on its imagery and pushed the boundaries with its sexual overtones. Utena was a break from the usual offering of protagonists, being a tom girl who was physically capable of taking care of herself. As the episodes progressed, the series became formulaic in its trend of recycling scenes and using the same blueprint for multiple episodes. At twelve episodes, the first release perfectly captured the series’ strengths and weaknesses.

With the introductions out of the way and the initial threat of the student council seemingly over, the show runner’s had to come up with an excuse to keep the series running. Introducing a new brand of enemy, the Black Rose saga as it is titled, presents Utena with a much more visceral threat. Rather than dealing with a group of upper classmen seeking to gain power through honor, her opponents this time around are prone to deceit and even murder to further their own agenda.

With new faces cropping up, Utena is almost relegated to a supporting role, as each of the Black Rose duelists is shown to have established a connection with the other students of the school. Each character’s psyche is examined and their motivations made clear. Many of them are twisted beyond even anime standards and must be seen to be believed. While the Student Council were enemies of Utena, their motives were far from devious, making the Black Rose duelists a welcome change to the status quo.

For Utena and her friends, the majority of their problems stem from Souji Mikage. Playing a much more psychological threat, exploiting the feelings of others to draw out their negative emotions and turn them into black rose duelists. Unlike the noble Touga, Mikage’s interest in Anthy is a means to an ends that means her death and christening a new rose bride.

The only real downside to this group of episodes is that their end result is a setup to the next and final arc. While the characters explored here are intriguing, by the time the final episode rolls around, Anthy and her older brother Akio are the real focus of attention leading into the series’ climax.

Rightstuf once again delivers in it’s release of the series. The DVDs are housed in thin cases sporting character artwork that fit into a sturdy art box. Also included is a nifty booklet, loaded with interviews, summaries, and character illustrations. If more companies put this much stock in the quality of their releases, more consumers would feel as though they were getting their dollar’s value.

The Black Rose saga is a genuine treat for those who enjoyed the first set. The supporting characters are given greater purpose and developed beyond their single note purpose in the first saga. Even as a lead in to the next arc, this collection of episodes move at a brisk clip that play on the strengths of the series.


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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