Okay that was a lot really fast. Anthy’s in cahoots with Akio. Introducing Utena to Akio. Anthy at maximum opacity.
Mamiya/Anthy totally fucks that girl up!
Anthy looks satisfied when Kanae loses. She was totally able to explain what the deal was beforehand (because she’s standing in for Mamiya and knows exactly what’s happened to her).
Oh God, she took off her glasses! She looks so scary! It’s witch-face without the glasses.
Aww poor Utena waits up for her :( but good callforward to later with the hand-holding.
15: duel Kozue [Miki]
Wait. The piano teacher was hitting on Miki. Kozue saw it and pushed him down the stairs. Now Miki wants to introduce Anthy to him? Or was that before?
Aha, so Kozue is straightforwardly jealous of Anthy, and that’s what sends her to Mikage.
Anthy totally unaffected by hearing “Anthy must die!”
Drinking a milkshake. Drinking ALL the milkshakes.
And they do a sword power-up! So pretty. Also better than the one that happened with Touga, because: 1) voluntary, 2) Anthy’s idea, and 3) they’re both kneeling.
Akio: “Tonight, as always, I will comfort you”; Anthy: “Choo Choo.” WTF? It’s the wrong pronunciation. If Chu-Chu “is” either of them, or even if he isn’t, this is a subtle negation. She encouraged Miki by telling him she liked the mispronunciation. I don’t know! What a weirdo!
Oh, /this/ is where Anthy gets the idea. From her tiny television. "Kawaii.“ Indeed.
What is Nanami hammering? Is she destroying her pendant in disgust at Jury’s virtuoso one-ups?
Anthy: already preparing the red sweater. Bless her wicked heart.
Is this the only other barn that ever appears? Why would we reuse this particular setting this way? Is it the public-opinion theme? What waits outside the barn will put you in a cart and send you to the slaughterhouse, or impale you on thousands of swords?
Steak. Could be worse, she could be a dairy heifer.
Anthy is burning the midnight oil finishing the sweater. And her eyes when she answers the door are weirdly scary!
Okay, that’s the "look how shocked I am at this situation I deliberately caused” Anthy face. Good to know.
“I wonder who sent Nanami that cowbell in the first place.” Cut to Anthy. How did I miss this the first time? My stupidity: a deeper mystery than who sent the cowbell.
Ah, we are cruelly deprived of seeing the nose-ring.
17: duel Shiori [Jury]
Argh, I like Jury too much, my heart sinks to see Anthy’s eye on her.
Here’s another shot of fencing! Anthy and Utena both recognize the disarming move. Anthy drops the sword back down. I wonder if Anthy generated the “miracle” that ended the duel with Jury.
Shiori! Oh shit! Utena is clueless. Anthy knows exactly who she is and is very glad to see her. Eek.
I love Utena’s sloppy little bows.
A hint of witch-face from Mamiya/Anthy over the orange rose.
Okay, Shiori is unaware of the Jury yuris, so cannot obtain forgiveness because she doesn’t know what she did to Jury.
Utena “just like Shiori,” oblivious!
Poor Jury! Nice callforward to the rain in Jury’s last duel.
What /is/ the “parasite”? It’s whatever gives Shiori a grip on Jury’s heart? And what makes the “noble rose” “produce its thorns”? The moment Jury throws away the locket, probably-Mikage takes the orange rose. Why that moment? See below.
Someone planted the locket in Shiori’s room! WHO COULD IT HAVE BEEN. I JUST DON’T KNOW. So, it looked like Jury was freeing herself of Shiori by throwing away the locket, but actually she was just handing over (to Anthy) the power to exploit her Shiori feels.
“It’s not that!” Not what? Not /yuris/, Shiori?? Okay, I don’t know why she flips out at the end of the elevator ride.
I’m glad I have the concept of caliginous romance to make sense of these feels, otherwise I would be so confused and horrified. I still kind of am.
Does he only talk about “the parasite’s venom” in the context of Jury? I think so.
A neat sequence finishes the episode. Ouch, Shiori left her the locket. Ooooooh, “she hasn’t changed, not a bit,” such a good line, such perfect delivery. Annnnd it’s not like Jury fell in love with a /nice/ girl. Maybe that’s what Mikage meant about the parasite, that the Jury/Shiori situation is still brimming with delicious tension and pain, even more so now that Shiori knows the score.
18: duel Tsuwabuki [Nanami]
Adulthood theme. Anthy!! Behave yourself! Oh my God. She must be doing this for its effects on Tsuwabuki. Utena is somehow both oblivious and mortified.
Why does Mamiya tell Mikage he’s a terrible man?
“Beauty alone will not get us the Rose Bride.” What does beauty have to do with it?
Why doesn’t Nanami’s liking him the way he is make Tsuwabuki feel better? Maybe it’s too condescending.
So Utena is stuck right in the middle of the adulthood theme and has no clue and is totally lost. She doesn’t even have any Experiences yet. One way or another, Anthy is so much further along that the issue is nothing to her but leverage she uses on other people.
Anthy has to encourage Utena to fight him by pointing out “he’s not the boy we know.”
The fight is good! Utena RAINS down on him!
That little saxophone flourish seems to date the soundtrack even earlier than the ‘90s, but maybe time was passing differently in Japan.
19: Wakaba’s suitor
I wonder if Wakaba’s origin story is as fake as Utena’s.
Utena’s posture is so good!
Nice misdirection, “make someone a nice wife,” intro Onion Prince.
The one protecting small Wakaba was actually…small Wakaba. She is perfectly well armed with pumpkin/daikon taunts, and she conscripts small Onion Prince as more of an honor guard.
[fate] "That can’t be it.“ [the streetlight comes on] Hmmmm.
The student council is keeping the ball rolling on its unrequited crushes without any extra help. This might be more misdirection to make it seem like Wakaba/Onion?
"You may think you can peer into it, but you can’t really.” Anthy. Yes, hello. I see you now.
Oh my God Chu-Chu has a crush on Onion.
Aaaahaahahaha Utena thinks she’s a MASTERMIND. She thinks HER PLAN IS WORKING. Slurrrrrp.
Whoa, callforward, “times when she seems happiest.” Anthy: no reaction. It is not news to her. Utena borrows Akio’s line while being totally wrong about everything.
Whoosh! Splat! Oh no, I forgot that Onion goes to Mikage.
Again this weird discontinuity at the end of the elevator ride, where I don’t know what they’re talking about anymore. "Why am I no good"? And why is this guy no use to Mikage? Is it just because he doesn’t direct his negative shit outward? I guess I could take Mikage at his word.
Other possible explanations: 1) unlike all the other Black Rose duelists [except Mikage himself?], Onion’s not a girl or a child; 2) Wakaba’s not a duelist, so he couldn’t pull a sword out of her anyway.
20: duel Wakaba [Saionji]
Saionji does the gem scamper! But what was she going to ask him?
We probably can’t say Anthy’s responsible for this. Ha, wrong, see below.
Okay, I was wondering how Mikage knew about Saionji, and I was almost ready to decide he has his own magical powers, but then I saw the leaf in Anthy’s hair. ANTHY. YOU.
Is this the first time Utena calls her Anthy instead of Himemiya?
The fight is like a grappling dance. Oh, poor Wakaba.
I’m… having trouble coming up with reasons not to think of Anthy as… kind of the… bad? guy? I love her though. I love bad guys.
21: duel Keiko [Touga]
Anthy’s sleeping through the indignant Nanami-chorus. It is weirdly cute.
“You don’t have to understand!” Yes sir, Ikuhara, sir.
No, but really, this is weird. Keiko has nothing to do with Utena or Anthy. Her whole deal is with Touga and Nanami. She wants to kill Nanami, but why should she bother killing the Rose Bride first?
All the umbrellas flying away: nice. Dios always looks like an umbrella when he comes down.
Yikes, why is Anthy looking at Utena like that while Nanami takes Keiko back in hand? And then the helpful explanation, “If it’s for someone you love, how you feel about others doesn’t matter. You keep lying to yourself for as long as it takes.” What does that even mean? And Anthy’s wide eyes and little smile are getting really eerie!
Wait, but also, pretty soon, the three minions ditch Nanami, if I remember right, and she has to beat them up to get them back under control. So the things aren’t exactly as Keiko and Nanami are agreeing here.
So is Keiko just lying to herself about Nanami’s friendship to continue pursuing her original Touga-via-Nanami strategy? Yeah, I guess mostly the Black Rose duelists go back to their original conditions after they duel, without having learned anything.
22: Mikage origin story
If you look at who she /is/, you can understand why Utena likes Anthy. If you look at what she /does/, that’s when she starts to look like a villain. And what she does is totally obscure to our doof, who isn’t paying very close attention. She still just sees what she /appears to be/, which is basically a convenient rescuee.
Okay, I don’t get it. Who did Mikage make a contract with? What was “that time”? Obvious answers in context: with Akio; when Nemuro Memorial Hall burned. But I don’t know what that means, either.
It’s funny how the “living computer” has pink hair and a purple jacket and violet lenses. And a bolo tie! Pretty flashy computer for the '90s.
Pointy hand: black cat, coffee pot, butterfly, two black cats, three black cats, two boys holding hands, lipstick stain, Mamiya and Tokiko.
Time shenanigans at teatime!
Aha, he’s taking orders from someone else? That must be Akio, I guess. Wait, no, if as below Tokiko stands in for Akio, then the “someone else” is whoever else has influence over Mikage, like Utena’s prince has over her.
“What I hate most are people who don’t care about themselves!” This is a callforward to something.
“You’re the first person I’ve ever respected aside from my sister.” Okay, this sets up a genderswapped Mamiya:Tokiko:Mikage::Anthy:Akio:Utena. Yeah, if this was a previous attempt at cultivating a revolutionary duelist, then Mikage is in Utena’s role. That time, they were working with brains. Not this time, hee hee.
Annnd Mamiya is setting up Tokiko/Mikage. That looks familiar.
“I like it when you give me an injection” :((((( Gross. This is my punishment for having the above thoughts. Mamiya looks extremely Anthic in this shot.
Yeah, picture of Mamiya and Tokiko… looks familiar.
“The Board”? That sounds vaguely connected to the actual Chairman, Kanae’s father. Well, he never comes up again.
“You’re not resting,” next he’ll fall asleep on his feet. Tokiko was “called away by the Board,” and earlier when Utena went looking for Akio, he wasn’t there. Probably he and Anthy were poisoning the Chairman or something.
Tokiko makes sweets, Akio makes cakes… Okay, okay, you made your case, self!
“A heart that longs for eternity could be considered beautiful.”
Wait, Akio has his own independent existence, but have we seen him in the room with Tokiko? "There are no outsiders here. Aside from you, of course.“ And the lipstick??
What are the instructions in the letter that Mikage can’t possibly follow??
Ahhhh, the ring represents a contract made with Akio. That must be the contract they were discussing before.
Ahhhhhh yes, "your only option” is originally Akio’s line to Mikage. Yow.
Pointy hand! Akio and Tokiko makin’ out! I guess they aren’t the same person.
Mamiya and Mikage set the place on fire together? Mamiya says he did it? Now Mikage says “they” had a contract: presumably the 100 boys. So they were a sacrifice to make possible some “energy-based” thing. The sacrifice is the first step towards the task Tokiko has? Wait, why does Tokiko have the task?
Ah, Mamiya dies, Tokiko leaves. Mikage is a robot. Then Tokiko comes back to see Akio.
How does Utena know Mikage has any connection to Anthy, let alone giving her orders? And why does she have to obey him? Because he’s a past champion? Ah, there’s the callback. It still doesn’t make any sense. Ohhhh, Tokiko:Utena.
Aha, neither Mikage nor Akio has aged. Right, you have to leave the garden to grow up.
Okay, I’m not sure who’s been taking the black roses, but I think that there was Akio. Or possibly Mamiya, who also has a green tassel.
Dang it, I think I have to watch it again to understand it. No, let’s press on.
I wonder if the original Mamiya is a Dios stand-in? That would give us Tokiko:Akio. Ouch, my head.
Okay, wait, you have to remember that the flashback events literally happen, so nobody is primarily a metaphor for anybody else. The /present/ Mikage is having his perceptions fucked with, hence the Mamiyanthy, and his memories are fucked to the extent of changing Mamiya’s appearance, but presumably events had their own independent existence and aren’t there just to foreshadow current events.
23: duel Mikage [?]
I love the asleep on the table scene so much. I believe it is unpremeditated and not part of any deliberate manipulation. I don’t know WHY I should believe this, but I do.
Aha, there’s a glimpse of wrong-looking Mamiya already, before the reveal. I think. It’s pretty quick.
Oh, so the 100 were celebrating the opening of the path to the arena, and Mamiya took the candelabrum and started the fire. I wonder if that’s the same candelabrum as later…
Ahhh yes okay, he sees her as Tokiko. The way he turns his head while looking at her is super creepy.
Does Utena actually not cry until she opens the Rose Gate? If she had, it would have been in 11, probably.
Hmmmm, her memories have supported her until now? Is that what it means for Dios to come down during the duels? Is she going to switch over to being supported by yuris now?
I’ve forgotten where he gets his sword! He wasn’t supposed to be a duelist at all. Ah, we don’t find out.
Wakaba is so great. Utena looks so tired.
When did she injure his shoulder? She only punched him in the face.
Okay, Anthy seems to catch Utena out of midair. Then she speaks to Mikage as Mamiya to tell him he’ll lose, and then the pictures show the real Mamiya. Then Utena lands next to Anthy and they do a sword power-up.
“You will never beat my sister who dwells in your memories.” If Mamiya’s speaking, the sister is Tokiko, who is unbeatable because memories are fixed (well, unless a witch is fooling with them).
Ah! Mamiya wasn’t even there? Right! Mamiya actually set the fire, but Mikage took responsibility, hence the slap. Wait, who really did set the fire? Mamiyanthy seems to be saying Mikage did it himself?
Okay. This must be present-day Akio. Mamiya’s been dead for a long time, as we knew, because Tokiko came to visit his grave. However, it wasn’t /just/ that Mikage “treasured that illusion of memory so much that it stopped time”: Anthy was standing in. Eeeeaaaugh.
“the time you spent not growing up as you kept possibilities hidden in your heart”
My favorite line! "The path you must take is not prepared for you.“
The figure standing in the light is Mamiyanthy, while Akio is somewhere out of sight, on the phone.
OH GOD her face is so scary! SO SCARY!
Okay! That’s the arc! I’m scared of Anthy! To be continued!