omg. OMG. Kamikazefinn’s HC that Kanae was a duelist in a previous cycle but became Akio’s “Princess” and forgot about Anthy. YOU MEAN LIKE WHAT ALMOST HAPPENED TO UTENA IF SHE HADN’T ASKED WHAT WOULD BECOME OF ANTHY ONCE SHE LIVED “HAPPILY EVER AFTER” WITH AKIO?? NO WONDER ANTHY IS SO FUCKING SALTY AT HER, I LOVE THIS HC
I’ve been saving these two for this point in the liveblog, because I LOVE THIS HEADCANON.
Kanae is beautiful, intelligent, poised, well-connected - given what we know about who ends up on the Student Council and who Akio deems to be an important enough person to give the time of day, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine that she may have once served on the Council and, thus, been a Duelist.
I’m very invested in the notion of cycles of the dueling game, and that Ruka is a holdover from a previous cycle. Kanae having also participated fits so well with my sense of it. I also like to include the Shadow Girls in this sometimes - they know what they do because of experience, but they’ve been banished to another realm or are only able to convey their insider information in code/secret/shadow. What would separate Kanae from them, of course, is both success in the duels and the acceptance of the Princess role that Utena ultimately rejects. It explains Anthy, it puts Kanae into the funky timeline in ways that are satisfying, and it illustrates the concepts of the deconstruction well.
It’s also incredibly important, then, for me to quickly mention that Kanae isn’t just ‘Akio’s Princess’ - she’s 100000% disposable. Not only would Utena stick around as some arm candy for a time, but she would not have actually meant anything to Akio. She never does mean anything to him besides her function in the duels, just as he does not actually love Kanae. This makes Anthy’s fear of Utena choosing to become the Princess in the end even more complex - she knows that the Princess is ultimately meaningless to Akio, so not only does she face the possibility of losing Utena to him (while simultaneously losing him to Utena), she knows that it can only end in pain and/or death.