revolutionary girl utena

Good morning! Sara-zanmai speculation and Ikuhara Greek choruses

Who is Sara?

The short answer is, a local idol of Asakusa in Sarazanmai. The longer answer could relate to a kappa’s head dish (sara) and director Kunihiko Ikuhara’s penchant for Greek choruses.

Major spoilers for Mawaru Penguindrum. Mild spoilers for Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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On Beginnings, Endings, and Yuri Kuma Arashi

anthy himemiya, anthy, utena, revolutionary girl utena end, anthy leaves ohtori academy, the rose bride

“You really don’t know what happened, do you? It doesn’t matter. By all means, stay in this cozy coffin of yours and continue to play prince.”

-Anthy Himemiya to Akio Ohtori, Revolutionary Girl Utena, episode 39

Each Kunihiko Ikuhara series begins with a system, and the system always remains, even at the series’ end.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi: A Lily By Any Other Name is a Bear

yuri kuma arashi, yurikuma, yuri bear storm, konomi yurikawa, yuri, yuri bears

Did you know that “yuri” means lily? Did you also know that “yuri” is used on Japan to denote a girls-love story? You did? Good. Shall we continue?

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Visual Storytelling in Captain Earth

captain earth, starry sky, mysterious woman sihouetted in captain earth

Captain Earth reunites two Sailor Moon veterans, Takuya Igarashi and Yoji Enokido, with the former overseeing the series’ direction and the latter the series’ composer. Both are well-known names hailing from the “Kunihiko Ikuhara tree,” Ikuhara having had a hand in Sailor Moon‘s direction since the first season before leaving following Sailor Moon SuperS in 1996 to direct Revolutionary Girl Utena in 1997. Igarashi stayed on with Toei Animation to direct the final, and my personal favorite, season of Sailor Moon: SailorStars, while Enokido wrote Revolutionary Girl Utena, which was directed by Ikuhara.  Igarashi and Enokido were reunited in 2006 by Ouran High School Host Club, and most recently, the two worked on Star Driver, again as director and series composer respectively.

As their latest offering, Captain Earth has trappings of series past, in addition to leaning heavily on repetition to provide a narrative framework for protagonist Daichi Manatsu. It reeks of Igarashi, Enokido, and Ikuhara in style. Additionally, the series is dripping with sexuality.

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Mako as the Greek Chorus of Kill la Kill

mako mankanshoku, kill la kill, kill la kill mako cheering

The curtain of Honnouji Academy students parts, leaving the costumed Ryuko Matoi center stage in her battle arena, cheered on by best friend Mako Mankanshoku.

There’s something a bit off about Mako Mankanshoku.

The universe of Kill la Kill takes care in setting its presentation as a stage. Everything appears, six episodes into the performance, to follow a set script. Due to the death of her father, Ryuko Matoi is given a reason for arriving on the stage of Honnouji Academy, and her entrance additionally provides her the means, through Senketsu, to discover what she wants to know. To uncover her father’s mysterious past and the truth behind his demise, she must go through a series of weekly challenges by battling various members of the student body. If this sounds vaguely familiar, then you may have watched Revolutionary Girl Utena, which Kill la Kill is both influenced by and refers to directly. In turn, Revolutionary Girl Utena borrows heavily from classical theater and The Takarazuka Revue (a Japanese, all-female, performance troupe) in both visual presentation and direction. One of the more obvious theatrical elements present in Revolutionary Girl Utena is the inclusion of a Greek chorus in the form of the Shadow Girls, who appear once an episode to act out a parable through silhouettes and shadows.

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