The next arc of Utena begins by introducing one of the most important characters in the story: Anthy’s brother Akio Ohtori. Akio is the current Chairman of Ohtori Academy, engaged to the daughter of the actual Chairman, and a magnificent sexy bastard who is 100% not evil and definitely doesn’t do anything sinister in this show. Don’t be suspicious because that’s definitely wrong. The tension in this episode begins around Akio’s fiance, Kanae, and Anthy. It is clear from the beginning of the episode that Anthy doesn’t acknowledge Kanae at all, always smiling but never giving real answers in response to her.
What this creates is a new arc: Kanae is revealed to dislike Anthy as well and is conflicted by her feelings. Meanwhile the leader of a new group, the Black Rose, preys on these feelings and uses them to make Kanae into a new opponent for Utena. This leader, the genius Mikage, has the intention to kill Anthy and replace her. Kanae, of course, is a perfect object for this because she dislikes Anthy and could be pushed towards that direction.
But uh, dude, it’s Utena. Of course she won’t lose to someone with such a petty feeling of jealousy. She wins, Kanae is defeated, and things are fine! They’re totally fine. Except a main element of this show is finally revealed as it seems the relationship between Akio and Anthy becomes more complicated: a sinister level of incest is implied at the end of the episode. (Spoilers: It there)
Speaking of unhealthy incestual obsessions with siblings, and no I’m not talking about Nanami, the next episode focuses on Miki’s sister and obsession with him. I wish I could say that this is a terrible arc and isn’t incredibly interesting because of the semi-incestuous themes at times, but Utena is all about reflection on the conflicting emotions between people. Especially magical duelists who fight for a weird kingdom in a dueling arena with an upside down castle. I don’t make the rules, royal people always date their siblings or something I guess.
These two episodes are thematically similar in that we see these sorts of relationships growing and pulling apart. I know the relationships are complicated in this show and that’s what makes it interesting, and I like that in this arc Mikage preys on the complex relationships between people to create powers. We learn in episode 15 that Mikage’s plan revolves now around choosing duelists who have a connection to the actual Council, in doing so they can steal their swords. I mean, I’m all about that sword stealing aesthetic.
To be honest, this arc is amazing because of how well they draw the duelists. Something about being a Black Rose duelist puts your eyelash game on point.
I want to make a lot of statements about the theme of this arc but to be honest: right now the only thing I can talk about without talking about future episodes is that incest is weird in this show. I can’t even tell you it gets better because it doesn’t and you better strap in for these pure medieval incest problems.