You know. I think Oki’s right, Utena set the bar for things that could be done in anime. In one episode, you have a man fighting a kangaroo over his sister. In another episode, you have a kitchen blowing up from extra special magic spicy curry. The student council is freaking out, end of the world said nothing about the Rose Bride and the person she’s engaged too getting caught up in a huge curry based explosion. Luckily, they seem to be alright and are released from the hospital and…
Oh god, this episode is Freaky Friday way before the movie actually came out. The body swap, Utena’s body with Anthy’s personality. Anthy’s body with Utena’s personality. Eventually everyone catches onto this and Nanami owns up to the fact it was the secret curry powder she’d slipped in that had caused the weird change in the first place. So now she has to go to India to find more and, oh god, I was right. This is the episode with the elephant.
The episode is basically split into two halves. The actually emotional half, where Utena and Anthy live out each others lives. Where Utena finds out about a exchange diary between Saionji and Anthy that contains their secrets. He says that he is improving his sword skills and intends to win her back, which is basically setting up for the next couple of episodes with one line of dialogue and the second part of the episode is Nanami and her gang of followers wandering through India being constantly trampled by elephants.
By the same elephant I think actually.
I think the way they set this up with the shadow puppets before it begins is funny. In the way that they point out that every action as a reaction, if you do something unkind. You can except unkindness in turn. It’s just the way of the world and the way that karma works.
Any pity that Utena feels for Saionji goes right out the window when she opens the book and actually reads what he wrote, violently insulting her and making a very crude drawing of him stabbing her through the chest as he won Anthy back.
At the end of the day though, the magic curry that Nanami slipped them was never used and the explosion and personality swap was just caused by Anthy’s cooking. Saionji and Chu-Chu eat the curry and their personalities swap for a good laugh at the end of the episode.of course, as it’s the end gag it won’t be addressed again, but we’ll just assume that Anthy got the two of them together and gave them curry to switch their personalities back.
Maybe this is just me, but I just have a hard time believing that Utena felt any sort of pity towards Saionji. No matter how much he claims to love Anthy and that his love is true, there is no reason to feel for him.
First off: The very first thing she witnesses Saionji do is physically abuse Anthy. Major warning bells all around right here.
Second off: He is one of the only people in the student council not to notice that Utena and Anthy had switched personalities. If he loved her as much as he claimed too, he would of noticed the changes in her behavior. To Utena’s credit, she does attempt to act like Anthy around Saionji, but if it was enough for Touga, Juri, Miki and multiple other students to notice the difference. Someone who claims to love her has no excuse.
Now on to episode nine and I have to put up with more of Saionji.
We do get a considerable amount of backstory on Saionji. He’s known Touga since they were children, and he was always losing to him. It created something of a complex, and that complex hit it’s peak when they were on their way home from sparring one day and they came across a funeral. A little girl had lost her parents in an accident and then gone missing herself, the adults seem under the impression that it’s kidnapping but Touga seems to have his doubts.
The two of them walk into the church to find three coffins instead of two as there should be. Touga opens the third coffin and inside he finds a girl, the girl is Utena and she is lying in the coffin. She feels as if she should be dead and thus this is where she belongs. Life is fleeting, so why bother to keep trucking through it.
What she desires is something eternal. They leave her there for a bit, but when they return to see the next day. She has come out from the coffin and something has changed in her eyes. She’d found that something eternal.
Saionji asks Touga if he did something to help her but he insists that he did nothing of the sort, Saionji does not believe him.
After telling this story, Saionji receives a letter that is supposedly from ‘End of the World’ that says that the upside down castle over the arena where something eternal dwells is going to come down this night. So he kidnaps Anthy, to bring her to that place of eternity, since that is what he seeks. To show her the Eternity that he could not show to the girl from his childhood. When he tries to force her into the dueling arena though, everything goes wrong.
He instead finds himself face down in the water, nearly drowning. Utena finds him this way and they rush up to the arena to find Anthy, where she is encased in a coffin inlaid in a rose. The world seems to crumble around Saionji as Utena goes to save Anthy from the coffin. Stealing away his chance to be the one to save someone this time.
He flies into a rage and goes to attack, but Touga throws himself in the way and takes the wound for Utena. Saionji is expelled from the school and there are hints that the connection between Touga and end of the world runs far deeper then one might think.
Also, this episode does a lot to try to convince us that Touga might be Utena’s prince. He even goes out of his way to insinuate as much twice to her and the backstory also sort of implies that it is a possibility.
I just, it’s hard to say that I hate Saionji because Utena actually has very few characters I outright hate. I dislike him a lot though, he is severely misguided, let’s petty jealousy run his life and is highly abusive and refuses to see any kind of reason.
We’re coming to a close on the Student Council arc soon, and entering personally my favorite part of the series. The Black Rose Saga, but we still have some loose ends to tie up before that.