Whenever you see that Nanami is going to be the focus of the episode, you can be sure the episode is going to be absolutely absurd and probably do nothing to advance the plot. Which is exactly what happens in episode sixteen as Nanami gets what she believes is a designer Cowbell in the mail and decides to parade around wearing it. Not only looking absolutely absurd, but turning into an actual cow in the process. I wish I was making this up.
She actually turns into a cow at one point in the episode. A cow that curiously acts more like the stereotype of a bull, chasing down the red cloth. Which by the way, Bulls are color blind and it’s actually the movement that enrages them and they run after but I digress. She sees the red sweater that Anthy sewed for Utena, turns into a cow, chases it down and at long last Utena takes the cowbell off of her by ‘dueling’ her with a pitchfork. Really I wish I wake making this up.
The cowbell was actually ordered for Anthy’s pet cow who is also named Nanami and thus the post man got it mixed up and delivered it to the person Nanami instead. She also ordered a fancy nose ring for her cow that should be delivered soon, it’s alluded that this is also sent too and worn by the human Nanami but thank goodness. We are spared the visual.
As Juri says near the end of the episode, chasing down status symbols truly is pointless.
We leave this absurdity behind us and get back on track in episode seventeen and speaking of Juri, it’s the episode revolving around her and the girl from her past. We touched upon what happened between them during Juri’s episode of the student council arc. In the Black Rose arc though, as we saw in Miki’s episode we have more of a general focus on the story from the other side. On the characters who shaped the lives of the main characters, Miki’s sister. Juri’s ‘friend’ Shiori who she loved all along.
As Shiori returns to the school. She expresses regret and remorse for what she did to Juri in the past, wishing they could be friends again. Yet she fundamentally misunderstands everything about the situation, not understanding the true focus of Juri’s affections. Still believing them to be towards the boy she believes she stole from Juri. Of course, this regret is nothing but a ruse. Deep down, she hates Juri. She always has and that hate is still born from a fundamental misunderstanding of Juri. Of thinking that Juri is looking down on her, that Juri somehow thinks herself better than her.
Even knowing that Juri was chasing her and loved her all this time, she still thinks that Juri is making fun of her and she still misunderstands Juri’s true feelings for her. Mikage uses this and turns Shiori to the next Black Rose Duelist.
Not, really sure how Utena even found out there was a duel or why she showed up to the arena. They kind of just skip from Shiori pulling the sword from Juri to Utena showing up at the arena with zero explanation of why or how she knew to go there. Well I suppose it doesn’t matter, Utena beats Shiori and in the end. Nothing changes. Not for Shiori, who doesn’t change at heart and not for Juri. Who isn’t strong enough to let go of her love and let go of the past.
It’s sad, I feel bad for Juri. I honestly know that feeling a little too well, though not for someone I love but for my dear friends who I still remember to this day and miss deeply despite not being close to them in nearly eight years now. That weakness, that inability to let go of the sadness that comes from being close to someone for so long and having them hurt you. Letting it go is hard, the fact that she even tried it is a step forward for her character and I hope to see her grow past that pain someday.