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Anime - Do you Understannnnnnndu?


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29 minutes ago, majestic said:

It's called Sailor Moon Eternal and is on Netflix.

Actually... things that happen in JoJo's are less random than the Dream arc's plot. Artemis transforming into a bishounen character is about as weird as anything you can get in JoJo's, just a lot more stupid than cars shooting gasoline bullets, apes with giants boat stands and old JoJo yelling OH NOOOOH! once every five minutes. :p

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HORY SH1T!

 

So I take it you're past Enyababa and Steely Dan?

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlsnot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

"Get some poor minorities, that keeps WASPs away easy." - Malcador

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3 hours ago, KP the meanie zucchini said:

So I take it you're past Enyababa and Steely Dan?

I try to get an episode or two of JoJo's watched on a daily basis. I just... don't really have much to post about it, unless it comes up as a way to make a joke. I also watched most of Kill la Kill without commenting on it. Seems a bit strange, given how I can spin a twenty page essay on Madoka from a stray thought I had while not being able to fall asleep, but something about JoJo's defies that. Weird. Or rather: Bizarre, ey? :p

I wonder how Araki keeps coming up with these ideas over such a massive stretch of time to boot. Assuming later issues/seasons don't get any less bizarre. Which they by your description(s) don't.

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47 minutes ago, majestic said:

I try to get an episode or two of JoJo's watched on a daily basis. I just... don't really have much to post about it, unless it comes up as a way to make a joke. I also watched most of Kill la Kill without commenting on it. Seems a bit strange, given how I can spin a twenty page essay on Madoka from a stray thought I had while not being able to fall asleep, but something about JoJo's defies that. Weird. Or rather: Bizarre, ey? :p

I wonder how Araki keeps coming up with these ideas over such a massive stretch of time to boot. Assuming later issues/seasons don't get any less bizarre. Which they by your description(s) don't.

Just meme about it, anyone who hasn't seen it will think you're just making something up and anyone who has seen it will understannnnnnnnnnnnndu.

I assume Araki does really good drugs. Each part seems to be more bizarre than the last, which seems hard to believe until you actually read or watch more than one part and realize it's completely true. JoJolion is wrapping up soon, so I guess we'll see if he has something that can top a gap-toothed Sailor with four tes- never mind.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlsnot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

"Get some poor minorities, that keeps WASPs away easy." - Malcador

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8 hours ago, KP the meanie zucchini said:

Just meme about it, anyone who hasn't seen it will think you're just making something up and anyone who has seen it will understannnnnnnnnnnnndu.

5h9gv1.jpg

:p

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Utena just said "I don't get it" at the end of an episode. Neither do I.

Watching this anime is like being permanently stuck in the ending of a David Lynch film.

 

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1 hour ago, majestic said:

Utena just said "I don't get it" at the end of an episode. Neither do I.

Watching this anime is like being permanently stuck in the ending of a David Lynch film.

 

The first David Lynch movie I watched was Lost Highway and I still have no idea what happened but I liked it lmao.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlsnot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

"Get some poor minorities, that keeps WASPs away easy." - Malcador

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Episode 30 of Utena. Yeah, so I'm 'bout ready for this show to end. There's only so much of...............THIS that I can handle. Just 9 more episodes...

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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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Episode 31: insert barfing gif here :x

Spoiler

hints are no longer hints

 

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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How about you watch a nice episode of CCS to clear your palate. :yes:

Also that sounds ominous. I really hope that isn't what I think it is. :x

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You'll see soon enough...

Spoiler

giphy.gif

 

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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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Let me know what you thought of episode 41 of CCS when you're done cleaning Utena from your mind. It's a two parter of a sort with 42, which is an absolute riot. ;)

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So, just some general thoughts on...film theory (or whatever you want to call it) from having watched Steven Universe, Sailor Moon, and now Utena (though I still haven't finished Utena). There are a few distinct elements in shows like these: plot (both main as well as smaller individual ones), themes, and characters. There are others, such as the world and setting among other things, but these are the three I'm going to examine. This might get a little lengthy (but absolutely no spoilers on any of these shows, especially because I really only mention Sailor Moon at length), but I promise that there's a point to it all and I think it helps explain why some shows (or parts of shows) are written inconsistently or bizarrely and yet other parts are written brilliantly with even the same sets of writers.

Spoiler

For Sailor Moon, the show really has two different main modes: "Serious Mode" (where all of the serious main plot stuff happens) and "Filler Mode" (or some other equivalent name where all the non-main plot stuff happens). In Filler Mode, you generally have a large variety of varying quality premises, from really good ideas to genuinely just terrible ones as well as everything in-between. However, in Filler Mode, characters drive plot and themes. That is to say, you create a premise and then you put your characters into said premise and then just write for said characters organically as if they were actually people, and as a result, you get all sorts of heartfelt, funny, sad, happy, brilliant, etc. character moments, hopefully with making use of all your characters' unique personality traits and abilities. You may have a general overarching theme you're trying to tie everything into, but fundamentally your characters are in the driver's seat and in control of what happens in your episode. And even though in many cases your premise may indeed be terrible, if you can write your characters in it in a proper manner (whatever form that ends up taking), then the quality of your premise does not matter at all because your characters will still drive and make the episode great.

Contrast that with Serious Mode episodes, where instead you have the complete opposite situation: you have a set of pre-determined things that your characters must do no matter what with no leeway (or time) to write anything else because your material is coming directly from the manga and all of it must culminate in the main story and the themes coming through and finishing as intended. If you have your characters act as they naturally should, they would of course completely upset where you're trying to take the plot because our characters are a bunch of lovable idiot teenage girls in all of their own special ways, and never mind the themes that would completely fall by the wayside (or worse) the moment one of our clown characters couldn't but help themselves say or do something completely silly (but totally in character). So our characters don't act like themselves - at best, they act like a much more limited, withdrawn version of themselves, or at worse, they temporarily basically aren't even the same kind of character at all (at least until Serious Mode is over). In other words, when you're in Serious Mode, the writers are basically saying "eh, screw the characters, the plot and making sure our themes come through is the highest priority": the plot and themes drive our characters, which is the complete reversal of Filler Mode.

This is why there is always such a huge disconnect between the Filler Mode episodes and the Serious Mode episodes - the objectives of the writers is diametrically opposed in the two different modes. For me, I have always said characters are the most important thing to me and I do not generally care about themes or often even the plot that much, especially for a mostly episodic, mostly non-serialized show like Sailor Moon. If the characters are written great (consistently, logically, in-character, and while making use of their specific character traits), then everything else basically doesn't matter - your characters carry the show, and that's all that really matters. Good premises should be just a vehicle for them, and if you can find a way to tie in good plots and themes along the way, then by all means do so, as it will absolutely enrich particular episodes where you're able to do so in a natural manner, but it is certainly not required. One of the best episodes of SuperS is the stupid dentist episode, and there is absolutely nothing whatsoever of substance in terms of plot or themes there, it's just our characters being themselves with each other in a looney-tunes premise, and that's somehow better than almost literally the rest of SuperS where our characters are...simply not themselves, to put it as nicely as possible.

Finally, this brings me to Utena and Steven Universe. Utena basically does not care about any of its characters (with maybe the sole exception of Nanami, the show's disgusting but also a hilarious simultaneous punching bag-bully) at any point: the entire show is simply a vehicle for the story and themes the creator is trying to tell. Characters will routinely behave inexplicably, constantly ignore obvious and way more sensible solutions to problems, act pretty out of character, and even get weirdly meta at times - the show just does not give a crap about them as characters, they're really just a means to an end...and that end is making sure you're absolutely hammered with whatever bizarre crap is going on with the plot and what it's thematically or symbolically trying to impart to you (the exact details of which are just about impossible to decipher, by the way). With the way the show treats them, it is consequently very difficult to really like or get attached to any characters - they just don't feel like good, consistent, or sensible characters. And so, we finally get to Steven Universe: though SU was by no means perfect, though it made a number of missteps (some of which were admittedly unnecessary, and yet others which were necessary due to various development issues that made doing anything else impossible), I think it did a remarkable of having the show always feel like it was being completely character-driven while constantly finding a way to still move the plot forward and tie in many different themes (both ones personal to individual characters as well as ones overarching specific arcs and the entire series) in a delightful manner. Again, by no means perfect, but nevertheless being able to get your characters, plots, themes, and even world/setting-building all in sync with each other for significant amounts of time is always an achievement of storytelling worth celebrating.

For extra fun, look at this in the context of Star Wars' original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. The prequel series has a cast of utterly boring, inexplicable, inconsistent, stupid, unlikable, personality-less, and just plain old badly written characters that make you not give the slightest crap about what those movies are doing or showing, you don't give a crap about the plot or the themes, it's just a big stupid nightmare where what everyone says and does never makes any sense and they're all blithering morons. Even with as incomprehensible plots those movies have, the movies would be immeasurably more enjoyable and it would be so much easier to get sold on everything else that's happening if you just...actually liked and were attached to the characters. Contrast that with the original trilogy, where you have a set of just solid (even if unspectacular) characters who mostly act sensibly and in-character, and they work just fine as vehicles for those movies to do their thing. Characters matter so much, but they're so frequently overlooked for some kind of idiotic point a filmmaker is trying to make, and being able to tie all of these elements together in a neat little bow is what separates the actual auteurs from the hack frauds.

Okay, dissertation over, tl;dr: good characters should pretty much always come first, good plots/themes second and only where they're natural and actually work.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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The last time you wrote a post this long you denied that you've joined the essaying club based on that it's just a few observations. I let that slide. However, now...

Welcome to the club. Take a seat, here's your membership card.

I'm afraid we're a little low on snacks and drinks right now. Going through arough patch here, being close to eviction after losing my job and all. :p

Spoiler

What I did not write in the what did you do today thread, the first time someoone from Greenpeace approached me I froze in place and just let them do their entire spiel. I only got out of it because they wanted my bank account information, and back then I was still a student with no bank account of my own. That's part of why I'm loathe to donate. Sure you can have a 50€ bill guys, knock yourself out if you want, but you're not getting a direct debit from me, for crying out loud.

The last time they even wanted 365€ per year. Sure they call it "just an € a day" which is technically correct, but my gosh, talk about getting greedy.

I'll reply in more detail later.

If there's one thing I'm majorly disappointed with about Utena, it's that it really is a letdown character wise. Considering it was written by the same guy that managed to

Spoiler

convincingly make Haruka shoot herself

and who was the writer behind Minako's wonderful insanity in S (as well as Makoto's Haruka worship episode), which all tied really well together with the first half of the season's character theme of accepting yourself as you are, instead of trying to be what society expects you to be, it really is just... just nothing of the sort in Utena. Pure thematic exploration is fine for me in a sense, assuming it is limited to feature film length or with an anthology series. However, at 39 episodes with recurring characters, it would really be a lot better if those characters were good.

I don't know what I was expecting going into Revolutionary Girl Utena, but the longer it goes on, the more I find myself barely caring. It was fun in the beginning, had a weird setting and strange things happening, but the more it progressed, the more it became weird for weirdness' sake, and thematically obtuse for no reason, and then the squick began.

Utena in itself is a manga adaptation too, but it comes from the same group as the anime that was founded by Ikuhara after leaving Toei, I doubt that counts and was probably pretty much planned.

I wonder if that would be a good time to contrast this with Violet Evergarden, which has an entirely different approach. You watch the anime, and Violet's entire "plot" in the 13+2 episodes is almost  pure character development, while her interactions are limited to characters that need to be strong because most of them you won't see again after the 25 minutes of the episode. The premise of most of these episodes is thematically tied to a continent recovering from a devastating war, and people trying to move on and live their lives as best they can.

Everything that happens with the secondary characters only works because they were given the same care and attention as the recurring characters. They were drawn up and put in the situation/premise of the episode, and then act accordingly. That's how the show gets this massively emotional reaction from its viewers when watching episode 10. The premise is really simple, the plot is barebones as they come and you can see it coming from a mile away, but nothing of that really matters.

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1 hour ago, majestic said:

If there's one thing I'm majorly disappointed with about Utena, it's that it really is a letdown character wise.

Yeah, no kidding. When Nanami is your best written character (she's actually pretty consistently written, more straightforward than most other characters, she has SOME although not enough character development, and her character itself is very...DISTINCT, can't be any doubt about that), you have a serious problem with your characters. And it's a good thing she's mostly only around in the more comedic absurdist episodes, because that very "distinct" character would probably be the worst in the more important episodes. Nanami is also who convinced me to try out this show, because there was a clip of her on the Sailor Moon Says channel that was just hilarious. RIP Sailor Moon Says.

I'm actually not as down on the show as you are, but I am watching it with someone else and the sheer unintelligible absurdity of everything frequently breaks our brains and provides many laugh-out-loud and/or facepalm moments. The actual thematic stuff...the stuff that the show is so desperately trying to impart at the expense of literally everything else for some goshforsaken reason, is mostly flying over our heads entirely. Like, there's a vague sense of the themes...but trying to actually understand all the details would be like staring straight into the abyss. Just can't do it, it's utter madness.

There's a reason I made that comparison to Evangelion once I got around episode 23...what the hell are we even doing here, guys? (e): Although maybe that's a disservice to Evangelion - I think Evangelion's easier to understand and follow, especially on just a surface level when you're just trying to make sense of the literal events that occurred. There have been a few parts in Utena where I can't do even that...

(e): Also, in regards to essays and such - to be fair, what I wrote really applies to general film/TV shows and not just cartoons, :shifty:.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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Hey guys, when you're done with the series, plz watch the Utena film as well. It adds more weird AND more squick (of the same AND also different kind than in the series)! :yes:

 

Me, I remember really liking it, squick and all (in the context of that bizarro universe it looked artificial and therefore less squicky than in more reality-adjacent stuff). No Satoshi Kon, but quite satisfying nonetheless.

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29 minutes ago, bugarup said:

Hey guys, when you're done with the series, plz watch the Utena film as well. It adds more weird AND more squick (of the same AND also different kind than in the series)! :yes:

 

Me, I remember really liking it, squick and all (in the context of that bizarro universe it looked artificial and therefore less squicky than in more reality-adjacent stuff). No Satoshi Kon, but quite satisfying nonetheless.

Planned on it, and I know majestic will because he has a compulsory thing where he has to finish everything he started...although it might take him a bit if he's really started to actively not enjoy any of it, :(.

Put fascists and sociopaths on your ignore list.

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Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

 

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2 hours ago, bugarup said:

Hey guys, when you're done with the series, plz watch the Utena film as well. It adds more weird AND more squick (of the same AND also different kind than in the series)! :yes:

 

Me, I remember really liking it, squick and all (in the context of that bizarro universe it looked artificial and therefore less squicky than in more reality-adjacent stuff). No Satoshi Kon, but quite satisfying nonetheless.

I will, of course. There is no other way, or, to reference something I didn't like as much as everyone else did, apparently: "This is the way."

2 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

Planned on it, and I know majestic will because he has a compulsory thing where he has to finish everything he started...although it might take him a bit if he's really started to actively not enjoy any of it, :(.

It's not as bad as it reads. I don't actively have to force myself to click on the next episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena in the same way I had to force myself through the 22+1 episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. In the Black Rose arc, so far, there were many more misses than hits, and even the hits weren't actual hits, but mere grazes.

For me, there are several levels of metaphor, allegory and symbolism in thematic exploration. There are probably more, but this is how it works for me:

Normal - this is where you'd end up when its fairly clear what it sets out to do. It might borrow symbology from certain mythologies or religions, reference perhaps arcane knowledge, but that merely enhances the experience, it doesn't make it impossible or even takes away from it when you don't get it. Funny as that may sound, Sailor Moon ( and in particular S) is this. Going with S for a moment, even if you don't see the incredibly obvious connection between Usagi and the (Christian) messiah, which I guess for us Westerners isn't as much of a problem as it might be for someone from (South) East Asia with only a cursory knowledge of Abrahamic religions, you can simply appreciate the episodes, the characters and the funny hijinks. Then there are the themes of accepting yourself that are present in the season, and the ongoing theme of utilitarianism vs. idealism. Realizing what it attempts to do might make the ending a little better for the viewer - and by that I mean the part that doesn't come from the manga.

Arcane knowledge would be Astrology. It's not required, but it clicks with the characters, up to a point. It's a fun exercise, but not necessary to enjoy the show.

Heavy - this is where you'd probably put stuff like NGE or Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion, the one you didn't watch. NGE dips heavily into Judaic mythology, but that's not the core of the show, the core is, at the end of the day, the characters dealing with the reality of fighting off world ending alien entities in giant mechs and how they deal with the strain this puts on them. There's this juxtaposition of Shinji and Asuka, with the same issues but diametrically opposed coping mechanisms, for instance. The ending goes off the rails and is a sollipsistic mess that's not really an ending - unless you watch the movie - but that's also simply heavy on the metaphor.

Here we're already on a level where the understanding is required to properly enjoy what you're watching. It might still be good if you don't get it, but it certainly helps. The ending of Lost is there too. Now, before someone who stumbles into this thread once again berates me for saying that, I do not think Lost had a good ending. Lost had an ending that fit the themes of the show. It makes sense in the context of the show. It is a terrible ending to the show insofar as it simply doesn't end much, and leaves questions unanswered that the show should have answered. There's a major difference between leaving something blank or not explored in detail because it would detract from the experience through overexplanation (i.e. Kyubey's motivations in Madoka) or simply not explaining anything at all that's going on even though it would be required and is effectively being hinted at.

Lynchian - well that's self-explanatory. This is borderline metaphor and allegory indulgence to the point where it comes off as pseudo-intellectual  m*sturbation (I have no idea why that word is censored, seriously Obsidian). I might insult David Lynch fans now but that's what it is. His films are interesting and I up to a certain point enjoy watching them, but when you sit through an hour of a fever dream like phantasy of a failed actress only to shift to her real life near the end like in Mulholland Drive then that's not interesting any more, it becomes something that's there to show off. This often doesn't just require knowledge of whatever topic it is about but also knowledge of the artist involved in its creation.

There is no clear cut line between the Heavy and Lynchian categories, I guess. Nanami's Cowbell episode in Utena oscillates between heavy and Lynchian, insofar as it requires one to know that Ikuhara has a history of being very critical of capitalism's more stupid excesses - which should be fairly obvious from some Sailor Moon episodes. It's unique in this also becaues it's just a fun, stupid episode even if you don't get it, there's also this heavy theme of peer pressue and brands exploiting it.

Pretentious - this is where we leave everything behind and it becomes mired in metaphor simply to be mired in metaphor. At this point, a lot of Utena sometimes sits here, however, it's the wrong category (there's one more coming up). It crosses the border and becomes actual intellectual m*sturbation. This doesn't happen that often on TV, because that's often dependant on ratings, but you can see that in a lot of art in general. Go to the Museum of Modern art and look at the works of Kazimir Malevich and tell me that isn't just that: Art from one artist for other artists to jerk off to in their perceived intellectual superiority of getting what a white square on a white background represents (I'm not joking by the way, that's an actual oil on canvas painting - White on White).

And last, and certainly least, is the (in-)joke - this is where you can't shake the feeling that you're sitting through a joke of the arist at the expense of the audience, or an in-joke between the people involved in its creation. This is probably what Utena is. It's less the authors trying to drive home obtuse themes and allegory, although that is there as well, in certain episodes - because when that happens, Utena episodes oscillate between Heavy and Lynchian, and they are understandable.

The Black Rose arc episode with Miki and Kozue is one of that. It has a shadowplay that perfectly encapsulates their relationship, the character motivations make sense, it's still full of symbology and metaphor, but it's not obfuscated to the point of becoming impenetrable. The episode where Utena is doing gymnastics while talking to everyone? Well, that has GOT to be a joke. There's nothing, absolutely nothing else that could possibly be.

I absolutely detest getting the feeling of sitting through an (in-)joke style episode. You can hear Ikuhara and Enokido laughing in the background, at the people who really are trying to make sense of the episode while there probably isn't one, and it's just there because its funny. I base this pretty much on the fact that Utena has fun, whacky episodes with no real meaning at times, then heavy episodes that actually do where it's understandable, if a little harder to see, what they were going for.

How well I can deal with the pretentious category depends on how interested I am in the subject. It still won't like it whenever I get the feeling that something is just an excercise in feeling superior to others (I get it, yay, I'm betterer than the unwashed masses), but I might get some enjoyment out of it regardless.

That's not to say that I don't like doing things that make me feel superior to others, heaven forbid. What other joy would my life entail if I wouldn't have at least that? But I do that on my own and don't demand an audience for it. :yes:

 

Speaking of something else that bothers me, and that should go in the TV thread and I might still post it there, but this final season of The Blacklist is a bit of a letdown. The last season already wasn't that hot, but really, they've spent 6 seasons showing that one of the characters on the show is a mastermind that's always two steps ahead of everyone else, and then introduced someone who was supposedly his peer in terms of being SMRT and thinking several steps ahead.

And the only way the writers managed to convey the idea is by making the mastermind character to act stupidly. Like Tyrion in the later seasons of Game of Thrones. It's still fun to watch, but it's really annoying. They even lampshade that when in one of the earlier episodes of this season one of the characters even tells him to his face that he's falling for the most obvious of ploys possible and if he really were disloyal he'd do a much better job of covering his tracks.

3 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

The actual thematic stuff...the stuff that the show is so desperately trying to impart at the expense of literally everything else for some goshforsaken reason, is mostly flying over our heads entirely. Like, there's a vague sense of the themes...but trying to actually understand all the details would be like staring straight into the abyss. Just can't do it, it's utter madness.

To be honest, at this point, I don't think there is a point to any of that. When there is a point, the episode will make that apparent, even if it's hidden in layers of weird, but it will be there. Most of this new arc so far has just given me the feeling that it's using imagery just to use imagery.

Take the butterflies on the elevator rides. They change, just once, they did not - when Mikage rejected an applicant. That's something you can see, if you pay attention, and that's okay, but that doesn't mean the butterflies have any actual meaning. They're just there, I think. I might be wrong, but eh... really, screw that.

  

3 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

(e): Also, in regards to essays and such - to be fair, what I wrote really applies to general film/TV shows and not just cartoons, :shifty:.


True, but you can't weasle yourself out of it now. Welcome to the club.

Spoiler

I might wave your membership if you watch CCS like, right now! ;)

 

Edited by majestic
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Utena 22 + 23:

Mikage turns out to be Peter Pan. Sure. At least we're back down a couple of notches from the pointless drivel that the earlier episodes in the Black Rose arc were.

Spoiler

Is Anthy a figment of everyone's desire, given shape by whatever mysterious force is at work here? Assuming for a moment that ending of episode 23 meant what it depicted, that would fit with her behaviour. I mean, outside of her having family that she likes way too much.

That would also explain how Utena (and Saionji in the first episode) can draw a sword from her heart that has the power to revolutionize the world. If Anthy is a reflection of her fiancee's desire (and/or memories), then that's just the power to change yourself. Or graduate from school, perhaps, to carry on the metaphor used, and going back to earlier episodes, to crack the world's shell. Whenever she is curiously absent, she's playing the personified desire of someone else. Nemuro's/Mikage's, for these two episodes.

Well, let's see if Utena can break free of her mind's prison, if that is what this is really about. I sure hope it's not.

@Bartimaeus feel free to spoil me in a reply, I don't really care if I find this out on my own or not.

It's episodes like these that make the think that the ones who have obviously no meaning at all are really just there to mess with us.

I'm also getting as tired of hearing "Gogai! Gogai! Gogai!" once per episode as I was of "Onegai, Pegasusu!" in some other show that Ikuhara directed and Enokido wrote for. I'm just not sure which show that was, because that was a season that doesn't exist. Like Star Wars prequels. :yes:

Spoiler

TWINKLE YELL!

 

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3 hours ago, majestic said:

Utena 22 + 23:

Mikage turns out to be Peter Pan. Sure. At least we're back down a couple of notches from the pointless drivel that the earlier episodes in the Black Rose arc were.

  Reveal hidden contents

Is Anthy a figment of everyone's desire, given shape by whatever mysterious force is at work here? Assuming for a moment that ending of episode 23 meant what it depicted, that would fit with her behaviour. I mean, outside of her having family that she likes way too much.

That would also explain how Utena (and Saionji in the first episode) can draw a sword from her heart that has the power to revolutionize the world. If Anthy is a reflection of her fiancee's desire (and/or memories), then that's just the power to change yourself. Or graduate from school, perhaps, to carry on the metaphor used, and going back to earlier episodes, to crack the world's shell. Whenever she is curiously absent, she's playing the personified desire of someone else. Nemuro's/Mikage's, for these two episodes.

Well, let's see if Utena can break free of her mind's prison, if that is what this is really about. I sure hope it's not.

@Bartimaeus feel free to spoil me in a reply, I don't really care if I find this out on my own or not.

It's episodes like these that make the think that the ones who have obviously no meaning at all are really just there to mess with us.

I'm also getting as tired of hearing "Gogai! Gogai! Gogai!" once per episode as I was of "Onegai, Pegasusu!" in some other show that Ikuhara directed and Enokido wrote for. I'm just not sure which show that was, because that was a season that doesn't exist. Like Star Wars prequels. :yes:

  Reveal hidden contents

TWINKLE YELL!

 

And I had forgotten about Chibi-Usa begging for Pedosus to come blast her mom with his horn.

Just pretend Steely Dan is Pegasus. Or the entire Super S arc.

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9 hours ago, majestic said:

@Bartimaeus feel free to spoil me in a reply, I don't really care if I find this out on my own or not.

I don't think I could (accurately) spoil this show even if I wanted to. You're understanding a lot more (or at least making a lot more intelligible interpretation) of this show than I am - I'm just trying to follow the literal events that are happening in this show, and even just that is proving to be a struggle. Case in point: episodes 22-23 I got literally almost nothing out of it. Dude somehow was a prison of his own memories so badly that he not only stopped aging (since he was "stuck" in them, whatever the hell that means), but he also turns out to be an unreliable narrator because of false memories he's been telling us, including having invented an entire character that's apparently been dead the whole time? The most critical point I've been getting out of this show is that Anthy somehow sets people "free" from their defining memories that are holding them back, but that's impossible to parse in a literal sense since what literally happens has zero relation to what you're supposed to have interpreted to have happened - trying to use themes to explain what actually happened (instead of the more normie reverse of that) makes my brain hurt and I don't like it!

...I've only watched one David Lynch film and I didn't much care for it, :yes:. (e): I was wrong: TWO David Lynch films, and I didn't like either!

(e): Lmao, speaking of, I found this line on Ikuhara's wikipedia: "He has expressed interest in the possibility of collaborating on a project with David Lynch someday."

10 hours ago, majestic said:

And the only way the writers managed to convey the idea is by making the mastermind character to act stupidly. Like Tyrion in the later seasons of Game of Thrones. It's still fun to watch, but it's really annoying. They even lampshade that when in one of the earlier episodes of this season one of the characters even tells him to his face that he's falling for the most obvious of ploys possible and if he really were disloyal he'd do a much better job of covering his tracks.

Ah, the "make a formerly mysterious and cunning character look like a clueless clown for the sake of another mysterious and cunning character you're trying to prop up" trick - always a classic, :yes:.

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5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

I don't think I could (accurately) spoil this show even if I wanted to. You're understanding a lot more (or at least making a lot more intelligible interpretation) of this show than I am - I'm just trying to follow the literal events that are happening in this show, and even just that is proving to be a struggle. Case in point: episodes 22-23 I got literally almost nothing out of it.

If I had watched episodes 22 and 23 I would have saved myself from writing the mile long post about the various degrees of metaphor to try and explain why Revolutionary Girl Utena crossed the line for me from being somewhat brain-wr(a)ecking to follow to being obscure and opaque for the sake of being just that, i.e. the feeling that I got to sit on the other end of a joke by the creators. The anime rolled the dice, scored a natural 20 and made its saving throw.

The two parter essentially moved it from being intellectual in-joke m*sturbation level to merely poorly paced. It's now a case study in how not to make a "mystery" arc, and I'm someone who is extremely easily entertained by any given mysterious happening. It really takes some doing to mess that up.

It makes the preceeding episode better in hindsight and again we're stuck with the issue that what works in a feature length film doesn't necessarily work in an episodic format, even if the actual runtime of a 10 episode arc - minus the two standalones that had a clear, distinct meaning outside of the main plot thread - is the same. We're left with roughly a 2:30 runtime of episodes related to the actual story arc here, and that would be fine if exhaustingly long for a properly organized movie, but in this episodic format it's just not working. You'll most likely watch a film to its conclusion, particularily if you already sat down in the theatre and paid for it.

An episodic show can lose you at any time. I mean, not me, so that's that, but in general, nope, this is really not how to do it.

I also just realized that one of the writers involved with Revolutionary Girl Utena was another writer for Sailor Moon: Ryota Yamaguchi, who by far and large wrote the Sailor Stars filler arc. I'm starting to blame Ikuhara for the pacing issues of the show, or perhaps we can lay this at the feet of the manga. At this point I'm not (yet?) willing or forced to check the manga out just to see where the pacing issues of the anime originate.

5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

Dude somehow was a prison of his own memories so badly that he not only stopped aging (since he was "stuck" in them, whatever the hell that means), but he also turns out to be an unreliable narrator because of false memories he's been telling us, including having invented an entire character that's apparently been dead the whole time?

I think Mamiya was a real character at some point, and he either died of his illness or died in the fire that Nemuro/Mikage set at the behest of who I still think is Anthy's father and Utena's prince, i.e. Th End of the World and "Dios", the power that falls from the upside down castle to empower Utena to win her duels. Either way, this is what caused him and Tokiko to fall out. The anime helpfully pointing to all the images used in the flashbacks of episode 22 was hilarious.

Even before Utena and Miki end up at the Nemuro Memorial Hall in the end, seeing only the burnt out ruins of what was a normal building just moments prior, that made it fairly clear that it's a construct of Mikage's mind. That's why the stupid imagery was present everywhere. Most of it ended up having no deeper meaning just like I thought - the butterfly transitioning back to a caterpillar meant... maybe something. With a lot of good will you could see Nemuro as caterpillar and the butterfly as Mikage, and his desire to go back to how it was in the past. That doesn't explain how it supposedly worked for Wakaba's friend who was rejected, or the other characters in the elevator, so I'm still leaning towards this meaning nothing - of maybe only something for Mikage, which means it means nothing in the scope of being on the elevator ride. Either way, it means nothing in its given context. Good job, show.

The reveal at the end of episode 23, I suspect, just means that Anthy was with Mikage in all these scenes, and he just either superimposed Mamiya's image over them, or she really appeared as Mamiya for him. I'm leaning towards the former, because the skin tone of Mamiya is different - darker - in the present than it was in the flashbacks, and Anthy never appeared as anything but herself for other characters.

Mikage not aging while he was Mikage, well, that's still open for debate. It either was because in the setting of the Othori Academy, time means something else (might be a reason why Miki keeps using his stopwatch, number puns aside) or the Academy is a sort of purgatory for the people who attend it. Either way, graduating from the Academy apparently doesn't mean being finished with studies, but successfully having let go of the past.

That might also be why Saionji never left the Academy proper, even after being expelled. That's because nobody who is enrolled can leave. The only way out seems to be either having been there without actually studying or working for it, like Nemura's supervisor and love interest Tokiko, or by overcoming whatever it is that enrolled you. Or "die" trying. Because there's the question of what actually happened to Nemuro after the fire.

Mikage was the unaging persona he created for himself - the one that kept him at the Academy. A persona that never existed once he lost the duel to Utena. The memorial hall is gone, ruins now, Miki and Utena pretty much never met Mikage or know of him. He's been cut out of existence. Nemuro still must have existed, because he set the fire.

Does that mean Nemuro, while failing to win the duel, is free now and simply left the Academy at the same point as Tokiko did? That's a good question. There's no real answer, and some parts of this don't make any sense. Tokiko clearly aged, and she came back to visit her brother's grave. So going in and out of the Academy is possible, and time advanced normally outside, so presumably also normally inside, characters might just not age, or even realize that they're stuck.

Might be that half of the ramblings are thrown out by the next couple of episodes. We'll see. :)

edit:

It might be that Nemuro is actually Takiko's husband that she mentioned, and that they both left the Academy after the incident and Mamiya has died, and that Mikage is a reflection he left behind, an Academy spun persona that is only there and disappears from existence because it was never truly real. That would also explain his part as unrelaible narrator and give a reason why he's the only one to have disappeared after losing a duel.

Will we find out? Probably not.

5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

The most critical point I've been getting out of this show is that Anthy somehow sets people "free" from their defining memories that are holding them back, but that's impossible to parse in a literal sense since what literally happens has zero relation to you're supposed to have interpreted to have happened - trying to use themes to explain what actually happened (instead of the more normie reverse of that) makes my brain hurt and I don't like it!

Yes, there's definitely a use of Anthy to reflect people's inner thoughts and feelings, and defining what holds them back. That's also why all of the Black Rose duelists come with the desire to kill her, rather than own her like the regular duelists. It is also why there's an upside down castle, I think (a mirrored reflection, like on a still lake). Mikage might have manipulated them into attempting to kill her, but the desire was still here.

You can even see the theme of reflection going on with who draws swords from whom, and what their issues are.

First, it was Akio's fiancee, who doesn't, or at least does it off-screen, and we don't know where her sword came from. It might just have been a regular sword, who knows. She does tell Utena though that the Black Rose freed her personality, and she's no longer her phony self. It's a nice clue in hindsight, but also something that would have worked much better in a feature film. Unless you binge, you'd need to rewatch the episodes after their conclusion. A ridiculous proposition, especially for something made to be shown weekly on regular TV.

The others fit though.

Kozue, who does everything she can to annoy Miki into paying attention to her again. Miki, who wants nothing more than to restore the past where he and his sister only paid attention to each other, and to play with her again. The piano, as it were. Miki here is trapped in his memories of playing the piano with his sister, making her a much better player in his mind than she is in reality.

Shiori and Juri, where one desires the other - romantically in case of Juri, and personality wise in the case of Shiori. The flashbacks, also from the first arc, seem to imply that Juri kind of superimposes the boy that Shiori "stole" from her (that she probably never wanted, given her obsession with Shiori) over Anthy, because again, darker complexion, and the off-beat hair color (as much as that can be in an anime where girls have natural pink hair), and perhaps vice versa  too, with Shiori seeing Anthy as something that stands between her and Juri and her desire to be as popular, stuck in the memory of being less than Juri.

Tsuwabuki and Nanami, with Tsuwabuki wanting to grow up and failing, because he's stuck in time just like everyone else (probably). He wants the one thing he cannot have, much like Nanami. Nanami might see Anthy as the object of her brother's desire and the little guy sees Anthy as the reason why Toga doesn't move on, and therefore blocks him from getting anywhere with Nanami. That one's a bit of a stretch. Either way, Namami's interest in her brother keeps her stuck, her brother's stuck trying to please the End of the World, whatever that is exactly (outside of Anthy's father and Utena's prince) and Tsuwabuki is, ironically, held back by his desire to grow up.

Wakaba, Saionji and Wakaba's former school friend - the school friend gets rejected by Mikage beause he, unlike everyone else, isn't actually stuck. At least, not relating to Anthy and whatever her family is doing. He just really loves Wakaba, and it's unrequited. He'll probably get over it, and the reason why we won't see him, ever again, isn't just because he was a random one-off side character, but that the tried, realized that Wakaba doesn't love him, went to the seminar, was rejected and finally just left the show for good because he's normal and over that. Wakaba herself draws the sword from Saionji, obviously, because he desires Anthy above all else, and Wakaba's desire for Saionji is reflected in that. Anthy gone would potentially mean that she might have a shot with Saionji.

Nanami and Keiko is a variation of Nanami and Tsuwabuki. This episode also does something else insfoar as it shows how the bully parade group around Nanami operates, and that they sometimes turn on themselves. Keiko desires Toga, obviously. Anthy needs to be gone for Toga to move past desiring her, Nanami is the mirror of Keiko's feelings towards him.

Mikage doesn't draw a sword from someone, like Akio's fiancee. Could be the swords came from themselves, they don't have a mirror for their desires, just an object that's in the way in Anthy.

I also think Toga is missing from the arc mostly because he can't be around and involved. Someone would draw a sword from him, but his role is too undefined or maybe reserved for some reveal later. This harkens back to the problem of the plot driving the character, and the themes here driving the plot, so... Toga's just not there. Except for that party and sharing an umbrella with Keiko.

 

So there, this is how the last episode saved the earlier ones with the power of hindsight. I still stand by what I said earlier, watching this was not really good, and it's a bad, bad, bad idea to structure your TV show like that.

5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

...I've only watched one David Lynch film and I didn't much care for it, :yes:. (e): I was wrong: TWO David Lynch films, and I didn't like either!

Strange late edit there. Did you watch Dune and not realize it was by David Lnych at first? What was the other movie then, or two different ones?

5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

(e): Lmao, speaking of, I found this line on Ikuhara's wikipedia: "He has expressed interest in the possibility of collaborating on a project with David Lynch someday."

Dear God, let's hope that never happens. Ikuhara did an admirable job adapting Sailor Moon under his direction, but Utena... I don't know, really, that kind of put a damper on things.

5 hours ago, Bartimaeus said:

Ah, the "make a formerly mysterious and cunning character look like a clueless clown for the sake of another mysterious and cunning character you're trying to prop up" trick - always a classic, :yes:.

It's worse in the case of The Blacklist because the mastermind is essentially the break out character of the show and was turned into something of the lead character over the time of the show. The intended main character and female lead turned out to be a bit of a letdown, so she's... well, right now, she's the main antagonist of the season. She's the Ted of this show. I mean, yeah, I know you haven't watched How I Met Your Mother, but Ted Mosby is pretty emblematic for this sort of problem when you get a long running show where every other character than the one that's actually supposed to be the main character is more interesting.

 

Edited by majestic
Various typos and a new paragraph, check it out!
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Utena, episode 24:

Nope. I'm not even going to bother until the arc is done. What the hell was that?

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57 minutes ago, majestic said:

Strange late edit there. Did you watch Dune and not realize it was by David Lnych at first? What was the other movie then, or two different ones?

I forgot Eraserhead was by him too - the other one I've seen is Blue Velvet, which is probably tame by David Lynch standards, and yet I still just didn't like it. I plan on giving Mulholland Drive a try at some point and if I don't at least like that, David Lynch will be dead to me, :). Boring movies I can take, ones that actively annoy me with just silly nonsense not so much.

Yeah, so, your post two posts ago is exactly why I have no idea what's going on. Have to pay attention to and connect all that random crap in this highly chaotic, non-linear, and surrealist style in order to make even a smidgen of sense out of what characters are doing and saying? I don't think so! Guess I'll just read the CliffNotes version of the show after I've finished it, :p. I only have 4 episodes left, and yet it seems like you're way ahead of me...

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1 hour ago, Bartimaeus said:

I forgot Eraserhead was by him too - the other one I've seen is Blue Velvet, which is probably tame by David Lynch standards, and yet I still just didn't like it. I plan on giving Mulholland Drive a try at some point and if I don't at least like that, David Lynch will be dead to me, :). Boring movies I can take, ones that actively annoy me with just silly nonsense not so much.

I felt cheated watching Mulholland Drive. I'm not going to tell you that you should not watch if it you want to try it, but I think that's two and a half hours of your time you won't be getting back and I'd be surprised if it changed your opinion of David Lynch films if you already didn't like Blue Velvet.

I guess I can say that without it being a spoiler, but it begins with a car crash and a woman who loses her memory as a result. You then have like an almost regular amnesiac crime/mystery film where the two main characerts Betty and Rita try to piece together who Rita - the woman with the memory loss - really is. All they have are the contents of her hand bag, which include an awful lot of money in cash and a strange blue key, as well as a name that eventually leads them to a woman they find dead in her appartment...

Sounds like a decent enough setup, if one likes that sort of thing. I do. You mentioned don't really care for mysteries, so that won't even start well, right?

Spoilers from here on out:

Spoiler

After a while, Rita and Betty are sitting in a club called Silencio. The stage presenter of the show says that it's all just an illusion, but the effects are real, then Rita suddenly finds a blue box with a lock to match the blue key. She opens the box, and the scene hard cuts to... something else, where the identities of all present characters are switched. Betty becomes Diane, a woman the two initially find dead in her apartment while trying to figure out who Rita is.

The blue box is empty. Then some more stuff happens that implies that some - of not all of what happened - is just a hallucination of a failed actress who cannot cope with her failure and imagines increasignly confusing conspiracies and chains of events that lead her to the conclusion that she was cheated out of a successful carreer by someone less talented, and then the film is over.

The less talented actress is of course Rita, and Diane - the woman they found dead in the appartment, is actually Betty. Or rather, vice versa. Betty is Diane. Diane may or may not have seen that Rita, whose actual name is Camilla, has gotten a job over her based on her sleeping with the director/producer/agent (someone who is implied to have landed Camilla the job over Diane in spite of not being nearly as talented). She might also have just imagined that, because at this point all of the imagery of the film has become supremely surreal. The car crash was attempted murder, or at least was implied to have been.

Film ends with Diane commiting suicide and the stage presenter saying: "Silencio!"

Making sense of it isn't as mysterious or hard as people claim it to be, mostly because people get hung up on details and try to piece together a plot that, while there, is somewhat irrelevant to what the film is supposed to mean - an exploration of the soul crushing machinery that is Hollywood and the price it asks from young women trying to make their way. That's something that gets a bit more interesting in hindsight after #metoo, although that really was an "open" secret.

David Lynch himself didn't help the issue by giving out a list of clues of what to look for while trying to interpret his film. They're as cryptic and mostly useless as the actual plot.

The reason why I felt cheated is because the first part of the film produces an interesting mystery that slowly unravels, only to go: Haha, fool! It was just the dream of this failed hick from the sticks who tried to make it Hollywood. Woops.

Fine film, you do that, but you can't blame me for wanting you to go down in flames. :yes:

 

1 hour ago, Bartimaeus said:

Yeah, so, your post two posts ago is exactly why I have no idea what's going on. Have to pay attention to and connect all that random crap in this highly chaotic, non-linear, and surrealist style in order to make even a smidgen of sense out of what characters are doing and saying? I don't think so! Guess I'll just read the CliffNotes version of the show after I've finished it, :p.

It's not like I actively thought about these things, I watched the episodes last night and went to bed, and woke up with the idea for that post. Don't ask me how that works.

1 hour ago, Bartimaeus said:

I only have 4 episodes left, and yet it seems like you're way ahead of me...

We'll see soon enough, I guess. It's time to binge finish this thing, because if I leave it hanging around for longer it'll just make me think about it some more. Consciously or not. Heh.

edit:

Utena episode 25 is off to an awfully great start. Sister-F*cker Akio and Toga are speeding down an endless looking road, talking mysteriously and the title card reveals the episode name as "Our Eternal Apocalypse".

Man, using an empty, endless looking road as imagery is so 90ies... look Mr. Ikuhara, if there's something that James Cameron of all people used in Terminator 2, then please, don't bother. :p

Look at the episode suggesthing that Akio is Utena's prince. Prior to the last few episodes, I would have said that doesn't fit withe the provided timeframe, but given that now any character's age is in doubt, perhaps he really was, and it's not Anthy's father but brother that was Utena's prince.

Well, that's one mystery down, at least.

Look, Akio isn't only into his sister, he also really likes students of all sorts and genders. *sigh*

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Nanami has an egg and Toga thinks she's a lesbian and starts lecturing her about the natural order of things.

Hey Toga, you, uhm, forgot your little escapades with Akio there? Just sayin'. Hypocrite.

Also, what the hell am I watching?

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