STORY: So the story starts out like this, Utena's parents died and then a prince on a white horse cheers her up by giving her an (appearently) symbolic ring, so the prince bids her farewell and promises to meet up with her again one day. Ever since Utena vows to become a Prince herself.
Cut to 10 (or so) years later, Utena is now in Highschool, dresses in boys clothing and is better at sports than most of the guys. Utena's one and only friend, Wakaba is himulated by a student council member, Siaonji, and so Utena defends her friends honor by challenging Siaonji to a duel. Utena wins because Siaonji fails at life and also wins a consolation prize... The Rose Bride who's name is Anthy. Utena has to keep winning the duels in order to keep The Rose Bride and stay engaged to her.
Okay now with the synopsis out of the way, I can finally review Revolutionary Girl Utena.
I'm just going to get the bad out of the way first. Utena is completely repititive, having the of the problem of the week scenerio. infact there are A TON of plot points that are replayed in almost every episode. The melodrama feels like a soap opera and there are a lot of fillers... A LOT of stupid fillers (NANAMI TURNS INTO A COW! OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!!!!)
But stick around because there are a lot of things Utena does right that more than makes up for its faults. So Utena is an allegory which means almost every action, ever move, every image and every piece of dialogue is symbolic, normally this approach would be over whelming but you don't have to get the symbolism to enjoy RGU because the direction is really good and the character devolopement is astounding making this not only a symbolic anime but a truly enjoyable one as well. Utena also uses a ton of taboo subjects such as Obsession, Under aged sex, Incest, Adultry, Pedophillia, Homosexuality, and so much more, it is all handled with the maximum of subtelty and neither promotes nor codemns these topics.
What Revolutionary Girl Utena bassicly boils down to is what does growing up mean, what does it not mean and how can we grow up? As a result I think this is a great anime for teenagers because Utena does adress problems that most teenagers go through and portrays them with out feeling like an after school special. Utena may also be a good anime for adults because it shows that adult figures still have problems that teenagers go through. Adults are "grown up" but many do not have the matrurity to truly be a grown up, this anime definately portays that well. There are many lessons to be learned from Revolutionary Girl Utena and you will have to pay attention to learn them all.
So Utena being symbolic and all is extremely weird like most symbolic shows are. If you don't like animes that are weird and even pretentious at times then this anime definately isn't for you.
I personally don't mind if the shows I watch are pretentious, I actually enjoy them a lot. I love weird imagery and taboo subjects, I don't see why most people don't like them.
Anyways even though it's weird, repitive and melodramatic, SKU gets so many things right, 8/10
ANIMATION: So just by looking at the screenshots you can tell that Utena didn't have a big budget. Utena was made in 1997 but it looks like an 80's anime. The quality is fuzzy, the amount of stock fottage is mind boggling and the art style is sorta.... Unusual.... (Damn these people are skinny!)
However pehaps due to good direction, it never comes off as cheap looking. There are still amazing scenes that lets the mind wander. What I mean by letting the mind wander is that RGU does show you a ton of stuff however its what the show is hiding.
Great care was taken with the little things, such as the use of body language! For instance, the character Anthy is submissive, they tell you this with out ever saying it out loud, instead they tell you through body language. There is also a lot of surrealism, shadow pupets, visual motifs, symbolism, and a lot of other stuff.
There are many other neat things they do with the animation however the animation quality is still poor. Just look past the poor quality and the amount of stock fottage used because they do a lot of cool things with what little recourses they have. 6.5/10
SOUND: So Utena opens with my favorite theme song of all time and for good reason, aside from having a fantastic melody and good beat, the theme song actually is related to the story. Its sort of a summary of Revolutionary Girl Utena "Let's live our life with style."
The soundtrack is every bit as good as the opening itself. I would say that Revolutionary Girl Utena has one of the best soundtracks ever made, all the songs has good melody and support every scene to the maximum effect.
Almost (if not all) duel themes are relevant to the characters and/or plot. Like Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku tells us that the Apocolypse is the absolute destiny and death is also everyones destiny.
The soundtrack is top notch, its right up there with the works of Yoko Kanno 10/10
CHARACTERS: Hands down these are the most relatable characters in anime period. Their problems are compelling and relatable to real life, who hasn't been in love with someone simply because they are pretty. Or maybe you are one of those people who loves to manipulate people or maybe you just struggling with homosexuality. All these characters have some sort of complex problem that they have to deal with and come to terms with. What I love about this is that no one actually plays the villian and neither of these qualities are shown in a negitive light, it doesn't comdemn you and call you a bad person for having these qualities, instead they are magnificantly shown to you and sometimes even shows you how to deal with them.
Teenagers as well as adults can identify with them (as much as you don't want to admit it.) 10/10
OVERALL: Revolutionary Girl Utena is pure art, it's THE most complex anime out there. As a result I can't promise you'll like it but I can promise that you will get something out of it. I was going to give this a lower score but screw that! Call me a fanboy if you will but after writing this review I realise how much effort and thought was put into this show, something that is becoming rare not only in anime but in most movies and TV shows.
I give Revolutionary Girl Utena a 9/10