Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Apocalypse Saga

Utena 3 Boxart Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Apocalypse SagaRevolutionary Girl Utena is a title that managed perform a feat that many shows seem to fail. The show brought a world to life, with strong writing, fantastic music, and truly divine artwork. It gave viewers a cast they could fall in love with, and an atmosphere that wasn’t unlike a fairy tale told within a surreal dreamscape. With the finale on the horizon, maintaining the experience will be difficult, and there is the great possibility that the show could end with a pathetic whimper, rather than a triumphant roar. If things are done right, though, the payoff will create that rare, once-in a generation show that viewers will crave for years to come.

In the halls of Ohtori Academy, gossips and chatterboxes spread tales of a strange occurrence. They speak of distant roars that fill the night, an infernal engine that revs just off the grounds. Some say it’s the chariot of the gods, taking the chosen to the End of the World. Others say it’s the principal jetting around in his new wheels. The only real constant to the story is that those who find the source of the sound are forever changed, their worldviews shattered and their priorities changed.

Utena Apocalypse 001 Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Apocalypse Saga

Meet Akio. He is pure sex and he's damn proud of it.

With the Black Rose Duelists defeated, Utena seems to have beaten the most insurmountable of odds. The Mikage Group is no more,and normalcy begins to settle in upon the chool. The calm is short-lived, though: one by one, the student council members begin to take up arms against the very woman that defeated them. The arena is a chaotic mess, as cars jut from the ground, and a mysterious vehicle races through the arena. The duelists have nothing to lose, and push Utena to her limits, as they try for their last chance at bringing the revolution.

Outside of the arena, Utena’s situation grows more complicated by the day. Her living situation changed dramatically, as she moved into the chambers of the school’s chairman, Akio. Utena can’t quite put her finger on it, but there’s someting about her dashing new roommate that she can’t describe. Something that makes Utena want to melt into Akio’s arms when she rests her eyes upon him. Is this the revolution they all seek? Will this mean the end of the duels? And what of Anthy, or those who fought for their own dreams? The answers Utena seeks may be enough to shatter her precious world-view.

Utena Apocalypse 002 Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Apocalypse Saga

Yes, that's a car driving sideways in the background. It's part of the show's surreal motif.

As the series hurtles toward its finale, the proverbial curtain is yanked away. The duelists are forced to face their deepest demons, the disgusting reality that stains the world as they’re pushed to desperation. The truths they’ve skirted around, the secrets they’ve hidden come to the forefront, as they’re forced to the brink of desperation. As the tale of the duelists wraps up, the tale of Akio and Anthy, and the very revolution that everyone seeks are brought to the forefront. Through these tense final episodes, the tension continues to build wonderfully to a climactic finale that will keep viewers talking, even after the final credits roll.

Utena Apocalypse 003 Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Apocalypse Saga

It takes a special kind of badass to wear a frilly yellow apron and still look dashing.

With the final arc, the musical sees another change. Gone are the claustrophobic strings of the Black Rose Saga. Instead, the tone takes a harder edge, as electric guitars wail and the choir’s vocals grow deeper and more urgent with each passing duel. Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku, the show’s signature pre-battle anthem, is once again updated to fit the final arc’s musical tone. The song becomes a full-blown rock-operatic piece, as the choir drones on with a harsh guitar riff and spirited drums. Truth, the show’s ending theme to this point, is gone. In its place, the catchy Virtual Star Embryology plays in concert with the credits.

From start to finish, Revolutionary Girl Utena stands as one of the greatest experiences in anime. From the strength of the cast, to the lively makeup of the world itself, the series goes above and beyond to deliver an experience that will charm all but the most jaded of fans. It is a rare gem, in which everything, from the artwork to the writing line up to tell a truly epic tale that will dazzle the mind and tug at the heart.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is distributed by Nozomi Entertainment.
The series can be purchased at Right Stuf.

Thanks to Nozomi for providing a review copy!

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