Posts tagged baby's first meta
Posts tagged baby's first meta
“Smash the world’s shell! For the sake of the world revolution!”
I keep thinking about these words. The student council’s incantation. Yeah, it sounds deep and meaningful, but really, do you think Touga and the rest really believe it? Or understand what they’re saying? It’s almost creepily cult-like, the way Touga recites it and then the rest chimes in at the end, like an amen.
This is just one of the many wonderful ways in which Utena twists around standard anime tropes. Lots of anime have stock phrases, both for the cool factor and for, y’know, making good use of recycled footage. Of course Utena uses a shit ton of recycled footage because it had a low budget, but I love how the show uses the stock footage in a really meta manner - all these repeated sequences and phrases are a commentary on Ohtori’s cyclical nature. The student council’s declaration of wanting to break free of that cycle is shown as empty and false because it, too, is constantly repeated. Irony, isn’t it delicious!
And honestly…none of them understand what it means to smash the world’s shell. To create a revolution. Because none of them actually WANT it. They WANT to run in endless circles, chasing dreams that can never exist. Miki and Saionji are the most obvious examples - their story arcs explicitly center on their fixation with a long-gone past. The only one who might want to use the power of Dios for real change is Touga, and that’s kind of debatable.
It is kind of pathetically sad that they give this dramatic-ass speech when none of them mean it. When the only things they think they can do with absolute power is to go back and relive their childhoods. How can they dream bigger when they’re stuck in a place like Ohtori, which is basically a fairytale garden? Ohtori unhealthily inflates their sense of self-importance. In the real world, I doubt anyone would care much about these egoistical kids and their selfish desires. In Ohtori, they’re allowed to run amok, but they can’t DO anything because of the nature of their prison.
I’m wondering if the “smash the world’s shell” speech might come from a genuine place: the characters really do want to escape, but they’ve been stuck in their prison for so long they have no idea ow to express their desires in a normal, healthy way. So they dress up their fears and desires (“I want my sibling/friend to always remain the same, the way I want them,” “I want the girl I like to return my feelings”) in fancy, universal concepts like “eternity,” “the power of miracles,” “that which shines,” etc. Because Ohtori is nothing if not melodramatic.
Hmm…I spent all this time thinking that the final message of Utena was that of the triumph of childhood idealism over adult cynicism, but now I’m revising my opinion. It IS about growing up - rejecting the self-centered nature of childhood for the empathy and wider world view that comes from growing up. In that light, Akio isn’t really a representative of adulthood; he’s a man-child, wielding both a boy-prince’s sense of self importance and an adult’s power, therefore making him the most dangerous character in the series. The student council is childish, sure, but they don’t have the power to actually accomplish anything.