How did Saionji come into his violent and abusive behavior pattern? I know very little about how that kind of behavior arises, but it doesn’t seem likely that his childhood was in a happy environment. Someone must have modeled violent abuse for him, surely practiced it around him and likely practiced it on him. How else would he learn it? Without evidence, I imagine that his father abused his mother, and sometimes turned his anger on Saionji too.
There’s a hint of it in episode 9, in Saionji’s memory of finding little Utena hiding in the coffin. Two men are looking for Utena, and they stop to ask Touga and Saionji on the bicycle. For no apparent reason, the one who’s speaking is a menacing silhouette with shining glasses. Saionji apparently has reason to fear adult men, at least if they wear glasses.
Saionji sees something scary, but he doesn’t look afraid. Did I misinterpret it? What else could it mean? The shining glasses themselves are analyzed along with others at when Anthy’s glasses shine.
Also in episode 9, Chu-Chu is harassing a pill bug. A frog shows up and eats the pill bug. Soon the frog is badgering Chu-Chu as persistently as Saionji badgers Anthy, though more comedically. It’s a Saionji episode, the frog is green, Saionji’s color is green, Chu-Chu connects to Anthy. The frog is unquestionably Saionji. Utena confirms it, telling Saionji “That’s you!” (though the subtitles translate it differently).
Is there more? Surely the frog as enchanted prince is intended. Fairy tales say that the wicked witch Anthy must have been the one to curse bold prince Saionji, turning him into a frog. I think we’re being told that Anthy arranged for Saionji’s mistreatment as a child. You could say it means no more than that Anthy is blamed for Saionji’s unhealthy attachment to her, but we already knew that. I think Akio has been ruining these people’s lives since they were small, and Anthy is his agent.
What happens if a princess kisses the frog? Though I’m sure no available princess is willing.
Jay Scott <firstname.lastname@example.org>
first posted 19 December 2021
updated 4 June 2023