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When Anthy leaves the Academy at the end, the last thing she says is “Wait for me... Utena.” The line has delightful touches that we English speakers may overlook.
Anthy walking symbolizes her freedom. See other symbols - transportation.
For most of the series, Anthy addresses Utena as utena-sama, with the sama honorific of formal respect. Anthy is placing herself in her Rose Bride role, lowering her own status and raising Utena’s and maintaining formal distance between them. She’s consistent about it: She uses the sama honorific even in times of emotional intimacy or extreme stress, talks in bed, the suicide attempt, Utena trying to rescue her from her coffin at the end. Utena, by the way, accepts it (after brief arguments in episodes 2 and 3); see speech patterns.
In “Wait for me” Anthy addresses Utena by her bare personal name, leaving out any honorific. It signals closeness; it is appropriate for dear friends and lovers. (Utena and Wakaba call each other the same way, Utena because she sees Wakaba as a dear friend, and Wakaba possibly for the same reason, or possibly because she is influenced by fiction. The usage is far more frequent in fiction than in real life, but I think we can take Utena as ignoring anime convention on this point, Wakaba notwithstanding.) Anthy has lost her protective distance and gained emotional honesty.
Insult. It’s not the only time Anthy has switched honorific status on a person. The first time was in episode 1 when Utena defeated Saionji, and Anthy insulted Saionji by pausing for emphasis before dropping his new, lowered honorific on him: gokigenyou, saionji... sempai. Look at that smug expression! Anthy seems to want Saionji to see her enjoying the burn. (The translators made a game attempt to get the feeling across in English for a general audience. There was no good solution.)
In “Wait for me... Utena,” Anthy uses the exact same speech pattern, pause for emphasis before speaking the new honorific status, with an exactly opposite meaning. She is no longer closed off and vengeful but open and loving. The line ties the beginning of the series to its end in a beautiful way, showing Anthy’s journey.
Anthy leaves the Academy wearing pink for Utena and white for the prince. She wears low heels, not the high heels she had worn as a princess, because she is Utena’s equal partner.
After Anthy leaves the academy, the ending credits show her walking away. The scenery is shown as backdrops with Anthy’s shadow falling on them, not as real places that she walks through: They are metaphors for where she is going, not a literal depiction. The technique is the same as in the original prince story in episode 1. The backdrops are sky at first, then bare trees, then a path through the countryside. The bare trees and the path were backgrounds in the prince story. She is symbolically following the path that the prince followed, seeking her own prince, who is no longer Dios but Utena.
For events after the series ends, see Utena’s fate and Anthy and Utena afterstory.
Jay Scott <firstname.lastname@example.org>
first posted 22 November 2021
updated 23 September 2023