Utena - overview of Anthy and Utena’s relationship

Next -> In the Student Council arc.

Up through early episodes of the Apocalypse Saga, Anthy and Utena grow closer until they are all-but-avowedly in love. In the Apocalypse Saga, Akio notices that Anthy is showing signs of independence and has become close to Utena. He takes steps to emotionally separate them, with great though not flawless success. I write about the Anthy-Utena relationship separately from the Akio-Utena relationship, but in reality they are intertwined like the snakes of the caduceus. I just chose to analyze them separately.

Utena adopts a male role with respect to Anthy—see speech patterns and Utena’s boyish chest for examples. From a story point of view, Utena must take on a male role to succeed. Anthy is literally and figuratively trapped in a male-dominated world. It is the only world she knows, and she accepts it as right—she believes Akio’s propaganda, at least for the most part. Therefore for Anthy to be attracted, she must take Utena as male. To help Anthy out of the trap, Utena must have one foot inside it with her and one foot outside, and risk being trapped herself. To revolutionize the world is to change it by force. Akio’s dueling system promotes the use of male force. Utena changes the world by persuasion, and a change by persuasion is necessarily a partial change—people revise their beliefs step by step. (Utena starts a revolution which is carried out by a later sequence of heroes, which is part of a historical parallel.)

Happenings in the Student Council and Black Rose arcs are sparse enough that I can cover them in one article each. In the later parts of the Apocalypse Saga, events come thick and fast and need close analysis. Episode 37 in particular is so subtle that, like Jane Grey, you don’t feel your head coming off.

In the Student Council arc they get to know each other.
During the Black Rose they become closer.
In the early part of the Apocalypse Saga they’re in love.

The earrings that Touga gives to Utena in episode 35.
Where were you last night? from episode 36.
Episode 37: After the Routine Date, Utena and Anthy talk.
Episode 37: Utena’s resolution after the stormy events.
Episode 37: Anthy rides in Akio’s car and what happened there.
Episode 37: The conversation about poisoning each other.
Episode 37: Anthy’s suicide attempt.
Anthy backstabs Utena, the event considered from every angle.
Wait for me... Utena when Anthy leaves the Academy.

Their speech patterns and social status decisions.
Scenes with Anthy and Utena that reveal their feelings.
Anthy’s glasses shine for Utena at times, reversing a trope.
The S-shaped bed in Akio’s tower.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 9 January 2022
updated 6 July 2023