Utena - car ride catalog

In progress. I will have more to say. If I missed any, I’ll fill them in.

The times when Akio takes somebody for a ride in his car. The car rides are Akio seducing the Student Council members in turn. He manipulates them into dueling again. When Akio does a flip over the windshield with his shirt open (then it disappears when he lands), it’s a symbolic indication of sex. It doesn’t seem to always be sex with Akio (consider episode 28), but his seductions always succeed, even the seductions he arranges somebody else to carry out. Before the flip, he says “Now I’ll show you the End of the World”, but there are slight variations that aren’t always detectable in the subtitles. Usually he chooses a singular you; he’s showing one rider. In episode 29, a plural you.

Akio’s goals

Akio’s plans tend to be multi-pronged. He likes to pursue multiple goals at once.

Goal 1, duel again. Most directly, Akio is manipulating his passengers into dueling again. They learned better after the last time, so Akio twists their motivations back into the direction he wants. The duels are about patriarchal power. By seducing them, Akio shows off his attractiveness (his nearly-irresistible sex appeal). And he is the patriarchy, so he makes patriarchal power attractive again and they choose to duel for it.

Goal 2, be a better duelist. This one I see as speculative. By demonstrating patriarchal power to others he inspires them (goal 1). It’s possible that he also teaches them. They see him in action and may learn some of his tricks. Stronger opponents will better sharpen Utena’s skills.

Goal 3, isolate Utena. Akio has an underlying goal of isolating Utena, and this is part of how he does it. The evidence is that the car rides happen in the order of the rider’s potential influence over Utena: Powerful Touga loves her and goes first (with Saionji for separate reasons). Miki is her friend and comes next. Juri she admires. Nanami who she does not care for is the last before Utena’s own ride in the First Seduction. The isolation succeeds. Utena meets Miki, Juri and Nanami in episode 37, but they have little influence over her feelings and decisions. In the final showdown, the Student Council supports her from the sidelines, but has no influence over events.

car rides by episode

Akio’s car shows up in the oddest places, an enclosed courtyard, a garden maze. But that’s just dropping the car into place as a symbol. It isn’t driven there, its image is projected there. They don’t count as car rides.

The horse ride of the Second Seduction, shown in episodes 35 and 36, is like a car ride. But the attached symbols and language are different.

Episode 25 - Touga. In a brief sequence at the start, Touga rides with Akio.

Episode 25 - Touga and Saionji. Talking with Saionji, Touga strokes the car with his fingers, as Akio often does. He knows exactly what will happen. Before his flip, Akio says “Now I’ll show you too (singular) the End of the World,” implying that Touga has already seen it—in the earlier ride. Akio seduces first Touga, then Saionji. See Touga’s arc - the Apocalypse Saga for more.

Episode 26 - Kozue. We don’t see the car ride, but we see Kozue set out on a date with Akio and we see her behavior in the car ride with Miki. She opens the blouse of her uniform and leans back as if in invitation. There are two car rides in the episode, just as in the previous episode, but one is left out.

Episode 26 - Kozue and Miki. Kozue, properly prepared after her date, feeds manipulative lines to Miki. Miki recognizes that Akio seduced Touga. Akio repeats his line to Saionji, with singular you; Kozue has already seen it. Akio separately has sex with Kozue and even with distrustful and seemingly asexual Miki.

Episode 28 - Ruka and Shiori. Ruka and Shiori sit together in the back seat. They get a sex scene, one of three couples in Utena who do. It’s car sex; the background is the featureless blue of the night sky in car scenes, and we hear engine noises. We don’t see other traffic in any car scene, so it was private enough. Akio does not repeat his line about the End of the World; the couple has already seen it on their own. Nevertheless, he does his windshield flip.

Episode 29 - Touga and Ruka. This seems to be no more than a discussion in the car. There is no windshield flip.

Ruka is about to draw Juri’s sword in the duel. His hands are huge.

Episode 29 - Ruka and Juri. Juri speaks rudely and angrily to Ruka. Akio says “Now I’ll show you (plural) the End of the World” before he does his flip. It sounds like a threesome. But I think it means Ruka and Juri are seeing the End of the World together; they have sex. It is not Juri’s independent impulse, but due to Ruka’s manipulation. In the duel, as he prepares to draw her sword, he places his left hand on the side of her face. His hands are outsize to show his manipulative power. Juri agreed to do anything Ruka asked, but there is evidence that she wants it too: Ruka claimed she loves him, and he’s not entirely wrong because after he stole her locket, as she looked up with an expression of hatred, she wore lipstick. In the car, Ruka sits in front and Juri in the back seat, suggesting that maybe Akio drives them to his favorite hotel. Juri is high-class and won’t settle for car sex. Ruka seduced Shiori and then Juri. He wasn’t as slick about it as Akio, but he shares the attitude. I take it to be evidence that he was Akio’s previous candidate to open the Rose Gate and is carrying out a final task for Akio before he is finished off with one more dose of Anthy’s poison. See Juri’s arc - episode 29 for more analysis.

Episode 30 - Wakaba. Akio takes Wakaba on a seaside driving date. He stops rubbing his fingers on the car when Wakaba proposes it—as Wakaba tells Utena, it was only a drive. I gather that Akio did not plan this event (though you never know with Anthy around), but took advantage of the opportunity to make Utena jealous and push her away from Wakaba.

Episode 30 - Utena. Akio drives Utena to and from a hospital, or more likely a smaller clinic. At the start and end of the drive he tempts Utena to symbolically blow out candles, but on the road they seem to have only talked. Utena has to be corrupted before he can drive her on the First Seduction. His earlier windshield-flip passengers were already corrupt; most people are in Akio’s world. (I think Wakaba is not corrupt, though with her Black Rose episode it’s possible to disagree.)

Nanami strikes a sultry head-back pose on the hood of Akio’s car, while Touga walks up.

Episode 32 - Touga and Nanami. Touga tries to kiss Nanami and is rejected. Akio knew it would happen. He does the windshield flip with the singular you line—Akio has sex with Nanami. Anyone who doubts it should look at Nanami’s pose on the car hood in the duel.

Episode 33 - Utena. The First Seduction. Akio drives Utena to an amusement park, then the notel, then home.

Episode 37 - Utena. The Routine Date. Akio drives Utena away and back, and we see nothing of what happens in between.

Episode 37 - Anthy. Broken out separately as Anthy rides in Akio’s car.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 23 May 2024
updated 30 May 2024