Utena - halo catalog

In progress. Needs work. This collection is to help me figure out halos. I haven’t collected all the halos yet, but I’ll get to it. Halos are rings. Traditionally, they are holy symbols (see halo on Wikipedia). Both meanings align halos with Dios. The meaning of each halo must depend on its color. But the halos are diverse and I don’t see how to interpret all of them.

Dios and Akio are associated with light and fire. Dios is the sun, so a halo around the sun is Dios. Utena as prince is Jesus, so Dios as the sun with a halo must be the Christian God: In the Christian trinity, Dios is the Father and Utena is the Son. A halo around an artificial light should mean Akio and refer to illusions. A burning candle may mean both.

Utena has both static halos and expanding halos like ripples of light; they match ripples of water. No two halos in the show are alike; all are visually distinct. Each one must have a different shade of meaning.

The horizontal water drop launches away from its splash.
vertical ripples

Water ripples are a lot like halos. Sometimes they are vertical, as halos usually are. Many halos have a ripple of light spreading outward like a water ripple.

Most water ripples are caused by tears, sometimes time-reversed tears that leave the water surface. I think that includes the water drops from Mamiya into the basin of the Black Rose; Mamiya leaks more tears than Anthy because the Black Rose is full of death.

Dios emits a blue moving halo as he descends from the castle in the sky.
Episode 2, Dios descending
Utena’s ring glows pink.
Episode 2, the ring

In the Student Council arc, when Utena calls down Dios from the castle in the sky her ring glows pink. It’s the color of the ring and Utena’s color. Pink may refer to the power of miracles, or to the operation of the power of miracles—pink because it belongs to Utena. When ghostly Dios descends, he emits a blue ring that quickly widens out of sight—it must be a water ripple. Blue is the color of illusions.

Dios on the right seems to be lit by a distant spotlight.

A halo surrounds the last candle of the three.
Episode 30, the last candle
Sun high in the sky, among trees, surrounded by a halo.
Episode 35, the horse ride

In episode 30, Utena must blow out all three candles to be corrupted. The last candle has a halo that appears when the other candles are out. Later, on the horse rides with Touga and Akio culminating in the Second Seduction, the sun is surrounded by a halo. The halo seems to promise goodness as long as the light remains, but in episode 30 Utena blows out the last candle, and in the Second Seduction she stays in the woods with Akio until evening.

I think the halos mean Dios. The blown-out candle brings darkness and means Akio.

Halos around the car headlights.
Episode 25, headlight halos
Double halos around the car headlights when they are seen from closer up.
Episode 25, double halos

The headlights of Akio’s car have halos. They certainly don’t imply holiness. The wide circles are moving halos. They are not centered on the headlights. Seen closer, the headlights have inner and outer halos.

Has Akio co-opted all halos into his service?

The headlight of Touga’s motorcycle has a halo.
Episode 36, motorcycle halo

The headlight of Touga’s motorcycle gets a double halo too, when we’re close. It’s not identical to the car headlight halos: It’s larger and fades more gradually toward the center.

A halo glows around a lamp next to Touga.
Episode 32, lamp halo

In episode 32, End of the World sends Nanami to visit Touga, who announces Akio’s car. Touga sits in light (it’s moonlight) while Nanami is in darkness, and there’s a halo around his lamp. The lamp is purple, the color of corruption.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 6 March 2022
updated 15 April 2024