Utena - Student Council platform catalog

The Student Council platform has three different forms. The platform can be seen as a stage where the Student Council puts on plays; they’re like the shadow girls, only with different information available. As I see it, the plays have meaning but don’t affect anything in themselves; the Student Council is ineffectual.

See sex symbols - Student Council entrance for one meaning of the platform.

The Student Council platform seen from below.
Episode 3, from below

When the platform is seen from below, it always looks the same. The view from below is from a distance. I take it to be the platform’s real form; the other forms are altered by illusions.

Round-ended Student Council platform.
Episode 1, round end

Round, episodes 1, 2, and 12 in the Student Council arc. The view is flanked by fancy poles. The platform always appears round-ended when seen from below—the views from above and below match, except that the poles are not visible from below. We see the platform from a distance. It looks farther from the dueling forest than the other forms, and and it is correspondingly free of illusions, but it shows a pathway to the dueling forest. In two of these episodes, Utena was the challenger and fought duels for reasons outside the duel system itself: To avenge Wakaba, and to regain her “self”; the other was Saionji’s rematch. The duels presumably didn’t have to be supported with illusions. I can’t guess what the poles mean. As long straight objects they are symbolically male.

The dueling forest is distant, and the near background is a running track. I speculate that it compares the dueling system to a race; the duelists are racing to revolutionize the world. The episodes are key ones for Utena. In episode 1, she enters the dueling system. In episode 2, she takes on the role of a prince. In episode 12, she restores her “self” and passes Akio’s test as a candidate “winner” (meaning loser) of the race.

Square-ended Student Council platform.
Episode 10, square end

Square, episode 10. The square-ended platform appears only for Nanami’s first duel. Juri and Miki both wanted the rematch with Utena, but Touga overrode them without naming the mystery duelist. The corners have triple lamps on stout pillars. Maybe the straight-line end says that Nanami is running into a dead end. Another idea is that the straight-line end makes it more male (rather than less phallic in shape), and we’re at the last step before Touga’s victory in the next episode.

The view is from a lower angle, and we see only the dueling forest, which looks close. Presumably the forest is big because everyone there at the moment wants to control who duels next. Touga is superimposed over it because he gets the final say. Maybe that’s why the end is squared off, cut short by Touga’s decision? If so, this is a key episode for Touga. It is the episode when he activates his plot, collecting information from Nanami’s duel that he uses to win his own duel.

Student Council platform with a lowered squared-off end.
Episode 11, drooping end
View up from the lowered end.
Episode 35, view upward

Drooping, episodes 11, 17, and 35-36. Episode 36 repeats the scene from episode 35. Each of the three scenes shows us the platform from a different angle, and the views are consistent with each other (or nearly so). In this one, the background is split between the forest, the city, and the ocean. The point where it angles down has triple lamps at each side. The view from below shows stairs. The drooping end shows up once per arc: Once in the Student Council arc (Touga defeats Utena), once in the Black Rose (Shiori’s duel; Akio brings up Ganymede), once in the Apocalypse Saga (the Second Seduction occurs over episodes 35 and 36).

In episode 11, Touga defeats Utena with a sword. Episodes 35 and 36 cover the Second Seduction, where Akio defeats Utena with a metaphorical sword, after which “the door of night opens” and Utena becomes girlish for a long time. Both are major events. I think the drooping end is the penis drooping after sex, and marks a major defeat for Utena. Both times, the drooping end is foreshadowing: We see it before we see the defeat. It implies that there is another defeat buried in episode 17, and the drooping end labels key episodes for Akio the same way that the round end labels key episodes for Utena. The title of episode 17 adds another hint that it is a key episode. And see final showdown - Utena’s trailing hair for more evidence yet.

I think I know what Utena’s defeat is. Akio does two things in the Black Rose: He trains up Utena’s power of miracles, and he grooms her so that he can attract and control her in the Apocalypse Saga. I think Utena still needs more training after episode 17, so that’s not it. It’s related to grooming her. Episode 17 is the first time she visits Akio without an establishing shot of the tower beforehand, suggesting that she came by impulsively as a friend, to vent about Juri. And it’s the first time she sits in informal poses and speaks informally. It’s the point when she is sufficiently groomed, guaranteeing that Akio will be able to start his seduction plot in the Apocalypse Saga.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 15 February 2022
updated 4 May 2024