Utena - shoes

What shoes imply or suggest about character. The catalog of feet has information about shoes too, but it is about events: When X happened, the shoes meant Y. This article gives each character’s usual shoes when they are interesting, and tries to figure out why they wear those shoes. It’s a narrower purpose. It turns out that, keeping to the narrow purpose, there’s not much to find out about shoes.

Kanae’s shoes are just visible in episode 14, and not at all in later episodes. The camera pays no attention to them. She wears white shoes with low heels. I take it that the white is because she imagines that Akio is her prince, though her heart is elsewhere. I think Akio leaves her relatively free, and doesn’t control her closely, or else the heels would be high.

Chu-Chu eats from a large pile of crackers. One of Anthy’s feet is visible.
Episode 12, Anthy with Chu-Chu

Anthy. Brown for ordinariness, shaded in Anthy’s color of red. The buckle is white for the prince with two gold buttons for Dios.

Touga’s foot in the stirrup, Utena’s foot hanging loose.
Episode 12, Touga

Duelist shoes. Most duelists wear black shoes for Akio, because they are following Akio’s ideals. Like Utena’s uniform jacket, they are often bluish. There are a few exceptions. Akio wears white shoes in the Revolution duel because he seeks the prince, and Utena and Nanami wear their own shoes.

Nanami walks at night, wearing brown and white shoes.
Episode 6, early Nanami
Akio has bandaged Nanami’s ankle.
Episode 31, jealous Nanami

Nanami. She wears brown and white shoes early on, and switches to yellow and white at the same time she starts wearing the yellow duelist uniform, in episode 10. In the final episode, it’s just possible to make out that Nanami is still wearing the yellow shoes.

The high heel of the yellow shoes varies in height and color. The heel itself is long and straight—symbolically male. A taller heel means that her freedom is constrained—she is more strongly controlled by male power, symbolically by the male heel and pragmatically by awkward walking. Here the heel is yellow. When she challenges Utena in episode 10, it is white.

A rose at Utena’s feet.
Episode 10, Utena challenged

Utena. White and black, Dios and Akio, an aspect of Utena’s duality. The red lace goes with her other red costume elements.

Wakaba’s and Utena’s legs are in the air. They are about to roll downhill together.
Episode 2, Wakaba glomps Utena

Wakaba. Brown for ordinariness. They have a strap, which I suppose functions somewhat like a bow. They are so ordinary that the camera pays them no attention, and only a few shots in the whole series show them clearly, as minor details that can be ignored. They are recognizably women’s shoes. Female students wear various shoes, but they are often the same as Wakaba’s.

Black Rose duelists

In Black Rose duels, Utena’s opponents wear black shoes. We don’t get a clear view of Kanae’s shoes. Shiori and Keiko have high heels. Kozue, Mitsuru, and Mikage have low heels, a hint that Kozue may share in Miki’s androgyny. Wakaba’s shoes have variable heels. They start out high, we get a flash of low heels as she runs, and just before Utena scatters her black rose, the heels are high spikes. I don’t know what it means.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 14 November 2023
updated 16 May 2024