Revolutionary Girl Utena (1996)


Once upon a time, a little girl was rescued by a prince. That girl then grows up to be strong and courageous as she awaits his return. To defend a friend’s honor, she challenges a brute to a duel and wins. She is entrusted with the SWORD OF DIOS and the Rose Bride, who is the key to finding her elusive prince.

But this won’t end like a fairy tale.

Because Utena has the power to REVOLUTIONIZE the world.

From: Viz Media

Notes on This Title

In addition to the manga, there is also an anime series, and a film, all of which depict variations upon the same story. Most of the queerness is subtextual in the manga, but is explored more thoroughly in both the show and the film.

This series was originally printed across five volumes in Japanese, from 1996 to 1997.

This series was collected in English twice, once from 2003 to 2004 across five volumes, and again in 2017 two volume box set.




“If you have never heard of Utena, I’m not sure exactly how to explain it to you. It is an anime, manga series, and movie. It’s sort of like Sailor Moon, but darker, weirder, and with more subtext and incest (between siblings). I watched the anime first, then the movie, then the stand-alone manga (The Adolescence of Utena), and now I’ve finished the original manga series. Utena follows the main character, Utena, who was rescued from near-death (or despair, depending on the version) as a child by a prince. The prince tells her to stay noble, so she is inspired to grow up to become… a prince herself! How can you resist that premise? When Utena grows up, she is told that she will meet her prince at a boarding school. There she is caught up in a bizarre dueling club and a mysterious plot surrounding someone named “World’s End” and the power to revolutionize the world. Also there’s an upside-down floating castle in the sky when they duel. Utena fluctuates between realism, fantasy, and comedy (that’s mostly in the anime).” (Source: The Lesbrary)

“Near the beginning of the five-volume manga, Utena remembers herself as a child walking along a culvert filled with rushing water. Her parents have just died, and despondently she lets herself slip into the water. But she does not drown. Instead, a mysterious prince rescues her. Kissing away her tears, he gives her a rose signet ring and promises that someday it will lead her back to him. Utena does not forget: she decides that she will live as a prince, with a noble heart filled with high goals.

As a teenager, she enrolls in Ohtori Academy…an elite private school where she encounters a young woman named Anthy in a rose-filled dueling field. The arrogant Saionji, school kendo captain, challenges Utena, and never one to turn down a fight, she defeats in a duel – only to discover that she has now won Anthy, the Rose Bride, as her betrothed.

At the simplest, Utena describes how two women find their own identities. But Utena is no bourgeouis bildungsroman of finding one’s place in the world. Nor is Utena a linear narrative of events apocalyptic and otherwise. Instead, Utena delves into the nature of the past and its karmic hold on people, into the nature of corruption and sexuality, and into revolution.” (Source: Perper, T., & Cornog, M. (2006). In the Sound of the Bells: Freedom and Revolution in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Mechademia, 1, 183-186.)



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