I just coded all night.
> The Prince Who Runs in the Night

This analysis was donated by Celeste.
Opening Notes:

    The first time I saw "Shoujo Kakumei Utena" was back in late 1999. It's now February of 2003 and I still haven't exorcised the ghosts of the series from my brain. I thought perhaps that by writing an unnecessarily long essay on my favourite character of the piece, Souji Mikage, I might get out of the habit of daydreaming through lectures about the insane symbolism I never quite understood. But no, I continued to develop fascinations, and I am currently living in fear of the desire to write an extensive narrative on the character of Nanami Kiryuu, a character in whom I see far too much of myself, God help us.

    Still, despite my attempts to step away from the series, I still find myself popping tapes into the VCR at odd moments, only to discover new mysteries to ponder over instead of doing my biopharmaceutical chemistry homework. Even though I tried both essay-writing and fanfic-writing to get rid of Mikage, I still have to contend with the rest of the whole damn cast. And it is from that fascination that after almost two years of note-taking and abstract thinking, I have completed an analysis of the bloody confusing filler episode "The Prince Who Runs In The Night." I thought about this during physiology lectures and tried to explain it to Holly and Sara, I really did. I wrote notes on this during smoko at the aluminium smelter and did not even attempt to explain it to Carolyn and Stephanie. [grin] But hopefully I do not have to explain myself to anyone reading even this far. I made up a question and I attempted to answer it, and now, the night before my twenty-first birthday. Christ am I glad to see the back of it. Perhaps now I can work on a twelve-step programme to completely cure myself of this "Utena" addiction at long last.

    Or maybe not. I mentioned my Nanami fixation, didn't I? And even though I curbed my analysis-desire for most the of the major characters with this essay and the Mikage one, Nanami gets little exposure here. [buries head in hands] I give up. I shall retire to my field now and become a Nanami-cow. It's about the only option left to an ageing "Utena" obsessive like me.

Celeste Goodchild
Wednesday, 12th February, 2003

* The Prince Who Runs in the Night *

    "The filler/summary episode 'The Prince Who Runs Through The Night' proves, upon closer examination, to be a rich commentary on the recent events of the series and hints subtly at the dark future that is yet to come. Comment upon this statement, with reference to the symbolism displayed in the episode (or the series in general) and the use/importance of the dysfunctional relationships of the cast that are utilised to illustrate this summary and provide the foreshadowing."

~ Episode Analysis ~

    The episode "The Prince Who Runs In The Night" (which mirrors an earlier summary episode of the series called "Tracing A Path") was designed for two key purposes — one of these was to give closure to and commentary upon the last duels of the three permanent Student Council Members already defeated, and the other was to show an important turning point in the relationship of Utena Tenjou and Akio Ohtori. In this manner, this episode reflects on the past to illustrate the paths of the future. It indicates in its roundabout manner the fact that the lives of all duellists are intertwined reflections of one another and that the end is swiftly drawing nigh. The duel called Revolution is riding high on the horizon already.

* The Shadow Play Begins *

    The episode begins with the classic "Utena"-ism of the famous story illustrating the transformation of an ordinary young girl into a confident girl-prince. The story itself is, as we all know from various sources in the show, hardly true in the strictest sense of the word. In a funny way, it's like the English dub of certain Japanese anime programmes. The true nature of the story has been toned down and turned into a pleasant open-ended fairy tale. However, one only needs to view the following episode ("The Seal Of The Rose") and one of the earlier episodes ("The Castle Where Eternity Dwells") to understand that the story we are told by one of the Kage Shoujo is not accurate in the strictest sense of the word *at all*. This fact is important for several reasons; it's a powerful reflection on the peculiar relationship between Anthy and Utena, as well as indicating more clearly the nature of the reasons why Touga and Saionji's friendship is disintegrating fast. There is the truth and then there is the reality beneath the truth; as is so often said, all that glitters is not gold and what we see is not always what is really true in the case of the "Utena" characters and their pasts.

    However that is not the key for the simplest analysis of the opening sequence. One must note that the background is not the stylised rendition of a simple fairy tale that the audience has become accustomed to by now. It is scenes of a carnival at night, most notably a Ferris wheel. That in itself is, to an English speaking audience, a reflection of the word "kakumei," a term bandied around during the series like nobody's business. It's unlikely that this was intended in the original Japanese, but it is worth noting in this English analysis. A revolution is a great change, but it is also an empty movement for it literally goes nowhere; this can be taken as foreshadowing of or reflection on Akio's recurrent failures in his mission to bring about the revolution that will reinstate him with the lost Power of Dios. One can also note that there is the simple fact that there are bright lights against darkness; it's a more common theme in "Utena" than might otherwise appear, and may in fact reflect the stars that Akio studies. It is in fact said later in the series that Akio cares little for stars, and in this we can perhaps see that the carnival itself has little relevance to the actual proceedings. Taking Utena there was a means to an end; it was simply a way of achieving the privacy he needed with her. Indeed, Akio often displays behaviour illustrating how he will use anything to suit his own ends and have no regard for it afterwards.

* Anthy's Phone Call *

     The story ends abruptly with a switch over to Anthy herself, and the slamming of the tall windows of the chairman's room at the top of the tower that so dominates the school below. In a way it is easy to immediately associate it this with someone closing their eyes against something they do not want to see, and this thought is echoed by many of the following occurrences. For instance, Anthy stands in darkness, the only light eventually being provided by the projector. One can note that while Anthy is in frontal view her glasses hide her eyes by bright reflections from the projector, another allusion to blindness, to not wanting to see what is going on.

    Anthy's apparent desire to be "blinded" is shown by the phone conversation she engages in while staring at the stars the projector provides. We only hear her words, and she is very quiet and unresponsive even though it is apparent (both from the implied dialling during the eyecatch and a later replay of the conversation from Akio's point of view) that she made the call herself. Most notable about Anthy's words is that she is being told by the person on the other end that she should be looking at the sky outside. Her response is that she doesn't want to look at the real stars. She prefers the illusion before her. What does this mean?

    Anthy does not want to look at the real stars even though it is stated later in the episode that the stars outside that night are particularly beautiful. The projection before her is beautiful as well, however — both the real and the fake provide beauty to look at. Anthy prefers the fake to the real — and this can be taken as a reflection of Anthy's attitude towards her brother. Akio hides many things beneath a smooth, beautiful surface, and it seems here that even though Anthy is aware of this, she does not want to look at the *real* stars, which are just as beautiful. One could perhaps assume that the real stars are Utena herself, a girl who plays prince because she wants to save Anthy, whereas Akio plays a dashing prince to regain the power he once lost.

    Does Anthy's phone conversation reveal in its roundabout fashion her struggle between Akio and Utena, between understanding which of the two she wants to play Bride to? And what of her allusion to the roses that must be delivered?

* Utena Opens Up *

     We are next treated to a picture of the roses Anthy mentioned in her phone call. Utena herself is sitting at a table across from the roses, looking out onto the carnival out the window and lamenting the fact that Anthy could not come. Here begins one of the most interesting mechanisms of this episode, one that is not used often during the series. Utena adopts a tone that is confessional, as if she is confiding in the viewer themselves. It becomes more obvious as the episode progresses that Utena is in fact speaking with Akio, and this intimate one-on-one conversation seems to say something about the nature of the feelings between them as the episode continues. It seems that it is just a simple twist of fate that Utena and Akio have ended up alone together, but is that really so?

    Now that they are alone, however, Utena sets up an intimate confidant mood with the simple question "Did you know that I am an only child?"

* Radio Play *

    One of the major curiosities of the "Utena"-verse is the Kage Shoujo — the Shadow Play Girls who so often break up the flow of an episode to provide their own haphazard narrative on what has happened and what will happen. Often their plays are complicated metaphors and other times simple mirrors — but they truly outdo themselves in this episode by providing us with a Radio Show on the speakers of the infamous Akio Car.

    Immediately they demonstrate an understanding of what is going on in the world around them with their simple comment that the stars are beautiful. They suggest that people listening to the show should go and look out their windows at the sky — completely contradictory to what Anthy did earlier in shutting the heavy windows of her brother's tower room. It is also an eerie "prediction" when they state that two people together on a night like this will be together forever...a reflection on later actions taken by Akio and Utena during the episode.

    The stray comment about it not being time yet for the autumn constellations could mean several things. The autumn constellations are Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius; the scales, the scorpion and the archer. Autumn is also a time of great change, when summer ends and winter begins an approach. In the context of what the Kage Shoujo have said it is easier to take it as meaning that a change is approaching. The usual meanings of the three astrological signs are harder to pin down in relation to the current goings-on, though it is possible to draw theoretical parallels between Akio and Scorpio, Anthy and Libra, then Utena and Sagittarius. This is highly subjective, however, and in the end would not prove as much as the simple fact that autumn is the beginning of what is almost a sacrificial season. The trees must cast off their leaves before they can blossom again in the spring; what is happening in Ohtori Gakuen now that reflects this sentiment? It is also easy to recall Tokiko Chida's observation in "Nemuro Memorial Hall" that flowers must cast off their petals sometime. Indeed, we are yet to see some literal deflowering in this very episode.

    However, as they say, it is not yet *quite* the time for these constellations...echoing the tone of this episode. It is only a taste of that which is yet to come, after all.

Just a Little Pop Quiz

     One of the greater curiosities about this aural-only Shadow Play is the fact that they utilise what is really an interactive game — this has never been seen before. Until now, we were not even entirely sure that the Shadow Play Girls were ever *seen* or even heard by the cast members, Utena's odd responses to C-ko aside. This is a direct conversation between Akio, A-ko and B-ko.

    Despite the fact that Akio has already proved himself to be the Puppetmaster of the events that have been directing Utena towards the duel called Revolution, this scene puts him in more of a passive role. At least, it appears this way at first because he is the one being *asked* all of the questions. One could point out, however, that Akio was the one who sent them the postcard to "enter" the quiz in the first place. This begs a common question throughout the series — between Akio and the Kage Shoujo, who pulls what strings and who is really controlling who?

    "He sure has a weird name," says one of the Kage Shoujo before they call Akio on his car phone; this is a rather ironic comment as until that point, the name has been a shadow over the lives of the Student Council. The Ends Of The World, after all, has been controlling everything that has gone on...and yet the Kage Shoujo simply find the name strange rather than intimidating.

    Akio's manner with the girls is very easy despite any underlying ideas of any kind of power struggle between the two. One must wonder how much Akio lets them away with, and how much they get away with of their own accord. When they ask him what he does, he simply replies that he is an "educator" (read into that any way you wish, for it's very ironic in a lot of ways). However, he openly says he has a "part-time job" on the side. And when they ask him "Are educators really allowed to moonlight?" he simply replies: "Well, I've had good luck so far keeping it a secret." This illustrates Akio's confidence, for what is the point in trying to keep a secret if you are just going to announce it on the radio? The fact that the Kage Shoujo directly acknowledge his voice as being sexy makes one think that perhaps anyone who had heard it would remember it.

    The important thing here, however, is the quiz itself...introduced in the same manner as the traditional Shadow Play, hinting that we are about to be treated to further exposition. It is a multiple choice question set out thus:

Which of the following three things is eternal?
1. A diamond 2. A beautiful memory
3. Canned peaches

    Though Akio himself does not answer the question — more on this later — the answer is obvious enough to anyone who paid any attention during the previous thirty-two episodes. It is the beautiful memory — for as Souji Mikage was heard to utter, "It's that memory that has been supporting you up until now." It is Utena's beautiful memory that has allowed her to go on without her dead parents, has allowed her to try and become a prince.

    The other two choices are obviously incorrect for they do not last forever. A diamond is the hardest substance on a Moh scale, but a diamond is easily enough cleaved if you strike it along one of its facets. A can of peaches will last a long time sealed away from oxidation, but when it is opened it cannot be closed again, and the peaches will rot.

    It is much harder to destroy a beautiful memory...though perhaps in Akio's world of illusion and make-believe it can be done. However, we do not only think of Utena's beautiful memory here.one must remember that there is another prominent character who, while not holding onto a "beautiful" memory, is indeed looking for something eternal...or at least, something that he can make last forever.

    Even though it should be obvious to the audience what the correct answer is, Akio avoids the question by means of answering a convenient other call. He cuts off the girls — showing that he does in fact show some power over what they can say to him — and takes his call. It is simple and straightforward, and when he switches back to the girls he tells them goodbye and hangs up on them. We are never told who is on the other end, though most clues point towards Touga Kiryuu.

    The next sequence rings true of the usual run-up to the trip the duellists take to the Ends of the World, one after the other. The speed limits on the road double repeatedly — and then we have Touga opening his arms onto infinity before a baffled Saionji.

    We are delving back now into the past duels that are supporting everything up until this moment.

* Kyouichi Saionji — "There's No Such Thing as Friendship in This World" *

     One of the key comments that opens this summary of Saionji's last duel is the comment that "The Rose Bride is mine." Not an unusual comment to hear from the kendo team captain, but it is pointed out by Touga that Saionji doesn't seem to know what he wants, exactly...or how to take it. There is a brief flash to the manner in which Saionji backhanded Miki away from Anthy, which is more a reflection on the key difference between Miki and Saionji than anything else. After all, both duellists claim to be enamoured of Anthy, and while it would appear Saionji can take Anthy if he pleases, he is in fact no better at doing so than is the reticent Miki. One could say that Saionji knows what he wants and that he will at least attempt to take it, or at least create a lot of trouble for others in his violent endeavours.

    However, is this really so?

    Akio takes Saionji to the Ends Of The World to reveal some home truths that will lead him to desire again to defeat Utena in the duelling arena, but it is not Akio's show in that respect. The spotlight is, fittingly enough, given to Touga Kiryuu, one of the key reasons why Saionji duels in the first place.

* "Aren't You My One and Only Friend?" *
"What do you want?"
"What are you after?"
"Where do you want to be?"

    These three questions are asked by Touga of his "friend," and they seem to be perfectly valid on the face of things. The future is a recurring theme in the series, and in fact this conversation is echoed by Wakaba and her "new" friends in the final episode of the series. But there is an ironic tilt to this line of questioning for several reasons — Touga is not, after all, the best definition of "confidant" and Touga is subtly hinting that he, in a way, is affecting Saionji's future himself. Saionji himself appears aware of this with his suspicious: "And what would you do if I told you?" The trust in their former relationship is gone, as is illustrated by the flashback to the bandage Touga once wrapped a wound in, a wound he himself had given Saionji. When Saionji perceives that Touga has betrayed him (or rather moved on without him), the bandage falls loose; it reflects the unravelling of the very fabric of their friendship.

    The friendship between Touga and Saionji has always very obviously been a peculiar, inconstant association. In some ways, the violence shown towards Anthy — as in the scene where he takes Anthy from Miki and Utena — seems to coincide with his frustration towards Touga. After all, though in some ways the pair seem to be evenly matched, there is no way that Saionji could treat Touga the way he does Anthy. His violence towards Anthy is perhaps most likely to be born of his frustration experienced in his friendship with Touga. After all, the reason why Saionji wishes to take Anthy to the castle is not only to "save" her to prove to Touga that he can do it too, but because he wants from the castle something eternal for himself. Eternal friendship. Touga seems to enjoy belittling this desire at every turn, but Saionji can't seem to explain to Touga how much it hurts. He's left only with Anthy to use as a punching bag, even though his frustration is directed at *Touga.* It makes one wonder why Saionji would even want Touga as a friend in the first place. Their positions as princes of the school might be the reason why they have only each other to turn to.

    Touga says to Saionji: "Aren't you my one and only friend?" He tosses it off as a sort of challenge, knowing that Saionji's dearest wish is eternal friendship. It is important to infer from this statement that Saionji and Touga are actually isolated from the rest of the student body in terms of equals. Given that Saionji is Touga's only friend, in turn it could mean that Touga is Saionji's only friend. It would not seem unusual to think this, simply because it becomes obvious throughout the show that not one member of the Seitokai is treated as a normal student. As two of the Chosen (think back to what Mikage's secretary told him about the Chosen as she was fired), perhaps Saionji and Touga are the only ones who could possibly understand one another enough to be friends. Touga knows this, and he also knows of Saionji's need to have a friend. He then uses this knowledge to manipulate the passionate and half-mad Saionji into doing the craziest things just so he can feel like he has a tenth of Akio's power.

    Still, what Saionji truly wanted can be heard in the young Utena's poignant words: "Why does everybody go on living if they all have to die someday?" This is a direct reflection on what it is that Saionji spends his older life looking for. He wishes to have access to or create "something eternal," though he qualifies the eternal thing as being friendship. Despite this acute need he forever reacts badly to his "old friend." In response to being called "shinyuu" by Touga, he responds with "Who's your *dear friend*?" Is this a reflection upon the way he treats Anthy? For after all, it seems that Saionji actually expects to be betrayed sooner or later, that he knows the eternal friendship he desires is as much an illusion as the upside-down castle. Saionji actually points out that he knows this to Touga with an echo of Touga's own words "There's no such thing as friendship in this world." Touga replies with a mocking "Oh really?" when it is Touga who has so often pointed out that only a fool believes he has friends. Saionji's wry repeating back of something Touga said earlier actually serves to show that while Touga manipulates a lot of people in the course of the show, it's only *Saionji* who shows any real resistance to it, along with Utena. And these are the two people who Touga seems unable to stop chasing. Even though it is Saionji who wants the eternal friendship it is *Touga* who will not let the friendship die even as he claims it does not exist. The lines of communication here are not only down, they've been buried six feet under.

    (It is perhaps worth noting that what Saionji wants from the castle is "eternal friendship" and that in some ways, this may be what he wants from *Anthy*. In a way he's pushed what he needs from Touga onto Anthy, because with Anthy there is an illusion of control. With Touga this illusion does not exist. This therefore explains somewhat his frustration and violence towards Anthy, although it must be noted that Saionji did share a romantic diary with Anthy. It's not very clear at any point that Saionji ever desired anything deeper than friendship with Touga, although the entire show is a virtual wellspring of mixed signals!)

* "We Can't Let Her Do This Crazy Thing!" *

    Saionji's reasons for being in the duelling game are extremely complex; at the beginning of this flashback one of those reasons is clearly stated. He wants eternal friendship. But we are treated to another memory here: we see the memory of the coffins in the church that Touga and Saionji encountered as children. We have seen this once before when Saionji tried to express to Utena the reasons why he wanted to go to the castle in the sky. It makes sense to bring this up, because this is where it all began for Saionji. Until that point his friendship with Touga was close, with *friendly* rivalry. He obviously lived a sheltered existence, for he finds the notion that Utena has been "spirited away" to be somewhat amusing, most likely because he can't comprehend that such things actually happen. But when Touga — who already knows from his own troubled childhood the darkness that exists in the world — leads Saionji into the dim church to where Utena lies with her dead parents, Saionji for the first time realises that the world is not always kind. That things *end*, inexplicably and without warning. That even a little girl can become so disenchanted that she wants to lie in a coffin while still alive and just stay there forever. From the beginning we could see that Saionji wasn't ready for any of this, for while Touga opened the coffin without hesitation Saionji closed his eyes, covered his ears and screamed at him to stop. But Touga didn't, and Saionji heard everything the young Utena had to say.

    "Being alive is rather sickening, isn't it?...it's making me sick. ...why did I never realise it before today? ...so I am never leaving this coffin ever again." As time passes, Saionji calms down enough to even speak to Utena, to have her tell him why she wants to stay in the coffin. Touga is silent and watchful. It's actually easy enough to guess that Touga's memories of the entire incident are far more reliable that Saionji's, though we are never treated to his interpretation. Touga does realise that Utena was the girl in the coffin, while Saionji seems unable to grasp that fact. It's peculiar, if only because of Saionji's intense desire to rescue the girl. In that we see perhaps the selfish nature of Saionji's desire to "save" the girl. The girl herself isn't what was important, it was the act of saving her. It's Saionji who shouts at Touga as he makes to leave the church "We can't let her do this crazy thing!" Touga tells him to save her by showing her something eternal, which Saionji cannot do. The next day, she left the coffin and Saionji assumes Touga was responsible, thus begins his intense jealousy. He wanted to save her and Touga did not, yet it appears to him that Touga was the only one of them both who could actually do it.

    The importance of this memory is this: Saionji, up until that point, was a child. However, in meeting a child hiding in a coffin beside her dead parents, he was shown that all things have an end. Life is not an unbroken circle. But even though he was being pulled out of the mindset of a child, he saw that he was *still* a child because he could do nothing to save her. Touga, the more mature of the pair, apparently did do something to save her, and it made Saionji realise that his friendship with Touga was not as equal as he had once believed. Saionji seeks to find an eternal thing because he wants to take back the childhood he lost when Touga opened the coffin — the childhood where he was able to be Touga's friend without the bitter rivalry of their later days, where they were equals...the childhood where people did not die and instead went on and on and on. Saionji *did* want to save the girl in the coffin that day, but it was because he wanted his own innocence back. His assumption that Touga could do this is what drove him on in these duels, and what drives him mad. And yet during the fateful car ride, Touga lets him on in the shattering truth — *Akio saved Utena*.

    We now switch to remembering one of Akio's most famous stargazing scenes — he moves close to Utena, puts an arm around her to indicate the position of Venus. The Morning Star. He explains to her that it is just another way of saying "Lucifer." The devil and a fallen angel, and it is from there that his name originates. It is a haunting image to be given immediately after we have been reminded that it was Akio who saved Utena from her coffin all those years beforehand. The Prince and Angel saved her, but it is made clear in this moment that the Devil manifested as Akio is not going to do that twice.

    And so, Akio saved Utena by showing her something eternal, and that action is what created Saionji's own desire to show Anthy something eternal and save her. (In the episode "The Castle Where Eternity Dwells" Anthy explicitly states to Saionji she wants to go to the castle to see "something eternal," though it is later implied that Anthy's own desires are nothing more than a pale reflection of what the One Engaged wants most). However, after being taken for a ride by Touga and Akio, he tells Utena that even though he once thought of her feelings, wishing to take her to the castle because she *wanted* something eternal, he now understands that she has no feelings of her own. She's only the Rose Bride, a doll with no heart. He suggests that until he understood that, it was the direct reason why he "got so passionate." This in turn suggests that perhaps a part of Saionji always knew that Anthy was only playing along with him, much as Touga openly humours Saionji's whims (remember the bitter way Saionji tells Touga that he knows Touga believes Saionji's skill in kendo tournaments are nothing more than child's play?). It might be the source of Saionji's physical violence towards Anthy as well, though Saionji is still violent with Anthy even after his "realisation."

    We are also shown a flashback to Anthy's infamous and repeated bedtime comment:


    This runs contradictory to what Saionji has been shown — Anthy has free will, but she represses it for the sake of what her brother wishes to do. By showing that Touga and Akio led Saionji to duel under false assumptions, it is clearly shown to us the lengths to which Akio will go to have the duellists duel again even when they have pulled out of the game, and yet gives the audience evidence that Anthy is already questioning her own role in all of this. She's primarily Akio's doll, but when the Sword of Dios is lost (leaving Utena to the considerably alarming prospect of duelling a deranged Saionji without a sword while he's got a katana!) she makes an obvious independent choice. Anthy "saves" Utena and draws from her Utena's soul-sword, setting up the *modus operandi* for the duels that follow. This action causes Saionji to lose. The irony is terrible. Saionji was forced to duel again by realising that Anthy had no emotions of her own, and yet lost because it was proved to him that she had them. This entire set-up actually foreshadows Anthy's choice at the end of the series. Utena is moving to "save" her, and attempts valiantly to do so. But as the song says "let go of me/take my revolution." Utena can only lead Anthy to the choice: Anthy is the one who has to make it. We are shown here that Anthy does not lack the ability to make her own decisions, and while this is bad news for Saionji, the knowledge at least acts to set him free.

    In the end, Saionji is the duellist first shown the degree of manipulation that all the duellists are subject to, and he is the first to step away from it all by being the first duellist defeated after a ride to the Ends of the World. What is worth noting, however, is that Saionji actually gets what he wants, as the others do. Saionji and Touga's friendship returns to a more even keel as the series skids towards its conclusion, and Saionji actually makes an attempt to convince Touga to leave the duels before his own final defeat, for his own good (for Saionji knows from experience how badly the shattering of all illusions *hurts*). And in the end, isn't that what *real* friends are for?

* "Just Four More Matches and It'll be Time to Fight the Glorious Grand Champion of the Kings of Impersonation!" *

     After the emotional gauntlet of Saionji's final duel is run, we are returned to Utena, who is by now watching television. The announcers (sounding *suspiciously* like A-ko and B-ko) tell us incredulously "That challenger just barely lost!" Is this a reference to Saionji? Perhaps. Saionji was something of a fanatic and didn't easily give up on anything, and he wanted to have his eternal thing rather badly. Still, the Kage Shoujo go on to say: "Now the King of Impersonation has been on top for the last eight weeks!" Calculating things out, Utena has herself been at the top of the duelling game for longer than that (having beaten Touga at the end of the Seitokai Hen to regain her place as the One Engaged, she has also since defeated Kanae, Kozue, Shiori, Wakaba, Tsuwabuki, Keiko, Mikage, Saionji, Miki, Ruka, Juri and Nanami), but is *Utena* actually the King of Impersonation? In theory, of course she is! She's a girl playing at being a prince. After all, at the end of the series Utena herself admits that she was just pretending to be the prince who could save Anthy.

    The interesting thing is that the Kage Shoujo now say "Just four more matches and it'll be time to fight the glorious Grand Champion of the Kings of Impersonation!" And who could this be referring to but Akio? He is also pretending to be a prince, when perhaps he never was one even in the first place. When he cries his crocodile tears in "The Ends Of The World" he tells Utena "There was never any such thing as the prince in the first place!" But whatever the true origins of the prince, there is something very important to note in what Utena says next. Even though she claims the challenger is amazing, she wonders if the challenger can beat the Grand Champion. In this subtle way we are introduced to Utena's self-confidence and where it ends. After all, she got this far, but she seems to realise even now that the illusion of playing prince can only do so much and take her so far. Mikage once accused her of only having come this far by standing on the strength of an illusion, and even though she has forgotten the Black Rose Seminar it seems that he talked less bullshit than she told him he did. Her unconscious statement that she realises she might not be strong enough to win everything is telling, for she will be sorely tested in the end. Unlike Souji Mikage, who took his own elevator and shattered his own illusions only to be driven mad by them, Utena's realism might just be the thing that gave Anthy the opportunity to choose her own destiny. This little aside seems to suggest it, at the very least.

* Sacred Images *

     The second duellist to come under the microscope in this episode is Miki Kaoru. The influence of his sister on his life and his beliefs cannot be denied, and thus Kozue Kaoru is also instrumental in these flashbacks. In fact, it all starts with Kozue offering to do as a cute sister should and "bow out" — she is referring to the fact that Anthy, her brother's crush, is in the house and that she is "interfering." Her tone is suggestive and in stark contrast to the innocence Miki has displayed the entire series. Kozue even says "Take your time," directing the comment at Miki and Anthy, who don't appear to catch the meaning therein (this is probably an honest reaction on Miki's part; Anthy almost certainly knows what Kozue means).

    Kozue's suggestive demeanour freezes when she sees a letter on the table; upon hearing that it is from their parents she claims they don't *need* any parents. Chu-Chu is interestingly floating around in the background, seemingly full of hot-air, as Utena says how nice it is to get letters from one's parents. Utena misses a lot of things, and this is yet another one of them. Kozue's claim that they are "wild animals" who don't need parents makes little sense to Utena, but Miki reacts by telling her to stop bad-mouthing them, that they are "always concerned" about their children (who are apparently living alone, and are perhaps "wild" in the sense that they are *abandoned*). Kozue refuses to rise to her brother, laughs, and comments that she made him get "all serious." With that, she discards both parents, brother, conversation and letter by dropping said missive in the bin.

    From this we move to a picture of the childhood garden where Miki and Kozue played the piano together as children — hikari sasu niwa, the sunny garden in the infamous song Miki wrote. The music that has played in the background of this scene is notable in title — it is called "Sacred Image" and speaks a lot towards what is being illustrated by the conversation between Miki and Kozue. Kozue seemed rather amused at the time by Miki's attitude towards their parents, which he seems to hold to a set notion in his mind. Like his mistaken belief that he and Kozue played beautifully together as children, his conviction that their parents care for them is a sacred image. Kozue attempts to undermine it playfully and seemingly cruelly, but her later actions suggest that his childish notions upset her deeply.

    The song "Hikari Sasu Niwa" is actually a very useful plot device in and of itself when it is examined deeply. It is about the illusion of youth and the clinging to of memories. In that respect it reflects even the mysterious second arc of the series, the Kurobara Hen. People hold on to their memories and the rose-tinted way they see the past — in the case of Miki, he remembers a sunny garden where he and his sister made beautiful music. He is wrongly convinced that his illness before a concert shattered the pretty picture and he struggles to get it back, playing the piano and admiring Himemiya (who, according to Utena, doesn't actually play the piano that well anyway; in a roundabout way, it actually suggests that Miki knew all along that Kozue couldn't play the piano but prefers his made-up memories to the real ones). Miki seems to be escaping harsh reality by believing in the sunny garden, and that is a theme of the song. It is after all played after Anthy's suicide attempt, when Utena is forced to realise that Anthy's emotions are as dark and complicated as anyone else's as she recognises that own darkness within herself. It is played during the lovely telling of the Legend of the Prince as seen at the start of this episode, when we will soon see the much more unpleasant truth behind the tale of the Rose Prince. Miki himself plays the song early on while he pretends that Anthy wants to be rescued for her own reasons, not for the ones he forces upon her. It's a curious song of childhood and fantasy, and the events of "Miki's Nest Box (The Sunny Garden /Arranged)" illustrate this aptly.

    Miki is engaged in a phone call with his father about his new stepmother when we see him next. He says that they are not opposed to the marriage (which is, at least definitely in Kozue's case, a direct lie) but that they can not make it to the ceremony. It's a contradictory type of thing to say, that you don't mind but that you can't come. It suggests that Miki can put on a happy voice but not a happy face. We must also note that it is Miki being spoken to, it is Miki who is being asked if he minds. His father is probably well aware that Miki would never dare complain even if he minded, compared with the hot-tempered and expressive Kozue. Miki does say in the end that they will send a telegram to the wedding. (It's a traditional (and slightly impersonal) thing to do, but it also makes it even harder to put an exact time on any of the events at Ohtori Gakuen.) Overlaid with the phone conversation is Kozue's dramatic rescue of the baby birds. The next thing that is shown is the new stepmother saying she didn't want to be called their mother so quickly, or talk to Miki because it would be "too shameless." But what kind of parents do Miki and Kozue have in the first place, and does it really matter?

    (Side note: the fiancée of Miki and Kozue's father is clearly Anthy, as the audience should be quick to recognise not only her voice, but the distinctive dress of the Rose Bride. This is most strongly an indicator of the fact that the influence of Anthy and Akio *can* stretch outside of the Academy, and that the pair are forcing the duellists to their final duels to eliminate them from the running for the duel called Revolution. In each of these final pushes, they are refining Utena's soul-sword and creating in her what Akio needs to open the Rose Gate.)

    Kozue's rescue of the baby birds at the risk of her own injury is one of the most telling things we are ever shown about the character. Kozue is a character of extremes: she seduces older men and "adds" boyfriends to her collection. She pushes a teacher down the stairs because she thinks he's too interested in Miki. But she then proceeds to climb out a high window to a tree that is to be cut down for no greater reason than to save a nest of infant birds. She in fact does hurt herself in the process, but we see from the way she uncurls her hand from where the birds were clutched to her chest that she thought of them first when she fell. When we see this again in the flashback, we hear Miki say: "If duelling means being manipulated by selfish adults, then I'm stopping right now." Where does this bitterness come from, and what changes his mind? And what does this have to do with the birds Kozue nearly broke her neck over?

    Kozue and Miki still share a room — and if you look at their headboards, you'll find that they have baby birds painted on them. Miki and Kozue are represented by the baby birds in the nest: they are the baby birds, being manipulated by selfish adults. After all, it must have been adults within the school who decided to cut down the tree despite the family living in it. It was Miki and Kozue's parents who cut down their tree as well — they divorced and left the children behind, presumably as the baby birds were left behind when the parents realised the tree was getting cut down. Kozue and Miki were actually manipulated by their parents in the fact that they were driven apart by the piano fiasco, for Miki and Kozue haven't been close since then. It's also suggested that the end of Kozue's "piano playing" resulted in the breakdown of the Kaoru marriage. The nest was lost, the home taken away, and the children were split by their differing ways of looking at their parents' divorce. Miki is an idealist and Kozue is a realist. They were driven into these roles by the divorce of their parents and the forced piano recital that culminated in disaster.

    We are treated to a close-up of the tree stump now — it is a symbol of the stable world taken away from Miki and Kozue when their parents left them to fly their separate ways. Miki and Kozue weren't saved like the baby birds, however, and are still trying to get by. They had to build their own home once more, as is suggested by the fact that Kozue and Miki together put up a bird house for the chicks. Still, we also see Miki playing the piano alone at night, Kozue standing alone outside. They are separated even though they are all that the other has. Kozue is in the cold but she prefers reality, while Miki is safe inside with his music but never sees the truth at all. Something gives, however, and Miki's entire viewpoint changes during this episode.

* Return of the Challenger *

     It's back to Utena again, who has apparently continued to watch her earlier programme in our absence. She starts by commenting "I swear that she just won't quit!" which can be taken as a direct reference to Kozue (even though she's talking about one of the challengers). She names the challenger as "Alum," saying that before that she used to be known as "teacup." Before that, Utena has no idea. The significance of the names is hard to pinpoint, though "alum" could be referring to several things. It could be a shortened version of "alumni," a graduate of a school. It could also refer to the chemical aluminium hydroxide, which is used as a topical astringent, an agent to activate leaving groups or, most curiously, as an adjuvant, which is used to increase the potency of a vaccine. The symbolism of the teacup is as equally bizarre. Perhaps the only thing that can be taken from this is that Kozue is like a dog with a bone, and we are shown that soon enough.

    Utena is drying her hair after a shower, and is stretching as she abruptly realises that she has left some rolls out on the bench. She hopes aloud that Anthy will find them and think to put them in a plastic bag before they start to smell. This is perhaps a reflection on Miki's own need to hide his memories away in a safe place so *they* don't start to smell. He's wrapped them all up in plastic to preserve them and he refuses to see things the way they are. This is the way that Akio is able to get under his skin.

* "If Everything Around You is Dirty, You Have No Choice but to Get Dirty As Well." *

     Miki claims earlier that he does not want to duel because it means manipulation by "selfish adults" (and indeed, Kozue shows Akio is an adult by going out on a date with the "long-legged older man"). He changes his mind after his trip to the Ends of the World, and why is this? It is because he realises that he doesn't have to be manipulated as he always has been. *He can manipulate as well*. Kozue, our token wild animal, tells him "There's no need to be bashful. Make her yours." In trying to convince him to take Anthy she says she only wants him to be happy, and that she wouldn't lie because she is always honest with her feelings. And indeed, in contrast with Miki, she is far more honest with her cynicism that he ever is with his rose-tinted glasses. She's playing devil's advocate, riding in the Akio Car with Miki, guiding him onto the road with no speed limits, with no stops. It is her school tie that covers his eyes and gives him the fantasy of driving the car with a provocatively posed Anthy reclining in the front passenger seat. The illusion both Akio and Kozue are offering is *control* — and Miki has never been in control before, has never controlled another. He is led to duel again in the belief that the only way to avoid his own manipulation is to manipulate somebody else.

    We're back in the duelling arena, with Kozue's telling words: "If everything around you is dirty, you have no choice but to get dirty as well. You've no choice but to get dirty, and then *get what you want*." It is exactly what Miki is unable to do, and Kozue shows him the way by taking what she wants from Anthy in the seduction of the doll-like Bride in the Akio Car careening about the edges of the duelling platform. "You'll lose if you look away," she coolly tells him, but Miki can't concentrate on Utena when he sees the manipulation of Anthy Kozue has engaged in. He sees what it is getting dirty is all about and he can't accept it.

    "I wonder what made Miki duel again so suddenly." Miki has lost the duel, and Utena's confusion afterward is poignant. She was actually unable to understand in the first place what made him duel her again (her shock at being offered the rose was palpable). Anthy has no answer, which is naturally ironic because it was Anthy's impending marriage to Miki's father that brought up a lot of painful memories for both of the Kaoru twins, forcing Miki to see the selfishness of parents (shown by his father's expectation for Miki to address her as "mother" right off the bat!) and to attempt to accept that selfishness in himself. Utena ends by saying "I mean, Miki's more..." Anthy's only reply is "...more?"

    The flashback ends with Miki and his bird box, watching it from outside as if he is still trying to recreate the happy home that was wrenched out from under him when he and his sister were still children. He'd rather do that than accept the truth, and that is why Kozue, the ultimate realist, stops underneath him with accusing eyes to call him "Coward!" Miki will not let go of the past because the sunny garden is a nicer place within his own memory than it ever is outside. Even though the game is over for Miki, in some ways he really hasn't grown up at all. Utena finds Miki to be more.what? It's never said, but by the end of the series Miki seems to have relaxed more around his sister. The more things change, perhaps, the more they stay the same. At this moment, however, we leave him clinging to his "shining thing," the sacred image of his pure memories.

* Studio Callback *

     As the flashback of the Kaoru twins concludes, we have the car phone ringing again. When Akio answers, it becomes very swiftly apparent that the radio show's quiz isn't over yet. The girls finally got through to him, they say — it makes one wonder what Akio was doing at the time. Still, they're here to ask him the next question:

Which one of these is the miracle?

1. Edison's invention
2. Meeting with a prince
3. A can of coelacanth

    The question is itself indication that we are to speak of Juri next — but in considering the answers to the question, one might wonder what it has to do with *Juri*, specifically. Of the three answers, the second option is correct in context of the series. Thomas Edison invented many things — such as the lightbulb, to name but one of his countless inventions — but he came across these things by logic and by luck. They're not miracles, not in the fairytale-sense. You could think of it in terms of Disney's movie "Beauty and the Beast." Maurice's inventions are outlandish and incredible, but they pale in comparison to the miracle that is the genuine love that turns Belle's Beast back into the Prince. The third option is really kind of funny. In effect, they're saying "Would you like a can of an extinct fish?" like they're offering a kind of exotic tuna. The thing about the coelacanth, however, is that even though it exists in the fossil record and is a prehistoric creature, not long ago it was fished up out of the ocean. A living specimen. A miracle? Perhaps. But then, can humans really claim to know all the species on the planet after all? Like the discovery of the "extinct" takahe in New Zealand some years after they thought it had vanished forever, it's not so much a miracle. It just shows that we weren't looking hard enough.

    So, given that the meeting with a prince is the assumed miracle...what does this mean from Juri's viewpoint? It is implied from the beginning that Juri's miracle is the return of her love for Shiori (which, given the attitude and prejudices of the girl, is extremely unlikely), while the meeting with the prince (as illustrated in the famous opening sequence) is *Utena's* miracle, the miracle that gave her the strength to leave the coffin. In this roundabout manner it is shown that Utena's future is being foretold by recent events in Juri's life. How is this? Why, by Juri being forced to meet her own "Prince," Ruka Tsuchiya, and being shown that the real miracles are those that happen while you aren't even watching.

* "Isn't Your Miracle Going to Happen, Oujisama?" *

     Wheels begin to turn upon the re-entrance of former Fencing Club Captain Ruka Tsuchiya. His opening shot at Juri, whom he has just defeated in an unexpected duel — "I was hoping you'd grown while I was away, but I can see now I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up" — is a direct reference to her fencing ability, but the undertone is that he is well aware she's still hung up on Shiori (and as we discover, he is here to set her free). The short-lived debate over who is the actual captain of the club is also very telling. Even though technically Juri *is* only acting, Ruka insists she is now the captain, implying perhaps the short-term nature of his stay. This sits well with the later implication that the dying Ruka only left the hospital not to have some "fun" as he tells Juri, but because he wanted to set the one he loved free...he wanted to give her the power of miracles.

    Juri makes a comment to Ruka that she doesn't know why Ruka chose to re-enter the game of duelling now, but she clearly states that he is to keep his hands off Shiori. When he chuckles and asks why, there is a montage of events from earlier episodes that remind the audience of *all* the reasons why Juri wants Ruka away from Shiori. And yet she says Shiori is nothing more than an old friend. Juri lies to herself as much as she lies to Ruka, and the ironic thing is that even while Juri wishes desperately for a miracle, she doesn't believe in them at all. Ruka states in reply that he will live the "carefree academy life" if it pleases him, and have a romance if the chance occurs. His attitude is stark in contrast to Juri's, who has never led the carefree life, or had romances with whoever she pleases. In fact, Juri is considered frigid and is known for scaring both students AND teachers into submission.

    And the trouble really begins with the first attempt Ruka makes at setting Juri free — with the sword in the locker (which resembles his soul sword) and the well-timed opportunity Shiori is given to ab-lib her way into his bed. Ruka is going to play this game, but in some ways it would have been better had he heard something Juri told Utena in a much earlier episode. She said: "That nobility of yours — you only have it because some guy tricked you into having it!" Despite being one of Akio's pawn-duellists, Juri is not the type to be led into believing or doing anything she does not wish to believe or do. Ruka would have a care to remember this — as Utena is about to explain.

* Keeping Your Eye on the Board *

     One of the curious aspects of this episode is the unwitting commentary Utena provides on the past events — her simplifications actually tell the audience a good deal not only about her own personality, but give us a new way of looking at what has passed. This interruption shows Utena playing what appears to be "Othello," with six black and seven white pieces upon the board. Placement implies Utena is playing the white pieces, which links back to the fact that her duelling rose is white. (There is an interesting question about the colour of her rose, incidentally. While all the other duellists have roses the same colour as their hair, Utena's rose is not pink, it is white. It suggests, perhaps, the purity of her motives; she duels not for herself or her own desires, but to free Anthy from her fate. This mystery deepens if one considers that Akio wears a purple rose and his hair is much lighter — in fact, the rose seems to resonate more with Anthy than with Akio. Why is this?)

    To return to Utena's game, even though she is at first examining the evenly-matched board with what appears to be concentration, she soon starts upon an interesting (and very distracting) conversational tack. She starts talking about cooking, of all things. One of the first things she says is that it is particularly easy to mess up measures. She then mentions macaroni, and how she once made a mistake and filled a "great big pot" with the pasta. Despite all this, she says that it is worse to make mistakes when it comes to the seasonings: "if you're not careful, you start putting in more and more, and end up screwing up."

    Taken at face value, it sounds like Utena is just making light conversation over a game of "Othello." Taken in context with what we have just seen, Utena is describing to a tee the motivations of Ruka Tsuchiya in "freeing" Juri Arisugawa from the bonds he perceived he to be chained by. She is also offering an explanation as to why he appeared to fail. In the end Ruka was trying to do right by Juri; he saw that she was unhappy and that Shiori Takatsuki was never going to be the one to alleviate that unhappiness. He may have avoided the cliché of too many cooks ruining the broth, but he took an extremely heavy-handed approach with Juri and completely messed up his measures. As Utena notes, it is easy enough to do. Ruka knew that he would have to press Juri very hard to make her move, but overfilling the pot was not enough, if one takes note of the fact that overfilling the pot corresponds with his treatment of Shiori. He messed up the seasonings as well, in trying to reveal his own feelings to the hurt and furious Juri in his second attempt. He put too much into the mixture and in the end, even though he set Juri free, she ended up "hating" him for what he had done. There are suggestions within the episode itself that Juri forgives the dying Ruka — her letter, and the remarkable imagery of the three chairs that become a rearranged pair — but Utena's own spin on the situation gives a good metaphor. Ruka tried to force a change in Juri, but added too much to the boiling pot, and it boiled over.

    At this point, white is still winning the game of "Othello."

    Utena is continuing her metaphor by saying: "And you can't exactly undo it." It's true: you can't remove ingredients already dissolved into a stew, and what Ruka had done could never be undone. Every step he took on his mission was decisive and left no room for going back. Utena mentions that some things are easier to make: like hamburgers and lunchboxes. These are essentially jigsaw metaphors, for once they are put together they can be taken apart. But as said earlier, "That won't work for stews." A stew is a fusion mixture, after all. It is like melting cheese: you're never going to get the original block back once it's gone. Utena is essentially telling us that messing in other people's affairs is a messy business, and Ruka is a reflection of this.

    Up until this point Utena has spent her entire one-sided conversation staring at the board. She then looks up for the first time at her opponent (who is providing the angle that the viewers see Utena from) and says: "Isn't that what they always say in books?" It's an interesting comment, as she could just be referring to a recipe book. Perhaps this could also be attributed to fairytales, and the introduction of this particular episode itself. What is she implying by this comment and allusion? That fairytales have messy endings? True enough, most of them do, despite the flowery interpretations we are often given as children. Things change as we grow up, and that is a key theme in the later arcs of this show. What is more curious than fairytale allusions, however, is that this is the only time she looks away from the game, wrapped up as she is in talking about recipes that get overdone.

    "You just do what it says and the flavour comes out wrong," Utena says, and it is true enough. Ruka is doing what they always say in books, in fairytales — he is acting as the Prince, attempting to rescue the princess, and Juri ends up hating him for his attempt (at least during the execution; the resolution of the episode does suggest otherwise). "I wonder why," Utena muses, and it shows her innocence. Juri actually referred to Utena in a much earlier episode ("Thorns of Death") as being "cruelly innocent," and it shows during her brief interference in the Juri/Ruka/Shiori triangle. She simply doesn't understand the approach Ruka used, and she was inclined to hope for a happy ending. With the implied death of Ruka this doesn't seem to have occurred, but one does have to remember that deviating from the script of a recipe and producing something entirely unexpected does not mean that the product is inedible, or even unpalatable when the taste becomes acquired.

    We look back at the board: it's a complete black out with the single white token completely surrounded. Utena exclaims in surprise: "Oh! A weak point!" An underestimation if there ever was one. She looked up from the game once and she proceeded to begin to lose miserably. The brief metaphor of the "Othello" game is a curious one that is never really explained. What is most notable, perhaps, is that the playing pieces are double-sided: black one side, white the other. Taking the traditional association of white with good and black with evil, it suggests that the two are interchangeable, and that if you take your eye off the ball one can easily become the other. It is dark foreshadowing for a later event in the episode. Utena will soon take her eye off her goal, and while she is looking away her motives for continuing to stay within the duelling game will change from white to black very quickly.

    Aside from the game, the montage of events from "Azure Paler Than The Sky" and its preceding episode continue. We see the sword in the locker falling, the sword Shiori had pretended to clean everyday. Is it perhaps symbolic of Ruka's own descent and impending death? Or is it reminiscent of Shiori's own eventual fall from Juri's graces, the catalyst for that fall being Ruka himself? We see Shiori's acting, and know that she's not the only liar of the episodes, and feel the irony. Ruka tells her he knew she was only pretending to have cleaned his sword while he was away, and we realise the lows to which he would go just to set Juri free. The shattering of the locket is the culmination of all that Ruka worked for, the chains broken as Juri struggles to walk back to the broken object. Her hand is to her throat, she is gasping as she cries, like she cannot breathe the fresh air of the freedom Ruka has gifted her with. Her life has been snatched away, and she doesn't seem able to live without it. And with this, we see a black and white photographic portrait of Shiori from the days of The Unnamed Boy. It suggests not only the loss of the past, but the fact that Juri saw Shiori only in black and white, never in the greys that all humans operate within. Her own image of Shiori was rose-tinted and about as far from the truth as one could get (let us not forget the way Juri steadfastly ignored Shiori's telling fit in the school courtyard while the entire student body watched in fascination). Forced to a precipice of realisation, Juri throws the duel in that moment, dropping her rose and standing alone.

    We are then treated to a mixture of the speeches of the Shadow Play Girls and Ruka in reaction to the incident: they were previously discrete and were left to be associated by the audience. Now it is obvious who was being spoken of. The Shadow Play Girls said he always wanted to give the one he loved the power of miracles. He tells her not to worry. They say he wanted to give her the power of miracles, wanted to set her free. In throwing the duel, the duel she fought for possession of the Rose Bride and the chance to take her miracle power, suggests she has let it go. The rain is falling from the upside down castle, providing tears for the stoic figure that she has become, cleansing tears from a castle she does not even believe in. Ruka comforts her: he did it all for her, leaving the hospital though he knew he would die for it (and this makes him the very definition of a chivalrous prince). Juri seems to have accepted his final gift to her, and in a way the rain is like a cleansing. She is now able to see Ruka's actions from a more objective viewpoint, and the rain may indeed be the beginning of her forgiveness for him. Now freed from the need for a miracle — for she equates Shiori returning her love as a miracle — she sees she no longer needs to duel, and so she takes her own rose from her breast. What need does she have to fight for miracles when she has been given one, and now realises the real power of miracles is not in the receiving, but in the giving?

    Curiously, we see the windshield wipers of the Akio Cars brushing aside the rain, Juri's "tears." Is it the brush-off of the now-useless Juri, who sees that miracles happen every day? She no longer has a use in this revolution. It also possibly reflects Akio's own dismissive attitude towards the thought of Anthy breaking free of her own chains. Juri's "Prince" released her, but Akio is already undermining Utena's own desire to do the same for Anthy. Note too, Utena's uncomprehending "Why, sempai?" when Juri throws the duel. Utena doesn't seem to realise that while Ruka brought Juri to this point, Juri was the one who had to accept the loss of her desire to have something she could never have, something she allowed to define herself. Juri hated the hold Shiori held over her heart — illustrated earlier in "Unfulfilled Juri" and "Thorns of Death" adequately enough — but the important thing was that *Juri was unable to imagine living without those bonds.* She could not shake them aside herself — illustrated by the way she flung the locket into the lake, but it came right back and she couldn't do it twice — but even when Ruka offered to do it for her (by crushing the locket under his foot in the salle) she couldn't let him. It had become a defining part of her being, and the loss for her was great despite the freedom offered. Utena's incomprehension of the complexity of what Ruka did is tragically echoed at the end of the series when she apologises in tears for letting Anthy fall. In light of what Ruka did for Juri, letting Anthy go was the best thing Utena could have done for her. And yet even then, Utena does not seem to understand that you can always lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink. A prince can try to save a princess, but in the end even a princess must make the effort to save herself.

* Turn Out the Lights *

     The light is turned off as we return to Utena again, who has by now decided to retire for the night (presumably after losing the "Othello" game quite miserably). She is silent for a long period, which is perhaps reminiscent of the fact that all nights before this she has had a nightly confession of sorts with Anthy. Has it already crept to a point where she cannot sleep without it? Or is it guilt that Anthy refused to come and was left behind? Eventually she ceases staring at the ceiling, turning silently towards the audience and presumably towards her opponent in the "Othello" game.

* And to Return to Our Quiz. *

     Miracles happen every day. It's just that people don't realise it." This is the only time in the quiz show that Akio even begins to answer any of the questions put to him. It's a direct reflection of Juri's earlier blindness and the lifting of her blinkers by Ruka's actions. Akio sums up Juri's "rebirth" accurately in those two sentences and it is with that we leave the topic of miracles completely for the most convoluted and striking scene of the entire episode.

* No Free Lunch *

     Is it all right? Having fun until this late?" asks Utena, and for the first time we are beginning to see the sinister roots of what is growing in her mind in regards to her "crusade" in acting as Anthy's prince. She is basically implying that she still wants to save Anthy (she seems to be experiencing guilt over leaving Anthy home alone in the dark while she and Akio go to the carnival) and she *does* have her own life. She seems to want to cope with this guilt by bringing up the seemingly innocuous topic of *lunch*. Yes, Utena, who is lying on her back staring at the ceiling, says that she will have to make lunch when they get back, right away. She even starts listing ingredients: salmon, asparagus, omelette, boiled egg. She suggests they can use leftovers from dinner, make do. This whole conversation reminds one of the rolls comment during the Kaoru flashback and the stew comments made about Ruka's motives and actions. But this seems to have a more sinister turn to it, as is soon seen.

    She says there is enough for two: she's always trying to think of Anthy, for she has long since set herself up in her own mind as Himemiya's saviour. But she recognises she *only has enough for two*. She's going to make sandwiches, with mayonnaise and egg, and she suddenly asks in despair "Isn't there anything else?" It's obvious she isn't sure what to do, for she can only provide so much. It's an early recognition of the fact that Utena is eventually going to give in to the inevitable and think of herself before Anthy. (Akio's later accusation that Utena has been doing precisely this actually carries a lot less weight when one views this scene: Utena did not change her priorities lightly, and in fact the flipping of her game pieces seemed to take place when she was looking away from the board entirely, focusing on her opponent and not the game — i.e. Akio and not the duels.)

    Utena is by now babbling about having run out of this and that, and is talking about the fridge. The whole thing appears to be a forced distraction now from what is going on in the physical aspect of the scene. She has averted her eyes, and it seems to be a "see no evil" implication. She is becoming more and more agitated, and before us we see a road passing swiftly beneath everything. It is the road travelled by the Akio Car, and what is written there over and over and over again? STOP. The Akio Car goes places people do not necessarily wish to understand — Akio has driven many of the duellists (all, it seems, but Touga Kiryuu) to a place they do not want to go. The Ends Of The World, the truth of everything. Utena is taken by Akio to this place, seemingly against her will, and what is her reaction to this?

    "What is eternity?"

    She looks directly towards the audience, and it is a chilling return to the question of a child in an earlier episode: "Eternity couldn't possibly exist, could it?" Utena is childlike even as it becomes obvious (from the hand covering hers) that Akio has just seduced her, her journey seeming to have been taken under the illusion that it was what she wanted. She has moved from wanting to believe that eternity does not exist to begging to know what it means. We are finally seeing Utena's own motivations for wanting to go to the castle in the sky.she is slipping, not wanting to free Anthy foremost. She is falling in love with her own prince, in the hopes that he can show her that there is something worth living for after all. A happy ending, just like in all *nice* fairytales.

* Full Circle *

    The revolution of this episode brings us right back to where we started. It is the phone call of the beginning, restated, only this time we have confirmation that Anthy had been speaking to Akio for we see it from both their viewpoints this time around. Akio tells her that it was good work, suggesting that this entire incident was planned by Anthy, or at least implemented by her willing co-operation. At this point the motivations behind such actions are unclear to the audience, but the last episodes show that by undermining Utena's need to behave as a prince, forcing her into the role of princess, was something Akio needed to achieve in order to withdraw her soul-sword and attempt to use it to breach the Rose Gate. Anthy's reticence to speak, to look at real stars, suggest that she didn't actually want things to happen this way. She will content herself with the illusion of Akio's false stars, false promises, but she seems well aware of the truth of the matter (as will be illustrated by her dramatic attempt to fling herself from atop the academy in her nightgown towards the end of the series, later claiming she was motivated to do it because she "betrayed" Utena).

    As Akio hangs up the car phone, dismissing his supposedly "willing" accomplice, our attention is drawn to the passenger seat of his infamous vehicle. Utena is sleeping there, and when he reaches out a hand to trace her cheekbone, she awakens. Sleeping Beauty, perhaps, awakened by her prince? To draw this allusion is to understand the inversion of Utena's role in the series, becoming feminine princess instead of masculine prince. The whole incident has actually been like a dream to her, and she admits this by saying "I never expected this to happen." She apparently only came along because Anthy refused, not wanting to disappoint Akio. "I only came here today to deliver roses." Once again, the imagery of roses is all-pervasive.and we are never told who the roses were for. They were delivered, and no more is mentioned of them again. Akio has already begun to take from Utena what he needs.

    In the end, the *true* function of this episode is to mark the beginning of Anthy's obvious betrayal of Utena in helping her brother create a way of taking her soul-sword from her for his own dark purposes. We will see how Anthy's decision affects the way she looks at both herself and her princes eventually, but for now her rebellion against this is minimal. Utena's influence on Anthy's manner of thinking is yet to completely manifest. Aside from this, the episode also clearly illustrates the way Akio uses all the duellists to his own ends (even though it is not yet apparent what his uses for Nanami, Touga and eventually Utena quite are), dismissing them from the Revolution when he has taken from them all he can. In a way, Saionji, Miki, Ruka and Juri have all been graduated as clearly as Mikage was in "Qualifications of a Duellist." Yet they remain, for the game is not yet completed. This episode calls on the past to illustrate the beginning of Endgame, and with the initiation of a sexual relationship between Akio and Utena the stakes have risen much higher than they were before. "The Prince Who Runs Through The Night" is an episode designed to comment upon the past and the future, and from the angle it provides, not even the present looks very bright at all.

* End *

Personality + Relationship + Narrative + Miscellany + Music

Introduction + Characters + Reference + Submission

Go Home
Analysis of Utena + Empty Movement

Akio is no rapist, he is just an opportunist that makes his home a school full of emotionally compromised teenagers. This frame is actually pulled from the Metropolitan Museum of Art archives.
I considered making this a time gif that would occasionally flash Dios as having a ponytail. Then I got lazy.
I know this layout is sort of a spoiler, but so was the closing of the first season, so suck it.
This is far and away the most complex layout I have coded, and I know it does not look like it.
So are they waltzing or foxtrotting or what?
Because according to Ikuhara, if it were Akio, they would be doing the lambada.
These swords ended up looking like the crosses in Evangelion. I left it on purpose because hellz yeah.
I wanted this layout to look like a fairy tale. It ended up looking like a French textile exhibit. Oops.
Polly want some C4? Sorry, coding and Colbert do not mix.
It is March. It is snowing. It is Canada.
You know what is an awesome idea? Coding on your rag. That is smart.