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Revolutionary Girl Utena the movie DVD
Revolutionary Girl Utena the movie DVD
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Utena has it all. Beauty. Passion. Faith. A sense of justice. She is the idol of her classmates at the exclusive Ohtori Academy. And yet, she is driven by a childhood memory of a prince on a white horse who bestowed to her an enigmatic signet ring emblazoned with a rose crest. This memory drives Utena to do the impossible: To become a prince, herself, as she duels the members of the Student Council to protect the mysterious "Rose Bride." Approximate running time: 87 minutes.
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"Beautifully absurd and absurdly beautiful." by V. Krätke (Netherlands) on Dec 8, 2004
It's very difficult to form a concrete opinion of the Utena movie after just one or two viewings, because it's very difficult to make sense of. It's more than just somewhat ambiguous or vaguely cryptic, it is a very confusing and bizarre movie almost right from the start. If you don't have any previous knowledge of the Utena universe, it's very hard to get into the movie. The movie is supposed to be a standalone piece - an independent re-telling of the story from the TV series - but it really works better if you've seen the TV series, in which case you'll have a much clearer picture of what's going on. Though when giant car wash sponges burst from the ground and people start transforming into cars in the film's climax, anyone is likely to have a hard time figuring out what on earth is going on. The TV series had plenty of weird moments, but the movie pushes them into overdrive.
If you're a fan of the TV series, the movie is very much worth checking out. The electrifying duels, sumptuous music and buckets of weirdness that you loved in the TV series are all present in the movie, looking and sounding many times more gorgeous than they did on the small screen. The movie is an incredible visual triumph, that much is certain. Whether you're an Utena fan or not, whether the sheer bizarrity of the film puts you off or turns you on, you're bound to at least marvel at the splendid visuals. Ohtori Academy in the movie looks like a modern art museum gone on a rampage. There are shades of Escher, Gaudi, Mondrian and countless others in the movie's art design, all of which blend together to offer an amazing feast for the eyes. The characters are exquisitely drawn and animated, flowing gracefully through the strange industrial-era art landscape of the movie. The new character designs for the movie are a triumph, with striking new costumes and a vivid new look for most of the familiar faces from the TV series. And this is probably the sweetest DVD treatment I've ever seen for an animated feature. Every frame looks absolutely crystal clear, positively alive with vibrant colour. It's very pleasing to see a movie as beautiful as this in a format that allows one to appreciate that beauty so well.
Full marks to Software Sculptors for this stunning DVD, which even contains a pleasing number of extras. Beyond your usual art sketches and trailers, there's a commentary track by director Kunihiko Ikuhara, which is truly a rare gem for an anime DVD. The commentary isn't all that interesting, as it contains long periods of silence and not that many salient insights into the movie (production- or content-wise), but it's a welcome addition to this splendid package all the same. After countless botched discs from the likes of Manga Video, it's truly a joy to see someone go that extra mile for an anime DVD.
If you liked the TV series, definitely check out the movie. This new interpretation should at the very least interest you. You may not like every new spin on the story - for instance, I didn't like the movie version of Akio at all, who seems bland and silly compared to his TV persona, and whose new voice actor for the movie did a terribly poor job (this refers to the Japanese version - I've only briefly spot-checked the dub, and it surprisingly doesn't seem bad at all). And it was quite disappointing that Miki and Kozue had so little to do in the movie (the latter in particular - she gets less than one minute of screen time in all). Any fan is likely to have little gripes like that, but any fan is likely to be won over by the movie as a whole, especially with lots of little in-jokes that refer back to the TV series. It's hard to predict how anyone will react to the extremely absurd and confusing aspects of the movie, though. You'll either find it fascinating or just annoying and silly. If you get a chance to rent or see this film before buying it, definitely do so. The movie's marvelous visuals are worth a look purely for the sake of being marvelous. And weird.