Utena 1-2: Princess Tutu

Revolutionary Girl Utena episodes 1-2 review

Utena

If Eyeshield 21 and K-ON! were creepily similar in their first two episodes, then Revolutionary Girl Utena and Princess Tutu share the same distinction. Now obviously the shows I’m watching now actually were the first of the two, and also this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that I felt like Utena‘s first two episodes eerily resembled Princess Tutu in quite a few ways.

If you’re not familiar with Princess Tutu, it’s a storybook magical girl fantasy series where not much happens every episode, but what does happen is so meaningful that it makes up for all the dead time. It’s a weird case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I highly recommend it, but at the same time you can’t go into it the same way you do watching Toonami and all its shounen. If you’re expecting lots of action, you’ll be greatly disappointed.

Utena is similar in so many ways to Princess Tutu, making it seem almost too obvious that Princess Tutu was a direct derivative of Utena. It’s got the “once upon a time” storybook thing going on, it’s got the crazy-in-love side character going on, and it’s also got little action but lots of consequences. In the first two episodes, the only things that happen are a duel between Utena and Saionji, Utena moving in with Anthy, and then a second duel between Utena and Saionji. But it’s the way these events are built up that makes them seem much bigger than they are.

Utena contains a ton of insert music. Perhaps that’s why not too many events actually occurred. But if it’s a magical girl series, there have to be transformations. And the duels have fantastic animation.

This is a weird case where I’m actually giving the series the benefit of the doubt, mostly because Utena is so highly rated by most people, that I’ve just got to assume that it’s going to be good. Usually I don’t give a series the benefit of the doubt, and I think badly about it right off the bat. I did that with Hunter x Hunter, and that was a big mistake. I also did that with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and… well, the jury is still out on Jojo. I’m going to trust that Utena has more than just insert songs, transformations, and beautifully animated fights. So many people can’t be wrong… can they?

Episode 1 rating (out of four stars): ***

Episode 2 rating (out of four stars): ***

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