Revolutionary Girl Utena News

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a franchise comprised of 1 movie, 1 anime series, 2 manga series
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Most people who know me know I’m as much a Broadway junkie as well as I am an anime junkie, as the reference to Billy Elliot in one of my initial posts may have suggested. I come from a family of Broadway fanatics who travel to New York City every other year to check out new shows. However, I’d like to point out that I am in no way an expert on Japan’s musical theater culture, so If I make any errors, I encourage people to please feel free to correct me.

  
  
 
  A bronze statue of Oscar and Andre on Hana no michi (Flower Avenue) in Takarazuka, Hyōgo. (Wikipedia)
 A bronze statue of Oscar and Andre on Hana no michi (Flower Avenue) in Takarazuka, Hyōgo. (Wikipedia)
While discussing the New Code Geass Project in the February 2010 issue of Newtype, Code Geass producer Yoshitaka Kawaguchi mentioned in passing that he and director Goro Taniguchi would be interested in adapting Code Geass as a stage musical. It’s far from a definite thing, but it wouldn’t be a new concept. Anime-themed musicals have been around as far back as 1974, when Takarazuka Revue, a group of all-female acting troupes, made a name for themselves with their adaption of Rose of Versailles.  The troupe has since done multiple different adaptations of Rose of Versailles and continues to perform it today. The actresses are split into five troupes depending on their style and skills: Flower Troupe performs big budget, operatic shows, Moon Troupe does modern musicals and dramas, Snow Troupe specializes in traditional Japanese dance and opera, Star Troupe is known for having actresses who play strong otokoyaku (male) roles, and Cosmos Troupe is more experimental. Each troupe has done at least two adaptations of Rose of Versailles. The video below is from a 1989 Snow Troupe performance focusing on the relationship between Oscar and Andre, with Andre as the lead.
  
  

Other manga adaptations by Takarazuka Revue have included Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack and Phoenix. Last year, the troupe came out with an adapatdation of Phoenix Wright.
  
   
Osamu Tezuka, who grew up in Takarazuka, inspired Princess Knight off of elements from Takarazuka Revue plays he’d seen, and Princess Knight later went on to inspire other series with females in traditionally male roles, such as Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Sakura Wars was heavily inspired by Takarazuka Revue, and the Zuka club in Ouran High School Host Club is a loose parody of the troupe. A 1997 stage production of Revolutionary Girl Utena, “Comedie Musicale Utena la fillette révolutionnaire,” featured a Takarazuka-style cast.
  
   
   Flyer from the 2004 Musical (Wikipedia)
   Flyer from the 2004 Musical (Wikipedia)
Better known in the West is the Sailor Moon musicals, more popularly known as Sera Myu. The musicals spanned 12 years and three “stages” used to define the central casts and themes of the show at that time. You probably won’t ever see it on Broadway or the West End, but there are amateur productions floating around the West.


The performance below features second stage actress Miyuki Kanbe as Sailor Moon. Kanbe died of heart failure in 2008.
  
   
The number of anime-themed musicals have increased in the past decade, with three Hunter x Hunter musicals from 2000 to 2002, several Princes of Tennis musicals from 2003 to 2007, an ongoing series of Bleach musicals that began in 2005, and a one-shot Air Gear musical in January 2007.
  
    
    
    
   
So what’s the chance on any of these shows getting the Broadway treatment? Right now I’d say slim to none, but animation isn’t foreign to Broadway and comics aren’t far off. Shows like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and even Shrek have been phenomenal hits. An adaptation of The Addams Family based more on the original comics from The New Yorker than anything in the TV series, cartoon or movies will be making its Broadway premiere in March. Julie Taymor, the creative mind behind The Lion King musical, is currently working on getting Spider-Man to the stage. So, who knows?


Until that day comes, please enjoy this commercial for the short-lived Pokemon Live!
  
   
Takeshi Kaga, who played Soichiro Yagami in the Death Note live action movies, but is probably better known for playing Chairman Kaga on Iron Chef, got his start playing Jesus in the original Japanese production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
 
True story. When I was little I totally believed Chairman Kaga and the backstory on Kitchen Stadium preceding every episode of Iron Chef was real. I can see more ludicrous things that a bazillionaire would spend his money on then a televised kitchen auditorium where competitors compete against professional chefs of varying areas of expertise to cook a mystery meal for a panel of judges in front of a live studio audience. Allez cuisine!
 
The Japan Girl
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I'm a second year graduate student in English and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. One of my hobbies is of course anime and Japanese fan culture. Of course, my favorite thing to do is combine my two loves--academia (though my love for this is currently waning) and anime. I've currently gotten myself embroiled into a gloriously complicated literary research paper on Revolutionary Girl Utena. My focus is gender construction and play within the anime series and film. It's much more complicated than "Utena is a girl who wants to become a prince and fights with a sword." As with any academic paper, I need sources to back me up or help me elaborate and prove my point. I had to go on a massive search of the internet and library catalog and stacks to find my resources. I'm sharing some of my sources so that others interested in writing on anime can find starting points and for otaku interested in learning more about the history and exploring deeper the themes seen in anime and manga. I'm going to list the sources and write a brief summary for each which include my opinion about their usefulness. Note each of these sources usually has an introduction or preface explaining why they chose to write on anime/manga and the importance of doing so--very beneficial if you need help in justifying writing about anime for a class. These are just some of the books I found. Search terms are tricky for finding books; some successful combinations I used were: anime and gender; japan, gender, & anime; japan, manga, anime; shojo/shoujo, manga, gender; japanese animation; japan & comics. Japan and comics tend to generate the most results. 

 
From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle 2nd Ed. - Susan Napier - 2003 
 
This book has been my best friend since the day I chose Utena as my topic! Napier is more than a fan, she's a professor of Japanese literature and culture at the University of Texas. She's an excellent writer and very plugged into the academic world. She's very accessible to readers and does a thorough job of exploring a variety of themes in a large range of animes. I HIGHLY recommend this as a starting place, especially since she includes references and a bibliography which you can later raid for use in your own essay. 
 
Anime Explosion! The What! Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation - Patrick Drazen - 2003
 
I don't like this book much; it reads more like a piece of fanwork that just looks at the surface themes of anime. The writing is easy to read, but lacks the sophistication and quality of Napier. Drazen makes large, sweeping cultural statements without all the necessary references or academic credit to back them up. He does have footnotes with sources which you can use as a springboard. Drazen brings up good ideas, but doesn't really go anywhere with them. He spends more time summarizing animes than analyzing them. This book could be helpful if you're looking for a topic to write about. 
 
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime - 2007
 
This is a collection of various essays written on anime by different writers. The focus is obviously technology and the science fiction genre in anime. Some of the essays connect the anxieties about technology viewed in anime into larger social concerns. This a very easy to read yet professional text. 
 
Mechademia - 2006 - Present
 
This is a really cool academic journal devoted to anime, manga, and Japanese pop/fan culture. I have an entire blog post devoted to discussion of this. There are currently four volumes. The quality of the essays is a mixed bag. However, all the essays do succeed in probing deeply into anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture. 
 
Dreamland Japan Writings on Modern Manga - Frederik L. Schodt - 1996
 
I haven't had a chance to read/skim this yet, but the topics appear insightful. There's a large chapter entirely devoted to Osamu Tezuka. Schodt is an interpreter, translator and writer who is fluent in Japanese. He's written a lot on anime and manga. 
 
Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics - Frederik L. Schodt - 1983
 
This book is pretty old, but looks to be full of merit. The a forward is written by Osamu Tezuka. :) 
 
Comics and Idelogy - 2001
 
Collection of essays mainly focused on comic books, but has a section devoted to manga and the ideology of gender. 
 
Animation in Asia and the Pacific - Edited by John A. Lent - 2001
 
A look at animes across Asian countries and their development and popularity in other countries like the U.S., UK, and France. There's even a chapter on Vietnamese animation--reminds me of the post where Gia mentioned something about Vietnamese comics vs. Japanese manga a while back. 
 
Japanese Visual Culture - Edited by Mark MacWilliams - 2008
 
Another large collection of essays on manga and anime with interesting topics.
 
Manga Sixty Years of Japanese Comics - Pal Gravett - 2004
 
What initially caught my eye was the large scale color images in the book. I would say 85-90% of the information is relayed through visual art. I believe this to be more a history book chronicling the manga tradtion and the trends within it. Very nice! The pictures alone make it worth checking out!
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“The bird struggles out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God’s name is Abraxas.” 
- Herman Hesse Demian: The Story of Emil's Sinclair's Youth

 
Utena collages enough elements to make dozens of recommendations, but let's stick to one of the more obvious. Revolutionary Girl Utena and Demian: The Story of Emil's Sinclair's Youth set their stage with that apocalyptic transition from childhood dependence to adult liberation. Throughout the narratives we explore morality, sexuality, good, evil, human will and the soul's innermost desires. There is a call for transcendence through transgression. Will the characters break free of their world or regress further within?
 
German readers can check Demian out for free. Everyone else should be able to check it out of their local library.
 
Recommended for psych majors and Jung fans. Not recommended for those who think a cigar is always just a cigar.

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This is the longest video clip I've made to date topping at over 27 minutes. Here is my newest Top 10 list on anime titles that I think show the best amount of character depth and development. Because of its length, I winded up having to cut the video down into three parts so I could get the parts onto Youtube. So here are my separate clips of my Top 10 take on characterization in an anime:
 
Part 1
 
 
  Part 2
 
 
  Part 3
 
 
Pokemon Black and White Looks Delicious in Motion

First video of a Pokemon battle in Black and White.

Comment & Win: One Piece Vol. 52, 53

Time for a giveaway folks! Now, act civil, we don't want anyone to get hurt in the mad rush to win.

Beginner's Guide to FLCL

Gainax's madcap, surrealist anime, broken down for new viewers.

Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Top 3 Awful Anime Dubs

Grit your teeth and get your ear plugs ready cause this week we're taking on the three most amazingly bad dubs of all time!

NARUTO Ch. 685 Review

In some ways, NARUTO is becoming the TWILIGHT of manga.

TOKYO GHOUL #1&2 -- Special Review

Fancy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, my droogies?

Does JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Work as a Horror Story?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #14 -- Watch & Learn. It's scary!

PERSONA 4: THE GOLDEN ANIMATION #1 -- Special Review

This finally makes sense to me?

Is DRAGON BALL Dated?

DRAGON BALL #11 -- Retro Review. Rusty pinballs?!

SAMURAI JAM-BAKUMATSU ROCK #1 -- Special Review

The secret history of bishonen?

DRAMAtical mURDER #1 -- Special Review

Must all nerds be bullied?

ARGEVOLLEN #1 -- Special Review

Well, I can say the suit looks cool, at least.

DRAMAtical mURDER #1 -- Special Review

Must all nerds be bullied?

TOKYO GHOUL #1&2 -- Special Review

Fancy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, my droogies?

NARUTO Ch. 685 Review

In some ways, NARUTO is becoming the TWILIGHT of manga.

Does JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Work as a Horror Story?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #14 -- Watch & Learn. It's scary!

ARGEVOLLEN #1 -- Special Review

Well, I can say the suit looks cool, at least.

PERSONA 4: THE GOLDEN ANIMATION #1 -- Special Review

This finally makes sense to me?

When JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Gets Really Gross...

STARDUST CRUSADERS #15 -- Watch & Learn. Squatters, am I right?

Is DRAGON BALL Dated?

DRAGON BALL #11 -- Retro Review. Rusty pinballs?!

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