Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena
UTENA newtype.jpg
Cover of the Newtype artbook Newtype Ultimate Collection.
(Shōjo Kakumei Utena)
Genre Fantasy, romance,[1] yuri[2]
Created by Be-Papas
Written by Chiho Saito
Published by Shogakukan
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Ciao
Original run 19961998
Volumes 5
Anime television series
Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara
Produced by Noriko Kobayashi
Shinichi Ikeda
Written by Yōji Enokido
Music by Shinkichi Mitsumune
J. A. Seazer (Duel themes)
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Original network TV Tokyo
English network
Original run April 2, 1997 December 24, 1997
Episodes 39 (List of episodes)
Anime film
Adolescence of Utena
Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara
Produced by Yuji Matsukura
Atsushi Moriyama
Written by Yōji Enokido
Music by Shinkichi Mitsumune
J. A. Seazer (Duel themes)
Eiseki Amari
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Nozomi Entertainment
Released August 14, 1999
Runtime 80 minutes
The Story of Someday Revolution
Developer Sega
Publisher Sega
Genre Visual novel
Platform Sega Saturn
Released May 28, 1998
Stage shows
  • Comédie Musicale Utena La Fillette Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Girl Utena, the Musical Comedy)
  • 少女革命ウテナ魔界転生黙示録編~麗人ニルヴァーナ来駕~ (Revolutionary Girl Utena Hell Rebirth Apocalypse ~ Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty)
  • 少女革命ウテナ~コロス幻想生命体~ (Revolutionary Girl Utena ~ Choros Imaginary Living Body)
  • 少女革命ウテナ~白き薔薇のつぼみ~ (Revolutionary Girl Utena ~ Bud of the White Rose)
  • 少女革命ウテナ~深く綻ぶ黒薔薇の~ (Revolutionary Girl Utena ~ Blooming Rose of Deepest Black)
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Revolutionary Girl Utena (Japanese: 少女革命ウテナ, Hepburn: Shōjo Kakumei Utena, French: Utena, la Fillette Révolutionnaire) is a manga by Chiho Saito and an anime directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The manga serial began in the June 1996 issue of Ciao and the anime was first broadcast in 1997. The anime and manga were created simultaneously, but, despite some similarities, they progressed in different directions. A movie, Adolescence of Utena (少女革命ウテナ アドゥレセンス黙示録, Shōjo Kakumei Utena Aduresensu Mokushiroku, literally "Revolutionary Girl Utena Adolescence Apocalypse"), was released in theatres in 1999. A number of stage productions based on the franchise were also produced in the late-1990s and late-2010s, including the "Comédie Musicale Utena la fillette révolutionnaire", staged by an all-female Takarazuka-style cast.

The main character is Utena Tenjou, a tomboyish teenage girl who was so impressed by a kind prince in her childhood that she decided to become a prince herself, expressed in her manner of dress and personality. She attends Ohtori Academy, where she meets a student named Anthy Himemiya, a girl who is in an abusive relationship with another student. Utena fights to protect Anthy and is pulled into a series of sword duels with the members of the Student Council. Anthy is referred to as the "Rose Bride" (薔薇の花嫁, Bara no hanayome) and is given to the winner of each duel. It is said that the winner of the tournament will receive a mysterious "power to revolutionize the world", and the current champion is constantly challenged for the right to possess the Rose Bride.


Manga plot

Utena is seen as having conflict with the staff of her current school and they call in her aunt, who is an interior decorator. Utena's friend Kaido is introduced and the two seem to have a strong friendship. It is then explained that Utena may be as headstrong as she is because of her parents' death at such an early age. Utena gets a letter from someone who has been sending her letters every year when the roses bloom. She says it started after she was rescued by her prince as a little girl. Kaido is intent on finding out who is sending her the letters. Later on Utena meets a co-worker of her aunt's, Aoi Wakaouji. He seems to bear a strong resemblance as well as the same ring as Utena's prince. She is drawn to him but only to have her hopes that Aoi is her prince shattered when she catches him and her aunt in a passionate moment. From there the scene from her childhood is recreated right in front of Kaido's eyes. He informs her that he found that all the letters reveal themselves to be a picture of Aoi's alma mater, an exclusive prep school. From this knowledge Utena decides to change schools. She leaves a heartbroken Kaido, who it seems has feelings for Utena, to find her prince.

Anime story

The anime series is divided into four story arcs, in each of which Utena comes to face a different challenge at Ohtori Academy (Enoki Films calls it "Otori Junior High School"). In all of them, Utena must defend her title as the owner of the Rose Bride, with the intention of protecting Anthy. The duels almost always occur when someone with the Rose Crest ring challenges the current Engaged, though the Engaged may challenge other Duelists as well. No refusal is accepted. The matches occur in the dueling arena, a large, high platform in the academy's outskirts, which is only open to duelists. The Rose Bride pins roses to the Duelists' jackets. They then sword fight until one duelist wins by knocking away the opponent's rose with his or her blade.

(The story arc names below link to more details than given here as well as the episodes.)

Episodes 1 to 13. This first part of the series introduces Utena, Anthy and most of the main characters. It depicts how Utena ends up winning the Rose Bride, and her initial duels against the Student Council members. They in turn insist for various reasons on fighting in order to defeat Utena and win Anthy in order to gain the power to revolutionize the world.
Episodes 14 to 24. After repelling the Student Council's attempts to take Anthy, Utena faces another obstacle, Souji Mikage. Disguised as a genius 18-year-old school counselor, he uses his powers of persuasion and knowledge of psychology to put people under his control by coaxing them to confide their deepest hostilities and fears. Almost always, these people are students whose problems stem from conflict with Utena, Anthy and the Student Council. He then sends them, wearing black Rose Crest rings on their fingers and frozen, black roses on their chests to fight Utena. This arc also introduces Akio Ohtori.
Episodes 25 to 33. After solving the Mikage situation, Utena must fight rematches against the Student Council, whose members attain new abilities upon meeting Akio. At the same time, she finds herself the target of Akio's seduction, creating a rift between her and Anthy. (Note: The published English materials combine this and the Apocalypse Arc, but it's generally divided based on the presence of episode 33 as a recap episode.)
Episodes 34 to 39. As the conflict escalates, the dark secrets of the duels and Akio and Anthy's true intentions behind them are unveiled, and Utena confronts Akio in a final duel to free Anthy from his influence.


Main characters

Utena Tenjou (天上 ウテナ, Tenjō Utena)
Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese); Rachael Lillis (English)
Utena is a tomboyish, courageous and naïve character who lives to emulate the idealized prince figure from her childhood. She is forthright, honest and friendly. Nearly all the girls in school adore her. She both subverts and conforms to the stereotypes she embodies as a noble warrior and a naïve magical girl in danger of becoming a damsel in distress. The series chronicles her journey to protect her friend Anthy and become a truly noble Prince. Utena's relationship with Anthy, going from close friends to family to blooming into love, is one of the most important themes in the series; both Utena and Anthy were confirmed to be in love by director Kunihiko Ikuhara. [3] [4] In the manga, Utena's relationship with Anthy is only that of friendship and it's hinted she has feelings for Touga. [citation needed] In the movie, Utena went to Ohtori to find Touga after the two apparently broke up. She mistakenly believes Anthy is the cause for the breakup, but soon forms a relationship with Anthy. Their relationship becomes more sexually-tinged compared to the TV series. The characters are seen kissing both in the TV show credits and the movie. Her Dueling Rose is white.

Anthy Himemiya (姫宮 アンシー, Himemiya Anshī)
Voiced by: Yuriko Fuchizaki (Japanese); Sharon Becker (English)
A mysterious, shy girl whose distant expression and superficial politeness mask a complex, darker personality. It is said that she has no thoughts or desires of her own; she will do anything her master expects of her. Because of her "doormat" behavior, other characters tend to project their wants or desires onto her, and she is always the target of their eventual rage. Her past and current personality are simultaneously tragic and sinister, and her personality shifts between selfless love, passive-aggressiveness, cruelty and learned helplessness. Like Utena, Anthy also subverts and conforms to the stereotypes she embodies as both a damsel in distress and a witch. Near the end of the series she betrays Utena and stabs her with the sword of Dios as she cannot accept a prince that is a girl. When, despite this, Utena tries to save Anthy and takes the Swords of Hatred in her place, Anthy in a way has been revolutionized by Utena and is no longer in controlled by Akio nor is she longer the Rose Bride. She leaves the school to find Utena. In the movie, Anthy's role as the Rose Bride is more explicit as it's shown she will have sex with whomever is the current champion. In the movie, Anthy is portrayed as much less manipulative and more open.

Akio Ohtori (鳳 暁生, Ōtori Akio)
Voiced by: Jūrōta Kosugi (TV), Mitsuhiro Oikawa (Movie) (Japanese); Josh Mosby (English)
Anthy's mysterious older brother, the acting chairman of the academy, and the primary antagonist of the series. In the anime, Akio was a prince named Dios in his previous life, and it is in this guise that he meets with Utena, inspiring her to become a prince. He conspires to regain his power by taking Utena's sword, exploiting Anthy as a wedge through their incestuous and power-driven relationship. He is ultimately thwarted by Utena's sacrifice; Anthy finds the courage to finally leave him and Ohtori Academy behind, and his fate from this point on is unknown. In the manga, Akio and Dios are gods, the former having killed the latter in order to gain his power. In the film, Dios is the lord of the flies rendered in human form by Anthy's magic; Akio is dead, having thrown himself out of a window after realizing Anthy was lucid when he drugged and raped her.
Akio's given name is derived from the Japanese name for Venus the Morning Star (明けの明星, ake no myōjō), which is identified with Lucifer.

Student Council

Touga Kiryuu (桐生 冬芽, Kiryū Tōga)
Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese); Crispin Freeman (English)
President of the Student Council and Ohtori's resident playboy, Touga is an arrogant and handsome young man whose desire to be powerful drives him to cruel, unscrupulous deeds and whose manipulative abilities are second only to Akio. He is the only regular Council Member who deliberately involves himself in Akio's plans. Despite his talent and intelligence, Touga eventually realizes that he's not as influential as Akio, and this causes him to change his ways as he tries to discover a new method to gain power. In the manga his sexual behavior is downplayed and he becomes a servant to Utena in order to help her as well as get close to her. In the movie, he used to be Utena's boyfriend but something happened that caused them to drift apart. In the movie, instead of Dios, Touga is the main motivation for Utena to go to Ohtori. He is gentle and noble but it is shown in a flashback that he was raped by his adopted father, which is positioned as an explanation for his loose sexual morals. An episode was planned that focused on this aspect of Touga's past in the TV series, but due to Takehito Koyasu's absence this plot point never came to be. His Dueling Rose is red.
Kyouichi Saionji (西園寺 莢一, Saionji Kyōichi)
Voiced by: Takeshi Kusao (Japanese); Jack Taylor (English)
Vice-president of the Student Council and captain of the kendo team. Kyouichi is temperamental, egotistical, prone to angry rages, and often cruel. Kyouichi's lack of self-control stems from insecurity, a lifelong rivalry against Touga from which he is always at the losing end, and the fear that everyone and everything he knows will eventually die. He is obsessed with Anthy because he views the Rose Bride as a mindless doll who will never disobey him, and thus be with him forever. His Dueling Rose is green.
Miki Kaoru (薫 幹, Kaoru Miki)
Voiced by: Aya Hisakawa (Japanese); Jimmy Zoppi (English)
Miki is an ingenuous and polite seventh grader who befriends Utena, despite their role as possible opponents in the duels. He is especially known for his skill with the piano. In spite (or because of) his genius, he is lonely, sheltered and insecure, and seeks a person who is just as pure and talented as him. With the exception of their two duels, Miki is mostly a friend to Utena. In the anime he has a crush on Anthy, whereas in the manga he has a crush on Utena. His Dueling Rose is light blue.
Juri Arisugawa (有栖川 樹璃, Arisugawa Juri)
Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese); Mandy Bonhomme (English)
The captain of the academy's fencing team, Juri is one of Ohtori's most highly respected students, and even the teachers appear to be in awe of her. Her aloof, intimidating manner hides her secret love for her childhood friend, Shiori. Of the Student Council Duelists, she is thought to be the most noble, and thus the one with the most potential to become a Prince, but her nobility and the strength that comes with it are constantly undermined by her desires and despair. In the manga she is deeply in love with Touga and hates Utena for being a rival to his heart. Production materials indicate that she is depicted as straight in the manga based on limitations pushed on Chiho Saito. Her Dueling Rose is orange.
Nanami Kiryuu (桐生 七実, Kiryū Nanami)
Voiced by: Yuri Shiratori (Japanese); Leah Applebaum (English)
Touga's dramatic younger sister, often used as comic relief throughout the series. Her love for her brother borders on obsession and incest, and she is often seen using devious means to punish the people who take Touga's attentions away from her. Despite this, she displays a certain childish innocence in her desires, that is distinctly at odds with Akio and Anthy's relationship. Though her motivations are considered the least ambitious out of all the Duelists, they are no less real to her, and she suffers just as much as all the other Student Council members throughout the series, being a constant victim of her brother's manipulations. She is only shown in a photo in the manga and has no role in the movie, but is briefly shown as a cow, referring to one of the "gag" episodes of the series where Nanami turns into a cow. Her Dueling Rose is yellow.
Ruka Tsuchiya (土谷 瑠果, Tsuchiya Ruka)
Voiced by: Nozomu Sasaki (Japanese); Wayne Grayson (English)
A master swordsman, Ruka is the former captain of the fencing team and a former member of the Student Council. His cunning, manipulative behavior belies a hidden desperation to live and help the one he loves, and his influence on Juri becomes one of the major turning points for her character. His Dueling Rose is dark blue.

Black Rose Duelists

Souji Mikage (御影 草時, Mikage Sōji)
Voiced by: Hikaru Midorikawa (Japanese); Dan Green (English)
Souji is the pink-haired head of the popular Mikage Seminar at Ohtori Academy. He wishes to kill Anthy and install a gravely ill boy, Mamiya Chida, as the Rose Bride in order to save him from terminal illness. Mikage uses manipulation and psychology to control students close to the Council members in order to create a Duelist who can beat Utena.
Kanae Ohtori (鳳 香苗, Ōtori Kanae)
Voiced by: Ai Orikasa (Japanese); Kerry Williams (English)
Akio's fiancée, daughter of the school's Trustee Chairman. She has a strained relationship with Anthy, who she finds "creepy and intolerable", and considers Anthy an obstacle to her relationship with Akio. Though she loves Akio very much, she feels distant from him and becomes the first Black Rose Duelist. It is implied that, after her defeat, Akio poisons her since he never actually loved her and used their relationship simply to keep his status as interim chairman of the school.
Kozue Kaoru (薫 梢, Kaoru Kozue)
Voiced by: Chieko Honda (Japanese); Roxanne Beck (English)
Miki's twin sister, Kozue feels overshadowed by her brother's talents and reacts by sleeping with many different men. She's extremely possessive of Miki to the point where she physically hurts anyone who tries to hurt or "steal" him. In the manga, Kozue's brother complex is purely innocent and she acts more like Nanami does in the TV series. In the movie, Kozue is in an implied incestuous relationship with her brother but Miki is shown breaking it up. Later on, Kozue is shown as a car implying she is either also helping Miki to escape Ohtori or simply helping Utena and Anthy.
Shiori Takatsuki (高槻 枝織, Takatsuki Shiori)
Voiced by: Kumiko Nishihara (Japanese); Lisa Ortiz (English)
Shiori is the catalyst for Juri's current broken state of mind. She simultaneously idolizes Juri for her brilliance and feels envious of her for it. Her extreme lack of self-worth is the reason for the rocky relationship between the two, and it reaches a breaking point when Ruka re-enters Ohtori Academy. According to Kunihiko Ikuhara, Shiori was ironically also in love with Juri the entire time but she believes Juri's affection towards her was out of pity, not love. She thus wants to remain in control of their relationship by never confessing to Juri so she will be the winner of their rivalry. In the movie, she is the main antagonist who manipulates Juri's feelings for her so Juri can duel with Utena, with her ultimate goal being to use Juri to escape the school. The film version of Shiori lacks the self-esteem problems of her TV counterpart, and instead is a hateful narcissist who believes that she is the only one worthy of leaving the school and entering the world of adulthood, and will use anyone or anything to get there. In the end of the film, Shiori makes a mad dash (in car form) to escape the school once Utena and Anthy earn the right to leave. However, she ends up crashing and exploding as she tries to push them off the road, presumably killing her.
Mitsuru Tsuwabuki (石蕗 美蔓, Tsuwabuki Mitsuru)
Voiced by: Akiko Yajima (Japanese); Ted Lewis (English)
Nanami's most devoted lackey, a boy in fourth grade. Mitsuru is obsessed with serving Nanami and wishes to be her adored "brother". He is extremely confused about love, sex and adulthood in general. Mitsuru's fruitless attempts to experiment makes him a Black Rose Duelist.
Wakaba Shinohara (篠原 若葉, Shinohara Wakaba)
Voiced by: Yuka Imai (Japanese); Roxanne Beck (English)
Wakaba is the most outwardly cheerful person in the series and is Utena's best friend, but she feels surrounded by "special" people and doesn't know how to become special herself. Thus, she develops an obsession with creating situations where "special" people (namely Utena and Saionji) must rely on her in some way, which allows her to feel special by virtue of these "special" people being dependent on her. Wakaba sees herself as a perfectly average person and is only happy when she takes care of people because she does not feel like she has any other talents. Wakaba does not realize the importance of her role in the story — her crush on Kyouichi Saionji and his rejection caused Utena to become involved in the duels in the first place, and her empathy and passion rescued Utena from a slump after the first Touga duel. She ends up becoming a Black Rose Duelist, having been twisted by her hatred for Anthy and envy towards Utena, as well as her blind desperation to keep Saionji from returning to school and leaving her.
Keiko Sonoda (苑田 茎子, Sonoda Keiko)
Voiced by: Akira Nakagawa (Japanese); Mandy Bonhomme (English)
Keiko is one of Nanami's sidekicks who follows her only because she has a crush on Touga. Her jealousy, though as simple as Nanami's, is strong enough for Souji to take advantage of her mind.

Miscellaneous characters

Kashira Shadow Players (劇団影絵カシラ, Gekidan Kagee Kashira)
Girl A. Voiced by: Maria Kawamura (Japanese); Amanda Goodman (English)
Girl B. Voiced by: Satomi Koorogi (Japanese); Carol Jacobanis (English)
Girl C. Voiced by: Kumiko Watanabe (Japanese); Lisa Ortiz (English)
A mysterious theater troupe that follows the adventures of Utena and company in the anime series. They appear in nearly every episode at some point to explain the episode's theme in the form of an allegorical shadow play. Initially, the relationship between these characters (who are only shown as silhouettes) and the main characters in the series is uncertain, as they are not seen interacting with each other or even in the same frame. As such, they assume the role of a Greek chorus that only the audience can perceive. As the series progresses, however, the Shadow Players gradually interact more and more with the other characters, occasionally putting on plays behind the other characters, and it's hinted that the other characters are partially aware of the shadows' presences and their plays. They also put on a radio show that Akio calls into in one episode. At the beginning of the Apocalypse arc, they appear in person to invite Utena to one of their plays. The players have no names but do have distinct hairstyles and roles, and are referred to as Girl A (A子, A-ko), Girl B (B子, B-ko), and Girl C (C子, C-ko) respectively.


The Utena franchise was conceived by Be-Papas, a production group composed of talents from various corners of the manga and anime universe. Most notably, the 39-episode Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series was created by some of the same production staff responsible for Sailor Moon, including writer and director Kunihiko Ikuhara. Ikuhara was already well known for his role in the production of Sailor Moon, including his contributions to the highly acclaimed third season, Sailor Moon S. When working on Utena Ikuhara was unsure if he would be fit for the role as producer and worried about the financial risk involved. Believing it may be the last show he ever worked on, Ikuhara set out to make Utena the pinnacle of his work.[5] The member of Be-Papas responsible for the manga version of Utena was Chiho Saito, a well-established shōjo manga author. Though she and the other members of Be-Papas discussed concepts together, Saito had little influence on the direction of the anime, and faced a great deal more scrutiny by publishers to censor the LGBT themes in the content of the manga. She went through 4 editors during the production of the manga due to this, despite it being far more tame than the television series.

Ikuhara did not conceive of the idea for the movie, Adolescence of Utena, until watching the final episodes of the television series on broadcast TV. Once again, Be-Papas convened to discuss concepts, and Saito would go on to create a manga adaptation of the film. The film can be interpreted either as the end of the story initiated by the TV series, or as a condensed retelling with the same themes and characters, although it goes in a very different direction. Its structure is in many ways parallel to that of the series, but the roles of the leads are subtly switched. If the television series riffs on themes from theater and mythology, it could be said that the movie riffs on themes from the series. Familiarity with the television series is assumed, and the movie version is even more visually bizarre than the original Utena, enough so that it earned the good-natured nickname "The End of Utena", after the similarly abstract but much less cheerful The End of Evangelion.

Another incarnation of Utena came in the form of a number of one-shot theatrical productions. The Takarazuka-style "Musical Shōjo Kakumei Utena", also known as "Comédie Musicale Utena la fillette révolutionnaire", played in 1997, and the second disc of Shōjo Kakumei Utena OST 5, Engage Toi a Mes Contes, contains many of the songs from this musical. At Animazement '00, Ikuhara was said to be working on a later musical, "Shōjo Kakumei Utena, Makai Tensei Mokushiroku hen, Reijin Nirvana Raiga", with the theatrical group Gesshoku Kageki Dan.


Riyoko Ikeda's The Rose of Versailles has often been speculated as an established source of inspiration for the visual style of Utena,[6] scenes involving sliding mirrors and unsupported staircases appear during character introspections in The Rose of Versailles while in Utena very similar scenes are part of the surreal landscape. However, director Ikuhara has denied this on several occasions, including the director's commentary on the final DVD Finale of the American release.

Ikuhara cites prolific playwright, poet and director Shūji Terayama as a major influence. Terayama was a long-time collaborator with J. A. Seazer, who wrote the music for his plays. Ikuhara worked with Seazer for the most well-known music of Utena.[7]

Ikuhara stated that the concept for Revolutionary Girl Utena came from his "End of the World"-themed Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie. Ikuhara's original ideas for the film were not used as he left prematurely following the producer.[5]

Visual motifs and themes

Some of Utena's architecture.

Ikuhara felt episodes like "On the Night of the Ball", where Utena stressed itself as a "shōjo manga anime", were "absolutely necessary" for the show's later development.[8] Susan J. Napier wrote that Utena "uses the trappings of fairy tales (the castle, the prince) and more traditional shōjo manga (beautiful girls and boys, romantic intrigue) to critique the illusions they offer", and that in the series Utena must make her way past these illusions to get to reality.[9] The image of Anthy with her suitcase at the end of the series, Napier posits, suggests that inspired by Utena's example Anthy is now "taking charge of her own life and breaking free of the incestuous coils that her brother has wound around her". This "liberation" becomes more explicit in the film, where Utena turns into a car which Anthy drives through an escape route to the "real world".[9]

Napier also sees the relationship between Anthy and Utena as a possible metaphor for "the need for integration of the two sides of the self", the more masculine Utena and the more feminine Anthy. Napier suggests Anthy's betrayal of Utena in the penultimate episode of the series may also be her discovering "her rage" at the "masculine 'protection'" Utena and Akio both offer, with Anthy only beginning to develop a "more integrated personality" after making her own choice at the series' (with the suitcase) and film's (with the keys) ends.[9]

The color red is used liberally throughout the series to symbolize the ambition of the characters.[10]



The manga Revolutionary Girl Utena was written by Be-Papas and illustrated by Chiho Saito. It began serialization in the June 1996 issue of the monthly manga magazine Ciao. The manga ended in 1998 with five volumes being released. The manga was licensed for an English-language release in North America by Viz Media in 2000,[11] and was serialized in Viz's magazine Animerica Extra[12] and later published into five trade paperbacks, with an additional volume for the film adaptation.

On May 20, 2017, Shōgakukan announced that a new manga would be published in the September issue of its magazine Flower. Subsequently, three short stories were published in the magazine, illustrating the lives and events of the primary cast 20 years after the series. It was later published as a its own book, and it is currently not licensed in the United States.[13]

Anime (TV series)

The anime series of Revolutionary Girl Utena was produced by the Japanese animation studio J.C.Staff and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The series aired between April 2, 1997 and December 24, 1997 on TV Tokyo in Japan and spanned 39 episodes.

Enoki Films USA held the North American license to the anime and called the series Ursula's Kiss, and gave each character English names.[14] However, the American distributor, Central Park Media, chose to use the original title and character names. The dubbed and subbed versions were released to VHS in 1998 by Central Park Media under their Software Sculptors label. There were a total of four releases each containing either three or four episodes. These same episodes were released to two bilingual DVD volumes in 1999 with six or seven episodes each. These DVDs were known as the Rose Collection. However, after releasing the first 13 episodes to VHS and DVD, Central Park Media had difficulties licensing the remaining 26 episodes and the dub was put on hiatus despite the show's popularity. After settling all legal issues, they released the remaining 26 episodes of the anime series to bilingual DVDs in 2002 and 2003, though the show's popularity had declined in the years since. The entire series was later sold in the form of three DVD box sets.

With the complete shutdown of Central Park Media in 2009, the distribution rights to the series were put up for liquidation.[15] At Anime Expo 2010, Right Stuf Inc. announced that they have rescued the Utena TV series and subsequently re-released the series in three remastered sets in 2011.[16] The anime is also being distributed in Australia for the first time by the anime distributor Hanabee.

King Records released two Blu-ray box sets of Utena in Japan with HD remastered video in 2013, subsequently getting a three volume release in the United States by Right Stuf. In 2018, Right Stuf released the Blu-ray version of the series under their Nozomi Entertainment label, with edits made to the subtitle script. The limited edition box set included two rose crests and a large book of production notes, interviews, and artwork.

Hawaii-based TV station KIKU aired the Central Park Media-licensed version of the series during the January/March and July/August periods of 2007. Back in 2006, Funimation had previously acquired broadcast rights for Revolutionary Girl Utena from Enoki Films USA and aired it on their channel, the Funimation Channel (licensed by Olympusat; currently operating under the Toku name as of the end of 2015), multiple times.[17] Comcast's Anime Selects on Demand also showed episodes of the first and second season for a brief period. It also aired on Sci-Fi Channel for a short time. Anime Network on Demand began streaming the series on VOD on August 6, 2009.[18]

The anime ran on Viz Media's 24/7 Neon Alley streaming service in fall 2013. The series is also available on Nozomi Entertainment's YouTube channel for free

Anime (film)

Adolescence of Utena was released in theaters in 1999. It was first conceived by director Kunihiko Ikuhara when the final episode of the television series was broadcast on Japanese television. Be-Papas reconvened and created a new vision of the Utena universe. The resulting film is ambiguous in its place within the Utena universe; though it functions as a separate continuity, much like the manga, it also refers to events in the television series frequently enough that it is confusing to those unfamiliar with the show. Ultimately, the film is plotted in such a way that it could be seen as a continuation of the series or an entirely new vision. Central Park Media licensed Adolescence of Utena and released it to a dubbed-only VHS and a bilingual DVD in 2001 under the title Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie.[19] The film was also screened at several anime conventions and had a very limited theatrical run. Right Stuf also acquired the North American rights to the movie in 2010.[20]

In a loose retelling of the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series, Utena Tenjou arrives at Ohtori Academy, appearing to be a boy. She is accidentally swept up in a series of duels for the possession of the Rose Bride Anthy Himemiya and the power she supposedly holds. At the same time, Utena reunites with Touga Kiryuu, a friend and love from her childhood. It is later revealed that Touga died long ago. A belief among some fans is that the movie takes place in the land of the dead. Other key differences between the series and film include the absence of Nanami (save for a brief cameo in her cow incarnation) and the revelation that Akio is also dead before the film begins.

The film takes many themes from the series and either ramps up their intensity or turns them on an ear. For example, the latent sexual tension between Utena and Anthy in the series is far more overt in the film; it is made clear to the viewer that Anthy is not only a "bride" by name, but that she will sleep with the person to whom she is engaged, regardless of whether that person is male or female, including her brother. The concept of Ohtori as a prison is made clearer and Utena's empowerment of Anthy to escape is given physical manifestation as Utena literally transforms into a car for Anthy to ride to freedom.

As of April 10, 2007, Funimation, which previously acquired the broadcast rights for the Utena TV series, had acquired the broadcast rights for Adolescence of Utena and later aired the film on their Funimation Channel along with other CPM properties.[21]

Light novels

Two light novels by screenwriter and novelist Ichirō Ōkouchi, with illustrations by Chiho Saito, were released shortly after the TV series:

  • Revolutionary Girl Utena (1) - Twin Saplings (少女革命ウテナ〈1〉- 蒼の双樹)
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena (2) - Verdant Hopes (少女革命ウテナ〈2〉- 翠の思い)

The novels exist in their own continuity, but adapt material from the TV series. The first novel is loosely based on episodes 1 to 5, and the second novel focuses on Saionji's and Wakaba's relationship. The novels have received fan translations into English.[22]


Musical - Shōjo Kakumei Utena (ミュージカル・少女革命ウテナ)

  • Dates and Location
Dec 17 - Dec 29, 1997 Hakuhinkan Theater, Tokyo
  • Staff
Director: Yūji Mitsuya (三ツ矢雄二)
  • Cast
Utena Tenjou: Yu Daiki (大輝ゆう)
Anthy Himemiya: KaNNa
Touga Kiryuu: Rei Saito (斉藤レイ)
Juri Arisugawa: Sanae Kimura (木村早苗)

Shōjo Kakumei Utena Hell Rebirth Apocalypse: Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty (少女革命ウテナ魔界転生黙示録編~麗人ニルヴァーナ来駕~)

  • Production Company
Gesshoku Kagekidan
  • Dates and Location
May 26 - June 1, 1999 Zamza Asagaya Theater, Tokyo
  • Staff
Producer: Kunihiko Ikuhara (幾原邦彦)
Director: Ei Takatori (高取英)
  • Cast
Utena Tenjou: Megumi Ichinose (一ノ瀬めぐみ)
Anthy Himemiya: Kazuyo Noguchi (野口員代)
Touga Kiryuu: Rei Saito (斉藤レイ)
Nanami Kiryuu: Chieko Misaka (三坂知絵子)

Shōjo Kakumei Utena: Choros Imaginary Living Body (少女革命ウテナ~コロス幻想生命体~)

  • Production Company
Fantasy Adventure
  • Dates and Location
September 30 - October 1, 2000 Amasaki Piccolo Theater Center Hall, Hyōgo
  • Cast
Utena Tenjou: Mayu Watari (亘まゆ)
Anthy Himemiya: Aki Kaai (可愛あき)
Touga Kiryuu: Kazuki Aoi (葵かずき)
Juri Arisugawa: Shinobu Kiryu (桐生忍)

Musical Shōjo Kakumei Utena ~ Shiroki Bara no Tsubomi (ミュージカル「少女革命ウテナ~白き薔薇の)

This musical released as part of the 20th Anniversary blitz of media surrounding Revolutionary Girl Utena in 2017/2018. It's a retelling of the first arc of the series, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD in August of the same year in Japan. It translates to "Musical Revolutionary Girl Utena ~ Bud of the White Rose."
  • Production
Polygon Magic with Exit Tunes/Pony Canyon
  • Dates and Location
March 8 - March 18th, 2018 at CBGK!! (CBGKシブゲキ!!) in Shibuya, Tokyo
  • Production Credits
Screenplay & Direction: Kotaro Yoshitani (吉谷光太郎)
Supervisor: Kunihiko Ikuhara (幾原邦彦)
  • Cast
Utena Tenjou: Ami Noujo (能條愛未)
Anthy Himemiya: Yuka Yamauchi (山内優花)
Touga Kiryuu: Kimito Totani (戸谷公人)
Saionji Kyouichi: Shojiro Yokoi (横井翔二郎)
Juri Arisugawa: Riona Tatemichi (立道梨緒奈)
Miki Kaoru: Natsuki Osaki (大崎捺希)
Nanami Kiryuu: Arisa Suzuki (鈴木亜里紗)
Wakaba Shinohara: Yume Takeuchi (竹内夢)
A-ko: Airi Kumata (熊田愛里)
B-ko: NENE
Young Touga: Kenshin Ikeda (池田謙信)
Young Saionji: Ryohei Yamauchi (山内涼平)

Video game

Shōjo Kakumei Utena: Itsuka Kakumeisareru Monogatari (少女革命ウテナ いつか革命される物語) was developed and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn video game console, it was released in 1998 in Japan only.[23] It tells an original story which is set between episodes eight and nine of the TV series. The main character of the game is an original character (no default name, voice: Kaoru Fujino (藤野かほる)) who transfers to Ohtori Academy.

The game is in the style of a visual novel with strong dating sim elements. The major characters each possess a statistic called "Heart's Nobility" which the player affects through dialog choices that appear sporadically during play. Each character's level of Heart's Nobility determines how the game will end. The special endings available for characters that end with particularly high Heart's Nobility represent the game's dating sim element, but because it is set within the larger plot of the TV series the relationships are usually somewhat platonic, or one-sided affections on the part of the main character. Yet there are many aspects of the game that make it interesting to fans, such as duels between Student Council members and the opportunity to turn the main character into a duelist.

A completely playable fan translation of the game exists.


Avant-garde composer and theater director J. A. Seazer composed the song "Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku" (絶対運命黙示録, "Absolute Destiny: Apocalypse"), which is repeated every time Utena ascends to the dueling arena, and the choral rock pieces played during the duels. Ikuhara has said that, despite objections to the dueling choruses on the part of his BePapas collaborators and sponsors, Seazer's music "sealed the fate of the project" and was well received.[7] The texture of the chorus is primarily monophonic, although there is some homophony within the inner voices of the chorus. The melody of the chorus is written in transposed Aeolian mode or natural minor. The melody does not use a major five chord at the cadence which is usually the norm for minor mode; it uses a minor five chord instead. The lyrics that often appear to be little more than themed words strung together.

The rest of the score was composed by Shinkichi Mitsumune, and is largely orchestral in character, though it often features significant jazz influences. One notable song is "The Sunlit Garden", a recurring duet piano piece which plays during nostalgic scenes. Mitsumune also handled the arrangement of the first eight duel choruses.

The soundtrack of Adolescence of Utena is similar in style to the series, containing a mixture of orchestral pieces and choral rock. Masami Okui's track, the J-pop ballad "Toki ni Ai wa" ("At Times Love Is..."), is however atypical of the series' sound.

In 2017, Gekidan Inu Curry illustrated a new Utena image album by J.A. Seazer.[24] Another album is planned for 2019 to be illustrated by another artist.


Revolutionary Girl Utena won "Best TV Animation Award" at Animation Kobe in 1997.[25] Mike Toole of Anime News Network named Revolutionary Girl Utena as one of the most important anime of the 1990s.[26]

Lilian Min of The Mary Sue stated the series serves as its own explicit but honest depiction of growing sexuality, both how it operates in action and also how it can be twisted to meet adult ends.[27]


  1. ^ "The Official Website for Revolutionary Girl Utena". Viz Media. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  2. ^ Rose (November 15, 2013). ""Revolutionary Girl Utena" Transgresses Gender and Sexuality". Autostraddle. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  3. ^ Kunihiko Ikuhara (Director) (16 December 2011). Episode 37: Commentary (DVD). Revolutionary Girl Utena: Apocalypse Saga Box Set 3 Limited Edition: Nozomi Entertainment.
  4. ^ Kunihiko Ikuhara (Director) (16 December 2011). Episode 39: Commentary (DVD). Revolutionary Girl Utena: Apocalypse Saga Box Set 3 Limited Edition: Nozomi Entertainment.
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara". UR Anime Club. October 8, 2000. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Charlton, Sabdha (May 2001). "Intersections: Review: Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku". Intersections. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Audio Commentary by Kunihiko Ikuhara & Chiho Saito, Episode 38". Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  8. ^ Ikuhara, Kunihiko (2011). "Episode Commentary". Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Student Council Saga (Booklet). Nozomi Entertainment.
  9. ^ a b c Napier, Susan J. (December 2005). "Now You See Her, Now You Don't: The Disappearing Shōjo". Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. New York, United States: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 169–193. ISBN 1-4039-7052-1.
  10. ^ "ikuniweb(EnglishVersion)". Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  11. ^ "FEATURE: Anime Expo Days 2 and 3". Anime News Network. July 3, 2000. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  12. ^ "Animerica Extra to become shojo-only". Anime News Network. July 16, 2003. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  13. ^ "Revolutionary Girl Utena Gets New Manga Chapter in July". Anime News Network. May 26, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "Ursula's Kiss". Enoki Films. 2005-01-12. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
  15. ^ "Central Park Media's Licenses Offered by Liquidator". Anime News Network. June 8, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  16. ^ "Right Stuf, Nozomi Adds So-Ra-No-Wo-To, Utena Tv". Anime News Network. July 2, 2010.
  17. ^ "FUNimation to Air Enoki Films Series On FUNimation Channel". Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  18. ^ "Anime Network Streams GetBackers, Pet Shop of Horrors". Anime News Network. April 18, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  19. ^ "CPM Aquires [sic] Utena Movie". Anime News Network. January 31, 2001. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  20. ^ "I.G: Right Stuf Has Utena Movie License (Updated)". Anime News Network. July 3, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  21. ^ "FUNimation Channel Adds Central Park Media Programming". Anime News Network.
  22. ^ "Young Hopes: The Utena Light Novels". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  23. ^ 少女革命ウテナ いつか革命される物語 (in Japanese). Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  24. ^ "Madoka Magica's Gekidan Inu Curry Illustrates New Utena Album". Anime News Network.
  25. ^ "Animation Kobe '97". Animation Kobe. Archived from the original on April 16, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  26. ^ Toole, Mike (June 5, 2011). "Evangel-a-like - The Mike Toole Show". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  27. ^ "Revolutionary Girl Utena Newbie Recap: Episodes 24–33, The Akio Ohtori Saga". Retrieved 2019-06-07.

External links