DVD Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena Collection 1: The Student Council Saga (1997) (Utena Week 2014 Day 1)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, February 10, 2014 0 comments

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a show about a girl named Utena who goes around high school dressed as a boy because she wants to be a prince.  She's not doing it for the sake of being a rebel as she has a reason why she wants to live her life as a prince.  It all started when she was a little girl mourning over her parents death and while crying and wondering where life is going to take her next.  From out of nowhere she is visited by a prince on a noble steed who tells her to look up and that life is just going to get better and then he kisses her on her forehead, gives her a very pretty ring of a rose to remind her of him, then he rides off into the horizon.  Years later she is a very beautiful young woman attending high school with her best friend named Wakaba and a teacher who is always begging her to dress properly.  While walking around the hall one day she notices one of the student council members (Saionji) hanging out at a greenhouse with a girl named Antony.  Utena gets really mad when she sees Saionji beating up Antony and goes in to interfere but the domestic dispute is stopped by another council member (Touga).  Later on she talks to Antony to tell her to not put up with the crap she goes to and then Saionji comes in.  Saionji notices Utena's ring and then shows that he has one as well and reveals that people with that ring can duel each other to win "The Rose Bride" that ends up being Antony.  Utena challenges him and then they walk into a forest that only duelist can enter to see that there is a dueling arena inside with a beautiful floating castle that's above the arena.  Utena defeats Saionji and wins Antony and is told that there are other duelist out there who are willing to fight her to win Antony.  Now Utena must keep on herself on her toes if she wants to protect Antony from being a prisoner of this deadly game.  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

The story of this show has some fairly dark themes dealing with slavery, incest, and trying to gain the ultimate power.  There is also some fantasy themes in this show but it is a very lo-fantasy type show where there is magic and mystical creatures but they are very rare to where only a few people know about the existence of magic and mystical creatures.  The battles in this show are very intense and really exciting.  They are also very well paced and run with a very satisfyingly amount of time and won't drag at all.  Some complaints I have is that the gags drag on for a awhile and should've ended a few moments earlier.  The humor in this show is also very over the top (and I mean very over the top) and it's very out of place and makes me forget what kind of show I am watching. 

This is also a fairly slow show and it takes awhile for story progression to take place which will mainly be a problem for some of the impatient viewers out there.  This show also has quite a bit of filler in it and while most of those episodes are decent you will get some very annoying episodes.  Characters in this show are really good with a nice powerful aura that shines around them that makes you cheer on for them in every battle and they are also very memorable.  There are some really annoying characters in this show that will just get on your nerves like the character "Chu Chu"(a magical talking mouse monkey thing) for example.

Artwork has been cleaned up for this release but the artwork still looks aged as some of the coloring is a bit faded.  I'm not saying that the artwork looks bad as it looks far from it.  You will see some very beautiful designed backgrounds and sets that have some really nice detailing and they let off a really grand feeling making the world in this show feel very huge.  Not only do they leave a huge grand atmosphere but it also feels very magical.  I was very unsure on the character designs at first as some of them look like dolls although they are drawn really well and do grow on you.  I do enjoy Utena's design really well but there are some shots in this show where she looks a little creepy with her eyes looking like that you would see on an insect.  They also do a thing with the artwork where you can see the characters eyes through their hair and it is done really well for the most part but there are some scenes where this technique looks really awkward in some shots.

 English dub starts off a little rough but does get better as it goes along and while I wouldn't say it's a great dub it does show potential of being one in the future seasons.  Soundtrack in this show is very amazing with a nice grand opera sound that gives you a really powerful feeling and really helps with the show's atmosphere as it gives you a "wow.  Something serious is about to go down here." feeling.  It's actually something I wouldn't mind owning on a CD.

There are some pretty interesting special features in this set including:  A whole load of Japanese television ads that show off the Japanese version of the box-set and a music soundtrack collection.  You also have the very typical but very nice text-less opening and closing credit sequences which were very fun to revisit.  There is also an ad and full music video for the song "Revolution" by the band "Rondo" which is so nineties that it'll make you think that you are watching old video tapes of music videos you've taped off very late night MTV (Music Television).  You also get a book containing even more special features including: Details on remastering the show to HD, what it was like writing the show, and what it was like working on the opening and closing credit sequences.  There is also an art-work section showing off some very nice looking sketches of the main characters found in the show. 

Overall this show is far from being perfect but it is a really good watch nonetheless.  I do see this show getting way better in future episodes.  Will I be right about that?  We'll find out in tomorrow's edition of Revolutionary Girl Utena Week as there will be a review of "Collection 2 - The Black Rose Saga".  So tune in tomorrow as Utena Week 2014 continues. 

Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena Collection 1 - The Student Council Saga
Animation Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Drama, Lo-Fantasy
Running Time: 300 Minutes (12 Episodes)
Distributor: Hanabee Entertainment (http://www.hanabee.com.au/)
Rating: M15+ (Mature themes)
Price: $59.99
Recommended: Yes


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