tumblr user eglang wanted me to explain why utena is a thing that needed to be watched, so here you go:
i’m not going to sum up the show’s plot, because you can go to anime news network for that. but i will say that utena is a classic, and for a damn good reason. it starts off as a simple, lighthearted enough show— ridiculous at times, even, but as it progresses you start seeing how much more there is to it. and there is so, so much more.
utena isn’t really like any other anime out there. none that i’ve seen, anyway. even penguindrum, the creator’s second series, doesn’t come close to capturing its essence. what is so great about utena that sets it apart from every other anime? let me count the ways:
1) the atmosphere. utena has some of the most fantastic direction i’ve seen in anything. it is very unique and indeed very atmospherical, and really just gorgeous to look at. there is a ton of visual symbolism to accompany the non-visual symbolism, and it’s fascinating and makes you feel like the show’s set in an entirely different world all of its own. not to mention the music. it basically has the most distinctive music ever, with all the battle themes being sung by a choir, and having some of the most out-there lyrics ever. you’ll have to hear that for yourself to really get what i mean, though.
2) the characters. utena has some of the deepest, most well thought-out and relatable characters i’ve seen in anything, most especially the two heroines, utena and anthy, whom i pretty much consider the standard by which every character should be written, in anything. anthy’s character is basically genius to me and i adore her so much that you don’t even know. there is no other character like her. but outside of them, as well, the cast is really distinctive and each character has their own motivation and their own emotional boundaries, and they all get proper screen time to delve into the inner workings of their minds. the characters are the most important thing in any series to me, and so it’s a big part of why i love this show.
3) the message. utena is a show that deals with themes such as gender roles, sexuality, growing up, our own limitations and personal entrapments as people and moving past them, and it does all that in a very deep, thought-provoking manner. it’s a very important thing, i think, because these aren’t themes commonly featured in media, and when they are, they hardly ever get that sort of mature, profound treatment. there are a lot of things in utena that you won’t see in other anime — it doesn’t have blood and guts and flying body parts but it very much goes beyond what’s considered normal, what people are comfortable with, and what people expect when they watch an anime about a pink-haired girl having magical sword battles in a flower-shaped arena.
utena is a show that makes people think. and i mean ‘make’ as in actually force, which is very rare among the anime series i’ve watched, and i appreciate it a lot. there is a lot to gain from this show if you open your mind a bit — and even if you don’t, even if you don’t spend hours upon hours reading analyses on the internet (like yours truly, cough cough), it’s just a really excellent watch with a fantastic cast of characters with fascinating dynamics and a brilliant story.
in short, what i’m saying is that you really need to watch utena.
(it’s also really gay, if you’re into that)