Revolutionary Girl Utena is a manga that was done by Chiho Saito and the anime directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The manga serial originally 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 titled Adolescence of Utena was released in theaters in 1999. A number of stage productions based on the franchise were also produced through the mid-1990s, including the Comedy Musicale Utena la fillet revolutionnaire, staged by an all-female Takarazuka-style cast.
The main character is Utena Tenjou, a tomboyish teenage girl who was 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” 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.
The Black Rose Saga is the second set of ten episodes, taking place after the Student Council Saga. After repelling the Student Council’s attempts to take Anthy, Utena faces another obstacle, Souji Mikage. Disguised as an intellectually superior 18-year-old school counselor, he uses his powers of persuasion and knowledge of psychology to put people under his control by coaxing the 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. The arc of this particular series also introduces Akio Ohtori.
The Series Itself (4/5):
Picking up where it left off after The Student Council Saga, we follow Utena and her quest to continue her life and relationship with Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga. Facing even more obstacles, now that the series has had its time to build its foundation, we are given a much more promising story line that features drama, action, and romance all packaged into one series. While a good portion of that foundation relies on that romantic interest, it’s definitely not my favorite part of the series; but, it makes sense and doesn’t really cause much of an issue with the overall storyline.
Picture Quality (5/5):
Just like with the Student Council Saga, in Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga we are offered an extremely clean and clear look into the storyline at hand. Offering no distortion in the animation whatsoever, even during the more faster paced sequences, everything about the visual presentation of this release is beautifully done and really speaks a lot about the time and effort that the restoration crew put into making this Blu-ray release available.
Audio Quality (3/5):
Offering the native Japanese LPCM 2.0 audio track, coupled with an English LPCM 2.0 audio track and a Japanese LPCM Surround audio track, the fact that Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga continues to offer the English track had me excited as soon as I saw this show up at my doorstep. While it’s not as immersive of an experience as the Japanese Surround track, it was clean, clear and very nicely done and allowed for my wife and I to continue to follow along Utena’s ventures without having to manually adjust the volume levels to make up for variables in the volume levels.
The Packaging (3/5):
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga comes packaged in your standard four-disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case are the four discs that make up the series, each containing a different piece of artwork that is related to the series at hand. There are no DVD copies of the series included, nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets. There are no slipcovers available for this release.
Special Features (3/5):
I was surprised to see that Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga does come with some additional content that extends the viewers look into the series, as one is able to explore the series a little bit further. While it’s not as much as I’d like, the effort does not go unnoticed. Included with this release is:
- Animated Art Boards Part 1
- Japanese Utena Promo (1997)
- Interview With Director Kunihiko Ikuhara Part 1
- Interview With Director Kunihiko Ikuhara Part 2
- Nozomi Entertainment Trailers
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English: LPCM 2.0
Japanese: LPCM 2.0
Japanese: LPCM Surround
Original Series: 300 minutes
Overall, I was really glad to see Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga when it was delivered to my mailbox. While I had some difficulty in enjoying the earlier series, watching this really helped me to enjoy the series a little more now that the grounding has been set for Utena and Anthy. Offering a significantly better story line that’s very well maintained as it progresses, I look forward to checking out the upcoming latter half of Utena’s ventures as they eventually become available on Blu-ray. The overall visual and audible presentation of the Blu-ray were really well done and offered a clean experience for home viewers. If you’re considering grabbing this series for your collection, I would definitely recommend it — making sure to watch the Student Council Saga beforehand so you have the backstory. It will be available from major retailers beginning on November 7, however I would highly recommend picking it up from RightStuf anime to show support for their work that they’ve put into making it available.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.