Utena Tenjou

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Utena Tenjou
Utena's back, with more hair than ever!
IC Information
Full Name: Utena Tenjou
Aliases: The One Engaged
Gender: Female
Age/Birthdate: 15/December 29
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
Hair Colour: Pink
Eye Colour: Blue
Astrological Sign: Capricorn
Blood Type: B
Favorite Food: Rose Tea; increasingly, Shave Ice; honorable mention, Tea With Rice
Least Favorite Food: Sausage
Favorite Subject: Princes
Least Favorite Subject: Dueling
Themesong: Rinbu Revolution
Soundtrack: Utena's Soundtrack
Organization: Usually Not Very Organized At All
Position: The One Engaged
School: Ohtori Academy (Grade 10)
Council: Her own, Anthy's, often Wakaba Shinohara's
Position: Piggyback Giver-In-Chief
Club: None officially, but she moonlights in the boys' sports clubs
Position: On continuous loan
Group: Chevaliers
Position: Supporting Sayaka
OOC Information
Source: Revolutionary Girl Utena (FC)
Player: Pink Moon Stick

"It's ridiculous to make a girl someone's bride because of a duel! I can't forgive a system that deprives someone of their personal freedom!"

Few Ohtori students have a wider or more enthusiastic following than Utena Tenjou, whose notoriety includes her daily donning of a boys' uniform, her daily trouncing of boys on the athletic fields, and her daily willingness to butt in to help anyone else with their problems, even if it means facing down the great and terrible Ohtori Student Council. Ostensibly this is all in the name of becoming a Prince like the one who rescued her many years ago, and who left her with a ring that she cherishes as fiercely as any relationship. Her hunt for him through realms natural and supernatural has led her to become the reigning champion of the Dueling Arena, Engaged to the Rose Bride -- her apparently inseparable companion Anthy Himemiya -- and she is thus neck-deep in the fight for the power to revolutionize the world. Utena claims no such interest in any such power; she was drawn in defending her best friend Wakaba, and stayed in to protect Anthy and try to solve the mysteries surrounding the place in the hopes that they'll lead to her Prince. But how much of her innocence is self-deception? Who will her strength and nobility serve most in the end? And how can she resolve the contradiction that she embodies -- in both wanting to be a Prince, and wanting a Prince of her own, at the same time?

Logs and Cutscenes: Take My Revolution

There are no cutscenes on this wiki that Utena Tenjou participated in.

Rumors: The One Who Will Bring World Revolution

Utena doesn't have an official fan club, but she does have a vast unofficial following. She's beloved by the girls as their glamorous champion in the battle of the sexes, and many a boy would love to be her Prince.

What most people know:

  • Utena transferred into Ohtori Academy in the eighth grade, and has never been seen wearing the ordinary girl's uniform (except for that one time on the first day of high school). Her princely style wins her no favors with the Guidance Counselors, who are constantly on her case. Watching her deflect their complaints, Student's Handbook in hand, is a popular spectator sport.
  • It is not, however, the most popular spectator sport involving Utena, which would be "watching her smear the boys all over the basketball court from one end to the other." She'll lend her exuberant athleticism to anyone who asks, but in terms of her own proactive interest tends to play with the boys' teams first.
  • Utena aspires to be a Prince who saves Princesses (and this is the basic explanation whenever anyone asks her why she wears what she wears, does what she does, and is who she is). She does not, however, aspire to be a sweaty boy, which is why she refuses to actually join a sports team as an official member.
  • Not long after her arrival, Utena was moved for inscrutable Student Council reasons into the East Dorm, which is the oldest, most venerable, and most empty. It's only her and that weirdo Anthy Himemiya in there, which would be a source of pity, except that whenever anyone says so in earshot, she'll passionately defend Anthy as a very good friend and totally normal girl, and not her fiance, whatever Anthy has to say about it. Also (clear evidence that Anthy's rubbing off on her, despite her better efforts), Utena will note that Chu-Chu lives there, too. Chu-Chu is Anthy's tiny pet monkey.
  • Utena's best friend, however, is Wakaba Shinohara, who also claims to be her girlfriend. Utena neither confirms nor denies.
  • Utena missed most of the end of 9th grade, out for several months, apparently due to an illness. For whatever reason, Anthy Himemiya decided not to stay alone in the East Dorm, instead moving in with Kasagami Araki. They're both back in the East Dorm now, though, and Utena seems to have managed to scrape her way into high school with the rest of her class (she had to take a wild barrage of exams at the start of term to keep her seat).

What people have heard:

  • "Prince" Utena will champion the grievances of any wronged girl, up to and including challenging their enemy to a fight! (True without further qualification, really.)
  • Utena's grades are slipping, and she's had to have some tutoring for make-up exams! (True; Utena is blessed with boy genius Miki Kaoru as an occasional tutor, and very much does not take him for granted.)
  • Utena's totally single, one of Ohtori's most eligible bachelorettes! (False; Utena considers herself promised to another (and she DOESN'T mean Anthy), even though he's not around. Unless he is.)
  • Utena got a way sweet haircut (True, most of her hair got burnt off by a monster. She rolled with it.) but now she's wearing hair extensions instead! (False, it's her real hair, restored with interest by the power of love^H^H^H^Hfriendship.)
  • Utena's become kind of a delinquent, she goes down to the bad parts of Shinjuku at night to pick fights with drunkards and thugs! (True for a long time, except that she was losing fights with men quite a bit older and stronger than she, when she'd try to get between them and the girls they were following home. Hers is an unpopular face in the red light district.)

Supernatural community rumors:

  • Utena's rose signet ring designates her as a Duelist. (True; hers is the only ring, however, that was bestowed directly by Dios instead of delivered, with a letter, courtesy of Ends of the World.)
  • Utena ran afoul of some nefarious forces and has had all her magical power drained! Some of it was Vita but it seemed like there was something else going on too, because she lost her magic for a lot longer than normal! (True. She got better eventually with help from her friends, but not before Kasagami arranged events for the opportunity to beat her in a duel.)
  • As The One Engaged to the Rose Bride, Utena has all kinds of incredible miracle powers well beyond the scope of a typical Duelist, known collectively as The Power To Bring World Revolution. If you want this power for yourself, all you have to do is defeat her in a duel! (??? Probably true? Kasagami defeated her and exhibited terrifyingly massive powers as the One Engaged. No one knows if Utena is ignorant of, indifferent to or actively abstaining from same.)

Relationships: Born All Over Again

Wakaba Shinohara: Utena's best friend, with whom she spends many of her idle hours, including lunchtime. Romance level: zero, despite Wakaba's persistent wooing -- she basically defines the distinction between serious and playful worshipping of the ground Utena walks on. Utena is not always very good at putting other peoples' feelings before her own opinions, but she's more likely to shut up and listen to a tearful Wakaba than anyone else in the world. Unfortunately, she's unlikely to listen long enough to hear what Wakaba wants her to do -- most of the time, her first instinct is to meddle, whether that means beating the shit out of the guy who humiliated her, or earnestly shipping her with someone she perceives to be her friend's long-lost prince. In the end, Wakaba's faith in Utena is what keeps Utena going on the worst days of her life; she can't let her best friend down by being anything less than the cool, courageous Prince that Wakaba loves to admire. She doesn't really understand Wakaba's yearning to also be someone who stands out (because it doesn't occur to her that Wakaba doesn't stand out) -- to Utena, Wakaba's sheer normality is her most charming trait. She'll make a great wife someday.

When Utena found the strength to look beyond her own suffering and return to the world, it was, in large part, for Wakaba. Their friendship seems to have survived Utena's long absence (Wakaba even made her a new customized uniform based on the high school version!), but Utena is determined to make it up to her in every way she can. Wakaba is equally determined to let her. Let the lunches, karaoke dates, and piggyback rides commence...

Anthy Himemiya: Utena is still too innocent and too fixated on the idea of her Prince to recognize the blooming flame in her heart, when she thinks of Anthy, as love. Nevertheless, those feelings are reckless and passionate and deeply felt and desperately present. Anthy smiles and Utena melts; Anthy frowns and Utena will hang the moon in the sky if that's what it takes to restore her happiness.

More consciously, Utena wants to be the kind of friend with Anthy where they can tell each other anything -- the kind of friend where they can go to each other whenever they're in trouble.

Unfortunately, things aren't that simple. When she was experiencing a severe depressive episode, the most painful thought Utena agonized over was the totality with which she'd failed Anthy as a friend, much less as a guardian -- Anthy, one of the few people able to reach her when she was sliding into depression in the first place, and who tried so hard to take care of her during the early stages of it. She is acutely aware that Anthy, too, is upset about Utena's many failures, and now that they're Engaged again, is trying to make sure that things don't just go back to some superficial normal BECAUSE of the weird nature of their relationship.

Utena, having now witnessed the strange behavior of the Rose Bride across multiple partners, is also moderately more aware of exactly how weird their relationship is, and is trying to discover and respect Anthy's boundaries a lot more carefully. She's far from perfect on that front, though, and easily gets carried away with her own ideas and opinions.

Overall: Utena never never ever wants to fail Anthy again, and she'll do anything to keep that from happening. She'll even keep Dueling, even though she despises the whole system and thinks it's rotten to the core, rather than abandon her friend to face it alone.

But is that really such a good idea...?

Chu-Chu: Utena may not immediately accept the idea that Chu-Chu is all the friends Anthy needs, but she does immediately accept him as a friend, and treats him with all the respect he deserves. This varies from moment to moment -- she encourages his clowning around, often playing with his tail, spinning him to and fro, but only with his consent... but will also completely earnestly comfort him when he's crying because he's afraid of the dark. She hasn't figured out the significance of his not tagging along with Anthy on her evening trips to the Chairman's Tower.

Kozue Kaoru: Somewhere along the way, Kozue became one of Utena's most important friends. When it happened, and why, is a total mystery to her, but she doesn't question it. She and Kozue owe each other their lives several times over at this point, and have witnessed much of each other's deepest hatreds, fears, and pains; their connection is profound. Utena largely accepts Kozue's many contradictions and only wants the best for her, and is, lately, overjoyed by her apparent happiness dating Sayaka Miki (though, internally, a little confused about two girls dating, which is not something she'd thought of as a thing that can happen). Kozue isn't a Duelist anymore, which makes Utena happy, but Kozue was expelled from Ohtori, which makes Utena sad.

Sayaka Miki: When Sayaka formed the Chevaliers, Utena jumped at the call, less out of any particularly strong moral conviction and more because she really likes and trusts Sayaka as a good person who deserves her support. Time has changed both of these things; while still not wholly comfortable with the extremities of war, Utena is horrified by the Shepherds' willingness to destroy other peoples' lives in order to do what they want, and now opposes them on principle as well as in practice; and she not only likes and trusts Sayaka as a good person, but counts her as an extremely important friend. Sayaka, along with Kozue, Nori, and Shizuru, is one of the people who refused to give up on her when she was completely lost to her depression, and Utena feels that she owes her everything; then everything again, since Sayaka was the one to lend her a sword with which to confront Kasagami in their second Duel. She is deeply concerned about Sayaka in the wake of Mami's death, but not sure what to do about it other than to continue to support her however she needs. She's relieved that Sayaka has Kozue right now, that they aren't fighting anymore, that they're... dating? They look so glamorous together... *blush*

Shizuru Fujino: Utena had never really interacted with the Vice Prez of the Student Council other than that one time they danced at a ball together and had some chemistry. This did not prepare her for what happened next: in the aftermath of losing the Duels to Kasagami, Utena was homeless and practically catatonic with despair. Shizuru showed up and spirited her away, out to her country estate. Utena spent the next several months there with her, as captor and prisoner, or maybe hostess and guest, or maybe even friend and friend -- it's complicated. It's wrong to say that Utena spent all that time recuperating; the opposite is true, and she probably would have succumbed completely to despair if not for the intervention of other friends who crashed the party. She doesn't resent Shizuru's not knowing what to do to help her, though, knowing well that they share a lot of depressive issues in common, and owes her an immense debt of gratitude for her protection. There's more to it, though; Utena had the opportunity to get to know her senpai very well (although she still knows nothing at all of Shizuru's darker pursuits), and her prior admiration of Vice Prez has matured into caring for her very deeply. Shizuru, fearing for Utena's life, tried to keep her from returning to Ohtori to duel Kasagami; Utena, touched by her feelings, nevertheless had to reject them and go anyway. She isn't sure where they stand now, but hopes to repay Shizuru's many kindnesses with her continued friendship, plus whatever else she can think of.

Nori Ankou: Utena was always fond of shy awkward little Nori Ankou and honestly a little bit alarmed by her transformation into the glamorous and beautiful Red Future. She was proud of her classmate's ascension to stardom, though, and always super impressed by her work as La Sirene du Diamant (nee Nord). Nori was the last of the group who ventured into the fairy tale that held Utena in thrall, and was instrumental in restoring her heart to, if not instant normality, at least a shot at equilibrium -- Utena knows, thus, that Nori knows her at her very worst and likes her anyway, which makes her embarrassed and grateful and also at ease. Nori, who changed herself so much, likes Utena for herself. Utena feels the same way.

Kasagami Araki: Originally Utena saw Kasagami at her nicest, and also early on at her most vulnerable, and they connected quickly as good friends (and maybe more, on Kasagami's side, though Utena was oblivious to it). Evidence mounted that Kasagami was being kind of a bully to other people (and a Shepherd, to boot), and for a long time Utena closed her eyes to it, not wanting to believe her strong, cool, tough friend would behave that way. This came back to haunt her when she became Kasagami's latest target; frightened, lost, and most of all depressed by the sustained loss of her magical powers, Utena was deeply hurt by Kassie's decision to (from Utena's perspective) arrange for her disability to be put on public display and ultimately be taken advantage of in a duel where she couldn't even really fight back, even if she wanted to.

Even while losing, some part of her was vaguely relieved that if Anthy had to be Engaged to anyone else, at least it was her friend Kasagami, and was horrified, upon her return to society, to discover that Anthy had been treated very poorly, indeed. Utena promptly risked death twice to face down a person she barely recognized as her former friend (Engaged Kassie seemed more like a power tripping caricature of her former self to Utena, all arrogance and obsession with dominance and control), but she didn't do it for Kassie; she did it for Anthy, and ultimately, she did it for herself. In their second Duel, she succeeded in freeing Anthy from Kasagami's control and taking back her own life from the mess that Kasagami, and much more profoundly her own depression, had made of it; whether she was able to reach Kassie's heart, though, remains to be seen...

Finally, during their second Duel, Kasagami confessed her love, feelings Utena rejected firmly. All the love in the world doesn't make Kasagami's treatment of Anthy -- or Utena herself -- okay.

Knowing first-hand what it's like to lose the Dueling crown, she immediately arranged for Kasagami to receive support from less-fraught friends than herself. She isn't sure whether she misses the old Kasagami or just never knew her in the first place. She hopes Kasagami can find happiness and peace, and hopes she can be a part of it again someday, because she continues to earnestly believe, from the bottom of her heart, that the nice girl she met that day at the fair, the one who protected little kids without batting an eye, and who didn't give a damn what anyone thought of her appearance, was, and is, real.

Touga Kiryuu: Utena gets Touga right the first time, immediately recognizing him as the worst sort of cad and rejecting him accordingly. She is not, however, as immune to his charms as she'd like to think; as he figures out how to set himself up as the Prince to her Princess, she can't help but be taken aback, and taken in, by the idea that he might be the person that she came to Ohtori to reunite with. Is it really possible? When he haunts her dreams by night, and her brooding sessions by day, she's all too quick to forget that he's an asshole... and a Duelist. He impacted her profoundly with an emotional intervention the night before her first Duel with Kasagami; she has carried his protective feelings with her ever since, and is embarrassed and grateful, and also totally unable to see, much less comprehend, the very ugly power and gender dynamics he used that night against her, to further guarantee her helplessness in her Duel the next day.

Miki Kaoru: Miki's a genius on and off the battlefield, and Utena finds that impressive as hell. She's a little embarrassed to admit that her dual normal/magical life is having an effect on her grades, but not too embarrassed to accept his help -- she treats her emergency tutor with respect and works dutifully to not waste his time. She feels vaguely inspired to be a proper senpai for him, since he bothers to address her with that kind of respect. She's not much for music appreciation, but she does consider his crush on Anthy to be something of a spectator sport. It's super cute how he can't quite spit it out, and she's all too happy to prompt that dialogue along from both directions, even though it's less than none of her business. Her opinion of him drops about ten notches since he's decided to duel Utena essentially directly because of a need to possess Anthy('s music), but she can't be too upset since basically everyone seems to want a piece of her sooner or later. She doesn't take it personally. Wouldn't date him, though. With everything that's happened with Sayaka and Kozue, Utena is a little worried about Miki (who is now alone, left behind by their romance and more practically Kozue's expulsion) and is keeping an extra eye out for him now that she's back at school.

Takeo Akamizu: Another Duelist, at Ohtori on a kendo scholarship, Utena respects Takeo's sword skills but not his brotherly love skills, because he keeps challenging her in the arena instead of being there for his sister, sick in the hospital. Supposedly he wants Anthy's power to save her, and Utena's not, like, totally unsympathetic to his problems, but the Rose Bride is not a miracle dispenser in heels, dammit. If he came to them for help without trying to force things, maybe they could, but she has a feeling that they wouldn't really be able to cure cancer or whatever, anyway...

Kyouichi Saionji: When Utena writes DUMB ASS in Anthy's exchange diary, she means it with every fiber of her being; Saionji superficially represents the worst of everything Utena stands against, and wants to protect Anthy (and Wakaba) from. However, she can't help but feel a little sorry for him; his feelings for Anthy are obviously extraordinarily strong, and unrequited love tends to win her sympathy. If he wasn't a totally abusive asshole, she'd listen to his occasional caterwauling instead of steadfastly ignoring it.

Juri Arisugawa: As the most visible girl on the Student Council (bar Nanami, who isn't there yet and also only sort of counts as far as Utena's concerned, less impressed than the group with the idea that she has some kind of familial right to the job; and bar, Shizuru, who has graduated), Juri is naturally attractive to Utena as a potentially sympathetic figure within the patriarchy, at it were. Also, naturally attractive because she is freaking hot, an observation that Utena doesn't so much make consciously as she does unconsciously, blushing a little when Juri gets too close. Utena is endlessly impressed by Juri -- her glamour, her swordfighting skills, her cool demeanor. She just wishes senpai would lighten up a little, both in her judgement of Utena's own romantic dreams, and about whatever happened in the nebulous past. You gotta live and let live a little, you know?

Shiori Takatsuki: They haven't met yet, but Utena finds Shiori charming as both a lovely person and a vulnerable one -- two attributes that always make her want to protect someone. She can't imagine why Juri refuses to let Shiori back into her life. No, literally, she can't imagine it, that's how clueless she is...

Nanami Kiryuu: Utena wises up pretty quickly to Nanami's general persecution of Anthy, though her initial impression was favorable ("what a cute friend!"). She feels profound pity for Nanami whenever Nanami gets in over her head in some embarrassing way, and is generally the first to want to help her fix the issue. She feels profound exasperation for Nanami whenever Nanami then rejects her help -- and finds what she sees as Nanami's spoiled hauteur pretty obnoxious in and of itself, too, relating more to the people around Nanami and wondering why they put up with her antics (see below). Utena herself suffers none of Nanami's bullshit when faced with it directly, which occasionally leads to shouting matches.

Mitsuru Tsuwabuki: Utena thinks his crush on Nanami (and/or Touga) is cute, but the way Nanami treats him is not; her first instinct is protectiveness. Her second, third, fourth and fifth instincts are also protectiveness. That he probably doesn't appreciate this reaction does not occur to her.

Runaway Kangaroo: You'll get yours, mofo.

Akio Ohtori: When they first meet, Utena views Akio as a sort of surrogate older brother, father figure, counselor and confidante. She starts spilling her secrets (and everyone else's secrets) to him almost as quickly as they meet, and takes his (often deeply twisted) advice to heart just as fiercely. She doesn't realize that his magnetic attraction is equal parts manipulation and fuzzy memory, and for the time being happily categorizes him as a cute newlywed, supportive big brother of her roommate, and pretty much the most awesome school chairman in the world.

Souji Mikage: They haven't met, though she's heard of the genius Mikage seminar and doesn't consider herself the least bit worthy to join it. Once she realizes he's the power behind the Black Rose, punching him in the face is really too good for him. In the name of all her friends and rivals alike, he will be punished.

Usagi Tsukino: Utena has mad respect for Sailor Moon, of course; she lived through all the Beryl business and found the image of Princess Serenity leading an army of magical girls to Metallia's defeat rather awe-inspiring. Totally awesome in every way. She's only recently come into contact with Usagi Tsukino, though, as a more ordinary princess on the dance floor at Juuban's Halloween party. Usagi looked so lonely and sad on the sidelines, that Utena couldn't help but sweep her into a waltz... their parallel yearnings for a Prince has prompted some uncharacteristic introspection. On the way home, they got jumped by Vita, prompting the revelation of each other's secret identities -- and Utena taking a killing (well, draining) blow for Sailor Moon.

Vita: Vita drained Utena in their first encounter, and was frustratingly unwilling to discuss why she wanted their magic, and Sailor Moon's in particular. Utena was charmed by the little girl look, bunny and all, and tried hard to reach out. Having had the tar beaten out of her for her trouble, she is feeling much less charmed, but still -- every girl is a princess...

Mami Tomoe: Utena greatly looked up to the Golden Queen of Shibuya as a magical girl senpai and as the Chevalier co-leader, but didn't have a lot of opportunity to become close to her in life. Her death was shocking and horrific to Utena, who is grieving her mostly quietly. She has more experience with death than many of her friends, and yet questions whether that makes her more able to deal with this loss, or less.

Lera Camry: A fellow Chevalier, Utena has known Cheeseburger-chan for years, if from a distance, and admires her strength and awesomeness. At Shinjuku, Lera saved Utena from terrible injury by lending her an energy sword to parry some of Kasagami's fiercer blows, and then voiced her full-throated support of Utena at their duel. Utena really wants to get in touch to thank her properly, and maybe go out for burgers together.

Mikoto Minagi: Utena and Mikoto know each other from school and go way back in a casual way. Now they're on opposite sides of the Puella War, but Utena recognizes her own protective nature in Mikoto's involvement -- she signed up to be there for Sayaka originally, after all, not really because of any higher ideals. She thinks that the suffering of girls like Mikoto is exactly the sort of reason the war needs to end, but at the same time, can her friends really be left to kill whoever they want like that...?

Eri Shimanouchi: A classmate, and Mami Tomoe's killer. Except that Utena's the kind of person too busy blaming herself (she was taken out earlier in the battle by Kasagami, and therefore unable to help Mami in her time of need) to ascribe too much blame elsewhere. She has some extra blame to spread around, though, and isn't sure exactly what it means for justice to be served in this case. Killing Eri won't bring Mami back. Will it prevent her from making more corpses, though? She doesn't know what the right thing to do is at all, a potentially crippling uncertainty.

Mytho: Utena has always been prone to depression, which can lapse from mild to severe. During her most recent episode, in the aftermath of her draining by Vita and her desperate deadline for recovery set by Kasagami, things took a drastic turn for the worse when Mytho's heart shard of despair sensed a kindred spirit in Utena, and decided to move in and make her heart his new home. She was completely defenseless against his influence, and indeed uniquely vulnerable to it, due to her feelings for, and similarities to, her own Prince. His possession was gradual but ultimately almost completely total, and he was determined to keep it that way by preventing her physical, mental and emotional healing through any means necessary (externalized in her wasting away, withdrawing from her friends, and sustained inability to transform). He came a hair's-breadth from achieving his objective of driving her to suicide, since only in death could she be his forever, safe from the feelings of others -- and the pain of her own. It took the intervention of her friends to exorcise him from her heart, and allow Utena to confront her own depression on terms that, while still very difficult, were at least not supernaturally reinforced. Her memories of him are complicated and quickly fading into nightmare, but his elaborate dance of subversion and control left scars on her soul, even now that he is gone. She's still finding her way back, and knows, bone-deep, that it may well be a lifelong journey.

Gallery: La Fillette Revolutionnaire

History: Living Heroically And With Style

Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. "Little one," he said, "who bears up alone in such deep sorrow. Never lose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me, one day." Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but so impressed was she by him that the princess vowed to become a prince herself someday. But was that really such a good idea?

Utena has reimagined the greatest trauma of her young life in terms of fairy tales because it was the only way that she could deal with it. She has totally forgotten exactly what it was that the Prince showed her, or even that he showed her anything but his own strength and nobility, in order to soothe her grief.

But now we're two stories ahead of the story.

Utena's early life was idyllic, but not a fairy tale. She was the only child of a mother and father who loved her and loved each other, but also lived lives entirely separate from their daughter's -- they had jobs and friends and hobbies.

Or perhaps Mother didn't have a job, but fulfilled the more traditional role of housewife, the beginning of Utena's education in gender roles. That doesn't make Mother weak, or any kind of poor role model. Surely, it was Mother who taught little Utena, by example, what girls should do, should be; that they should be educated and hard-working and unbowed, that they deserved respect from the men around them and should protect each other when abused. Most of all, normal girls should have friends, and value them above all. Perhaps Utena learned that at the dinner table, surrounded by Mother's laughing, joking girlfriends, the fruit of a lifetime of patient relationship tending.

Perhaps Father didn't really have a serious job, either. Perhaps they were both members of the idle rich, Utena closer to a princess in truth than she might have otherwise simply fabricated for her own comfort. After all, there was money for a beautiful funeral. For cars, and clothes, and afterwards, for care, all out of a trust fund that sent little orphan Utena to school, first at some other elite elementary, and later, to Ohtori Academy.

But we are still stories ahead of stories -- let us return to the death.

Whoever they were, Mother and Father are all but forgotten in Utena's mind. She remembers vague impressions of such stereotypes that she might actually remember reading about the mere idea of these memories -- cool hands on fevered brows, low rumbling voices, sweet echoing laughter.

All she really remembers is what happened next: how she felt absolutely, desolately alone. How, after the funeral, she escaped her keepers and returned to the cathedral, to contemplate the mysterious, mistaken third coffin. To take shelter in it when the storm came, the close quarters comfort from the fright of thunder and lightning. To decide, upon her entrance to the underworld, that she was here also because it was where she belonged. It was her coffin, and hers alone.

She was alone.

And what point was there in ever emerging? Why does everyone go on living if they all have to die someday? There's no such thing as something eternal -- nothing she could rely on, nothing she could trust. Nothing worth living for.

Not the boys who came to bother her, who tangled their fingers in her hair and spoke kind words about something they knew nothing about.

Nor the stranger who came after, who at first, in his beauty and mysteriousness, she mistook for the Angel of Death. He introduced strange ideas to her -- enviousness of those who can die, for example.

And then he showed her the Rose Bride. Her suffering was, indeed, something eternal, breathtaking in its horror. Even as he told Utena their story, the Rose Tale of Dios and his sister, the act of sacrifice and the terrible consequences, she couldn't just stand by. She rushed to the Rose Bride's aid... and was blasted back by the pain swarming the other girl, which Dios opined as 'all she has left.'

Utena begged him to help her, and he dried her tears with a kiss, explaining that he can't help the Rose Bride, but a prince she can believe in might be able to. He started to walk away -- but Utena stopped him with a passionate oath.

She would become a prince, someone able to save the Rose Bride. Dios expressed his doubt, but acknowledged that if she never lost her nobility, even when she grew up, she might be able to save the Bride from her eternal torment. He gave her a ring, promising that it would lead her back here, if Utena becomes a real prince.

Then Dios and the Rose Bride faded away, and Utena was once again left alone in a dark coffin.

Only now she had a purpose to keep her company.

It rained the next day at her parents' burial, but Utena didn't cry. She promised herself she wouldn't cry -- that she would be strong -- and someday she would see her Prince again. He had asked that she never lose that strength and nobility when she grew up, one of the only details that wasn't already fading from her traumatized mind, and she was determined to live up to that potential, to become a Prince as she had sworn.

And so young Utena dressed in boys' uniforms and used masculine phrasing, practiced sports with the boys and saved every princess she could find. This quickly drew attention -- from disapproving guidance counselors, from kids who didn't understand -- though not from surrogate parents, for with her money held in trust until she came of age, Utena was well-supported but alone.

She stood out too much to make very many friends, but didn't realize it; barely even missed it, really. To the extent that she yearned for companionship, it was mostly for -- she thought -- her Prince, whose ring she continued to wear. The existence of the Rose Bride was firmly buried in her dreams very quickly, Utena was left to fill in the gaps with the stories she had at hand, internalizing the lessons and expectations of fairy tales very deeply.

Puberty arrived, and she grew -- taller and stronger -- but didn't grow in other, more important ways. So set was she in her plans to be a Prince, and find one, that she became stagnant within her own desperately clung-to innocence, naive even for a middle-schooler.

Naive enough to receive a mysterious clue linking her rose signet to the seal of the most noble and excellent school in Japan, and think that if she went there, she might finally find her Prince.

Instead she found Wakaba Shinohara, who quickly distinguished herself from the legions of girls who admired Utena's heroics and style by leaping on top of her and screaming until Utena didn't just smile and wave but listened. This was early in her 8th-grade year, though late enough after the start of school to make her transfer notable. She quickly settled back into her routine, and grew slowly disappointed that her Prince didn't leap down from a tower to sweep her up in his arms.

But the dream lived on. It was so long ago -- and she knows that she barely remembered it, only really remembered the outline of the fairy tale, now, and little more -- that her Prince could honestly be any of the Ohtori fellows and she might not recognize him on sight.

It's tempting to say 'and then everything changed,' but the reveal of Saionji as a magnificently abusive asshole, the subsequent confrontation to defend first Wakaba's honor and then Anthy's safety, and Utena's engagement to both the Rose Bride and the world of magic didn't really change anything, and that's what's important. Utena was still innocent, is still blind, even as she fights off misogynists in the arena and less subtle monsters across Tokyo and the world.

Well -- one thing changed. Now she lives with Anthy in a creepily empty dormitory. And while the system that is built around the Rose Bride is enough, on its own, to inspire Utena's pity and fury, it's the young woman herself, as revealed in rare moments of intimacy, who has Utena more spellbound than she could ever admit to herself.

And all the Duelists wear the same ring that she does. Surely the mysteries of Ohtori are connected to her Prince. She'll cut through them all... learn the truth, and find her happy ending.

To do anything else doesn't occur to her. To have to live without that central objective to both distract and define her, is so terrifying a concept that she can't even contemplate it.

Surely she'll find her Prince soon...

Personality: I Want To Be Hated By Lies

Utena is incredibly noble and incredibly strong, but she doesn't feel that way, much less understand why. The core reason for this is that she's forgotten the most important, defining moment in her young life, and rewritten it with a fairy tale that is easier for her to stomach.

Utena's truth is this: When she was suicidally depressed, the only thing that could get her moving again was witnessing someone else suffering even more than her. Her nobility is defined around her burning need to relieve another's suffering, even when she herself is at her most desolate. Her strength comes from clawing her way out of her coffin not to save herself, but to save another.

But she hasn't left that coffin behind by any means. Unable to face either Anthy's suffering or her own, she's overwritten those memories with a shallow fairy tale, in which she was saved by a Prince. Deep down, she wants to become a Prince because she knows that a Prince is needed, needed desperately, by Anthy and by the world. (Eventually she'll rightly reject this as well, and discover consciously, as she knew unconsciously, that in the end you you have to leave your own coffin, that others can inspire you but the agency is yours alone.) Consciously, however, she's just emulating a figure who helped her in the past -- she wants to pay it forward because it was so awesome and so important. Saving princesses feels great for its own sake, but she gets to be awesome and important herself, in turn, and that aggrandizement is also a seductive, powerful force.

As for her own Prince, she falsely believes that she was given the ring in order to see him again -- instead of Anthy. She's self-aware enough to know that she's a bit of a silly romantic, but she can't help but treat it as an engagement ring, and considers herself emotionally unavailable at best; until she finds her Prince again, it would be selfish of her to lead anyone else on -- and for her to genuinely fall in love with anyone else would in turn be a betrayal of her Prince. And once she finds him... she's not sure what she'll do. Happily ever after is a nebulous, vague thing; Utena doesn't really know what she's looking for. (The answer: as someone who feels isolated, alone, at the core of her being, she's looking for genuine connection, for love and friendship so powerful that she'll never feel alone again.)

And so because she doesn't really understand why she is how she is, Utena clings to a naive worldview she's invented to explain herself and the world around her. Because she has none of her own, family is something of a holy relic -- she's jealous of sibling and parent relationships, and cannot imagine them being seriously unpleasant or twisted. Good people don't hesitate to tell the truth, or help people in need. People who can't or won't share their true feelings are cowards -- often cute cowards, but nonetheless, folks who just need a little push to help them along. Boys are inherently untrustworthy because none of them could be as upstanding and perfect as her Prince. Girls are inherently trustworthy because all of them are Princesses, and if they ever need saving, she'll be there. Boy or girl, you have to treat people who care about you with honesty and respect, especially if you're rejecting them -- or dating them.

Utena acts like a fierce extrovert, projecting herself and her issues onto everyone around her, because she can't handle gazing within. She flirts with introspection, a native brooder, but broods about other people, rarely herself. She cares about people -- and cares about caring about people -- but her innocent, simplistic take on life and relationships is often cruel (as she fails to understand why someone doesn't fall in line with her worldview, and says as much, inadvertantly hurting them), and often willfully so (as she actively ignores someone else's feelings because accepting them would force her to question her worldview).

Utena thinks she's noble because she wants to help people -- whether they want her in their business or not. She thinks she's strong because she trounces all comers on the basketball court, and because she'll throw down, physically or verbally, with anyone who disrespects a girl in her presence. She's told she's courageous because she speaks her mind, and embraces her own identity no matter who doesn't like it -- but she can't see it for herself, not without it being pointed out to her.

She's wrong about everything, and she's going to have to find the strength to throw it all away. Once she does, she'll discover true strength and nobility that was there all along -- if she can only learn to accept the past, and fight not for the present but the future.

For the time being, she resents the fight, or at least the Duels, believing them an obstacle to her ability (and Anthy's) to live an ostensibly attractive normal life. She hasn't quite finished investing in the notion that her mission is somehow holier than the rest of the Duelists', that she's basically fighting to prevent the Duels from fulfilling their sinister purpose, but having Dueled Miki she's well on her way towards that perspective. The greater magical world seems much more clear-cut and straightforward in its evil, and she finds it almost relaxing in comparison, though still enraging to her sense of justice, every time some monster ruins the day of some innocent.

She hasn't done a very good job of balancing her supposedly precious normal life and her supernatural one. Part of it is that there just aren't enough hours in the day -- Utena is very proactive about getting into other peoples' business, and handed the opportunity to Prince around and fight actual, literal monsters, she does so on an essentially daily basis even while protesting that fighting is wrong and the Duels are intrinsically disgusting. And part of it is her own apathy and tendency to procrastinate -- she wasn't a bad student before, and she tries to be dutiful, but it isn't really because of any native curiosity about learning. Much more, when she works diligently to keep up (or make up) in school, it's because of the externally imposed value that a true prince surely wouldn't flunk out of school. That would be embarrassing.

Utena is a mess of dichotomies, some of them strange, warped reflections indeed:

Friendly/Callous: Utena likes people both in general and in particular. Her default, innocent assumption is that everyone around her is fundamentally good-natured until proven otherwise, and this optimism is one of many attributes that fuels her kindness (and in turn her popularity). Unfortunately, despite her interest, she often doesn't take other peoples' feelings very seriously; she can be very casually dismissive. They can explicitly express reservations towards her (such as Anthy's confession of her fear of crowds) and Utena will bull right over their feelings in the name of getting them to do what she feels is right (Anthy going to the party to make lots of friends). She's not always the most receptive to other peoples' problems, either -- she wants to be helpful and supportive but it isn't always more important, in the moment, than whatever she's distractedly brooding about.

Loyal/Vengeful: Few are as loyal or true as Utena, and it doesn't take much to be added to her list of people worth protecting. Having lost her loved ones at an early age, she treasures her friends, and sometimes her friends' friends for good measure. You can be no more than an acquaintance, but if you show up at her doorstep in the middle of the night and beg her to follow you into the dark, she'll be there, even to help an enemy. (Tsuwabuki and cow-Nanami, a fine example.) If you wrong one of her friends, watch out! Whether they ask her to interfere or not, she'll be there, beating down doors, throwing down challenges, and demanding restitution. It doesn't take much for her to go too far with this -- challenging someone to a fight is, in itself, a fairly extreme action, after all. She really gets a charge out of kicking the ass of someone who she feels deserves it, and this is not a noble impulse in the least.

Forthright/Snarky: Utena is both proud and forthright. She may indulge in layers of self-deception, but superficially she doesn't hold in her feelings, is brave enough to just tell things as they are. She encourages other people to speak their minds, too, and generally fails to understand why they can't or don't. She likes to think she's being clever, cutting right to the heart of things, when she interprets a Shadow Girls play with a snarky one-liner, or more or less speaks Miki's confessions to Anthy right on top of his own inability to do so, but in reality she's just ignoring the complexities of the world around her. That being said, her wry humor, her dismissiveness of the order of things for their own sake, stands her in very good stead on the coolness scale -- it isn't just affectation, and people tend to enjoy being around it. In particular she recognizes nobody's authority but her own, simultaneously assuming that she knows best for herself (and everyone around her) while enjoying needling authority figures she doesn't respect (more or less all of them, until Akio comes on the scene) with her very existence. She's a rebel without a cause other than her own identity, which is more than her guidance counselor can handle anyway.

Athletic/Lazy: Utena loves to move her body. Over the course of the series, we see her playing basketball, baseball, ping pong, and running track, all of them with enormous talent and, at least in the moment, focus. She doesn't find a contradiction between playing on boys' teams and being feminine, and takes umbrage at the idea that she 'acts like a boy.' That said, she definitely finds girls' teams beneath her on some level -- a piece of internalized misogyny there -- and that's why she hasn't formally joined any clubs. The boys try to recruit her, but she's a girl and proud of it; the girls don't even bother to ask because they assume she's out of their league, and without consciously admitting it, Utena agrees. However, despite being energetic (and competitive), Utena is a masterful slacker when it comes to avoiding problems she doesn't want to deal with, even imagined ones. Anthy cleans up their dorm room because Utena's outside sulking about the IDEA of having to clean it up. Procrastination is a powerful tool in her arsenal.

Cheerful/Broody: Utena likes to be of good cheer, shouting good morning, encouraging the people around her to get out and meet people, to not give up on their hopes and dreams (or her hopes and dreams for them). However, it's very easy for her to cease to be in the moment, and once she's not paying merry attention to the world around her, she tends to drift into dark places. When she's brooding, it can be extremely hard to get her attention; a lot of things bother her, and the cognative dissonance of consciously trying to understand why people act the way they do, while subconsciously REFUSING to understand them because it would cost her her innocence, is a dangerous distraction to her. She has few deep thoughts of her own, but will ruminate on other people's endlessly. Acting the counselor is part of why Akio manipulates her so effectively; she goes home and assimilates his ideas into her own philosophies, gazing at the moon...

Playful/Disorganized: Utena is a child, and idealizes childhood a bit -- she isn't rushing into womanhood by any means. She enjoys lying in the sun and tumbling down hills and eating shave ice late at night. She still takes genuine pleasure in play of most kinds, and it's one of the ways through which she maintains her connection with ordinary people (like Wakaba) most strongly. But also like a child, she isn't very good at organizing her life; besides the general suffering of her schoolwork, she's the kind of person who crams everything into her closet and leaves it there, and anyone who tries to open it up will find it all crashing onto their head. This is not at all also a metaphor for her overall internal landscape.

Innocent/Just: Utena tends to take people (especially girls) pretty seriously, at face value -- when Anthy backhandedly apologizes for making Utena 'embarrass' herself in the pink dress, Utena becomes genuinely embarrassed, thinking she looks bad. When Nanami bustles Anthy away, Utena thinks it's because they're friends. Her innocence extends to genuine discomfort around witnessing private moments, be they physical or emotional, romantic or not, and equally genuine confusion over why people make feelings so complicated. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) for her, she also has a keen sense of justice, of right and wrong. Filtered by her innocence she tends to oversimplify the world into sharp shades of black and white, but that doesn't mean she's always confused or misled. Utena does not suffer injustice in her presence (as long as she can recognize it for what it is), and is the first off the block to intervene, even if it means putting herself in jeopardy, in order to protect those who can't or won't protect themselves.

Performative, Externally/Internally: Utena is inherently performative, all the time. She's always 'on stage,' in both public and private, and though she wouldn't quite think of it that way, she acts accordingly nonetheless. She finds the worship and adoration of her fans (both male and female) fulfilling, and it's definitely part of the Prince experience to her -- she acts to live up to their expectations. And she also acts to live up to her own -- Utena's most elaborate performance, her thickest layers of deception, are the ones she weaves around herself. She becomes cheerful and dashing because if she's not, she has to deal with being lonely and desolate. She saves princesses because she doesn't know who she'd be, otherwise, and definitely doesn't like it. She longs for her Prince because it's what she's supposed to do, too. For someone who fights constantly to allow people to live freely of roles imposed upon them by their gender, no one, not nobody, has more rigid beliefs about gender than Utena, at least as she applies them to herself.