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Revolutionary Girl Utena: After The Revolution


By Nina Balton 

There have been many losses in our world.” - Kunihiko Ikuhara

To celebrate 20 years since the premiere of Revolutionary Girl Utena, as well as Chiho Saito’s 35th year as a mangaka, the Be-Papas team reunited to bring us an all-new addition to the Utena cannon, After the Revolution. The manga contains three short stories, each one centering on members of the Student Council as adults living in modern times. And for those of you hardcore Utena fans wondering which timeline/universe these stories fall into (anime, manga, or film,) then I can tell you right off the bat that it appears to be unique all its own!






Within the three chapters, Utena, both as the Rose Prince and as a young girl, acts as a spiritual guide of sorts towards the members of the Student Council: Touga, Saonji, Juri, and Miki (sorry Namani fans!) Her goal is to reach Anthy and to help each Council member reach closure on their time spent at Ohtori Academy


 
 

The focus on these stories is less on creating any kind of direct followup to the events of the existing franchise, and more on opening up the universe and characters to even further possibilities. There’s plenty of callbacks and references that diehard Utena fans will recognize, but if you’re wondering what happened to Utena and Anthy in this future then you might be disappointed (or relieved) to find it has left open-ended still. Even so, Saito is able to recapture the surreal and dazzling world of Utena in all it’s tragic beauty and ambiguity which is always worth revisiting.

I’ll try not to spoil the details of what happens but I can say that Saito and Ikuhara (director of the Utena anime and film, founder of Be-Papas) wanted to create an atmosphere of loss and hope for these tales, which feels eerily timely for our current crisis. In the book’s Afterward Ikuhara says that, “Some only focus on the future. But forgetting and ignoring loss is not the way to reach it.” Touga, Saionji, Juri, and Miki were all traumatized by a tremendous and senseless loss in their past. There was an unnamed event that took the lives of their parents and other loved ones that the spirit of young Utena needs them to relive and confront. 



Ikuhara continues saying “Loss is a part of life” yet that doesn’t mean the former Student Council members should give up hope because they “are still alive.” Little Utena's own loss caused her to meet Anthy which in turn allowed her to grow-up and become the Rose Prince with the power to revolutionise the world. The Student Council members need to become duelists once again so that they too can have that power and change their lives for the better. In the end, there are no clear answers for what the future holds. But so long as we can find each other again, then we are not alone.




 

FORMAT: MANGA/DIGITAL MANGA. FROM: VIZ MEDIA  ART BY:  CHIHO SATO  WRITTEN BY: CHIHO SATO  RATING: TEEN

ALL IMAGES: KUSHAMI URASAWA NAOKI TANPENSHU © 2019 Naoki URASAWA/N WOOD STUDIO


**Review copy provided by Viz Media**