Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Revolutionary Girl Utena, v. 1 - 5

by Chiho Saito, Created by Be-Papas
Published in the U.S. by Viz

Slugline: Utena duels to save the prince she met years ago, save the Rose Bride and to claim "the power to revolutionize the world" (whatever that means.)

This is the manga version of the classic anime, and being condensed to five volumes suits the story quite well. With less time to wander, the story gets right down to the dueling and the slapping and the explaining what's going on.

Utena is a classic shojo manga because it goes so far above and beyond the stereotypes of the genre -- not breaking out of them, but amplifying them to blinding brilliance. Everyone's a drama queen, there are cute, strange pets, magic costume changes, vaguely defined powers that are never used, a crossdressing heroine, temper tantrums, and everyone gets slapped at least once. It's a tribute to the power of visuals, too: roses, wrought iron and long hair don't have to work as hard to carry it all as they did in the anime, but they are there.

Utena set the bar for the shojo that followed, and most of them fail to capture half the passion and obsession and melodrama of this series. This is a must-read for any serious fan. Love it or laugh at it, I guarantee you will not forget it.

p.s. Yes, it's complete in 5 volumes -- less, actually, and there are several short stories to fill out the volumes. They're fun too.

- Miranda

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