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volume 3 issue 12

In This Issue

Contents 2
Features 3
Chasing Otakuism 8
Anime Briefs 9
Reviews 10
Web Showcase 23
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Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Blooms
Bilingual DVD
100 minutes
Software Sculptors
Central Park Media
Chiho Saito Shogakukan
TV Tokyo
The wait was worth it.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Blooms
By Adam Arnold

A better translation, proper name pronunciations, and great extras make the wait for "The Black Rose Saga" seem almost trivial. Often times, a long wait has ruined a title, but with the case of Revolutionary Girl Utena, it's only helped to strengthen the fan base. This can be attributed to the manga series and the motion picture being brought out to help tide fans over.

When we last left Utena and the rest of the cast of Ohtori Academy, Utena had turned the tables on Student Council president Touga Kiryuu and successfully reclaimed the Rose Bride. As the "student council" story arc came to a close, the story up to that point had been clarified and the stage was set for the series to take a darker turn. That darker turn is "The Black Rose Saga."

As the name suggests, darkness and treachery become commonplace and the duels all the more dangerous. A secret society has emerged with the sole purpose of killing the Rose Bride. The rival faction is recruiting weak-hearted, depressed, and angry students from the academy, many of which are friends and relatives of the student council's members, in order to go up against Utena Tenjo in the duelist arena.

The unsuspecting students fill out an application and then wander a seemingly endless hall lined with chairs in order to enter an elevator for their interview. Once there, the students are put through an emotional gauntlet as they got deeper and deeper through their despair and hate until finally they come crashing to the bottom. Then they are given a black rose signet ring and stabbed through the heart with a black rose! Call it a form of possession if you will, but one thing is for certain - The battle that follows sure gives Utena one heck of a workout.

Episode 14 picks up the series with Utena getting to meet Anthy's charismatic brother, Aiko Ohtori and his wife-to-be Kanae. Anthy's personality is that of a dog with no loyalties and the incestuous connotations presented in this episode are downright freaky. Kanea gave Anthy a scarf as a token of her desire to be friends, and Anthy just takes off her glasses and starts wiping them on her new gift. It's no wonder that Kanae wants Anthy dead and for this reason, Kanae becomes the first of the Black Rose Society's harbingers of doom.

The episode 15 and 17 really get down to the heart of things as the society steps up their efforts to draw upon the powers of the student council in order to give their new duelist a fighting chance. That fighting chance is the ability to draw a sword from the chest of the student council member they are closest too. Hey, if Anthy can do it, why can't everyone else?

If you'll notice, I skipped episode 16. That's because this episode is a bit of a quandary. It's a standalone episode dedicated solely to Nanami Kiryuu, Touga's prissy little sister who has become acting Student Council president. In this episode Nanami is given a present from a famous designer. That present ends up being a cowbell. Yeah, a cowbell - as in a big bell that cows wear. If the curry episode from the first story arc was any indication of what could go wrong, believe me, this episode is totally out there. This episode is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and there's at least one more of these crazy episodes to come.

The English dub for this title is of particular note because it retains the original cast from the 1998 dub of the first story arc and then makes a few much-needed tweaks to the script. Of particular note is the fact that all the names are pronounced properly this go-round. Instead of Nanami being pronounced "Nuh-Nah-Mi" it is now properly pronounced "Nan-Ah-Mi." Other important name fixes include the main character's last names Tenjo ("Ten-Jew" instead of "Ten-Jo") and Himemiya ("Heh-Mem-Eya" instead of "Him-Eh-Me-Ya").

Rounding out this DVD of four episodes is a sweet set of extras. The first of these is part one of an interview conducted with series director, Kunihiko Ikuhara at the Big Apple Anime Fest. It's rather short, comprising roughly three questions, but it does give some information about the director's background. The biggest extra though is actually an interview with Wakaba and Kozue's English voice actor, Roxanne Beck. In this segment Roxanne gives some background and her thoughts on the characters she plays and then performs one of her songs (she's also a musician) from her CD. Since the performance was taped outside, there are some random people walking down the stairs where she is sitting and that does detract from the mood of things, but overall the song was nicely performed and makes for a rather unique extra.

If that weren't enough, Software Sculptors also threw in an art gallery, a biography of Chiho Saito (the series character designer and the person responsible for the manga), and a recap of the first 13 episodes of the series. The recap was very much a welcomed extra considering I had forgotten about a lot of the minor events that happened previously. Be sure to pick this volume up on your next trip into town or around the web. It'll hook you all over again on the guilty pleasure that is Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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