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Revolutionary Girl Utena Newbie Recap: Episode 15, “The World Seen From Kozue”

"There are few who are able to freely use their own hearts. This is especially true of young people."

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During last week’s episode, we were formally introduced to the boys of the Black Rose and their plot—to kill Anthy and take revolution for themselves. While their conscription of Kanae didn’t work out, Souji and Mamiya now set their sights on another, more familiar pool of duelist challengers: the student council duelists themselves.

We were first introduced to Kozue, Miki’s twin sister, during his set of episodes. His motivation in dueling for Anthy was to recruit a new piano-playing partner, as well as because, well, he likes her. Of course, this is set up with some weird tension between him and his sister, and wow does that ramp up in this episode!

Kozue, who once hooked up with Touga, is flirting with another dude when Miki walks by. They both separately acknowledge each other; then, when Miki’s music teacher (?) sees him and stops to chat, Kozue interprets the interaction as its own kind of flirtation, making her jealous.

Ready for more weird family relationships? A still-despondent Touga (apparently there’s some back story here, where his voice actor wasn’t available for a while?) doesn’t respond to Nanami, who’s taken to wearing her dueling uniform. Thus, she vows to take care and control of the student council, which seems more powerless and adrift as possible.

In the black rose basement, Mamiya correctly guesses that the student council members are fragile—more specifically, the swords of their souls. (This makes sense later.) He was told this information by his black rose; I’d assumed the rose and the plans were Souji’s, given his more direct introduction, but no, it’s Mamiya who’s masterminding this entire thing.

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I thought these lines were hilarious. Also, the GIFs are back!

Souji, for his part, is skeptical of this plan, and reveals that in order to “plant” the black rose in a subject, there has to be something that’s consuming them, as Anthy was for Kanae. Hmm, is there anyone in this show with unresolved emotional baggage that’s centered around a specific person?

Kozue, moody after her non-interaction with her brother, is joined by a few friends by the pool, who tease her about her new boyfriend—a statement at which she shoots the legendary retort, “I didn’t really change boyfriends. I just added one.” One of her friends asks about Miki’s availability, but Kozue mentions that Miki’s already got a gal in mind.

Of course, it’s Anthy; he still wants to play the piano and relive/rewrite his childhood trauma with her. (Too real? Not untrue though.) Utena catches him at her and Anthy’s doorstep, and brings him inside where he admittedly makes a cute fool of himself.

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Utena really is a good friend.

Meanwhile! Jury confronts Kozue about a strange incident: A music teacher had fallen/been pushed down? the stairs a week before, and had just received another threatening call. To this, Kozue responds that she would never let anything hurt Miki. His perceived innocence weighs on her mind as she and Miki tuck in for bed in their shared (!) sweet pad. To note: Miki pours himself and Kozue milk (or as the subs called it, a “milkshake”) before bed out of a beautiful pitcher.

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/Googles “Miki and Kozue’s headboards”/

Anthy joins Miki to play the piano under Utena’s watchful eye. She sees Kozue watching the two players, and joins the blue-haired girl in a friendly overture. But when Utena mentions and names Anthy, Kozue adopts a steely gaze; a black rose, ripe for the plucking.

Nanami, for her part, takes over the student council. Jury and Miki are pretty blasé about the news, except—they haven’t been getting any letters from End of the World. It appears that whatever power the student council had is being co-opted or rather diverted by the black rose boys.

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This show is so extra.

Utena visits Akio to tell him about Anthy’s friendship with Miki; this conversation is weird because we know he’s got something going on with his sis! For his part, Akio shows Utena a photo slide of the moon, and describes it as useless (not true) but something you look up at regardless. I’m sure this is a deeper metaphor, but it comes off as something that is shallower than it seems.

One day, Anthy is late to Miki’s latest piano meet; he falls asleep at the keys. Kozue is there instead, and in a sequence set to metronome music and more creepy butterfly and pitcher imagery, she thinks about their relationship, and caps the moment off by kissing Miki on the forehead. Anthy then enters, and though Kozue thinks Anthy’s gonna say something, neither really does. Standing in diametric opposition, they look like mirrors of each other, down to the shade and shape of their hair.

Of course, Kozue has an interview at Nemuro. She, like Kanae, is jealous over “her” man’s affections for Anthy. (There’s something to be said about the weird gender dynamic of the black rose boys preying on these emotionally-twisted girls.)

Afterward, when Miki goes to practice piano, he hears Kozue playing. There, under the spell of the black rose, she tries to kiss him.

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YIKES.

Wait, but that’s not all. Hardened by Kanae’s failure, Souji and/or Mamiya activated a new power for Kozue—the ability to literally draw swords from the former duelists’ hearts, the way Utena does from Anthy. (I can’t WAIT to see how this plays out in Jury’s inevitable episode.)

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More butterflies.

Later, the school posts their final exam schedule because everyone in this show is a teenager in school, and that’s when Utena sees the dueling invitation, pinned to the board. Enter: the Shadow Girls, in a skit about selling food and drinks on the train. One of them continues to freak out over the food cart, until Utena again intervenes: “Just ignore her.”

 

At the dueling ground, the desks are there again, this time topped by—surprise!—pitchers. Utena and Kozue start to fight, and notices that Kozue uses Miki’s dueling style. This gives the blue-haired twin an edge over the relatively untrained Kanae, and shows the brilliance of the black rose’s plan; giving people with motivation but no skill, the skill they need to be an actual challenge. Hilariously, Anthy literally starts drinking from a pitcher during the fight.

Eventually, Utena is disarmed, but then Anthy reminds Utena about the blessing of the sword. She gets her stuff together and receives the prince’s spirit. Once Kozue goes down, Miki wakes up again in the practice room. At night, Miki tucks a memory-less Kozue in, where she asks for a glass of milk.

Creepily, the episode ends with Anthy and Akio again. “Tonight, as always, I will comfort you…” he murmurs, and she replies, “Choo choo…”, a callback to something Miki said earlier.

What. Is. Up. With. This. Show. And. Family. It’s a good thing Utena’s an only child, because I don’t know if I could hang with yet another incest tension-filled subplot or sibling relationship. The dynamic between older brother (or in Miki and Kozue’s case, twin brother) and younger sister further strengthens the strange gender dynamics within the black rose conflict. Men, using women to their ends in order to stop a woman from achieving her goals. Women, becoming twisted by the influence men have over their lives. I suppose we’ll have to see whether Nanami and Jury become duelists or, like Miki, become the swords for their duelists. Regardless, there’s plenty to chew on in this episode’s aftermath. Until next week.

Tweet your thoughts on Episode 15 of Revolutionary Girl Utena to me here. This should go without saying, but NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

Lilian Min has written for The Atlantic, Nylon, BuzzFeed, and others. Read her work here and tweet her here.

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