Revolutionary Girl Utena Newbie Recap: Episode 7, “Unfulfilled Jury”
"Believe in miracles, and they will know your feelings."
The student council members in Revolutionary Girl Utena who’ve dueled Utena so far have had clear, though rather simplistic, motives. With Jury, the orange-haired fencing queen, the show gets to explore the nuances of emotion more—particularly when dealing with the question of miracles, of which the show has many.
First though, an apology: The holidays have been extraordinarily busy for me this year, which is why I missed last week’s recap. Even now, I’m typing away in the dead of night on an air bed; my Preview program is giving me hell so taking screencaps and converting them into .JPGs for WordPress is a pain; in related news, if anyone knows why Preview might do that, let me know! Onto the episode.
It begins, as always, with an out-of-context moment: A pair of white arms cover Jury’s eyes, as she meditates on miracles; rather, she denies their existence.
In the now, Jury beats a bunch of people at fencing in a row. When Miki congratulates her on her mad skills, she brushes the compliment off, saying that she still isn’t strong enough to “crack the world’s shell.”
Later, she has a conversation with a teacher in which he praises her and the student council’s ability to secure more school funding at a “regional student council.” (It is still weird to think that the student council actually does, like, normal student council stuff.) In contrast to the love she gets from authority, in another classroom, Utena’s being berated by a guidance counselor for bringing Chu-Chu, a monkey, to school. (Nevermind that she probably didn’t actively do that.)
As the guidance counselor attempts to catch a suddenly loose Chu-Chu, Jury makes her intro to Utena, and it’s… nice? Kind of? But Utena, being rightly suspicious, brushes Jury aside.
Some telling body language.
Instead of letting Utena go, Jury then basically orders the teacher she was speaking to, to go intervene with the counselor on Utena’s case. Utena, glad to not be in trouble (again), thanks Jury for providing her a “miracle”—the first of many callbacks to the concept in this episode.
Utena then directly confronts the rumors about Jury: That she’s very, very powerful and gets stuff done, but in private, she’s ridiculously scary. Jury brushes the rumors aside, and probes Utena about dueling. Utena brushes the bait off, saying that she doesn’t really like sword-fighting, but then asks Jury about Anthy’s importance, to which Jury says: An engagement leads to getting “miraculous powers.” Jury dismisses this idea, calling it “stupid” to try to possess the Rose Bride.
Utena reacts as she would.
Utena is glad to find someone on the student council who “gets it”: Who rejects the notion that the dueling might actually mean nothing, and won’t lead to anything. However, the last person who said that… ended up fighting Utena.
After Utena ends up getting in trouble anyway, Anthy comes up from the greenhouse—she’d seen Jury and Utena in conversation, and wanted to give Jury a rose. Then! Jury slaps her! And says, “Don’t get too familiar”! The scary side comes out, but the scene also shows that Anthy clearly has some background insight into the student council members; something about the way she delivered her line was different from her usual air-headed tone.
Then: The student council gets a hilarious letter from End of the World. Like, this is the work of a mastermind:
Contained within the letter/diagram: The next duel must take place that week, and it’s either Touga or Jury’s turn. Miki is amazed that Jury, who purportedly doesn’t believe in this entire thing, has to do it. She does in fact pass, until Touga edges her on—a comment about lost love. (To note: The entire time Touga talks, he’s throwing little knives at Miki, and eventually traces a knives outline around Miki’s body. This show is amazing.)
And with that, it’s flashback time: Jury was caught in a love triangle between her fencing partner (tall brunette dude) and her friend (short purple-haired girl). Her partner was interested in her; her feelings appear to have been for him too. However, her friend wanted her partner, so the friend told the partner that Jury wanted someone else, essentially betraying Jury and stealing away the partner’s affections. Said friend says so much in a letter to Jury, which veered between saying sorry and being like “You mad?”
I’D BE MAD. (Also, this is where the opening shot is from. That is ice cold.)
Within this flashback, the core of Jury’s disbelief in miracles: Her friend said, “Believe in miracles, and they will know your feelings” as the reason that Jury shouldn’t share her romantic feelings with the person she loved—resulting in her losing two close companions. Jury attempts to answer her friend’s letter, but ends up getting reeeeeally angry and steals away into the night while wearing a nightgown and a fur stole. (Worth remembering: THESE ARE TEENAGERS.)
Utena bumps into Jury, and then Jury starts asking Utena personal questions: Namely, why the boy’s uniform all the time? Utena explains the story about her prince, and shares that she thinks it’s a miracle that her destiny might still be entwined with the prince’s, through Anthy and the Rose Bride myth.
In a moment of bait and switch, Jury stands over Utena and looks like she’s gonna kiss her, but then instead she grabs Utena’s hand and tries to pry off the rose ring!!! She goes so far as to tell Utena that her supposed connection to the prince is stupid—even as a necklace which had been spotlighted multiple times glints at her chest. With clear bad blood on Jury’s part spilling over to Utena, the two set their sights on a duel.
This episode’s skit is worth noting: One of the shadow girls is sick and can’t make a class trip to the zoo. She tries to cheer herself up by saying that all the animals there are stupid and not cool; the other shadow girl calls her out on her clear regret at not being able to go. METAPHORS!
During the Jury/Utena duel, despite Jury’s clear prowess at the sport, she fights dirty, pushing Utena down to the ground with unnecessary force. Utena seems to channel the prince, and rushes Jury, but the older girl pins Utena down with a sword at her throat.
But then—a miracle. A sword falls out of the sky and pins Jury’s rose to the ground, giving Utena the victory. Jury, stunned, walks away from the battle.
Later, Touga bothers Jury about the duel. As she reflects on her own, and eventually leaves the door open for inexplicable phenomena, she plays with her necklace and shows that it’s a locket, and inside: Not a photo of her partner, but instead, a photo of the friend who “stole” her partner away from her. In this case, the miracle she was hoping for wasn’t necessarily that the man who liked her would know that she liked him back; it is something much sadder, much more complicated, than the show’s gone so far.
I really liked this episode, and think Jury’s character is pretty fantastic; the same goes for Utena’s development, as she is finally challenged rather than adored or straight up spited. I’m excited for what the show does with the information gleaned from this episode, and for Utena’s impending duel with Touga.
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