happy end of the world, folks.
Man. I want a cute Anthy to cosplay with so badly. Why don’t I know anyone close who I could stuff in a princess dress and pretend to be lesbians with?
5. Favorite Pairing and why
Utena and Anthy. The two main characters of the series who, in many ways, are the complete opposites of each other. The prince and the princess, the hero and the witch, the symbol of feminism and the symbol of submission. But as we all know, by the end of the series they’ve both outgrown any and all categories like that. In the end they are two women who both found something very valuable in each other.
The two of them complement each other perfectly, there’s no question about that. For Utena, Anthy makes her become the kind of person she has always wanted to be. A true friend, a protector, someone who is needed, someone who can always give support and advice. And for Anthy, Utena is the only person who manages to break through her shell, who honestly desires to grow closer to her rather than use her, who can reach out to her true self and makes her discover it as well. Their relationships is far from flawless, but they confront those flaws as well. Particularly during the balcony scene where Utena confesses she’s been too focused on playing Anthy’s prince to truly notice what suffering Anthy has been going through, and Anthy in turn confesses having manipulated and used Utena for so long. (Which just happens to be one of my favorite scenes in the entire series.)
One of the largest subjects of debate among the Utena fanbase is whether or not Utena and Anthy are in love with each other. There is of course no questioning the fact that they love each other deeply, but the kind of love I’m addressing here is being romantically in love. Some say that they aren’t in love, that the love they share is platonic and purely that of a strong friendship. Others say they are in love, and it goes way past being just friends. Both sides of this matter usually feel very strongly about their opinion so these debates often become rather vicious. Myself? Well, it’s a little bit of a mix, to be honest…
I completely believe that Anthy is in love with Utena. For me personally this was fully confirmed the moment Anthy stabbed Utena in the back. Some people might be scratching their heads at this, so allow me to explain… first and foremost, I’m not one of those who believe Anthy stabbed Utena in order to protect her. I think she did it out of fear and mistrust, but I’ll dig more into that another time. It’s not the stabbing itself that’s important in this matter, it’s how she does it. Anthy shows a very sad expression, then wraps one arm around Utena’s shoulder and kisses it. After the deed is done she proclaims “you remind me of Dios who I once loved”. This just speaks volumes by itself. Anthy sees Utena as similar to Dios, the man she once loved more than anything in the world. The past tense her is important too. Dios is gone, and Anthy no longer holds any love for the man he became instead. But of course Utena is different from Dios. Not only in that she’s a girl, but more importantly in that she wishes to save and protect Anthy, something Dios was incapable of doing. With this in mind, Anthy is not clinging to the dead Dios through Utena, her words should not be interpreted as such. But she sees traits in Utena that are the same as what made her fall in love with Dios, and now, as I believe, made her fall in love with Utena. There are of course other scenes aside from this to support Anthy’s love for Utena, such as when Utena openly asked Anthy if she had anyone she’s in love with. Anthy’s answer was, after a short pause, “yes, I too have a prince”, followed by a zoom in of their hands together. Then there’s also the simple fact of how worried Akio was about the bond between Utena and Anthy. He knew very well that if Anthy fell in love with someone both her heart and her loyalty would risk slipping out of his hands, which is why it became so important to make Utena fall in love with him instead. And speaking of Utena, let’s move on to her now.
Utena’s a bit trickier to figure out than Anthy in this aspect. (Imagine, someone trickier than Anthy…) Not only because Utena is terribly naive when it comes to anything involving love, but also because she’s so convinced that she’s a hundred percent heterosexual that she doesn’t even seem to consider the possibility of being anything else but straight. Throughout most of the series the only person Utena claims to consider a love interest is Dios. Her heart is momentarily swayed by Touga but only while beliving he’s her prince so it passes very quickly. Akio later skillfully manipulates Utena into falling in love with him, which is the first time Dios is pushed to the side. But so, what about Anthy? While Utena refers to Anthy as a friend and nothing else but a friend, both her actions and body language around Anthy can at times hint at something else. And other characters react to this too, most notably Juri who asks Utena in one of the final episodes “what will you do about Anthy? you love her, don’t you?”. Utena immediately and very calmly rejects this, saying that the love she feels for Anthy is not of the same kind as the love Juri feels for Shiori. But despite that, she can’t give a clear answer to what it is she feels for Anthy. So what is it? It’s seems like it’s just as possible for Utena to have been in love with Anthy without realizing it herself as it is for her to always have seen Anthy as a precious friend. My personal belief is that Utena does indeed hold romantic feelings for Anthy, feelings she couldn’t identify as love because she was far too convinced that she’s straight and Anthy is just a friend. And I don’t think she realized these feeling until her own final moments in the last episode of the series where, while desperately trying to open the Rose Gate, she quietly whispers to herself: “Himemiya, you don’t know… how happy I was just being with you.” Her words are like a small confession, and suddenly, the swords have stopped and in front of her is Anthy’s coffin. This, and only this late in the show, is where I believe Utena realizes her love for Anthy. Only when she feels so close to losing her does she fully understand the extent her feelings go.
It’s a rather well known fact that Ikuhara wanted to add much more romance between Utena and Anthy in the series but was unable to do so because other people among the animation staff, most notably Chiho Saito, were against it and so he had to restrict himself. While I agree with most people that this is a terrible shame I still can’t really complain all that much. Because I’m more than satisfied with what the bond between Utena and Anthy was portrayed as in the series. I don’t need any kisses or love confessions, the love between two characters can be well written without any of that, and the love between Utena and Anthy is truly a most beautiful one. A love I’m sure just continued to grow after the two of them were reunited once again past the end of the series.