Although not as popular as other shojo series, such as Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena has had a dedicated fanbase ever since its 39 episode series release back in 1997. Rightfully so, as Revolutionary Girl Utena turns the entire shojo genre on its head by using clever visual themes, surrealism, and allegory to tell its story. So for fans wanting to enter Ohtori Academy, this can be a daunting task. Here is a little guide to make the transition into a new series easier.
The plot of Revolutionary Girl Utena
The prologue explains that Utena Tenjo is an orphan, and while grieving her parent's death, she is approached by a handsome prince who comforts her during her time of need. After drying her tears, he bestows upon her the special gift of a ring with a rose sigil on it and promises that the two of them will meet again, someday. Utena, impressed by his strength and act of kindness, makes a vow that she will become a prince herself so that she can be heroic like him and then goes on a search to find him once more. Her quest leads her to Ohtori Academy, where the student council members all have rings just like hers and compete in dueling competitions for the hand of a mysterious girl known as "The Rose Bride."
Where to read the Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga
The manga, which the anime series is based upon, was created by Chiho Sato and Be-Papas and ran from 1996 to 1998 for five volumes. There was also a sequel manga, The Adolescence of Utena, released in 1999. A third sequel, Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution, is the latest iteration of the Utena saga and was released in 2017. Due to the surging popularity of Revolutionary Girl Utena, the first two series of the manga were re-released and can be purchased from RightStufAnime.com in a special collector's box-set for about $38. As for the final installment of the manga series, After the Revolution, it can be purchased and read immediately using Amazon Kindle for $7.99.
Where to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena and Adolescence of Utena
The 1999 movie, The Adolescence of Utena, is also available for streaming on Funimation.com. The televised anime adaptation of Revolutionary Girl Utena, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, can be bought in its entirety from RightStuf. But if viewers want to save money, all 39 episodes are streaming on Funimation.com for anyone who is subscribed. It is also worth noting that watching the series is not a prerequisite to enjoying the movie since The Adolescence of Utena is a retelling. Still, it is recommended to avoid too much confusion.
The story of Revolutionary Girl Utena does not stop there. There are numerous stage plays and even a Sega Saturn visual novel that was released in 1998. Unfortunately, unless the viewer lives in Japan or speaks fluent Japanese, these have not been released to a western audience. But who knows, maybe considering the growing popularity of this series, it will only be a matter of time before fans can get their hands on more Utena media. For the new viewers though, it's time to join the revolution.