Kunihiko Ikuhara's masterpiece Revolutionary Girl Utena is a classic story that has been massively influential on both the shōjo genre as well as anime and manga as a whole. On October 6, Viz Media is releasing an English version of Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution. Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is a collection of three short stories written by the original manga's author Chiho Saito, each one set after the end of the original manga.
Despite being created at the same time, the anime and manga versions of Utena are very different and have different endings. Now is the perfect time to refamiliarize yourself with the story of Utena and Anthy, and the distinctions between the two versions, in preparation for Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution.
Revolutionary Girl Utena followed the teenage Utena Tenjou. As a child, she was given a rose-engraved signet ring from a passing prince who said that they would one day meet again. Inspired by the prince, Utena decided to become a prince herself in the hope she would be able to track him down.
Utena's search for her prince takes her to Ohtori Academy. At this academy, Utena finds that the student council wear rings identical to hers. Strangely, the school runs a sword dueling tournament. The winner of this tournament becomes engaged to a mysterious girl called Anthy Himemiya. Anthy is known as the Rose Bride and is said to hold the power to "revolutionize the world." Over the manga's five volumes, Utena fights her way through the ranks of the school council and grows closer to Anthy. Akio, the chair of the academy, turns out to be the mysterious "end of the world," has been running the duels and manipulating the entire academy. He is also Anthy's brother, and the pair have a borderline-incestuous relationship.
At this point, the manga and anime's plot diverge dramatically. In the manga, Akio manipulates Utena and makes her fall in love with him. Weakened by her emotions, Utena agrees to take part in a marriage ceremony that will open the passage to the castle in the sky where Utena can meet Dios, the prince she met when she was a child. During this ceremony, Utena draws her sword from Anthy, but Anthy kisses Utena, sending her into a deep sleep. During this sleep, Akio drives the sword into Utena's body. When Utena wakes up, she finds that she has become Akio's Rose Bride. However, Utena rejects Akio's offer of partnership, opting instead to protect Anthy.
Akio, incensed by this decision, goes to the castle in the sky alone. Utena chases after Akio and enters the castle only to find Dios who is slowly dying after being stabbed by Akio. Akio explains that he and Dios were once two parts of one god-like being. Dios was the side of light, and Akio was the side of darkness. Akio overthrew Dios, but Anthy protected Dios by sealing him within the castle, causing her to become the Rose Bride.
Anthy begins to fade away as, with Dios dead, Anthy can no longer survive. Utena duels Akio until each strikes the other with their blade. Utena calls out to Anthy who begs Utena to stop fighting to protect her. Utena thanks Anthy, saying that she can finally be Anthy's prince. Utena fuses with Dios before absorbing Akio, joining the two sides together in one being once more. This causes Utena to vanish and the castle to crumble. However, in her last moments, Utena throws Anthy her rose ring. Several months later Touga, one of Utena's classmates, realizes that everyone else has forgotten Utena. However, he comes across Anthy, now dressed in Utena's uniform and wearing her rose ring. Anthy tells Touga that Utena is alive and then sets out to find her.
In the anime version, the Rose Prince was the savior of all girls until the Rose Bride sacrificed herself to liberate the prince from his duties. Because of this, the Rose Bride was sabbed by thousands of swords, called the swords of hatred, to atone for humanity's loss. Akio was the Rose Prince in a former life. But now, rather than being the savior of all girls, he is the end of the world. He aims to open the Rose Gate so that he can regain his full power. After discovering that Anthy and Akio are siblings, Utena is shaken. Akio offers to make Utena into a princess, but she rejects him. As she does this, Akio pulls back the curtain to reveal that the dueling arena and the castle in the sky is merely a projection made by Akio's planetarium.
Akio and Utena duel, but just as Utena is on the cusp of victory, Anthy stabs Utena in the back, declaring that a girl cannot be her prince. Anthy reascends, once again becoming pierced by the swords of hatred. Akio tries to use Utena's sword to open the Rose Gate so that he can claim the power of revolution. Utena has a vision of Dios. This vision mocks her for doing well "for a girl." Utena, filled with rage pushes herself up off the floor and pries the Rose Gate open with her bare hands.
Inside the gate, she finds Anthy inside a coffin. Utena and Anthy reach out to touch hands. But before they can, the arena crumbles, and the Swords of Hate stab Utena. Like the manga, we then cut to a few months in the future and find that most people have forgotten Utena. Akio is getting ready to start the duels again. However, Anthy informs him that Utena is still alive. And, like her manga counterpart, Anthy leaves the academy to find her.
Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution presents a unique chance for fans to see how Utena's revolution affected the academy's other students as well as letting us find out how the characters have grown and progressed over time.