Utena Egg Speech

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Utena is heavily inspired by Gnosticism.

The Student Council’s daily speech is a summary of the struggle for all of our characters. Yes, even Akio, who is not a real adult, but a child that failed to become an adult, a manchild.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgB08y6n8VY [Embed]

“If it cannot break out of its shell, the chick will die without ever being hatched. We are the chick, the world is our egg. If we don’t crack the world’s shell, we will die without ever truly being born. Smash the world’s shell! For the revolution of the world!”

Shell/World = The world of adolescence/childhood.
Hatching/Revolution = Growing up.

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Now, how does one “grow up”, exactly? How DO you become an adult? Well, you do it by breaking through and surpassing the illusions of life, specifically, the illusions of childhood/adolescence. But let’s go back to Gnosticism real quick.

“The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God’s name is Abraxas.” – Herman Hesse, Demian

Within Gnostic belief, our universe, the material universe, is nothing but an illusion fashioned by the Demiurge, made to blind us from the spiritual universe, the universe of enlightenment and divinity, the vicinity of God. Therefore, if we are to reach God’s side, we must first destroy the illusory shell of matter that ties us down to falsehoods.

This is of course paralleled word-for-word in Utena. Ohtori Academy is a bizarre world of surreal illusions fashioned by an allegorical, deceptive false god (Akio). To graduate from/leave Ohtori Academy, one has to see through its illusions and walk out of its gates, where they will find reality, the true world outside. This is of course symbolic for the process of growing up, Ohtori is the world of adolescence/childhood, and the real world is the realm of adulthood. To grow up, one must destroy the illusions of adolescence, and grasp reality for what it truly is, achieving enlightenment.


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Every single character in the show has illusions that they need to destroy in order to grow up.

Nanami – The illusions of the perfect brother, and by extension, the perfect family relationship(s). The illusion of perfection.
Saionji – The illusions of eternity and self-validation via continuously comparing himself to others. The illusion of inadequacy.
Miki – The illusions of the false ideal that is the “perfect woman” and the evil sister. The illusion of absolutes.
Juri – The illusion of finding reciprocated love within the embrace of resentment, envy and betrayal. The illusion of attachment.
Touga – The illusion of automatic and unconditional affection that would will always find its way to him no matter what. The illusion of narcissism.
Anthy – The illusions of complete helplessness and the false pessimism in there being none who could truly love her. The illusion of weakness.
Akio – The illusion of the prince archetype that he feels the need to live up to at all possible costs, chasing a past that has long since faded away. The illusion of failure.
Utena – The illusion of the prince archetype she clings onto for self-validation and her false self-serving motives. The illusion of emptiness.
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Among our cast, only Utena and Anthy reach enlightenment (i.e. become adults) at the end by breaking the chains of these illusions, with the rest of the cast seemingly coming close to being enlightened at the moment we have left them, with the likely exception of Akio himself.


As for the symbolism, the most important symbol in the entire show that is the key to the entire story is…the coffin.

The coffin represents: stagnation of character, death of personal growth, and the REFUSAL of growing up.

All of our characters are trapped in their own coffins, some of them literally (Utena and Anthy).
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When Utena’s parents died, she locked herself away in a coffin. Without them around, she has convinced herself that she no longer has any purpose in life, nothing to live for. Therefore, by staying that coffin, she has declared her refusal to partake in the act of living. She refused to grow up. She refused to move on. She refused to find a purpose in life…until the Prince came, and gave her the Rose Crest. Now she has something to live for, and that is: saving the Rose Bride.

But the Prince is a devil. He does not offer salvation and individuation. He offers rose-scented illusions. Beautiful and comforting, but ultimately empty and harmful. Utena has not left her coffin, but simply relocated to another one. The coffin that is the archetype of the Chivalrous and Noble Knight.

The Rose Bride doesn’t need a prince to protect her. She needs a friend to love her. She doesn’t need a prince to save her. She needs a friend to help her free herself. Anthy needs emotional support, not a shield.

And so, Utena does not leave her new coffin until she admits the following: “I am not a Prince. Nor can I become one.”

RIGHT THERE. That one line. That epiphany. By speaking these words, Utena, at the end of her long and tumultuous journey, has transformed from Child to Adult. The girl has achieved her revolution.
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The girl is now a woman. She realised that she needs to help Anthy as a friend, as one who loves her with all of her heart, not as a Prince who is supposed to protect her. The coffin has been destroyed.

And then we have Anthy, who has been trapped in a literal coffin all along. I’m gonna take a short break and come back to this, her arc is longer and more complex than Utena’s.

One last thing about Utena. She become aware of what Anthy truly needs when she realised that the Prince role she adopted is nothing more than a selfish egoistic crutch, she has been playing the role of protector just to feel good about herself, like she has a purpose in life. Once she confronted herself about this, her path to adulthood became clear.

And now, Anthy. She has been trapped in her coffin for what seems like centuries. Her pain is tremendous, no wonder it took Utena’s critical sacrifice to finally wake her up.

A long time ago, there was a boy, who fashioned himself a Prince. He came to the aid of all girls in need of it, but this role took on its toll. His body is tattered, his spirit is spent, and the people demand that he resumes his “duties”. The only one who cared for his safety is his little sister. Watching her brother slowly die like this was breaking her heart. She wants to save him from these unsympathetic beasts. And so, she seals away her brother’s power, and promptly suffers the wrath of the world for “taking away” their Prince. She has been labelled a witch. Shunned and hated for eternity.
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Her spirit has been broken, isolated. She has no one to turn to but her brother. Except… her brother, too, started feeling resentful towards her. Now without his power, he feels useless, he feels like the world can no longer love him, for he is unable to fulfil his “duty”. He is ashamed, filled with self-loathing and bitterness. And he soon projected these feelings onto his sister, who in the first place wanted nothing but the best for him, making her feel guilty of her actions, as if she failed him. He uses her now-profound guilt against her, sexually taking advantage of her, making her do his disgusting bidding in the orchestration of a plan to re-obtain his past powers: The Rose Bride Duels.

The coffin’s construction is completed. The girl has been sealed.

Through a combination of abuse at her brother’s hand (physical and emotional), being ostracised and abashed by the world, and the unfounded guilt that has seeped into her heart, the girl is now “dead”.

Locked within her coffin. Unable to grow. Refusing to grow. She is now convinced that she is worthless, undeserving of love, undeserving of respect, undeserving of agency. She is convinced that she solely exists to carry out the whims of her brother, as payment for her “sin” (sealing his power away).

Then comes Utena. A dashing duelist who protects Anthy from the others, she wants to save her. Unfortunately, however, she is just like the rest. She has only taken up this role to bolster her ego, and though her demeanor is kind, she does not give Anthy space to express herself, she does not give her true agency. She imposes her views on her. “You have to make friends!”, “You have to tell him that you don’t want to be the Rose Bride!”, etc.
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Anthy is disillusioned with her. Though she reciprocates her cordiality, she only does it out of her “duty” as the Rose Bride. But wait…what is this? Utena is becoming aware of her own misguided intentions. She is becoming aware that Anthy doesn’t need a protector, that she doesn’t need someone to tell her what to do. What she needs is love, support, and encouragement. She needs a true friend, not a knight.

And so, only at the very end of the story, do we see the true Anthy, locked within a coffin, not the Rose Bride. Through Utena’s genuine love and sacrifice, she has obtained courage and security. She IS deserving of love. She IS deserving of respect. She IS deserving of agency. And she is NOT a puppet.

The little girl, from centuries ago, has finally become a woman. She lets her hair down, takes off her glasses, wears her own clothes, and leaves Ohtori Academy behind in search of her friend. The coffin has been destroyed.
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