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12 days of anime #1 – The end [Yurikuma Arashi & Revolutionary Girl Utena]


Nonsensical rambling, I guess?

This post got delayed over and over again until there is no more day left and I have to face it. I want to talk about Ikuhara’s anime and their endings. I always have this feeling that his stories end in a way beyond my ability to comprehend. It’s a fearful and also very curious feeling, being elevated and humbled at the same time.

This marathon of posts exhausts me further the more I participate in it. There was really no compulsion to begin with, just another attempt of me spilling words on blank screens before reorganising them again months later, albeit for this event only I write in English and make several things public. I took the time to write these kinds of posts, besides for the stated reason that it’s part of a remote tradition, because I want to revisit my year of personal growth or the lack thereof. It’s not fun watching anime without taking something out of it for yourself.

YKA 12 - who

There’s a running theme in previous posts of mine about personal struggle, whereby I wrote passionately about the struggle of Shizuka as an aspiring voice actress, the struggle of Kumiko to improve her music, the struggle of Nitori to claim his gender identity of choice, or the struggle of Kaguya to break away from formalities. The idea of an individual trying to work out their own life is encouraging, at least in the examples mentioned. Though this time, let’s talk about love, in terms of connection to another person.

Also, through this 12 days series, I felt the need to dig into the darker side. With my life being rose-colored so far, even the sex education of Shimoneta counts. And my feelings for those characters above couldn’t be complete without sympathising with their loss during the progress. The comparison of Nitori and Takatsuki is particularly relevant: Takatsuki got it easy; Nitori got it harsh. He deserves the power to revolutionise his world. With that, let’s talk about sacrifice.

I swear there’s immense hype for Ikuhara’s films when I first explored the anime blogging world. Bloggers’ incessant praises for him led a newbie that was me to check out Mawaru Penguindrum, which in hindsight was way out of my league. I somehow formed an idea that Ikuhara was a quirky genius that looked down on humanity’s shallowness through his complex animation products. After finishing two more Ikuhara-labelled anime this year, I figure that idea was partly wrong. For a very long time, I believe geniuses don’t sacrifice their life for love, and their life is meant for significant accomplishments which shake the whole globe. Great people should know it better to focus on worldwide recognition, and should they sacrifice anything to achieve their end, love must be the first thing to say goodbye to. I was quite surprised by how three anime of Ikuhara went in a very different direction, although admittedly, my world view then became much less conflicted, for I can see greatness in unrecognised fellows. It was similar to a sin of pride when thinking that love is trivial and not worth the trouble. Ikuhara made anime that are challenging in the respects of narratives or symbolism, but as for emotions and desires, they are surprisingly relatable and close to the heart.

RGU - prince

I did seek some analyses on Revolutionary Girl Utena (RGU) and Yurikuma Arashi (YKA) to complement my shallow understanding, and while knowing that everything written is just interpretation for reference, those reviews and comments were still very helpful to organise my thoughts. Once again, I found it hard to accept the idea that some main characters have died and been transcended to something like a higher being. Couldn’t get where people were coming from when they insisted that Utena died, while characters in the anime clearly stated that she only transferred school and was forgotten. Even more, isn’t death too serious a topic? Were we watching the same thing?

Funny now I’m totally convinced that death is where they all end up, and metaphorically at that, seeing how those Ikuhara’s anime are all giant overlapping extended metaphors. My mind was rearranged following the traces left in those Ikuhara endings. Selfish people settled in cozy coffins; selfless ones give up their life for the beloved. Given the choice, people should die, metaphorically. They will get to a higher stage with their metaphorical death; it may be an unknown world, but not that there’s no consolation in such an ending. Sometimes the harder thing to kill than your life is your pride. Only people who do things that hard can revolutionise the world. I don’t know if my words would alleviate the grandeur of sacrifice, but the anime really went all the way to emphasise how much a pain and how much a heroic act it is.

This shouldn’t be the last post I discuss RGU, so more on that some other day.

YKA 12 - forest and moon

In YKA, Kureha and Ginko found each other by never giving up on love. So following the logic, of course they both die! It is quite rose-colored-minded to think you can have your cake and eat it too. The concepts would never be so clear-cut in reality, but the anime made them binary  to give a more dramatic idea of the risk. On the one hand, it’s the invisible storm and exclusion, on the other hand, it’s love and death, and luckily higher being above all storms. Urgh, late night writing and I’m starting to make less sense. More on that some other day, too.

I would choose love, rather than eternal life in a coffin. It may cause some sufferings, but that’s the logic I’ve come to know. We find security in invisibility or insecurity in being the evil that stands out. Sometimes the crowd are just robotic and it’s better to take a break from them. I may leave the impression through the previous “personal struggle” posts that I am quite selfish, so perhaps it’s refreshing to end the whole series with another perspective. To think about another is somehow a natural follow-up to spending some time alone for reflection.

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