Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is for Fans Only

Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is a partial sequel to the groundbreaking 80s manga and anime series Revolutionary Girl Utena. Unfortunately, unless you've followed the original series, you'll probably feel lost at sea with After the Revolution.

Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is for Fans Only
"Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution" covert art, Viz Media

The original series was a groundbreaking LGBTQ fantasy epic where themes and meanings were expressed as symbols and allegory. Tenjou Utena fought the oppressive student council of an elite academy school to rescue an abused girl named Anthy, who was offered up as the prize in a fencing tournament. Utena became a prince and fought off all comers to save Anthy in an epic (if chaste) allegorical lesbian love story that opened up Western fans to the possibilities of LGBTQ representation and storytelling in Japanese manga and anime. That's how Utena became the Revolutionary Girl – she fought the system and exposed its flaws. She became the catalyst that changed the world and the people in it. The cast of supporting characters with their own stories and journeys were affected by her actions. Some of them were friends; most were enemies or rivals; their lives were never the same again.

The series ended on an enigmatic note: Utena disappeared, leaving fans to wonder where she went if she would ever return or find Anthy again. Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution isn't so much a sequel as a coda to the subplots about the supporting characters in the series, 20 years later, no longer teenagers, but now adults with the same hang-ups, problems, and dysfunctions they had before. Touga and Saionji are still bitter homoerotic rivals but now as art dealers chasing a mysterious rare painting for their clients. Juri is now a professional Olympic-grade fencer but still in an unhealthy and unequal love affair with the reluctant Shiori, who decides to marry Juri's opponent Ruka. Miki is still dealing with his twin sister's incestuous love for him while she deals with the abusive husband she married to resolve her feelings.

None of these characters have moved on from their situations at the end of the original series, but a dream encounter with Utena's spectral form helps them start their own revolutions to move forward with their lives. It's all very mystical, mysterious, and abstract. For a reader who doesn't know the original series, it would feel like coming in during the middle of the story without knowing a lot of the initial details. This is not a book for a newcomer. For longtime fans, this would not be very satisfying. It's not a proper sequel to the original story at all, more a series of fanfic codas to the supporting cast's plotlines.

Original series co-creator Chiho Saito couldn't really figure out how to write a sequel for the 20th anniversary of the series and chose to write short stories about the supporting characters as a kind of gift to fans. The original ambiguous ending of the series was what the creators wanted, and it would have been difficult to undo or resolve it. This 20th Anniversary coda that feels minor and inessential, but it's better than nothing. Utena and Anthy are still out there, and fans can imagine the ending they like best.

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.