The final volume of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Blu-ray box went on sale on Feb. 27, 2013 for 23,940 yen (tax included). Sixteen years after the anime’s broadcast, Utena can now be enjoyed in high-resolution, making this item a must buy for fans. In commemoration of the release of this Blu-ray box, an exhibit called “Revolutionary Girl Utena Photo Exhibit - Mawaru Penguindrum and the World of Kunihiko Ikuhara” was held from March 20-25 at the Seibu flagship store in Ikebukuro. Among the items on display was a faithfully reproduced costume of the dress Himemiya Anthy wore in the anime. The event was packed with fans having come to see it.
Revolutionary Girl Utena was an ambitious work that was a collaborative effort between Ikuhara (who was part of the main staff for the anime series Sailor Moon) and shoujo manga artist Chiho Saito under their creative group, Be-Papas. The show featured unique characters with an aristocratic feel. The daring story was made in the motif of end of the ’90s ideology and same-sex love. The title contains the world “revolution” and with a conscious avant-garde experiment that surprised fans and still has firm-rooted support today.
TOM attended the exhibit and was pleased to interview King Record’s Shinichi Ikeda, who was the producer of both Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum.
TOM: Although Revolutionary Girl Utena was broadcast 16 years ago, there are many guests here. Did you expect such a reaction from a photo exhibition?
Ikeda: To some extent I had considered that there may be a reaction, but not to this extent. We had discussed holding a photo exhibit to match with the timing of the release of the Blu-ray box. The timing was miraculous and we were able to implement it. I was surprised to find the venue to be bigger than what I imagined. I’m very happy that so many fans have come.
TOM: Having had the chance to look around, we were honestly overwhelmed by the countless original pictures on display, many of them having been well preserved.
Ikeda: Currently, at the end of an anime’s broadcast [those items] are often discarded. I also didn’t think there was much material remaining. Once we took a look, there was more left over than expected, giving us the opportunity to display so many items here at the gallery. We were able to see hand drawn original pictures and animation cels, which I think will allow fans to notice the charm of anime that use these analog techniques.
TOM: Just looking around, there seems to be a lot of young, female guests.
Ikeda: Yes, it’s surprising that there are many fans here who would have been two or three at the time Revolutionary Girl Utena was broadcast. I think they have come to see Mawaru Penguindrum and don’t know of Revolutionary Girl Utena.
*TOM: Is there anything you would like to say to your overseas fans? *
Ikeda: Early in March, I participated in an event held in France with director Ikuhara. I noticed fans cosplaying characters from Revolutionary Girl Utena and found that the work was being very well-received. I’d like to create more enjoyable works for those fans, so I ask them to please wait for them with high hopes.
This exhibit will be held again from April 3-9 in the seventh floor event hall “Muse” of Hakata Hankyu in the Fukuoka prefecture. There is also a talk show with director Ikuhara and an autograph signing planned.
I think one of the reasons for the wide fanbase and long-held support of Utena and Penguindrum stems from fans being captivated by their deep stories. According to Ikeda, the stories became more polished as the staff’s ideas were incorporated. Director Ikuhara took it as a good sign and changed the story to create something fun. From it, you can peek into one aspect of the creator “group.”
We’d like to thank producer Ikeda for the inside look at these two works. Having a background concentrated on the production efforts of Ikuhara’s creative team, Ikeda’s large influence is easy to imagine.
Although 16 year have passed, there are still many adoring fans of Utena and a new generation of fans being born. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece yet, you should; you would surely have a wonderful time.
Revolutionary Girl Utena Photo Exhibition Official Site:http://www.starchild.co.jp/special/utena/gengaten.html