[Readers Request] Revolutionary Girl Utena – Episodes 4&5
Have you ever heard a piece of piano music so relaxing and beautiful that it puts you at ease every time you hear it? Have you ever longed for be reunited with something or someone special? A shining thing in your life that you may have lost in the past and now you want to regain it? Wanted to protect something or someone, no matter the cost? These are the things that episodes 4&5 make me think about as we meet and focus on another member of the student council named Miki Kaoru. A gentle and kind boy genius, who plays the piano and fences on the national level and is smart enough to be studying a college curriculum while attending middle school.
Miki has always been my favorite Utena character, and I think the reason for that is his gentle nature. While most of the rest of the student council is very much antagonistic to Anthy and Utena at one point or another during the series, Miki is generally very kind to both of them, he even goes to pled to the student council to abolish the student council and the dueling system. Saying that no amount of power that they could get in the end is worth stripping Anthy of her freedom. He does end up dueling for the Rose Bride, despite his promise to Utena that he intended to do no such thing but that is merely because he’s convinced by Touga that if he does not fight for Anthy, he can not protect her.
As he realizes that she is helpless to do anything for herself and that scares him. He loves her, or at least thinks he does. Though I very much get the feeling that he more loves the idea of her and what she represents to him.
Which is someone that can help patch the gap left in his heart and in his music when his sister decided to stop playing the piano forever. In his childhood, his sister and him composed a famous bit of music named the Sunlit Garden. Which is a music piece that features prominently in many episodes, yet takes the center stage in this one. They used to play the piano together, out in their backyard in a sunlit garden. One day, their parents scheduled them to premiere together and give a concert as genius piano players. Yet right before the concert, Miki was struck ill with measles. So she had to go alone, she had a breakdown on stage and ran away and hid through the night and never explained why to anyone and with that. She never played again.
We actually do get to see the middle school version of his sister. Coming out from the music room, after having possibly sexual relations with Touga. It’s here that Touga tells Miki that he needs to fight to protect the things he cares about before they are taken away.
Naturally, in the end, Miki loses the duel against Utena. He works himself up to think that he is dueling to help and save Anthy, that this is what she wants. Though as he hears her cheer for Utena, he realizes perhaps that he’s in the wrong and falters just enough to lose the duel.
In the end, he isn’t able to find his shining thing. The illusion that Anthy can be the thing he needs to replace his sister is shattered. Though I think deep down he still cares deeply for Anthy, perhaps now even a little more purely and truthfully then he did before.
The themes of these two episodes can be thought to be perhaps “letting go of the past”, and “protecting what you care about most.” and while they do nothing to answer for us what it means to revolutionize the world. They are wonderfully solid episodes and two of my favorite in the student council arc of the show.