Revolutionary Girl Utena: Apocalypse Saga 3
Limited Edition, Limited
DVD | Box Set
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This third and final limited-edition DVD box set features the concluding arcs of the Revolutionary Girl Utena television series and the theatrical film Adolescence of Utena. The story: As the final duel rapidly approaches, the Student Council's will to continue is beginning to waver. After all, End of the World's identity and motives remain a mystery. And Utena, fueled by her desire to protect Anthy, continues to prevail over the feeble ambitions that drive the Student Council to fight. But the Council's ambitions are reignited when they hear a sound. At first, it's faint, but soon it becomes clear: The promised revolution is within reach - and the duels must go on. And what of Utena's own ambition? To become a prince, the duels may be only one of the trials she has yet to face. The episodes and movie are presented with remastered video and newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese audio tracks (from the recent Japanese DVD releases), as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for English and Japanese audio, and English-language subtitles and on-screen translations. On-disc extras for the television series include animated art galleries, an interview with Director Kunihiko Ikuhara, an interview with lead actresses Tomoko Kawakami (''Utena'') and Yuriko Fuchizaki (''Anthy''), interviews with the English-language voice cast, Japanese staff commentaries for select episodes, karaoke for the dueling themes, Japanese TV spots and trailers, and the original North American trailers. On-disc extras for Adolescence of Utena include a full-length movie commentary by Director Ikuhara, a behind-the-scenes feature with the English-language cast, Japanese TV spots and trailers, and the original North American film trailer and teaser. Additionally, the set is housed in a collectors' art box and include a book with content from the limited-edition Japanese releases, including artwork, commentaries, and the third installment of production notes from the Japanese LaserDisc release. Only a limited quantity of this premium set will be produced.
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After the bankruptcy and liquidation of CPM, many feared that Utena would be out of print indefinitely. Fortunately, RightStuf/Nozomi has stepped in and released these box sets. The box sets are beautiful and the picture quality is a cut above the Central Park version. Furthermore, the sound, now in 5.1, is far clearer and may be better appreciated by those with a 5.1 setup in their home theaters. The extras are a nice bonus, and the booklets provided with the sets are nice as well.
Concerning the actual show, most people considering this purchase have probably already seen Utena. For those who have not, Utena has emerged as a modern classic among quite a few anime critics. It was positively regarded a decade ago, and appreciation for the show has only increased over time. A product review can't even begin to encapsulate this show. Utena's production team is frequently called the "dream team" of anime, with renowned animator Shinya Hasegawa, weirdo (but awesome) director Kunihiko Ikuhara, manga artist Chiho Saito, et al. They split after making Utena, and IMHO none of them have made anything close to Utena in terms of quality (not even Ikuhara's latest show, Mawaru Penguindrum comes close although graphically stunning).
Anyone who does a little research is going to find that this show is very heavy on the psychological and philosophical front. It is, in my interpretation, very existential and feminist. When I was a teenager, I did not appreciate the many "levels" on which this show operates. I thought it was a show with a bunch of rebellious hot girls who kicked a lot of you-know-what and that was good enough for me. In fact, I was reluctant to watch the show again, thinking it'd be a waste of time as I'd seen it twice before already. However, re-watching the show recently as an adult, I find the show much more satisfying intellectually, and have gained a far deeper respect for the sorts of messages that the show puts forth. Ultimately, the dazzling visuals and wonderful soundtrack are secondary to the narrative drive. Regardless, it should be said the artwork is top notch (especially in the third and final season - not to mention the movie; this box set) and the music is memorable. Years later, Utena's rock opera duel themes still stick in my mind. Utena, like any other work of art, is the sort of thing that leaves you with a different impression every time you experience it.
I have to agree with critical and popular consensus that Utena is a visual and intellectual masterpiece that anyone with an open mind should take a moment to watch. Because the original film stock has degraded over the years, the hope of an HD BluRay release is pretty distant. Whether you are new to the series, or watching it again for the nth time, THIS is the version to watch/get.
Let's talk about the show for a minute -- you have not seen Utena until you have seen a full remaster. Already visually stunning, going from these discs to uploads of the episodes online, even my old DVDs, there's such an intense difference in color quality that old versions are just depressing to watch.
Also, watch the previous two sagas. This show is worth your time.