Utena was aired on television in 1997, and Central Park Media began releasing the series on VHS in 1999. One year later marked the first DVD releases. When CPM was liquidated, the license was on the fence until 2011, when Nozomi Entertainment rescued and rereleased it.
The final episode which starts with Anthy stabbing Utena aired on December 24, 1997. Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday in Japan. Whether this is ironic or romantic depends on how you interpret the ending.
In some circles, the manga version has the not-exactly-flattering nickname of "Utena Lite".
God Created Canon Foreigner: The Sega Saturn game was created by all the original TV series team, and so the two characters and the events in the game officially count as canon.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: It started out this way, with literal tapes back before the show was licensed. Then when it was picked up, it turned out that Central Park Media had only bought the rights to the first 13 episodes, so fans continued doing this for the remaining episodes until the rest of the series was finally picked up years later. When CPM went out of business in 2009, the show fell into legal limbo, and fan distribution became the only way to see it outside Japan again; eventually, the Anime Network started airing the series online. Right Stuf rereleased both the series and the movie in 2011.
No Export for You: Zigzagged with the show and movie, as explained above under Keep Circulating the Tapes. Played straight with the Sega Saturn game and the light novels, although fan translations do exist for those to one degree or another.
Old Shame: Ikuhara wasn't fond of how the dub of the first episodes Utena turned out to the point that he became much more involved in the English dub in later episodes as well as Adolescence of Utena.
Shrug of God: Director Ikuhara is infamously unhelpful — and sometimes deliberately infuriating — when it comes to explaining things about the show and even more so regarding the movie. Don't expect much in the way of straight Word of God. Probably best demonstrated with his statement about the difference between Series!Utena and Movie!Utena: "In the movie, she turns into a car."
What Could Have Been: The re-release booklet features art of a scrapped ending sequence that heavily featured Chu-Chu.
This also applies to Dub Name Change. The English dub featured the original Japanese names, but Enoki Films (the American license holder) did prepare a list of English names, with the title of the show changed to "Ursula's Kiss". Utena became Ursula, Anthy to Angie, Juri to Julie, etc. However, these names did end up being used in the Latin American dub (titled "The Magic Ring").
The re-release booklet also shows that Utena was originally going to keep the blonde hair she initially had in the manga, although her uniform color scheme went through many different ideas before they settled on the black and red. At one point, her hair was also considered to be blue, although the pink hair also showed up with other uniform color choices. Anthy also retained her white Rose Bride dress at an early point in development, before Ikuhara decided to change it to red.
The same booklet features an early design for Touga that had him depicted with short blond hair, while Saionji would wear glasses and have short green hair.
If a certain statement from Youji Enokido is to be believed, Touga's backstory from The Movie had been intended for his series self as well, but was left out for reasons unknown.
Crossed with Real Life Writes the Plot, on the DVD commentary Ikuhara reveals that during the series inception it was a toss up between swords and guns for the duel scenes. They opted for the former in part because American gun crimes were being reported on Japanese news.
Utena and Anthy would have been an unambiguous romantic couple in the series had Be-Papas member Chiho Saito not objected, resulting in an argument between her and Ikuhara. Thankfully, she later changed her mind and retracted any negative statements she may have had towards the pairing.
The opening sequence foreshadows some elements from the ending that were scrapped, such as Anthy disappearing instead of Utena as well as the whole armor and horses deal.
Earlier scripts for the movie have a very different car chase. Major changes:
'Beelzebul' is given as a name for the black cars. (Consequentially, the Kozue car is never shown much earlier, as the black cars are one force and not individual people.)
Keiko, Yuuko and Aiko were to appear in the form of the three leaders of a group of masked students, who were involved with the car transformation sequence.
F-ko would also be shown to merely be a doll who E-ko voices in their radio show, as well as the final scenes comparing her and E-ko to Touga and Utena (as opposed to Utena and Anthy.)
Touga would be driving the Shiori car, who would not be trying to stop Anthy and Utena from leaving.
Miki and Juri would be involved in an "action movie" scene that blows up Beelzebul in a rose-shaped explosion.
Anthy would wear a duelist's uniform and draw the Sword of Dios from herself.