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Utena Tenjou

Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese), Rachael Lillis (English), Carola Vázquez (Latin American Spanish)

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The protagonist and namesake of the series, Utena Tenjou is a 14-year-old girl whose parents died when she was little. After a dashing prince saved her from depression, she vowed to become a prince herself. At the prestigious Ohtori Academy, she gets mixed up with a sinister and revolutionary dueling game played by the Student Council. She's very popular with the vast majority of the students at school, but not so much with the staff.
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    A-I 
  • Accidental Truth: In episode 30, she tells Akio that he is like a playboy. This turns out to be far closer to Akio's real personality than she herself would ever have guessed.
  • Action Girl: Her duels take place almost Once an Episode, and she's extremely athletic. And even outside of the duels, she's really tough both in personality and in physical ability. She can jump, she can punch, she's a demon on the basketball court, and she can beat trained duelists with broken swords, bamboo practice swords, and a pitchfork. And let's not get started on the truly epic move she pulls in the last episode...
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the earliest sketches from the manga, she was blonde with hazel eyes (although some illustrations also had them blue). After the anime came out, the manga followed suit and gave her pink hair and blue eyes.
    • She has naturally black hair in the stage musicals.
    • Her uniform was also originally pink in the manga (though she receives a black version in volume 3), while the anime depicts it as black.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Receives one from Nanami in Episode 10 for indirectly getting Touga injured by Saionji and also in Chapter 10 of the manga by Juri herself for the same reason. Utena herself dishes one out on Wakaba for speaking out against Anthy and blaming her for Utena's depression in Episode 12. What she probably didn't expect was that her target planned to hit back a lot harder.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Possibly, at the end of the series and manga.
  • Badass Bisexual: According to Word of God she's romantically involved with Anthy (though she also shows romantic interest in Touga and Akio), and is an athletic duelist who's won many fights.
  • Badass Normal: In her first duel, she won with a broken bamboo sword and no power of Dios.
  • Beginner's Luck: She has no experience in swordfighting but manages to beat Saionji, who's practiced kendo since childhood.
  • Bifauxnen: Though she's generally pretty tomboyish, it's only in The Movie when she really fits this trope, she has Boyish Short Hair when she isn't dueling and her Custom Uniform is much more masculine-looking.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She's quite a friendly and compassionate student at Ohtori Academy when we are introduced to her and she's quite fierce in sword fighting when she rescues Anthy from Saionji and has to duel with the entire student council.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: With Anthy in the movie.
  • Bi the Way: She has the most romantic tension with Anthy, but she also shows attraction to both Touga and Akio.
  • Blithe Spirit: She has no idea about the plot that the student council is involved in but gets involved in their lives (and tangled interpersonal issues).
  • Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: Combined with Implausible Fencing Powers.
  • Famous Last Words:
    "At the end, I couldn't become a prince. I'm sorry Himemiya, for pretending I was a prince. I'm sorry."
  • First Kiss: After hearing Wakaba talk about this, she muses that hers must have been from Dios. In the manga and light novel, her Sacred First Kiss is stolen by Touga early on. In the anime, her first kiss is Akio.
  • Freak Out!: In Episode 11, she doesn't take the truth behind Anthy's role as the Rose Bride too well. It's even worse in the manga.
  • The Gadfly: Often mockily bothers other people for their love affairs. Like when, after founding the truth about their past relationship, she disrupts them when they're, likely, having an exes' quarrel (and just by staring and loudly slurp her tea).
  • Girl in a Box: At her parents' funeral. She finds a third coffin and hides in it, hoping to be buried herself.
  • Godiva Hair: In the movie-manga during her sex scene with Touga.
  • Go-Getter Girl: What Utena starts out as. Events force her to confront what, exactly, achievement means to her.
  • Good with Numbers: According to Wakaba she does quite well in math. Her grades start to slip, however, once she starts dueling.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Every time she gives her routine about wanting to be a prince so she can rescue princesses, she reiterates that she's still "Just a normal girl who wants a normal guy!"
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A battered, exhausted, and freshly-stabbed Utena saves Anthy's soul by opening the Rose Gate with her bare hands, but ends up getting the stabbing from the Swords of Hate in Anthy's place; Utena's willingness to do everything possible to help her friend is ultimately the key to helping Anthy break free of her relationship with Akio and leave Ohtori.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: A more subtle case than most, but her most prominent flaw throughout most of the series is that she tends to assume she completely understands the emotions someone is feeling after just a few seconds, and then tries to impose her own sense of what the solution would be, typically just making things worse. Juri nails it by calling her "cruelly innocent."
  • Hypocrite: Something Akio uses as Breaking Speech. She uses Anthy as her personal Damsel in Distress to be her prince, so she has a reason to live for after her parents's death, and never cared enough for Anthy to try to understand her suffering. She gets better, says Shut Up, Hannibal! to that and grows to really wanting to free Anthy. Doubles as Not So Different since Utena is quick to call out others for not caring about Anthy.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Averted. Not only is she seduced by Akio, she also made quite a few mistakes when it came to Anthy; namely, by using her position as Anthy's "protector" to feel good about herself.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Has blue eyes, and she's easily the most idealistic character in the series.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: She witnesses Anthy's torment when she's only five or six and doesn't understand what's going on, except of course that it's horrible and she wants to save Anthy from. Over time, this just becomes a desire to make herself into a prince.
  • In the Back: In the penultimate episode, Anthy stabs Utena with her own sword—the same one that Utena wielded throughout the series. Utena struggles to remain on her feet and help free Anthy from her abusive brother, Akio, despite her betrayal.
  • In the Name of the Moon: "Grant me the power to bring the world revolution!"
  • Instant Expert: Is never stated to have any real sword training before getting involved in the duels, and is never shown training in swordsmanship between duels (while she's highly athletic, her sport of choice is basketball, not fencing or kendo), yet she ends the series with an 18-2 dueling record.

    K-W 
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: In the second ending sequence with Anthy.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: By the last arc, Utena loses faith in her own good because she realizes that she only became a prince in order to find something to live for after her parents died. She loves Anthy but is not sure whether she wants to continue fighting for a less than pure girl who sleeps with her brother. In the end, though, Utena realizes that no matter what Anthy does, she'll always get the short end of the stick as long as she stays in Ohtori: she can manipulate as many students as she wants, but at the end of the day, she'll still be the Rose Bride openly stepped on by every Duelist she comes across, and the only one in the world who is perpetually impaled by a swarm of animated swords. Now that she has realized this and that she hs admitted how self-righteous she used to be about Anthy's difficulties, Utena decides to fight again anyway, so she can give Anthy the chance to truly free herself and stop suffering.
  • Lady and Knight: The Knight to Anthy's Lady, especially since she aims to be a prince. Deconstructed when she realizes that she's mostly being the Knight to Anthy's lady to fulfill her own desire of having something to live for after her parents' death, without taking Anthy's feelings into account.
  • Lady of War: She's the standout Action Girl of the story and a dignified fencer. She even partakes in archery in the manga, though it's most likely a part of the school curriculum. However, her garments do accentuate the dignity and elegant factor.
  • Magic Knight: Whenever she gains the power of Dios in a duel, or when Anthy powers up the sword.
  • Meaningful Name: "Utena" translates to "calyx", a set of specialized leaves that protect the petals of a budding flower. Note that Anthy's name means "flower". "Tenjou" means "the top of/above the heavens", fitting her idealistic nature and desire to go to the castle in the sky.
  • Memento Macguffin: Her ring, which her mysterious prince gave to her and told her that it would lead her back to him one day. It turns out that her ring is the same as the ones the members of the Student Council wear, which lets them participate in the duels. Naturally, this isn't a coincidence.
  • Morality Pet: To some extent, Touga's. She seems to be the only person that he comes to genuinely care about.
  • Naïve Newcomer: At the very beginning, which doesn't make much sense since she's been attending Ohtori for at least one term prior. (The beginning of the manga has her at her old school before deciding to go to Ohtori, so it fits a bit more there.)
  • Once Upon a Time: "...there was a princess grieving over the deaths of her mother and father."
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Her Rose Signet, which she received few after being orphaned.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her parents died when she was very young, leaving her an orphan.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: She alone can beat a whole basketball team.
  • Pink Heroine: She has pink hair and turns into a pink car at the end of Adolescence of Utena. In the beginning of the manga, her school jacket was pink.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Utena is associated heavily with pink. Her hair is pink, she occasionally wears pink dresses, she's associated with pink roses etc. Pink is one of the few concessions to femininity in an otherwise tomboyish character. It seems to represent her naive and trusting nature as pink becomes more on display when Touga and Akio are manipulating her.
  • Plucky Girl: She never gives up. She has to confront her emotions eventually, but she's still overall one of the cheerier characters. By the end of the series, she forces herself back up with her bare knuckles.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow: In the movie, she normally has short hair. When she transforms into her dueling outfit her hair also grows out.
  • The Promise: Invoked with Akio, manipulating her in the form of Dios, to save Anthy in her past.
  • Proper Lady: She's not one, but once tries to act like one to cope after Touga defeats her and she temporarily loses Anthy. Wakaba immediately realizes that she's miserable trying to act like something she's not and manages to snap her out of it and get her back in the arena. Once the deal is resolved, Utena reverts to her natural tomboy self.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Has this through the movie in her "dueling form" and in the ending; it's also wavy as opposed to straight. Otherwise, for the majority of it, she has short boyish hair.
  • Reality Ensues: In the last arc, she's been warned several times by Saionji, Touga, and Nanami about Anthy's and Akio's true relationship and to distance herself from them, yet (understandably) because of their past transgressions, she disregards them. Even during her duel with Akio, she's warned that their fight will be absolutely nothing like the ones she experienced, and ultimately pays the price in the end when she earns a sword in the back for her troubles and later becomes a human pincushion.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: When Touga and Akio manipulate her into becoming more feminine, Utena is weaker than she usually is.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Inverted. She dresses prominently in black and red but she is The Hero.
  • Red Is Heroic: Downplayed. While red is one of Utena's main color scheme, it's mainly black, but she's still a hero.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Not so much "sweetie" as "chivalric". That's what she wants to be.
  • Save the Princess: What she thinks she's doing where Anthy is concerned. She's doing it more for herself than for Anthy, and she doesn't take it well when she has to face it.
  • Secretly Selfish: Rather than wanting to help and protect Anthy in the Duels, what Utena truly wanted was to be Anthy's Knight in Shining Armor so she could bolster her own ego and making Anthy relay on her, without taking Anthy's actual desires and thoughts into consideration. She only realizes this truth after finding out that Akio used Anthy's eternal Fate Worse than Death to bait her and, understandably, she's devastated. This grim revelation gives Utena the determination to truly free Anthy from both Akio and herself, rather than just White Knighting for her so she could feel good. It works since Anthy sees her sincerity, realizes Utena is truly fighting for her rather than for her own ego... so in the end she decides "I Will Not Be A Victim" and leaves Ohtori with Chuchu to find the missing Utena, finally liberating herself from Akio and her own demons.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • She seems to put a veil over her eyes when she's facing the true meaning of certain things; like in Wakaba's duel, she was confused about why she was dueling and seems to not hear Wakaba yelling at her face how envious she is of her and all the "special people".
    • However that scene in particular could have been Utena not understanding how Wakaba could see herself as not special when she considers Wakaba really special to her as a best friend. A more clear showing of this trope is Utena not always understanding the situations at hand due to her obliviousness like Juri and Shiori's full situation and when Nanami tries to tell her straight up that Anthy and Akio are sleeping with each other, and that was after Utena found out herself.
    • She regards Nanami's attitude in Episode 32 as one of her usual bitch fits, though understandably due to Nanami's past actions. However, she doesn't pick up that something is wrong with Nanami when the girl is gravely serious before attacking Utena in a berserk rage.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Essentially the prince/princess dichotomy Utena embodies. She can outfight high school kendo and fencing captains (prince). But she's extremely trusting and inexperienced (princess). Touga and Akio successfully exploit this contradiction.
  • She's Got Legs: According to Ikuni himself, the reason why she wears Daisy Dukes.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Her duels frequently end like this. Especially prominent with her talk with Mikage in Nemuro Hall.
  • Talking in Bed: She and Anthy frequently converse in their adjacent beds after they move into the planetarium tower.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She is an outspoken Action Girl in a modified boy's uniform. She also has long pink hair that reaches her lower back.
  • Tragic Hero: It turns out that her prince was really the Big Bad and the encounter that saved her from despair was one of his manipulations, the person she's trying to save is so deep in torment that she'd rather kill Utena than face life without it, and in the end Utena sacrifices herself, vanishing from Ohtori Academy and the memory of her friends.
  • Tranquil Fury: When slapping Wakaba in Episode 12. The same incident happens in Chapter 18, but she's more herself at the time.
  • Underwater Kiss: In the movie-manga with Touga. The actual movie has a variant; Utena and Touga are separated by a glass wall when they kiss, and only Touga's side is flooded, symbolizing the fact that he died by drowning.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Once she has Akio on the ropes in the final duel after giving a Shut Up, Hannibal!, she does not cease in her assault.
  • Unwillingly Girly Tomboy: Played for Drama. Episode 12 straight up shows that a tomboy Utena is a happy Utena and when she's getting girly, something's wrong with her. The only time she wore the female uniform was after losing Anthy to Touga and she believed she lost her right to be a prince. Later on, she starts to slip from her male uniform into more girly clothes after being seduced by Akio, who almost got her to slip out of being a prince to turn her into a princess.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: She wears shorts as part of her Custom Uniform, which is the part of her uniform the teachers seem to have the biggest issue with.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: The most naive character in the show.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Brings one to her duel with Saionji. He shears it off, but she beats him anyway.

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