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A friend recced me the fic saying itís not to be missed. I read and am stunned.
So . . . Utena got force-masculinized by the misogynic Swords of Hate after the final duel?
That, and her parents were victims of the Kiga Subway Attack, which just happen to be connected to Akio and Anthy?
The invisible people in Penguindrum are actually of a similar nature to Ohtori's Shadow Girls?
Chida Mamiya is Mrs. Ohtoriís childhood crush?!
Okay, Seinen Kakumei Utena officially trolls harder than all of Ikuharaís many mind-boggling interviews put together. However, the story totally makes up for its crack plot by way of strong writing and even stronger characterization, to the point that the whole thing is actually emotionally engaging. Whatís more impressive is how the quirky bits all manage to cohere seamlessly with canon material, even more so than what Iíve seen in most other fics from this fandom. It's like the writer somehow manages to be more Ikuhara than Ikuhara, if that makes sense at all.
Fans of Utena or Penguindrum should definitely give this a try. I wonít be surprised if this gorgerousshutin turns out to be Ikuhara writing under an alias to play tricks on his fans again. Seinen is just that authentic.
It's been a long time since I wandered the dark wastelands of fandom in search of the rare fruit of literary satiation. Time takes its toll on us all, and I was starved before I retreated back to more reputable territory. And so it was more out of curiosity than any earnest desire that I came looking for Revolutionary Girl Utena fan fiction. You can imagine my utter shock and surprise, then, when Seinen Kakumei Utena overtook me as a master-work of translating the cryptic franchise, expanding, exploring, and yet holding its original principles dear. In short, Seinen Kakumei Utena may be the best piece of fan writing I have read in years.
gorgeousshutin has a remarkable talent. His narration and descriptions spin an image in one's mind completely in sync with the series. One can almost see Chiho Saito's designs and backgrounds being created whole-cloth in the mind's eye. I feel like some liberties have been taken with the dialogue, but they are ultimately for the better. More human, less actors on stage. (Although Anthy never loses that tone; but I suppose immortal goddesses/witches/princesses can talk however they damn well please.) The pace of the story is not quick, but by no means slow. Rather, it feels like a wheel, a chapter somehow starting calmly from the finale of its predecessor, then building up again to its own conclusion. This cycle draws the reader in deeper, pushing one constantly forward by the sheer suspenseful momentum of the plot. It is worth mentioning that familiarity with Penguindrum will ease some confusing imagery, however.
Of course, where Seinen truly shines is in its retention and expansion of the series themes. Utena has always been a series about feminism and gender roles, but Seinen drives that moral home. Utena's mutilation and subsequent 'rebirth' seem to imply that the series proper was but the half-way point in the classical Hero's Journey, with the Prince now ready to claim his/her place along side the likes of Arthur and Ramachandra. But as was mentioned in the previous review, Seinen rejects Ikuhara's original (and rather exclusionist) thesis in the face of empowering not just women, but all humanity. And in a series where the boundaries of gender have been literally revolutionized, is that not the only proper course of action?
TLDR: If you read only one Utena fan fiction, make it this one!
Strictly speaking, this is really a crossover with Penguindrum, although SKU characters appear predominant in the earlier parts.
The premise is a controversial take on the final duel and the swords of hate, supposing that they constitute magic forcedly masculinizing Utena via brutal misogyny. Ten years later, Utena remains damaged and beaten down; 'heí wouldíve stayed down, if not for having reunited with Anthy. It is Anthy who kick starts the ficís events, as she draws former duelists into a battle against Akio meant to help Utenaís situation.
What makes this fic meaningful and not merely provocative is that Utenaís character and situation are well thought-out. ĎHisí shock-inducing changes are gradually revealed to have little to do with common gender identity issues, but are merely effects of lasting psychological damage sustained in that duel to save Anthy; Anthy, whose noble devotion towards Utena also fuels her manipulative actions against enemies and even allies alike. The rest of the now older cast are also given layered characterizations, with each of them flawed yet also passionate in their own unique ways. Best of all, the Penguindrum elements somehow adds to rather than detracts from the SKU side of things, resulting in some good metaphysics and even better plot twists.
What problems this fic has lie mostly in the authorís stubborn refusal to cater to the fandomís main demographics. While Utenaís situation is not really trans-specific, some might interpret it as such, and deem the story offensive. The fact that Utena is not shown immediately triumphant upon entry must have already alienated the many fans preferring the character as an infallible figure. Many of the female characters have moments of awesome, but the focus is more on human triumph than feminism. The pairings featured are more non-idealized relationship dramas and less sugarcoated romances, so those craving hot/sweet scenes could be left disappointed. My personal concern with it is how the author might have brought in too many characters and their backstories with them, putting the fic at high risk of ending up unfinished: the discouragingly low number of reviews (see link) for such a well-written epic only serve to deepen my worry. Here is to hoping that the author will carry the story on to a satisfactory ending.
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