Anime DVD Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena Black Rose Saga

The Revolutionary Girl Utena Black Rose Saga is a box set that includes four DVDs, which cover 13 episodes of the series. One of the best things about this set is that, unlike the Revolutionary Girl Utena Rose Collection set, the discs included here actually have chapter marks on them. This made it much easier to skip over the opening and ending credits when I was watching all the episodes on a disc.

Revolutionary Girl Utena Black Rose Saga
English Publisher: Software Sculptures
Format: DVD
Release Date: May 20, 2003

Now that Utena has defeated all the student council members in the duels, she encounters a new obstacle. Souji Mikage opens the Mikage Seminar, which is supposedly a place for student counseling. However, after people reveal their problems and inner turmoil to Souji, he uses his power to put them under his control. They become Black Rose duelists, and they are sent to fight duels with Utena in the Arena. Souji’s ultimate goal is to kill Anthy and make a boy named Mamiya Chida as the Rose Bride.

During the course of these 13 episodes, the Black Rose duelists are: Kanae Ohtori, Kozue Kaoru, Shiori Takatsuki, Mitsuru Tsuwabaki, Wakaba Shinohara, and Keiko Sonoda.

After being forced to fight her best friend to protect Anthy, Utena challenges Souji to end his schemes once and for all.

As far as the episodes in this set go, the story becomes much darker as the series unfolds. Near the end of the set, so many concepts get thrown out at you, that it just washes over you and you’re left with a lot of questions. Personally, the Black Rose Saga is my least favorite portion of the Revolutionary Girl Utena television anime series.

When it comes to extras, all four DVDs have an Art Gallery; this consists of stills from the episodes, as well as some production art. The images flash by so quickly, however, that it makes it hard to pause on a particular image that you’d like to take a closer look at.

All four DVDs also include an interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara, the director for Revolutionary Girl Utena. He was interviewed at the Big Apple Anime Festival in 2001, and features his audio in Japanese with English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. The interview was split into four parts and spread over all the discs in the set.

Ikuhara talks about such things as his influences, being a singer before going into animation, why the designs changed for the movie version of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a new project he was working on at the time, his hobbies, how homosexuality is an important part of the series, and what inspired the Shadow Girls, among other topics.

Each disc also has an interview with one of the voice actors from the English dub version: Roxanne Beck (Wakaba and Kozue), Mandy Bonhomme (Jury), Carol Jacobanis (Shadow Girl), and Leah Applebaum (Nanami). They each talk about their character and how they got into the anime business. Three of the voice actors also share something that they do besides anime voice-over work.

There is also a “Revolutionary Girl Utena Storyline” link in the special features menu on each disc. The first disc recaps the 13 episodes on the Revolutionary Girl Utena Rose Collection box set. The link on discs two, three, and four recap the episodes that appeared on the previous disc.

The first two DVDs include a text-only biography of an entity involved with Revolutionary Girl Utena (Chiho Saito and Be-Papas). The other two discs have a song from the series, with the Japanese lyrics on the bottom of the screen. Disc three has the fight song that appears in episode 23, while the fourth disc features the opening credits. However, the version of the credits used for the sing-along only has an instrumental version of the song, instead of the version with the lyrics. If you don’t know Japanese, then these sing-along features are rather worthless.

Three of the DVDs include a 15-second promo for the 2003 Big Apple Anime Fest in the extras menu; on the fourth DVD, this was put in the “Previews” menu (which is where it should have been for the previous three DVDs).

Each DVD has a section in the menu for various trailers, as well as a DVD-ROM link. The DVD-ROM link gives the viewer access to websites and special features.

The special features on this DVD, while they aren’t necessarily great, are better than what was included on the Revolutionary Girl Utena Rose Collection set. This particular box set is now out of print, but Right Stuf has acquired the rights to Revolutionary Girl Utena and have re-issued the series in newer box sets.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Revolutionary Girl Utena Black Rose Saga that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional posts about Revolutionary Girl Utena:

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