Manga Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena: After The Revolution

Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is a compilation that was put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution
Written by: Chiho Saito
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 6, 2020

This release collects three short stories that were published in Flowers magazine in September 2017, March 2018, and May 2018. All three stories are set 20 years after the events of the original story.

The first story focuses on Touga Kiryu and Kyoichi Saionji, the president and vice president of the student council at Ohtori Academy in the original series. Both of them are now in New York, working as a galeriste. They run into each other on a regular basis at art auction houses to try to acquire artwork for their clients. They both receive a mysterious letter, which reads: “You who seek revolution… Return to the academy.” This missive comes after news comes out that a secret room was discovered under the manor at Ohtori Academy, which contained valuable furnishings and art pieces.

We find out what happened to Akio Ohtori in the intervening years, and the events that unfold when Touga and Kyoichi return to the academy are… interesting. At one point, they relive a memory that we saw during the original Revolutionary Girl Utena anime, which shows when Touga and Kyoichi first encountered Utena. We also get a throwback to the original dueling arena. As someone familiar with the anime, this was a nice throwback moment. But some otherworldly events take place that help bring this story to its conclusion. This story also shows that even though 20 years may have passed, the relationship between Touga and Kyoichi really hasn’t changed much during that time.

The second story focuses on Juri, another member of the student council. This story focuses on the crush she had on Shiori, another girl she knew during her school days. Juri has become an accomplished fencer, although she finds herself wondering if maybe she’s getting past her prime. But this telling changes some of the timeline and facts. Ruka Tsuchiya, who wasn’t introduced until the final arc of the anime, is presented here as being a fiancé for Shiori, and that they were betrothed at seven years old. In this story, Shiori is given a role serving as Juri’s manager. While it was interesting to revisit Juri’s unrequited love for Shiori 20 years later, it was kind of jarring as a viewer of the anime just how much the backstory for this unrequited love was changed.

The final story focuses on Miki, who had been the youngest member of the student council in the original Revolutionary Girl Utena. His twin sister, Kozue, has been in a coma for years. Miki discovers that she’s doing some kind of sleepwalking and catches her heading to Ohtori Academy. In the original anime, Kozue had an unhealthy desire to want to have a relationship with her brother. This plays a major role in Miki’s story in this volume. Of the three stories, I felt that Miki’s was the weakest. The best part of this story is what happens right at the end of it.

Utena, who disappeared right at the end of the anime series, plays a pivotal role in all three stories in this volume. At the end of the series, it was shown that everyone except Akio and Anthy had forgotten that Utena ever existed, and this is an important story element from the original that is utilized in all three stories here. Seeing Utena again reawakens some hazy memories of her. It should be mentioned that in all three stories, the characters encounter Utena when they are at Ohtori Academy. Perhaps this definitely tells us Utena’s fate, with my guess being that at the end of the anime, Utena somehow became part of Ohtori Academy itself, and has been lying in wait for the right time to summon the former student council members.

The art style captured the look of the characters from the original. The main character who looked noticeably different 20 years later was Miki. Considering he was the youngest of the group and still had a bit of a “baby face” on him, it’s not surprising that he would have looked like that he aged the most. The others have also aged, but the difference between the character designs for the original series and these set 20 years later are a lot more subtle.

While it was kind of nice to revisit the world of Revolutionary Girl Utena, I’m not sure these three stories were as strong as they could have been. I think the biggest disappointment is that we don’t truly learn what happened to Anthy. At the end of the anime, we see her leave Ohtori Academy to try to find Utena. At the end of the first story, it appears that Utena and Anthy are reunited in a picture, and in the final panels of Miki’s story, we see a younger Utena finding a younger Anthy, and Anthy has no idea who she is. It begs the question: have Utena and Anthy reunited or not?

After reading Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution, I really have a mixed opinion. On the one hand, it was an interesting idea to revisit the series and some of its characters. But on the other, I’m not sure that these stories truly added much to the franchise. If you’re satisfied with how the original Revolutionary Girl Utena series ended, you may want to avoid this volume if you don’t want to potentially be disappointed. But if you’re really eager to get more stories set in this world and to find out what happened to some of the characters 20 years later, then I would recommend reading this manga.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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