Duel 03; Utena vs Miki; “Raison”
The use of theater in this song can be interpreted in many ways, though I think the most easy to understand interpretation is that the characters in revolutionary girls are well, just characters. They simply are playing their part and trying to make their fantasies come true. Miki is the kind of perfect example of this — he wants to return to his childhood and play the piano with his sister. So he fruitlessly pursues the Rose Bride, who can fill the role of his sister, in order to fulfill his childhood dream.
Also, I have to wonder if the reference to theater, an occupation that at least in stereotype attracts less masculine men, has anything to do with the fact that of the males presented in Revolutionary Girl Utena, Miki is the least masculine (with the exception of Mamiya, who in reality is being performed by Anthy, a female). I’m coming from an American perspective though, so the same may not be true of Japanese culture. Anyway, pure coincidence most likely but I think it is interesting.
Spira Mirabilis is a latin term meaning, “Miraculous spiral” or “Marvelous spiral” and is applied in mathematics to describe the logarithmic curve which looks like this
Now, scroll down a bit and look at my last Utena post on Paleozoic Within the Flesh. Aha. You see it. To clarify though, the spira mirabilis is the same kind of spiral as what is found on mollusks like the Ammonite. If I haven’t plugged it much yet, I found this article to be a very interesting feminist breakdown of Utena, in which the author claims the focus on the spiral is representative of DNA strands which relate to reproduction and therefore the balance of power between men and women.
Phew. The spiral. This shape is referenced in some shape or form many times within just the first season. After Spira Mirabilis Theater, the spiral is mentioned in Last Evolution and No One Has Anything to Tell, along with the visual appearance of a spiral in the staircase to the dueling arena.
Now, I have three theories as to what the spiral could have to do with feminism:
A. The spiral is in reference to the Sazae-oni, a bakemono yokai formed from an aged mollusk (mollusks have the spiral shape). This yokai is a temptress who steals the testicles of men it sleeps with. So, in reference, the spiral could be representative of the demonizing of women by men by portraying women as misleading and untrustworthy.
B. The spiral has a general religious / mythological / symbolic connotation historically as the cycle of life or of death and rebirth.
C. The spiral is in reference to the Spiral Dance, a book and resulting ritual spawned in 1991, just 6 years before Utena, performed by Wiccans and practicers of neopaganism or Witchcraft. In this instance, the spiral would be representative of freedom and independence, along with mindfulness of nature and a higher power (the Goddess as described in the book).
I did the research here, so believe me that all of these are things that could potentially give us a clue as to the meaning of the spiral. However, of the listen possibilities I’m going to go with B since it is by far the most colloquial and kind of goes along with the ending of the song, which translates to, “death rebirth death rebirth death rebirth…” and the first song, which ends with, “Born into the world; born in an instant // To repeat again.”
Birth seems to be the key word in both this song and When Where Who Which, which is clearly connected to women and femininity in that women are the ones who give birth. It is women who continue the cycle.
Wait… a cycle????