The animated equivalent of sexy mood music, "Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie" is a gaga romantic fantasy that, if it were live action, might resemble a collaboration between Cocteau and Zalman King.

The animated equivalent of sexy mood music, “Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie” is a gaga romantic fantasy that, if it were live action, might resemble a collaboration between Cocteau and Zalman King. Feature version of a 1997 TV series by esteemed animator Kunihiko Ikuhara (“Sailor Moon”) will beguile fans of Japanimation with its striking graphics, polysexual teasing and enigmatic, barely coherent narrative. Cult status is most likely to be earned via home formats.

Pink-haired, crossdressing heroine Utena arrives at a mysterious academy where she’s surprised to find her former (male) paramour — and surprised further when she’s chosen to duel for the “Rose Bride,” a fetching lass who’s apparently passed around to each new fencing-contest winner. Daft action gets more so when protag eventually morphs into a pink car for prolonged escape climax. But plot is less important here than the swoony visual effects, which limn a sensuous (if never sexually explicit) world of billowing curtains, showering flower-petals and butterfly swarms. Very manga-like in style, with stilted character movement and lyrical-surreal multi-plane images (sometimes recalling painter DeChirico), pic is a vaguely Gothic daydream that works best as sheer eye candy.

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie

Japan

Production

A Sega, JC Staff, Movic and Star Child Recording production. Produced by Yuji Matsukura, Atsushi Moriyama. Executive producer, Toshimichi Ootsuki. Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, Screenplay, Yoji Enokido, based on an original manga by Chiho Saito.

Crew

Camera (color), Toyomitsu Nakajo; editor, Shigeru Nishiyama; music, Shinkichi Mitsumine, J.A. Seazer, Hidemichi Amari. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, June 14, 2002. (In San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.) Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Voices: Tomoko Kawakami, Yuriko Fuchizaki, Takehito Koyasu, Kotono Mitsuishi, Aya Hisakawa, Takeshi Kusao, Kumiko Nishihara.
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