"Adolescence Apocalypse" what better title could signify the essence of this film? It is as it says an apocalypse to generic beliefs and nurtures the belief of individuality and liberation of people who realize that set values may not always be the truth to anything.
Utena Tenjou, a young girl, is a new student in Ohtori Academy. She is mistaken as a young man and seems alright with this illusion as she speaks that she desires to be a prince living for high ideals thus she wears a slightly modified boy's uniform and even appears in a masculine fashion.
She meets Anthy - a young woman who looks exotic and Indian. Anthy is the "Rose Bride" a trophy to those who win a strange set of duels to obtain a power to revolutionizing the world. Utena does not understand these duals yet is suddenly a participant.
The movie is a retelling of the original series thus some of the elements in the movie are consistent with the series. The world of Ohtori Academy is a mysterious place hanging, it seems, somewhere between subconsciousness and consciousness.
We have moving buildings, a garden suspended on a high floor and red and white and black seems to rub itself on the architecture. The artwork is exquisite and grabs your attention instantly including the characters' natures which can be said far from the accepted norms.
Utena begins her journey as a young women who believes she must be a man to have ambitious dreams thus dresses in an manly way and exhibits stereotypically accepted masculine qualities. However, it seems that this illusion interrupts her from accepting that she, as a strong woman that she is, can still attain her ambitious dreams and desires by accepting the fact that she is woman excluding her sex's accepted stereotypes.
She is not alone in her misconceptions but all other characters also deal with psychological dilemmas and insecurities. Every character, as many people in reality do, creates an illusion for themselves which instead of aiding them deteriorates them.
The psychological depth of this movie is captivating and it is transmitted through actions, symbolisms and statements. The characters may be not as they seem - they actually can step out of the image that is expected of them.
This is where the storyline possesses dark elements - if one is conservative about sexuality, incest, bisexuality and homosexuality then the movie might make them uncomfortable. The movie explores the dark sides of psychology, humanity and of course fairytales.
The series has always been called a postmodernist fairytale and the movie is not an exception - it dissects how we respond to the terminologies prince, princess and witch.
Aside from its great feats in being a postmodernist icon it does deal with Utena's transformation from stereotypes to a strong individual - a woman who can assess, analyze and accept her strengths and break out of illusions.
The movie's narrative takes an artistic approach which is abundant in symbolism thus it won't appeal to everyone. It deals with various philosophies that aren't mainstream but linked to people's desires and identities. Mostly, one might need some basic idea of the Utena universe to enjoy it - if one approaches with no knowledge they might become horribly confused and/or annoyed with the symbols.
Overall, the movie was a great experience. It had lush character designs and great dynamics, however, its plot might not appeal to everyone - aside from the themes it did retell a 39 episodes storyline in approximately 1hr and 45 mins. So it might seem to have left out some portions of depth present in the original series.
"Utena The Movie" is a masterpiece in its own right and a movie that should not be missed if one wants an out-of-the-box experience.