dorchadas: (Jealous)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Last night [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture and I were watching Revolutionary Girl Utena and I finally actually listened to what everyone is saying that gets translated as "End of the World."

So, until this point I'd always assumed that one aspect of Utena was the idea of "the world" as adolescence, and how when you're a teenager you fixate on a lot of things that seem like life and death at the time but aren't of any particular importance as you grow older. The duels are, in a way, their attempt to force some kind of structure on their lives--to create a framework where things make sense and the outcomes are known, while also being an example of the former. I mean, as of last night we got to episode 33 and no one has actually explained what the power to revolutionize the world even is or why everyone wants it so much.

The student council speech is incredibly melodramatic, as fits teenagers instilling meaning into their lives, but it does reveal something about what the power is:
卵の殻を破らねば、雛鳥は生まれずに死んでいく。我らが雛で、卵は世界だ。世界の殻を破らねば、我らは生まれずに死んでいく。世界の殻を破壊せよ。世界を革命するために
Translated as:
"If it cannot break out of its shell, the chick will die without ever being born. We are the chick. The world is our egg. If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without ever truly being born. Smash the world's shell. FOR THE REVOLUTION OF THE WORLD!"
Basically, the power to revolutionize the world is the power to grow up into the kind of person they want to be, without being smashed into conformity and becoming a salaryman or OL endlessly riding trains and drinking with their bosses into the late hours. The End of the World is thus a source of wisdom for them because it represents the end of their constrained world and a rebirth into freedom.

But! As I said, last night I was listening and they don't say 世界の終わり (sekai no owari, "The End of the World") as I've just been assuming. They say 世界の果て (sekai no hate, "The Ends of the Earth"), meaning a physical distance rather than a temporal finality. This fits really well with the Utena movie, where the ultimate goal is to escape the academy where everyone is Jesus in Purgatory, and I suppose it still fits the above interpretation if adolescence is recast as a journey to complete rather than a prison to escape from. But I'm surprised I never realized this before now.

Date: 2017-Apr-16, Sunday 20:08 (UTC)
tilmon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tilmon
I don't think I've ever heard anyone else make that point, and I haven't paid close enough attention to the dialog to realize it either, so, wow, that really makes a difference. Especially since, at least in English, "ends of the Earth" can also mean metaphorical extent, as in "I'll find that answer even if I have to go to the ends of the Earth". If it acts as a metaphor similarly in Japanese, then it could be referencing something like Utena's willingness to protect Anthy going to such an extent.

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