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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Magnificent Bastard

“If I wanted a guy to rape me, let's just say... Yeah.
Akio'd be the one.”-
Lacrimosa (M) on Akio Ohtori

One of the more interesting things about Utena is the way it plays with its many character’s roles throughout the series. Most obviously the titular character, Utena, plays with gender roles, wearing a boy’s uniform, and wanting to be a prince. There’s also the other Main character (if she can be called that) Himemiya who at first appears to be a submissive young girl, being used by the members of the school council as the “Rose Bride.” Now, further into the series and I’m not sure how innocent she really is.

Akio Ohtori is similar; in his first appearance he seems to be nothing more than a very handsome bishounen, eye candy and doujin fodder, with some very sexy vocals. In many ways he appears to be a symbol of masculinity, phallic symbols follow him wherever he goes, whether it be the tower he lives in, or his big red car. Despite his good looks and charms though, there’s something a bit off putting about Akio from the start. In a lot of ways he’s the proto typical Shoujo love interest, a strong and handsome bishounen, an older and dangerous man. Still, if there’s one thing Utena loves doing its taking Shoujo elements like this and deconstructing them.

And so it becomes evident pretty quickly that Akio is not quite the gentlemen he makes himself out to be. Chairman of the academy Akio uses his older good looks, and big red car, to impress the younger girls of the academy, and sleeping with them. Even Utena, a character who remains mostly oblivious to her surroundings and what is going on in the series, is affected by Akio, and easily falls for his guise.

Akio is a disturbing character to watch. Almost all the characters remain blissfully unaware of how he is using people for his own gain and desires. He’s never portrayed as outwardly evil, or as a menacing character. He’s a suave gentlemen, a typical shoujo love interest, which makes the fact that he manipulates these characters in the way he does even more disturbing.

But then at time I have to wonder, am I really supposed to be disturbed by Akio? He has a large fanbase, plenty of doujin and fan-fiction about him, maybe he’s really is supposed to be a dreamy bishounen character. I found the way he tries to impress and manipulate much younger girls scary, but then, age in anime is relative, maybe that’s supposed to be perfectly normal in this Japanese cartoon? But then there’s his relationship with Utena, she’s fallen completely in love with him, and yet he only seems to be using her. Putting on an act whenever with her, and yet whenever with Touga talking about her only as an object. Surely this is all signs of him being a fabulous bastard?

Utena is a show which ultimate goal seems to be to trick the viewer. The outcome has never been what I expect, and with only three episodes left, I look forward to seeing if Akio really is the magnificent bastard I think he is.


Q Agent said...

Keep it gay

IAmZim said...


... I thought The Producers was a pretty awesome film too.

Miss M said...

I am revoking my quote.

Akio is not the evil hot stuff I used to regard him as.

He is a fabulous bastard now.

... He said he doesn't like astronomy. DDDDDD:

Marius said...

Should have ordered my new car in red.