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radio414

radio414 (Re)Watches Anime (Currently: "Someday My Revolution Will Come" Let's Play)

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Episode Four -- “Why Do You Hate Me?”

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Wakaba, I know your thing is that you’re eternally locked out of the loop, so normal that you barely even know what exactly everyone is bothered about (which frustrates you to no end), and all you can do is provide emotional support, but Mary’s first few days have been anything but normal, and they’ve been not-normal in a bad way so that question seems kind of insensi-

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Oh, okay.

We’re now at Day Three of the not-quite-titular “Four Days at Ohtori Academy” and, well, if you can’t tell by what I’ve decided to title this particular blog post, things are only going to go downhill from here. Just as a heads-up, there’s blood in this post, like, pictures of a probably bloody thumbtack. The unreality that we’ve seen as an undercurrent so far is going to amplify to Ending of Black Rose Arc levels as well.

Not immediately, of course. Right now we’re just hearing about Saionji’s duel again because we (probably) could have missed that in all the dialog trees. The conversation doesn’t last too long, though, when a few more people intrude on our conversation:

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So it turns out the date was not just a one-time thing, both are very committed to the relationship on the shared grounds of getting under Miki’s skin. And that tracks. Everyone goes through the requisite greetings, though Mary’s turns out to be a bit too informal for Kozue’s liking (it’s translated here as “Mornin’”) and she remarks, “Just like you said, she really is an unpleasant girl.”

Rude!

Before anyone can ask what she means by that, the couple walks away, and we’re all left to simply speculate.

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Utena-sama, don’t you know? How I’ve always despised you?

Enough about that, though, we’ve got gym class to worry about! The faceless teacher wants us to all split into two teams and play soccer, so we’ve ended up with Utena on our team and Chigusa on the other. There’s even a whole sequence where Chigusa and Utena have this big confrontation.

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Chigusa, honey, what are you doing? We just bought gym clothes yesterday. That dress cannot be comfortable.

And in this battle, at least, Chigusa wins! She steals the ball from Utena and starts running with it, dribbling down the field, and right at young Mary Sue. Do we get out of the way? That’s the option presented to us, do that, or slide tackle Chigusa in the shins.

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Oh hey, it’s that face from my nightma- I mean our point slashes.

Mary is not a coward, though, and she’d just said she was going to do her best, so of course she goes in for the tackle. And it works! Mostly!

Mostly?

Okay, so the “get the ball from the big scary girl who is three years your senior and has this weird fixation on humiliating you” part works great, actually. We did it! But then for some reason that I’m sure has nothing to do with that above face reappearing onscreen, Mary becomes unable to breathe and soon loses consciousness.

But! Passing out does get us an Utena point, so, you know, some good to balance that out.

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Okay what is with anime and these wide-open nurse’s offices with more space than they could ever know what to do with? At my middle school, the nurse had more of a broom closet than a room and my high school didn’t have one at all (a nurse or an office for one). But I’ve seen this in JoJo too, it’s not just an “Ohtori Academy has wide-open spaces for symbolic reasons” thing.

Anyway, it turns out that Chigusa elbowed us in the stomach so hard that the wind got knocked out of us and we passed out. “It was probably an accident, this normally never happens in soccer,” the faceless nurse says, demonstrating that either the writers have never played soccer or that they’re writing the nurse like they’ve never played because that happens all the time.

Hey, remember when Luis Suarez bit, like, three people?

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Oh, so at least she definitely feels bad about it. Fortunately, Mary agrees with me that this was no accident, and starts pondering other reasons on her way back to class, but her train of thought is interrupted.

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Remember, last time we saw this building, it was a ruin. So it’s obviously a little weird for it to, uh, not be one again. We’re also not alone.

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As Chigusa enters the fencing hall, it all starts to click. No more “is she or isn’t she the person I met here,” it was definitely her. But she’s locked us out of following her, and it takes a lot of banging on the doors and begging to get her to open the door back up. It’s not to talk to us, though, it’s to give us this ominous line:

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Insert “Dun dun DUUUNs” where appropriate.

Okay, well, after we take a quick break to save, we’re still right where we left off, locked out of the old fencing hall, just a doorway away from confronting Chigusa. Ever the quick thinker, though, Mary switches tacks. The new goal is to get someone to believe her that this is happening at all, complete with another “choose who gets the nobility choice.” I chose Juri since she also needs to know as much about Chigusa as she can ahead of the duel they’re absolutely going to have.

Unfortunately, in our search for Juri, we’re so lost in thought that we forget to greet someone rather important.

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Nanami Kiryuu, First-year middle-schooler, born on August 8 (a Leo), blood type B, female. We learn all this and more as Aiko, Keiko, and Yuuko introduce us to the one duelist we haven’t heard from (not that she’s a duelist just yet). She’s about to have her cronies beat Mary up for not knowing her place (“You just transferred here and think you’re the big man on campus?”) when someone steps in.

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Oh hey, we were just thinking of you. Again.
Is it weirder the second time or nah?

It turns out we’ve been summoned to the Student Council room for another meeting, and Juri has been sent to fetch us, though not without sending a few barbs Nanami’s way (“Your brother who you idolize so much has taken an interest in [Mary] too”).

There’s also a bit of shipping material here.

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“and a professional model… gaaaaah!!”

Anyway, Nanami leaves in a huff, but now we’re sidetracked by this meeting and can’t really talk about our new revelations. We’ve got Hesse to quote.

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The reason for the meeting is this: Touga has received a letter from End of the World. Whoever is dueling Utena tomorrow is a legitimate challenge. So, Touga asks the room, does anyone have any idea who it might be?

Yes! We have an idea! We saw Chigusa going into that old fencing hall, that’s super suspicious, especially since that building’s not supposed to exist and everything. Unfortunately, nobody really seems to take such a claim seriously -- that building’s always been a ruin to them, and Utena even quips “How do you even enter a ruin?” -- and all that comes out of it is a halfhearted “We’ll keep an eye on her, I guess” sort of energy.

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The game gives us one more option, to try and convince one more person of our words, and, well, we were just trying to get Juri to come with us before this, so obviously I’m going to pick her. But Juri has her own problems she’s dealing with.

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The context is clear -- the duel between them is happening. There’s enough ominous dialog (“It’s not something you should get involved in,” “Don’t stick your nose in -- this is a warning”) to confirm it.

Juri leaves, and suddenly, oh! We’re late for Home Ec class!

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You’ll recognize this as the room that blew up an (anime) episode ago. Geez, that got repaired quickly, they even got new statues!

There’s only one person not partnered up by the time we learn what’s going on, and guess who it is.

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AAAAAA

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Drink!

So it turns out we’re baking a cake! Chigusa gets put in charge of the chocolate sauce, but soon asks us if we could taste test it for her. Still lost in that “maybe this Chigusa Sanjoin girl isn’t so bad” high, we do so and, uh…

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This is weird to me because I imagine testing chocolate sauce like wiping some off the blade of a spatula or off a blender, but a spoon works just as well, I guess. Either that or we just jammed our hand into the mixture and gobbled it down that way. Whichever the case, uh, AAAAAA never eating chocolate sauce again, thanks.

For the second time today, Mary is rushed to the infirmary, though not before we catch one final glimpse of Chigusa.

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We don’t get another scene with the nurse who doesn’t play soccer, though. We just cut back to the (normal) classroom, having a talk with Wakaba.

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Kind of a weird way to say you nearly sliced open your esophagus but good for you, I guess.

Apparently, Wakaba kept the cake we were making, though, which, uh, is nice of her I guess? She doesn’t know that it probably has even more thumbtacks in it. Given that Mary immediately wonders who she can pass this cake off to, my headcanon is that she thinks the same (seriously if that happened to me I don’t think I’d eat anything ever again).

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I chose Utena for a few reasons here. First is that she’s the one who hauled us to the nurse’s office that second time, so obviously she should get the cake, but also, on a player level, this is one of the few dialog trees I’m familiar with so I’d like to share. See, giving Utena the cake makes her ask what she can do to repay such kindness. You can’t refuse or anything, so you’re given the option to either have her reciprocate with a cake of her own or sing a song.

I chose the cake option because it just makes more sense for Mary to suggest that, but if you choose the song option, she sings “Rondo/Rinbu Revolution” aka, the theme song of the show. Despite Utena saying she’s not much of a singer, it’s still kind of cute.

There’s one final scene before we get our nobility points slashed and hit a save point, and it takes place in the worst possible location.

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Oh hey, we’re back on the Snow White imagery. Remember that calendar? Also AAAAAA

The scene is obviously taking cues from every single time the show implied Akio and Anthy slept together (which is a reason I’m not showing too many of them), except now Akio is musing on the plot thus far. Like I’ve said previously, Chigusa is attacking the nobility of the duelists. “How many will she be able to draw to her with her poisoned apple?” Akio says. “It will be interesting to see if any of them can hold onto their hearts. Don’t you agree, Anthy?”

It’s no less creepy when the game switches to low frames-per-second animation, as Anthy says “Yes, big brother,” begins her long walk to Akio’s waiting arms, and the planetarium window covers snap shut.

-r

Total drinks so far: 17 (1 this post)

Next time: Surely someone is going to succumb, angsting about that, and Juri’s date with destiny

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Episode Five -- “Who Is Going To Fall?”

So brief aside to lead things off, I’ve been basing these “next time!” prompts on vague memories and intuitive guessing. It’s served me well so far, though this particular post goes a bit different from what I’d expected. Not in an “Amazing, everything you just said was wrong” sort of way, but I did want to apologize for misleading people, you know, at least a little bit.

The angst is still going to be there, obviously.

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Mary, girl, we know why, it’s okay to be honest with yourself. You can lie to other people, but you can’t lie to your own thoughts. It’s alright, though, you’ve had a heck of a first few days.

Following the precedent set by yesterday, we’re destined to either be funneled into either the Fencing or Kendo clubs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hang around and gossip first. After all, what is middle school if not filled with rumors rivalling those of aristocratic courts? Gotta stay abreast of those.

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Still not a fan of this particular narrative device, it turns out. Like, Wakaba is repeating what someone else told her, so it makes sense for her not to immediately make the connection, especially in a school with so many long-haired pretty boys, but if it were either of the ones we knew about -- Touga or Saionji -- they’d probably be recognized, and they’re not about to introduce a brand new character over two-thirds of the way through the story. They obviously mean Chigusa, who has never not presented feminine. The rumor even includes this mystery person talking! (“Are you a prince? Or a princess?”)

The conversation gets sidetracked, though, by other school mysteries more interesting than a random ghost in some random old ruins.

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Even Persona 5 rips off Utena, huh

We also get some worldbuilding that I’m sure will never be paid off later. Just fluff this conversation, I bet.

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The way it works is by taking a name tag, like, from their locker or if they have one for any sports club or something, tie a red string to it, and put it in your locker. “If you do that,” Wakaba says, “your feelings will reach them!”

I mean, it’s kind of weird how this encourages mass theft, but I guess the faculty aren’t going to be able to stop it by saying “don’t steal these thanks.” It’d probably make more students want to do the tradition, actually. Besides, it seems like something Akio would encourage.

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Anyway, everyone leaves suddenly and we return to our original choices: Kendo or Fencing? Given that we chose Fencing the other day and enjoyed ourselves well enough, we might as well continue to pursue that interest. Besides, Juri was acting ominous last night, wasn’t she? It’d probably be good to check on her.

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Well, it was good to check on her, at least. Juri appears to be in top form, going through opponent after opponent (Miki’s not there to give her a real challenge but who cares about him?). In fact, the real worry is more that she’s going to exhaust herself. We’re given the option: take our turn losing to Juri, or try and make her take a break, and it’s out of this concern that we choose the latter.

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Here we run into some of the limitations of a visual novel made in 1998: Juri talks about how she’s going to duel Chigusa soon, but we knew that already from talking to her the night before. There isn’t a check or anything to find out what we already know, so the conversation is basically the same. “This has nothing to do with you,” she even says, mirroring the conversation on the Student Council balcony. “Now, I know you came all the way here, but please leave.”

We give Juri one final warning not to push herself, but we do leave her to her practice. Of course, this does leave us with a conundrum: where are we supposed to go next?

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Oh, okay, I mean, I didn’t realize Ohtori Academy had an intercom, and we certainly didn’t get shown it here, but I guess that’s whatever. It turns out the police are involved! We have to go to the police!

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He’s not kidding!

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I love that little “yet” like Mary is absolutely planning on doing something.

It turns out what actually happened was we lost something when we were in the city buying gym clothes yesterday, and some good samaritan dropped it off at a police box to pick it up. Well, at least we have a direction, now, even if it’s the long walk back to the city.

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I forgot how nonsense these buildings look.

We lost two things yesterday, apparently: An apple, which, uh, yeah we didn’t actually lose that (and if we did, kind of weird that it necessitated returning to us) and a picture. Or part of a picture.

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Oh no, the ultimate gotcha of Twitter conversations: “This you?”

It’s not us, though, the hair is different. In fact, the picture is of Mother Sue back when she was a student. So someone wanted us to have half a picture and an apple (oh hey, maybe it’s another Snow White reference). Obviously creepy, but then it gets worse. Mary drops the apple on the ground.

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Oh, it was another Snow White reference.

I’m honestly impressed with the cop just, you know, sympathizing with the girl in front of them and not being like “why’d you lose a poison apple you idiot” but Mary obviously has other things on the mind. “Who turned these items in?” she asks.

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I’m not starting another drinking game this far in but geez louise this game sometimes.

The officer asks if we’re in trouble, and we say no for, uh, reasons, I guess. Like, sure, there are going to be reasons why she wouldn’t be able to do that -- Ohtori Academy is nothing if not a place of arrested development where all authority figures are either apathetic or hostile -- but Mary tries to dismiss this as some sort of practical joke. Me, I’d probably never eat anything again, but even more this time.

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There’s no transition here, the game just hard cuts to this screen. It’s the same options as before, with presumably the same characters obscured behind each option. Thankfully, we know better now which one should have Utena, so Mary goes to the normal cafe hoping to confide in her.

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Utena, for what it’s worth, is here to buy us a teacup so we can feel a part of the East Dorm group. It was Anthy’s idea, she says, which is probably one of the more sympathetic actions Anthy has taken in the entire anime canon if we’re being honest.

We tell Utena what happened, but she doesn’t seem too fussed about it either. At the very least, there isn’t a change in facial expression that indicates she’s stressed. She gives a simple, “Hey, well, I’ll open your mail for you if you need peace of mind,” which is a nice sentiment, at least, if indicative of her status in the series of “a pink-haired brick that never figures things out until it’s too late.”

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That is not the face of concern.

There’s a nobility slash and a save point here, and we timeskip to that night. Anthy is apparently making dinner (totally no need to worry or anything), so we just drop our bag off in our room and-

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Oh.

Either we live in a barn or someone’s been in our room.

There isn’t really much to be done at this time of night, though, besides clean up, but Mary quickly notices that her father’s fencing saber is missing. Someone ransacked her room for a dusty old saber?

Meanwhile…

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You’ll notice that Saionji’s rose is closed here. This is what happens when someone runs out of Nobility, they become despondent and fall under Chigusa’s influence. You can see it on their face just as well as on their nameplate if you’re paying attention, but then again, we’ve been deliberately avoiding Saionji when possible, haven’t we?

Anyway, that scene fades to black, and Saionji’s fate is left unknown.

Utena and Anthy both don’t know and don’t care what happens to Saionji. They’ve got more important things to worry about.

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You can’t have fried shrimp without soy sauce, apparently, so now we get to call and ask for someone to lend us some and also invite them to share in the meal. I chose Juri here, again out of concern regarding her duel with Chigusa.

In hindsight, it did give us a Saionji option. I wonder what would have happened…

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Juri also apparently said she had something to give us, though she was unclear what it was over the phone. Hopefully, it’s not another poisoned apple…

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Chu-Chu has our saber? But he couldn’t be responsible for ransacking our room, he’s too small and we’re friends, right? Honestly, this feels like another “we don’t know what you know” sort of deal, since this version of Mary Sue has enough information to start putting things together, even if some of the remaining reveals would likely be a little improbable.

Chigusa took the saber, obviously, not that anyone believes Chu-Chu did it anyway.

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The discussion of the room, despite Mary’s “no mysteries on an empty stomach” comment, continues to revolve around Mary’s room. “Obviously they were after the saber,” Utena says. “But Chu-Chu already had it, so they couldn’t.”

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I guess Anthy would know, wouldn’t she…

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Utena doesn’t get it, by the way

Now, there’s a choice here, and I thought “They were after my body” would be Mary agreeing with Anthy, but that’s not actually what happens. “What a sin it is to be so beautiful!” is what Mary follows that particular phrase up with, and, uh, I get that these kids are fourteen and naive, but I’d have liked a bit more clarity in that option, thanks.

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There are two more segments. One is a Shadow Play, which is a bit more on the nose than the last one (“The only thing the evil queen couldn’t get was the prince’s heart” (again, not reposting the whole thing here, just dm me if you must know)), even if it’s too dark to actually see any shadows, and another sequence of Mary being unable to sleep. She’s got something specific on her mind, and it’s not just that the sanctity of her room has been violated.

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So now we have the same options as last night, though Saionji is magically removed now, and, well, Utena did imply we could confide in her at the cafe, so that’s what we’re going to do.

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The message Utena gives is “If it were me, I would not be anxious,” which isn’t great in terms of pep talks, but is rather in character for Utena, I suppose. It works for Mary, too, so I won’t complain too hard about it, and together these girls drift off to sleep.

-r

Total Drinks: 17 (0 this post)

Next Time: There are three more save points, figure I’ll just go through the whole 25th next post. Who knows what will happen!

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Episode Six -- “What Is Going On?”

I realized right around when I started everything up for this final post of this portion of the LP that if there are three more save points, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be doing one point five times the work (three save points instead of two), it means I’m doing twice the work (four segments instead of two) since there’s obviously going to be something after that final save point. Well, far be it from me to renege on a promise, especially for this blog, whose weekly premise I’ve somehow been able to keep for almost a year now. I suppose a double episode it is, then.

One thing I didn’t mention (I didn’t forget, I just didn’t bother) is how this game comes on two disks. I obscured the changeover when it happened for a bunch of reasons that aren’t really worth getting into, but it turns out almost the entire game fits on disk one -- it’s only day four that needs that extra space. Which makes sense, actually. There’s a lot of extra video in this final segment and we’re definitely not going to see it all on this playthrough.

All that out of the way, let’s see what happens.

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One thing you can’t really capture with screenshots is music, and the music here is rather ominous for a simple greeting scene. I suppose it’s to get you ready for the big reveal the moment you press the button to progress:

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Surprise! There are actually two reveals here, each maybe a bit subtle and easy to miss by themselves, but with both present, it’s difficult to miss both. The first is that Miki’s rose is now closed, just like his heart. The conversation even continues regarding him and Kozue, which implies that he’s been spending more time offscreen dealing with Kozue and Chigusa’s relationship than we have seen onscreen. The second is he doesn’t even address Mary at all -- she is already beginning to disappear, just like Chigusa threatened (even if (for some reason) Mary’s not sure it was Chigusa yet).

Speaking of Chigusa, she also makes an appearance, though with a different lover this time.

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Girl, like, everybody and their mother is bi at this school, it’s not strange at all.

We can see Chigusa’s little mini-plots from throughout the game starting to converge here. Miki wants to know where Kozue is, and so Chigusa invites him along to the old fencing hall, just like she had taken Saionji the night before. Neither Utena nor Anthy seem to care despite Mary’s protestations, though -- the most concern they seem to have is that they’ll be late to class. I assume again that it’s another limitation of the system. You’d think Utena at least would be a little more sympathetic, but, again, the game doesn’t know what it’s already told you.

Anyway, Mary tries to follow Chigusa, Touga, and Miki to the chalk-white fencing hall, but, of course, there’s nothing there but ruin. All we find of the student council members are pieces of their uniforms.

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I don’t actually know what these are? They’re color-coded, though, so I don’t have to.

These things plague our mind all through morning classes, but, before we know it, they’re over. 

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Yeah, I just said that.

It turns out there are no afternoon classes today. There isn’t a stated reason, but I like to think Akio is manipulating everyone for optimum amounts of misery. We also get the exact same conversation we just had while sleeping with Utena the night before, like, if it wasn’t such a pain to go back and check, I’d compare them word-for-word because they feel really close to identical.

Thankfully, either Mary thinks the same as me here, or “if it were me I would not be anxious” hits differently than it did the night before, because she immediately decides to go find someone else to talk to.

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Chigusa and Utena aren’t on this list for obvious reasons, but it’s interesting that Touga, Saionji, and Miki are, given, you know, that they’ve fallen already. We’re not going to think about why that could be right now, we’re just going to select the only real option for us, Juri. While looking for her, though, we run into someone else.

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Classic anime stereotype of running into your future love interest.

Really Mikage’s just here to be foreshadowing (he is a ghost, remember) since his arc technically hasn’t started yet. He says basically the same thing Akio did about friends (“It’s always good to have someone to talk to”), invites us to “talk about things” at his seminar, and lets us go on our way.

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AAAAAA

Anyway.

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Juri doesn’t have much advice either, unfortunately. It’s not her dueling, and she’s been a little out of the loop, focused more on her duel with Chigusa than anything investigative. She does empathize with our restless worry, however, and tells us to look into the newspaper club again. “They won’t be able to tell you what to do either,” she warns. “She’ll just give you information. What you decide to do with it is up to you.”

It’s better than Utena, though, both in nobility gained and in actual advice. We decide to take her up on the newspaper club offer, only to run into more problems on the way.

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The bullying actually takes a different tack than it did yesterday. Instead of focusing on how great Nanami is and how we should totally be respecting her, now Nanami and her cronies are focused on our perceived flaws. Mary’s “the daughter of such shameful people, after all.”

Mary, of course, has no idea what they’re talking about, so Nanami has Keiko educate us.

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Okay, this is about as close as the game gets to examining this relationship in any sort of negative light. Like, obviously it’s about to come up again with Chigusa but that’s not really examining it in the way I’m talking. In a show that’s seemingly all about toxic relationships, a teacher-student romance should be high up there, right? I can think of a few similar instances in the show, just off the top of my head. But there aren’t many consequences besides “they got expelled from the school” (kicked out of Ohtori for obscene relations! Can you imagine…).

It almost makes me think the relationship isn’t real, which I don’t think is supported by the text, but it’s interesting to think about, and I could be wrong.

Anyway, luckily for us a friend is nearby to save us from this torment.

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I guess Utena isn’t completely the worst today.

Nanami and her gang scatter pretty quickly, and, besides a “don’t believe a thing she says, obviously” from Utena, she does too, letting us visit the Newspaper club by ourselves. Since we visited a few days ago, they’ve gotten a bit more information for us.

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Unlike the fire to what became Nemuro Memorial Hall, there weren’t a hundred people trapped inside. Just one, someone named “S-san.”

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She’s finally starting to get it.

“I don’t know much about that period,” says the newspaper club representative, “But apparently she was captain of the Fencing Club then.” We also find out the significance of the twenty-fifth: today’s the fifteenth anniversary of the fire exactly.

What a coincidence, today also happens to be Mary’s parents’ fifteenth anniversary. Weird how that works out, even if Mary’s still in denial about it. Thankfully, she’s not so in denial that she’s not willing to pursue the truth, and she starts to look for Chigusa to confront her directly.

Wakaba gives her a step in the right direction. “I think I saw her and Anthy going to the rose garden,” though by the time we get there, only Anthy remains.

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As we all know, even Anthy’s stares are ominous.

This is kind of a weird scene, actually, since Anthy gives us a letter from Chigusa saying to meet her at the Chalk-White Fencing Hall with our dad’s fencing saber, and then Chigusa immediately shows up as soon as we leave. Like, you couldn’t have just told us that yourself? Or just given us the letter yourself? The perspective break serves to imply that Anthy’s been helping Chigusa with her schemes -- probably the same ways she helped Mikage, like stealing Juri’s necklace or making sure Kozue and Chigusa could meet up. That doesn’t mean it’s not weird, though.

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What a line to give to someone who probably doesn’t care. Anthy has seen hundreds of duelists lose, you’re just one more.

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She finally gets it

There’s a little reflection here. Utena shows up to give us some final words of encouragement, but Mary’s more bracing herself for whatever Chigusa has in store for her.

And so we return to where it all started. To finish what-

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Yes, thank you, Mary.

Some things have changed in the building since we were last in there, though.

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It’s an ending tracker, obviously.

Whatever it actually is, we can’t examine it too closely before Chigusa finds us. She wants to tell us things, and Mary wants to ask her questions, so clearly this will be a happy meeting.

Not so, of course. We have to follow her deeper into the building, first. Deep underground, where nobody can hear us. You know, for reasons. Thankfully, we still get the exposition.

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Can I make it any more obvious?

Chigusa was best friends with our mother, but the two became part of a love triangle with Mary’s father, the fencing instructor, as the third side. Chigusa trained harder than ever to earn his favor, but in a match between her and Mary’s mom, a match Chigusa won with a relentless attack, the instructor rushed to the latter’s side first.

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Then everyone found out about their relationship.

Then they were expelled.

As if to rub salt in the wound, they invited Chigusa to their wedding, and instead, on the day of, she set fire to the hall, preferring to die in the blaze. “My prince chose a girl who passively waited for her happiness, over me, who worked and worked and worked. I realized I was never going to be a princess, so I chose to become an evil queen instead.

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“On behalf of all queens everywhere” Yaaas queen slay

Using the power to revolutionize the world, Chigusa will give herself the happy ending she so obviously deserves, breaking apart the relationship. And if Mary’s mother and father never get together…

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Obviously, Mary tries to fight her. After all, she has a fencing saber with her, and she’s not afraid to use it! But Chigusa has other plans.

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We can’t win a four-on-one and are knocked out for our troubles.

A few moments later…

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Alright, all together now:

Zettai! Unmei! Mokushiroku!
Zettai! Unmei! Mokushiroku!

At the top of the stairs, of course, is Chigusa, and we finally see what her gym clothes look like, I guess.

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Before they fight, though, we cut back to the old Fencing Hall.

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I just said…

There is a way out, obviously, but someone stands in the way.

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Uh-huh

Fortunately, we have friends on our side as well.

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Ignore how Juri got in here. I certainly did.

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What follows are a series of fights that basically are meant as a final Nobility Check. Each duelist fighting gets a set number of randomized animation clips. At the end of each one, one of those roses in the corner falls off. If enough have happened, Juri wins. If she loses all her roses, she loses (Starting to feel like I don’t have a lot of agency here but okay). This is all intercut with Utena’s fight with Sanjouin, which has a similar mechanic going on.

Juri fights Saionji, then Miki, then Touga, losing two roses each time.

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Juri is more right than she knows…

But wait, Juri had five roses at that beginning screencap, and two roses per duel puts her at minus one by the end. Does that mean…

It does. Touga manages to strike her down. And once our one defender is gone…

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Okay so obviously that wasn’t ideal. But I think that gave a basic idea of how the game runs and a general feel of the plot. Now we need to start collecting endings, and for that, we have to break out a walkthrough.

-r

Total drinks: 17 (0 this episode)

Next Time: We get the ending we were supposed to get this week. Let’s actually kiss Juri.

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Episode Seven -- “Juri!!! on Ice”

Before we actually start hunting for endings, we should probably spend a little time dissecting just what went wrong. There were actually quite a few problems, some more obvious than others. The most obvious, of course, was despite going vaguely in the direction of Juri’s ending, we did split our focus a bit, taking a bit of roleplay into account which obviously hurt our chances. Even worse, though, was how many opportunities for points we just missed by taking a bad option. I mentioned, for example, what happens when you give the cake to Utena, how you can either ask for her to make a cake herself or sing a song for you and how the former is worth one more nobility point than the latter. Well, it turns out that I missed just about every opportunity besides that one, including another opportunity to curb Chigusa’s influence. Here’s our ending nobility, to show what I mean:

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Not too bad. I mean, you have to get a character’s nobility to 100% to get their ending, but hey, that’s not the biggest deal, right? Well, here’s where we were at the beginning of day two:

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Honestly, the walkthrough I have is going to be more helpful in finding these extra dialog points, given how most other options are either literally “pick the person” or “if you know anything about the show, you know they’re in this club.” It turns out the game gives you a hint as to where they are in the city, too, and I just completely glossed over that last time. Here’s Juri’s:

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This is supposed to point to the “game center” option. Juri, it turns out, is a gamer girl.

But we’ll get to that when we get to that. In the meantime, there are a few other options to explore. Our choices on Day One were optimized for each of the duelist endings, so let’s warp back in time to the start of Day Two, and continue on from there.

We already told Wakaba that we like Utena and Juri, and we’ve already minimized the threat of Chigusa’s first point slash, but there’s one more opportunity to make things even safer. You’ll recall we skipped over the Literature Club in favor of going to find out more regarding the Fencing Hall. Well, look who we run into while looking for the club:

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Literally ran into her.

Chigusa Isn't in the club either, but she is checking out some pretty old books from the library. One of them is Ohtori Academy’s Student Directory from the years 1981-83, which technically dates this game by setting it in 1998 (“What’s Chigusa doing checking out a student directory from fifteen years ago?” Mary thinks (obviously we know the answer to that question now, don’t we!)). Of course, time is a bit wibbly-wobbly in Ohtori, so who knows, but the game did come out that year, so I’ll accept it.

Anyway, it turns out the literature club really is too busy writing poetry and breaking the fourth wall to meet up and accept new members, so besides taking away a Chigusa point, that’s really all there is to the interaction. The only other point of note is the final line of the scene, which is a prompt for another opportunity to weaken Chigusa.

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A helpful segue, because it turns out this is where we’re headed next. After Fencing Club and showering with Juri, remember, Mary and Chigusa go to the sports store to get gym clothes, and it’s there that we get the opportunity to ask. “Chigusa, if it’s not intruding too much, what illness did you have?”

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It’s not shown, but she’s pointing to her heart, which is second only to A Study In Scarlet’s aortic aneurysm in terms of really on-the-nose metaphors (spoilers for a story published in 1887, I guess). In fairness, Chigusa herself is being metaphorical here, since she actually died by her own arsonous hand.

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Also, she says this

The walkthrough also recommends talking with Chigusa longer as another opportunity to just completely wreck her plans. Mary and Chigusa end up walking through a park, and Chigusa remarks that it’s a popular date spot. “Chigusa, have you had dates here?” Mary asks.

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We, with our knowledge of the future, know what she means by this. Chigusa is going to meet up with Kozue while we’re walking back from town. But of course, the way it’s phrased here gets Mary a little flustered, which gives Chigusa control of the conversation.

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I suppose now would be a good time to talk about all these Chigusa options we’ve gotten in these first few days. There’s a pattern to the beneficial answers: “rejecting becoming the fairytale notion of a princess damages the fairytale’s evil queen,” a theme parallel to Revolutionary Girl Utena’s in a general sense. There are some outliers, though -- remember the “which parent named you?” question? In terms of this particular interaction, Mary denying that she could possibly fall in love with someone after two days is the correct choice but put a pin in that, we’re going to revisit it later.

Anyway, now we know where Juri is in the city, so let’s go get our game on!

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Juri’s really into fighting games, it turns out, having beaten forty-nine people in a row by the time we come in. She even has a little thing going where she ends each match by looking at her opponent and announcing, “You’re finished!” which I’m sure has tilted at least a third of those forty-nine opponents.

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On a similar tack to the masquerade ball, we don’t even need to choose anything to get the maximum amount of Juri nobility for the scene. Mary accepts Juri’s challenge without any input from us. Unfortunately, we don’t actually move from this screen, so we don’t actually get to see the fight between Juri’s golden-haired woman and Mary’s ninja, but Mary provides some color commentary.

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...which turns out to be within the diegesis of the scene, meaning Juri could hear everything coming. Yeah, we got trounced, becoming Juri’s fiftieth victory. At least we got two nobility from it, though. That’s not nothing.

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Can’t believe I just got told to git gud.

The final scene of day two is the first dinner scene, and honestly, the options here feel a bit more obvious. When musing aloud about why Juri lost her duel with Utena, we can say, “Sounds like Utena got lucky” which we know Juri will not take well (we’d even know it from that shower scene, if you haven’t watched the show), “Juri’s weak, huh?” which would also probably not be great, or “Guess Utena’s really strong then,” which is the correct choice. After all…

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Juri has also crossed the 100% nobility threshold by this point in the story, so she even gets a new rose nameplate! Very exciting! You can definitely start to see shades of where this ending is going in this scene too.

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“I don’t mean anything weird by that!” uh-huh

We already saw the nighttime encounter between Mary and Juri, so let’s jump to the next interaction point, which is wayyy after most of the day’s activities. Remember, this is after the soccer game where Chigusa elbowed us in the stomach, Mary’s first encounter with Nanami, and that time Chigusa put a thumbtack in the cake batter. Wakaba has given us a cake, and, following the obvious path at this point, we’re going to give it to Juri.

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Don’t think this means I like you or anything, baka! I just don’t want it to go to waste.

The dialog option is to either boast about our cooking skills or to warn Juri that it might not be as good as she’s expecting. The correct answer is the second one, but I probably would have chosen that one anyway. After all, again, Chigusa probably put some more thumbtacks in there after we left. Thankfully, Juri is more touched by the thought than the cake itself and promises to savor it later.

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We’re running up against a discrepancy in tone now, though, because now we’re at Day Three’s club scenes, and suddenly Juri is really determined and not laid-back at all. This is where she was fighting off every opponent who dared spar against her. One begins to suspect that she didn’t eat any of that cake, since she’d be super nauseous if she did, I bet. Instead of getting her to stop, though, we’re supposed to train with her.

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Surprisingly, Mary holds her own. Like, she doesn’t win or anything like that, and if you ask me she’s internalized a certain feeling of inferiority that means she’s not even trying to win, but at least she states that out loud. Her goal is to help Juri. “If by sparring with her, I can help her practice even a bit…” They end up dueling for over an hour, and because they’re both sweaty from that, it leads to another shower scene.

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The conversation is similar to the last time these two showered together: Mary asks Juri why she wants the power to revolutionize the world. And the answer is similar as well. After all, we’re still in disk one, things can’t branch off too much just yet. But Juri does provide a small nugget of information that separates this scene from the previous one: the use of the pronoun “her”. Mary doesn’t catch it right away, but this is the closest disk one is going to get to whose picture is inside Juri’s locket.

Next is the poison apple scene, which is the same in all timelines, and suddenly we’re in the city again. Now, in the past, I’ve given the game some flak for not being able to keep track of what Mary has and hasn’t done. I almost did in just the last paragraph! But it does remember this, and not only does it remember it, but the game also gives us an extra bit of Juri nobility for doing so.

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Continuity!

That being said, remember that difference in tone thing I mentioned? Juri is happy and healthy again, and she’s been busy tearing through another hundred and fifty challengers at the arcade. She’s even gotten a nickname now: “The Legendary Phoenix Sara” and we challenge her to a rematch.

Even though we just admitted we probably suck at fighting games and initially only game in to practice, the rematch goes better for us. Much better, even.

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I bet it’s ‘cause Mary didn’t call her attacks like a dork this time.

Juri says that it’s the first time she’s ever lost at fighting games which seems impossible but whatever, not gonna call her on that or anything. Not when we’re about to invite her to dinner a few screens later.

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The correct answer, it turns out, was to say Mary would totally beat those thieves up because it means she has confidence, and Juri offers to teach her a fencing move that will never be brought up again. It’s weird, though, because I thought it might have given the final scene on the disk:

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So Mary goes out to the old fencing hall, intent on being there for Chigusa and Juri’s duel for the pendant. When Chigusa arrived first, I naively thought that we might take Juri’s place, and use our flashy new move to beat Chigusa up. That doesn’t happen, though. Instead, we just say “Give it back,” the game thinks for a bit, and then… Chigusa just does.

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I know, right?

It turns out Chigusa’s plan of beating us on the 25th trumps her plan to beat Juri, so once she sees that we’re even willing to fight her for the locket, she just gives it up.

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That’s all it took, apparently

Giving Juri her locket back earns us a whopping five nobility, which cements her as the ending choice even after the inevitable slash going into disk two. There’s a bit more conversation, mostly Juri telling us how stupid we were to get involved, and Mary firing back that it was Juri who was stupid for not talking to anyone about what was going on, but describing it like that makes it seem like an argument. It’s not, really. It’s practically a declaration of love.

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The last day, being its own disk with enough space to cover most of the branches, is now substantially different. In fact, I didn’t even realize how different this ending would be from the default path we had been following. I mean, I knew Saionji being carted off would be different since we disrupted that earlier by chasing off Chigusa the previous night (and it turns out it’s only Saionji this time -- negating Chigusa like we did means he’s the only one who falls to her), but now Juri is an active participant in Mary’s quest for answers. She doesn’t just point towards the newspaper club, she goes there herself. Utena doesn’t chase Nanami off, Juri does. Because we’re together, we don’t even run into Mikage at all.

This does not go unremarked upon.

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Nanami's accusing her here. One wonders why Juri even tries to hide it, really

Juri says it’s just because she wants to return the favor she owes us for returning her locket. Mary’s starting to develop feelings of her own, though…

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Like last time, Anthy delivers a letter that points us to the old fencing hall, and we discover what has changed since Mary was last in there. More important than that, though, is Juri finally revealing what’s in her pendant.

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Mary, woke fourteen-year-old that she is, doesn’t think it’s strange at all. She doesn’t think it’s normal just because of that, though.

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“I’m in lesbians with you”

Before Juri can react, though, Chigusa steps in (“Sorry for breaking up your steamy love scene”), and the plot gets railroaded back to where it was last time, with all the same reveals as before. Juri takes a back seat for all this, not speaking at all until Chigusa demands our saber. Unfortunately, even she can’t withstand a sucker punch from a puppeteered Saionji, and we’re both knocked out, tied up, and left behind.

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Not the reason Mary’d like to be tied up with Juri but she’ll take it.

So here’s a weird contrivance, one that especially doesn’t make sense because we weren’t really tied up at all last time, though I suppose it solves the “where did Juri come from?” one when she followed us in, so one step forward, one step back. Somehow, Juri has a razor blade on her (“Didn’t think to check my body, how foolish.”) and gets free that way.

The following fight with Saionji takes place in the same manner as last time, though for reasons I can’t explain, Juri loses four roses instead of two in the fight. It doesn’t matter, though, because now there are no more obstacles keeping us from finding a way to help Utena. We rush back up the stairs to the main area, and Juri comes up with an idea.

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“…allow her to keep existing in this world.”

A weird choice not to translate a pretty critical word, but that’s between me and the magic translation program in my very real Sega Saturn, not the game itself. The final choice, then, is a memory check. Where would the game have hinted such a thing might be?

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I assume if you get thise wrong Utena loses another rose, but I didn’t get it wrong so I wouldn’t know.

In fact, we got a couple hints of this. First, of course, was our initial encounter with Chigusa, where she only started badgering us when we got too close to her locker. The second was that conversation with Wakaba: “How do you get someone to fall in love with you?” she said. “You take a nameplate of theirs, tie it with a red string, and put it in your locker.” (I guess a third hint was where my pointer was already selecting but…). Mary and Juri rush to Chigusa’s locker and…

Oh, look at that.

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You know, you’d think soul jars would be stronger, ‘cause it only takes one Mary Sue throwing the tag on the ground for it to snap in half. As soon as it does, though, on the other side of campus…

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It looks better animated, I promise, even when animated at 10 FPS

And that’s it! One final save, and we move on to the epilog.

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Yeah, well, to weld this into the show’s canon, I have to go away again.

It turns out Mary’s dad got really sick (and on his anniversary, too!) so Mary has to go back home to take care of him. Almost every duelist comes to say goodbye, with two notable exceptions. The first is Saionji, which, okay, maybe he’s recovering from losing his nobility still (or the actual stab wound he got). The second, though, is Juri, and Mary obviously takes that pretty bad. She even wonders if she wasn’t supposed to say what she did at all.

Overall, it’s pretty boring, honestly. Mary remembers dancing with Touga, which is impressive, but her goodbyes to Miki and Utena are basically “thanks for making me smile” which, okay, when did Miki make you smile? Was it when she was admiring his eyes, I guess? But as we go away still feeling sad about Juri not showing up, look who it is.

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It made me realize it’s okay to be a lesbian, but I’m still gonna angst about it for, like, twenty episodes once you leave, ‘kay?

So yeah, instead of falling in love at first sight, Mary fell in love at, like, fourth sight, which is a little weird thematically (there’s that pin!) but whatever it’s the end of the game. Juri even has a going-away present for us!

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I mean, that’s also weird thematically and I worry Mary’s now going to obsess over some feminine ideal instead of actually finding a nice girl to settle down with, but I guess she’s also leaving Ohtori Academy, which has its own thematic relevance.

Look, obviously you can complain about the ending, but it’s cute, okay?

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mlem

And that’s it! Roll credits!

I mean, there’s more stuff after the credits, basically a Marvel movie’s worth of after-credits stingers, but most of them are for stuff we already knew about. Akio shows up to the old fencing hall ruins and comments about how Chigusa was just a trial run for the actual ghost he wants to bring back from the dead, then Mikage shows up announcing his intention to make Mamiya the rose bride, but there’s one final scene of Mary in her new school.

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“I hear everyone there is a hottie!” someone says.

Mary says she didn’t get a boyfriend. “But…”

“Aha! I knew you did!”

“I didn’t! Really! But…”

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And that’s it! We got an ending! Wow, that was a lot more work than I thought it would be to get all the missing stuff compiled, but we did get a badge for our troubles.

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There are eleven slots here, ten of which correspond to an ending, and then one for getting every ending. But I’ll go into those another time. 

-r

Total Drinks: 18 (okay we didn’t technically add one but Mary did declare her love and that’s a “finish your drink” rule in my book)

Next time: The real work begins.

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Episode Eight -- “Who’s The Leader Of The Club That’s Made For You And Me?”

So on the one hand, there are a lot of scenes to get through in this one little blog post. After all, Miki’s story has to necessarily involve Kozue, and we’ve seen already that she has her own character model, so of course she shows up a lot. On the other hand, I’m glad we’re going to get some more points on the drinking game. For example, talking to Wakaba about who we like at the start of Day Two:

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It’s a good thing Mary and Miki are fourteen and thirteen years old respectively because there’s a lot of dialog like this.

We also find Miki’s hint for the city sections here.

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Of course, after that, well, we’ve seen enough to realize what’s going on. Miki has two club scenes, two city scenes, two dinner scenes, two late-night scenes, and, like, three other opportunities just in case. The only one of these we’ve seen so far is the first dinner one, and it turns out we screwed ourselves out of points there, but on the plus side, we don’t need to see the newspaper and literature clubs again, we can just go to fencing with Miki (though assume that those meetings happened -- we still want that Chigusa nobility to go down).

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Miki, for those that remember the throwaway lines they keep giving him about this, also fences at the national level. So it’s no surprise that we, uh, lose hard. What makes this different from our sparring with Juri, though, is when Mary goes all out for her final attack (forgive her, sensei) and ends up spraining her ankle. We don’t see any of this outside of some screen shake, but Miki does feel responsible and decides to carry Mary to the nurse’s office on his back.

Mary finds this physically impressive. “I’m pretty light, but Miki’s slender too. I guess he is a boy, after all,” she thinks, and that’s a motif that’s going to come up a lot. Miki’s scrawny and he’s a year younger than Mary, but he is a boy who wants to do “man things.” If that sounds familiar, I mean, the point of Tsuwabuki’s episodes is how that’s a bad idea, but here in the game, it goes unexamined! Hooray!

Anyway, it turns out the nurse is out to lunch or something.

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Get used to seeing the nurse’s office, by the way. This is basically “Mary gets beat up” the story path.

Fortunately, it turns out that this is the sort of sprain you can get up and walk from after Miki kisses it to make it better or something. Unfortunately, just because the nurse is out doesn’t mean the room was empty.

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If you’ve been keeping track of my problems with the game (and, for the record, most of them are relatively minor despite how often I might mention them), you’ll remember that sometimes the game tells you the same information over and over. To the game’s credit, Kozue will remember this meeting, even if her appearance here is just to introduce her more properly than in other paths, elaborating on their relationship as it appears through Miki’s eyes.

I mean, if you’ve seen the show, you know that Miki’s perspective on his relationship with his sister is part of his problem, but hey, whatever.

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Drink!

Moving on, we can now jump to the first city scenes. Miki’s hint was that he likes sweet things, so that points us in the direction of the cake store. Of course, he’s not alone when we walk in.

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Kozue, of course, is dismissive of us (“It looks like she hates us for some reason,” Mary thinks) but we’re given the option to either sit with them despite her discomfort or take our own booth alone and away from the two of them. The correct answer, it turns out, is to sit away from them, presumably to avoid creating more of a spat, though the single nobility point you get for the choice feels a little unsatisfying.

After that is the park scene where, like I said, Kozue recognizes us this time. It doesn’t go anywhere, but it’s nice to be recognized. The dinner scene has the next relevant story beats, and we can even skip the introduction part since we saw that in the longer playthrough and skip right to the relevant choice. Instead of backing down and apologizing, we’re supposed to make a big scene to distract them. The one Mary chooses? Comically spilling a bowl of miso soup.

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Props to Miki’s sprite designers, by the way. Miki is the most expressive person we’ve seen so far.

Technically, this doesn’t lead to a shower scene with Miki, like, Mary has the option to peek through a cracked-open bathroom door to watch Miki shower (not creepy at all), but saying no is what gets you conversation and point of Miki nobility. But at the same time, my thirst alarms were going off.

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Drink up, you creep!

I checked the conversation they have out of curiosity too, but it’s mostly vague maybe-they’re-attracted-maybe-not sort of flirting. Mary is sorry she spilled miso soup and Miki is sorry he’s such a dork. They laugh it off. But speaking of being a dork, there’s Miki’s nighttime scene.

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Like with Juri, Mary meets up with Miki while going for a walk, though she’s barely out the door when she runs into him, and as you can see above, he’s a bit surprised to see anybody. It turns out he has a letter he’d like to give to Anthy, though he loses his nerve and asks Mary to give it to her for him instead.

It’s a love letter, obviously, though there is one problem with this plan.

I mean, there are a lot of problems, namely how it’s kind of insulting to give a love letter to a girl and telling her to give it to someone else, but there’s a bigger problem than that even.

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Rookie move, tbh

The first choice of Day Three involving Miki is who to talk to about the Chalk-White Fencing Hall, aka who saves you from Nanami, though there isn’t really much commenting on there, he has almost the same dialog as Juri, and Nanami has even less (though maybe there’s some commentary to be made about Nanami being much more willing to attack women rather than men). He does come in with a shot of his stopwatch, though, which is cute.

Confiding in Miki after the meeting, though, is a different story, mostly for the information he delivers regarding whether or not Chigusa is the mystery duelist. “The rumors I hear say nothing but good things,” he says. That is to say, he doesn’t believe we’re a duelist or otherwise in any way hostile to the student council, but he still can’t fathom Chigusa being hostile either. Perhaps his perfect-or-worthless view of women may have something to do with it? And of course, before we can try and convince him otherwise…

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If I had a nickel for each non-Student Council member in the Student Council Room, I’d have three nickels, which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that there are three in this game.

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She calls us “thieving cat” a lot, which makes me assume it’s either a pun or alliteration in Japanese, but I don’t have the ear to really find out.

After that is the cake incident, and, just like everything else, we decide to give the cake to Miki. Interestingly, this is where the game remembers the letter thing, and Mary promises to teach Miki how to properly court a woman, with lesson one starting after club activities end.

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Now, this is cool and all, and definitely more than I was expecting going into this, but at the same time, like, we know Miki gets a club scene in between now and then, and that has to be a bit more generalized. In fact, it’s a bit more somber, taking place in the music room. As might be expected, he’s trying to play his neuroses regarding Kozue away. “It’s none of my business,” he keeps trying to tell himself. And of course…

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There are actually two conversations had here. The first is reassuring Miki that it’s okay to worry about his sister, which I guess is step one of his problem, and the other is learning about his search for a “shining thing” (i mean, finally, it’s day three). Both are guarded by a dialog tree, though pretty obvious ones, I think, and both are worth a single point. Like I said, this part of the path is genericized a bit since everyone can get here, but it’s good to have Miki’s motivation for dueling established somewhere.

Anyway, now that that’s over (and also the poison apple thing happens), it’s time for Dating 101 with Professor Mary Sue. 

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Lesson One (no I’m not going to screencap every lesson Mary gives, there are, like, a dozen)

So I haven’t really been mentioning all the giggly sort of flirting these two have been doing, but basically imagine that at the end of each passed dialog check Mary says something friendly and Miki goes “hehehehe” or something, and sometimes Mary even laughs too. This is kind of the culmination of that, where Mary uses the excuse of “teaching Miki how to date” to, uh, actually take him on a date.

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Funny he says this because this event is worth a whopping ten Miki points

It’s not even subtle, like, she takes him to the movies, they go out for cake and tea afterwards (“You can even use the movie you just saw as a way to start the conversation!” she says) and takes him for a romantic walk in the park. It’s actually a bit of a comedic gag how she’ll give some advice and Miki will always respond the same way, “Yes, sensei!”

The scene has two climaxes, then. The first is at the end of their park walk where Mary asks Miki what he thinks he should do if he finds himself with a romantic sunset and a good vibe between him and his date. “Talk about the sunset” -- Miki’s answer -- is obviously wrong, Mary says. “The correct answer is this!”

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Handholding! Avert your eyes, kids!

So yeah, like I said, Mary’s very much not subtle here. She has thoughts like “My heart’s thumping! Miki’s surprisingly tall, and his arm is pretty muscular (Drink!)) but also she ends up with a pretty ironic thought given her circumstances:

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thinking emoji

The other climax happens because such romance did not go unnoticed by other parties.

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You know, it didn’t click while playing that Chigusa probably told her about the parents thing too, but now that I’m writing this that definitely happened.

After a few more accusations, the screen starts shaking, and the screen fades to black. What caused this, you might ask?

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Mary tries to answer Miki’s “What happened?” by saying she just tripped, but Miki knows better. Pushing people down the stairs is a classic Kozue maneuver, after all. “I don’t understand my little sister anymore. What should I do?”

Just like with the Juri ending, Mary can’t actually push any of these people towards actual character development. She can’t identify the root of the problem, and if she does, it would get ignored anyway, but she does come close here.

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MIKI YOUR SISTER WANTS TO DO AN INCEST

Anyway, the next scene (because Mary got the sort of concussion that you can totally just walk away from) is the dinner scene, where it’s Miki instead of Juri that finds Chu-chu with Mary’s sword. He also, if you remember, brings soy sauce, and he brings it in the most Miki way possible.

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The rest of the conversation is remarkably like Juri’s, actually. It’s in different ways, but they both end up wondering just what it was the thief could have taken, and like with Juri, we’re not supposed to worry that the would-be thief might have other reasons for breaking into our room, just be happy that the incident is over and done with. Himemiya even makes the same remark about women “having all kinds of things to lose besides objects,” which freaks both Miki and Utena out a little bit.

And suddenly we’re at the final nighttime scene. Mary decides to go talk to Miki, so she goes to his house.

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It turns out the reason Miki said the wrong name there is that Kozue hasn’t come back yet -- presumably, she’s still with Chigusa. In the timelines where Miki falls to her influence, this is why, actually. Utena will even ask, “Kozue didn’t make it home last night, huh?”

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It’s a brief scene, basically consisting of Mary comforting Miki again, this time in a more subtle way. “If you enjoy my company, you can have it for as long as you like,” said by Miki, is basically the key phrase here. At the same time, it’s shorter and less impactful than their actual date together, and, as such, is worth three nobility instead of ten.

I do have to share the background they used though. Look at this wallpaper:

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Day four with Miki, as I’ve said so many times in this post, is very much the same as it is with Juri. Mary goes to find him but he didn’t show up to class, instead coming in just in time to rescue her from Nanami’s torments. Differences start to appear, though, in their investigation methods. “I’ve never heard of Sanjouin Chigusa before,” he says, “and I thought I knew all the notable fencers of the last few years.” In other words…

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That’s what gets him digging into the archives, and eventually, he finds a “Chigusa Sanjouin” from fifteen years ago. Honestly, the fact that it’s different is pretty neat, like, maybe I’ve been ragging on some similarities a bit too hard, but I can do the opposite just as well.

Remember, this is also where Anthy delivers Chigusa’s letter, immediately directing both Mary and Miki to the old fencing hall for the final showdown. 

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That obviously doesn’t immediately work out. Chigusa is destined to take our saber, after all. But Miki has also come to a realization, and it’s in the basement this time that the declarations of love come out.

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I’m in lesbians with- wait no!

Chigusa also ties up Miki and Mary on this route but, infuriatingly, there’s no extra “I secretly had a razor” scene. Miki just… gets loose. Which is worse, right? Like, why even have that scene at all, then?

But whatever, Miki defeats Saionji, Mary smashes her dad’s nameplate, and Utena scatters Chigusa’s rose.

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And I timed my screenshot to get this this time!

Unlike Juri, Miki does show up to Mary’s going-away get-together, but they spend most of their time blushing at each other. Only when everyone else is gone do they embrace. But it’s a sad embrace. After all, Miki is losing his shining thing yet again.

In another weird story decision, Mary decides there’s only one way to solve this without completely breaking Miki’s heart.

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The Canadian Boyfriend Lie. It’s a bold move.

“Your shining thing isn’t me,” Mary says, not having followed through to know exactly how Miki’s “shining thing” view of the world is self-destructive and needs rethinking. “I’m sure, though, one day, you will find it.” She even offers to cast a powerful charm to ensure such a thing eventually happens.

Miki’s skeptical, but he plays along and closes his eyes.

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mlem

“I’m sorry, Miki,” Mary thinks. “That’s my final bit of selfishness. I’ll just take your first kiss to remember you by,” which is some “your first kiss was not with your shining thing, but with me, Mary Sue!” energy, but Miki is happy for it.

After the credits, instead of hinting at being a lesbian, Mary is talking about their ideal boy. One of her friends is talking about how she wants someone older than her, with a ten-year age gap being ideal (“a real adult!” she says. I guess it was the nineties, and also I dunno Japan’s social standards). Mary, meanwhile…

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Overall, I think this ending was a little hamstrung by having to stave off not just Miki’s character development, but Kozue’s as well. There was some still, sure, and a few hints at even more depth than the anime gave us, but this one was much close to a standard dating sim ending than the other ones so far. I don’t know if I’ll be ranking them, but that’s just my feeling so far. I mean, it also doesn’t help that while I rank Miki on the nicer end of the Student Council, he’s a bland sort of nice that makes me want to look elsewhere.

I’m sure the Miki fans are coming for my head now. Hopefully, I make it to next week.

-r

Total drinks: 23 (4 and another declaration of love)

Next time: I’m saving Utena for last and both Touga and Saionji are pre-character development. Oh no…

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Episode Nine -- “Tsundere Ky- I Mean Saionji Kyouichi”

As you can tell by the title, I chose to do the Saionji ending next. I spotted a bit of discourse revolving around Saionji this last week, largely revolving around whether I treat him too harshly (okay not specifically me -- nobody reads this blog -- rather, people in general). Most of it was focused on the moment he takes back his wood-carved leaf present to Wakaba for a chance to return to Ohtori Academy, that biasing the two episodes they spend together in Wakaba’s favor will inherently turn the viewer against Saionji. It neglects his positive qualities (later episodes and the sequel manga point out how he has a positive influence on Touga (even if that’s used to excuse the dozen or so times he physically abused Anthy)) and how he feels about the situation he has been put in. The woodcarving was always inadequate to him. It was Wakaba who gave it its value.

Put a pin in that last thought.

I assumed his positive qualities would be on display here as well, since, you know, it’s a dating sim, though I was also curious how they would adapt someone who we know is about to go on a rampage and disappear for ten episodes. It turns out the results are interesting, but we’ll get to that.

We already know where Saionji’s city encounter is -- the “Japanese Cafe” -- but, for consistency, here’s the hint for it:

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It’s important to note that the “who do you like” conversation is had with Wakaba. That is to say, Mary is telling Wakaba that she thinks Saionji is “kind of awkward, but could be nice.” Wakaba. She, who wrote a sappy love note to him eight episodes ago. So the conversation takes a bit of a different tack than the ones we’ve seen so far (it hits especially hard if Mary also picks Utena, which the walkthrough I have says to do, since there’s that “Wakaba is the legal wife, everyone else is just her mistress” thing).

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Anyway, anyone who’s seen at least one episode of Utena, or even just read a character summary, knows that we’re not going to be going to the fencing club anymore. Now we’re interested in Kendo. This does finally let us observe that “Saionji and Chigusa dueled” event both Juri and Wakaba mentioned a lot, though it turns out we don’t get to see any run-up. By the time Mary gets there, it’s already in progress.

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I don’t know how to explain this fight and the game isn’t about to give any answers. It’s obviously in-character for Saionji to accept, maybe after a few verbal jabs, and a “kendo stick versus fencing sabre” fight isn’t the weirdest fight Utena has ever had (remember the kangaroo?) but how the fight proceeds is left to the imagination. I assume it’s still a kendo match? Whatever it is, it’s over quickly, and like everyone is keen to tell us later, Saionji loses.

One might get the impression this would be where the game splits into “Saionji” and “Touga” paths, like how the fencing club had us duel with either Juri or Miki. That’s not actually what happens. Instead, after the duel, you can rush up to either Saionji or Chigusa. That’s the split. I’m sure we’ll explore the latter eventually, but for now, Mary’s going to show Saionji some sympathy and tend to a bruise of an undisclosed location.

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This interaction is worth a whopping three Saionji points. It also gains a Chigusa point, but our interactions with her beforehand actually cancel that out, so she’s still missing her first point slash. In any case, that’s basically how all the Saionji interactions are going to go from here on out. I suppose you could tell that from the title also; Saionji is always a button press away from just saying “It’s not like I like you or anything… baka!”

The next point is the first city encounter, which again, we’ve seen already, though it turns out the correct answer is “rooibos tea” which it turns out originates in South Africa. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to get that interaction “correct” without trial and error (besides “he’s a huge tea nerd,” I guess), but yeah, praise the right tea and he goes like this:

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Based Saionji

“Instead of a Japanese nerd, it turns out Saionji is just a weirdo” is basically what Mary thinks here, which… tracks.

The first dinner, though, is about what you’d expect. There’s no choice to, you know, not ask about the duels, and we know how touchy Saionji gets about that (and will in the future get about that!). The choice it does offer feels pretty obvious too, even if I didn’t have a walkthrough sitting next to me:

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One of these things is not like the other~ One of these things just doesn’t belong~

I guess it’s similar to Juri’s choice, and that one you absolutely had to avoid the “just luck” option, but this one any sort of implication that Utena would win is definitely not an option. It’s just luck. It was always just luck. You’ll get ‘em next time, Saionji.

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Yeah well the game didn’t give me any choice, Anthy
Though I bet there’s a read where she knew that…

Speaking of similarities to other duelist stories, though, Saionji finds us outside that night and asks us to give Anthy something, just like Miki did. It’s not a love letter, though. Presumably, in Saionji’s mind, she already knows. No, it’s the thing Saionji already had with Anthy.

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Right! That hasn’t been burned yet!
Did Saionji ever find out about that? Or did he just care less when he came back?

Day three is mostly the same, especially the first half, which is completely the same. Wakaba still tells us about Saionji’s duel in case we hadn’t heard about that yet, there’s still a soccer game, there’s still the thumbtack thing, though an interesting note in my walkthrough is that we’re supposed to run away during the soccer game instead of trying to steal the ball from Chigusa.

I’m not going to bother putting the screenshot up because the end result is the same, but Chigusa does call us a coward, run over, and elbow us anyway, which is, uh, you’d think someone else would notice that. Instead, as expected, this is never brought up again and gets us a Chigusa point we didn’t need to get. Or did we?

This wouldn’t be the first time a walkthrough of this game was in error, but it wouldn’t surprise me if not doing so, if taking the go-to Utena point instead, would lead to the “nobody falls” ending instead. Remember, neither of them falls if you play each other’s endings perfectly, so it would make sense that you needed them to drop a bit more. Either way, it does mean we don’t need to revisit the scene later.

Now to the point of the story where the chosen ending rescues Mary from Nanami and her goons. Miki saved us with a stopwatch and Juri saved us by… being pretty, so what’s Saionji going to do?

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Bonk! Go to horny jail

This is what I mean by “tsundere” in this context, like, he doesn’t want to imply he’s sticking his neck out for this random transfer student or whatever, so he just swings his kendo stick around and says “Oh, I’m just practicing, the fact that you’re in my way doesn’t matter to me in the slightest.” Baka.

Nanami chides him for losing to “that invalid Chigusa” and, like, I know it’s canonically the nineties or whatever time Ohtori runs on but you can’t just say that, girl.

We’re finally running into Saionji’s actual arc for this version of the story, though. Perhaps you remember how he fell in the first playthrough of the game? it was by challenging Chigusa to a rematch. That’s what he’s practicing for, and is going to be what he’s doing for the rest of his encounters. Even when he’s not directly practicing, like when Mary’s trying to convince him that no the ruins are actually totally still real, he’s like:

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“I just need to go practice instead.”

The only encounter that doesn’t revolve around practice is his cake scene, where instead he remembers that we met him the night before and asks if we actually delivered that exchange diary like we said we would. We didn’t, actually -- Mary forgot -- and lying to his face about it earns more points (another three!), but presumably we do in the future since, you know, it ends up in Saionji’s possession eventually.

The second club scene is only a club scene by virtue of starting at the Kendo Club, and even then Saionji has already cancelled the meeting for the day to do more intensive practice. We have to go find him first, which means we have to ask the girl who always knows where everybody is. No, not Wakaba.

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“That place” means the dueling forest, which doesn’t have a magic gate around it for some reason? It also has a waterfall that we never saw before, though, so whatever. This is Saionji’s equivalent of a shower scene.

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Triple drink combo!

Anyway, during all this special training Saionji’s been doing, Mary asks Saionji that special “Why do you duel?” question, just like she’s asked everyone else so far. Technically, if you go in chronological order, this is the first time we hear his answer since Episode Nine is when it’s actually revealed. “Eternity. I want to show that girl eternity,” he says.

He takes a break to go get some tea but leaves as soon as we arrive in the city to continue practicing his kendo stroke.

The only other break he takes is for dinner, where he arrives with a rather specific soy sauce:

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Neeeeeerd!

And even then, he very nearly challenges Utena to a duel right then and there. It’s only by reminding Saionji exactly why he’s been doing all this training, so that he can best Chigusa when the time comes, that he calms down.

Honestly, I expected that night to be Mary going to witness the duel again, just like she intervened in the duel between Juri and Chigusa in her story. But that’s not what happens. In fact, what happens that night is unlike any of the other stories so far, even the game over one:

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But then Mary hears the sound of something swishing through the air. “It can’t be, right?” she thinks, but she goes to investigate anyway.

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You’re going to catch cold like that!

He collapses, though, and Mary immediately rushes him to the hospital, where she’s informed he’s probably caught influenza due to all the work he’s been putting on his body (told you so!).

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This tableau is how Day three ends, actually. There’s no dialog, just some thoughts from Mary about Saionji’s desire for eternity.

The next day actually starts very differently, though. Eventually, it will play the same scenes it always had, but Mary wakes up in the hospital first, and Saionji is gone. He did leave Mary with some comfort, though.

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He still doesn’t like you or anything, though. He just did it because you were cold.

There’s also a scene back at East Dorm where Utena wonders where Mary was all night, though Mary is (for some reason?) hesitant to answer. When Utena presses, though, Anthy remarks “girls our age have some things they want to keep secret,” which is the Anthy-est sort of phrase to ever Anthy, and the matter is dropped.

Miki and Juri falling is new, but not really worth remarking on. Juri gets some “this is why I fell” insight regarding her locket, which is good because we otherwise wouldn’t get any on this path, but nothing besides that.

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Mary does still find their uniform string thingies on the ground though.

The rest plays about like you would expect from the other two good endings we’ve seen so far. Saionji rescues us from Nanami despite not being in class that day (“Rescuing some random girl is so unlike you!” Nanami says), and helps us figure out that yes, Chigusa is in fact a ghost. The way he figures it out is kind of cute, though. Chigusa is supposed to be three years older than everyone else in Mary, Utena, and Anthy’s class, right?

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“And I don’t remember her”

At the Chalk-White Fencing Hall, like everywhere else Mary professes her love, though Saionji obviously doesn’t return it since he’s still infatuated with Anthy. More importantly, however, is Saionji’s apology for treating Mary how he did on her first day, especially implying that she could have had any sort of ill intentions towards him. Basically the same thing as a love confession, I think.

The plot is revealed, Saionji and Mary get tied up, and Saionji breaks free, not with a hidden razor like Juri did or just… ignoring the ropes like Miki did, but by breaking the ropes with raw force of will, which is honestly pretty hot.

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With the green hair, is it safe to say that this is Saionji hulking out?

One thing I noticed about Saionji fighting off the fallen council members in what would otherwise be a rote exercise like we’ve seen in the past (the ending’s a given at this point) is that this is the first time we’ve seen a good ending fight against multiple duelists. This shouldn’t actually be any different, right? Saionji has more than enough nobility to take both Miki and Juri no matter if they take two roses or four. The game has an extra benefit, though. After each fight, Saionji’s nobility is restored; he starts both fights with the same number of roses. It almost makes me want to test the systems to find the limits. Almost.

Anyway, we save Utena by breaking Mary’s dad’s name tag and move on to the epilogue.

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Like Juri’s ending, Saionji doesn’t initially show up to say goodbye to Mary. In fact, because Miki and Juri are also gone here, this is the smallest farewell Mary’s had so far. But he does show up eventually. “It’s alright, I know you love Anthy,” Mary says. “One day, though, I’ll come back for you, and I’ll make you turn my way.”

Saionji responds with a gift:

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Ow! What stabbed me? OH IT’S THE PIN

So I’ve got mixed feelings on this reincorporation of elements. Juri’s locket was cute, and it turned out not actually a symbol of her angst since she very nearly remakes one with Utena’s image in it, and just “a thing lesbians have I guess.“ The leaf, though, by following the interpretation given at the start of this post, is inadequate as a gift in Saionji’s eyes, and it’s always been up to the recipient to put meaning into it.

At the same time, I don’t want to be criticizing the text for someone’s headcanon not lining up properly. But that means that the leaf is just “a thing Saionji gives to people,” which, while still meaning “Wakaba injected the extra meaning into it” still strips it of its value to the viewer. Now it’s just a mundanity. Saionji never really loved Mary. Not that much, at least. At least with Wakaba he offered to buy her something expensive, which while not unique in itself would then be unique to Saionji.

Whatever. They kiss.

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mlem

The final scene ends like Juri’s as well, where Mary convinces her friends that she didn’t actually have a boyfriend at Ohtori Academy “But…” she says, trailing off, where this time the but isn’t “I like girls, actually,” but “I will someday.”

I may seem down on the route as a whole, and ending like it did certainly didn’t help (honestly I could probably go deeper into how much I hate this ending), but honestly? It’s not bad. It showed Saionji’s humanity in subtle ways, ways he’s not comfortable expressing in general just yet, even if he will someday.

Doesn’t mean i have to like him, though.

-r

Total drinks: 27 (3 this post and a declaration of love)

Next time: Touga! Who we know loves Utena, so get your guesses in now as to how our romance will go.

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Episode Ten -- “Detective Touga Is On The Case!”

I’m going to be upfront about this: this ending drained me. Not because it’s not cohesive, quite the opposite, actually. This is probably the most cohesive ending we’ve seen so far. But it’s cohesive because it takes what we know about Touga -- that his perception of adulthood has been warped by close contact with Akio, thus he endeavors to become like him -- and doesn’t bother to give him any sort of redemptive quality. Choosing Touga Kiryuu as a dating sim path means dating Touga Kiryuu.

I say all this now to start heading things at the pass. I admit I’ve been a bit lax with providing content warnings for this series, but this one involves a psychologically abusive relationship and implies that a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old have sex. So, uh, yeah. For those that do decide to continue on (and there’s really no pressure!), here’s the city hint for Touga:

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I mean, we probably could have figured this out by process of elimination at this point, but here it is anyway.

Now, if you remember a specific revelation from last week’s post, you’ll know that we actually don’t get to encounter Touga until the “city” point in the story, since he’s not in any of the first day’s club activities. We might as well jump ahead to then.

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There isn’t really an option to say that Wakaba told us we could find Touga here; the closest is by having Mary say she was hoping to find Touga here. There’s a bit of an implication (no not that kind) in this route that Mary has been attracted to him ever since they met at the masquerade; it shows up a few times throughout the playthrough, but this “seeking Touga the next day” is certainly one of the more prominent instances.

Of course, it’s not like Touga shares those feelings, as evidenced by when his actual date starts showing up and asking questions.

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Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!

I mean, not that Touga doesn’t want Mary’s attention, but obviously he’s not going to give up everyone else’s to get it. “Who’s she?” he says. “She’s just some girl who also likes classical music. But I forgive you for accusing me of cheating, it just means you were worried about me, weren’t you?”

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Like, she knows this is how he operates!

Anyway, the interaction gets us two Touga points, which I guess is what we’re going for.

Utena isn’t happy when Mary gets back to the dorm and suggests that they invite Touga over for dinner -- something about “sure, he can pick up our scraps” -- but Anthy is all too happy to give him a call. Just like the other dinner scenes, the topic turns to dueling pretty quick, though of course, this one is a bit different since they haven’t dueled yet. Utena even wonders if the stunt at the masquerade ball was Touga’s doing, though he denies it.

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Touga is a self-professed feminist, after all

The conversation choice of the night does concern their future duel, though. Mary can either ask to watch, try to get them to stop, or wonder if she could duel for Anthy’s hand as well, with the “correct” choice (that is, the one that gets you points with Touga) being that first option. Unfortunately, though, that’s not an option. Only people with a rose seal are allowed past the gates, after all.

You might be noticing at this point that there’s a bit of a pattern emerging with what gets you Touga points. Mary basically has to be as demure as possible, folding herself to Touga’s whims. If it hasn’t been apparent, it’s certainly going to be with the next scene coming up, where Mary encounters Touga on a nighttime walk…

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…because Mary and Touga aren’t the only ones out on a walk that night.

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Here’s the thing, being passive -- reminding Chigusa of Mary’s mother -- is also what gets you points with Chigusa, since the more you remind her of your mother, the more Chigusa can prove that she was always going to beat you. This encounter is basically that in a microcosm, especially since, if you remember the ball scene, Touga looks a lot like Mary’s dad.

“That girl can do nothing but cry,” Chigusa says.

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Remember, in the timelines where he falls, Touga does start dating Chigusa

To summarize, continuing to choose Touga means not only will you earn Touga points, you’ll start earning Chigusa points as well. And Chigusa will weaken your other relationships, which means that if you want to get any sort of ending, you’re going to have to keep picking Touga. Hence my “cohesive” comment at the beginning. It’s a cute bit of mechanical flourish for what’s to come.

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You can also tell this is what they’re going for with how Mary thinks about him.

The encounter with Nanami isn’t all that exciting, like, you would think Nanami would be a bit more aggressive in her universal encounters, but she’s exactly the same, and she defers to Touga so quickly that it might just make your head spin. The actual consultation after the Student Council meeting, though, is very different. Unlike the others, you actually get to go visit the chalk-white fencing hall. However, as you might expect, by the time we get there…

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I mean, obviously it can

And again, look who shows up.

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Chigusa is a bit more direct with the insults this time, gaslighting us even further with a “clearly she was lying to you, and you shouldn’t be dating liars” sort of strategy. “You should be dating me instead, if you like.” Unfortunately for her…

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Hooray! External validation. Of course, this scene also includes the most on-the-nose bit of dialog… 

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… but yeah, I guess it is one of the better moments on the route.

Up next is the cake scene, which is back to being generic. Nanami shows up wondering what’s going on, why Mary thinks she can steal her brother away from her, but again, if you’re passive enough and meekly run away from her, Touga will use that as an excuse to draw Mary closer.

For clubs, there is an option to go looking for Touga this time when going to the Kendo Club, but looking for Touga isn’t exactly what happens. It’s more like he finds us.

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This is the section I named this post after; this is where a lot of investigation actually happens. Remember last week with Saionji, how he eventually realized Chigusa’s claimed timeline of events involved her being in the same grade as him? Touga realized that a day earlier, and even confirmed it offscreen by pulling up an old student directory. This encounter, then, is a date to the library, where Touga plans to do a bit more research.

There are some very specific word choices there. “Touga” is the more obvious, I think, and it follows through on Mary basically being Touga’s lapdog this route. The other one is “date,” because it is a date, it turns out. You even have to say as much when Chigusa shows up badmouthing you again.

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She doesn't take it well.

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What do you mean, “you people?”

Touga manages to break it up, though, which is good, and Mary, not knowing how the rest of the game plays out, wonders why Chigusa’s so sad about her and Touga being “a thing”, which earns us two extra Chigusa points along with Touga’s.

The investigation, meanwhile, goes nowhere, since the student directory for fifteen years ago has been mysteriously checked out from under our noses. We know who checked it out for a couple reasons. The first is simple character mathematics (who would impede the protagonists here?), another is that we did the Literature Club scene and saw the culprit with the records in question, and the third is, well, libraries have records of this stuff.

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Touga says he’ll check elsewhere, but we don’t have to worry our pretty little head about it, and besides, someone’s calling for us on the intercom anyway. Date over, I suppose.

After that, of course, is the second city scene, where Touga’s back at the music cafe. It’s a bit weird, like, Touga starts off by claiming he knows everything about Mary at this point, and Mary, in an uncharacteristic (for the route) bit of clarity of purpose, decides to call him on it.

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“When’s my birthday?” March 28th. “Blood type?” A positive. “Favorite food?” Mont Blanc. Those are all of Mary’s questions. Touga proceeds to show off a bit too.

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Oh hey, Mary can sing the OP!

“You sleep in pajamas, and you haven’t had your first kiss yet. Any other questions?” As Mary’s thoughts confirm, these are all one hundred percent accurate. Then Touga drops the finishing blow: 

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It is a little weird, though, for reasons other than the obvious AAAAAA of the situation. This offer comes up again during the second dinner scene, probably to make the offer there for slightly less focused playthroughs, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. It’s not actually the most surprising bit of the dinner scene. Every other dinner scene has involved four people. This one involves five.

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Nanami is entirely inconsequential to the whole affair, though. She gets a few licks in, a few good snarks, but is basically there to help Touga control the conversation. After all, every time she snarks at Mary or Utena, the focus returns to Touga, and we know how much he loves the focus being on him.

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Probably the best bit Nanami has here, for better or for worse.

Anyway, Touga offers to sleep with Mary and because the game isn’t keeping track of exactly how devoted Mary is to him at this point in the game, you can either express relief, disbelief (“What kind of girl do you think I am?”) or straight-up denial. Obviously, because we’re doomed for what happens next, Mary accepts.

That night, Mary starts to think about how she feels about Touga. “I don’t have any weird expectations or anything,” she thinks.

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Mary leaning on the fourth wall here.

I’d provide more commentary, but I think we can all see where this is headed.

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It’s not explicit, obviously, and it’s certainly less explicit than Episode Thirty-three of the show, but it’s, uh, it’s not subtle, especially on the fade to black.

Hey, weird mechanical quirk, going on a date with Miki ended with plus ten nobility points, while having probably actual sex only gets plus three. There’s probably commentary there, but I’m kind of done with this scene. Hope that’s okay.

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Not shown: the pajamas Mary supposedly sleeps in.
Oh yeah, also Touga’s abandoned her already.

Day four is about what you’d expect. There’s that extra scene of Mary arriving home that’s the same as when it happened to Saionji, then all three of the Student Council members get escorted off to the Fencing Hall (remember what I said about forcing reliance on Touga?), Touga disappears when we go looking for him…

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…but he shows up just in time to scare off Nanami, and Mary reaffirms her love for him. “I’m so happy I can trust you, Touga,” Mary says.

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The biggest ellipses of all time

Touga finds out Chigusa is actually from fifteen years ago through finding a secret extra student directory, and the reveal that Touga looks like Mary’s dad is treated as a reveal even though it was established on day one.

The motif going into the fencing hall for the final battles is “a knight must give everything for his princess” which, if you’ve seen the show, isn’t too dissimilar from how Touga managed to snag Utena the first time.

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The other thing of note is that Touga escapes being tied up by using Mary one final time.

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Does this work with, like, normal person rope?

Fights happen, Touga wins all three thanks to the power of Mary’s love, and Mary breaks Chigusa’s talisman to save Utena.

...to save Utena.

It occurs to me only now that that’s probably Touga acts so committed to Mary on this final day because of his feelings for Utena. If the revelations in the final episodes are true, Touga has been pining after Utena ever since Episode One, or perhaps even before that if the flashbacks are real, so it wouldn’t be out of character. Of course, neither would using Mary to achieve that goal, as we find out in the epilog.

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They don’t kiss in this ending, instead, Mary just asks to keep in contact with her one true love. Touga, within earshot of Anthy and Utena, promises to one day even visit, but of course, as soon as everyone’s said their goodbyes…

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…into the flames it goes. “What a stupid woman,” Touga says.

The route ends with Mary entirely alone at her new school, now saving herself for a boyfriend who will never come. 

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Sorry, girl, you got DENNIS’d

So, uh, yeah, that’s the route. To be clear, I don't hate Mary for falling for it. Basically everyone in the show besides Akio, Anthy, Juri, and Miki have fallen for Touga's wiles, and if you count the light novels, not even Miki is immune. Plus, if you do start counting other Utena media, that wasn’t even top three most uncomfortable sex scenes involving Touga, but that’s probably more an inditement of Revolutionary Girl Utena as a whole than a perk for this game. I don’t know where I’m going with this, all I can promise is that the next ending will be better.

-r

Total drinks: 28 (just a declaration of love, surprisingly)

Next time: Utena’s ending. Better?

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Episode Eleven -- Almost Perfect, But Not Quite

“Almost perfect” because of the requirements for the ending, you see. I mentioned before that to get a character’s ending, you need to increase their nobility score to 100%, itself represented by the little rose of their character’s dialog. This is the Utena ending, so that means we’re going to be focusing on her. The problem is that getting Utena to 100% is also part of the Perfect ending, the one where nobody falls, and I don’t intend to cover that just yet.

Speaking of Chigusa, though, that does mean we have to allow her influence to seep through a little bit, whether that be through direct interaction or missing on moments to cancel her out. An example of the latter comes up very early, in Day Two’s lunch section, which we haven’t talked about in a while. Remember the option to either eat with Utena outside or with Chigusa in the cafeteria? Well, we’re finally taking that first option today.

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This scene is, more or less, a continuation of the introductions of the first day, definitely more so than its opposite conversation in the cafeteria is. From a design perspective, I think this is pretty understandable, like, asking a first-time player to go into an unknown is a big ask when the option to just hang out with some established characters is right there. There are two basic introductions here. The first is introducing Mary to Anthy’s cooking.

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I guess it’s time to take a brief aside to talk about Anthy’s cooking. Like, I know there was that whole “Anthy’s curry is cursed” episode and I know that she’s basically on mono-shaved-ice duty from that point on in the series. I also know that this obsession with carnival food shows up in the musicals -- there’s a whole song about it in Bud of the White Rose, but I’m not entirely sure where it first came up. It makes sense -- there’s loads of discourse if you look for it, too much to cover here -- but otherwise, the closest I could find was a similar sequence in the manga, where Wakaba finds octopus dumplings, fried ramen, and a sleeping Chu-Chu in Himemiya’s tri-story bento box.

Unless my memory has failed me, and it very well may have, it’s entirely possible that this is the introduction to that specific aspect of Anthy’s character in the anime’s canon, not just to Mary, so that’s neat. But speaking of Chu-Chu, an aspect of him is the second introduction in this scene. Mary doesn’t have her own lunch, you see (remember she was intending to buy it in the cafeteria scene), so naturally, she gets hungry, and she sees Chu-Chu with a banana. “Sorry monkey,” she thinks as she reaches for the banana. “you should have been born as a higher species.”

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The moral of the story here, I think, is to not take Chu-Chu’s food. Really, that’s the moral of Revolutionary Girl Utena if you think about it.

Anyway, the scene ends, and Utena’s not available for the first club scenes, so we pick back up in the city.

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Utena, you don’t remember inviting us?

The scene is pretty light and doesn’t even have a choice to make, mostly consisting of Mary and Utena bonding over rose tea and is worth two nobility. The specific moment that stands out here is Utena describing the tea as “not too strong and not too sweet, but feels kind of noble,” and Mary remarks that it almost sounds like she’s describing Utena herself.

The next new scene comes during dinner, as the option with the most Utena points available is inviting Chigusa over. The invitation itself turns out to be a bit difficult, though, as she doesn’t have a phone number in the directory -- it only lists an address. Mary goes out to invite Chigusa in person when…

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Oooooookay

I’m not going to comment too much on whether Chigusa is supposed to be 17 or 29 and how that relates to how creepy it is that Kozue and she are making out at best, especially since it’s never more than implied and interrupted immediately, but that does need to be remarked upon. Anyway, Mary is like “I see you’re busy but what if we had dinner?” and Chigusa says “lmao she means nothing to me anyway sure.”

Oh yeah, also the directory had Chigusa just… living in the ruins. Which, I mean, she is a ghost, so it makes sense. Chigusa does try and justify this later when asked by saying the directory had a misprint, but we, the viewers, know better, don’t we?

Dinner goes about as well as could be expected.

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She’s really into this metaphor, okay?

“There are only two kinds of girls in the world, princesses and evil queens, and I wanted to be a queen,” Chigusa says, which is just close enough to the show’s referenced archetypes of “princess, prince, and witch” (and follows the show’s “In the end, all girls are like the Rose Bride” thing). She asks Utena which one she is (again, very close to the show’s final arc here), and lambasts her for even daring to choose prince.

Mary has two options here: she can either slap Chigusa or make a joke to try and distract everyone. We’ve seen how bad Mary’s jokes are, so the direct action is the correct decision here. Unfortunately, it’s not on screen, just a sound effect. “Utena isn’t like that!” she says, which Chigusa takes as an excuse to leave, and the end result is two Utena nobility and two Chigusa nobility.

The night scene, as expected, involves Mary running into Utena going for a walk. We do see a unique sprite here for Utena, which is neat.

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We get a look at Mary’s thoughts as the two play basketball together. “This is almost kind of romantic,” she thinks, though the “It’s almost like a situation from out of a movie or drama,” kind of ruins it for me. If there are any aspiring writers out there, let me spell this out for you: calling attention to your own tropes has not been a good idea since, like, the eighties. Reminding the audience that they’re watching a show or playing a game is a good way to break their immersion. It’s not cute. I promise.

Anyway, Utena and Mary get all sweaty playing basketball so they decide to take a shower together.

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“How pretty your body is.” Drink!

Most of the dialog, despite this introduction, is more about Utena checking Mary out than the other way around. “Your skin is so soft. I bet it’d be great to hug you!” Utena says. “But don’t get me wrong, I like totally normal boys!” Fortunately, Mary isn’t having it.

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Next is Utena saving Mary from Nanami and her goons, though nothing is really worth sharing, since it’s basically exactly what we’d know out of Utena and Nanami’s interactions at this point in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Talking about the ruin after the Student Council meeting, meanwhile is worth talking about, because it’s basically the same as Touga’s. I’m not going back to check for sure, but I’m pretty sure Chigusa’s lines are just word-for-word the same.

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You really think someone would do that? Just go to a ruin and tell lies?

We already did the cake scene during the initial playthrough, Utena’s not available for clubs (the walkthrough recommends Touga, I guess to push Chigusa’s nobility a bit so you don’t accidentally be too perfect) and we already did the second city scene (unfortunately, nothing changes if you’ve done both of Utena’s). The second dinner scene gets a little fun, since telling Touga off for propositioning literal sex gets some Utena nobility (which… pisses Nanami off? for some reason?), but the late-night scene also doesn’t change, and suddenly, we’re on the final day.

Thankfully, there are two big changes to Day Four. The first is, ironically, because of a lack of a change. Despite us officially being on “Utena Ending” at this point, Utena’s lack of urgency, leading Mary to seek out the one other remaining duelist: Touga.

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Telling Touga that you want to know what’s going on means he’ll give Mary a key to the Student Council Archives, aka the thing that he used in his ending to find out the plot. It manifests itself as an extra option for Mary when she’s running around finding the plot on her own. It’s just looking at the same images as that ending again, but it’s neat. 

The other change is, of course, Utena saving Mary from Nanami again. It’s only a little different, though, and only in the aftermath, after Nanami has already left:

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This “something” is Chu-Chu, who’s going to disappear from the narrative right after this until the finale, so while it’s not much of a gift, it is Utena enough in spirit (leaving aside the standard metaphorical significance Chu-Chu has as Anthy’s familiar). This is because, of course, Utena has a duel to fight, so she can’t accompany Mary to the old fencing hall.

Also important is this line, because it’s one that Mary’s going to fixate on.

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When Chu-Chu reappears (that is to say, when the story diverges from the normal sequence of events), is when Mary is waking up from Chigusa knocking her out. She isn’t tied up this time, she’s held under lock and key, but guess who comes out with the key.

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Now, if I can take a guess at what you’re thinking, you’re probably thinking “radio, who’s going to fend off the duelists if Touga doesn’t care and everyone else has fallen to Chigusa?” And that’s a good question. I was thinking that too. And the answer is, well...

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Repeat this three times.

What’s neat about the final sequence, where Mary severs Chigusa’s connection to the mortal world, is that with only Chu-Chu accompanying her, the inciting action is all Mary’s. She’s the one who realizes how to help Utena. She’s the one who knows where to look. She even is the one who talks herself into doing the breaking. I don’t know what else to say besides that I find that refreshing compared to the other endings.

Now, speaking of the ending...

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Unlike many of the endings, Utena does show up in the initial goodbyes, even if the dialog is a bit different. “You said you wanted to be a prince,” Mary says, “but to me, you already are.” Like the other endings, though, there is an additional scene once everyone else has left. It turns out Utena has one more thing to give us, but we don’t see it right away.

Mary’s certainly happy, though.

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In fact, she’s so happy she starts crying. “Dry your tears,” Utena says, and, in a moment intentionally mirroring Utena’s encounter with Dios…

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mlem

“Never lose your strength or nobility,” Utena says. “I’m sure we’ll meet again. So don’t say ‘Goodbye,’ say ‘See you later.’”

After the credits roll, we finally find out what Utena gave us. The scene starts on a black screen, with a teacher inviting a new transfer to introduce themselves:

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Now, Utena’s uniform (of course) has metaphorical significance, but it’s the sort of significance where the negative aspects disappear as soon as the wearer leaves Ohtori. It’s like Juri’s locket in that way. Now, will Mary and Utena meet again? Well, continuing the canon of the show, we know they both end up outside Ohtori Academy’s walls, so maybe!

I mean, if it all happens the same way, they can’t be lovers unless they’re into polyamory (which they might be!) but details, y’know?

That’s it for the duelist endings! Technically, there are two more in this vein, one where there isn’t really a happy ending for anyone, but Chigusa is still defeated, and the aforementioned perfect ending, but one of those I don’t see being very interesting to go through in too much detail, and the other, like I said, I’m saving for last, so next up are the “bad” endings, though from what I’ve heard, we’ll see how bad they really are.

-r

Total drinks: 30 (1 and 1 love declaration)

Next time: You know how Mikage shows up if you only have one person to talk to? What’s up with that guy?

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