Published On: Sun, Jan 31st, 2016

Revolutionary Girl Utena Newbie Recap: Episode 8, “Curried High Trip” – “It means if you do something bad, bad things will happen to you.”


As many have explained in the comments and otherwise, Nanami-centric episodes in Utena tend to operate in a different universe. They’re sillier and seemingly even more random and chaotic than the show generally is, but what I’m slowly coming to realize is that yes, there’s stuff to be found here. If nothing else, it’s fun to laugh at Nanami.

First, an apology: Keeping up with a regular anime recap (which is quite possibly the best kind of assignment to have) shouldn’t be this difficult. Now that 2016 has kicked in fully, I will actually keep this going weekly. ANYWAY, ONWARD.

So, I’ve talked some shit about Nanami episodes before. I take it back—once you get further into the show’s psychological weirdness, it’s easier to understand what and why her episodes are there at all. As a result, this was one of the funniest and most surreal pieces of anime I’ve watched in a Very Long Time.

Things start off pretty normally: Nanami’s literally cooked up a plot to torture Anthy and Utena yet again, this time by swapping in some exxxtra-spicy Indian curry into their cooking class.


This mostly makes me really hungry for curry.

Per usual, Nanami’s goal is to shame and embarrass Anthy and Utena and thus get her brother Touga to pay attention to her. Unfortunately, Nanami’s henchwomen mess up; the curry they get is actually a million times spicier than expected, and it literally causes an explosion in the kitchen. (The food science in Utena, as with everything else about the show, is very Extra.)

However, as a result of the explosive curry, Anthy and Utena are hurt. This, ironically, garners them Touga’s sympathy, for he, Miki, and Jury (kind of) are worried about anything that’s not foreseen by End of the World.



Sweet wannabe-prince Miki thinks it’s his fault because he told Anthy he’d love to eat super spicy curry. He says this in most pained voice possible so you know he’s being sincere and not overbearing in his one-sided devotion to her, which is based on a childhood misunderstanding involving his sister.


I feel bad laughing at this but… I’m still laughing…

When Utena and Anthy do get out of hospital, something is indeed up. After being knocked down by her friend, Utena acts weird… aka “nice.”

Later, Nanami’s henchwomen are tormenting Anthy as usual. One of them slaps her—AND SHE. SLAPS. BACK!!!


YAAAAAAASSSSSSS!!!!! (Remember though, violence is [almost] never the answer.)

But wait… Utena’s sounding and acting a lot like Utena… Anthy’s sounding and acting a lot like Utena… And rather than making it a case of personality alteration, straight-up, they’ve switched minds. This is underscored in an aggressive supercut featuring “Anthy” on the basketball court and looking dopey in public; meanwhile, “Utena” hangs out in the greenhouse and dutifully cooks and cleans.

Nanami, not quite realizing what she’s done, is curious about switch, which is why she sends her henchwomen out to collect photo evidence. However, she’s peeved to learn that her henchwomen are selling said spy photos because people are really into the Anthy-Utena swapped personalities.


Been there.

Touga, “Anthy,” and (somewhat) “Utena” figure Nanami’s the one behind the explosion and personality change. She tries pulling out her evil maniacally laughing persona to “charm” Touga, but Touga’s genuinely mad at her for potentially messing up his chance to crack the world’s shell. She apologizes profusely, saying that she merely wanted to help out with the recipe (“Anthy” calls bullshit immediately); he accepts, but says she can’t go home until she switches Anthy and Utena back, via that same super spicy curry.

That means she (and her friends) have to go to India, as this spice is apparently rarer than rare.


See ya.

Meanwhile, the shadow girls offer a surprisingly lucid interlude. The moral: watch out for divine justice. (“It means if you do something bad, bad things will happen to you”—if only the world worked that way, am I right y’all???)



As Nanami faces perils in a surprisingly non-terrible portrayal of not-Japan in anime (mainly because the only “Indian” motif that reoccurs is, um, stampeding elephants), “Anthy” faces her own trials at school: Saionji’s been hitting on her relentlessly—and later, upon confronting her and “Utena” in a hallway, grabs her by arm and pulls her along to do, what exactly?

In a dark space which looks like an equipment room, it seems clear to “Anthy” and the viewer that Saionji wants them to get it on. Realizing that he’s probably been doing this to actual Anthy for a while, “Anthy” starts freaking out, as did I. What the shit Saionji!!! And, would the show actually do that to its most consistently victimized character?


I feel this though.

Instead, Saionji reveals that he and Anthy keep a secret exchange diary, wherein he writes Anthy letters about their “love” and tries to convince her to do the same. And while we never see any of Anthy’s actual writing, the fact that he feels comfortable enough to just grab her and go? (To be fair, “Utena” wasn’t going to do anything about it.) That’s WEIRD.

“Anthy” finds herself in a weird place: She needs to write back to Saionji despite not liking him or being Anthy. But, she doesn’t want to tell “Utena” about the fact that she now knows about the secret meetings.

Luckily, “Utena” is completely transparent with her, and tells “Anthy” to write as her. When Utena is like “Nah,” Anthy straight-up throws away the diary, saying she didn’t know it wasn’t “right” to do so. Realizing that it’s better to give Anthy some agency rather than have her stop something she’d actively been doing, “Anthy” finally gives in and starts writing. (Shoutout to Anthy’s hair cap. Those who know, know.)

Utena, weirdly enough, starts feeling sorry for Saionji, since his entries clearly make him out to be a pretty troubled and deluded dude. This doesn’t last long.



As this unfolds, we get a few Nanami updates: She’s run off a cliffside by an elephant, and then continually is hounded by said elephants throughout the rest of the episode. I get what the commenters were saying about her and animal encounters now.


/throws laptop in the trash/

Finally, “Anthy” returns her and Saionji’s notebook to him. Written inside is simply “DUMBASS.” And at the moment, oh, Nanami’s back!


Bye bitch.

After a sequence of the jankiest running animation ever, Nanami makes her triumphant return… significantly tanner. But right as she goes to deliver the goods, Chu-Chu throws a banana peel right under her foot, an elephant comes charging at her, and…



Just to make things worse, that was the last batch of super spicy curry for 200 years! But just when this divine justice has been fully rendered, resulting in the whole gang hanging out in Utena and Anthy’s place, one of the henchwomen reveals that the secret spice was actually left unopened… which means the explosion was actually the unfiltered result of real-Anthy’s curry. Which, naturally, she’s about to serve to the entire group.

Saionji stupidly comes over and starts acting stupid, so in a brilliantly subversive move, “Utena” feeds him her curry. He and Chu Chu both take bites at the same time, and while it changes Utena and Anthy back…


The other way around is way more/too disturbing.

…well, I guess Anthy’s gonna have to make curry again!

Out of all the ways this episode could’ve panned out, I was surprised by where it actually went. The intro of Anthy and Utena’s switched personalities was pretty genius (I actually screamed when Anthy slapped that girl back), and Nanami’s failed redemptive arc actually made me feel something for her. I also watched a group of elephants surf and thought “That’s not even the weirdest thing I’ve seen on this show,” which is something. Though I do still hope that these episodes will be, perhaps, more myth-focused as they go on, I can’t say that I minded this too much.

Well, until next time. (Which will actually be soon!!!)

Tweet your thoughts on Episode 8 of Revolutionary Girl Utena to me here. This should go without saying, but NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

Lilian Min is an associate editor at HelloGiggles and has written for The Atlantic, Nylon Magazine, BuzzFeed, and others. Read her other work here and tweet her here.

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