I’m sorry this post took so long but I’ve been sick lately and work has been a real bitch these past three weeks. Also, this episode was so loaded with juicy themes that I wanted to get my thoughts in order before dropping this post.
This episode begins one chilly fall morning with Rio burning the letters she’s been receiving from her father. We also hear that Kanata has made great improvements in her playing abilities since she’s had six months of practice time at the fortress.
Then the scene switches and we see a Yuuko and an old woman up in the hills above the fortress and the old woman seems to be ill. Later in the morning we see Kureha and Kanata helping Noel refurbishing the tank, and it looks almost ready to rock. Then Kanata asks Kureha about the princess and they look for the unit’s army almanac, but its missing and Filicia’s no help in finding its location.
Over tea, Kureha tells Kanata more about Princess Iliya; she says that Iliya was the eldest daughter of the current Archduke and she was a famous tanker. Kanata asks her about what Claus said. She died two years ago when she assigned to the royal guard, on her way to visit a city, she drowned saving a child from a river. Kureha goes on to tell Kanata that she relieved because the rumor was….
Later, Kanata gets a visit from Yumina and Yuuko asking for a favor. Kanata goes to Rio room and asks her through the door for help. Yuuko is the daughter of Martin (one of the shop owners they do business with) and she wants them to check on the old lady (Jacott) who sells them stuff at the market. Rio is just lying in bed in a semi-cationic state but gets up and tells Kanata that she’ll listen to her request.
Soon, Kanata and Rio are off to the hills to check on Jacott. While they’re walking towards Jacott’s house we hear the rest of what Kureha told Kanata about Iliya; it was rumored that Princess Iliya was going to be married off to the Emperor of Rome to improve relations with them, she would have been his third wife, and Kureha says she would have been a hostage. The idea stopped when Princess Iliya died and they fought with Rome until this year’s peace treaty.
When they arrive at Jacott’s house they find her working on the construction of a new house, and she’s not in good health. Well, they take her inside and fix her some tea. She tells them the new house is for her son who lives in the city but will return home some day. When, Rio asks. Soon, Jacott replies. Rio tells the woman she must move to the city before winter comes, but the woman refuses, she has to finish that house. Rio says she’s not ready for winter having no firewood or provisions. She laughs and says she’ll be OK.
Back at the fortress, we see Rio chopping firewood and complaining to Filicia about the stubborn old woman, and Filicia says it reminds her of Rio. Filicia then asks Rio why she showed her the letter, and she goes on to tell Rio that the military is reporting that the Roman army on their eastern border has started to move, Rio expresses shock.
We then see Rio waiting in the car while Kanata is inside Martin’s shop picking up supplies for Jacott, and another customer asks Kanata for news about the peace conferences. Martin laments, if only Princess Iliya was alive, and the princess had a younger sister, the rumor is that she was an illegitimate child but she’s third in line for the throne. Just as Kanata is asking about the younger sister, Rio walks in the store and asks Kanata if she wants to take a walk.
They talk about Kanata’s village and her family, large fields and lots of cows and goats, but not many people, and Rio says she can tell Kanata had a good family. Rio grew up in a small town near the capital with pretty lakes and forests, and she lived with her mother, it was boring and nothing happened. Rio’s true joy was her half sister who loved her very much and would stop by to play with her. Rio looked up to her because she was kind, and her sister accepted her fate with pride, she learned the trumpet from her, but her kindness was her undoing. Rio goes on to talk about the town, she got lost and ended up here and felt she had reached her goal, but realized this was a dead end.
Kanata tells Rio, no, she gets lost all the time, I like to get lost, and who cares if your where lost or if it’s a dead end because that’s how I met you. Rio tells Kanata that she jealous of her at certain times and she wishes she could be true to herself. The scene switches back to Jacott’s place with Kanata and Rio stocking the firewood and readying it for winter. Jacott asks Rio why she cares, Rio says she reminds her of her mother, and Rio says she was born of a forbidden love, but her mother waited for him and he might come by once a year and she died living unhappily like that. Why do you think she was unhappy, Jacott asks, I’m quite happy here. He promised he’d come back for me, it’s all I could do, what could I have done. Is that enough, yes, because I have my memories and the hope I’ll see them again.
As Jacott and Rio talk, Kanata listens from outside the door as the first snow of the winter begins to fall. Back in the fortress, Kureha comments that it’s cold out there as the snow begins to descend on the countryside. As Kanata and Rio sleep inside Jacott’s house we get a flashback of Jacott’s life and how she ended up this way, she fell in love with a young married merchant and bore his child, because the man’s wife couldn’t have children he took the child and left her there, but promised to come back someday. Later, Jacott thinks the man has returned and rushes to the door to welcome him home.
In the morning, Kanata and Rio awaken to find Jacott missing and follow her tracks into the snowy countryside, but to an avail. We hear Jacott’s voice saying in order to lose you have to have gained, and the greater the joy of gain the greater the sorrow of your loss. Kanata’s voice counters with if you have memories of your happiness, with that, you can live on.
Back at the fortress, Naomi says that she’s found the pictures of Princess Iliya that Kanata was interested in, Filicia tries to stop Naomi, but Rio says it’s OK. The pictures were of Iliya’s unit at the Timekeeping Fortress from five years ago, and in one of the pictures we see Iliya with the owl and Rio’s trumpet.
Kanata looks to Rio, and Rio nods to Kanata and they head off to the tower together. Rio begins to play amazing grace and Kanata joins in and their duet resounds throughout the fortress and the town. After, Kanata tells Filicia that she thinks her parents wanted her to marry and take over the farm, but she fell in love with the trumpet and ended up here. It was Iliya, wasn’t it she asks Rio. Yes. You met her, too. Kanata says her music welled up inside of me.
Rio gives Kanata her/Iliya’s charm and tells Kanata that she thinks she ran away to this town, I knew I’d leave someday. Now, I don’t want to leave, but that’s why I have to go to do what only I can do. She then gives Kanata her trumpet and says she won’t say goodbye, no matter how far away…..Kanata says sounds fills the air……and reaches peoples’ hearts. Kanata was I a good teacher? Yes. As Rio walks off, she salutes the fortress and Kanata. Kanata says she’ll forever hear her music, the sound of the sky. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Here I go; this review will be slightly different than my previous reviews of the series since I think that the real meat of this episode deals with Rio coming to a mature understanding of her nature and her position. One of the main reasons this review has taken me so long to complete is that I had to spend a lot of time looking up, reading, and watching other media to include in this review.
1 Corinthians 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(King James Version with “charity” rendered as “love”)
I feel the highlighted portion of 1 Corinthians 13 really explains Rio’s internal battle that she’s been waging over the past few years. Rio saw/viewed her mother’s relationship with her father through the eyes and understanding of an immature child judging her mother’s action through her impression of their relationship rather that asking her mother what she really felt. I think that Rio and Kanata’s encounter with Jacott served to awaken Rio’s understanding that she was judging her mother on only half knowledge; did she ever ask her mother if she was unhappy, did she ever ask her mother if her father lied to her mother or did they have an understanding, all Rio ever did was become angry and bitter without ever understanding if there was a reason to become so. I’ll get back to the “a glass, darkly” part later.
I found Rio’s comment to Kanata about “her sister’s kindness being her undoing” to be quite interesting because this is the main struggle that caused all the problems in the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. A person’s nature can only be what it is, Iliya’s nature as a person and a princess was to be brave and kind and she could no more change her nature then an eagle could change its nature. While Rio might have wanted her sister to be more careful and less kind that would have caused her sister to change from the sister she so admired and loved into something else, think Anthy and Akio.
For further reading on this subject please see Ghostlightning’s post on Utena, and my comments on personal identity and characteristics.
Kanata and Rio; the free bird, and the caged bird.
I know why the caged bird sings, by Maya Angelou.
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
This poem perfectly explains Rio’s jealousy of Kanata, to Rio, Kanata is the free bird that glides along on the current of the winds letting those winds take it to new and interesting places while Rio is the caged bird that dreams of having Kanata’s freedom . Rio lives in a cage constructed by the nature of her birth & her identity, and the responsibilities that society places upon her. No matter how much Rio may wish to be free like Kanata, she’s still a princess and owes her country and the memory of her sister a debt. Some might say that Rio could keeping running away from her father but what would that solve, Rio would still be the caged bird. I think that the only way Rio will be truly be free of her cage is for personal death.
The legend of the Thornbird from The Thornbirds, by Colleen MuCullough.
“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth.
From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles.
For the best is only bought at the price of great pain… or so says the legend…”
Rio struggles her whole life against the chains and bars of her cage only to discover only in death can she truly be free. On top of the tower, Rio impales herself upon the thorn of her destiny and sings her perfect song and in the process she undergoes death, the death of one existence and she experiences her rebirth into her perfected self.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
When Rio finally put aside her childlike thinking she was able to see clearly through the obscured glass/mirror that she’s been using to view herself. The darkness is now pulled back and now the light of self understanding illuminates Rio knowledge of her true nature and her responsibilities. The caged Rio dies on top of that tower, her fears and uncertainties fade under the light, and Rio is reborn into her true form. The bastard princess, third in line for throne, now assumes the role she was born to but fled from; she must do what only she can do, and Iliya smiles.