In December of 2003, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens’ Return of the King—the third and final film in their trilogy adapting J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy epic Lord of the Rings—premiered to a gigantic opening weekend and critical acclaim. I half-remember its sweep at the Oscars the following year, the tides of fanfiction that flooded the internet, the memes, the sudden swelling of fantasy’s cachet. I wasn’t yet Online enough, so to speak, for that vast boom in the world of internet fandom to register for me.
It took me twenty years to learn to like Anthy Himemiya.
I much preferred Utena—after all, she was the titular character of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a 1996 manga turned into an anime in the following year that follows Utena’s quest to free Anthy from ownership by their school’s Student Council. Utena finds herself fighting a series of increasingly bizarre duels, with Anthy—the “Rose Bride”—being given to each victor. At the end of this tournament, the champion will be granted the power to “revolutionize the world.”