This episode is dedicated to the orange-haired woman. Juri beats all of her kendo competitors and is admired for her beauty. Despite the appreciation, she is cynical and unhappy. During an encounter where she and Utena get some time to become acquainted with each other, Juri admits that she doesn't believe in miracles. This lack of faith came about because of a friend's betrayal (this friend used to always tout their power so Juri has intrinsically connected the two).
Her aspiration for the Rose Bride is so that she can obtain the power to disprove miracles once and for all. Through carefully constructed storytelling, the audience is led to believe that the betrayal stems from her friend stealing the man Juri loved. Yet,by the end, the audience knows that she was actually in love with her female friend. The friend admits in a letter that she was willing to trample Juri's feelings in favour of her own happiness. I believe Juri considers truly selfless relationships to be impossible. Because of her 'friend's' actions, she can no longer believe that people genuinely care for one another void of selfish intent.
Utena's belief in her prince's selfless ideals spur Juri into challenging her, hoping to force Utena into seeing that the world is a dark place void of love. Since she's a superior fighter, Juri easily bests Utena, disarming her and stepping forward to cut the rose from our heroine's chest. Utena's sword, which Juri launched into the air when disarming Utena, falls, point down, and slices through Juri's rose, inches from her head. Stunned and unwilling to believe that she could have been bested by a miracle, Juri leaves defeated but still embittered.
I recall Juri's being the first character's story that really resonated with me, partly because of her love for a female friend, but also the callous way she was brushed aside by said 'friend'. Where Miki's story was one of nostalgia and trying to retain it, Juri's is of losing faith in the goodness of others, a far darker and more troubling state that everyone encounters on the road to adulthood. How we cope with the selfishness of others, and the cruelty within the world, is personal and unique. Unfortunately, for some, like Juri, it turns them into hardened, angry individuals.
Images courtesy of http://ohtori.nu/
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – this is a saying that speaks to perseverance and overcoming the hurtles of life. There's much wisdom in such a phrase, but sometimes attitude isn't enough. Sometimes life's weight can only be lessened by a supportive companion or therapeutic emotional release. I am fortunate to have a disposition that gravitates toward optimism. People fascinate and interest me, the world a glorious panorama of possibility and wonder. Yet there are days, hours and even moments when that glow of life dims. When only the darkness seems to pervade and hope feels like a distant dream.
There is always trouble in the world, but of late there seems to be an increasing number of influences spelling disaster for our species and planet. One of the most concerning is the threat of global climate change. It's ominous presence is so vast and formidable that many people simply do not wish to acknowledge it. Others would suffer economic loss if the necessary actions to prevent it were undertaken so fight, with all the resources at their dispose, to disprove its legitimacy. As the weather around me shifts I can't help feeling disappointed and frustrated with the continued debate. Everything needs to be done to prevent this shift in our planet's environment – yet instead we see stories of people anticipating the economic benefits of longer growing seasons.
The other issue of primary concern to me is nuclear catastrophe. The fact that these weapons of mass destruction still exist is a testament to human arrogance and stupidity. Eliminating these mechanisms, which guarantee the end of biological life on this planet for centuries, should require no conversation. The risk for accidental use is too great to let even a single one remain – yet they persist because of pride and fear. Global politics are not simple matters to navigate, but everyone should be able to agree that mutual destruction is a result no one desires. It hung over the heads of those from my parent's generation as a real threat – where everyday could have been their last. Although it is not as widely discussed today, the threat is no less present.
I highlight these two concerns as the largest for me, but there are many others. As a species and as individuals, we should always be striving to improve ourselves. Perhaps the most important way to do so is to embody the world you want to live in. And speak out. Vocalising your beliefs and communicating your opinions and fears in a constructive manner is the only way change will ever occur. As a Canadian, I understand the desire to avoid conflict and go with the status quo. Yet no change comes from that.
Letting yourself become depressed by such large, multifaceted issues does not help to fix them, but nor should you ignore their weight. Take the time to acknowledge and feel the legitimacy of such issues, then work to address them. And enjoy life. Whatever happens tomorrow, you still have today to smile, change the world and watch a sunset. The quest to stay positive is an ever increasing incline, but climbing it makes you stronger.
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