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/
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