Acting under the assumption that the new series of Evangelion movies are a sequel to the original series, and that Adolescence of Utena is a follow-up to the original series (elaborated more later), one has to ask why these series needed sequels. With the presumption that the characters in the new Evangelion movies will get it “right” this time, as the characters in Adolescence of Utena did as a basis for thought process, viewers over the age of 5 know that you can’t redo your life. Thus, I think it is important to note one key aspect of the preceding works that make the sequels worthwhile.
Take for instance, the end of Adolescence of Utena (Spoilers ahead). At the end of the movie, the big revelation is that Utena and Anthy were not only the main characters, but were also likely the radio girls for the duration of the movie. Now, this movie is obviously not a direct sequel to the original series, but this scene suggests that the Utena and Anthy from this movie (the main characters) learned something from a previous incarnation of Utena and Anthy. An incarnation that is not from the first series, but a version of that series in which the end of the world (thematically speaking) was never reached.
To elaborate on this point, let’s shift from talking about Utena for a moment, and use Evangelion as a bridge to understanding the themes in Adolescence of Utena. Even though Evangelion and Utena are vastly different series, with extreme differences in their presentation, they do share the same kind of themes. But more to the point of this post, the End of Evangelion (the capstone movie from the original series) has the main character, Shinji, reject a world filled with pain, only to eventually realize his mistake. And while that is all well and good, the problem is that the world was practically obliterated by his indecision.
This leads to the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, which I presume to be a sequel to the original series. (for more on sequel theory, check here). While Shinji’s ultimate decision likely will be, and appears to have already been given the ending of Evangelion 2.0, that he will again eventually accept society. However, it appears that this time some parties do not want to see the world destroyed yet again.
So what does this mean in terms of Utena. Before I continue, I think it is important to look into the two different meanings of the “End of the World”. First, the end of the world could quite literally mean the end of the world, as it did in End of Evangelion. “End of the World” could also mean the end of your own world, the environment you’ve thus far been living in, or more generally, a change. This is something Shinji accepted after he literally ended the world in End of Evangelion, and that Anthy accepted at the end of the original Utena series.
The Utena and Anthy from the picture above (the movie’s radio girls) also wanted to make this decision and leave the confines of Ohtori Academy, but for whatever reason were unable to. However, you can tell that they desperately wanted to, as they helped the main character versions of themselves escape. And as always, the question is why? As Shinji realized after he literally ended the world, the radio girl versions of Utena and Anthy learned over time that they had made a mistake by not taking that next step, but by the time they had realized it, it was too late. As such, they wanted to make sure their counterparts could succeed, where they had failed.
And thus it would seem, from the themes presented from these series, that reaching the end of our own world by letting our old selves die and being reborn anew from time to time is a good thing. Otherwise, the actions one takes or doesn’t take, as was the case with Shinji in the End of Evangelion and the radio girls in Adolescence of Utena, may the source of regret in the future. That said, continuous and constant renewal isn’t worth it, the reason I believe Kaworu stopped Third Impact this time around.