We've met Miki briefly before, at meetings of the Student Council, but this is the first episode that gives us insight into his character and what drives him.
I've said before Utena seems to me to be a pre-modern hero, and Akio a post-modern villain, but none of the three main characters embody modernity. Of the other characters, Miki comes closest. He's a pianist and a scholar, and he seems to represent reason, logic, science. He's arguably the most intelligent member of the cast. Which does not, however, save him.
This episode is unusual, in that it starts with a flashforward, to Miki's duel with Utena. While SKU frequently uses flashbacks, I can't think of any other flashforwards in the series.
Miki and Nanami in the music room. Note the spareness, almost Spartan quality of the staging: windows, piano, actors. That's it. Few of the sets in SKU are complicated. However, while the sets are typically simple, they are competently drawn. In other series, such as Vampire Miyu TV and Monster, the backgrounds have clearly been done by less skilled hands than the characters: furniture and tableware, for example, tend to be annoyingly crudely drawn, and even out of perspective.
I'll go further: the backgrounds in SKU are not only competently drawn, but exquisitely so. Lots of anime fans pay attention to the character designs, but I am the only fan I know who pays any attention to the backgrounds. All anime backgrounds are not alike. Some are good, some are merely competent, some are bad. The backgrounds in Bakaretsu Hunters, for example, are ugly and garish. The backgrounds in Takahashi anime, such as Maison Ikkoku and Ranma 1/2 are competent and not distracting, but undistinguished. The nighttime cityscapes in Madlax are ethereal, mystical. An earlier Bee Train product, Noir, has background art that reminds me of semi-abstract or Art Deco 1920s and 1930's travel posters.
Utena's backgrounds tend to be severe, geometric, Euclidean. Notice the overhead shot of Miki and Namami in the music room: almost as if they are game pieces being moved about on a board. Which, as we ultimately discover, they are.
Nanami finds Anthy's picture in Miki's music, and sics her minions on her Again, I don't understand why she is out to get Anthy, unless it's a subconscious swords-of-hate thing. We get a little exposition via dialog from Wakaba about Miki.: "He's even really popular with the older girls. Mitsuko and the others are just in love with him." 'Mitsuko' is a common woman's name, but this is the only reference to a Mitsuko in the script. Perhaps a character who was planned, but cut from the plot at a later point?
Touga and Miki in the music room. "I may finally be regaining," says Miki, thinking of Anthy, "what I lost so long ago." And here we have the recurrent theme in SKU of characters unable to escape the past, their memories of it, and their need to resolve/redeem the past somehow. Most of the major and supporting characters look to events in their own past as their prime motivating force; I can't think of any important character who is primarily future-oriented. Touga, perhaps, can be said not to be as pathologically past-oriented as the others, but even he lives mainly in the present, enjoying the pleasures of the moment.
[rot13]: Va gur fubj'f svany rcvfbqr, whfg orsber gur svany pbasebagngvba orgjrra Nagul naq Nxvb, jr trg n oevrs fprar bs fghqragf nfxvat rnpu bgure jung gurl jvyy qb va gur shgher: unir n pnerre, trg zneevrq, rgp. Gur cbvag bs guvf fprar znl or gung gur 'fcryy' bs Bugbev unf svanyyl orra orra oebxra, ol Hgran va gur qhry pnyyrq Eribyhgvba. Bugbev'f fghqragf ner abj noyr gb yrnir gur cnfg oruvaq naq ybbx gb gur shgher sbe gur svefg gvzr.
Sepia-tone flashback to when Miki and Kozue (who has not yet been identified) played the piano in the 'sunny garden'. First leaves and then two butterflies float past. The butterflies will be a recurring motif.
The shadow-play girls: "Oh, dear lover, oh boy who dreams of love! The truth behind the girl: do you really know what it is?" This can mean at least three things. 1) It refers to Nanami's attempt in the next scene to spoil Miki's growing infatuation with Anthy by showing her to to be an eccentric, which fails; 2) it may refer to the fact that Anthy is in fact very strange and dangerous, far more than Nanami or anyone else realizes; 3) it may refer to Miki's being clueless about Kozue, why she gave up playing piano with him, and his general lack of understanding of her complex feelings about him, the past event which drives the plot of this episode and the next.
The study sessions, and Nanami's attempts to humiliate Anthy. Again, things seem to come in threes. Each attempt is punctuated by Miki's stopwatch. It may be that Nanami opening the closet and spilling the giant octopus onto herself is a nod to tentacle sex porn and classical Japanese octopus-sex fetishism. (Hokusai woodblock, NSFW) I love the fact that the octopus isn't forgotten after the gag is over. It shows up in the background in one shot of Miki, it fights with Chu-Chu, and it sits lugubriously in a bowl after that, framing a medium shot of the group. At the end of this scene Anthy is riffling through her notebook, in which she has drawn elephants on successive pages, which 'animates' the elephants. Given that Nanami has just tried to humiliate Anthy for a second time, this probably foreshadows Nanami's bad time with elephants in India in a future episode, and fingers Anthy as the perpetrator. Anthy makes shaved ice for the group, which will become her signature dish for the rest of the show; at one point she bears the shaved-ice knife as a weapon.
We finish with Anthy at the piano, playing Miki's "Sunlight Garden" garden song, and Miki sees her as the sister whose playing he has lost. This is surely no accident on the part of Anthy, [rot13] jub vf jbexvat sbe Nxvb gb rapbhentr qhryf, naq vf qbhogyrff gelvat gb znarhire Zvxv vagb bar.
十日の菊 == touka
no kiku == coming too late
Top radical is 'growing plant', surrounding radical is 'encirlce', inner/lower
radical is 'head of rice' (米), here meaning 'head of plant'. Thus, 'plant
with a circular head', i.e., the chrysanthemum. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Chrysanthemum
plant encircled by rice.'
from Taka Kanji Database