What is there to say? What can I say in the end? I’ll give it a shot but I have a feeling I’ll come off as a blubbering fool.
Princess Tutu is one of my first experiences with a show that is deliberately aimed at an audience that is not me. This was the first show in my quest to watch some (mahou) shoujo shows (Card Captor Sakura being my current one now) and this succeeded immensely.
So let’s try and break it down a little bit.
Characters: I loved, loved, loved Ahiru. Cute, brave, determined, you name it. She was one of the highlights of the show with extremely impressive voice work and an amazing character design. I actually ended up getting slightly annoyed with her friends halfway through the show since they were such assholes but that isn’t a huge detractor.
We have Fakir which the show obviously lead me along for. I didn’t enjoy him at first but of course I ended up sympathizing him with him in an extreme way. He was just trying to do what was right and he didn’t have any idea what was going to happen. Him having the power of storytelling was an interesting twist.
Rue is suffering. In the most simplistic sense I could leave it at that. I felt terrible for her by the end of the show; her whole life had basically been a lie and she didn’t even know until the very end that the prince loved her back.
I am a bit ambivalent on Mytho. Of course he has no personality with no heart shards but I still didn’t really enjoy or hate him as a character until he started getting his heart back and even then he was being controlled by the raven in the second half of the show. The part I did enjoy was watching him struggle with trying to understand what his emotions were and watching him almost stab himself through the chest just so Fakir would have to stop suffering.
Drosselmeyer was an extremely unique villain; he could theoretically control everything but wanted the characters to work toward that shitty ending by themselves. Watching the story fall apart on him was satisfying.
Uzura and Edel were interesting in their own right of course but I don’t know how to really comment on them. Having Uzura be unaware that she was made from Edel was an interesting choice that I suppose played out well enough for the story?
Side characters all had interesting struggles. Losing loved ones, not being confident in yourself, general fear of everyday struggles – things people could relate to. Things children could relate to. And Tutu tried to explain the way to help get over your struggles.
Of course I have to mention Neko-sensei too; he was my favorite character (maybe besides Ahiru). His marriage jokes always made me laugh with their execution; it was often repeated but they always found a way to keep it original and I was happy that his cat form found a family in the end. Also, I enjoyed his “wise old man” moments when he indirectly consulted some of the characters to help them as a teacher would.
Story: I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course anyone could have gotten bored with the heart shard collecting throughout the first half but like I said before the show did a very good job of making sure all the experiences of the characters were unique and relateable while expertly weaving the foundation of the climax/second half into the background.
Watching each character struggle with their own issues was impressive as well; Rue had to constantly struggle with change around her while wanting everything to stay the same, Mytho had to deal with being unable to change himself while gradually wanting that change to happen, Fakir had to deal with his apparent imminent death at the hands of the raven, and Ahiru had to deal with her own identity struggle and the stress of saving Mytho (of course, while also struggling with disappearing if she confessed).
In the middle of the show I was treated to quite possibly one of the best shounen fight monologues I’ve ever seen – and I was watching a shoujo series. Rue’s speech was perfect for her character and perfect for the setting at hand. The stakes were high and Rue (Kraehe, Rue, whatever) had a reason for capturing Mytho beyond “ha ha he’s going to die”.
The ending went crazy with all the new elements introduced and I feel like they all worked. Usually a viewer may feel “ripped off” by what happened to Fakir and Ahiru but Ahiru started as a duck and ended as a duck – she stayed true to herself which was one of the overall messages of the story. Plus, the show did a good enough job of showing that, while Ahiru was the main character of the show – Rue and Mytho were the main characters of the story.
Within all that we had a solid foundation of Ahiru’s daily life and going to school – sure she often skipped but this is anime, that’s to be expected. What I really enjoyed was that every time Ahiru turned into a duck they seemed to pay attention to how she was able to turn back; there were hardly any “oh she’s just back to human now” moments. They had her hide and sneak dips in the water.
Lastly, I also enjoyed the symbolism throughout that even children could understand at a first glance. The “Lake of Despair” and having Ahiru “walk into” the lake was simply brilliant. Just having her “sink to the bottom of despair” and showing her that she could still go deeper was great. And having Fakir come down and drag her from the depths was amazing too.
Music: I don’t know, not a lot to say here. Perfect choice of music for a ballet-themed show. Wonderful dancing choreography that really struck home that Rue was a crow and Ahiru was a duck who was blossoming into a swan. I only wish I knew more about ballet and the imagery used to better comment on this.
I will however say that the moment Mytho fell from the window while only wearing a shirt while The Waltz of the Flowers played in the background I knew I would love the show. Don’t ask me why those particular events caused me to think that, they just did.
Overall: I’d speak more on the art but I feel like I don’t remember enough to speak on it accurately so instead I’ll just try and finish up this ramble. I loved Princess Tutu. A lot. A few years ago I don’t know if I would have watched a show with this title or aimed at that audience. But any misconceptions I had about children’s shows being bad because they’re aimed at children are absolutely 100% gone for good.
Recently I did have to somewhat defend this choice to my group of friends (male, 20-23). It was the title that made them find it odd but of course it’s not like it made me stop watching the show. I’ll just have to defend it when it gets attacked.
I’m extremely glad to have taken the time to watch this show and I’ll be sure to recommend it to as many people who will take the time to listen and not immediately dismiss it because of the name of the show.
I give Princess Tutu a 10/10 both for personal enjoyment and overall quality. I’m sure I could find flaws if I really looked hard enough but this show was so wonderful I couldn’t imagine taking points off. I’m sure I didn’t address everything with this pile of words but I felt like I had to type something out to at least get my thoughts about the show into text. Onto Card Captor Sakura for me. Thanks for reading :3