Creator/Studio: Junichi Sato (director)/Hal Film Maker
Distributor: AEsir Holdings, streams on Hulu.
No. of Episodes: 26
Suggested Age: 7+
My Rating: 10/10
Summary: Once upon a time, there was a writer named Herr Drosselmeyer, who had been writing a story called The Prince and the Raven. Sadly, Drosselmeyer died before he could even finish the story. Suddenly, the story took on a life of its own. Drosselmeyer saw this in his ghostly domain and decided it needed an ending. He happened upon a duck who had fallen in love with the prince and would barely have little to do with the plot. The prince is Mytho, a ballet student whose heart has been broken into several shards, each one transformed into a personification of an emotion or memory. The duck is then transformed by Drosselmeyer into a human girl who takes the ballet class with Mytho and other students. She is then given the task of retrieving the heart shards so Mytho can feel again. There’s just one problem: if she gets wet or does anything that resembles a duck (she tends to quack when distressed, for instance), she will revert to her true form. Fortunately, she just needs to get wet again to change back. She is given a locket that transforms her into Princess Tutu so that she can retrieve the shards. Impeding her goal is the evil Raven, who seeks to corrupt the Prince with the help of his unwilling daughter Rue, who can transform into Princess Tutu’s evil counterpart, Princess Kraehe. However, Drosselmeyer is not a benevolent creator. He would love to see a bittersweet or tragic ending to his story, because that would create so much drama.
Review: This is one of my all-time favorite series. I’m a sucker for fairy tales, especially Hans Christian Andersen’s. The story has elements of Andersen’s style (Duck herself could be a reference to the story of the Ugly Duckling), but also incorporates elements found in “magical girl” anime such as Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura.
Duck is a great heroine. She is kind to everyone in the story, even those who should be her enemies. She tries to see the best in others. She cares so much for the prince that she would willingly sacrifice her new role in the story so that he may be happy.
Rue is actually a sympathetic character, despite her villainous identity as Princess Kraehe. You feel as though she is an unwilling pawn in her father’s schemes, and even though she tries to convince herself otherwise, there is evidence that she still has a good heart. She constantly wonders if it is possible to find redemption and we get to see enough of her humanity to sympathize with her.
Mytho, for someone who’s supposed to be the true hero of the story, actually seems kind of bland at first. Part of this is by design, as his heart’s absence has caused him to be completely devoid of emotion. However, as Duck acquires more and more heart shards, he begins to remember how to feel and acquires more depth.
Fakir is Mytho’s roommate. At first, he seems aloof, if not evil. In fact, he’s the opposite. He’s actually an anti-hero. He doesn’t trust Duck at first, and actually cares about Mytho. He doesn’t want him to be hurt any further, as the loss of his heart has caused him to become more fragile than he was prior. He slowly became one of my favorite characters.
Drosselmeyer himself is the most enigmatic character in the story. He is seen in his gear-filled realm, as if he were merely an observer. The viewer is never certain of his true intentions–does he wish for a satisfactory ending or does he wish the most tragic ending possible? How much control does he actually have over the story? I was never sure whether he was truly evil or just a trickster.
If you enjoy Disney’s classic fairy-tale cartoon movies, I highly recommend this series. It’s one of the most charming stories I’ve ever watched.
Sub/Dub: One of the best dubs, period. Everyone delivers an excellent performance.
Music/Score: Princess Tutu has a unique score, incorporating pieces from both Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake. (Drosselmeyer himself is actually named after a character in the Nutcracker Suite). It’s a strange fit, but because both those stories have fairy tale elements (Swan Lake is actually inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story), it works.
Violence: (3/10) There is actually very little violence in this series. In fact, this is a series I would have no trouble recommending it as a title for children. Tutu doesn’t fight anyone she encounters and prefers instead to invite them to dance with her, using her magic to help them deal with their problems.
Nudity: (2/10) As I stated, Duck’s human form is only temporary. When she transforms from duck to human, she is naked. This is usually done for laughs and nothing is shown. (She’s actually not even a teenager yet)
Rue’s form as Princess Kraehe is somewhat revealing, but not explicit.
Religion: In a way, Drosselmeyer could be considered the story’s “god” since he created the story and observes its progress. He seems to be neither good nor evil, more like a trickster. However, this is not meant to be a criticism of any specific religion.
Related Media: ADV once published a manga based on the anime, but when the company went bankrupt and later restructured, the manga division no longer existed. As a result, the manga is out of print.