Princess Tutu - Review
Anime has never really been my thing, really. I caught on to it a little late, so when people on the Internet were extolling the virtues of finally being able to see animated porn and violence on a screen(and something about complex plots), I was watching Dragonball Z(thinking it was the silliest damn thing in the world) and Neon Genesis Evangelion, which led me into "WTF!??" mode.
Anime has reclaimed me a little bit though. I like most things Miyazaki, I think most anime leaning towards fantasy tosses out awesome character designs, and there have been a few series that I didn't regret watching - but for the most part, I spend most of my time avoiding anything involving weird fantasy situations, schoolgirls with short skirts and anything involving object retrieval for episodes on end(i.e: dragonballs, Pokemon).
This is why when John Booty sent me Volume 1 of Princess Tutu in the mail, I dawdled around a little before watching it. Given, I also had lots of crap to get done and was procrastinating a bit - but truth be told, I didn't expect too much from it. But I did watch it. AND THAT'S WHEN MY LIFE CHANGED. Given, I didn't get the puppy I'd always wanted, my boyfriend did not buy me lots of candy and my mother did not call me to say that she didn't care what I did with my life, as long as I was happy. But the warm fuzzy feelings I would have gotten if they had happened are pretty close to the warm fuzzy feelings that Princess Tutu inspired in me. I'm a bit of a sucker for cute things, and Princess Tutu definitely fulfills that inner need.
The setting of the series hints at a fantasy world, but doesn't place overt emphasis on it. It is a world where the ballet instructor is a cat that threatens to marry his students if they screw up, but it is also a fairly ordinary small town populated with more cute little ballet students than strange anthropromorphic creatures. The opening sequences are very reminiscent of old fairytale books- they are simple, and elegant and rather prettily watercoloured. The silly opening montage crap all too common in anime was kept to a minimum, which I appreciated greatly.
The first few episodes are lighthearted and funny, although there is a distinct amount of character development. The central character is a duck, who transforms into a girl named Duck, who in turn transforms into Princess Tutu. Yes, it's a little weird.
The story centers around Mytho, who is literally a storybook prince. In this town, this particular story of "The Prince and the Raven" has seemed to come alive. In the story, the Prince's heart is broken into shards while fighting a Raven. It is Princess Tutu's job to retrieve these heart shards, each containing a different emotion. As the introductions to the first two chapters explain, the author of the story had passed away before he could finish it. But as you begin watching the series, it seems that the author isn't entirely dead after all. The author, Drosselmeyer is a creepy old man who lurks over the entire series and occasionally appears to shove Duck in the right direction.
Other characters include Rue, Mytho's girlfriend/top ballet student/possible archnemesis, Fakir, a man that knows about Mytho's past and acts like a complete ass towards him most of the time, and two girls that treat Duck as their little pet.
While I can't say that the characters are alarmingly mutifaceted, there is a certain gentleness in the development of their characters. Mytho obviously developes a bit more of a personality as the series goes on and he gets back various pieces of his heart, although I personally think he is one of the blander characters in the series. The character of Duck, as a duck, a girl and Princess Tutu is treated with a charming blend of the usual "klutzy girl" stereotype and the "kind hearted" stereotype, but neither attribute comes off as excessively forced. Duck as a duck is also pretty darned cute.
Princess Tutu is one of those series that I feel is several notches above your typical magical girl/shoujo stuff. I watched a dubbed version, so I won't bother getting all elitist anime nerd on your ass. I liked the voice acting. It was cute. Really, the entire series can be described as "cute", which explains my overuse of the word in this article. You'd understand when you watch it.
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