Once upon a time, there was a man who died...
August 16th marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Tutu, a show about fairy tales, ballet, and defying the roles thrust upon you. If you enjoy the magical girl antics of Sailor Moon and the emotional catharsis of Fruits Basket, I confidently believe you may enjoy Princess Tutu. It's a task to try to convince people to watch this show, and I know the title can sound a bit too twee. Still, I stand with the opinion that this show is spectacular, and it cannot be judged on its title alone.
What is Princess Tutu About?
Author of tragedies Drosselmeyer passed away before he could finish his last story, which pit a noble prince against a vile raven. Because their tale is unfinished, the characters are stuck in a limbo of conflict. The raven fled the story, and the prince cast a spell by shattering his own heart to seal the villainous bird away. The magic has extended to the town in which the book resides, and all the inhabitants are locked under its spell.
Now a ghost, Drosselmeyer must find a new protagonist to finish his story. What better than--a duck?
So, Why Watch Princess Tutu?
The character writing in this show is fantastic. There are four key players in the story, and your first impression of them will drastically change by the end of the series. The story is a fine balance of drama, comedy, romance, and fantasy; tragically dark at its low points and tremendously inspiring at its high. Princess Tutu also wears its influences on its sleeve, referring to beloved ballets and stories in its episodes, but knowing these Easter Eggs isn't necessary for your enjoyment.
Another notable element is the method of conflict resolution. Whenever Duck becomes the graceful Princess Tutu to retrieve a piece of the prince's heart, she doesn't use weapons to fight her foes; her method is dance. Through the beauty of ballet and communication, she is able to provide empathy for those in need of support, and this ability is thematically the most powerful thing in this show.
With the premise of a fairytale bleeding into the real world, there's also traces of metafiction. The roles given to the four by Drosselmeyer are deconstructed and challenged. What is a selfish prince? What is a knight reluctant to draw his sword? What is a princess who cannot speak her feelings? What is a villain who cannot thwart her enemy? Not only are these questions explored, they're reconstructed and create something new.
The show has a carrying thesis: "May those who accept their fate be granted happiness. May those who defy their fate, be granted glory." It's the journey these characters take to achieve glory that is the most addicting part of this show. With the first half of the series, you're led to follow a certain pattern of the episodes. At the midpoint, the pattern begins an interesting change. By the end, you're enthralled by how far the story and its characters have come and beg for the conclusion to be as happy as the cast wants it to be. Please, consider watching Princess Tutu. It's uplifting, engaging, and interesting. And you'll fall in love with this duck.
Thank you for reading.