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Japanator Review: Princess Tutu

1:14 AM on 11.19.2007 // God Len



A long time ago there was an anime horribly named Princess Tutu. Men wouldn’t watch it because others would question their sexuality upon doing so, and women wouldn’t watch it because it sounds like it would be little girl’s cartoon. In the end, Princess Tutu would end up being the ugly duckling of anime, forever lost to other anime with awesome titles like ‘Gunslinger Girl’, and ‘Murder Princess’.  

However, in most cases a series' title means nothing. For example, you would think an anime called ‘Those Who Hunt Elves’ would be an epic masterpiece featuring Legolas fighting off insane hunters who can shoot 5 bows at once while riding on top of a flying dolphin, etc... but in the end it isn’t that great; not withstanding tanks and breasts. What I’m trying to say is that even if you name an anime Princess Tutu, it can still be epic. See my review of this anime after the jump to find out why.


Princess Tutu (Shojo)
26 episodes
Developed by Hal Film Maker
Licensed by ADV Films
Released in Japan on August 16th, 2002


Princess Tutu is shojo; let me start this off by saying that, but at the same time it’s not your ordinary shojo show. I had to put this anime into a category, I would have to say it is most comparable to a magical girl show, like Sailor Moon for example. Whenever danger appears, the heroine would transform and vanquish the foe with a blast of bravery and cuteness, all in one. That is what a normal magical girl show is like, but like I said, this isn’t your normal show. This does happen in Princess Tutu for the first seven or so episodes, but beyond that, Princess Tutu is like a fairy tale that has been transformed into an animated ballet; a weird marriage of concepts that is hard to put into rigid categories.  

To no surprise, the story revolves around Princess Tutu, and how she strives to revive the broken heart of an emotionless prince. Despite this pledge, Princess Tutu is nothing more than a simple duck -- a duck who only wanted to return happiness to the emotionless prince who danced by her on the water. So in turn, a dead storyteller named Drosselmeyer transformed this insignificant duck into a human who hereafter could transform into Princess Tutu. All because Drosselmeyer felt intrigued, deciding to see what would happen if he let this duck girl have a more important role in the upcoming events that are befalling this town.

Before death, Drosselmeyer was writing an epic story about a battle between a giant raven and a prince. However, Drosselmeyer died before he finished the story; but the characters of his story did not. They escaped the story, but before any damage was done the Prince sealed the Raven by shattering his own heart into many shards, thus leaving Tutu with the job of picking up the many pieces of this broken man; in essence your standard fairy tale.

That is just one of the many aspects that resemble a standard Germanic fairy tale. Another one would be the use of anthropomorphic characters, which are characters that resemble animals, but talk and act like humans, like a cat teacher, or an anteater school girl (hot!). It isn’t as bad as it seems, at first you might be confused or a little scared, but after a while you realize that it adds a lot of color to this storybook-like world.

Then, there is the ballet aspect of this show; the aspect that really sets this one away from all others. Not only is the story set in a ballet school, but everything that happens in this story has a ballet aspect to it. When characters fight, its not only about swinging swords, but having a well-choreographed dance in the process. This happens constantly and in such an overly-dramatic fashion that it never feels odd or out of place. It almost feels as if you are watching some recording of an actual ballet with spotlights and scene changes and the like.

Ballet would be nothing without great music to back it up. I would even say that 60% of this show’s entire entertainment value is due to its musical score. The reason why this music is so great is because they use scores from actual ballets and operas in order to set the mood, such as the recognizable classics from The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Carmen. These songs are always used at the right time, swelling up whenever something important happens on screen; you will even want to dance yourself (just try it, no one is looking). Speaking of sound, the voice actor for the main character, Ahiru, does such a great job adding a duck accent to her voice. Its squeaky, even sometimes harsh, but always super cute; extra points for that.

Now, like most anime, this one has its flaws as well. The first sections of both the first and second season, as I mentioned above, follow the monster-of-the-week approach. In fact, I stopped watching this series altogether because I was somewhat sick of it. Surprisingly, this trend ended the episode I returned, and I couldn’t stop after that. So if you are like me, just plow on through and you shall be rewarded. If you still don’t like it after the first season then this just might not be the right anime for you.

I didn’t know what to think when I first thought about watching this show. Someone who solves their problems with dancing instead of fisticuffs didn’t sound all to pleasing at the get go, but I quickly understood that this anime was something different. Its over-the-top grandeur and theatrical-like nature was a lot cooler than your average shonen show. The characters are all very interesting, and for the most part, steal the show away from the titular character herself. So I would recommend this show if you like shojo, epic dancing, and the type of over-the-top grandeur you would only see on the stage.

I still highly recommend that they should put some great thought into renaming this series. Its hard to proclaim your love for this show without getting some weird looks. But I’ll say it anyways…

I like Princess Tutu.

Score: 8.5
Verdict: Buy it!




 
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God Len,
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