Winter Warmers: Part 2
2) Princess Tutu
For those of you who are old enough, you may remember Sunday nights in winter, watching dramatisations of classic children’s books – 5 Children and It, The Prince and the Pauper, the Phoenix and the Carpet…. Hour-long programmes which brightened up Sundays before bedtime.
Princess Tutu taps into that sensibility. Set in a nameless germanic-style town, Princess Tutu follows Ahiru (or Duck for dub viewers), who discovers that not only is she actually a duck who has been turned into a girl, but she can also turn into Princess Tutu, a ballet-powered magical heroine, destined to save the shattered heart pieces of the local fairy tale prince. Mytho is his name, at the beginning of the series a rather abstract but pleasant person, apparently ruled over by his friend Fakir. And handily, he is a fairy tale prince, who escaped from a book that was never finished along with a monstrous raven. To seal the raven away, Mytho shattered his heart into pieces – pieces which Princess Tutu finds and returns to him.
Each episode follows Tutu as she finds a new heart shard in a rather monster of the week fashion, as each shard has found someone displaying the feeling it possesses – fear, loneliness, love – and exaggerated it into a grotesque display. Wonderfully though, each episode loosely follows the plot of a fairy tale ballet which shows these emotions, and the soundtrack steals the music from each ballet. The dancing may not be up to much, the characters are animated after all, but the music lives up to the expectations all the way.
At 26 episodes long, you would be right in thinking that this format might get a bit tired after a while, however the story quickly develops into something much deeper. Tutu is a story princess herself – in love with Mytho, she can never tell him how she feels because it’s said that as soon as she says the words, she will disappear. This element of tragedy, and the sinister figure of Drosselmeyer – a ghostly puppetteer who seems to control Ahiru’s various forms – slowly turn the story of Princess Tutu into a dark fairy tale in itself. The reappearance of the Monster Raven, Mytho’s enemy, the introduction of the Raven’s daughter, Kraehe, and the development of Fakir’s role helps the story to run into a fantastically crafted tale of good versus evil and a study on the power the written word can have, both literally and figuratively.
Split into two sections, Chapter of Egg and Chapter of Chick, Princess Tutu seems ideally set up for a third installment, Chapter of Duck. From the ending though, I suspect the Chapter of Duck is one that is not to be written, but to be left to the characters themselves to decide.
This series is a fantastic way to spend your winter evenings, as the nights get darker so does the plot and the magic seems that little bit more magical. With a sweeping soundtrack, exception voice acting in both the Dub (ADV) and the Sub versions, you won’t be disappointed at all.