“On my Toes” – Princess Tutu (anime) – 10/10 Streamers

Love is more than a noun — it is a verb; it is more than a feeling — it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.  ~William Arthur Ward

Genre: Fantasy/Romance/School/Mahou Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (26 Episodes/26 Episodes) – if you find sources that say this has 39 episodes, the last 13 episodes were split in half while airing, and then put together for the dvd set.

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in theUS

Art/Animation: This looks pretty good, using more pastel colors in a widely varied manner, which goes very well with the fairy-tale theme. The animation is downright lovely for the dance scenes. While there are often stills and repetitive motions onscreen, they are put together in a way that really manages to convey the motion, and the scenes where they go all-out for the dancing are beautifully done.

Dub Vs. Sub: Both are really very good. You can’t go wrong either way. My only little peeve with the dub is that they can never pronounce Mytho’s name right.

Summary: Darkness hid the pieces of her beloved’s shattered heart, and time is running out for Princess Tutu to find them. Using the power of an enchanted amulet, she must uncover the mystery and keep herself and the Prince alive. What secrets bind this passionate girl, a clumsy duck, with an omnipresent storyteller? (back cover of dvd set)

Review: This is told as a story-within-a-story, the premise following that of traditional fairy tales but with each episode themed after a ballet, and dotted with the whimsical and fantastical, throwing references to even more fairy tales and plays, and even having a lot of fun with shout-outs to those who are failiar with ballet (none of these interfere with the story itself, so it’s totally okay if you miss them). Pleaes note that I say ‘traditional fairly tales’- I’m not talking about Pinocchio or Sleeping Beauty as told by Walt Disney, I’m talking about the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales that were not the happiest of stories and usually didn’t end well for anyone.

That doesn’t mean that this is a grim affair by any means. The dark themes of the story only make the joy and loveliness of the rest of it stand out. It starts out like a traditional magical girl story, with a girl that saves her Prince through the magic in her dancing. By episode 4, I knew that there is so much more to it. The story, told in small ‘chapters’ at the beginning of the episode, show that something more sinister and dangerous is at work, while the characters become more interesting as more is revealed about them and what’s happening around them. Told in two parts, ‘The Chapter of the Egg’ and ‘The Chapter of the Fledgeling’, both give off very different feelings to them. The first half recalls the ballet of Swan Lake, yet hinting at more to come. The Chapter of the Fledgeling is where Princess Tutu comes into it’s own, building off of what happened and creating a story all it’s own.

A tale as well-told as this needs solid characters to back it up. Duck and her cohorts recall traditional fairy tale archetypes for the very reason that they themselves are in one. The Prince is very much that type of character, noble and gentle. It’s very intense when that is twisted and how it’s twisted creates a lot of tension between the characters. His decisions make perfect sense within the context of his character, but are nonetheless heartbreaking. Rue is also more than she appears to be, a character that’s been twisted and decieved from the beginning, whose true nature is apparent in brief flashes and becomes more obvious as the story goes on. Duck takes the title of ‘Princess’, and in the tale we’re watching… is. Yet she’s realy supposed to be a supporting character, and watching her agonize over what her fate is supposed to be creates some of the best character growth and development I’ve ever seen. She remains Duck, a gentle and loving soul, but what she goes through tempers her character in a way that few stories manage to convey. Even Fakir, a tortured Knight who’s aware of his duty but determined to subvert his fate, ends up being a far deeper character than at first supposed. His change is perhaps the most remarkable, for while his personality remains very much the same, how you come to see him does- and makes him one of the most beloved and tragic characters in the story.

And of course, no story would be complete without an antagonist! Drosselmeyer is a deliciously twisted storyteller. He uses his powers to tell stories, demanding that they occur the way he wants them to, enjoying the twists they take when they don’t nonetheless. The selfish cruelty with which he manipulates the town is astounding, and yet he manages to be really fascinating in his motivations.

As fascinating as the story and the characters are, this also manages to deal with some themes very maturely. Love and what it means to love is constantly brought up in many forms, from continuing on when the person you love is gone, whether you need to tell someone out loud if you love them, how to love someone when you keep a secret, all of it is brought about in very interesting ways. Along with that is the idea of sacrifice and what the ultimate sacrifice you can make is. The ending always brings tears to my eyes because of this theme. Fate, too, is prominent. Subverting it, following it, and whether you should give into it… Fate is omnipresent and is dealt with in a very intriguing way.

All these things come together in an amazing story that really manages to go above and beyond the sum of its parts. It could have been an average, save-the-world magical girl. Instead, it chooses to be one that really engages the viewer and is one of the most powerful love stories I have ever come across.

Overall, this is a fabulously played-out and beautifully touching story, one of the best you’ll see.

Recommended: YES. And for good measure: YES. 11+ because there is some action and a little blood – one person is stabbed and later in the series ends up stabbing his own hand – there is the threat of death, and when Duck transforms from a duck back into a human, she’s naked (any nudity is covered and it’s never sexual, only comedy because she’s attempting to change where no one will see her… and they *almost* discover her. Almost.) The Prince also tends to be in a long shirt only, which has earned him the nickname of ‘The Pantless Wonder”, but nothing inappropriate is ever shown.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (anime

Revolutionary Girl Utena (anime)

Haibane Renmei (anime)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Annalyn
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 17:30:09

    Okay. Your post has convinced me. A post on another blog warmed me up to the idea of Princess Tutu, but your review leaves no doubt. I definitely have to try this anime.


  2. sweetpea616
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 17:45:45

    I can’t wait! This is an anime that’s often overlooked because of the name, but it’s terribly misleading, and very worth your time!


  3. Murasaki Lynna
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 19:32:13

    Awesome review! I agree with it completely! It is indeed weird that you published this review the same day I published my Princess Tutu post-I remembered you saying on CAA that you liked it, and I was wondering if you would ever do a review. Good Job!


  4. Trackback: Princess Tutu: God’s Love and the Gift of Free Will «
  5. GoodbyeNavi
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 14:19:08

    I keep reading good reviews about Princess Tuto. I will definitely add this to my plan to watch list. It’s streaming on Netflix so I have no excuse not to watch it. Thanks for you review!


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