I took a break at the structural cliffhanger; turns out sad emotions make people sad.
Princess Tutu got me good. Coming out of episode 4, I was starting to wonder about Princess Tutu only restoring Mythos’ negative emotions to him. “Surely this can’t last. Surely Tutu is aware that imbuing a boy with only negative emotions won’t restore him to wholeness, only crush him beneath the weight of them, right?” Heck, even Drosselmeyer throws this out (although I’ll note I thought of it before he offered his take). And then episode 5 came, with all the gentle warmth I’d felt Tutu to be capable of from the very first episode. Like the ghostly lady in episode 4, the lamp in episode 5 is suffering loneliness – but this loneliness is generated out of lack of object for its inherently affectionate nature. That’s pretty moe anthropomorphization, if you ask me. When do we get our lamp moegirl slice of life anime?
The duality of the deceased woman and the lamp to be a really nice way to frame the differences between episodes 4 and 5 (and it’s also interesting how Rue is a focal point for both of these stories), making the the comparative warmth of 5 stand out all the more by attributing a positive emotion with a character other than Princess Tutu. And so, at this point I was starting to think I’d figured Tutu out – that it was going to strike a balance between downer emotions and uplifting ones to keep Mythos balanced out until the end, but then episode 6 showed up and turned all of this on its head.
Making the prince fear the saving princess as a result of her actions is a pretty gutsy move, but where Princess Tutu really wins is by achieving the one-two punch of upsetting its own established story structure and blasting the audience with the emotional weight of Duck’s sudden agonizing doubt.
Because, let’s be real, if you aren’t rooting for Duck at this point, you must be a callous stone-hearted monster. She’s acting out of well-intentioned ignorance, chucking traditional gender roles out the window, being totally cute, and dancing all at the same time – of course she’s going to impulsively assume she’s got one track towards the final ending (in fact, her insistence on forcing the heart shard to return to Mythos feels a little more than slightly motivated by the desperation of knowing her feelings will never be reciprocated). “You may not ever recognize me the way I want you to, but just let me save you, dammit!”
The other thing that came clearer in this batch of episodes were Mythos’ relationships with Rue (who I still like a lot! she danced herself to exhaustion trying to save him!) and Fakir. It’s hard to say if either of them really love Mythos at this point, but I do think it’s obvious both of them care about him – even if it might be in a somewhat unhealthy way. Fakir, in particular, despite his verbal abuse of Mythos, seems like he’s trying to protect Mythos as best he can from the agony of being human. An empty shell can’t feel anything, and therefore cannot be hurt.
Even more interesting that Mythos’ one-sided relationships with Rue and Fakir is their relationship with each other, which appears to be a weird sort of alliance for/rivalry over Mythos. Both of them want to possess the prince (and both know who he is, which implies they came from the story?) and protect him from hurt, but they’re both too headstrong and too possessive to entirely give him over to the guardianship of the other. But the ways they relate to Mythos differ wildly – Rue will send Mythos off alone to fetch her water while Fakir basically wants to lock Mythos up permanently. It’s all sort of shades of unhealthy either way, but when Mythos can’t feel pain who’s gonna stop you…… especially with Princess Tutu dunked in a pond…
Oh, by the way, I still have no bloody idea what’s going on with random (random! not Duck!) characters being animals… electric eels… shocking…
8 thoughts on “Duck Gets Dunked in Princess Tutu 3-6”
Really enjoying these “newbie” reviews of a great anime! It’s been a while since I watched it myself so it’s a nice refresher course, plus I always like hearing other people’s (and yours especially) takes on beloved shows. I’m so glad you’re watching this series (and was surprised you hadn’t already, to be honest–it seems like the kind of thing that would be right up your alley).
You’re also making me really want to rewatch Tutu along with you, which is just unfair. Do you KNOW how many shows are on my watchlist this season, Bless?! I’m already hopelessly behind on Vrai’s Gankutsuou rewatch! You’re all killing me with your awesome taste in anime blog parties.
…So, you know. Keep up the good work! ^_^
Glad you’re enjoy them! This is way less formal than my usual writing, so I wasn’t sure if people would find them engaging/useful/interesting. It’s nice to know some people are!
And whoops, haha trying to make people watch good anime is kind of my thing you know… best of luck with your Princess Tutu rewatch… 😀
Oh gosh, Fakir… I’m normally the queen of disliking unhealthy relationships, no matter the type, but I admit I was a total Fakir fangirl by the time this series was done. Talk about putting the cast (and its audience!) through the emotional wringer.
Just for a thought experiment: imagine a show where all the prince would get back were his good emotions.
(And, yes, reading these posts does make you want to re-watch the show.)
How saccharine! How cute! How utterly toothless!
This is the right way to do it, make me suffer, show.
Oh, Princess Tutu is perfect the way it is. But I’m not sure such a story would be toothless. A character who can only feel good emotions in a story where bad things happen and s/he can’t react appropriately has potential, too.
Yep, I bowed to the inevitable and started re-watching this, currently through episode 7, and was very quickly reminded of just how bloody damn good it is. I’ve whittled my seasonal list down to 9 shows from its original 13, so I have a little more time now for some older shows (when I’m not also busy trying to tier LLSIF events, anyway).
Out of curiosity, are you familiar at all with any of the classical ballets that the series makes references to? I wasn’t the first time, and it didn’t hurt my enjoyment in the slightest, but in the years since I first watched this I’ve actually seen a few of the ballets that it’s referenced so far, and that’s giving me a whole extra level of appreciation for how multi-layered the writing is in this show.
My evil plan succeeded! And no, I’m not, really. I’ve been familiar with most all of the fairy tales/myths the classical ballets have been based on, but not on the ballets themselves. I imagine being familiar with them certainly would add yet another layer of richness to the show.