Princess Tutu: Chapter of the Egg

April 2, 2008 on 11:18 pm | In Princess Tutu | 1 Comment

“Shall we dance?”

One could be forgiven for thinking that Princess Tutu is just another naked prepubescent girl show; indeed, to set up its conceit, its heroine has rather too few clothes in the second episode. Beyond that element, which is always covered tastefully enough, this is a pretty good, albeit quite different mahou shoujo program: rather than a monster of the week, we are confronted by an emotion, and rather than fighting it, our heroine dances with it. It’s an interesting experiment, to say the least.

Duck is a girl who attends a school for dance. But wait! Duck is also a duck, who had wished that she could do anything to make prodigious, yet blank, dancer Mytho smile! She is gifted with a human form and the ability to turn into the legendary Princess Tutu in order to restore the shards of Mytho’s heart, shattered long ago to seal an evil Raven. Some other people are privy to Mytho’s literal heartlessness, and don’t precisely approve of Duck’s scheme. Drama, naturally, follows.

Princess Tutu is presided over by one of the creepiest old men ever, Drosselmeyer. He wrote the story from whence Mytho and the Raven escaped, and he wants everything to turn out as he has envisioned it. To that end, he provides Duck with her pendant of (naked) transformation, and frequently grinds the gears in whatever land of beyond-death clock he lives out of, and makes suggestions as to how the story has to play out. Drosselmeyer is an ambiguous character, because he’s clearly not good but he’s not a conventional villian: he’s a master manipulator who cares for the form of things without considering that he’s dealing with actual people rather than fictional figures. I suppose that makes him malevolent, or at the very least sinister.

Like many good shows in the genre, Princess Tutu has ambiguous characters who grow into having clearly defined sides. The important cast members are kept to a minimum: four mains, two supporting, three supplementary, and a few guest characters. It was fun and rewarding to track who was a bitch, who was an ally, and who was simply misunderstood from episode to episode. It would be easy to misunderstand this series, naked girl show that it is. Duck’s teacher is a cat, aptly named Mr. Cat (or “Neko-sensei” if you will), but she doesn’t quite understand why: has he always been a cat? In the second episode, the “villain” of the week is an anteater. The piano in the classroom is played by a puffin, and when a travelling dance show comes to town, the lead dancer asks “was our stage manager an electric eel before we came here?” Drosselmeyer’s fairytale has corrupted whatever vaguely Germanic town that Duck and her comrades inhabit. I’m hoping that in the end we’ll get to see Neko-sensei’s true, marriage happy form, but this is perhaps not meant to be.

It takes a little while to get into it, and the “fighting” that Princess Tutu does is incredibly nebulous, because she literally simply asks her enemies to dance with her, and she dances while psychoanalysing them. When all of the characters are in place, which takes a polite and reasonable amount of time, it really fires on all cylinders and offers an interesting program that you can care about for the most part.

The Chapter of the Egg is actually the first thirteen episodes, presented as an almost self-contained season – albeit one followed one week later by another. The second half of the series was done in half length episodes, although they’ve been mashed together for the DVD release. The pacing will be interesting to see – and so will the story because, although Drosselmeyer promises that it’s not yet over, I don’t see where the story can go from here. This is all part of the adventure of discovery, and this series is worthwhile despite its totally fraught international release.

1 Comment

  1. i love tutu

    Comment by ngan — September 6, 2008 #

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