Princess Tutu is a yummy ballet flavoured fairy tale goulash. It is also one of the weirdest anime I’ve watched since Revolutionary Girl Utena. Both series share an element of metafiction, a preoccupation with princes, and they pile on the symbolism.
Princess Tutu begins with the story of a girl named Duck who attends ballet school. The girl duck is actually a real duck, who fell in love with a prince she saw one day at her pond. A mysterious man named Drosselmeyer granted her wish to become human. Duck’s prince is an older ballet student named Mytho, who has a curiously blank personality. Mytho’s constant companion is Fakir, a boy who seems so protective he is almost acting as a jailer. Mytho’s dancing partner is Rue, the most talented girl in school.
Duck is one of the worst ballet students, and her teacher Mr. Cat (he is literally a walking, talking ballet dance instructor cat) is constantly threatning to punish her by forcing her to marry him. It turns out that many people at ballet school represent archetypes of a fairy tale about a prince, a knight, a malevolent raven, and Princess Tutu. As the Prince, Mytho’s heart has been sacrificed, splintered into pieces and scattered about as part of a previous battle to fight the raven. Duck’s mission is to locate the missing pieces of Mytho’s heart and return them to him.
This is an unabashedly girly show, with plenty of feathers, roses, and ballet. It doesn’t get more girly than Princess Tutu’s method of overcoming her obstacles with the power of the dance! Duck has to hide her dual identites as a water fowl and Princess Tutu. If Princess Tutu ever shares her true feelings with her prince, she’ll turn into a speck of light and vanish. Since the show is steeped in ballet, it does have an excellent classical music soundtrack. Frequently a dance or story from a particular ballet will be featured in an episode. This is an excellent show if you enjoy stories with fairy tale elements and transforming ballet dancing princesses. There are elements of slapstick humor, as sometimes Duck’s true nature manifests itself after she’s transformed. The story seems to grow more complex as the series continues, with characters who initially act as antagonists to Tutu turning out to have complex motivations and stories of their own.