Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Review: Princess Tutu

PRINCESS Tutu is a current shoujo anime series which premiered this summer, now being fansubbed to digisubs by the A.F.K. fansubbing group. The first (of twelve?) episodes was just released to IRC.

Executive summary: Wai-wai! Gorgeous art and character design, intense drama, wonderful humor, deliciously sinister villains, a duckling heroine, and a score lifted from European ballet. Unless you are allergic to magical girls, you will like this show. More, more, more!

This show appears to be set in Europe, in some fairytale time. Ahiru, possibly 10 years old or so, attends a boarding school for boys and girls and studies ballet. She has dreams of a young prince she sees dancing on the water, and longs to dance with him... but in her dreams she is a duck, and no prince can dance with a duck! ('Ahiru', besides being a woman's name, also means 'duck', although the kanji are different.) In real life, there is a young bishounen boy her own age at the same school, Mute ('Myuuto') who is brave and gallant, but cruelly oppressed by the older Fakia ('Fuakia'). Is Mute the prince? Why is Fakia keeping him confined to a tower, and forbidding Ahiru to see him? Who is the peculiar and sinister, magical old man in a lizard-pattern cloak with immense colored plumes on his hat, 'Dorosserumaiya', who is somehow associated with clockwork? (Mmmm, clockwork...) What is he up to? Is he good, or evil, or something else entirely? And why is the ballet teacher a very large cat? (The sinister old man's name in kana is ドロッセマイヤ. I can't figure out what it's supposed to mean, but I'll bet it has something to do with ballet, about which I know nothing.)

This is a magical girl show, and Ahiru/Princess Tutu is the magical girl. As for her attacks... well, remember she's a ballet dancer: "WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS!!!!" It's great. Pretty good animation, too. And the theme music is what you'd expect. In fact, the BGM for the entire show draws heavily on the musical scores of European ballet. It appears that each episode will be themed on the music for one dance in a famous ballet. The first episode ballet was 'Nutcracker/Waltz of the Flowers', for example, and the second episode's will be 'Swan Lake/Final Scene'.

The production values for this show are very high. The background art is drop-dead gorgeous, the colors are rich and gauzy. There is a lot of use of vignetting, but unlike in Oniisama E and  Boogiepop Phantom, where it seems to be used to create feelings of isolation or alienation, here the vignetting mainly adds to the 'storybook' flavor of the presentation. The character designs are very shoujo, and recall character designer Ito Ikuko's previous work. Ahiru with her shock of unruly red hair is a little reminiscent of Sawanoguchi Sae of Mahou Tsukai Tai. I get the feeling that CG was used extensively, but it blends in so perfectly with the cel animation (unlike in certain other shows *cough*Witch Hunter Robin*cough*) that it's hard to tell.

I really like Princess Tutu, or at least the single episode I've seen. And now that I've said such nice things about it, future episodes better not prove me wrong or there'll be trouble! My expectations are very high for this show. I really think I'm more impressed with it than anything I've seen since Utena.

To get it: A.F.K. has a channel on IRC in the EnterTheGame network, #a.f.k., and I think there's a fast distro bot there at most times with their current releases. Tonight's bot was E-F|Mai-chan, and her trigger was: /msg E-F|Mai-chan xdcc send #15. Took me about 30 min on a 730 kBps DSL line.

A magical girl can always count on her friends to help her and support her. 




Bishounen and canary. Did I mention all the bird imagery and symbolism in this show? Ducks, swans, canaries, crows...


Something sinister is lurking.


Princess Tutu jeté-ing to the rescue!

meaning: government
政治家 == seijika == politician, statesman
中央政府 == chuuouseifu == central government
Left radical is 'correct' (正), right is 'stick-in-hand/force/coerce'. Thus, 'correct use of force'. Sounds Confucian to me. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic:  'Government forces correctness.'


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