Princess Tutu, which was suggested by a fan named LaTonya as far back as early last year, is an original anime series created by Hal Film Maker in 2002. A twenty-six episodes, evenly split into two seasons, it was licensed by now-defunct ADV Films. It currently is being licensed by AEsir Holdings but the DVD I watched was the ADV Films copy (this will be important later). This show is clearly in the magical girl genre, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like; young girls given powers from some magical source. Sailor Moon is probably the most well known in the west but it’s a pretty varied genre with all sorts of shows under its umbrella.
So anyway with all the time it took for me to actually watch this show I have to ask: does it live up to all the hype?
Full review after the jump.
|I think I would have preferred a break dancing magical girl|
Like I said it’s a Magical Girl series but unlike Sailor Moon it mostly avoids violence. Instead of fight scenes this show uses ballet scenes. This sounds kind of weird but let me assure you that it actually works really well. For the tone of this series Princess Tutu using her ballet prowess to defeat her foes rather than pummeling them makes a lot sense and never feels poorly done. I like violence as much as the next guy but I also like when writers come up with clever ways to avoid it. Princess Tutu is a solid example of this.
You won’t find too many shows with better music out there, mostly because Tutu pretty much exclusively uses music from ballets, operas, and classical music in general for its soundtrack. In addition to sounding awesome the creators took the extra time to ensure the music used was related to either the plot or themes used for the episodes which is a really cool detail to include.
|Fakir, inwardly debating if he should break open Duck's skull|
Mytho…well he’s not really a character, more of a plot device. Which kind of sucks since the other three main cast members are extremely well done. It’s not really bad though and in a way it sort of reverses the gender role you’d normal associate with a fantasy or fairy tales on its head. The rest of the cats are significantly less interesting, even Mr. Cat who is little more than two reoccurring jokes (“hey, that’s something a cat would do” and “wow, he really seems to want to marry those twelve year olds”). There are some intriguing one shot characters that I wished had stayed around but when it came to the supporting cast they were pretty two dimensional and compared to the main cast their flaws were even more obvious. Drosselmeyer, the mysterious puppet master of the series, is almost more like a force of nature. He’s neither good nor evil but rather an insane being who really wants the story to be as dramatic as possible. It works pretty well and made for some of my favorite surrealistic moments of the series.
|Also he's creepy as shit!|
Speaking of DVDs I’d be remised if I didn’t talk about how awesome the DVD was. I don’t talk about DVDs that much as I usually stream anime but I’m super glad I did it this way this time. The ADV copy had a boatload of extras. There were commentaries of an episode per disc done by either the voice actors or other crew members (such as translators) which were all either very insightful or funny. There were segments where voice actors, in character, explained what the music in each episode was and how it related to the themes of that episode, as well as video recordings of studio sessions with the actors, giving a lot of insight into what goes into dubbing an anime. There were also bloopers, original Japanese broadcast material and a few essays explaining the context of key elements of the show in relations to its original broadcast. This is easily, easily the best collection of DVD extras I’ve ever seen in an anime collection. I don’t know if any other version new re-release has any of this stuff so I recommend trying to snag the ADV version if you can just to be safe.
|"Come dance with me."|
("Then later we can get milkshakes")
Bottom line is that Princess Tutu, despite appearances, has everything you’d want out of an anime: it’s funny, it has great characters, it has a strong story, and awesome music. Though it’s supposed to be something of a kids cartoon it doesn’t really feel like it’s talking down to anyone. So if you’re looking for an anime you can enjoy with the whole family I don’t think I’ve seen a better example than Princess Tutu. If you have no kids I’d still probably recommend it but you might want to be prepared to have to explain yourself to confused friends who see it on the DVD shelf and don’t know that it’s actually awesome (though to be fair if your friends don’t like anime they’ll say that no matter what).
|That Rue doesn't have huge boobs and yells "OHOHOHO" shows an amazing amount of restraint on the creator's part|
I give Princess Tutu 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.
-Strong Female Lead
-Great main cast
-Very strong story
-Great use of music
-The plot drags a bit for a few episodes
-Princess Tutu’s powers are kind of vague
If you have any anime you’d like to me to review or just a suggestion of what to check out next shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet @JasonBetaMagnus.