Real men wear tights.
Writer, Drosselmeyer has died while he was in the middle of writing his latest novel. As a result, the characters and story are in a suspended state, unable to continue. The story in question is of a prince and how he defeated a great raven and pierced his own heart into numerous shards. Wanting to give the story a proper tragic end, Drosselmeyer comes into contact with a young duckling, appropriately named Duck, to put the gears of the story back into motion. Duck, who has seen watching the same prince from his story dance a sad dance, wants nothing more than to make the prince Mytho happy again. Drosselmeyer gives the Duck a magic pendant which allows her to not only become human, but when the time is right to become Princess Tutu. In human form, Duck attends the same ballet school as Mytho and develops a faint friendship with him. As Tutu, she is able to gather Mytho’s heart shards, which have become part of different people and alter their feelings. The first part of the series is fairly formulaic, episodes usually boil down to Duck finds a heart shard, becomes Princess Tutu, dances and returns the heart shard to Mytho, rinse and repeat. This part of the series is lighthearted, and will turn off most reluctant watchers. However, near the end of the first act, the story begins to depart from this pattern and travel into a comparatively darker story. During this depart, new dangers arise, and characters go through drastic changes.
Our protagonist, Duck, is your typical full of energy, klutzy girl who has difficulty going through basic ballet routines. However, once she becomes Princess Tutu, she has all the grace in the world and her eccentric nature disappears. Mytho has all the personality as someone without a heart has, for better or worse. As the series continues, and Mytho gains more of his heart his character develops. Rue, Mytho’s girlfriend, is surprisingly likable. While the usual convention would be to play the love rival as temperamental and/or spoiled, Rue is easy to feel sorry for. Duck doesn’t hold Rue’s current status as Mytho’s girlfriend against her, and quickly tries to befriend her. While Rue is a little hesitant at this, the two do get closer as the first act progresses. Fakir, a friend of Mytho, is fairly antagonistic in the first half, and both he and Rue are against the return of Mytho’s heart for reasons that are made clear. Supporting characters such as the almost pedophilic Mr. Cat, and Duck’s friend Pike and Lillie help to keep light comedy coming even when the show becomes more serious. Of course one of the more important characters, Drosselmeyer, looms over the other. His goal, as stated earlier, is to give his story a tragic end, and he will pop in time to time to try to nudge it back into the direction that he sees fit. All of these characters develop very well throughout the series and have their dramatic turns where friends may jump to a foe and vice versa.
The show looks great, and the animation is crisp and entertaining to watch. Unlike other “magical girl” shows, Tutu eschews magical battles on a grand scale to ballet dances with hint of magic here and there. While there is a sword fight here and there, they are few and far in between. The dances are well done and are a joy to watch. Music-wise the series also stands out as classical pieces are used during more important scenes in the show. Nutcracker, Sugar Plum, and many more classical pieces help to set the tone in the show. They all do so well, that it’s easy to forgive the rest of the soundtrack which is fairly decent at best. The dub voices do well to emulate their characters and they all are memorable. Luci Christian makes Duck’s exuberant nature cute when it could have been grating.
The problem, as previously stated, is the how slow the series begins. While characters are played out well, there’s very little in terms of things actually happening.
At the end of the day, Tutu is a wonderful tale. The characters are deep, the dancing is new and enjoyable, and once the show picks up it rarely slows down. If you plan to watch it, be persistent. To the male audience, if you bear through the girly nature of the show, it is still entertaining.