Princess Tutu (プリンセスチュチュ Purinsesu Chuchu?) is a magical girl anime series created by Ikuko Itoh in 2002 for animation studio Hal Film Maker. It was adapted as a 2-volume manga illustrated by Mizuo Shinonome. Both series are licensed in North America by ADV Films.
Princess Tutu follows Ahiru (meaning 'duck' in Japanese), a duck who was transformed into a young girl who takes ballet at a private school. She becomes enamored of her mysterious schoolmate Mytho, and transforms into Princess Tutu to restore his shattered heart. Mytho's girlfriend Rue transforms into Princess Kraehe to disrupt Tutu's efforts, and Mytho's protective friend Fakir discourages Mytho's burgeoning emotions. When it becomes apparent that Ahiru, Rue, Mytho, and Fakir are meant to play out the roles of characters in a story written by a writer named Drosselmeyer, they begin to resist the constraints of their assigned fates and fight to keep the story from becoming a tragedy.
The series explores the concepts of fate and free will. Reviewers point out that although Princess Tutu is nominally a magical girl series, it is more of a "fairy tale set to ballet with a few magical girl elements mixed in," and its use of ballet dances in lieu of violence to solve conflicts carries "surprisingly effective emotional appeal."
A writer named Drosselmeyer, whose stories became reality, had his hands cut off and was killed by those fearing his power. With the story left unfinished, the prince and raven from one of his stories were trapped in an eternal battle. The raven broke free from the story into the real world, and the prince pursued to seal him away again. To do so, the prince shattered his own heart with his sword. Drosselmeyer had written about himself before he died, and managed to continue to control events despite his death. When he sees a duck watching the sad, heartless prince Mytho dancing on the water, he decides to let the story take its own course and transforms the duck into a human girl named Duck so she can help the prince. If she quacks, she becomes a duck again, but if she comes into contact with water, she returns to her girl form.
Duck becomes a student at the school that Mytho attends, attending ballet classes with him. She learns of his shattered heart, and transforms into Princess Tutu with the aid of an egg-shaped necklace that glows red when a heart shard is near. The heart shards have found homes in people who feel a strong emotion, which then becomes enhanced and exaggerated with the presence of the heart shard. To cure the people affected by heart shards, she invites them to dance, communicating without words in an attempt to help them better understand their feelings and show them how to overcome it. Since their heightened emotions are a result of the heart shard that resides within them, they are freed of this artificial intensity when Princess Tutu removes the heart shard and returns them to Mytho.
When Mytho's girlfriend Rue realizes that Tutu is returning Mytho's heart shards to him, she grows worried that he will fall in love with someone else, unleashing her own power to transform into Princess Kraehe. Using her own powers, she tries to stop Tutu and capture a heart shard herself, so she can give it to her father, the Raven, so he can be freed. Mytho's childhood friend Fakir also attempts to stop Tutu out of fear that if Mytho's heart is restored, the story will continue on and he will have to shatter it again to stop the Raven. It becomes clear that Mytho wants his heart to be restored, and Duck persists despite Kraehe and Fakir's interference.
As the story progresses, Fakir learns that he is a descendant of Drosselmeyer, explaining his own ability to control reality by writing stories. He initially resists using those powers, though, as he used them once as a child and it resulted in a swarm of ravens attacking the town, and his parents died protecting him from them. Duck eventually convinces him that he must do it to save Mytho. Fakir, in turn, changes in his feelings towards Duck from suspicion and contempt, to reluctant toleration, and finally to alliance and affection as he writes a story for Duck to aid her when Duck falls into despair.
Drosselmeyer attempts to lure Duck into a selfish choice; but Duck refuses, accepting that she is a duck in reality and her status as a human girl and as Tutu is just temporary. Uzura finds the mechanism driving the story and turns it backwards, revealing secrets of the past. Kraehe learns that the raven is not her real father and that she was kidnapped by ravens as a child.
Kraehe is restored as Rue and attempts to help, only to be captured by the raven. Duck asks Fakir to write one last story for her; and then, as Tutu, restores the final shard of Mytho's heart. Tutu vanishes forever. However, Mytho is unable to fight the raven because it would shatter his heart again, and Rue is unable to escape the raven because of her despair. Duck refuses to accept this outcome, and starts to dance.
Fakir starts to writes the story that Duck requested, but finds that Drosselmeyer's story dominates everything he does and is forcing Drosselmeyer's intended tragedy. He must also fend off the townspeople, who fear that Fakir will follow in the same abusive path as Drosselmeyer. Fakir gradually wrests control of the story, and transforms it into an inspirational story with a happy ending of how a little Duck, no matter how badly she is injured by the raven, continued to dance because of her unquenchable hope. The raven turns the townspeople into ravens that attack Duck, but Duck never gives up.
Fakir's and Duck's perseverance gives Mytho and Rue the strength to defeat the raven. After the raven is destroyed, Mytho, Rue, Fakir, and Duck dismantle the machine in the clock tower of Gold Crown Town that enabled Drosselmeyer to continue to control events by mechanically writing stories, thus turning the town into a normal town uncontrolled by stories. Duck, in duck form, lives near Fakir who continues his writing. Mytho and Rue marry and return to Mytho's original kingdom.
Drosselmeyer, defeated, ironically wonders if he is part of someone else's story.
- Ahiru (あひる Duck?) is a friendly, kind-hearted duck who was turned into a pre-teen girl by Drosselmeyer with a magical pendant. Like a duck, she is easily excitable, clumsy, and talkative. If Duck removes the pendant or quacks while talking, she transforms back into a duck and must touch water while wearing the pendant to return to her human form. The pendant also allows Duck to transform into Princess Tutu (プリンセスチュチュ Purinsesu Chuchu?). As Princess Tutu, Duck is wise, and graceful. Because of Drosselmeyer's writing, Duck/Tutu would turn into a speck of light and vanish if she confessed her love to Mytho. In the anime she appears to have feelings for Fakir while in the manga, her feelings for Mytho are left open ended with Rue competing for his heart. In the manga, Duck's name is Ahiru Arima and this name is retained in the English adaptation of the manga. Voiced by: Nanae Katou (Japanese), Luci Christian (English)
- Mytho (みゅうと Myūto?), once a noble and kind prince, sacrificed himself to protect the weak and the needy. His heart was shattered to seal the monster raven away. Now a talented and popular senior at Gold Crown Academy (Kinkan Academy, in Japanese), he possesses no emotions and is largely dependent on Fakir for his well-being and survival. As Tutu restores his emotions, he is both drawn to and afraid of her. He is later corrupted with the raven's blood that Kraehe put on one of his heart shards, and attempts to steal girls' hearts as a sacrifice to the raven, and becomes verbally abusive to Rue. With Rue's help he overcomes the raven's blood when the last heart shard is returned. At the end of the anime, Mytho's real name is revealed to be Siegfried, the name of the prince in the ballet Swan Lake from which Princess Tutu borrows plot elements. Voiced by: Naoki Yanagi (Japanese), Jay Hickman (English)
- Fakir (ふぁきあ Fakia?) is Mytho's roommate and a talented ballet dancer. Initially, he is possessive, rude, and forceful to Mytho, discouraging his emotions as they are restored. It is later revealed that he only wanted to protect Mytho from repeating the tragic events of the past. Duck helps him realize that Mytho wants his heart back. Fakir is thought to be a reincarnation of the knight in the story who died to protect the prince, even bearing a scar on his chest like the wound that killed the knight in the fairy tale. Fakir is a descendant of Drosselmeyer and can sometimes alter reality with his writing. He tried using his power to stop a raven attack when he was young, but he failed and his parents were killed, and he shut away the knowledge of his power until Duck convinces him to try again. He soon realizes that his writing only affects Duck. Over time, Fakir started having feelings for Duck and at the end of the series he promised to stay by her side forever. Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
- Rue (るう Rū?) is an advanced ballet student and greatly admired. She is aloof, and only Duck dares approach her for friendship. She has loved Mytho since she was a child after he defended her from ravens. She uses his lack of emotions to pretend they are a couple. Like Duck, she also has a magical princess alter ego, Princess Kraehe (プリンセスクレール Purinsesu Kurēru?), the daughter of the Raven. Out of jealousy, she interferes with Tutu's attempts to restore Mytho's heart in fear that he will fall in love with someone else. Her father, the monster raven, uses her as a means to revive him. In the end, she learns that she is not a raven, but a human girl who was stolen from her parents as a baby during the Raven's attack on the town. When it appears Mytho will give himself to the Raven, Rue sacrifices herself instead, stating that she had always loved Mytho. Touched by her act, Mytho regains his heart and rescues her, asking her to be his princess. In the manga, Rue's name is Rue Kuroha, and she is a much colder and crueler character.Also she is in love with Fakir in the manga.Voiced by: Nana Mizuki (Japanese), Jessica Boone (English)
- The Raven (大鴉 Ōgarasu?) is the monster enemy of Drosselmeyer's story The Prince and The Raven. Mytho shattered his heart to seal up the raven, and he now requires the sacrifice of young, beautiful hearts in order to eat them and regain his form. He stole Rue from her parents as a child, raising her as his daughter, Princess Kraehe. He orders Kraehe to corrupt Mytho with raven's blood. He is cruel and abusive of Rue. Eventually, when Rue's love for the Prince enables him to break free from the tainted heart shard, Mytho rescues Rue and together they defeat the Raven. The Raven does not appear in the manga, but is briefly mentioned by Edel. Voiced by: Takayuki Sugou (Japanese), Mike Kleinhenz (English)
- Drosselmeyer (ドロッセルマイヤー Dorosserumaiyā?) is the writer of The Prince and The Raven who enjoys watching Duck, Fakir, Mytho, and Rue struggle with the tragic fates he wrote for them. He influences their lives even after death via a machine in the Clock Tower. He died after the angry townspeople cut off his hands to stop his power to affect reality with his writing, but he managed to create the writing machine into existence by writing with his own blood. His name comes from the godfather of the children in the opening of The Nutcracker, the best-known ballet of Tchaikovsky; one Christmas, Drosselmeyer gives a wooden doll to his niece Marie, who rejects its ugliness but later realizes that it is magical. He is not present in the manga.Voiced by: Noboru Mitani (Japanese), Marty Fleck (English)
- Edel (エデル Ederu?) is a wooden puppet who bears an organ grinder and a tray of creatively named jewels. She gives vague advice and tells stories to Duck. Drosselmeyer created her to act as a narrator in his place. Edel develops her own emotions after interacting with Duck, something that Drosselmeyer had not intended to happen. She burns herself in a fire to save Fakir and provide light for Mytho and Princess Tutu, asking them to dance a pas de deux before she is completely consumed by the fire. In the manga, Edel is drastically changed, becoming the human owner of a shop where Duck sees a tutu that she admires. As a gift, Edel gives her an egg-shaped necklace and makes her promise to come back again. She seems to take the place of Drosselmeyer, encouraging not only Princess Tutu but Princess Kraehe as well. In the second volume, she is revealed to be plotting to revive the Raven within herself. Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese), Christine Auten (English)
- Uzura (うずら Uzura?) is a toddler-like doll created by Karon (Mytho and Fakir's adoptive father) from Edel's ashes. She plays a drum and semi-inadvertently helps Duck. However, her tendency to help turn Duck back into a girl with a splash of water often create awkward moments for both Duck and Fakir. Uzura often adds the extension 'zura' to the end of her sentences. She is very curious, and is fixated throughout the series on figuring out what love is. Uzura is absent in the manga.Voiced by: Erino Hazuki (Japanese), Christine Auten (English)
- Autor (あおとあ Aotoa?) is a somewhat snobbish music student at the Academy who is obsessed with Drosselmeyer and his powers. After realizing Fakir is a descendant of Drosselmeyer, he becomes very interested in Fakir and encourages him to use the writing abilities Drosselmeyer once used to control the world. At one point in the anime, Rue seduces Autor in order to feed his heart to her father. However, Autor professes his love for her, which casts doubt on her father's words that no one but he and the prince could love her. Conflicted, Rue lets Autor go. Autor does not appear in the manga. Voiced by: Yuu Urata (Japanese), Adam Conlon (English)
- Pike (ぴけ Pike?) is an outspoken tomboyish character and one of Duck's two best friends from her class. In the second season of the anime, she is the first victim of Mytho after the raven's blood in his heart possesses him and almost loses her heart, but Tutu is able to dance with her and save her from that fate. In the manga, her name is changed to Mai. Voiced by: Sachi Matsumoto (Japanese), Cynthia Martinez (English)
- Lilie (りりえ Ririe?), Duck's other best friend from dance class who is constantly trying to push Duck into a doomed relationship with Mytho, and later Fakir. She romanticizes star-crossed lovers, happily waiting for the relationships to fail. In the manga, her name is changed to Yuma. Voiced by: Yuri Shiratori (Japanese), Sasha Paysinger (English)
- Mr. Cat (猫先生 Neko-sensei?) is the dance teacher at the academy. He is one of the only anthropomorphized characters in the manga, and plays a similar role as in the anime. He frequently threatens misbehaving female students that they will have to marry him if they do not shape up. In the anime, Mr. Cat particularly makes this threat to Duck due to her frequently lateness to class and lack of concentration during practice. In the end of the anime, Mr. Cat is seen as a normal cat again, with a female cat and kittens. Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto (Japanese), TJP (English)
- Narrator, an unnamed female voice that presents a short tale in the prologue before each episode, often one related to the theme in the episode's title. Her voice also narrates in a few other situations, such as the closing of the Chapter of the Fledgling and in the split-episode previews in the Chapter of the Fledgling (only in the TV version, but also in the extras on the DVDs). Voiced by: Kyoko Kishida (Japanese) Jennie Welch (English 1st) Marcy Bannor (English 2nd)
Princess Tutu was originally broadcast in two seasons. The first season, "Kapitel des Eies" ("Chapter of the Egg"), consisted of 13 half-hour episodes. The second season was broadcast as 25 quarter-hour episodes and one half hour episode, to conform to the format of the time slot, so that each episode was split into two parts. These were brought back together in the DVD release as 13 complete episodes. The second season is called "Kapitel des Junges" ("Chapter of the Chick") in R2 DVDs, and "Kapital (sic) des Küken" ("Chapter of the Fledgling") in R1 DVDs.
A manga adaptation of the series was written by Mizuo Shinonome. It was published in Japan by Akita Shoten in the shōnen manga magazine Champion Red and collected in two tankōbon volumes in 2003. It was released in North America by ADV Manga in late 2004 and early 2005.
- "Princess Tutu (manga)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
- Kid's Station Channel Princess Tutu Website (Japanese)
- Princess Tutu (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Princess Tutu (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- THEM review