Ever since then, stories and reality have intermingled in the town, making it a world where the fantastical was no longer fantastical…
This episode’s main purpose, at first glance, is simply to establish an episodic formula, but it actually lays the groundwork for an awful lot of other things, not to mention some character development both for Duck and for the rest of cast. And it’s also about an anthropomorphic anteater who dreams of being a prima ballerina (yes, it’s just as silly as it sounds; personally, I find the cheesiness somewhat amusing, but it won’t be a recurring feature anyway).
But first, there be plot!
In the prologue, we learn that after the Prince and the Raven escaped from the story, the Prince shattered his own heart in order to seal the Raven away (hence Mytho’s present emotionless state). Drosselmeyer informs Duck (creepily as always) that it’s Princess Tutu’s duty to find the shards of his heart (his various feelings) and restore them to the Prince.
Duck: If I could be a girl again and stay by Mytho’s side, maybe someday, someday I might be able to put a smile back on his face; and if that’s the one thing I can do, then there’s nothing more that I could wish for.
Drosselmeyer: Dream, and your wish is granted. That’s the great thing about stories. The duck shall become a girl, and the girl shall become Princess Tutu.
Here we are first introduced to the idea of roles – Duck has accepted the role of Princess Tutu (partly because she just wants to be human again), with the stated intent of making Mytho smile (notably, she seems to have forgotten about her wish of dancing with him now that she knows she’s a duck).
Edel: May those who accept their fate be granted happiness; may those who defy it be granted glory
Edel is a fairy-godmother-esque figure (the first thing she does is provide Duck with clothes) who tends to spout cryptic clues and vague hints which are often more for the sake of the audience than for Duck.
And here’s a new piece of scenery: A clock with four figures, a raven, a swordsman, and a dancing couple. I’m sure this isn’t important at all.
This episode is written by Michiko Yokote, but doesn’t involve Sato, so we get various forms of important exposition, but the episode lacks the careful visual framing of episode 1. It’s hardly bad, just not brilliant or particularly insightful in that respect.
It does still have Ikuko Ito’s wonderful ballet animation going for it!
This episode’s theme is Swan Lake, and the standout sequence is Rue’s pas de deux with Duck to the same music used in her solo performance last episode (which will reappear in another climactic scene or two). Rue’s dance stands out in particular contrast to Anteaterina’s – where her rival’s performance is simply a display of power, Rue shows delicacy and sensitivity, bringing out the beauty that even Duck herself never dreamed she had. Duck’s nervous anxiety changing to joy is tangible. Notably, Rue and Anteaterina are both performing the man’s part in their pas de deux – meaning that Mytho was playing the role of a female (another recurring idea).
Honestly, I feel like this is the weakest episode in the series, mainly because the episode’s conflict is impossible to take seriously (when it clearly wants to be taken seriously). It certainly has good things in it, and it’s necessary to move the plot forward, but even if it wasn’t about a giant anteater, it’s just a tale of schoolgirl revenge. By the end of the episode she’s able to let go of her bitterness and move on (it’s not even about forgiveness – she misconstrues something Rue said as “You’ll never dance as well as me,” when Rue meant “You’ll never dance the same as me”). What’s really frustrating is that this is only the second episode, and the first episode alone couldn’t quite counteract the impression this one leaves. On the other hand, there’s nowhere to go but up.
There is one more interesting event in this episode – when Mytho carelessly “dumps” Rue, the only people who aren’t shocked by it are Fakir and Rue herself.
Fakir: It’s because you don’t understand how people feel. […] That’s how it should be.
What does bother Fakir is when he discovers Mytho after Tutu has returned his feeling of Bitter Disappointment.
Until next time…