Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to dance very much. The girl made the mistake of putting on a pair of red shoes which, once put on, would force her to dance for eternity…

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Well look who’s got the red shoes…

This is just a fantastically executed episode, with strong character development from Konaka and powerful visuals from Sato.  But first I need to discuss Hans Christian Anderson.

The title and prologue are borrowed from Anderson’s story “The Red Shoes.”  Now I’m not a fan of Anderson – he can paint word-pictures with the best of them when he has a mind to, but his characters just lack depth.  He wrote morality tales, and “The Red Shoes” was basically telling little girls that skipping church is the first step down the road to Hell (thus you’ve never heard of it).  Aside from providing some foreshadowing for Rue, the inclusion of the story links some other images from the series a little more concretely with Anderson’s body of work; specifically, “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid,” which are never mentioned by name.

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This episode is about change.  The main focus is on Rue and Fakir (but mostly Rue) as they try to find their place after they’ve lived unchanged for so long.

And for a change of pace, Edel gives Fakir a visit!

Edel: May those who accept their fate be granted happiness; may those who defy it be granted glory. The story is continuing. The story is alive.

As it turns out, Fakir’s fate appears to be death in battle…but we’ll learn more about him next episode.

There’s a neat little sequence that concludes a comedic side plot this episode while Fakir and Rue are pondering their fates, contributing to their internal debates.

Mr. Cat: You may think you need me, but the simple fact remains that I do not need you.

Rue: The person I need is Mytho, but the one Mytho needs is…Princess Tutu.

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As far as the heart shard plot goes, Malen has a cute design, and the setup provides for a few interesting shots, but otherwise there’s just not much to it (which is fine, because there’s plenty of heartache to go around already).

What really hurts is seeing Rue trying figure out what it means to be friends, and whether or not Duck is her friend…but Duck is in detention, so she can’t walk home with Rue (which she seemed to be ready to ask her about).  Instead she gets a murder of crows for company.

Rue: Princess Tutu will change everything. She’ll change Mytho. At this rate, Mytho will only grow more distant from me. I won’t allow that to happen. […] I just want to stay the same, never changing.

Drosselmeyer: Then what do you plan to do about it? A beautiful black swan…Who is the heroine of this story? Is it Princess Tutu, or is it Princess Kraehe?

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She steps into the Black Shoes, hoping to prevent Mytho from changing by changing herself.

I’ve seen people who say that Princess Kraehe isn’t “really” Rue; I beg to differ. Princess Kraehe was always a part of Rue, an unfettered part of her that she had just forgotten about it in the pleasant monotony before Tutu showed up.  She chose to be Princess Kraehe.  It was a terrible life-altering decision that she clearly did not comprehend the consequences of, but don’t we all face choices like that in our youth?

Fakir: Begone, you ugly crow!

Princess Kraehe: Crow? That’s right, I am a crow. And I alone am the true prima donna, Princess Kraehe. I will take what I desire by force if need be.

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Drosselmeyer: A story doesn’t need two heroines, now, does it? And no prince needs two princesses.

Until next time…

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