Once upon a time there was a handsome slave. What bound him were not heavy chains, but the love of a princess. Every day, every night, the princess whispered her love to the slave, and the slave responded in kind. Bound body, bound emotions…the slave, or the princess? Which of them is really the one who is unable to move?
This episode is written by Michiko Yokote, so there’s a lot of exposition and character development (sometimes simultaneously). It takes inspiration from The One Thousand and One Arabian Nights in general and uses music from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (which has always been one of my favorite classical pieces). Scheherazade is the queen who saves her life by telling stories, and this will not be the last we hear of it.
As for the prologue, it’s obviously referring to Kraehe and Mytho, but the real question is, which is the slave and which the prince(-ss?).
Princess Kraehe: Have you regressed to the doll you used to be because I withdrew that piece of your heart? Have you shut out all your other emotions because of that? If that’s true then fine. If you’re going to love someone else, better for you not to love anyone. It’s your fault, you know. You wouldn’t so much as look at me when I love you so much. […]That’s right, if you hadn’t begun to regain your heart, everything would have progressed as it should have. I wouldn’t have remembered that I – that I was really a crow.
Then she starts scheming with DROSSELMEYER. This will bring no good to anyone (although she does get a pretty spectacular setpiece out of it).
On a happier note, Fakir finally starts cooperating with Duck now that they clearly want the same thing: To save/protect Mytho from Kraehe.
After a full day of searching, they encounter a shockingly nonchalant Mytho who calls Fakir a “failure of a knight”, joined shortly by Rue.
Rue: You see, in The Prince and the Raven Princess Tutu is only presented in a few sentences, a miserable existence which none of the characters in the story wanted to take on. An insignificant existence which even the story left by the wayside. Someone who could never hope to catch the Prince’s eye – a little added flourish. Poor thing.
Turns out that “Mytho” was only an illusion. Also, Kraehe figured out Tutu’s identity last episode, so I guess she thought it only fair to reveal her own.
Rue: So you still haven’t figured it out? Rue doesn’t even really exist.
There are just all sorts of revelations going on! The only one left unaware of the respective alignments and identities of everybody else by the end of the episode is Mytho, who is stuck in a sort of emotional coma. This includes Edel.
Duck: Thanks a lot, Miss Edel, for always being so kind to me.
Edel: This is not kindness. Puppets follow the pull of their strings. […]You think of me like that because that was the role I was appointed.
Despite claiming to have no feelings, Edel bids Duck a rather tender farewell as she and Fakir set out to find Mytho.
Duck herself doesn’t escape the flood of revelations, as she finally reveals her bird form to Fakir. They’re both pretty embarrassed and it is adorable. And hilarious. And adorable. Seriously, I love those two so much.
Then they have a little heart to heart about the story and their own roles in it.
Fakir: A duck as Princess Tutu, huh? I have something you’ll want to hear. Back when I was still a brat, when I was reading The Prince and the Raven to Mytho, the thing that he showed the strongest interest in was neither what happened to himself nor the Raven, but what happened to Tutu, about whom only a little was actually written. He wanted to hear over and over again the part where Tutu turns into a speck of light and then vanishes. His sudden desire to regain his heart most likely stems from Tutu’s role in returning it.
Duck: But, they were saying Mytho took his heart out himself.
Fakir: That’s the kind of guy he is. Well you see, protecting the small and the weak, that is Mytho’s single greatest desire, and to fulfill that he’ll cast off any regard for himself. Even the loss of his heart couldn’t tear that out of him. That’s Mytho.
Duck also opens up about her feelings for Mytho for the first time.
Duck: Well, the truth is I never thought about things like “What do I like about Mytho?” The first time I saw Mytho, it was mostly me just thinking he was handsome, but when I looked closer, his eyes looked so lonely, and I thought if I became Princess Tutu, then maybe I could do something for him. At the start, that’s all there really was to it.
It’s pretty clear at this point that Fakir understands Mytho much better than Duck, but at the same time, if Duck hadn’t impetuously decided to get Mytho’s heart back, nothing would have changed. Mytho has shown more of himself, and even Kraehe was forced to admit that she missed the Mytho who smiled at her.
Princess Kraehe: The Prince’s feeling of Love is right here. The heart that loves people, that loves all the world, yet belongs to no one. And I wonder, you or me? Which one of us will it choose? Whose words will it be drawn to once we’ve both laid our hearts bare? If the shard chooses you, I’ll return it and the Prince. So then, why don’t you speak to it of what burns in your heart?
The stage is set for the finale of the first act…