Once upon a time, there was a prince who fell in love with a beautiful swan. The prince, however, fell into a foul trap set by a black swan, and ended up betraying his beloved swan…tutu-13-4

There are so many ways that this could have gone wrong, but somehow Junichi Sato managed to pull it off.  It’s driven by images, much like ballet itself, but has just enough explanation by the characters that it’s always clear what’s going on and why it matters.

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The “stage” itself is rather telling (whether courtesy of Drosselmeyer or Kraehe). Mytho’s costume is based not on Prince Siegfried of Swan Lake (as one might expect), but on Romeo from the Romeo and Juliet ballet; his “bed” recalls Juliet’s tomb, where the two commit suicide. Clearly someone’s trying to evoke this response in Tutu – and perhaps it would have worked, had it not been for Fakir.

Fakir: Why do such a pointless thing? Are you stupid? […] If you just vanish, then who’s going to restore Mytho’s heart to him? Hadn’t you wanted to see Mytho smile when he had gained back all the pieces of his heart? You alone, and nobody else, could accept Princess Tutu’s fate so smilingly. That’s why you mustn’t vanish.

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Princess Kraehe: The fact that the Prince has been regaining his heart means that the tale will begin to move once again: The tale of The Prince and the Raven. All things have been set in motion in accordance with the tale. The Knight will eventually be torn in two and die. Princess Tutu will become a speck of light and vanish. Days of bitter fighting will once again descend upon the Prince. That is the outline that has been set. These are the fates arranged. You, Tutu, are the one who set the tale in motion, even though nobody wished for it. Am I right, Fakir?

Fakir: That was true before, but now Mytho himself has the desire to regain his heart. I share that wish. You are the only one right now who doesn’t.

Fakir proves his resolve by fighting Kraehe’s crow-minions to get to Mytho (all scored by Wagner’s Lohengrin). He manages to actually accomplish something by making an unexpected move – not attacking Princess Kraehe, but breaking Mytho’s sword, which she had been threatening to use on the shard of Love in order to coerce Tutu into vanishing.

Fakir: Princess Tutu…you must see to Mytho’s future…

And then the real battle begins.

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Princess Tutu (internally): I cannot speak words of love to you – but I can dance. Surely I can convey these feelings through that as well.

A dance-off commences between Kraehe and Tutu for the Love of the Prince. And it’s scored with the same music as Rue and Duck’s pas de deux back in Episode 2. And I didn’t need that heart of mine anyway.

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Then it turns into two not-quite-solo pas des deux, as Kraehe dances with the heart shard while Tutu dances with a ghostly vision of the Prince.

Princess Tutu (internally): The real me is just a duck, with no powers of my own, but if I have you, I can transform. My feelings for you are what make me Princess Tutu. I want to protect you. In truth, you must not have wanted to lose your heart – all the laughter and tears, loving someone – you threw that all away to protect people’s happiness. The person who possesses that kind heart is the true you, and the truth is, I love you.

The whole solo pas de deux sequence is perfect. You really can feel the emotions she’s trying to convey, and you also sense that even for Princess Tutu, that dance is taxing without a partner, but she keeps at it anyway.

This is the one part of Tutu’s character that I actually found relatable: Sometimes, the only way she can express herself is through her art.  Some of my own strongest feelings are very hard for me to express outside of writing (my art).

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Princess Kraehe: You win. No matter what I do, my feelings don’t reach him.

I can’t. Seriously, I’m trying to come up with something intelligent to say about Rue/Kraehe, but I think I’ll just have to leave her alone for now…

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On a lighter note, Edel set herself on fire to keep Fakir warm and guide Mytho and Tutu out of the dark.

Edel: It was merely a simple puppet, mimicking the actions of humans with emotions. Earnestly crying and getting angry and laughing – perhaps I was jealous of you for that. However, I have no regrets, so don’t cry. I want to see you and the Prince dance before the end. Please, dance for me, a pas de deux with the Prince.

I think Edel took Drosselmeyer’s comment about “adding a glow to the story” a bit too literally.

But we’re only halfway through the show! To borrow some wisdom from another of my favorite stories:

Heroes know about order, about happy endings – heroes know that some things are better than others.  There are ways of perceiving witches, and of knowing poison streams; there are certain weak spots that all dragons have, and certain riddles that strangers tend to set you.  But the true secret to being a hero lies in knowing the order of things.  Things must happen when it is time for them to happen.  Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; princesses may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever.  The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.

Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (paraphrased, rearranged, and ever so slightly altered)

Next time: The winds of the story shift…

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