Once upon a time there was a princess raised by loving parents. One day the princess snuck past the guard at the gate and slipped out of the castle for the very first time. No matter how far she went, however, outside the castle there was only an endless forest as black as pitch. In that kingdom, the inside of the castle was the entire world.

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This is a Sato-Konaka joint, and it is top tier Tutu.  Unlike the last episode, the exposition is woven in much more gracefully with actual stuff happening.  There is character development and plot development and even worldbuilding at play, all wonderfully paced and pieced together.  This was actually the first episode of any anime where I was able to recognize the thumbprint of a particular director or storyboarder.

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Uzura: Are you the Rue we’re worried about-zura?

As irritating as Uzura might be at times, I love how she actually manages to accomplish things that nobody else could in these last few episodes – like telegraphing Duck’s concern for Rue when Rue is reflexively pushing Duck away.

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Meanwhile, Mr. Cat delivers Duck a much needed kick in the (metaphorical) pants by way of a marriage proposal.

Mr. Cat: Miss Duck, everybody has times when they feel as if they’ll never be able to reach their dreams. However, deciding that there’s no way you can do something is nothing more than a way of comforting yourself when you lack motivation.

Duck: I decided to become a girl for Mytho, and I became Princess Tutu for Mytho, but somewhere, somehow, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do anything. Am I running away? What’s most important to me…

So perhaps Duck needs a little more motivation than just helping Mytho…

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Mytho: Strange, isn’t it? When here, I love everyone in the world and want to protect them. But I also want to make all the world’s love my own. I wonder which is the real me. I want people to love me, but is it okay to just be loved? I don’t know. My pride is still lost in the dark.

Seeing Mytho in such turmoil (and casting a raven’s shadow…) is enough to motivate Duck to just get searching for the heart shards already.

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Bookman: We are the Bookmen. If you intend to employ Drosselmeyer’s power to spin stories yourself, we will be forced to stop you. […] Our ancestors cut off Drosselmeyer’s hands and made him unable to spin stories ever again. Should his descendant ever try to spin a story, we must deal him the same fate.

So these are the people that Drosselmeyer’s been in such a tizzy over for the past few episodes, the “Stoppers of Stories” who have been hard at work destroying the endings of Drosselmeyer’s stories in the hope that they won’t come true.  But of course he’s probably more sore about the whole “cut off his hands” thing.

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Then Autor runs into Rue after the Bookmen told him he’s not worth their time, spurring the third plotline for the second half of the episode.

Rue: Come with me.

Autor: Okay.

I don’t know why I find this so hilarious, but I do.  Actually, scratch that, I do know why it’s hilarious: Because this is the first time Autor has been at a loss for words.

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So now we have Fakir and the Bookmen (that sounds like it could be a nerdy band), Rue trying her hand at sacrificing Autor, and Duck searching for heart shards. She eventually discovers the shards somewhere around the town’s five gates, but she also discovers some other interesting things, like how none of the gates seem to open, but she still sees a group of travelers coming from one of the gates.

Duck: So were they…suddenly born from the gate?

Autor (with Rue): Yes, this town is most likely controlled by stories, yet we are unable to realize this fact, because we are made to believe that whatever we see, no matter how strange, was that way to begin with. No one but I can dissect this mystery!

I am vastly amused by Autor’s geekery.  And I love how the editing here connects what Duck sees to what Autor is talking about.  Also she turns into Tutu to jump over the wall, only to discover that it’s impossible to go beyond the walls of Goldcrown Town.

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Autor: Is this something that the story has decided on as well? Seems I’ve fallen in love with you.

And with that, Autor inadvertently tears apart Rue’s worldview (pretty ironic considering that he was clearly trying to blow her mind with his talk about stories earlier).

Rue: I’m sorry, Father, for being a bad daughter, but I couldn’t do it.

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Turns out Tutu jumping the wall helps out after all – she sees Fakir right when the Bookmen are trying to cut off his hands.

Fakir: Stop! Let go of me, damn you, I have to write!

I feel you there, Fakir.

And then Drosselmeyer captures Tutu and takes her to his clockwork dimension.

Bookman: Before Drosselmeyer lost his hands, he had already created a device that would enable him to continue weaving stories even if he lost his body. The town is being controlled by stories because of that device, but even we can’t discover which parts are real and which are fiction. However, Princess Tutu, who no one inside Drosselmeyer’s stories was expected to become, appeared and tried to protect you. And Princess Tutu was taken captive by Drosselmeyer. By now, the story may have progressed to the point where we can do nothing. In that case, the only one who can fight is he who carries the same blood.

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Fakir: Drosselmeyer…the man who plays wantonly with the fates of Mytho and everyone else. Do I really possess enough power to fight with him? Can I save Mytho? Can I bring Tutu back?

Drosselmeyer: You’ll fight with me, you say, you who are inside the story?

The end. I hate you, Drosselmeyer. But I’ll hate you even more next time…

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