Princess Tutu is a Japanese magical girl anime series created by Ikuko Itoh in 2002 for animation studio Hal Film Maker. Inspired by ballet and fairy tales, particularly The Ugly Duckling and Swan Lake, the story follows a duck who is transformed into the mythical ballerina Princess Tutu in order to save the shattered heart of a storybook prince come to life.
The first season was broadcast in Japan in 2002 and the second in 2002 and 2003. It was also adapted into a two-volume manga. Both the manga and anime series were licensed by ADV Films in 2004 for distribution in North America, then by AEsir Holdings when ADV Films closed in 2009, but it’s upcoming Blu-ray Disc release will be distributed by Sentai Filmworks, as the latter two are parts of Section23 Films. The series explores the concepts of destiny and free will. Reviewers point out that although Princess Tutu is nominally a magical girl series, it is more of a “fairy tale set to ballet with a few magical girl elements mixed in,” and its use of dance in lieu of violence to solve conflicts carries “surprisingly effective emotional appeal.”
Princess Tutu was originally aired in two seasons. The first season, “Kapitel des Eies” (“Chapter of the Egg”), consisted of 13 half-hour episodes. The second season, “Kapitel des Junges” (“Chapter of the Fledgling”) in R2 DVDs, and “Kapital des Kükens” (“Chapter of the Chick”) in R1 DVDs, was aired as 25 quarter-hour episodes and one half-hour episode; to conform to the format of the time slot, each episode was halved. These were brought back together in the DVD release as 13 complete episodes.
North American DVD releases
In 2004 ADV Films announced that they had licensed the anime series for distribution in North America. ADV Films produced English adaptations for all episodes and, beginning in 2005, the series was periodically released as single DVD “volumes” that each contained several episodes. In 2007 the series was released as a complete DVD collection of all 26 episodes. In 2011 AEsir Holdings announced the licensing of the series and the release of a complete DVD collection of all 26 episodes distributed by Section23 Films. In 2018, as AEsir Holdings and Sentai Filmworks are parts of Section23 Films, the latter will release a complete Blu-ray collection of all 26 episodes on December 11, 2018.
is a friendly, kind-hearted duck who was turned into a pre-teen girl by Drosselmeyer by a magical pendant. Like a duck, she is easily excitable, clumsy, and talkative. If Duck removes the pendant or quacks while talking, she transforms back into a duck, and must touch water while wearing the pendant to return to her human form. The pendant also allows Duck to transform into Princess Tutu.
As Princess Tutu, Duck is wise and graceful. According to Drosselmeyer’s writing, Duck/Tutu would turn into a speck of light and vanish if she confessed her love to Mytho. In the anime, despite her feelings for Mytho, she develops a close relationship with Fakir as the story progresses and they help each other out in their shared desire to protect Mytho and restore his heart. While it’s never explicitly confirmed if she actually does grow to have feelings for him, she does muse that Fakir gives her strength. In the manga, her feelings for Mytho are left open-ended, with Rue competing for his heart. Duck’s name in the manga is Ahiru Arima, which is retained in the English adaptation.
is the noble and kind Prince and protagonist of Drosselmeyer’s story “The Prince and the Raven”. He sacrificed himself to protect the weak and needy by shattering his own heart to seal away the monstrous Raven. Despite having become a popular senior at Gold Crown Academy (Kinkan Gakuen) and known throughout the student body to be a very talented ballet dancer, he possesses no emotions, and is largely dependent on his roommate and childhood friend Fakir for his well-being and survival. As Tutu restores his emotions, he finds himself both afraid of and drawn to her, holding a desire for her to return the rest of his heart and know what she thinks of him. He is later corrupted by The Raven’s blood that Kraehe put on one of his heart shards, and so attempts to steal girls’ hearts as a sacrifice to The Raven. While Mytho’s true personality does try to fight back against the corruption, as it progresses he becomes increasingly unstable and verbally abusive to Rue. In the end however, with her help he overcomes The Raven’s blood when the last heart shard is returned. Ultimately, because of this, he chooses Rue to be his princess. At the end of the anime, Mytho’s real name is revealed to be Siegfried, which, incidentally, is the name of the Prince in the ballet Swan Lake, from which the series borrows many plot elements.
is Mytho’s roommate and a talented ballet dancer in his own right. Initially he is extremely possessive of Mytho, displaying a need to be in control of everything the prince does and discouraging his emotions as they are gradually restored in a forceful and almost abusive manner. He also acts rude or hostile towards anyone who appears to be growing close to Mytho, including Rue, Duck, and especially Princess Tutu. Eventually Duck learns that Fakir’s harsh behavior came about only because he wanted to protect Mytho from repeating the tragic events of the past, which he felt he could only do by preventing Mytho from regaining his heart. Duck however helps him realize that Mytho wants his heart back. Fakir is the reincarnation of the Knight in Drosselmeyer’s story, who died to protect the Prince; Fakir was even born with a birthmark on his chest that resembles a scar, which lies in the same place as the wound that killed the Knight. It’s later revealed that Fakir is a descendant of Drosselmeyer and inherited his ability to bend reality with his writing. He tried using his power to stop a raven attack when he was young, but failed and his parents were killed. This made him shut away the knowledge of this power until Duck convinces him to try again. When he chooses to pick up the pen once more, he eventually realizes that he can only successfully write stories about Duck. By the end of the series he has fallen in love with Duck, which is exemplified through his promise to stay by her side forever.
is an advanced ballet student, and greatly admired by Duck and the other pupils. She is aloof, and only Duck dares to approach her and make friends. She has loved Mytho since childhood after he defended her from crows, and now takes advantage of his apathy to pretend they are a couple. Like Duck, she also has a magical princess alter ego, Princess Kraehe,
the daughter of the Raven. Her jealously interferes with Tutu’s attempts to restore Mytho’s heart, fearing that he will fall in love with someone else. Her father, The Raven, uses her as a means to revive him, but in the end she learns she is not a raven, but rather a human girl kidnapped as a baby during The Raven’s attack on the town. When it appears Mytho will give himself to The Raven, Rue sacrifices herself instead, admitting she had always loved Mytho. Touched by her selfless act, Mytho regains his heart and rescues her, asking her to be his princess. In the manga her name is Rue Kuroha, and is much colder and more cruel. Kraehe (also spelled Krähe) is the German word for “crow”.
- The Raven
is the monster from Drosselmeyer’s story The Prince and The Raven and is one of the main antagonists of the anime. Unlike Drosselmeyer, The Raven was mentioned in the first half of the anime and only appears in the second half of the anime. Mytho shattered his heart to seal up The Raven, who then requires the sacrifice of young, beautiful hearts which he will eat to restore his form. He stole Rue from her parents as a child and raised her as his daughter, calling her Princess Kraehe. The Raven is cruel and abusive to Rue, and orders her to corrupt Mytho with The Raven’s blood. When Rue’s love for the Prince eventually lets him break free from the tainted heart shard, he rescues her and together they defeat The Raven. The character does not appear in the manga, albeit brief mention by Edel.
is an elderly man with a long, white beard, and though he is long dead is one of the main antagonists of the anime. Author of The Prince and The Raven, he is bored with happy stories so he enjoys watching Duck, Fakir, Mytho, and Rue struggle with the tragic fates he wrote for them. He posthumously influences their lives via a machine in the clock tower. Drosselmeyer died after the angry townsfolk cut off his hands to stop him from warping reality with his writing, but he managed to bring the writing machine into existence by writing in his own blood. His name comes from the godfather of the children in the opening of Tchaikovsky’s other work The Nutcracker: one Christmas, Drosselmeyer gives a wooden doll to his niece Clara, who rejects its ugliness but later realises it is magical. He is not present in the manga.