Mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime has become the bread-and-butter of the anime scene. Whether one would like to admit it or not they have watched some episode or an OVA of a magical girl anime by chance or accident. I mean if they caught reruns of Sailor Moon in the past 10 or more years then they’ve watched a magical girl anime. There’s one magical girl anime that hasn’t been getting as much attention even amongst anime watchers. It’s this mahou shoujo series that I think more people should be watching and I’m talking about Princess Tutu.
Princess Tutu is a series adapted from the manga of the same title written by Mizuo Shinonome. It’s a series that dares to do something different with the magical girl genre by relying less on violence and battles (people tend to forget that these series may be called magical girl but they’re also quite violent). The series is a sort of fairy tale but with the complex twists and turns that anime tends to layer onto something old and familiar to good effect. We have a duckling given the chance to become a human through a magical gem necklace. When in human form she resembles an awkward, sweet teen girl who reverts back to her duckling form if she quacks. Only by touching water once more can the duckling become the human girl Ahiru once more. This necklace, given to her by a sort of puppetmaster figure of the series, also allows Ahiru to take on the ballerina aspect of Princess Tutu whose mature bearing and expertise in ballet grants her special powers.
One could say that Princess Tutu only owes it’s mahou shoujo label due to the magical abilities granted to Ahiru in her Princess Tutu aspect, but other than that the series is quite different from such magical girl series like Sailor Moon, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. While the series does have conflict between the other characters around Ahiru like Mytho, Fakir and Rue the fights doesn’t use the more typical magical duels and battles common in the genre. Instead the series uses a clever way of implementing ballet and it’s use to represent fight’s between characters.
Like some magical girl series of it’s kind Princess Tutu has it’s comedic and light-hearted moments. Where the series shines is when it delves into the darker side of the narrative. Just like the traditional fables and fairy tales this series works best when letting the darkness of the story come to the forefront instead of just being hinted at. It’s definitely a turn in the series’ narrative that may surprise some people who are expecting an anime that’s all about cute character. Ahiru and the rest of the cast might be animated young-looking (with the male leads looking androgynous), but the trials and tribulations they go through during the series’ run would be considered very adult if done live-action.
Princess Tutu is actually available as a complete set on DVD and not very expensive when compared to other anime DVD sets. So, if one looks at mahou shoujo anime as their cup of tea or just looking to dabble their feet into this type of anime then Princess Tutu is a good place to start. I would usually put up a trailer of this series to better give people an idea of what to expect but I think two great AMV (anime music videos) produced by two fans of the series best describes what people should expect.
There’s Danse De Raven by Chiikaboom…
…and then there’s Hold Me Now by Marissa Panaccio