Episode 2 of our 4-part watchalong of Princess Tutu with Vrai, Chiaki, and special guest Miranda Sanchez!
Date Recorded: Sunday 31st March 2019
Hosts: Vrai, Chiaki
0:03:33 Stream quality
0:06:39 Know your role
0:16:22 Fakir and Duck
0:20:34 Rue, Love, and Mr Cat
0:29:10 Tutu vs Duck
0:33:33 Dances and monologues
0:44:19 Drosselmeyer again
0:52:31 Final thoughts
VRAI: Hello, listeners. Welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast, and our watchalong of Princess Tutu. This time around, we’re doing episodes 7 through 13. My name is Vrai. I’m an editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai, and if you check my pinned thread, you can find all the neat places I freelance, or you can find the other podcast I cohost @trashpod.
Today, with me once again, I have Miranda and Chiaki. If you two ladies want to introduce yourselves…
MIRANDA: Yeah, of course. Hello! I’m Miranda Sanchez. I work at IGN. I’m a senior editor. I am on our editorial team, so I help cover games, but I also run our anime content, pick and choose and say, “Hey, let’s write about these good things.” So, I was very excited to come on and talk about Princess Tutu because I’ve never seen it before.
CHIAKI: And, hi, I’m Chiaki Hirai. I am one of the editors at Anime Feminist. Aside from working for this website, I am a beat reporter for a Japanese-American newspaper in San Francisco. And you can find me tweeting out of @Chiaki747. It’s a permanent locked account, but feel free to send me a request if you like.
VRAI: Awesome. All right, well, we are week two of four into our Tutu watch, which marks the end of the first half, or the Chapter of the Egg. How are you two getting along with this stretch of episodes?
CHIAKI: Vrai, you were right. I apologize.
VRAI: I told you. Have you met my son? Have you met my very good son?
CHIAKI: Your son is beautiful. Wonderful.
MIRANDA: He’s so good, but it’s hard to forgive him when he just smacks a guy. And it’s like, “Hey, I understand—”
VRAI: He does.
MIRANDA: After watching through to 13, you get why he’s so aggressive toward Mytho. But it’s just like, [inhales through teeth as if grimacing] “Simmer down a little. Just a little.” But again, Mytho almost tried to kill himself, saving an animal.” And so, I understand the firm love, but hoo!
VRAI: Yeah, he did some bad shit. I think, at least for me, what ameliorates it a lot is that his dad also says, “What the fuck are you doing?”
MIRANDA: It’s true. [laughs]
VRAI: For me, when a character does shit things, having the other characters turn around and go “What the fuck?” in narrative goes a long way [chuckles] for me.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. So, if we’re just gonna talk about Fakir for a second, it’s weird seeing his trajectory of just admiring and caring for Mytho to obsessively making sure that Mytho’s not hurting himself in the benefit of others and how that’s pushed him a little far, a lot. I think that just became his normal.
VRAI: This tiny child control freak. I can relate.
MIRANDA: Yeah. So, yes, Vrai, you’re right and I love him very much.
CHIAKI: You’re validated.
VRAI: I do. I feel so validated. These are all my children and I love them and must protect them. [laughs] I did notice—because Chiaki has been livetweeting her viewing experience, which is great for me… apparently discovered new things about the fact that the available stream for this show kind of sucks.
CHIAKI: Oh, yeah. Yeah, are you talking about the fact that Fakir starts speaking in German? Speaking the Deutsch?
VRAI: [chuckles] Yes, I am.
CHIAKI: And that there’s no subs for it, unless you can speak Japanese or read Japanese?
MIRANDA: I was just like, “Can Fakir do magic? Is that just what’s happening here? Then it’s never touched upon again, I guess? Okay. Sure!”
CHIAKI: No, he’s speaking the Deutsch.
VRAI: Auf Deutsch.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that was a thing that happened.
VRAI: It makes me very sad because I had assumed that the version on HiDIVE was a rip of the home release of the dub. But no, it seems to be just the Japanese television video and the English dub audio without any of the subtitling that was put onto the home release. Which… sucks? It sucks.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Also, if you are watching HiDIVE’s app on a console—so, I’ve been watching on my Xbox—it has these awful bright white bars instead of black bars.
VRAI: Oh, God!
MIRANDA: And it’s very annoying when it’s late and you’re just like, “Well… Okay. Here we are.” [chuckles]
VRAI: It’s better than nothing, I guess, but oof!
MIRANDA: Yeah. It’s very weird. HiDIVE has some stuff to figure out, but that’s not Tutu’s fault.
VRAI: No, Tutu is a good show.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I was tempted to just find somebody with the DVDs and just be like, “Can I borrow them? Please? Just, can I…” [chuckles]
VRAI: I mean, especially now that the remaster is out, I think that every time Sentai has a sale, Tutu always goes on sale for like six bucks.
MIRANDA: Oh, my gosh.
VRAI: So, if the next one comes around, you can get it really cheap. Although I will caution you, the version I have right now, I discovered, that I got as a cheap bargain set, they just stack all the discs on top of each other. They’re not individually racked. It’s just a stack of DVDs. It sucks.
CHIAKI: They do that sometimes.
MIRANDA: I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen that. That’s not good!
VRAI: No, it’s not! It’s the most cheapo cheap option, which makes me sad that I consolidated and got rid of our other slightly older one. Whoops! Oh, well.
MIRANDA: Well, I am very excited to pick it up whenever that happens because I want to see Miss Edel again. I already miss her!
VRAI: She’s so good. It’s such a blatant heartstring tug, but also, it gives me sadness.
MIRANDA: I realize we’re also just jumping around crazy here because I think coming off of episode 13, you just have a lot of feelings. It’s like, “Oh…”
CHIAKI: A lot happened.
VRAI: It’s okay. I encourage you to explore. But I think that is as good a place as any to start because it’s one of those things that has been aesthetically present for the entire series so far, but it has become in sharper and sharper thematic relief: the clockwork imagery added to the explicit puppetry imagery with Drosselmeyer.
MIRANDA: Yes. I love all of that so much because you see it in every character, and the characters that don’t have that sort of grip Drosselmeyer just freaks out about, specifically with Kraehe, which I was kind of surprised by, because we’re like, “Oh, yeah! Like the Raven. Obviously, it’s evil.”
The Raven is Kraehe to some extent, which is also still a little bit weird because we don’t really know what that means completely. Because there’s implications that Kraehe isn’t necessarily bad, and I don’t understand why, but I understand that’s being implied through the whole story with the shoes and that’s how she transforms. And that seems like a little bit of unwillingness there.
I’m not too sure why. It’s like, “Huh. Interesting.” And there is that one point where Drosselmeyer freaks out at the end of one of the episodes. And he’s saying things like—
VRAI: Because she addresses him directly.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that was at the beginning of one of the episodes, but at the end of, I think, an episode before, it’s like, “You have to know your place. You have to fit in. You have to fit in this puzzle or you’re dangerous. You don’t belong.” And it’s so interesting to see how she’s the outlier when she seems like she has a very obvious role.
VRAI: Yeah, that line is a recurrent one, that it’s a dangerous thing not to know your place in the world, which is an extremely loaded sentiment, especially for something like shoujo, which is so much a coming-of-age-type genre. Those are the predominant stories that it tells. And especially for an anime in Japan, which is very much about fulfilling expected roles and growing up and embracing what’s expected of you.
CHIAKI: Is growing up really—? But I feel like that’s how parenting works. Like, you’re told from your teachers, your parents, that you gotta grow up to be an upstanding member of society or whatever, and there’s these prescribed understandings of how that works. And I feel like Tutu tried to circumvent that, like “No, you can kinda grow up and not be exactly what people expected.”
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, very much. Like there’s this exerted pressure from Drosselmeyer, the puppetmaster. Which, by the way, I forgot to mention it last time: part of the reason Nutcracker music is so prominent in this series is that Drosselmeyer is the name of Clara’s uncle in The Nutcracker. He’s the one who gives her the doll. So, very deliberate pull there.
But, yeah, this series has this very existent tension between the author and the characters who refuse to do what he wants them to do, which is very multilayered like you said, Chiaki. It’s as much about these tiny infant children trying to find their own way to grow up and still be good, because they’re so good! I love them.
MIRANDA: Yeah. The town itself is also really interesting, because this is supposed to be outside the story but it still feels like it’s inside the story at the same time. They keep going back to that clock, and that clock very obviously shows all of their roles. It shows the Knight, it shows the Princess and the Prince, and it shows what is kind of like the Raven—or it looks like a swan sometimes. And so, it’s just kind of weird to see how this all plays out even though they’re supposed to outside the story, but it still feels like they’re inside one and still being controlled.
CHIAKI: Or is it? Because I feel like being framed within the show there’s this meta-humor that it is part of the story. The city is part of the story.
VRAI: Mm. Right, which goes into… When Tutu goes someplace, the frame becomes a stage, and that’s why mime is so important and why you dance out your feelings. But a lot of times, as part of the show goes on, people dance out their feelings and the framing is very stage-like often, even when magic is not explicitly happening.
There is a strong sense of performance, whether it’s actual ballet performance or characters performing who they think they are supposed to be at a given moment.
MIRANDA: Right. I think this brings me back to Fakir’s very specific episode—I think it was episode ten—when we find out how he met Mytho. And it’s weird because Mytho seems like he’s still the same from that time, like he actually hasn’t aged.
But also, at the same time, Fakir’s father knew who Mytho was as the Prince. This is a whole legend, and this town kinda knows about all these legends, and so seeing how all of that plays together with the story is very interesting.
And like you’re saying about the stages and, of course, in the last episode we talked about how the traveling performers came in and then their manager turned into an eel, and it’s like, “Oh, he’s always been like that.” And so, this unique place, even when magic things aren’t happening, there’s still magic happening.
VRAI: Yeah, that is a good point about Mytho, though. Fakir gets older. All the other characters get older, but he’s the same, and in some ways it’s almost as though he is this cipher, where you have our three other human characters—even if they are also playing story roles—who all see and want something very different when they look at him.
MIRANDA: That’s true. Looking at all the other characters, too, I notice they all have transformations, where Mytho is just Mytho. He’s the Prince; everyone knows that. He just stays in that role, and everyone else has some sort of… Even Fakir. Fakir is still him, but he’s also eventually the Knight. We understand that he’s the Knight. He always was, but at the same time, that’s something he has to perform.
VRAI: Yeah. God damn, Fakir has such a problem with this large boulder of toxic masculinity on his back.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Yeah.
VRAI: It’s almost as though Mytho represents something different to each person. He is all things to all people, which is part and parcel of him having no intrinsic identity.
For Fakir, he is both a masculine ideal who is strong and unafraid and also protects the weak, but also is conveniently… There’s no there there, and he drives himself into being a terrible person trying to live up to protect what he thinks that is, even if it’s not a real person.
And then Rue and Duck are both seeing very different things that they think Mytho is supposed to represent and what they should be doing with their lives.
CHIAKI: On that note—I jotted this down in my notes—I felt like Mytho was a bit like… he’s a puppet as much as Edel or anyone else in the story is.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah. Totally agree with that.
CHIAKI: And I feel like at the very end he finally gains some personal gumption, I guess is a word.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s certainly no coincidence that they save love for the very end of the first half of the show, although they don’t specify what kind of love it is, which is kind of a recurring element throughout the show that I find interesting. Even if it’s not nearly as gay as I wish they would make it, it’s still pretty gay.
MIRANDA: Yeah, I definitely— Yeah. There’s a lot of undeniable things going on here. We know.
CHIAKI: There is passion.
CHIAKI: Lots and lots of passion.
VRAI: These are all my children and I love them and I support them, and also they all have dumb 12-year-old crushes on each other.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Absolutely.
VRAI: It’s very good. One thing that I actually didn’t notice until this go-round that tickled me very much is that… Each episode is tied to a piece of music, and the episode—I think it’s 7 or 8—is the prologue or the overture to the Romeo and Juliet ballet, which is also the episode where Fakir and Duck really start interacting in earnest, which tickles me in my heart place.
MIRANDA: Oh, my goodness. Them two. They are… Okay. I have to probably say this because I have a lot of feelings about them, and they’re good feelings, and they’re both confused. I love them as a pair. They’re so good and weird.
And I love that Fakir was the first one that Duck got to reveal her true self to, because Miss Edel early on says, “Hey, maybe you need an ally.” And her ally goes first to Mytho. She’s like, “Oh, I need to tell him. We need to protect him from Fakir because Fakir doesn’t want to restore his heart.” And she never really finds that ally. At least, not in that episode. She doesn’t figure it out quickly.
And then, we see her and Fakir start getting closer and uniting and actually doing what’s best for Mytho—or at least what they think is best for him—and following his request. And it’s just so good. Their dynamic’s so weird because Fakir’s just so serious and Duck’s just Duck. She’s just trippin’ everywhere. It’s so good. It’s so, so good.
VRAI: I’m not normally a fan of awkward nudity gags, but that one’s really funny.
MIRANDA: He grabs her underwear and he’s just so surprised. It’s so good.
MIRANDA: That’s the thing. We were talking about it last time: their awkward nudity gags are just very good and funny and pure, and they’re not ill-intentioned, and that’s why they can be so funny.
VRAI: Mm-hm. It’s very sweet. It’s very good. And I enjoy the way that they help each other out. Fakir has some of the conviction at the moment that Duck lacks, but also her influence on him is very important because he… He spends so much of this stretch of episodes having to be extremely macho and to do everything himself. And at the big, climactic moment during Swan Lake, he steps aside and tells her to do it, because feelings! Because feelings are important.
MIRANDA: Yeah. I kind of wonder why Duck doesn’t use her Princess Tutu powers that much. Because at the very beginning we see that she has abilities, but whenever she gets captured by Kraehe or even in Swan Lake, it doesn’t seem like she really wants to fight. And that’s fine. It’s just interesting that they show this early on. She has the abilities to do things, but they’re not necessarily aggressive, I guess.
VRAI: Yeah, she has her magic vines, but they really only get used to form bridges or bonds or catch up to people. They are tools of communication, even if they could be weapons.
MIRANDA: That’s a good way to put it. Because she was trapped in that cage. It’s just like, “You could just use the vines, just break the cage, help out.” But I guess then Fakir needs to come in on his horse, so…
VRAI: Yeah, she’s also bound by the rules of dramatic tension.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that’s what I feel like a lot of it is. It’s like, “Tutu, you could’ve gone first here at Swan Lake, but that’s fine. Fakir has to do his thing. I get it.”
CHIAKI: Yeah, I mean, they already got the horse. What else are they gonna do with it?
VRAI: Where is he getting this horse? Why is this horse just around whenever—
MIRANDA: It’s a good question.
VRAI: It’s very good. It’s the horse of dramatic timing. And I love it so much.
CHIAKI: Is there a Greek word for that, kinda like deus ex machina but deus ex horse?
VRAI: [chuckles] Horse ex machina.
VRAI: Yes. Good. We haven’t really talked about— We’ve sort of hit on everybody in a roundabout way except for poor Rue, who has a hard time this stretch of episodes.
MIRANDA: Poor Rue.
CHIAKI: Yeah. She needs a hug.
VRAI: [pitifully] She needs a hug.
MIRANDA: So, I was talking a little bit earlier about her maybe not willingly being bad, and I always come back to her music because it is just so soft and sad and it doesn’t ever feel super malevolent. Her theme. I forget which song it’s called. It’s like “Nocturne Something Something Something Something.” Very beautiful piano piece. It’s put on a lot of lullaby CDs. I know this because I was listening to it earlier and I was just like, “Why is this on baby lullaby CDs? She can’t be evil.” [laughs]
MIRANDA: She’s just in love. But her love is so weird because she’s so okay with Mytho just being a puppet, and that’s always just weird, you know?
CHIAKI: I just felt like her appreciation of Mytho was a little bit more benign, like, “Oh. Gonna [audio cuts out] with whatever he happens to be doing.” It even seemed like she was kinda happy that he was regaining some of his emotions or feelings at the very beginning, during the first six episodes.
VRAI: Yeah, and then she gets scared because she thinks, “Oh, no. What if I’m not good enough and he doesn’t love me anymore? Oh, no.”
Rue’s fears in this honestly remind me of Shinji’s issue with girls in Evangelion a little bit, where it’s dramatizing this concept that at that age you want to be in love and to love someone, but it’s more about the experience of you being loved and you haven’t yet thought through the experience of how much effort it takes to love someone back and what it means to support someone and understand that that other person has feelings and thoughts of their own, separate from you.
It’s not that her feelings are fake. It’s just that she is more afraid of being alone than she is of having someone not really mean it as long as they’re saying the words.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Oddly enough, the one person who has a sort of practical perspective you’re talking about is Mr. Cat.
VRAI: [chuckles] The most unexpected turn of all.
MIRANDA: It’s like, excuse me? But when he’s talking to Miss Goatette in episode 12… They’re at that restaurant and she’s been pursuing him. And at first Kraehe, when she’s Rue, walks by and hearing them she’s like, “Hey, this is why we can’t work out,” all this stuff, and eventually Fakir walks by and he’s talking about change and how that’s important and you have to understand differences and your conviction of will and all this stuff. And it’s just really funny to hear him talk about this. For all this time he’s just been threatening all his students to marry him. It’s so weird.
VRAI: Yeah, yeah. And later on, he corners Mytho for classes on love. And you hear a small snippet of it and he’s teaching the importance of consent! It’s like, this took a turn!
[Ambulance siren blares in the background]
MIRANDA: Like, what! Also, it’s still strange to me— Sorry if you guys can hear the sirens.
MIRANDA: City stuff.
MIRANDA: Anyway, it’s just so weird to see Mr. Cat be so important. It’s like, “Why? It’s Mr. Cat.”
VRAI: Because he’s a comedy joke character.
MIRANDA: Yeah. Oh, my goodness.
VRAI: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s one of those things where on a basic, literal level, this is weird and creepy, but also, there’s so little actual intent behind it, I can’t get super mad.
MIRANDA: Right, and it’s not targeted. It’s not specific. It’s just literally everyone. A general blanket threat, because he’s so sad and has to go groom himself and roll around.
MIRANDA: And he’s a cat. [chuckles]
VRAI: He’s a cat!
MIRANDA: Yeah. That’s about it. I just love cats.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s really good. Cats are good. He jumps into the window ‘cause there’s a thing there, and you know not to do that, silly cat. Silly kitten.
MIRANDA: I watched that scene twice because I thought it was really good. I thought, “Oh, Mytho has to be in the practice room.” And it’s Mr. Cat being super elegant. What the heck? Which makes sense, because he’s a cat.
CHIAKI: I mean, he’s just there. He’s obviously a dancer. Right?
VRAI: Yes. Exactly. I love how there’s fewer scenes in the dance room during this stretch of episodes because plot is happen! But I love the kind of lowkey ongoing thing of “Who we see dance is who we understand at the moment.”
We see Rue a lot with the advanced class early on, but she kind of disappears from those moments where Duck and the audience can see her once she becomes the nominal antagonist. But we get to see Fakir instead as Duck begins to understand him more. He finally gets a scene as a dancer, not in combat.
MIRANDA: Yeah, it was so good to see him dance. Because I don’t know if we actually had before this stretch of episodes. He was just in the class and being generally moody. [chuckles]
VRAI: Just sort of sulking places.
MIRANDA: Also, we didn’t really talk about— I know we’ve talked about Fakir so much, but I think that’s totally fine. [chuckles]
VRAI: I just love my son, that’s all. [chuckles]
MIRANDA: I love his episodes with Duck when she’s a duck.
MIRANDA: They’re just so sweet!
VRAI: [through laughter] It’s good. It’s very good.
CHIAKI: [sighs appreciatively]
VRAI: My wife was rewatching these with me on and off, and she pointed out that it’s a really good use of narrative indicators because Fakir is being kind to someone even though there is no purpose to it. He’s shown as a very manipulating and calculating character who does everything for a cause. But then he’s just nice. He’s just nice even though there’s nothing in it for him.
MIRANDA: It’s weird to say the real Fakir shows, when he’s allowed. [chuckles] He doesn’t have to be turned on and “Protect the Prince!” sort of deal. It’s like he can just coast and be a person.
CHIAKI: When a boy gives you that bread.
VRAI: Aw, yeah!
MIRANDA: It was so sweet!
VRAI: The fact that she’s so sad but she’s still gonna eat that bread, though.
MIRANDA: That’s a good point!
VRAI: Mood, kiddo.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] I also just love their scene at the… I guess it’s a little pond outside and Fakir’s crying. They just cuddle a little bit. It’s really sweet. He just hugs the duck.
VRAI: Yeah. And it’s definitely a part of those… “Those are soft girl emotions,” but Duck gets to see them because he does not realize that she is our humble protagonist. And after having that moment of “Oh, God, the humiliation!” I think it is a relief to him for somebody to know that he is a soft and gentle child.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Yeah. I think you see that come through a lot, too, because he’s obviously getting more comfortable with her. And thank goodness he’s not actually dead so that they could continue being comfortable, hopefully. You know the story does go on.
VRAI: It’s good he didn’t drown, I guess, because he was under that water for a long time.
MIRANDA: I was really confused when they just turned around and left. I was like, Fakir was there. Where are you guys going? [chuckles] Okay, bye!
CHIAKI: No, he’s gone now.
VRAI: It’s fine. He went offstage, so it was taken care of. It happened offstage! You mentioned last episode, when we were talking about… things, the idea that Tutu seems like a different person from Duck. And that kind of gets addressed through this span of episodes.
CHIAKI: I actually wanted to bring that up.
VRAI: Oh, by all means.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I was noticing… Maybe this is kinda different from what you were thinking, but I still feel Tutu was a different person from Duck. But at the very end here, Tutu became Duck, in my opinion. Get what I mean?
VRAI: Yeah, yeah. Because she has that moment where she accepts that these are her feelings that are giving her this power.
MIRANDA: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I was a little weirded out when I noticed that when Duck becomes Tutu her freckles go away, and it’s like the weirdest little detail, but I was like, “Wow! That’s interesting. Maybe it’s makeup.” Anyway. Totally random aside.
VRAI: [quietly] Maybe she was born with it.
VRAI: She also gets more prominent cleavage as Tutu, which will never not weird me out. These are children.
MIRANDA: Yeah. A lot of things change when she transforms into Tutu.
CHIAKI: Hey, that happens sometimes.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Man, I wish— Anyway, never mind. Chiaki, I really do like your observation that Tutu’s recognizing Duck in a weird way, because it’s never really had to go that way before. It’s just Duck always evolves to Tutu and then she never has to address herself as Duck when she’s Tutu. And her having that moment to process and go through and recognize that they’re still the same person, though there are different goals there, different powers, different abilities, is really important and good.
VRAI: I was watching some of the special features for this, and I think some of them are online. The outtakes for this show are pretty good. But there was an interesting detail when they did a little featurette with Luci Christian, who plays Duck, that actually they were doing her Duck lines and her Tutu lines in different sessions, which is interesting to me.
VRAI: Yeah. Although this run of episodes starts with ”the Rejection of the Call,” to use the really pretentious term (this is a pretentious show in that way; I’m fine with it), where she decides she doesn’t want to be Tutu anymore.
And I found it really interesting, in the Japanese performance at least, that it feels like at the end of that episode, she kind of merges that vocal performance where she brings the rougher quality of Duck’s voice into when she’s trying to get Mytho’s attention. And it’s this moment that begins where I think she ends up at the end of 13: beginning to realize that this is a performance put on. But when she willingly accepts that this is something she has to do and wants to do, she begins to take agency over it.
MIRANDA: That’s such a good point. I don’t remember if I actually— I think I was just so excited by the episode and what was happening that I didn’t really notice that change in her voice as much.
VRAI: This is like my fourth time through this show. I have a lot of time to sit back and notice weird, tiny details. The first time through, it’s all feelings all the time. Everything is emotions and it’s good. David Cage wishes he could make Princess Tutu.
CHIAKI: Please, please don’t make that happen.
VRAI: God, no.
CHIAKI: David, if you’re listening, please don’t do this.
VRAI: [laughs] David Cage, if you’re listening, please go home and don’t make games anymore.
CHIAKI: No, continue to make games. I still enjoy your games. They’re awful, but I enjoy them.
VRAI: [chuckles] Fair enough. Press F to emancipate.
VRAI: Anyway. We mentioned it, but we haven’t really gone into the opening monologues, which have gotten quite different since the first set of episodes, when they were mostly just potted retellings of very famous fairytales and/or ballets. Those have changed.
MIRANDA: Oh, yes. I find it interesting that we keep seeing the sword in almost every opening monologue now. Well, that sword is now broken, so I’m really curious about the implications of what that means, because obviously when it was Swan Lake, there are swans on the sword. Is Mytho a swan? Is he gonna get turned into a swan when he gets his heart back?
VRAI: [amused] Just a large bird.
MIRANDA: I know we’re talking— We’re getting so— But I think maybe that’s what happens! Maybe he’s just sad because he’s not a duck, er, I guess, a swan anymore. [chuckles]
VRAI: He does have very feathery hair.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah! Sorry, now I’m going on a tangent here, but that was part of my thinking when I just kept seeing the sword being brought up. I was like, “Hm. Hm!”
VRAI: I mean, my favorite part of these is newbies making wild guesses as to what everything means, so I encourage it.
CHIAKI: I mean, as far as swans go, you have Tutu and Kraehe, which I feel is a little weird—or ironic, maybe. I don’t know if that’s the word for it. But Tutu is a duck; Kraehe is a raven.
MIRANDA: What if they’re the two swans? What if they’re the swans on the sword and he’s getting between them?
MIRANDA: I don’t know. [chuckles] I am a big fan of how much Duck loves her and I’m very sad that Kraehe’s like, “I’m not Rue.” I’m like, “No, but you still are! Be nice to each other.” Anyway. Sorry, another tangent, but I just thought of that right now. I was like, “Oh! They are actually shown to be birds, like Chiaki brought it up. And I’ve always been thinking of Kraehe more as Raven.”
CHIAKI: Yeah. But I feel like as ballet goes, it’s more about swans, right? That’s what you tune into immediately, so I see her more as a swan than a raven.
MIRANDA: Right. I actually did want to look up and see if there were ballets specifically with raven antagonists, but I was like, “Nah, I probably should do that after the fact, just in case.” We don’t know.
VRAI: None leap immediately to mind, although between this and last season’s My Roommate Is a Cat, anime doesn’t like crows. Anime doesn’t like crows at all.
MIRANDA: Aw. At least Sailor Moon likes crows.
CHIAKI: Didn’t Lain have good crows?
VRAI: Maybe. It’s been so long.
MIRANDA: I was just trying to put in a good word for the crows. [chuckles]
VRAI: [chuckles] It makes me very sad that a lot of the stuff with Rue feels like a moment where the show is specifically commenting on shoujo tropes, because it’s so common to have the plucky natural beauty sort of protagonist and then her rival, the mean, bitchy popular girl who is evil and selfish and doesn’t really love the love interest or doesn’t deserve his love because she’s fake and shallow and scheming. And Rue is playing that role, but she doesn’t really want to, and Duck doesn’t want her to either, but she feels like she has to and so does the male author who’s making them fight.
MIRANDA: Yeah! They just wanna be friends.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Isn’t that like all male authors?
VRAI: [chuckles] Ah-hem. #NotAllMaleAuthors…
CHIAKI: I’m sorry.
VRAI: [chuckles] No, but yes. Because they do care about each other. I think Rue, like Fakir, is a little bit tsundere, but she cares about Duck a lot in her heart-place and it’s very good.
MIRANDA: Yeah. I’m really curious to see where it goes from here, though, because Kraehe just gets to leave. The battle has been won. Mytho and Tutu go dance. It’s very sweet. But where does that leave Kraehe? Is she just done? I’m really curious to see where it goes, and now I’m kinda veering off again.
VRAI: Yeah, there are a lot of unanswered things.
MIRANDA: I don’t know. At this point, I feel like the story is done, but then it’s like, no, we don’t have all the Heart Shards. The Prince is incomplete. So, what does that mean and how… Part of me really hopes Rue does come back and she pushes off Kraehe as “Maybe it’s part of me, but it’s not who I want to be.” I don’t know. That’s what I’m hoping for, because I do really like her and I want her and Duck to be friends.
CHIAKI: I’d like that, too.
VRAI: They’re good girls.
CHIAKI: Does that happen?
VRAI: They’re good children.
CHIAKI: Does that happen, Vrai?
VRAI: [blandly] I cannot confirm nor deny any future plot details.
VRAI: I am but an arbiter here to guide you through this magical experience—
CHIAKI: All right.
VRAI: —and literally every person I can talk to who hasn’t watched the show yet, because it is one of the greatest anime ever made.
MIRANDA: I know I definitely need to get my twin sister to watch this, because she’s gonna love the heck out of it.
VRAI: Yeah, and it’s such a good show for kids. It’s been nice watching the sub this time around, but I am glad that the show has such a good dub, especially for the early-to-mid-2000s. It makes it really good to just show to younger kids who maybe aren’t super comfortable with subtitles yet or can’t read as well for big words like pas de deux.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t want to read that.
CHIAKI: I mean, I don’t even wanna say it!
MIRANDA: Yeah, me too! I was just like, “Oh, Tutu’s dancing that one dance alone. That’s a thing.” [chuckles]
VRAI: Pas de deux are hard. I never got to do one when I was doing dance. They seem very romantic. But you have to be able to toe-shoe, so here we are.
MIRANDA: So, we didn’t even talk about her dance, but her dance at the end of episode 13 is just so good. The emotion!
VRAI: It’s absolutely beautiful. I feel like the animators really poured a lot of extra love into that. And the designs are very simplified. They have almost a Princess Knight kind of look, is what they remind me of, that very early ‘70s shoujo. But they’re so talented at showing how much strain her body is under, dancing this, with these tiny, little details, and I love that sequence. Thank you for bringing it up.
MIRANDA: Oh, gosh, yeah. And I wrote down how I love how they frame all of that, as well. We know that this is the stage; this is the final stage for the final battle. And we’ve had many different kinds of stages. But this one, they just paid very good attention to angles and drama and really made you feel like you were watching something special. And of course, the dance is such a big part of that, too, and I think they just killed it in this episode.
VRAI: It’s so good. It’s good. Gives you feelings. Dance is about the actors’ bodies and their motions, but it’s also about their emotions, and the camera has a lot of power over that here, where when Rue was dancing in the final battle, it’s very much at a distance from her. There’s a lot of mid-shots, whereas we get a lot of those close-ups that take us into the fact that Tutu is trembling. Her ankles are popping tendons because it’s so hard to hold that position, and we feel her struggle and how much this means to her, but we’re kept at a distance from Kraehe because she’s fading as this is happening, as it were—and it’s very well directed! A lot of feelings.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] It was very touching. Very touching to watch all that, I’ll definitely say.
MIRANDA: I especially liked when Zombie Mytho got up and joined Tutu. It was like, ooh!
VRAI: He did. He made a conscious action, even without the Love Shard. He did it.
MIRANDA: I know you guys were mentioning this earlier, too, but it’s so nice to see Mytho have a personality take form. Before the last six episodes, it’s like, “Why does anybody like this guy, aside from him being generally attractive and a good dancer? He doesn’t offer anything as a person.” I mean, I guess when you’re that young, it’s a little different, your crushes are kinda different. But it’s good to see him have a will.
VRAI: Yeah, I think especially when you’re that young and you’re crushing on somebody, it’s less about who that person is than who you think that they are. And part of growing up is beginning to recognize another person’s individual humanity—it’s all metaphorized and such—which Duck is beginning to understand here, but Rue hasn’t gotten there yet because she feels so rejected. And fair enough.
Part of me in my brain is like, “Aw, pretty people have problems, too,” but it’s genuinely hurtful how every time she goes and does something, she’s told that crows are ugly and vicious and nobody wants them and that she should die, basically. That’s horrible! They’re like 12! These are children!
MIRANDA: Are they really supposed to be 12?
VRAI: They’re probably 12 to 14, yeah.
MIRANDA: They definitely look like it. It’s just so weird. It’s like, “Drosselmeyer, how dare you! They’re babies!”
VRAI: How dare you! To these infants!
CHIAKI: Yeah, I feel he’s the real villain in all this, just being a sadist, just putting them all through this, just wringing them through.
VRAI: Yeah, and he’s so very disinterested in how everyone feels. He’s utterly caught up in the mechanics of how the story works, all that clockwork.
CHIAKI: If anything, he’s ecstatic that they’re suffering.
MIRANDA: Just like Lilie.
CHIAKI: More so than the first six episodes, I really started feeling it: “Man, this guy’s kind of an asshole.” [chuckles]
VRAI: Uh-huh. [chuckles] Drosselmeyer: kind of an asshole. That begins to touch upon it. [chuckles]
MIRANDA: I think you even see that with Miss Edel and how uncaring he is for her, like “You are just a puppet. You are not allowed to have feelings. When you start growing affection for something, you’re becoming useless, essentially.” It’s like, ah! How cruel! Miss Edel tries so hard. She’s good!
VRAI: And she’s the first to embody one of her first lines—which, I will go ahead and tell you, will continue to be important—that line of “To those who accept their fate, happiness. To those who defy their fate, glory.” Which… She dies, but she goes out in a literal blaze of glory.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Yeah, doing something for the people she cared about, which is cool because that was of her own will. She had to break what she was supposed to do in her role in order to do something she cared to do. And I love it. I love it and I want all of them to defy the roles and just give the finger to Drosselmeyer and live a happy life!
VRAI: [laughs] Well, there’s another 13 episodes to go, so, you know, steel yourself.
MIRANDA: Okay. [chuckles]
CHIAKI: He’s old. He can’t dance as hard, right?
CHIAKI: In a dance battle, he’s gotta lose, right?
MIRANDA: This is true. He’s made them powerful dancers.
MIRANDA: It will be his downfall. [chuckles]
VRAI: [laughs] I am kind of curious as to where you two think the series is going from here because, like you said, it does kind of close one particular chapter and in some ways it does stop, but it’s also a whole open world of things it could do.
CHIAKI: Well, obviously they’re gonna bring Rue back, right?
VRAI: Hm. Well, she is in the opening of the show.
CHIAKI: Like, she’s one of the main characters, so I figure they’re gonna try to get her back from being evil… maybe?
VRAI: Mm-hm, mm-hm. Mm-hm, mm-hm. Yes, good.
MIRANDA: Hm. It’s hard. I’d like to agree with Chiaki here and say, yes, they will try to save her from being sad because she was just rejected and lost a dance battle and that probably hurts her pride a whole lot because she is a great dancer.
VRAI: Losing a dance battle is no small matter.
VRAI: It’s very serious.
CHIAKI: I watched Zoolander. I know.
VRAI: I mean, what is Mytho if not learning that there is more to life than being very, very ridiculously good looking?
MIRANDA: [laughs] I did not expect us to go with these two parallels, but I am super into it. [laughs] Yeah, so, win over Rue.
But they have to get the rest of the Heart Shards and we don’t know what that means. I don’t think the Heart Shards are being prioritized based on the strength of emotions, which is kind of weird to say, because we already have fear, we have love, and those are pretty powerful things. So, it’s kinda hard to know what they do from there.
I don’t imagine that they can keep doing the same thing because it’s a known quantity. We’ve kind of overcome it, so what’s the next way for Tutu to go get the Heart Shards and will Mytho have a more active role in it, too, now that he has more of his heart back? What can he do? Can he do things? What about his sword? It’s broken.
VRAI: He has no sword. What do?
MIRANDA: I guess he just… cheerleader, yeah! That works.
VRAI: [chuckles] The important role of the supportive shoujo boyfriend, which is better than the dickweed shoujo boyfriend, which we see too often.
CHIAKI: He’s a good backup dancer, right?
VRAI: Seems good, seems good.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Jazz hands in the back?
VRAI: Yes! I like it.
MIRANDA: Yeah. As far as what danger or what opponent there could be, it’s really hard to say, because if Kraehe was a crow, then that’s kind of it as far as all Drosselmeyer wrote, and then we end up with the problem of: “This is an unfinished story. What happens next?” So, I feel like they haven’t left us with a lot of clues as to what exactly happens next.
VRAI: Yeah, something that is just a little thing but that I like a lot is that the music for the opening theme doesn’t end. It just trails off. A lot of endings will have that firm, final note and a nice, conclusive ending, but the opening for Tutu just kind of fades out right on into the show, which given that—
VRAI: You know, a story that never ends is a sad thing.
MIRANDA: Does this end on a cliffhanger? Is that what you’re trying to say? [chuckles]
VRAI: I haven’t said anything.
CHIAKI: The thing is music does that. I used to play jazz a lot, and there were a lot of tunes that just end, like “Oh yeah, just keep playing the last three bars over and over until you get too quiet for the audience to hear.”
VRAI: Oh, it absolutely does, and with that particular piece of music that they’re lifting from, it’s because it would go into another movement that’s a lot more dramatic and Sturm und Drang.
But I think it is an interesting choice, given the themes of the show. You could have had one of those shoujo themes that ends with a shot of the full cast. But instead, we have that music that kind of fades out and Tutu leaping off into the darkness, which I think is such a neat final shot.
MIRANDA: Yeah! Speaking of Tutu, I was just looking over some of my last notes. In episode 12, I believe, Rue, when she reveals she’s Kraehe, she’s talking about how it’s tragic that Princess Tutu only gets a few sentences in the story and that’s it. She’s just destined to become a speck of light and that’s it. She doesn’t do much.
And I think maybe the intro’s an interesting parallel there because her character is unwritten in a way. She has a lot of opportunity to do things as long as she does not meet that one fate. And so, where everyone has these very set rules—it’s like “You’re gonna sacrifice yourself, you’re the villain, and you will fight the Prince”—Tutu is… I don’t know. She’s supposed to tell the Prince that she loves him and just fade away. So, it’s really interesting to see how maybe that’ll play into the next half.
VRAI: [chuckles] It’s a little Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in that way. Because this is such a nothing character, there is infinite room to expand. Mm, pretentious theater references. Pat myself on the back. Aw, yeah!
VRAI: Was there anything you two wanted to touch on that we didn’t get to?
CHIAKI: I’m good.
MIRANDA: I’m really enjoying all the animal students. That was a note I had.
VRAI: [chuckles] The Mexican accent for the Chihuahua was a choice.
CHIAKI: [groans as if bewildered]
MIRANDA: [crosstalk] Oh, my gosh. [laughs]
VRAI: What the fuck, dub?
MIRANDA: I saw that. I was like, “All right, somebody watched too many Taco Bell commercials at the time. I see.”
VRAI: Decisions were made, and they were bad.
CHIAKI: [in bland sing-song] Back in 2000…
MIRANDA: I think, Miss Crocodilia or somebody, when she smelled “a yummy duck” when Duck was still stuck as a duck… Was pretty good.
VRAI: It’s good.
MIRANDA: I just love seeing them because… just a funny way.
CHIAKI: Breaks it up.
VRAI: Those very overt fantastical elements are cute.
MIRANDA: Yeah. It’s also cool to see other students from different classes because I thought this was just a ballet school, but it’s also an arts school. So, that’s cool.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Oh, God, when Tutu restores the power of heterosexuality to that one girl…
VRAI: I fail to see the problem this young woman is having. She just wants to draw the pretty, popular girl.
VRAI: [laughs] Like, okay, show. Sometimes you’re really straight.
MIRANDA: I was also a little mad that we didn’t get to see her after. She’s just… who knows, after?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Yeah!
VRAI: [crosstalk] Now you see her go back to painting fruits.
CHIAKI: Anteaterina, everyone’s kinda like, “Yeah, you’re gone now. You’re good. Your role is done.”
MIRANDA: Actually dead to me. [chuckles]
VRAI: Solved it!
CHIAKI: I will also note Drosselmeyer saying, “A story doesn’t need two heroines, does it?” And I’m like, “Mm, I read too much yuri manga to…”
VRAI: Again, I adore this show and all the main characters are very shippable, but there are certain moments where it is just intensely heterosexual. [chuckles] Like, okay. Okay, show.
MIRANDA: [chuckles] Yeah.
VRAI: Mytho has that foreshadowing moment where he talks about “The things I feel for Rue and for Tutu and for you, Fakir, are all different.” I’m like, “Okay, show. Sure they are.” Okay. Now I’m just being a nerd.
VRAI: I think there’ll be plenty of time to talk about it next time, but I would encourage you to… The openings read by Bea Arthur will continue to be important, like the way that they’ve shifted towards not having endings so much as ending on questions and questioning the decisions of characters in the story and whether those are happy or good decisions is a thing that will continue to happen.
MIRANDA: Okay. I like them, so, good.
VRAI: Yes. And if, listeners, you are watching along at home, next time we will be watching episodes 14 to 20, so that’s seven more episodes. You can do it. I believe in you.
And that wraps it up for this episode of the Princess Tutu watchalong. If you liked what you heard, you can find more episodes of Chatty AF on Soundcloud by searching “Chatty AF.” And if you really liked what you heard, you could toss us a dollar on Patreon, which goes a long way towards creating AniFem content on the page and in your earbuds.
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Thank you so much for joining us. Until next time, remember: to those who defy their fate, glory.
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