Episode 3 of our 4-part watchalong of the shoujo classic, Princess Tutu, with Vrai, Chiaki, and special guest Miranda Sanchez!
Date Recorded: Monday 1st April 2019
Hosts: Vrai, Chiaki
0:01:19 Mytho’s Spider-Man 3 Arc
0:05:31 The dub
0:08:45 Pike and Lilie
0:20:36 Fakir’s fanfic
0:25:19 We need to talk about Rue
0:31:57 Midsummer Night’s Dream
0:34:50 Mytho’s shards
VRAI: Hello, AniFam. Welcome back to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast, and our watchalong of Princess Tutu. My name is Vrai. I’m an editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter @writervrai. Find the stuff I do in my pinned thread, or find my other podcast, @trashpod. And with me once again are Miranda and Chiaki.
MIRANDA: Hello! Back again. Very excited. Have so many thoughts.
VRAI: Hooray. Good, good.
MIRANDA: Just a quick introduction, of course. My name’s Miranda Sanchez. I work at IGN as a senior editor. I work on video game content and also a lot of anime stuff as well.
CHIAKI: And hello! I am Chiaki Hirai. I am one of the editors with Anime Feminist, one of the newest ones. Aside from working on the website, I am a beat reporter for a Japanese-American newspaper in San Francisco. You can find me on Twitter, @chiaki747, and it’s a permanently locked account, but go ahead and ask for a follow. I don’t mind.
VRAI: All right. We are into the first half of the… Some people call it the “second season.” The second cour. There we go. Tutu. How are you feeling?
MIRANDA: [groans; laughs]
CHIAKI: That was a lot.
MIRANDA: Ehh… Not the reaction I expected to have?
VRAI: I’m interested, though. I’m interested. Tell me all your thoughts.
MIRANDA: Well, it feels like Mytho has kinda gone Peter Parker a la Spiderman 3.
MIRANDA: And it pains me so much. I adore his little black crown. It’s very cute. The feathers look good on him. But his attitude is too much. I cannot take it. Every time he appears, I’m just like, “Can you stop. Just go away. Someone rip out his heart. Do something. I don’t care.”
VRAI: “We can’t. We removed the plot device for that.” As they will remind you multiple times.
MIRANDA: Yep, so… [groans] It’s kind of a slog. I feel like the last few episodes of these seven that we watched… I… I was sad to be a little bit down. At first I was excited and then as I realized what they were doing… It felt like it was falling back into the patterns of the first half that we’d already kind of seen. It’s like: there’s an encounter, and then Tutu comes in, talks them through their problems, and then it’s over. And then it does the same thing again.
Which is… Because we’ve already seen that, and this is a shorter show, that’s not really what I was looking for. Or, at least, what I was hoping for. I am glad that we get more Fakir and Rue, though, so…
VRAI: [quietly] They’re both so good.
MIRANDA: That’s good.
VRAI: [chuckles] How about you, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: I definitely… I kind of dub this as “The Giggolo Arc” in my opinion.
CHIAKI: Because, yeah. Mytho just kinda became… took a 180, as far as his character goes. For one, I was really happy that he has actual emotion now, and I’m so happy about that. But at the same time, he evil.
VRAI: He super evil, though.
VRAI: Like real evil though. And terrible.
VRAI: To everyone.
CHIAKI: And I know it’s the raven’s blood talking there, but don’t you recognize that all the shitty stuff you’re doing right now is the same shitty stuff that was being done to you? Come on, dude.
VRAI: [laughs] It’s bad, yeah. These first episodes do bear a lot of deliberate echoes of the first half of the show, which I can see how it gets a little bit… It’s a little bit of a grind to get back into, because you’ve just got into the rhythm of things escalating magnificently in the first half, and now it’s kind of back to Ground Zero a little bit.
MIRANDA: Yeah, it’s… We got that great payoff, and now it’s like, “Okay! Back to the rhythm of what we had before.”
CHIAKI: The rhythm of the week.
MIRANDA: In a way.
VRAI: Yeah, no, totally. I… This many times in, I sort of appreciate it mechanically, as far as, “Here is the same thing, but everything is subtly different.” But when you’re watching it the first time and you’re really emotionally invested in what’s gonna happen next, it’s like, “Oh, we’re doing this again.”
I’ve definitely had that experience with other shows that do the similar thing. It’s definitely a magical girl thing, where, “All right! You’ve started a new season and here is your new power set, and here is your introductory set of episodic encounters.”
MIRANDA: I think the hard thing there, too, is that Tutu doesn’t even get a new power set. She doesn’t change. She’s still just doing her “Let me talk you through this problem.” Except it’s a different kind of problem, kind of?
VRAI: Right. She’s fighting different putties. But it’s the same. Yeah, I think that that is fair.
Personally, my hangup with this set of episodes is Uzura is really annoying.
MIRANDA: [exasperated] Oh my gosh.
MIRANDA: Every time she comes up, I am also very angry. I’m like, “Don’t you bang that drum, girl. You stop. Please don’t talk. If you’re gonna bang the drum, fine. But don’t talk.”
I feel bad, ’cause her voice actress isn’t the best? And it’s kind of grating to hear her talk and sometimes it’s actually really hard to understand what she’s saying. So it’s just… [groans]
VRAI: Yeah. I’m not sure if they picked an actual child voice actor in the dub or if they’ve just got some woman doing a small child’s voice, but it is grating. I recall this very clearly. And I appreciate what they’re trying to do with the character is… Everybody is questioning their roles, and she is somebody who is literally born anew of the ashes of a puppet, but she’s really annoying, though.
MIRANDA: Yeah. [laughs]
VRAI: It’s a lot. And— Hmm?
CHIAKI: You were watching it in Japanese, right?
VRAI: I am, yeah.
CHIAKI: Is she as annoying as in the English dub?
VRAI: Oh. Oh, rest assured, she’s always extremely irritating.
MIRANDA: You can’t escape it. No matter what we do.
VRAI: No. It is not a Femio situation.
VRAI: I was realizing as I watched this spate of episodes that I think this is the first time I’ve gone… I’ve watched the Japanese dub before, but I think this is the first time I’ve watched it all the way through in Japanese, just because I love Lucy Christian’s Duck so dang much, and I got to the Femio episode, which I’ve always found really tiresome in the past, and it turns out, in Japanese, it’s actually funny. I was shocked.
CHIAKI: I wanna believe.
MIRANDA: Yeah, he’s so much.
VRAI: Yeah. Don’t worry, listeners. Not only is Vic Mignogna a shit person, he’s also a terrible actor who drags down an episode with a really exhausting performance.
MIRANDA: [sighs] Yeah.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah. His Japanese performer is doing an almost Akio-in-Utena type voice. It’s upsettingly deep for the character design, and it’s very, very funny.
MIRANDA: [laughs] What the heck?
VRAI: Yeah, and they have done this weird reverb on half of his lines. It’s good. It’s absurd. And it does not translate into the dub at all.
MIRANDA: That’s how it should be. It should be absurd.
MIRANDA: That’s perfect.
VRAI: Yeah, I… This time around, watching that episode, it felt very much—speaking of Utena—like one of the Nanami episodes. Both of you have seen Utena, right?
MIRANDA: Oh, yes.
CHIAKI: I haven’t. I’m sorry.
VRAI: [gasps] Oh, shit. Oh, shit.
CHIAKI: It’s okay. It’s okay. You can spoil it all you like.
VRAI: I mean, this isn’t… The Nanami episodes tend to be the most absurd because just comically terrible things happen to her, but then they’ll turn around and also be the most stealth, stab-you-in-the-gut saddest episodes when you sit and think about them. And I feel like the Femio episode is that for Rue.
MIRANDA: That makes a lot of sense.
CHIAKI: Okay, I can see that.
MIRANDA: That’s a great parallel. And she’s a great character, so… She’s so good.
VRAI: Good. She’s really good. Yeah, there was a lot of Utena vibes in this. The overall [vibe] kind of reminded me of Black Rose—of the Black Rose saga, a little bit.
MIRANDA: Yeah! Yeah. I was thinking that too. It’s like, “Huh.”
VRAI: Pika’s got some real Wakaba vibes going on.
MIRANDA: Yeah! I love how much more involved they have been in this part. Lilie’s just so devious and I love that they’ve just let that shine. Just like, unabashedly. “We’re hosting a heartbreak party.” She’s celebrating it, and I love it! It’s like, “Who does that?!” Truly.
VRAI: She’s a terrible sadist, and I love that.
MIRANDA: [sighs] Yeah.
VRAI: But that might be the show’s funniest running character joke, is that this weirdly-supportive best friend is a bloodthirsty sadist. It’s so good.
MIRANDA: Yeah, I feel like I rarely ever see a character like that, too. And that’s what I always look for whenever I’m watching a new show. It’s like, “Okay, yes, what sort of interesting things are you doing? Your direction, your story? But what about your characters? Do you have anybody that’s bringing something really new to the table?” And she definitely does that.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, it’s… Even going forward into modern stuff, it is not a joke I have seen reused too often.
MIRANDA: Yeah, which is a shame, ’cause it’s fantastic. [laughs]
CHIAKI: I mean, even if it is, it’s generally people who are really, really into being sadists and not really being supportive.
VRAI: Right, in, like, a fetish-y way almost.
MIRANDA: Yeah. Yeah.
VRAI: Or it tips into something like… What was the most recent show that did it? Chio’s School Road had the weird… I feel like it turns into “predatory lesbian” really fast. This walks a very careful balance where it is absurd but also fairly harmless, because the show’s established its slapstick so well, and, like you said, she is kind of there for her. And Duck also doesn’t realize how horrible she is? It’s a careful tightrope that I’m kind of impressed by.
MIRANDA: Right. And I think, at the end of the day, she’s usually goading on things that she knows Duck likes or is mostly willing or into? Except for the Fakir stuff, which, maybe she’s right about that too. Who knows?
VRAI: We just don’t know!
MIRANDA: [laughs] But it is… I dunno. I just love her. She’s great.
VRAI: Yeah, I did wanna ask—can’t get enough segues—how you guys are feeling about the sort of heavier focus on romance? Love stories were a big part of the first half, but this is more about romance as a narrative plot goal, I guess, rather than characters being in love and that driving some of their actions. If that makes sense. Essentially, everybody is very concerned with whether Duck and Fakir are going to get together.
MIRANDA: [laughs] Yeah. First of all, I don’t want that. I think they’re a great pair. Great friends. Let them be friends, I think. I think they’re good that way.
It’s good to have a great pal who understands you in a different way and you can be supportive of each other, and that’s kind of how I see them. But, I do like that it’s trying to explore what romance is. And what that means for every person in different points of life as well.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah. Each… As much as it kind of sucks to grind down into doing the weekly monster-of-the-week thing again, it does give the show the opportunity to look at these different character snapshots, which is neat.
MIRANDA: Yeah. I think the last episode with… I think I saw her name spelled “Rachel” somewhere, but they call her “Retzel?”
VRAI: Yeah, that’s… It has to be because it’s a reference to a story or a ballet. I didn’t look it up. Sign off in the comments!
MIRANDA: Yeah, so I’ll call her “Retzel,” I guess. It just reminds me of food. It’s very weird.
MIRANDA: Anyway… Yeah!
MIRANDA: So, with her, I think her throughline of romance is really interesting ’cause they’ve told us these romantic stories before, but I think this one is interesting ’cause it skews older, and kind of seeing her work through her own emotions for two men that she’s cared about for a long time is interesting, because we generally deal with, you know, kids. So, I think it’s cool seeing them be involved in that, at least.
VRAI: Yeah. I mean, for a given value of “older,” considering the ages of the protagonists, Retzel is probably like 17 or 18, ’cause she has that tossed line of, “You know, it’s not unusual for people my age to start getting married,” and I’m like, “Okay, you’re still a teenager.”
MIRANDA: Oh yeah. She looks super young. If she was playing with Mytho and Fakir when they were younger, then she’s not that much older. So… Yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, but it is really interesting. I like that episode, given… It enforces that somebody isn’t monstrous if they like somebody… more than one “somebody,” as it were.
VRAI: That… That was so sweet. It just proves how much you love them! [softly] I’m like, “Oh! Good Duck! Good Duck preparing for the good polyamorous feels in your heart, you disaster bisexual.”
CHIAKI: Oh dear.
VRAI: I love… Her episode with Freya, my god! This girl. [laughs] But I also really like that her feelings for her father-figure are hers. He’s clearly not entertaining this. And it is a legitimate hardship for her that she’s not ready to give this up, but the show isn’t also like, “Maybe there’s a forbidden love with the man who raised her as a small child.” No! Not that, though.
MIRANDA: Yeah. It’s like she can be confused about her feelings, and then work through and understand them. By the end of the episode, they do state that she figured that out and what that means to her, and that’s good.
VRAI: It is good. It is nice. And I… Speaking of Freya, I do like that her episode isn’t about being in love with someone at all. She’s just really into gardening. My God. Loves that gardening.
MIRANDA: Yeah. She’s so extra when she waters flowers. [laughs]
VRAI: Duck is impressed. And flustered.
MIRANDA: I’m also impressed. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Who wouldn’t be?
CHIAKI: I mean, doesn’t everyone feel a little wet when they water their gardens?
VRAI: Yeah… Oh, yeah. That’s common knowledge, in fact.
MIRANDA: [laughs] That’s how you keep the flowers happy.
VRAI: And I love… As much as the “literally everybody wondering about Fakir and Duck” can be a little bit I think “traditionally shoujo” that the show gets—in terms of schoolgirl shoujo—I like that the show keeps bringing it up in terms of… Lilie wants it to be, “Now you have to fight other girls!” And Duck is very confused and doesn’t want to do this.
MIRANDA: Yeah. I like that she’s been challenging these notions that they’re kind of pressuring on her and letting them have their fun with it in a way, but also we get to hear her internally figure that out as well, too.
VRAI: Yeah, and it’s a nice message to see rejected in a… ‘Cause I feel like Western animation is also only just getting to this, so I don’t wanna throw shade at anime, but I feel like, especially for an anime that came out in the early 2000s, having a show tell girls, “You know, you don’t actually need to ruin your friendships if you both like a guy.” It’s nice and good and this is a good show for children.
MIRANDA: [laughs] Yeah.
VRAI: It just always makes me happy when I see that come up in shows aimed at younger audiences. Especially since Tutu is basically the embodiment of therapy.
MIRANDA: Yes. Duck’s gonna be a great therapist when she grows up. She’s gonna figure out a bunch of problems for people and help them work through it.
CHIAKI: Or help them at least dance through it.
MIRANDA: Yeah. [laughs]
VRAI: I’m sorry, is dance therapy not the preferred form of therapy?
CHIAKI: Isn’t it the only form of therapy in this world?
VRAI: Yes. That’s what makes it magical.
MIRANDA: [laughs] I need to find a new therapist.
VRAI: I was… I feel like these episodes do push it a little bit wrong-noted with the marriage stuff. I feel like the Freya episode hits the wrong note, just a little bit, with the, “Oh no, I don’t wanna marry this ugly girl!” gag, which is what it essentially is. “I might enjoy creeping on my students, but I want it to be the hot one!” I’m like, “Mm, you hit a sour note with that joke there.”
MIRANDA: Yeah, I feel like generally the Mr. Cat stuff has been goofy and then…
CHIAKI: I feel he’s getting more airtime, especially, in this arc. He’s suddenly become the love guru.
VRAI: Which is a weird choice, right?
MIRANDA: I don’t understand, but I did like when he was freaking out so much about—who was it?—when Retzel came in and was talking about getting married and he just flipped his shit and was so happy and excited for his student. So I was like, “Okay. That’s good, I think.”
VRAI: Although, also, the low-key despair. “One of my students is getting married before me! That’s great!”
VRAI: That’s funny. I liked that. But, yeah. I feel like it wants to have an older character whose role is to be a little bit wise and pull back these young characters who have these very fantastical and unrealistic ideas about love. And some of the episodes last time that we talked about did that surprisingly well, but now it’s almost like, “Oh no, this is the only character we have who can deliver those lines, but also, he’s terrible.”
MIRANDA: “Oh, we only built in this one, so it’s what you’re stuck with.”
VRAI: “We only have one teacher. Fuck!”
MIRANDA: [laughs] That’s curious, too. It’s like, where are all their other teachers? I guess they’re not important.
VRAI: Yeah, it is definitely kind of to the show’s benefit that it can shrug its shoulders and be like, “[noncommittal noise] Magic?”
MIRANDA: Yeah. [chuckles] I feel like there’s been a lot more of that. It’s like, “Oh, but yes, magic.”
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, almost ever since Rue acknowledged that Drosselmeyer is there, it’s like we’ve… Drosselmeyer has a lot of monologues about how things are going on behind-the-scenes, which I feel like has a lot of impact here.
MIRANDA: Yes. Including that shadowy figure that we will apparently learn more about soon, I think, based on the last…
CHIAKI: I thought that was Drosselmeyer.
VRAI: Yeah. They’ve actually introduced all of the very important characters in these episodes.
VRAI: But you may not have realized it yet.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that shadow… The hooded figure that’s been sneaking around the shadows and stealing ends of stories… Pretty sure that’s someone… What if it’s Mr. Cat? What if that’s why he’s been so prominent?
VRAI: That would be quite a twist.
MIRANDA: I doubt it. I doubt it.
CHIAKI: Yeah, who would it be? It’s Uzura. [laughs]
VRAI: Yes. That is the… That would be a good reason why there would be such an annoying child character who you can’t be rid of.
VRAI: It’s… [mumbles despondently]
VRAI: This is as good a time as any to talk about… I had forgotten that this run of episodes would end with the second episode about Fakir’s backstory, which is kind of the last most important paradigm shift for the show, and this idea about making stories that are real. I wanna know how you felt about that episode.
MIRANDA: Surprised? Also sad, ’cause the crows killed his parents! That’s so rude!
VRAI: [through laughter] He’s Batman!
CHIAKI: Yeah, that was pretty dark.
MIRANDA: Yeah! [laughs] Okay, so there’s actually been a lot of dark stuff in this run. Very slight tangent. With the ghost knight, he slashed his wife in half? Geez!
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a bloodless show, but it gets remarkably dark in the back half. It’s why I probably wouldn’t give it to anybody younger than 10.
MIRANDA: Yeah. But with Fakir, it’s curious, because obviously it’s this repressed thing, and then there’s that teaser for the next episode saying that someone is the descendant of Drosselmeyer, and obviously they’re kind of teasing probably Fakir if he was really writing these stories that had the power to come to life.
And that’s curious, ’cause did he write himself into the prince role? —Not the prince, sorry. The knight role. Was the knight actually dead this whole time? He’s not actually the knight and he just… I dunno. Just kinda filling in?
VRAI: That’s a lot.
MIRANDA: Yeah, but at the same time, he does have the scars, so who knows?
CHIAKI: I mean, the scars kind of clearly cast him in that role, right?
CHIAKI: I’m thinking he’s both. Both a writer and the knight. Maybe he’s writing a self-insert fanfic.
VRAI: The solution to everything is fanfic. I feel like this is a strong narrative reading that we can do of the show. I mean, I’m joking, but I’m also not, because half the reason the story has been as un-tragic as it has before is that two characters who die and have almost no lines have done a whole lot of stuff.
MIRANDA: That’s true.
VRAI: That is… What is the purpose of fanfiction, if not to take characters that the author didn’t give a shit about and give them eternal life?
MIRANDA: Yeah. Absolutely true.
VRAI: Fanfiction: it’s good, actually.
CHIAKI: God, fanfiction… Fakir is a shipping god. Who knew?
VRAI: That’s right. Hell yes. Fakir, king and idol of the fanfiction community.
VRAI: This is good.
MIRANDA: I feel so—
VRAI: I like this.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s… It kind of completely reassigns this whole thing of who has agency and what amount of control is there and can you change the story from inside the story?
MIRANDA: Right, and someone’s obviously, I think, pushing Fakir to do that. Like I was saying earlier, he was stealing all the ends of those stories, so he has to figure out what’s the next step. And I do like that this is potentially driving him to work more with Tutu, because… or Duck, ’cause Duck came to him like, “I need you to do this! You can change it!”
And obviously he’s scared for very good reasons, ’cause I’m sure whenever he was a very small child writing about being a hero and the crows, he was not prepared. And so…
VRAI: Yeah, that’s a big part of this, too, is that, in order to keep this from being a literal Deus Ex Machina, his power doesn’t work or it works horribly.
MIRANDA: Right. And it’s kind of… I dunno. I’m really interested to see how that all plays out, just because… Was it actually his fault, or did he just write a bad story ’cause he was a child?
VRAI: Mm-hm. Right. Because children are bad writers, actually.
MIRANDA: He added those details in there.
CHIAKI: Maybe it was a comma issue.
VRAI: Oh snap. This is why the Oxford comma is literally a life-or-death matter, children.
MIRANDA: Always use it. It’s just the right choice.
CHIAKI: I refuse.
VRAI: AP tried to warn you. [gasps]
CHIAKI: I am still—
VRAI: [flatly] Oh, we can’t be friends anymore.
CHIAKI: AP style to the death.
MIRANDA: We have to have a dance battle.
CHIAKI: AP style to the death.
MIRANDA: I’m also AP style. But also, choose the Oxford comma. [laughs]
VRAI: God, I’m learning so much. It’s like people I don’t even recognize anymore.
CHIAKI: I know.
VRAI: It’s okay. I don’t have… So, we kind of haven’t talked about Rue, at all yet? And that’s… We need to talk about Rue.
CHIAKI: I want to give her a hug.
VRAI: Please give Rue a hug. I’m starting a charity to give hugs to Rue.
MIRANDA: Yeah, it was really nice to know she’s not actually the raven, and some of those theories that I kinda had are kinda correct? She’s related to the raven, but she is not the raven. And she needs help.
VRAI: [tearfully] She needs so much help!
VRAI: I do… Since you guys are both watching the dub—I almost wish you had access to the Japanese audio, but her name is “Kraehe,” but the way it’s pronounced in the Japanese audio is “kureru,” which I think… It has the “Rue” appended at the end there which I think is maybe a play on words that gets a little bit lost in translation with also the German stuff on top.
VRAI: Just… “Oh no, this was a part of you all along.” But, yeah. She has a horrible abusive parent who tells her she’s unlovable every day and is constantly gaslighting her? And it’s terrible.
MIRANDA: Yeah. And is constantly threatening her?
CHIAKI: God. He needs to get away.
VRAI: Yeah, Duck and Rue both have these back-and-forth conversations about whether Rue is a real person or not—and I don’t know how deeply the show meant to go into this, ’cause it’s touching on some dark stuff, but it is kinda for children at the end of the day. But the fact that she almost loses the person she is when she was happy because of the ingratiating, malleable person she tries to be when she’s with her father… It makes me really sad. It’s like this very incidental sad conversation about what constant abuse does.
MIRANDA: Yeah. Obviously when she was just Rue, she separated from that and she got to be herself and just worry about dance and school, and now that she’s gone back to being Kraehe and adjusting to all of this, she has to refocus her priorities to something that’s really awful.
VRAI: Mm-hm. And it definitely adds a much darker underpinning to, like we talked about, the kind of natural teenage inclination to not really know what mutual love is, but to just be desperate for somebody to love you and to have that badge of honor. It’s much darker now.
MIRANDA: Yeah. It makes a lot more sense as to why she was happy with literally anything. Even if Mytho wasn’t actually himself, him saying “I love you,” that still meant the world to her. And seeing her father, that makes a lot of sense, unfortunately.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah. That is something that Mytho… Who is now Peter Parker, I accept this. I demand that somebody animate him walking down and doing the finger guns at people.
CHIAKI: Oh my God.
MIRANDA: Oh no! [laughs] I already see it!
VRAI: It’s really good, isn’t it?
CHIAKI: All right, gimme a few minutes. I’ll hook it up.
VRAI: Yes! Good. I have the power to make things happen and I’m using that power for evil.
VRAI: But, a lot of Mytho’s dialogue… It’s unspoken there, with Rue, is this idea of “What does it mean to love someone versus to be loved?” ‘Cause Mytho, as he’s poisoned, is looking to be loved, but these people don’t mean anything to him. Which is what Rue was supposedly doing in the first half, but is clearly becoming not true of her. She does genuinely love him, even though he’s horrible to her. Which is not necessarily good, but also, she’s not in a good place either.
MIRANDA: Yeah, and I kind of wonder how long she’s going to be willing to take that abuse from Mytho, especially, because I agree in thinking that she absolutely cares for him in her own way, even the way she was willing to let that happen before was really awful.
I do believe in her love for him, and seeing him change into a different person kind of goes against what she wanted since the very beginning, and she’s just believing that this is gonna be a person that will love her, but he’s not at all? So…
VRAI: There is something very upsetting in the implication that she keeps insisting that he’s turning into someone who will love her, and he’s starting to become someone who parrots her father’s abusive statements at her. That is horribly upsetting.
MIRANDA: Yeah. Ooh.
CHIAKI: There is that concept of cycle of abuse… You kind of seek out people because that’s what you’re used to, but at the same time, I feel… There has to be a breaking point.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah. Yeah, it cannot… I’ll definitely be interested to come back and talk about that with you two in the next episode. I think Rue’s character arc bears a lot of conversation, as it were.
MIRANDA: Okay. I hope… I just want the best for her. I want Tutu to run in there, just grab her, just take her out, and just team up together and there’s a lot of hugs and hot chocolate or something. I don’t care. Just some good, comforting moments, ’cause she definitely needs it. And I think you can see every time she meets up with her father, she’s worn down more and more and more, and she’s just threatened even further, and it’s hard to watch.
VRAI: Yeah, her body language and the vocal performance are just so fragile.
MIRANDA: [sadly] Yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a lot.
MIRANDA: She got rejected, and now she has to do all this? Ugh.
VRAI: Yeah, and I feel like that theme of: “What does it mean to love someone? Is love infinitely selfless? At what point does self-care enter into that conversation?” Are these questions that the show intends to answer? ‘Cause it’s definitely raising those ideas of: what is selfless? What is selfish? When is each okay and how do you need to balance them?
VRAI: It’s so weird to me that, in the second half, they put the Midsummer Night’s Dream episode. That’s such a comedy of errors that is not even one of the deeper commentaries of Shakespeare plays. I mean, I suspect it’s because it’s about a group of four people who has crossed affections, and then it shakes out that everybody ends up with the right person. I suspect that is why the writing team has chosen it.
VRAI: But it is also kind of… It’s cute. The nice dancer and the nice sculptor, they like each other. That’s all right. That’s fine.
CHIAKI: I dunno, that statue was a little creepy. It’s like… [skeptical noise].
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a little…
MIRANDA: I was shocked. I was like, “Oh. Okay. Turn around.”
VRAI: “How long have you been doing this?”
MIRANDA: “Turn around, girl. Turn around.”
VRAI: “Just walk away, baby. Maybe you’re 13 and walk away.” —Excuse me. She’s an upperclassman. She may be as old as 14.
CHIAKI: Big difference there.
VRAI: Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know so much about the world at fourteen. Anime would like you to know that, with all of its 14-year-old protagonists.
MIRANDA: Yeah. I feel like… I was actually looking… I was like, “Which episode is that?” I was like, “Oh yes! Episode 19, I think?” Actually didn’t really really write that many notes for it, ’cause it felt kind of throwaway, in a way.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s very much a breather episode. It is almost purely there for the love letter shenanigans.
MIRANDA: I think the only… Yeah. I saw “Ahiru” was on the letter, and it’s like, “Why didn’t you guys put ‘Duck?’ That’s silly.” Maybe it’s just from the Japanese one.
VRAI: Oh, that’s… It is. The Japanese lettering is written in English, and I think they just didn’t go through… And also, like I said, I think the HiDive release is just the Japanese video, ’cause it doesn’t… I’ve watched one or two episodes on that service, and it doesn’t seem to have even the sort of basic add-ons and corrections and incidental text that the home release does in the dub. So it’s just kind of… Well, it’s better than nothing.
MIRANDA: At least I can watch it, and I can’t wait to buy the full version whenever it goes on sale next on Sentai.
VRAI: Yay! I’ve heard it’s also on Prime, but I don’t know if that is also dub-only.
VRAI: I haven’t checked into that one.
MIRANDA: I’ll check that right after this.
VRAI: The possibilities are endless. I feel like shifting audio tracks three-quarters of the way through the show might be dangerous, dangerous, dangerous indeed.
MIRANDA: I feel like I’ve done worse things.
MIRANDA: I’m willing to check it out.
Oh! I guess in episode 19, we also did learn the one very important thing there, aside from “Romance is wack,” and devotion’s weird. The shards… The rest of the shards in Mytho’s heart are with the raven.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s a big deal.
MIRANDA: Which makes sense, ’cause that was the whole thing. He had to break his heart so he could keep down the raven, and what does undoing all of that entail for everybody in the story, and for Mytho, and will they actually go back to the book? Ugh.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, before he gets tainted by evil, Mytho talks very nonchalantly about he’ll just go back to his story, but what does that mean? I think the show is starting to get into deeper questions of… People mention a lot, “Well, you can’t stop the story now,” and I think this is… It’s another case of… Duck has thought she wants to do a good thing, and she did do a good thing, but when you’re young, you don’t realize that some changes are irreversible and they’re bigger than you think they are.
VRAI: [breezily] It’s a good metaphor for life.
VRAI: But, yeah. The heart shards on the raven are definitely a big part of that, ’cause, well— “You can finish your job, and you will set a cataclysmic event in motion. Good luck!”
MIRANDA: Yeah, that raven not only seems huge, but also is obviously super evil. So…
VRAI: Just real super evil. And Drosselmeyer seems chill with all of this, as long as it’s entertaining. Because he’s terrible.
CHIAKI: I mean, he wants to see them suffer, after all. That’s the one clear thing that we’ve always seen.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, he really takes a backseat role for these episodes. He’s there at the mid-act break, but he doesn’t interfere much, except the one time. Specifically to say, “Oh, hey, by the way, here’s this terrible, looming thing in your future.”
MIRANDA: Yeah, Drosselmeyer was also, I think, kind of scared in [the] episode 18 thing with the ghost knight. He was kind of freaking out that there’s something else happening that he can’t control anymore. So, I’m curious what that means going forward, ’cause it hasn’t really been touched on since, so… Hmm.
CHIAKI: I mean, going by Fakir being a potential descendant and having the power to control stories, maybe there was some unconscious writing going on.
VRAI: God, I am just enchanted, now, at the idea of Fakir as a corrective fanfiction writer. That’s good.
VRAI: I’m just delighted. It’s… Mm, yes. Good. Who among us cannot relate to my son?
CHIAKI: Totally fair. Playing right into you.
VRAI: Oh, that would be weird.
MIRANDA: Is this what Fakir goes on to do after the story is done? He’s just like, “All right, time to go write some fanfiction and fix some stories.”
VRAI: Good! Good.
MIRANDA: I like it.
VRAI: Yeah, I think that’s sort of the last big thing we haven’t touched on yet for this run of episodes, is the idea of who has what role? And the fact that even though we’ve ostensibly started over, all the characters are struggling and questioning and trying to find… Either they’ve been shoved into new purposes, and they’ve embraced that, and it’s gotten very bad for them, or they are sort of struggling with who they are and what they want to do.
CHIAKI: I feel—
MIRANDA: It feels kind of— Oh, please go ahead.
CHIAKI: Oh, okay. I feel like Rue’s kind of become… Even though she’s evil, she’s also become the damsel in distress in the situation, which is kind of unfortunate. I would have loved [for] her to… Even if she was gonna be evil, I would have just loved her if she was plain evil.
MIRANDA: At least having more control over it.
VRAI: Yeah, yeah. I know what you mean. Watching this set of episodes, both the male characters really take center stage in some ways. I mean, Mytho is sort of a damsel in his own way, but because it involves his body being puppeted by evil, he’s also, paradoxically, very active.
MIRANDA: Yeah. He’s empowered to do things, even though it’s not himself.
VRAI: Yeah. And, meanwhile, Fakir is finding out a whole lot of things about himself, but Duck is that kind of very straightforward sort of heroine, so she hasn’t really stepped back and thought about who she is and where she belongs, ever since accepting that she’s Princess Tutu. So, she’s been very there and she’s very good, but she hasn’t had as much growth.
MIRANDA: Right. Definitely feels more stagnant. Just like, “Hey, Fakir, we’re friends! I need you to help me do this thing, ’cause you’re the one who’s gonna do it.”
MIRANDA: It’s like, “Aw, I want Tutu to have a more active role in this and figure out how to fix it.”
What was I gonna say? I was gonna say something about Rue. Oh! Her role is also kind of weird, because her context in the story doesn’t make sense anymore, ’cause she’s not the raven. Who is she?
VRAI: Who, indeed?
MIRANDA: Oh no!
VRAI: [laughs] This is fun. Now I see why that old creep enjoys this.
MIRANDA: Just wants to see everyone being flustered, and…
VRAI: Just being generally and nebulously ominous at people is delightful.
CHIAKI: It’s good.
MIRANDA: What are you supposed to do? It’s kinda weird, ’cause I felt so confident coming into this, knowing who everyone was and what their roles are, what they were supposed to do… Even though the whole point, I think, of the first half is fitting your role and choosing whether or not you wanna do that. And this seems very… That doesn’t even matter anymore. They’re just kinda doing their own thing.
VRAI: Mm, yeah.
Nobody’s really commented in this part of the story about the fact that this is a magic town where strange things happen to people while they’re here, specifically. It’s a closed circle.
MIRANDA: Right. Hmm.
VRAI: And Fakir is having to struggle with the fact that he can’t do the traditionally manly thing that he feels like he needs to do.
MIRANDA: Right, and Mytho keeps goading him on for it. Just like, “Oh, you couldn’t even die at the right time!” Like, please. Stop.
VRAI: Right, ’cause the manly thing is to fight and to die, and Fakir can’t do that, because he’s afraid and wants to live, which is good! Those are good things!
VRAI: But they’re not traditionally masculine things, and now he’s being pushed into doing art. Which, you know, everybody is an artist in this show, but for him, it’s very much about having to put aside the fact that he is heroic, but he has to find a different definition of what heroism is.
MIRANDA: It was good seeing him getting shut down with the whole ghost knight thing. This isn’t… No. Stop. You’re wrong.
VRAI: Please do stop. He’s come so far.
CHIAKI: And I see so much conflict with him, too. Because he’s pouring over all those books going, “Why aren’t these stories containing any kind of ending at all?” And he’s looking for answers through those endings, right? So, he’s confused and scared even more.
VRAI: Right, this idea of “A story doesn’t have meaning unless it has an ending,” is kind of a big deal. And it’s an interesting thought. We have so many stories… I think anime is unique in some ways and people like it for, you know, you have your 26 episodes and you’re done, but also, shoujo and shounen in particular have these long, long, long, long-running series that just never end and it’s about the journey, and does a story need an ending in order to have meaning?
MIRANDA: Right. And I guess maybe this path going off the rails a bit makes sense, in a way, because a story in particular does not have an ending. Drosselmeyer didn’t write it, and now they’re just kind of off-the-rails and no one knows what’s gonna happen.
VRAI: That happens when you just keep writing a story ad infinitum too, right? The characters lose their sense of who they are and it becomes—I feel like, a lot of times, a worse story—but, by needs, a different story. You know, looking at things that are within the Harry Potter universe after those… after the initial story. If you asked somebody in 2008 what those books were and what kind of story it was, or if you ask somebody today, they would give you two very different answers.
VRAI: I’m a nerd about this kind of thing.
VRAI: It’s interesting to me.
MIRANDA: Oh, it is! Maybe… yeah, I guess the solution here is that “Fakir writes the end of the story” kind of seems to be what they’re pushing toward, so… interesting.
VRAI: Yeah, hopefully he sucks less by then.
VRAI: He did kill his parents.
MIRANDA: Somehow develops his skills as a writer even though he stopped writing… He’s read a lot. Read a lot of things. That bodes well.
VRAI: That’s a point in his favor. Lots of reading.
MIRANDA: Yeah, that’s important in honing your talents.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s also… Dance has been an important way of communicating emotion, but these episodes have definitely emphasized that all art tells stories and communicates feelings, which I think is kind of nice, because dance is very hard. Dance is an exclusionary art, especially ballet.
MIRANDA: Oh, yeah.
VRAI: Most ballet dancers will have incredibly intensive surgeries on their ankles or knees by the time they’re 35 at the latest.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a very beautiful art, but only a very small number of people can do it, so it… It’s nice that… Flowers are good, and sculpture is good, and painting is good, and plays are good. It’s all good, just as long as you’re communicating how you feel about things.
VRAI: It’s ultimately a small and throwaway thing, but I like it.
MIRANDA: Me too. As someone who cannot dance.
MIRANDA: Especially as someone who cannot dance.
VRAI: Yeah, I hope that they’ve put them onto the DVDs. The original Pioneer ones included these very cute little segments that were ballet for beginners, which tell you some of the basic terminology and what poses look like. They’re really cute little extras that they put together.
CHIAKI: And I could have used that.
MIRANDA: Is that through Tutu? Does she teach those?
VRAI: No, no, it’s a little live-action explainer. They weren’t on the original Japanese DVDs. They actually went out and made them for the American release. It was a really nice touch.
MIRANDA: Oh, that’s really cool.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, it’s neat. They’re short little videos, but it’s cool. Especially if this inspires a young viewer or an older viewer. It’s not like you can’t do ballet when you’re older. You’re just never gonna go pro at it, and also it will fuck up your legs because it’s a very vertical art.
VRAI: Yeah, I’m constantly surprised by how nice a release that original one was. The original covers are very cute because it’s… All of them are each of the four leads in different show costumes and posed to dance with one another, and it’s…
VRAI: Yeah, it’s good. It’s good. I miss when home video releases for anime actually had some extra shine on them. And I feel like streaming is really good, but that’s the one sort of thing we’ve lost is that there’s not as much emphasis on when it comes out on video. It’s not as big an event. It’s just kind of an extra thing for collectors.
MIRANDA: Right, it’s collectors or people who are trying to save older licenses for their libraries.
VRAI: My extremely expensive collection because they keep yanking things unceremoniously from streaming. [whispers] It’s terrifying.
MIRANDA: Yeah, it’s like I’ve been trying to make sure… if this is my favorite thing, I will own it, just in case.
VRAI: Because it could go at any time!
MIRANDA: You never know.
VRAI: And you just wouldn’t know. It’s upsetting.
VRAI: So, next time, we’re gonna be watching the last six episodes of the series, and I want to know what you think is going to happen.
MIRANDA: Okay. Hmm… Chiaki, would you like to go first?
CHIAKI: So, I mean, I know we’ve been figuring Fakir might be the descendant for Drosselmeyer, but I wanna also say: what if it’s the library boy?
VRAI: Hmm. Interesting.
CHIAKI: I know he’s probably the throwaway focus of the week, but what if? I just want to see Library Boy shine. He’s been so angry.
VRAI: You’re a big fan of Library-chan.
VRAI: He’s so mad.
CHIAKI: All the time.
MIRANDA: Rightfully so.
VRAI: People coming in and having dramatic scenes in his library. It’s upsetting.
MIRANDA: I’m thinking if Uzura got anywhere near me, I’d be very upset, so…
VRAI: It’s hard to portray small children in media and all, but ugh, she’s pwecious. Just terribly pwecious.
CHIAKI: She’s gonna be important, isn’t she? That much I can…
VRAI: I have no comment on any future plot events.
CHIAKI: But I’m just saying, she’s been introduced. She’s gonna do something important that’s uncharacteristically adult of her. Whatever.
VRAI: Because it would be entirely soul-crushing if this character were introduced and had no narrative purpose?
CHIAKI: Aside from being annoying? Yeah.
VRAI: [laughs] Impossible to contemplate.
MIRANDA: Well, this is anime, so…
VRAI: That’s true.
MIRANDA: I think she’s… yeah.
VRAI: [laughs] All right. Library-chan. Got it.
MIRANDA: I’m gonna believe that the descendant is Lilie. If we’re voting for anybody here. She loves chaos.
VRAI: I feel like that would be so bad.
VRAI: It’d be bad for literally everyone.
MIRANDA: It’d be the worst. But it would make so much sense.
VRAI: It would be like the end of Anime-Gataris instead.
MIRANDA: [laughs] Yeah, nah, I think she’s gonna keep doing what she’s doing.
Yeah, Library Boy probably makes a lot of sense considering he also, I would assume, loves stories if he’s in a library.
VRAI: They are where books happen.
MIRANDA: I think Rue’s gonna come around and betray her father and probably try to help Mytho get out that blood. It’s bad. Very bad blood.
VRAI: It’s very bad. [flatly] You might say they’ve got bad blood.
Oh, I hate myself for that.
VRAI: Peter, don’t cut that. Show my shame to the world.
MIRANDA: What else? Hmm. I’m just curious how Tutu fits in aside from just helping talk through… I would like to see her develop in some sort of way, because, like we were saying before, it doesn’t really feel like she’s changed much. She’s still the nice, caring—
MIRANDA: Ooh, dog.
VRAI: Yeah, he’s helping.
MIRANDA: —girl, so…
VRAI: Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of her time to step up and make a decisive decision on who she is and who she wants her story to be about.
VRAI: I believe in her. She’s a good girl. She is my daughter. They’re all such good children.
MIRANDA: Yeah. And I’m really curious, because the show’s tried so hard to shy away from violence, and Tutu said violence isn’t the answer. You can work things out in other ways; fighting isn’t gonna solve anything.
So, how does that play in with the raven, who’s very obviously super evil, and will absolutely not dance with Tutu? He will not dance with her. I bet you he would say no. So… how do they solve that? I mean, I guess it has to be something with Mytho, ’cause he’s the one who’s supposed to defeat the raven, but…
CHIAKI: I wanna say if all of them combine their powers, somehow, they’ll defeat the raven. That’s what I’m thinking.
VRAI: Yes, yes. Good. “By your powers combined” is my favorite anime trope. Wait, no. That was Captain Planet. Dang. “The Lord of the Dance,” we can call him.
VRAI: All right. These are good. These are good. I think you ladies will enjoy the last… I’ve never gotten through this show without crying.
CHIAKI: I’ll take that as a challenge.
VRAI: No, it’s not a challenge! I hate when people say that, because crying is a good emotion. Crying means that the show did good.
VRAI: It is merely a statement of fact. I have watched this show three times, and I have cried every single one.
MIRANDA: Wow, okay. I’m ready. I’m actually excited that we recorded this already, ’cause what I do is I turn around and start watching it immediately. ‘Cause I’m really enjoying the show. Even though we did hit a lull, I’m super excited to see how this wraps up, because I’ve always heard just such good things about this show, so… I believe in Tutu.
VRAI: I am glad that you both seem to be, more or less, enjoying it on the whole. It warms my heart.
CHIAKI: Thank you for this opportunity.
VRAI: Aww. Well, we’ll have one more time to see if you still feel that way or if you curse my name next time around.
CHIAKI: Oh, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
VRAI: All right, well, we’ll come back next time to talk about the last few episodes and the series as a whole. Until then, thank you so much for listening to us, AniFam!
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