Princess Tutu Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, March 13, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
What They Say
The once pure prince is undergoing a change of heart - or maybe simply going under. The Raven, though still imprisoned, has begun to flex his talons, directing Kraehe to render unto him a heart that he can devour. Tutu must preserve the hearts of the innocent, but she will have to contend with her nemesis... and her beloved.
The second half of Princess Tutu gets underway and happily ever after proves to be far more interesting than one would think.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. To my surprise, this is one of the few new series from ADV that didn't get a 5.1 mix for its English mix but it still comes across very well with its stereo mix. The show is obviously richly filled with music and that doesn't fail to sound beautiful here at all. Mixed in with both subtle and very outgoing dialogue throughout all the episodes, the stereo mix does a good job of handling the basic directionality and depth that it requires and turns out a solid performance. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for Princess Tutu is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. This is one of those series where the colors and style of coloring used is critical for the shows presentation in that it's a major part of the mood and not just another part of every day life. The slightly washed out and dulled feel, an almost brushed on look in many places, is very well achieved here and the authoring bears it out with wonderfully solid looking backgrounds and very clean looking characters who don't exhibit any noticeable blocking in their large areas of single color. Aliasing is extremely minimal and cross coloration was nowhere to be found. There were a couple of areas where some very slight color gradation could be seen but it didn't make much of an impact for the few seconds it was visible.
The dark cover for this installment isn't quite as enticing as the previous volume but it has an interesting mix to it with Tutu dancing in front of the tree which is done in a lighted framing that has her as a duck an Mytho dancing about it while the background is given over the Drosselmeye's gears. It's lighter than I'd expect considering it's trying to be the darker side of the storyline but it's very good looking. The back cover has a good selection of images through the center while the top half provides the summary of the premise. The bottom half lists the discs episode numbers and titles and rounds it out with the list of extras. The discs technical and production information fill out the very bottom of the listing. The single page insert for this volume has a series of text interviews with the Japanese voice actresses for Rue, Lilie and Pike. The reverse side of the cover has the lighter side of the show but like the front cover it twists it around as well by having the light background accented by Kraehe and Mytho in their raven outfits dancing together.
The main menu is a relaxing piece that uses the artwork of Tutu from the riverside side cover off to the side while the background has a mixture of the sparkles, golden feathers and the moving gears that dominate so many scenes throughout the show. It's a good mix of the bright and happy along with the machinations of Drosselmeyer underneath as the simple instrumental piece plays. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is easy with instant access to each episode. As is standard with ADV releases, our players language presets were properly read and played accordingly.
Similar to the previous volumes, there's a good chunk of extras included for this release. The opening and closing sequences are done in their clean format which is a continual good point. There's also a new English staff commentary for one episode. The one that proved fun to watch for me is the new In the Studio segment that has several of the voice actors going through their lines and working through the performances. New to this volume we get the clean opening and closing to the special split episode that makes up the New Years Special which is basically an 11 minute recap of the first half of the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the closure of the first half of Princess Tutu, the show hit a really high mark and a lot of what happened could have simply close the show out from there. The "Happily Ever After" aspect was basically coming into play but as we know, there can't be a happily ever after for some of those involved in this tale and there are still pieces of the storyline to be played out. Before the series got underway again, a New Years Special was done which provided a half-length episode recap of what came before, which is included in the extras here, that helps to avoid the problem of doing a full recap episode in the midst of the series. Now that's slick.
With Tutu and Mytho having successfully escaped from Kraehe's trap and his heart being returned to him with numerous shards intact, things take a bit of a slower pace as everyone gets back into the swing of dealing with school and life. For the main players, Kraehe is off with her "ravenous" father who has helped to ensure that things will go his way in the future. Kraehe had managed to mix Mytho's heart in raven's blood which means that there are issues to come for him in the future. As her father goes on, only he and the prince from the story are capable of loving her and taking care of her so she's still very intent on acquiring Mytho. Duck is still duck after all that's said and done but she's really curious about where things stand with her and Mytho now which is something that Fakir can see and actually maneuvers events and conversation so that the two of them can unknowingly figure out exactly where they stand.
What's interesting about all of this is that Mytho certainly wants to know who Tutu is but doesn't think that the time is right for it and Duck is finding that her feelings for Mytho are indeed quite strong but they may not exactly be the feelings that she intended. As the story goes according to Drosselmeyer, when all is said and done with the story, her role as a very bit player will end and she'll simply disappear, no longer a part of the story. Should she reveal her love to Mytho, things will end un such a bad way for her that it keeps her from revealing it. But as we see here, her feelings aren't what they were and the growing closeness between her and Fakir is now the most fascinating aspect of the series.
One of the things that we learn early on here is that one of the things that can help Mytho through the problems he's now experiencing is to finish out finding the shards of his heart. Since his mind is now flowing more along the way of the raven and Kraehe's control, being able to reach the inner Mytho and offset some of that becomes something very important that must happen – but the show doesn't turn into a big hunt for the shards. It was a bit more of a focus early on in the series and we saw several of them happen, but as it becomes important again we only get one situation where it occurs in these five episodes. Everything else is given over to different kinds of interactions and confrontations between the sides. All while Drosselmeyer watches on, almost as if he was a bit more disconnected from everything this time around.
The best thing about this volume is the way it's fully cemented the changes in Fakir as a character from one who you simply did not like much at the first episode to one that you now are rooting for as the real male lead. Mytho's always been hard to fill that role since he was so lifeless and missing much of himself early on but as the Prince that's what his position should be. With Mytho being more human again, it's pushed Fakir to be even more and his moments are now becoming more heroic while tinged with the darkness that is his nature. Another area that gets to be really nice and is expanded in this volume is Mr. Cat who talks about his own past and has a great run where a competition is set to give him his wife. He just seems to be expanded nicely in these episodes and has a lot more interaction across the board while still providing plenty of good comedy and lots of screams of marriage.
After the events of the last volume the show could have gone any number of ways but it manages to avoid going in the more obvious areas of continuing the heart shard hunt as its main premise. This is the kind of show that is written much better than that and has a lot more interesting avenues to explore instead of going down such repetitive territory unless it serves the larger picture at hand. There are so many small moments throughout these five episodes that take this show beyond a simple fairy tale and into something so much more that it's hard to pin down some of the moments but as a whole it's simply magical.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Commentary with Sarah Lindholm (Translator) and Mike Yantosca (ADR Writer),In the Studio,First season Recap,Etude, Split Episode Previews for the Second Season, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Princess Tutu