Princess Tutu Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 30, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2006
What They Say
In the midst of an ever-growing army of crows, Fakir must decide to what he will trust his fate: the strength of his arm, or the deftness of his hand. One could lead to his death, the other to unchecked destruction. Against this backdrop, Tutu must finish her mission, but what awaits her at its completion?
The truth behind a lot of what is going on in Gold Crown Town comes to the surface and the main cast is filled with a lot of heightened emotions.
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.
Reworking the original Japanese cover to fit in a bit more with the dark themed side, Kraehe gets a gorgeous piece here that I simply adore, even though it could be called shameless fanservice in a series that avoids it for the most part. Either way, it's a great looking piece from the Japanese release and if it sells a few more copies here, then I'm all for it. 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 actors for Fakir and Mytho. 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 Fakir in their full dress outfits performing 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting through the halfway part of the second half of the series, Princess Tutu has managed once again to avoid seeming like an "of the week" kind of show where the Shards are found or a particular villain must be fought, even when it does have a seemingly similar series of events in each episode. With Mytho now having become independent of both Kraehe and Fakir and gaining a sense of pride about himself, he's now trying to resolve the situation through force of personality.
With Mytho seemingly pushing Kraehe aside as he looks for what will complete him, it brings him to a couple of situations across the episodes where various women become his prey as he wants to use them to give him the power he needs. With Tutu watching along since she so desperately wants to help Mytho, she's able to get involved and provide a balance to the raven blood within Mytho and show the women that there's another way. Those that get involved are interesting in how they expand upon the show. In the opening episode, we get introduced to Miss Bottoms, a schoolgirl who dresses up as a donkey and delivers love letters to people from those who have feelings for them. She has something of an ability to sense those kinds of emotions from people and helps them realize it. Her job is somewhat skewed though because so many girls are in love, or what they believe to be love, with Mytho that she's constantly delivering letters to him. That ends up bringing her into his circle as events get more confusing on his part.
Another woman that gets wrapped up in things isn't quite so important to the overall picture but she brings some fascinating new information to the table that changes everything. Having grown up with Fakir and Mytho, Raestel has come to visit before she heads off to get married to a man she met in another town. During her brief stay though, she causes many of the girls in love with Fakir to be wary of her, but Duck ends up becoming a bit closer to her as Raestel is actually quite a nice person and is very friendly towards Duck since she learns quickly that she and Fakir are more friends than anything else. But Raestel has some loose lips as she talks about events from the past about Fakir that reveals that in his youth, he had written a story when a series of crows came to the town that placed him as the hero. His story didn't match reality and it was where he lost his parents but it proved that he had the ability to influence reality.
This gives Duck a new opening with which to try and convince Fakir to help Mytho, and it does, but it's a conflicted and dangerous path for him to take. Duck ends up in more of a background mode for this as she wrestles with her various feelings towards Fakir and Mytho while also trying to keep Mytho from doing much wrong. Fakir's role takes on a stronger prominence as this starts to play out as not only does Autor become formally introduced into the mix, but he also brings with him a wealth of information about the reality of the world that they live in and the true lineage of people with the power to influence stories. Autor's cockiness is amusing since he's essentially a copy of Fakir but without the ability to pull it off in a darkly mysterious way while remaining cool. But he's done the groundwork that has revealed so much as we get close to the finale that he's easy to deal with even as arrogant as he gets.
Across these four episodes, there is simply a lot of things going on that manages to beautifully mix in the ballet aspect with the seriousness of the situation. There's also a fair bit of comedy that gets tossed in that helps it from being far too dark, such as Mr. Cat's continual threat of marriage to the girls or the way Uzura manages to sneak into a situation and just turn it upside down. These light moments don't disturb the darker areas though and we get to see plenty of that as Fakir becomes even more resolute in fixing what he feels responsible for. And these darker areas are things that certainly justify the shows rating. As much as I'd love to show this to my kids, as much as this is an expanded fairy tale, it's one of those that's not really meant for kids but rather kids who've grown up and looking for something even deeper in what they remember from childhood tales.
Princess Tutu has broken expectations with each and every volume. There are plenty of anime or novels or TV shows that have taken long held traditions and reworked them to be something even deeper and more interesting and this series is a real gem in that realm. Every time I think some element of it may be a piece of filler or fluff just to get to the next area, a new piece falls into place and you realize just how incredibly tightly plotted all of this is. Princess Tutu is a series that will stand the test of time because it stands out of time to most other shows that will become easily dated and forgotten. This is the one that will be pulled out every couple of years and cherished and shared with as many people as possible. Very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor commentary with Cynthia Martinez (Pike) and Christine Auten (Uzura/Edel), "In the Studio�? segment with Cynthia Martinez (Pike) and Christine Auten (Uzura/Edel),Mr. Cat's Love Lesson, Etude,Split episode previews for the second season,The Path to Tutu,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 player via DVI set to 1080i, 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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Princess Tutu