Princess Tutu Collection (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 08, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
What They Say
Darkness hid the pieces of her beloved's shattered heart and time is running out for Princess Tutu to find them. Using the power of an enchanted amulet she must uncover the mystery and keep herself and the prince alive.
Once upon a time there was...
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. Unfortunately, this collection is not in a 5.1 mix. However, the audio does come across very well in 2.0 stereo. The music in this series is superb and sounds great in stereo, but one still has to wonder what it would really sound like in a 5.1 mix. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions. One thing to note about this collection is that it has a variety of very rich music that makes the story really stand out. It is probably one of the best animated features out there that allows the music to really drive the story. Of course, this is story is heavily influenced by ballet.
Originally airing in 2002, Princess Tutu is presented in its original full frame (4:3) aspect ratio. The colors set to this feature are important to setting the mood along with the musical scores. The brights and darks are appropriately used and come across rather well. Aliasing is very minimal and cross coloration was nowhere to be found.
The thickpack collection (it's thick because it contains 4 discs) is packaged in a plastic set that has discs mounted on the front and rear covers, while two hinged disc holders are mounted to fold inside the center. It is the basic thickpack setup that is common in many ADV releases. The front cover depicts Rue in a fanservicy outfit inside a bird cage. One has to wonder if ADV, yet again, is trying to use the fanservice aspect to sell this collection. Rue is one of the main characters, but is not Princess Tutu. Princess Tutu herself is shown on the back cover, but tends to blend in with the giant text boxes that are used to grab your attention. Speaking of the back cover, our one and only Chris Beveridge is quoted at the top of the back cover. "A+... Tense, Tragic & beautiful..Very highly recommended" This is a unique box in that it uses a brown color palette with large fonts in bold face. The box really stands out and grabs your attention as it is a bit over the top and unconventional.
The main menu of each disc uses the artwork of Tutu from the cover of each of the single releases. The artwork is placed off to the side while a window slowly reveals several of scenes. A piano solo that is often heard throughout the show plays on a 30 second loop while in the main menu. The extra menus use another piano solo that comes from the Nutcracker Suite, which is a thematic source of music for Princess Tutu. The languages menu will play a short 30 second loop from the Nutcracker Suite, which is a nice touch. The languages menu also has a window that also slowly reveals scenes from the episodes.
The variety of rich music is represented well, but it would have been nice to have full or longer versions of the music to play. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is easy with instant access to each episode.
The Princess Tutu extras for this box collection contain all of the extras that were originally released in the single volumes. This is a rarity for ADV and hopefully is sign of things to come with future box collection releases. Nothing aggravates an anime fan more than to discover that a collection is missing extras....
ADV went all-out on the extras, which make this show all the more immersive for the viewer. The commentaries provide a great insight into this show and how the voice actors really got into it. Another nice touch was the addition of the Etude and Ballet for Beginners. Ballet is something that one has to gain an appreciation for and understanding to truly enjoy it. The humor included in these extras provides just the right amount of short educational snippets about ballet. These extras are ones that you won't want to skip as they allow you learn more about some of the supporting characters, especially Mr. Cat!!! Going through all of the extras in this collection is like watching a whole new set of episodes that allow you to further immerse yourself into the richness of the story and learn a little something about ballet. Extras like these are what many anime fans want and it is really appreciated when care is taken to put this much extra content into a collection.
Hopefully, ADV will continue to provide extras like these in future releases. Anime distributors need to pay attention to this as a lack of quality extras can make or break a purchase by a scrupulous anime fan. We anime fans are a scrupulous lot when it comes to buying our favorite titles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Judging a book by its cover will almost inevitably cause you to miss out on something as fantastic as Princess Tutu. Judging the cover of this collection could lead you to an incorrect assumption about this series. Many who have discovered the brilliance in Princess Tutu have raved about it; this reviewer shares the same stance.
We anime fans can be a fickle lot. We love our giant robots, ninjas, magical girls, dragons, pirates, soul reapers, death gods, etc... But, that doesn't make us any different than the typical television viewer who loves reality TV, sitcoms, CSI, Lost, etc... Our diverse tastes in television shows, anime, and movies are what allow the creators to make those brilliant shows that we love so much. Princess Tutu is no exception!
Many of us grew up listening and reading about fairytales, fables and tall-tales. Princess Tutu is a story that follows the theme of an enchanted fairytale that often feels like a classic Disney story similar to Snow White or Cinderella. Good v/s evil is the theme to this tale. However, the evil in this story is not quite so simple to identify as it takes on many facets.
The story begins and ends with a man named Drosselmeyer. His character design and personality fits his name well as he is twisted and evil old man. Drosselmeyer used to be a famous writer that was in the process of writing a new story, The Prince and the Raven, when he died.
His story features two main characters, a noble prince and a raven. Because of Drosselmeyer's untimely death, the story is not finished, and the prince and the raven are somehow locked into an eternal battle. The raven then broke free from the story with prince soon following. To seal the evil raven from ever hurting others, the prince sacrificed his own heart by shattering it with his sword. This simple overview is only revealed in small portions in the beginning of the tale, and acts like bread crumbs drawing the viewer deeper into the dark forest of the story. Drosselmeyer's twisted commentary on the progression of the story throughout each episode adds a dark shade of a Grimm's Fairy Tale. Drosselmeyer is not dead, but very much alive and appears to be enjoying the life that his unfinished story is undertaking.
Drosselmeyer's involvement takes a whole new direction when he comes across a little a duck who just so happens to be watching a sad and heartless prince dancing on the water. Drosselmeyer decides to let the story unfold on its own and grants the duck's wish to help the prince. To do so, he transforms the duck into a girl named Duck.
To help the prince regain his heart, Drosselmeyer allows Duck to become a ballet student at the same school where the prince attends. Duck is also granted a special power that allows here to take on the form of Princess Tutu. An egg-shaped necklace that Duck wears will glow red when one of the heart shards from the prince is nearby. When prince Mytho pierced his heart, each of the heart shards took up refuge in different people throughout the village. These shards are attached to people whose emotional states are at a heightened point in their life and are similar to the emotion the shard holds. Duck is able to transform herself into Princess Tutu when she comes near a heart shard.
Unlike many magical girl heroines, Princess Tutu does not physically fight the villagers who have one of Prince Mytho's heart shards. Princess Tutu dances with them, in an attempt to help them confront their feelings while showing them how to overcome the strong emotions tied to the heart shard. Since these heightened emotions are a result of the heart piece that resides within them, they are freed of this artificial intensity when Princess Tutu removes the heart piece and returns them to the prince.
To review this series without discussing the raven would not be fair. The raven from Drosselmeyer's story is a mystery but too much discussion about him could spoil the whole show. The raven does have his day as he influences the beautiful and enticing Rue. Rue is admired throughout the ballet school and is deemed the best female ballerina to match Mytho. Rue both smothers and controls Mytho, demanding his love. Rue comes to realize that her dark beauty may contain a dark heart, and a darker parentage.
Every fairy tale needs a knight, and Princess Tutu does not forget this character. Fakir is the protector and friend of Mytho, and the reincarnated knight from the tale. He is often a source for antagonism and struggle for Duck, but as with all true knights, his intentions are the purist and noblest. As the story progresses, Fakir also finds that he has a less reputable heritage, but this in itself is very instrumental in the conclusion to Drosselmeyer's story.
The other end of the spectrum is the character that provides a simple element of humor. The personal favorite of the viewer was Mr. Cat, the infamous teacher to all the ballet students. Duck was often targeted by him because of her shortcomings, and her frequent tardiness. Mr. Cat then attempted to motivate his students, and Duck, to do better by threatening to have them marry him. These frequent attempts at gaining marital bliss were often thwarted, leaving Mr. Cat nervously and furiously cleaning himself in the background.
Princess Tutu is a complex, yet simple story that is safe for most ages to watch. There are the occasional transformation scenes where Duck appears naked, but not in any provocative or fanservicy way. There are no pieces or parts shown. Duck is often found losing her clothes throughout the series as she accidentally says "Quack", which is a natural thing for a duck to say. Saying "Quack" causes Duck to revert back to her true duckling form. To return to normal, she must get in the water. This of course brings forth some humorous romps as Duck tries to carry her clothes with her when she accidentally becomes a duck.
Every episode in Princess Tutu features a different ballet interwoven into the storyline. For example, the first episode uses Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker", and both Tutu and Kraehe's outfits are based on Swan Lake's Odette and Odile. The ballet aspect of the series fits quite well with the entire theme of the story, and the accompanying music is an elegant fit. This series is well thought-out and keeps the viewer engaged throughout all the episodes. Like the ballets which give it a backdrop, Princess Tutu is a satisfying way to spend an evening.
Princess Tutu contains many different story elements that are woven together in a fairly complex plot. Drosselmeyer, the dark narrator, proves to be a worthy story teller. Can the characters overcome the will of the one who would seek his own selfish ending, can they find strength in themselves to change fate or will the Raven reign again? This is a must have for the library of anime lover. If you don't have it yet, you better get it... or else you'll have to marry Mr. Cat!
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,TV Specials,Pre-production Promo Video,Commentary Tracks,Ballet for Beginners,In the Studio
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Princess Tutu