Posted by psgels on 9 November 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

Now that I’m getting so close to the end of my to-watch-list, and really to the series that I’ve been looking forward to the most, this really does give a different kind of expectation compared to usual. This goes in particular for Princess Tutu: aside from one particular series, it has been the series that you have recommended to me the most often (that other series is Monster, by the way). With such a critically acclaimed series, I went into this series with a completely different mindset than others and it generally leads you to expect things in a different way from usual.

What I mean by this is the following: after completely finishing this series, I’d have to say that Princess Tutu isn’t the best shoujo series I’ve seen. Normally for an average show, this really wouldn’t mean much, because you can say this for 99.9% of all of the series out there, but this statement does gain a different meaning for something with the caliber of Princess Tutu. That doesn’t however mean that this show isn’t awesome and if you even remotely like shoujo and haven’t seen this one yet, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

First of all, Princess Tutu is about ballet. That alone gives this show an air of elegance unlike any other, and the creators make full use of this with some excellent choreography. This show doesn’t have fancy graphics, but it still looks gorgeous due to the time that went into portraying all of the different dances that are incredibly prevalent throughout the entire series. A good dancer is able to entice an audience, just by performing, and the creators of this series did just that.

What really caught my attention about this series however, was how well this show develops its characters. In particular the most important characters change tremendously throughout the storyline, and this change ends up being a very important theme throughout the entire series. These characters are round and dynamic, they change naturally, yet you can’t see them coming. Even the side-characters evolve subtly throughout the series. Everyone is well acted, and the cast is immensely fun to watch, both during the light hearted moments and the serious ones.

This series is also able to tell a great story, with a beginning and an actual ending, where it makes great use of its build-up. Where it left things to be desired for me was at some points while building up, where it tended to get a bit too formulaic. This series also depends a lot on brainwashing and using love as a plot device. It actually gets away with it quite decently, but there are times when in particular the side characters suffer losing their free will too much, so that they can’t really show what kind of character they actually are. Brainwashing in general is very tricky to do right and Princess Tutu remains one of the better examples to do it because it’s a major theme of the entire series, but it does lead to a lack of freedom that holds the show back at times.

Still, with the current state that shoujo anime is in today, it’s great to look back at how grand it was in the past. This show combines innocence with dark and deep characters really well and with the ballet, it turns turns into a wonderful emotional ride. Oh, and the soundtrack cannot go unmentioned here. The use of classical music in this show is just a perfect match.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Great use of build-up, original and clever plot twists, but a tad too formulaic at times, and makes a bit too often use of brainwashing and love as a plot device.
Characters: 9/10 – Wonderful development, especially on the main cast.
Production-Values: 9/10 – The animation may not be big, but the characters are wonderfully animated to life, and the soundtrack makes this show still a feast for the senses.
Setting: 9/10 – Very creative premise with a deep setting and unique atmosphere.

Glass Mask 2005
Ashita no Nadja

23 Responses

  1. wendeego says:

    Was anyone saying that Princess Tutu was the best shoujo series ever? I’m not sure if it’s possible to make a case for that–Utena’s pretty much superior and Tutu is in many ways Utena 101 in how it deals with fairy tales and free will.

    I would argue, on the other hand, that Princess Tutu is the best mahou shoujo anime ever made (although Cardcaptor Sakura gives it a serious run for its money, and Sailor Moon is obviously more influential.) It’s also the darkest (except for Madoka Magica) and one of the most underrated anime in general (due to its ridiculous title.) So there are a ton of reasons to recommend it.

  2. kurini says:

    Wow, you finally watched it! (I’m not one of the group who recommand it though)

    And I totally agree with wendeego : “and one of the most underrated anime in general (due to its ridiculous title.) So there are a ton of reasons to recommend it.” !

  3. psgels psgels says:

    You indeed have a point that Princess Tutu isn’t the best shoujo, but I really wouldn’t call it underrated. There are tons of people who praise it and regard it highly, and there are shoujo series that are much more obscure and underrated.

  4. Sapphire says:

    @psgels, I was wondering, what did you think of Princess Tutu’s ending?

    Also, Fakir deserved a spot on your set of pictures! ^^

  5. Firechick says:

    I kinda expected this to get a slightly higher rating, but it’s alright. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Oh, and it should be 87.5/100, not 87.5/10. Just pointing out.

  6. Joojoobees says:

    This reminds me that I started watching this show on Netflix (and was enjoying it), but got side-tracked when all the Fall series started premiering. Now that I have checked out and dropped most new series, it is time to finish Princess Tutu.

  7. Kim says:

    Well for me Princess Tutu IS the best shoujo series. And I do prefer it over Utena. And well I prefer Rose of Versailles over Utena too.

    But come on that is what an opinion is. No one can really say what the best shoujo is. It’s all up to the individual viewer.

    Glad you enjoyed it Psgels!

  8. dm00 says:

    I’m glad you finally got to see it — it was a wonderful series. It came out at about the same time as Haibane Renmei, I think. What a season of magic that was!

    It may not be the best shoujo title out there, but it’s a strong one — indeed, I’d put Tutu among the best anime I’ve seen (in twenty years of watching anime). Certainly in my top 20, if not even higher.

    Watching Madoka Magica has made me want to revisit Tutu. I have a few things queued up ahead of it, but I think I’ll be getting to it soon.

  9. yamapishy says:

    wahh you watched it too! i just finished PT last week and I really love it. For me it’s definitely one of the best mahou shoujo. it’s got everything.^^


  10. thestation says:

    crossing my fingers you’ll do monster next!
    a while ago I watched it for the second time..
    en psgels, ik kan je verzekeren, dit is een anime voor jou :P!
    een geweldig goed verhaal, echt waar.
    ben benieuwd wat je er van vind :)
    keep up the good work!

  11. AidanAK47 says:

    Told you that you would be a little disappointed. I would rate princess Tutu over Utena but I do think while it is a good show it not quite as good as many would have you believe. Honestly I watched it mostly because I heard people complaining about Madoka saying that dark magical girl has been done before and using this as an example.
    But to be honest it’s not even dark. There are tones but that’s about it. I think it was the dancing that put me off. I understand why it’s there and can say it worked well but it just wasn’t my taste. My favourite parts where the dark fairytales at the beginning of each episode and any scene with Drosselmeyer. He stole the show for me.

  12. wendeego says:

    When Madoka Magica came out, it was true that a lot of people were saying that Princess Tutu did “dark magical girls” first.

    This is pretty inaccurate! Princess Tutu is remarkably dark for a mahou shoujo show, diving into tragedy and metafiction with remarkable fearlessness. It’s pretty uncompromising as well–it never takes the easy way out, even at the very end (where so many other series stumble)

    This is very different from Madoka Magica, which subverts the typical Sailor Moon-esque magical girl system to horrifying results. Both shows go to some pretty unsettling places but those places are entirely different. So it isn’t really right to compare the two! (a much better comparison to Madoka would be Uta Kata, but Madoka is probably the better show)

    Also, sorry if I came off at all confrontational in putting Utena ahead of Tutu (hey, Tutu’s in my top ten! I love it too!) These are all opinions that we’re throwing around, after all. Although I’d still say that in many ways Tutu comes off as a slightly less complex take on mahou shoujo that honestly hasn’t been attempted since Utena. That’s pretty high praise right there.

  13. Cholisose says:

    “If you don’t rate Princess Tutu at least a nine… I will force you to MYEAAAAAAARRY ME!” – Cat

    I’ve seen seven or so episodes of this one with some friends, and have to say it’s really bizarre. I’m not really sure what to think of it, since it’s just so out there. I do like the dancing, though. And the classical music. And Cat. He’s hilarious.
    (We’re watching it dubbed, BTW. It’s not bad.)

  14. Kim says:

    @Wendeego I didn’t think you were being confrontational but my point still stands that which one is better is all based on personal taste. Utena might be more unique but I still think Princess Tutu is the stronger show. That’s just my personal take not a fact.

    As for the comparison with Madoka I find them silly. Madoka is a magical girl show aimed at Otaku. This is completely different from Princess Tutu which is a shoujo story for young girls through and through.

    Madoka is a dark twisted take on Mahou Shoujo. Princess Tutu however isn’t just Mahou Shoujo but it is also a wonderful meta fairytale: a story within a story.

    And personally I wouldn’t rate one series over the other based on how dark it is. That’s just silly. Princess Tutu wasn’t trying to be grim dark like Madoka. It’s only dark in the sense that real fairy tales are darker than Disney would have us believe.

    Personally while I like Madoka a lot I don’t think it even comes close to Princess Tutu but that’s just me.

  15. Hogart says:

    @Kim: no, it’s not just you. I for one preferred this over Madoka, but not because I feel Madoka is inferior. I just like the storytelling approach of Tutu more, it felt more confident and less pandering, plus it really had time to shine.

    Tutu is a strange one to consider. It isn’t very modern in style, and seems to clash with the sensibilities of younger anime viewers. So even if they rate it as “good” I consider it high praise.. they’d usually lambast such an anime for not looking like K-On or being as shockingly direct as Madoka.

  16. rosenritter says:

    My roommate showed this to me after I showed her Utena, my #3 favorite series of all time (after Monster and LOGH). This review lines up fairly well with my own opinion of Tutu, though… I might actually rate it a little lower. Don’t kill me, Tutu fans! It’s just that a few too many things about it didn’t personally “click” with me and got under my skin a little. :/

  17. Kevin Caldwell says:

    Princess Tutu is one of those rare cases where I preferred the english dub over the original, with the only exception being Ahiru.
    Luci Christian gave a good performance but Nanae Katou simply nailed the role.

  18. nandab says:

    I’m getting my hands on princess tutu now… I didn’t even know it existed :)

  19. rufe says:

    I wasn’t able to finish Monster…because it was so truly disturbing…btw. You should listen to the various ED for full effect

    It’s certainly not my favorite anime, but it is without a doubt excellent being what it is.

  20. caru says:

    Yay! You finally reviewed it! I was hoping it would at least get a 90 but ah well.

    Its kind of funny that psgels didn’t use a single screenshot of Fakir XD

  21. David A. Young says:

    As one who does a bit of writing now and then, I really enjoyed the subtext in P.T. of the characters struggling to free themselves from the “destiny” of the story. Sometimes characters really do seem to take on a life of their own — and some authors do seem to take evil glee at making them suffer.


    I was especially touched by the very last scene. I wonder what Fakir was writing. Was it a story of metamorphosis?

  22. David A. Young says:

    SORRY! Don’t use html. Meant to put a spoiler warning in there but messed it up!

  23. I’m so happy that you finally get to watch this and see how amazing it is xD

    Before watching, I thought “Another crappy mahou shoujo, huh?” then after watching “SHET THIS IS FANTASTIC I HAVE TO WATCH IT AGAIN!!!!”


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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 10. 2015 01:08 AM)
    Although it looks like my final picks for the season are in, subete, garo, young black jack with me on the fence about utawerumono.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 10. 2015 12:59 AM)
    Okay new garo you’ve got my attention as a violent action show, but you can go further than that. Also I can’t see these protaganists having the same charisma as Germain and Ema.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:09 AM)
    @Kaiser Sunny looks interesting but I’ll be honest, when I say Slice-of-Life I actually mean Cute-Girls-Doing-Cute-Things.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:07 AM)
    @Kaiser I actually haven’t seen Black Mass.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 12:57 AM)
    These new Batman shorts called ‘Batman of Shanghai’ are pretty awesome:
    Props to Wolf Smoke Studios for the style and execution. I think this borrowed a lot from the Studio 4°C segment of the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology series. I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman cartoon since the original Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.

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