In the fifth episode of the second season of Princess Tutu, Fakir is haunted by the ghost of a knight whose life eerily parallels his own. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Princess Tutu.
Once upon a time, there was a knight. The knight never faltered in his duty, no matter what it was. He didn’t even falter when duty demanded he take the life of his lover. His dedication was what he took pride in. But the knight couldn’t do anything but carry out his duty, and even after death, he still seeks a duty to carry out. They say the knight, who became a ghost and now haunts the world, holds in his hand the blood-stained sword that pierced his lover’s breast.
I am continually impressed by the depth of the stories that appear on Princess Tutu. This really is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Each episode is self-contained and serialized at the same time. HOW? IS THIS MAGIC? Actually, wait… it is all magic. Okay, THAT IS NOT THE POINT. I’m realizing just how many layers are at work here, and it’s astounding, y’all. In today’s video during the credits, I talk about how difficult it is to describe this show. I consider that a compliment! I mean, I’m eighteen episodes into Princess Tutu, and I still can’t explain the narrative device that frames the whole show. Is this a story within a story? Do these characters have agency within the framework of each episode? Is Drosselmeyer actually controlling things, or is it all an illusion? I’m actually surprised that I’m not furious with Princess Tutu for keeping this away from me for so long. But that is, again, why this show is so good. The writers are ambiguous about many things, but that doesn’t mean they leave me deeply unsatisfied after each episode. Oh god, I am so engaged with this show right now! I’m emotionally invested to the point where I… fuck it, I have no shame. I HAD A PRINCESS TUTU DREAM LAST NIGHT. And it was really frustrating! Ahiru and I kept trying to find Mytho, but Mytho was my brother? And I kept telling Ahiru that HIS NAME IS MICHAEL, HE WON’T COME OUT OF HIDING IF YOU USE THE WRONG NAME and honestly, I refuse to be embarrassed by this. Whatever, it was weird, but in this dream, I was best friends with Ahiru. That is all that matters. I bring that up because I am pretty sure I need an Ahiru in my life. This episode really cements the fact that Ahiru is an honest-to-goodness PERFECT BEST FRIEND. Like, there’s that moment where she lays awake in her bed, clutching her teddy, thinking about what she can do to help Fakir. She doesn’t think about what she can do to get what she wants. She stays up at night in order to help her friends. My heart cannot handle Ahiru, y’all. In her, this show has given us a heroine who makes me feel like a shitty friend because I’m terrible compared to her. Okay, granted, I don’t have any mystical princes to save. STILL. MAYBE I SHOULD GO FIND ONE.
But “The Wandering Knight” doesn’t focus on Ahiru. For the most part, this is Fakir’s story from beginning to end. Haunted by a reoccurring dream about a ghost knight he kills, he is completely freaked out when Ahiru asks him to dance a part for the drama club. YEAH, IT’S THE PART OF THE VERY GHOST KNIGHT IN HIS DREAMS. I keep noticing a common motif in this show, one I’ve brought up in the past. There is a constant blurring between reality and fiction. Like I said earlier in this review, I still can’t figure out which is which, and which one of them matters. So when Fakir gets a copy of a script that contains the ghost from his dreams and it ends halfway, I knew that this had to be another piece of the puzzle. Which piece is that? Lord, I don’t know, don’t pressure me. We have to remember that Fakir has been obsessed with books and fairy tales during his time away from school, and all of those are incomplete, too. So… what does that mean? It could hint that the story is incomplete; that seems a bit too obvious to me.
Instead, I think this is one of a couple reasons why Fakir is increasingly upset over the course of “The Wandering Knight.” What if the script being incomplete means that there is nothing left for him to do? Repeatedly throughout this episode, Fakir wonders if his failure to protect Mytho from his transformation means that he has no place in this story anymore. Is he the Wandering Knight himself? It seems like too much of a coincidence that his dreams would perfectly match up with this offer, and this eats at him.
And yet, the most brilliant part of this episode for me was the damning parallel between Fakir and Rue. Rue visits her crow father again, and he’s even more verbally abusive than he has been before. Once more, Rue’s father reminds her that no one aside from herself and the prince will ever love her. Actually, he specifically says that no one will love her “enough to throw their life away.” In this moment, we see how Rue herself now doubts her own place in this story. Can she truly be so unloved? Is her father seriously willing to not love her as a form of revenge? I know I might be irrationally clinging to this idea, but I think Rue is going to be vindicated or redeemed by the end of this show. I don’t know why else the writers would introduce this dynamic. It has to mean something. I mean, how much more of this can Rue stand? Tutu has beaten her nearly every single time, and now Rue knows that her own father is prepared to reject her if she fails.
My heart, I swear. As if this wasn’t enough, the entire end of this episode gives us two UNFAIR cliffhangers. I’m curious how Fakir is going to react to the revelation that Mytho was the one who summoned the ghost knight (or at least is controlling him). Surely he realizes how vital it is to purify his best friend. That’s why he spoke to Mr. Cat about the purity of love. He makes a reference to Odile from Swan Lake, and lord… does this mean that Rue is the key to this? (If we assume Ahiru is Odette, that would make Rue her double.) I don’t know quite yet, but I was satisfied that in the midst of a terribly intense battle, Ahiru intercedes to stop the fighting. In the process of fighting the ghost knight without a weapon, she suffers wounds, scrapes, and bruises. But that’s not before she convinces the ghost knight to let go of the pride that damned him all those years before. HE HAD A HEART SHARD. Oh my god, it’s been so long since we saw one last that I forgot they were still looking for them.
I love that Ahiru gives the ghost knight closure, thereby granting him the death he could never have. But in the process, her pendant is broken, and her limp body, in duck form, is left on the ground. Oh my god, CAN YOU AT LEAST CONFIRM THAT SHE’S NOT DEAD? THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Look, I’ve seen and read enough stuff on my sites to know that killing off the protagonist is totally doable.
However, it’s the final scene of “The Wandering Knight” that shocked me the most. Fakir learns that he does have a place in this world, but then I watched in confusion as that FUCKING PERSON IN THE BLACK CLOAK STOLE THE ORIGINAL COPY OF THE PLAY FAKIR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN!!!! Who the hell is that??? I’m not imagining this, I swear, and IT IS DESTROYING ME. Even worse, DROSSELMEYER LOOKED GENUINELY UPSET AT THIS DEVELOPMENT. He didn’t taunt me with the tragedy of the story this time. He was freaked out that the play was stolen! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! Why is he so worried that he can’t control the story the way he wants? I don’t understand it. Does he need a puppet like Edel to do this? Y’ALL, WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
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