In the tenth episode of the second season of Princess Tutu, the characters struggle with their own stories and agency. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Princess Tutu.
Once upon a time, there was a princess who was held captive. She was imprisoned in the demon king’s castle, her freedom taken from her. The princess had no choice but to dance like a puppet to the tune set by the whims of her sadistic captor. One day, a hero came to fight the demon king, seeking to save the princess. However, there was no way the hero could attain the victory. For you see, the hero did not know that he himself was a puppet that the demon king had created.
This is astonishing. Oh god, I really hope that those of you following along made it this far, because this show just became something else. Right??? It’s not just that Princess Tutu defied my own expectations. This is just unreal! WHO KNEW THIS SHOW WAS ALWAYS ABOUT THIS? Wait, most of you already did, LOL. Okay, that’s not the point. The point is holy god I WAS SO UNPREPARED FOR THIS SHOW.
Since four characters in this episode have huge moments, I’d like to split this up by each one if you don’t mind!
Of course, I needed to know what happened with Ahiru. Holy cliffhanger! “Marionette” delivers, y’all. Ahiru, stuck in Drosselmeyer’s dimension, comes to understand just how much control he has over the story. She is literally a puppet, and this episode shows us the unsettling nature of her identity. God, when all those marionettes drop from nowhere? IT’S SO CREEPY. I’m glad that this is portrayed so negatively, though, because it’s clear that Drosselmeyer has been the real villain the whole time. (Mostly, it validates me screaming FUCK YOU DROSSELMEYER during the opening credits.) He then turns Tutu into a puppet himself. Seriously, that whole dinner table sequence is horrifying. Tutu can’t even drink tea on her own! Look how mechanical her motions are. Goddamn.
What I ultimately enjoyed about this twist, aside from the chance to peek within Drosselmeyer’s world, is that the writers directly tackle the idea of agency. Can Ahiru make her own decisions? Do they demonstrate free will, or is it all part of some master plan? We’ve had moments in the past where the characters did something to upset Drosselmeyer, but this episode in particular is far more revelatory about their natures. Ahiru’s determination and love is what helps Fakir write the story that saves them all. She chose to do this, and it is independent of the power that Drosselmeyer possesses. That’s a very powerful thing, you know? It’s one of a few signs in “Marionette” that these characters are able to exist apart from Drosselmeyer.
I also wanted to say that I am endlessly fascinated by the shift in the romantic dynamic between Ahiru and Fakir. By the end of the first season, I was convinced that this show’s endgame was Ahiru/Mytho. It was the whole point of the plot! Ahiru struggled with her love for Mytho, knowing she couldn’t ever truly tell him how she felt. And now, all I can think about is how well Ahiru and Fakir fit together. I still think Ahiru cares deeply for Mytho, but lord, look at Ahiru and Fakir at the end of this episode. THAT’S FUCKING ROMANTIC. I mean, okay, I did dislike Fakir a lot when I started watching this show, so I admit his character growth alone is pretty unexpected, but this? I just never expected Ahiru to grow so close to Fakir. And it’s goddamn beautiful, okay?
I think it’s fantastic that this episode shows us that it’s not at all easy for Fakir to write. Besides it being a neat (and probably unintended) commentary on writing in general, I felt like it acknowledged that this was not as simple as him writing down a sentence and it coming true. That’s not how this power works. He needs to believe in the story, and that takes effort, conviction, and dedication. Autor stands behind Fakir in this episode, goading him along because he doesn’t understand that this isn’t about meticulous, banal details. It’s not about an unemotional process, which is how Autor perceives this power. He thinks that if he has the right tools in the perfect physical environment that is pedantically organized, he can do whatever he wants.
He’s wrong, obviously. Fakir’s power becomes real once he and Tutu synchronize their desires. Lord, that whole sequence where they begin to think the same thing is SPECTACULAR. It’s one of the most memorable moments of the whole story, y’all. So… what is Fakir going to do next? He’s accepted that he can save Mytho as he is, so what does that entail? I’m excited to see.
There are a lot of surprising plot twists in “Marionette,” so I’ve got to hold back my hyperboles. Still, I can’t ignore what a big deal it is that Uzura finally gets the chance to play a huge part in the narrative. Obviously, I didn’t anticipate this at all. Uzura always existed in the background, providing commentary and being adorable as hell. Here, though, she takes an active role, exploring the clockwork of the land behind the stories. In the process, she examines her own identity. Is she a puppet as well? Where did she come from? Through this, we can see how these characters are going to be able to resist Drosselmeyer. First, Uzura finds a crank that controls the story AND REVERSES IT. The story turns backwards as the puppets observe it. I loved that these characters’ own perception didn’t travel backwards, too, for reasons I am going to discuss in a second. But I also loved that this was a clear sign someone could do something without Drosselmeyer making them.
For Uzura, though, this little expedition gave her her mother: Edel. She isn’t not just a doll. She has the heart her mother did not. DONE. DONE.
OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD, EVERYONE. MYTHO SAVED RUE FROM THE CROWS WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG, AND HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO BET THOSE CROWS CAME FROM FAKIR WHEN HE WROTE ABOUT THEM ALL THOSE YEARS AGO.
AND THEN BECAUSE UZURA TURNS BACK TIME, RUE FINDS OUT WHERE SHE CAME FROM: THE CROWS KIDNAPPED HER FROM HER REAL MOTHER AND FATHER. SHE WAS NEVER THE CROW’S DAUGHTER.
OH MY GOD. I CAN’T. I CAN’T. Her backstory is emotionally devastating on about a billion levels. Where are her parents? What happened to them? Can Rue ever find them? And what does it mean that Kraehe has now turned back into Rue, while Mytho turned into a giant crow???
I am in awe of Princess Tutu. This is some incredible storytelling, and I’m so glad I’m watching it.
Mark Links Stuff
- I am now on tour!!! I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Commissions are still open while I am on tour! There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!