Mark Watches ‘Princess Tutu’: S02E12 – The Dying Swan

In the penultimate episode of Princess Tutu, Ahiru accepts her destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Princess Tutu.

Once upon a time, there was a man who died. The man had the power to make stories come true, so his hands were cut off by the people, who were afraid of tragedies becoming reality. When the man died, the people heaved a great sigh of relief. As it turned out, however, when his hands were cut off, the man had been writing a story in his own blood. That was a story he could continue spinning after he died, a story of the man himself.

Let’s talk about feelings.

  • (Bonus points if you understand that reference. I expect one of you might.)
  • So, we make reference to “feelings” and “feels” a lot around here, and I want to open this review of “The Dying Swan” (THAT TITLE, WHHYYYYYY) with a discussion of what it means when this happens. Like, okay, obviously I’m being dramatic and hyperbolic. Which is what I do! And I do that specifically because I was told not to. I’m serious. I’m actually not being facetious. My parents didn’t want me to be loud, outspoken, dramatic, effeminate, or ridiculous growing up. I was always told to be quiet, to know my place, and to act like a real man. (CAN YOU SEE WHY I LIKE RUE SO MUCH.) So there’s always going to be a part of me that is a rebellion against this idea that I need to present myself as some boring, unemotional stone. Which is not saying that you need to be this way, or that there is anything wrong with shyness or being an introvert. It’s just not my thing anymore, you know?
  • If you remember all the way back when I was reviewing Half-Blood Prince, I spoke openly about how I had learned how to be okay with crying. That is still specifically tied to the homophobic way I was raised. I was told that men cannot be emotional. And if you’ve seen any of the videos I’ve made recently for Fringe or LOST (FUCK YOU, VIMEO, BY THE WAY), you know that I’ve given up all pretense of not being ridiculous on camera. I’ll cry. I don’t care. I don’t!
  • So what is it about Princess Tutu that causes me to explode feelings everywhere? I think you can tell that it’s partially based on emotional attachments, both to Rue and Ahiru. I’ve become so enamored with these people and this universe that it’s… well, I was going to say it’s pathetic, but fuck it. It’s not. It’s awesome. And on top of this all, the storytelling is just so good.
  • I think you also have to think about my state of mind going into this show. I just spent over a year in Joss Whedon’s brain. That means I’ve gone through a lot of tragedy. So it’s not surprising to me that this show has made me re-evaluate exactly what I want from stories. I admit that most of my favorite books and movies are not happy. I’ve always been drawn to fiction that was dark, bleak, and depressing, and I know that’s why I liked Whedon’s shows so much. But here, the very nature of Princess Tutu forces us to look at tragedy as a storytelling device. What does it mean? What does it entail? As you’ve seen in the video commissions for these episodes, I am often cheering for happy endings. I yell at Drosselmeyer because he wants tragedy, and that is the opposite of what I wanted!
  • So I can’t ignore the very meta implications of this show and what it means for what I do. I’ve poked fun at y’all for being my own Drosselmeyers, but that metaphor doesn’t really work anymore, now that I know who he truly is. Instead, we all become Drosselmeyer in a way when we root for the negative. Not in every context, of course, as I’ve been championing for Drosselmeyer to be crushed by a wildebeest stampede for a while now.
  • And that’s the point I’m trying to make: I can’t help what this show makes me feel. I have all these thoughts floating around in my head. When I watch the show, I’m so completely engaged by the narrative that my emotions come along for the ride. I can’t help it. It’s good storytelling, the kind that makes you feel like you understand the world just a little bit more.
  • My god, THE PROLOGUE. Drosselmeyer wrote himself into a story written in his blood so that he could continue messing everything up after his death. THIS IS SO MESSED UP.
  • Like, things are already bad enough, and now Rue is trapped in the Raven’s realm, and AHIRU CAN’T TAKE OFF HER PENDANT. What the hell, Drosselmeyer? Why??? Why can’t she take it off???
  • This question was answered immediately when Drosselmeyer showed up and forced Fakir to write. This entire sequence is one of the most unsettling bits of the whole show. Fakir is back to being Drosselmeyer’s puppet again, except now he’s forced to write Ahiru’s death. It’s clear that all Drosselmeyer wants is endless tragedy, and he’s going to milk out of every possible scene. This is also the first time we’ve seen Drosselmeyer write something that’s so drastically new that it actually branches the story off in a new direction. (I could be wrong, but I’m assuming this is the case since the Lake of Despair is outside the city walls. That seems significant to me!) In order to bring about the tragedy he wants, he creates a new rule: Ahiru’s pendant can’t be removed unless she truly wants an end to the story. I couldn’t ignore the parallel here between Drosselmeyer and the Raven. Drosselmeyer essentially made Ahiru blame herself and her own desire for happiness for the Prince’s fate. Sound familiar? It’s emotional manipulation at best, and it’s supremely fucked up.
  • What’s so upsetting about this, though, is that it feeds directly into Ahiru’s desire to please others. She is the moral center of Princess Tutu, and Drosselmeyer uses that against her. Fuck him.
  • Feelings? I have feelings. I have so many feelings about Ahiru’s willingness to give up her life to save everyone without even questioning it. I have so many feelings about Fakir’s willingness to enter something called THE LAKE OF DESPAIR to save Ahiru, even though leaving her there would have saved Mytho and Rue. Seeing him pull her up to the surface as they danced a pas de deux was just so ~romantic~ that I wanted to puke. And Uzura helped them back to the surface with her drumming i am so done. (This was a clear reference to “The Spinners” OH MY GOD.) All they had to do? Their desires just had to match up. And they both want to do whatever is in their power to save Mytho. How will I have a heart by the end of this episode?
  • The Raven basically turned the town into a Slayer song, didn’t he?
  • OKAY, CAT-SENSEI AS A CROW IS KIND OF FUNNY TO ME. Just the image of him! Not the idea. Clearly, this is super disturbing. But he still made cat noises!!!
  • Fakir narrating the end of “The Dying Swan”: Something I did not know I wanted, but now know I was always lacking in my life. I am so happy with this show, y’all. It’s a spectacle, it’s thought-provoking, and it excites me. I have no clue how this is going to end, and I’m sad it’s all coming to a close. But I am so thankful I watched this. SO I’M SORRY I YELLED AT ALL OF YOU FOR MAKING ME WATCH THIS PLEASE FORGIVE ME I WAS JUST HURTING.

Only one more left. 🙁

The video commission for this episode is now archived on for just $0.99!

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 me 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!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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