In the final episode of Princess Tutu, Ahiru searches for the one weapon she has left against the Raven and Drosselmeyer. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Princess Tutu.
Once upon a time, there was a man who died. The man tried to keep spinning a story even after his death, but the story just wouldn’t move along. Frustrated, the man lost patience and called a duck into the story. The little duck tried her best for the prince. She transcended her standing in the world and came to love the prince. However, she was only a duck. She was fated to someday turn into a speck of light and vanish. Yes, that was the tear-jerking ending the story had decided on.
But in the end, it didn’t matter what the story had decided on, and, ultimately, that’s always why I love Princess Tutu.
I admit that agency and free will are ideas I’m fascinated by, and I’m sure you’ve noticed that I bring them up a lot in my writing. I know that’s because of my upbringing. It’s not fun to live life believing that other people are making your choices for you, that you’re living for someone else, that you can’t be yourself. Most of us have certain themes or stories that appeal to use because of personal reasons or emotional attachments, and this is one of mine. It’s why “Finale” is so suspenseful, why the end is so satisfying, and why Ahiru is one of the most incredible heroines I’ve ever known.
Given the many limitations these characters had going into this final battle, I was left stumped as to how they could defeat them. How was Fakir going to resist Drosselmeyer’s control? Could Ahiru and Mytho act independent of the story Fakir was writing? How do you defeat the Raven without killing Rue in the process? Is there a way Fakir can avoid death at the hands of the Book Men? And what do you do when everyone you’ve ever known is turned into a pawn of the Raven?
That’s the point of “Finale,” though. Amidst the most impossible odds, what’s the only thing Ahiru has left? Hope. It is the polar opposite of what Drosselmeyer wishes for. He observes the story unfolding the entire time, desiring tragedy. (Is he Joss Whedon? Oh god, Drosselmeyer is Joss Whedon. More on that in a second.) Not only that, but he doesn’t want an ending. He wants the story to continue on forever, which is why he’s orchestrated things so that it seems as if the only thing left for Mytho to do is pierce his own heart and start the cycle all over again. This way, Drosselmeyer gets the tragedy he wants, and then the story can continue on. How do you stop this?
It’s with Fakir’s help that Ahiru realizes the one power she’s had the whole time, one we’ve seen so many times. God, how did I not figure this out? Ahiru has always given other people hope. If you re-watch season one, her confrontations with the people affected by Mytho’s heart shards all involve her giving these very people hope that they can live their own lives, that they can exist free from the emotions, fears, and pasts that haunt them. Even in the darkest moments of her life, as everything around her seems to be falling apart, Ahiru has generally believed that she can change things or that she can defeat the Raven.
So Ahiru, the girl who is really a duck, decides that it doesn’t matter if she is just a duck, that she can never become a human girl again. She can still dance. In a brilliant and heart-crushing parallel to “Swan Lake,” Ahiru believes that she can instill hope in the crows around her by communicating it through dance. And I love this idea that this art form can communicate these deep, emotional feelings, because that’s the truth. If anything, we’ve seen how the art of storytelling can mean the world to us, so why can’t a story told through dance tell a story, too?
Despite the thrashings she gets, despite that there is not a glimmer of joy, despite that she even loses Fakir’s voice at one moment (OH MY GOD THE BOOK MEN WERE GOING TO MURDER FAKIR BLESS YOU FOR SAVING HIM, AUTOR), Ahiru gets up. Again. And again. And again. And for the first time this entire season, these characters are able to break free from the repressive hold of Drosselmeyer. Ahiru’s hope radiates in a blast of white light turning the crows to swans; Fakir is able to write the ending he wants; Mytho is inspired by this display and is able to find the power to call out to Rue (a nice callback to the same thing happening in “The Dying Swan” while Ahiru was underwater); Rue is able to locate her prince.
It’s hope that destroyed the Raven and ended Drosselmeyer’s reign on Gold Crown Town. Hope. And I don’t care if this is “cheesy” or anything like that. It’s a powerful message, one that shows just how much hope can help us out of the dark times of our lives. Oh god, it literally raised Gold Crown Town out of darkness. The crows were turned back into the people they once were. Oh god, some of the animal-people are now people, AND OH MY GOD, CAT-SENSEI IS AN ACTUAL CAT NOW AND HE HAS A FAMILY AND SOMEHOW THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT OF FOREVER.
Okay, I’m being facetious. Drosselmeyer’s writing device is finally revealed, and oh my god it was right there the whole time. It’s clear that Fakir is taking over writing duties, though he’s not taking the job lightly. But I wanted to talk about the ending for Mytho and Rue because it’sâ€¦ well, it gets me emotional. I mentioned in a past review that it was totally surprising to me that Mytho/Ahiru was not the endgame of this show because the first season honestly made it out to be that way! I can say that I’m pleased that the second season took this in a different direction for a lot of reasons, but mostly, I’m so happy for Rue. After a lifetime of abuse and manipulation, of being told that no one would truly love her for who she is, Mytho chooses to love her. It is a powerful act that cause Rue to break into tears. (I love that Mytho, despite having a heart, still doesn’t get some human emotions. It’s a clever reference to how he started in the beginning of Princess Tutu.) Rue got the redemption story I wanted for her, and she got her prince, but it wasn’t because some old dude in a clock dimension forced it for his own entertainment.
Ahiru’s end, however, is bittersweet. She really was a duck the whole time, and she remains this way at Fakir’s side. I’m not disappointed with this ending, as it supports the characterization that Ahiru would sacrifice anything to help others, and it makes her decision in “The Dying Swan” have weight and meaning. And she looks content here at the end! I suppose that’s all that matters.
But “Finale” closes out with Drosselmeyer wondering how things got this way and if he is a character in a story himself. It’s a rather meta moment, especially since he’s talking to the audience. I was perplexed by the appearance of Uzura. Does this mean she isn’t in Fakir’s world anymore since it’s no longer a town controlled by stories? Perhapsâ€¦ perhaps this is the next chapter for them. Maybe Uzura and Drosselmeyer will go off to find their own story in that dimension, and they’ll get to choose what they do next.
Regardless, I am incredibly pleased with Princess Tutu. Aside from ruining my life, it’s one of the strangest shows I’ve ever seen, and I’m so glad I watched it.
Okay, let’s go over my predictions for season two while we’re at it:
- Tutu will recover at least EIGHT more heart shards for Mytho.Â HAHAHA OH GOD. She only recovered SIX, right? The five in the gates and her pendant. DAMN. 0/1
- Mytho will come to know Ahiru’s other two forms/identities.Â YES. 1/2
- We will discover Fakir’s true purpose BEYOND him protecting Mytho.Â HELP ME. 2/3
- We will find out that Rue was manipulated into becoming Princess Kraehe.Â HELP ME AGAIN OH MY GOD. 3/4
- Drosselmeyer will get punched in the face by thirty bears for being an asshole. STOP ASKING FOR TRAGEDY.Â UNFORTUNATELY, THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. 3/5
- We will see Edel one more time.Â OH MY GOD, THIS HAPPENED.Â I LOVE YOU, UZURA 4/6
- We will get some sort of explanation for this show’s weird thing with animals and why so many anthropomorphic animals exist in this universe.Â OH MY GOD, WE DID. 5/7
- Pike and Lilie will find out who Ahiru really is.Â Oh! This didn’t happen, did it? Oh my god, to them,Â she just disappeared. Oh god, 🙁 5/8
- Cat-sensei will find someone to marry him. (I’m not even going to bother asking for an explanation of his marriage thing. It’ll never happen.) KITTIES OH MY GOD. 6/9
- Okay, this isn’t a prediction but a question I can’t believe I have never asked. DO ANY OF THESE FUCKING CHILDREN HAVEÂ PARENTS?Â CAN THIS COUNT JUST FOR THE EXPLANATION OF RUE’S PARENTS AND THE FACT THAT AHIRU REALLY WAS A DUCK. I’M COUNTING THIS. 7/10
- Rue will eventually refuse to become Princess Kraehe.Â YES. 8/11
- They will all have to fight Drosselmeyer in the end.Â YES. FUCK HIM. 9/12
- None of the protagonists will die.Â OH MY GOD, IT ACTUALLY CAME TRUE. 10/13
- No one will get married.Â Technically, I’m right! Cat marriage doesn’t count. 11/14
- I am going to be emotionally devastated a lot.Â Yeah, the last 5 eps ruined me. 12/15
Reminder that tomorrow is theÂ Cowboy BebopÂ film; Thursday, I startÂ The West Wing; and Friday, I startÂ Friday Night Lights!
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