Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Oct 26th 2005
DVD 2: Traum
The Prince's long-lost emotions are slowly coming back to him, popping up all over the place, but rather than providing the poor lad with comfort, instead they bring about a new foe: Kraehe, the crow princess! Meanwhile the love triangle between Rue, Duck and Mytho gets cranked up to a full boil; Mytho doesn't know who he wants, although he does feel eternally connected with (and attracted to!) the mysterious and graceful Princess Tutu. When Kraehe starts interfering with Tutu's bold attempts to return the prince's shattered heart back to its former state, things start looking decidedly grim; will Tutu ever be able to mend her prince?
After a long, seemingly endless wait, the second volume of the decidedly unique Princess Tutu has finally arrived. The four episodes on this disc largely continue the quality fairytale shoujo drama seen in the first disc; surprisingly, there's no major drop in animation or storytelling quality.
Princess Tutu is considered a refreshing change of pace from the usual magical girl series, and in volume 2, it's not hard to see why. While it might be easy on first glance to dismiss the show as a ballet-themed take on the old Sailor Moon formula, nothing could be further from the truth. An elegant drama steeped in fairytale trappings, Princess Tutu is focused far more on the interpersonal relationship drama than on the show's fantastical elements. It's probably the most unique entry in the genre thus far, and volume 2 does nothing to change that. Sure, in each episode, Tutu struggles to return heart shards to her prince, but the sequence of events – even by episode nine – never quite dips into monster-of-the-week style repetition. The screenwriter is using every available second of every episode to push the story further, rather than wasting time on unimportant details (minus the comedy relief scenes, which remain mostly unfunny diversions from an otherwise fine production).
Really, the show's art direction and execution are what shine the most. The animation is really quite excellent for a show based on a relatively short manga series, and the music, mostly famous tunes taken from the Nutcracker Suite, really punctuate the beauty of the visuals. The character design is fairly unique if at times a little unappealing; everyone kinda looks the same, short with big hair and huge eyes. This volume's biggest revelation is the arrival of the crow princess Kraehe, whose transformation sequence – and the veritable army of crows she brings with her – adds a suitably dark and sinister stylistic element to the series. All in all, the visual presentation of this series is second to none.
The lone complaint about volume 2 concerns the tone of the series; the teenage angst in this show has been cranked up to 11, to the point where in the later episodes on this disc, the characters spend most of their time staring half-lidded at the ground, questioning themselves, their feelings, their motives, and their own self-worth. Frankly, at times it all gets a little too weighed down by the angst factor. It's a very small (albeit sometimes irritating) stain on an otherwise excellent show.
The dub is something of a mixed bag leaning towards “good”. There are a lot of young girls in this series, and as with any show that features too many young characters, most of them sound really similar and many of them are clearly being performed by a grown woman struggling to sound like she's 12. Duck's voice is best when she doesn't have to match the lip flaps; in fact, any scene where you can't see the characters talk unquestionably delivers the best and most natural performance. Admittedly, Mytho's voice seems to be struggling the most, delivering his lines in a wispy sort of monotone that sounds totally unnatural and kinda forced. I understand the Japanese voice sounded like that but somehow the dub just doesn't feel very organic or realistic.
Admittedly, Princess Tutu is a pretty girly show but the production values and the quality of the storytelling are very high; it's worth a look even if you're hesitant about the content. If you're a guy who doesn't want to be caught buying something where the cover looks like it belongs in the Barbie aisle of a Toys 'R Us, I highly recommend purchasing this series online and watching it privately. It's not for everyone, but most people with an appreciation for decent storytelling, great classical music and elegant artwork will find something to like about this show.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B+
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Great music, great animation, unique story.
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