Princess Tutu
Episode 19-20

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Princess Tutu ?

How would you rate episode 20 of
Princess Tutu ?

If I've mentioned the works of Hans Christian Andersen a lot in relationship to Princess Tutu, that's not just because his literary fairy tales are so pervasive in the story's world. Yes, that's a large part of it – the opening of episode nineteen owes a lot to his 1836 The Little Mermaid - but it's also because of what Andersen wrote: literary fairy tales, i.e. stories intended to sound like folktales but made up by the author. Andersen, and others like him, from fellow Victorians like Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens to modern writers like A. S. Byatt and Katie O'Neill, take themes from folklore and repurpose them into original stories, and that's what Drosselmeyer is doing as he forces The Prince and the Raven to play out. We see elements of folkloric tales and maybe a few almost-direct retellings, but at the end of the day, he's creating a story out of a mix of whole cloth and patchwork squares of fairy tales. And because this is his story, he sees himself as the Infallible Author whose work cannot be changed by a mere retelling.

This is something that none of the characters have managed to directly challenge, although the ending of the first cour looks as if they have. After all, Tutu is still alive, the Knight is still alive, and the Raven seems to have been banished. But bringing it back to the start of episode nineteen, the fact that Tutu never directly spoke her love for the prince becomes a sticking point. Like the girl in the opening narration and Andersen's Little Mermaid learn, not being able to actively state aloud your love for someone doesn't necessarily work – Andersen's mermaid's lack of a voice leads her prince to treat her more like a pet (she sleeps on a cushion outside his room) and he ultimately marries another while she turns into seafoam – Tutu's original fate if she did speak her love aloud. And now it's looking like the person she's coming to care for isn't Mytho after all, but Fakir, putting her in the same position as the girl in the narration.

Duck and Fakir falling for each other is a direct refutation of Drosselmeyer's world. Neither of them were supposed to be alive at this point, but arguably with the Raven defeated, Tutu and the prince should have gotten their happy ending. That Duck is forming her own feelings beyond what the story dictates is significant; she may not be in charge of her transformations, but she is the master of her own heart, and if she follows it, the story won't be strictly under Drosselmeyer's control anymore. Not that he's worried about it yet, but that's only because Fakir is still under his thumb – we learn in episode twenty that as a child Fakir had Author powers like Drosselmeyer's, but he threw them away when he believed that they had caused the deaths of his parents. (In a very Andersen-like move, it seems much more likely that Drosselmeyer did it and deliberately traumatized a child for his own purposes, or perhaps pulled a The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf and wanted to teach a lesson about overweening pride. More on that next week.) By urging him to take up the pen again, Duck is actively trying to subvert the story Drosselmeyer is intent on playing out – she wants another Author to save Mytho from the Raven blood and make him human again. Right now Drosselmeyer's confident that it won't happen – in his own mind, no one can turn his story on its head with fanfiction.

But Duck isn't the only one hoping someone can turn the page. Fakir finding all of the ripped out endings is symbolic of how he subconsciously feels that he ruined his chance of changing the story, and both Kraehe's and Mytho's increasing desperation to do something to make things right is building up to some kind of rebellion. Drosselmeyer's hubris is currently keeping him from realizing that any of this is a threat, but he's slowly being backed into a corner, and when he realizes it, we may see that though he be but little, he is more fierce than anyone truly understood.

The protagonist of John Kendrick Bangs' 1896 novel A Rebellious Heroine “despite his authorship of many novels, still considered himself a realist. He affected to say that he did not write his books; he merely transcribed them from life as he saw it, and he insisted always that he saw life as it was.” That's a claim that could be applied to Fakir, and perhaps even to Drosselmeyer, with the difference being that Drosselmeyer sees life as being subject to his pen while Fakir doesn't yet understand that stories change with the teller. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but even if you see life “as it is,” it's going to seem like fiction to someone else. So why not write the story you want to see? Loving two things doesn't have to mean that you have to choose between them.


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