Halfway through. Spoil me and I will wipe your memory and dump you into a Stanford prison experiment.
Opening narrations and episode-specific notes first, general thoughts after. I've written this up over several days so it may be disjointed or incomplete.
Episode 10, "Cinderella (Aschenbrödel: Walzer-Coda)"
Once upon a time, there was a maiden. The maiden wore tattered clothes and was called Cinderella. But with the help of some magic, she became a beautiful princess and got to dance with the prince. Then, at the stroke of midnight, the maiden ran away, leaving a glass slipper, and she returned to being Cinderella once again.
The prince went to great lengths to find this maiden, which he did, and took her as his wife. Yet, a thorny question arises: did the prince really fall in love with the maiden?
This would be the Fakir backstory episode and the start of his arc over this disc. I note that the sword he demands from the knowledgable smith Karon is the Lohengrin sword. (According to the Étude extra, his battle in ep. 13 is scored to the opera.) Unlike Mytho (and Rue, it seems), Fakir is aging in normal time, apparently the knight reborn rather than the knight still (with birthmarks on body and arm that look like feathers to me, though the ones on body are also in roughly the same place where the knight was cut apart by the raven).
It is a little unlikely that he should have cut Princess Tutu's necklace off, but it does give the opportunity, for the perfect, err, ideal icon for this series *points*. And it ties back into Fakir's realization at the end that Duck is Princess Tutu.
The Étude extra says that the necklace = Cinderella's shoes, which hadn't been my first guess because I was thinking along the Kraehe/Prince axis, i.e., did she really fall in love with an empty shell? The openings do freely mix-and-match genders, as shown by the next. (The Princess Tutu v. Duck issue, I'm leaving for the end of the post.)
Episode 11, "La Sylphide"
Once upon a time, there was a maiden with wings of freedom. A man in love with this maiden thought, "If I could just bind those wings, we would never have to be apart, even for a moment." But when the man wrapped the maiden's wings in a magical shawl, the wings immediately fell to the ground and the maiden died. The man did not know that the maiden's wings were the source of her life.
Pulling out that heart-shard, oooh. Romance-novel-cover swoon, but in reverse. (I want to know the story of the poor sad person who returned the love gem to Miss Edel.)
Fakir calls Kraehe "raven" and "crow"; she thinks she's a crow; later she's identified with a black swan. I can't tell if these are significant or the story is just treating all evil birds of mythology as one. Which would be fine, if only ravens weren't story-significant . . .
Episode 12, "Banquet of Darkness (Scheherazade)"
Once upon a time, there was a handsome slave. What bound him were not heavy chains, but the love of a princess. Every day, every night, the princess whispered her love to the slave, and the slave responded in kind. Bound body, bound emotions. The slave or the princess: which of them is really the one who is unable to move?
A bit of an odd (original) episode title, considering what it's referencing.
Kraehe calls on Drosselmeyer! She knows quite a lot about the story—particularly given the nasty dilemma she poses Tutu at the end. Is she in the story the way the other three are? Fakir looked at her feather next to Mytho, however-many episodes back, and said something like "finally you're here," but I don't know if he knew it was her or thought she was the raven. At any rate, I don't remember anyone talking yet about a crow princess in the story.
(Also, I can't believe that Duck didn't realize Rue = Kraehe until now.)
I like that Duck isn't afraid to do what's necessary, like revealing her duck self to Fakir. And the sleeping prince was another nice gender-reversed touch.
Episode 13, "Swan Lake"
Once upon a time, there was a prince who fell in love with a beautiful swan. The prince, however, fell into a foul trap set by a black swan and ended up betraying his belovèd swan. The prince swore his love unintentionally to the black swan. But even then, the swan abandons herself and tries to protect her beloved prince. Now is the time when the depth of their love will be tested.
(I did an icon from this opening animation, plus one from a prior episode: gallery . More will probably come.)
Mytho's sword was swans? Cool!
Close of this Fakir arc, facing his fear and defying fate. Hooray for stopping Tutu from being hypnotized by the hard choice (TM Bujold). The deus ex, err, puppeta? of his surviving would be too easy if it weren't for Miss Edel's self-sacrifice, though her burning up to light their way out works better on a symbolic level than a rational one. Which symbolism is more than a bit worrying, given the fate decreed for Princess Tutu; but that's been averted for the time being and Mytho seems to be basically? himself again (I did a list of heart-shards below, just to see what's left). Act 1 over, Act 2 . . . ?
Thus, the deep love of the princess overcame the evil magic. The prince regained his feeling of love, and the two danced, expressing their feelings in all their fullness. On and on the two danced, wishing that this happiness would last for all eternity.
- Bitter disappointment (Anteaterina, episode 2)
- Loneliness (Miss Ebine, episode 3)
- Sorrow (Giselle, episode 4)
- Affection (the lamp, episode 5)
- Fear and uncertainty (Paulamoni of the Eleki troupe, episode 6)
- Desire for knowledge (the river, revealed in episode 7, restored in episode 8)
- Devotion (art student Malen, episode 9)
- Regret (Karon, episode 10)
- Love (unidentified animal-person (bear?), revealed in episode 11, restored in episode 13)
So, still a fair amount left, if the show wants to keep doing this. I don't see anything in the anger or the humor areas, for instance.
Okay, this is how I understand the story resumption thing, which may well be wrong, so if I'm misunderstanding stuff already said in these episodes, do feel free to say so.
The story as written down by Drosselmeyer before his death: the prince and the raven were enemies. At some point, the raven killed the knight before the knight could do anything useful. At another point, Princess Tutu was briefly present in the story and disappeared into a speck of light. (I await more to help me judge that piece of symbolism.) Drosselmeyer died with the prince and raven still locked in combat.
The prince and the raven left the pages of the story. Once outside, the prince took out his heart and bound the raven. (So the knight did not kill his friend, despite the opening narration of episode 8?) The prince's heart shattered, and now he's Mytho (not clear how long elapsed between that and Fakir finding him, or if linear time is even meaningful in that town).
And returning Mytho's heart to him will start the tale going again. I can think of two ways to read that. One, the shattered heart forced the story off the rails, as it were, and now that his heart is returning, everything is now compatible with the story, which has a strong (though not overwhelming) power. Two, the shattering of the prince's heart was necessary to the raven's binding, not merely a side effect (I don't think this has been made clear yet), and so returning the heart means that the raven will be set free.
I lean slightly more toward the first, based on my sense of the series so far, but either way we should be in for some raven pretty soon, which I hope lives up to its billing.
(My, that all looks very obvious typed up; but it was confusing me, so best I work it through.)
Other outstanding issues:
I understand Rue/Kraehe's motivations now: for some reason, the fully-restored prince would hate her (which does suggest that she's in the story, else why would he?), and she can't bear that because she loves him. This makes sense, as far as it goes, but there has to be more coming about this.
As for Mytho, I hope we can now be shown his character rather than told about it. (Is there much development left for Fakir?)
Now, Princess Tutu. She saves people by dancing to convey emotion. Perhaps the Magical Girl part of this bugs me because it's so girly. Princess Tutu is very emotional, in both her own personality and the focus of her actions. And she performs femininity in a much more stereotypical way than Duck, being graceful, elegant, soft-spoken, composed—also, and not incidentally, visibly post-pubescent.
I fully expect that this will be addressed in due course, but it's been an issue in my watching.
Finally, the theme of "knowing your place in the world": at present it seems to be a slightly odd way of talking about destiny and/or narrative imperative (something like Byatt's "The Story of the Eldest Princess"). I will certainly be watching to see how this develops.