The Takes a Lickin' and Keeps
Yes. I watched two "princess-themed" anime shows in a row -- Petite Princess Yucie (Puchi Puri Yuushi) and Princess Tutu -- both obviously aimed at 10 year-old girls even more so than Sailor Moon and My Little Pony ever were. I'm man enough to admit that neither princess series really sucked at all too. Take from that what you will, but I stand by it.... Man, if anybody I knew actually read my site I'd be pretty damn embarrassed to admit that I sat through both programs all the way to their ends. But if we're talking improbabilities now, I guess I'd be more embarrassed if anybody ever found out that I liked rubbing cottage cheese all over my naked body while drinking wine-in-a-box and watching Benny Hill on the telly as I call up supermodels and try to sell them flour in little baggies marked "Sniffy Stuff". Oh, YOU guys don't count. Like anybody'd believe you if you told them anyway.
What? So both princessy shows are about little girls who want to become more than what they were born as. One wants to become the Platina Princess of her kingdom and make everybody smiley and happy complacent little sheep, and one wants to be a ballerina (this second one initially starting life out as a duck, so her dreams are actually bigger than the first's). Both girls have to go to a special school (not short-bus "special," but "talented" special) in order to learn how to become what their hearts desire, and both need to discover the power of friendship and love in order to-- Oh Jesus.... Seriously, *ack*! I really can't make this sound "not gay" can I... Oh fuck it. I'll just jump straight into the reviews now.
Petite Princess Yucie
PPY is a Gainax series (with Hideaki Anno acting as "supervising director," so right there you know that it's not shitty like He Is My Master or Melody of O-suckmyballs) about friendship (Awwwwww), and strange little girls who look like they're 10 years-old, but who are really in their late teens... And despite this show being based on a computer game (incidentally also made by Gainax), and the fact that the five main princess-candidate girls are really (just shy of) legal (despite looking pedofied), there are no kinky, hentai hijinks going on within it whatsoever. Imagine that.
Anyway, the plot goes a little something like this: Yucie is a large-foreheaded, small, lilliputian, and tiny girl who's really 17 years-old and who isn't really the daughter of her father... Turns out he just found baby Yucie in a basket after a bitchin', bloody battle he helped win (he being the kingdom's bestest knight ever!). Yucie also has a man-sevant who is really a demon from Hell. He's a helpful little damnable creature though, and through various barterings with other demons can provide his mistress with whatever magical item she may need at any given time, in order to help her attain her dream of becoming the Platina Princess (TM) & (C), and thereby acquiring the the Eternal Tiara (TM) & (C) (every girly girl's dream!) and the power to get one of her deepest desired wishes to come true. Yay! In order to become the Platina Princess however, Yucie has to compete with the princesses of 4 other dimensions: the Princess of Hell, Glenda; the Princess of Heaven, Erumina; the Princess of the Ghost Realm, Kokoru; and the Princess of the Elf Realm, Beth.
All 5 girls also have to attend the Princess Academy (which for some reason is HUGE... the show never answers if all the chicks who attend classes there are princesses themselves, and if so how many kingdoms ARE there in this world? And why can't those Japanese ever make a show about a Prostitution Academy... In live action... Without those annoying blurred-out genitals), and they have to get after-school jobs in order to learn something or another or whatever. After just a few episodes, Petite Princess Yucie kind of turns into a psuedo Simpsons (i.e. the girls stop going to school, and just take on a different job in each episode). The jobs are all lightweight fare though -- the girls have to help a baker bake a wedding cake, a teacher teach kindergarten, or they become maids or temporary librarians, etc. etc. And the overwhelmingly obvious point of all these laaaaame jobs (and after a while the job episodes DO start to drag on) is to get the girls to become friends and trust each other more... Urgh. Each job episode is clearly and transparently aimed at one of the individual princesses in order to force her to become more fleshed out and less of a background character, and therefore more likely to sell t-shirts and toys -- just like any and every Sailor Moon episode and character. Er, or so I've been told. Anyway, the job eps thankfully don't last the whole season, and once the adventure portion of the series kicks in you just forget who learned what gay lesson while keeping the grasshoppers from eating the whole sunflower patch, and you simply enjoy the ride.
As for the girls themselves, Yucie's the peppy, never-gonna-give-up lead, Glenda's the bitchy one, Kokoru is the shy, wife-beaten one, Erumina's the haughty, better-than-thou one (her dad IS God, so she kinda deserves to be), and Beth is the moron who hates working with others and who constantly wears a helmet that looks like something a retard who bangs his head against metal objects would have on. Of course by the end of the show they're all BFFs (double awwwww), but this being a Gainax series with Anno's hand in it, you just know that something twisted and almost evil is gonna happen to dick the girls over before all is said and done. And oh do they get dicked. Royally dicked (pun intended).
There are hints to the darkness of the real plot throughout the show (like the girls' curses to be forever 10, the episode showing Yucie's dad's background story [holy shit, did HE get the royal shaft big time... I just love that pun], Beth's father's predicament, and that little, warped creature in the Jawa cloak who seems to be running things from the shadows), but that part of the plot doesn't really take center stage until the last 3 or 4 episodes. And when the wickedness appears, the shit that these little girls have to make it through is really all kinds of fucked up. Though how Yucie and the gang all get through it is something that'll make you smile like a preteen little g-.... Christ.... I'm never going to live this fucking review down.
The opening song is peppy and a little too enjoyable too, but fuck it... On to:
This is one truly fucked up premise. There once was a duck who fell in love with a prince who lost his heart and his ability to feel any emotion while battling an evil raven. The prince and the raven were originally characters written in a story, but the storywriter had his hands chopped off by the stupid townspeople while writing about the prince and the evil bird because he was a magical narrator and his stories tended to come true. Anyway, so the little duck eventually meets this storyteller (who found a way to continue his narrative even after all that crap) and he writes her into his ongoing saga by allowing her to become human, and then become Princess Tutu (who is a magical girl, but instead of fighting evil where it exists, she DANCES with the minions of doom in order to defeat their plans [just like in a shitty Indian Bollywood movie... "shitty" and "Bollywood movie" of course being ultra redundant]). That was actually the LEAST complicated way of telling you what the hell is going on in this show.
I could have told you about Rue, the lead ballerina at the art school that Ahiru (the duck in human form/magical girl), Mythos (the emotionless prince), and Fakir (a useless knight in the prince's story) all attend, who is actually Princess Kraehe ("Crow" in German) in disguise. Who's Princess Kraehe?... Seriously, do you think it really fucking matters? Fine... Kraehe is Tutu's chief rival in getting the expressionless Prince Mythos to fall in love with her. Why, I have absolutely no idea. I guess he's a pretty boy and all, but he's also pretty dumb and does whatever he's told... Hmmm, maybe I hit on something there. There are several points in the show where Rue tells the doped-up looking prince "Say that you love me," and he does. Completely unbelievable and in a monotone voice, but chicks don't give a shit about that. It's just the spoken words that seem to power them. I swear, you could stab a girl in her neck with a rusty kitchen knife, and if you say "I love you, sweetheart" before she calls the cops she'll turn teary-eyed and tell you that it was all her fault anyway. God chicks are so fucking dumb.
Anyway, so Ahiru/Tutu goes episode by episode recapturing her prince's lost emotions (trapped in the hearts of the strange inhabitants of her town), and Kraehe/Rue fights, er, DANCES against her every step of the way. Fakir is an annoying pussy, but he also seems to get in Ahiru/Tutu's way for his own reasons. During all this Ahiru must also somehow pass her dance classes (taught by a cat in a leotard who threatens to marry any of his failing students), discifer Drosselmeyer's confusing double-talked clues in order to save the prince (Drosselmeyer being the bug-eyed, dis-handed writer who's somehow still creating this story from beyond the grave), and figure out if Kyle Reese was right, and if fate is truly only what you make it to be. "There is no fate but what you make." "Come with me if you want to live!" "It's not a tumah!" The point I was trying to make is that Ahiru's life is pretty fucked up, not to mention she turns back into a duck whenever she gets excited or scared and "quacks" out loud... I'm telling you, this show is for toddlers. If you watch this and try to make it sound grown-up or PG-13 in the least to your friends you're just completely delusional. Seriously, this is the equivalent of watching Strawberry Shortcake or the Care Bears. Or Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Care Bears. Except with shitloads more gay ballet dancing.
Not that it out and out stunk though. Princess Tutu did have some interesting ideas and themes to play with; like that "going against fate" thread, and the way that Drosselmeyer taunts all the stars of his story. Taunting kids is always a fun pasttime (hell, I know that the Wolfman likes to go over to the playground at lunchtime, and just eat a bag of Oreos, a box of Ding-Dongs and a six pack of grape soda on the other side of the fence, and he just lets the kids watch and drool. If he ever can't finish anything he usually just throws it on the ground and steps on it while laughing and calling the kids "unlucky little s.o.b.s). Also, the animation is pretty damn good too. Very fluid and the characters are always on model. There's lots of spinning, twirling and other dancey, difficult-to-animate motions throughout the series, but it never faulters. The soundtrack is unique too in that it's nothing but classical ballet music. It's like those old Bugs Bunny cartoons in which the characters move in time with Rossini and Wagner (you don't know who the fuck those two are, do you. Yay for public schooling...), just with less mallets and shotguns. There are giant, talking, dancing animals in Tutu though: Anteaters, cows and bats. Bizarre.
Also completely fucked up is how twisted some of the storytelling gets. Yeah, you know about the "hands getting chopped off" part, but a kid's mom gets murdered by crows (I am pun-crazy today!)), a life-sized marionette sets herself on fire to help her friends (and this sacrifice is kind of in vain as they don't really even need her help in the first place), and betrayals are committed and loves lost all the way to the bitter end. And I won't even get into the final episodes other than to say that sometimes "life sucks then you die."
Yes, despite the darkness in some parts of the show this is STILL an anime aimed at little girls. You can not make this thing sound manly in the least most respectable way. If it becomes your favorite show of all time after watching it you are either a little girl, gay, or in need of serious psychiatric help. Hell, maybe all three.