“I have always loved you,” says the LORD. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”…(Malachi 1:2)
When I was a child, it seemed silly to me that God would put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. If he knew Adam and Eve would disobey him, why did he give them the chance? I’ve eventually come to understand why: that God decided to give us the choice. He allowed us to stray from him. He didn’t have to give us free will, but he did.
I didn’t think that an anime called Princess Tutu would make me ponder that again. It was a long time before I decided to take a chance with what seemed like an average magic girl anime. Happily, I was wrong. Princess Tutu has a unique kind of storytelling that draws from many different fairy tales and ballets, searching deeper into the somewhat darker themes in them that it’s easy to miss. It tells the story of a town where reality and fantasy have been melded together. This happened when two enemies, a noble Prince and an evil Raven, leave the unfinished story they had fought in. The Prince manages to seal away the Raven, but shatters his heart into many pieces to accomplish this. The story comes to a stand-still, and the Prince becomes devoid of all emotion.
In the middle of this, a small Duck appears. She sees the Prince, and feels deeply sorry for him. She then becomes a character in the story, and by transforming into Princess Tutu, is able to return the pieces of the Prince’s heart to him. She grows to love the Prince (whose named Mytho), but according to the story, if she ever tells him this, she will disappear in a flash of light.
The thing is, even though getting his heart returned to him can be painful, Mytho still wants it back. His friends, on the other hand, don’t. Rue, his girlfriend, is an interesting case in particular. She desperately wants Mytho to love her. As his feelings are returned to him, she becomes terrified that he won’t love her anymore, and that he’ll love someone else. Out of this fear, she tries to prevent Mytho from getting his heart back by becoming Princess Kraehe.
Duck (or Ahiru if you’re watching the subs) has the same fear. In fact, as the series continues, it becomes less and less likely that Mytho will return her love. It doesn’t help that if she can’t tell him her feelings for fear of disappearing. Even still, she keeps returning Mytho’s heart to him, because she understands that without feelings and the will to choose, whatever “love” Mytho can give her is useless. Even when his heart is poisoned by the evil Raven and he no longer acts like the Prince she loved, she continues to give him his heart back in the hopes that he can be saved.
Kraehe/Rue, on the other hand, tries to take his heart away, and is bitterly disappointed. She finds herself completely unsatisfied, because Mytho’s words of love mean nothing. She soaks his heart in Raven’s blood, so that he will be manipulated by the raven and love her, but he becomes cruel and selfish, and she only wants someone to love her even more.
Many people, for whatever reason, choose not to love God. Many also hate him, or deny his existence. God could have chose to force us to love him- He definitely had the power to- But like Princess Tutu, he knew that love isn’t real love if it is forced, and that forcing someone to love you isn’t being loving. Even though each of us, like Mytho, who chose to follow the Raven, make choices that hurt ourselves, others, and God, he still allows us choose for ourselves. He wanted us to be real people, not emotionless dolls, like Mytho was. God doesn’t want us to be forced to love him, he wants us to choose to love him, because only then does our love mean anything.
Just one more thing…
In episode 18, I noticed something interesting that the Cruel raven says to Kraehe:
You will not be loved by anyone but me and the Prince in the story. Do you understand me, daughter? And there is no way that you will ever be loved so much that someone would forfeit his own life for you. Remember that well…And if you stand in the Prince’s way again, you will lose even my love.
I always thought that the Raven would have great similarities to Satan, and I still believe that I was right. He would have us believe that God doesn’t love us at all.
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