Sacrificial Princess Tutu

Princess Tutu is a dark and complex anime hidden behind the guise of a childish magical girl show. Initially, it tells the story of a duck who is given a pendant by a strange man, and the chance to live a life of a clumsy ballet student. One day, when her fellow student, Mytho, falls from a window and hurtles towards certain death, she unlocks the pendant’s ability to transform her into the magical Princess Tutu. She rescues the prince and thus sets in motion a tale of love, magic, and sacrifice.

We often imagine sacrifice as those dramatic movie scenes where some bullet or knife is just about to kill a character and just at the last possible moment, someone else jumps in the way to rescue the would-be victim. In daily life, sacrifice may also be thought of as giving up a precious bit of downtime to do something for someone else. Sacrifice has been pushed away from us, either being a thing for an honorable people or a very reluctant action. For Christians, sacrifice is important to faith. Christ led a sacrificial life up through the ultimate sacrifice, when he died on the cross for our sins, and we should follow his example to serve others.

But what can our really bring? Princess Tutu explains this throughout the rest of its story.

Princess Tutu’s plot grows increasingly complex as the anime continues. The man who gave Duck the pendant is revealed to be Drosselmeyer, the dead writer whose characters escaped the story and currently attend the same school as Duck. He controls the world they live in with his powerful ability to write events into existence. He uses his powers to weave tragic stories throughout the world. Drosselmeyer is bent on ensuring his story follows through, pushing all the characters to their limits, drawing them towards death and despair. Despite his urges, though, the characters manage to overcome his desires by their selfless actions.

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The main characters of the show are the ones who really highlight the power of sacrifice. Fakir, the reincarnation of the knight torn apart by the Raven, is gifted with the same power Drosselmeyer had. Despite fears of using these talents, with which he accidentally killed his own parents, he finally forces himself to write, defying Drosselmeyer’s control over the story in order to protect his friends. Rue, meanwhile, struggles with the many cruel twists that keep getting thrown into her life. At first, she’s the daughter of the Raven and convinced that she is worthless and the only one who could ever love her was the prince. Then Rue realizes how her actions are slowly corrupting her prince and turning him into a monster that will end up feeding his heart to the Raven. Finally, Rue finds that she wasn’t even the daughter of the Raven, having been stolen as a little girl. Losing all hope, she ends up letting herself be devoured by the Raven in the prince’s place, still clinging to the last bit of love she has for him.

Even though Fakir, Rue, and the rest of the cast of characters all show a degree of sacrifice, I think Duck and Mytho are the two that represent it best. For Duck, many obstacles that she faces threatens her and the heart shard she is protecting, and yet she doesn’t hesitate to use her dancing skills to protect all that she can. 

The reality of sacrifice is really driven home during the last few episodes. When her pendant is revealed to be the last heart shard, Duck is given a time limit to return to the Raven and hand it over. Sje runs off and has a long battle with herself. Duck fights the fear of what she is giving up, as the pendant gives her the ability to become a human girl and a magical princess. By handing over the shard, she’ll become a small, nameless duck once again and will never be able to return to her happy school life with all her friends. Fakir quickly to come to her aid to help talk her through her troubles and to encourage her to push through the sadness of what she’s about to do.Image result for princess tutu duck underwater"

For Mytho, his multiple changes in heart accurately represent the good and bad kinds of sacrifice. When he has his full, untainted heart, he’s the caring prince ready to shatter his heart all over again to protect his people. This is where he showcases what sacrifice is: giving up what you have to protect and aid others. When his heart is corrupted with raven’s blood, however, his idea of noble sacrifice is warped. Instead of giving his love and protection, he now demands it from his victims as he tries to steal their hearts for the Raven. Mytho reveals the opposite side of sacrifice, the side where you don’t need to sacrifice anything but everyone should sacrifice something to you. Of course, others will make sacrifices for you. The danger comes when you begin to think that you don’t need to help anyone else besides yourself, and yet everyone should be quick to help you out.

Mytho with his full, untainted heart, is what I wish I could be. I imagine myself as quick to help others whenever I can, without a second thought. If I could do that without ever worrying about the struggles I’ll have to undergo later after giving up something, I would. Instead of sacrificing my time to help others, though, I often worry that I won’t be able to give anything the person needs. Even though I have many things to offer, such as art and writing, I’m quick to doubt that what I can give would be beneficial to others. So instead of rushing in to volunteer myself, I sit on the sidelines and let them figure out things on their own. I constantly feel the struggle that Duck goes through, the uncertainty of how life will always go on my back. In times like these, all I can do is pray and remind myself that God will provide.

Sacrifice should be a very importance aspect of our lives. While we aren’t risking our lives in the middle of survival situations, we should be willing to sacrifice things for others. It’s easy to think we have nothing to give up to others, but we may be surprised to find that we do have quite a lot to offer. We can sacrifice our time, money, resources, abilities, to name a few. While yes, there are some times that don’t have any opportunities and sometimes it’s better to care for ourselves first, these shouldn’t be a constant thing. We should be ready to jump in and give up whatever we can, just as Duck was willing to give up her humanity so that those she loved could have their own happy endings.

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4 thoughts on “Sacrificial Princess Tutu

  1. As I read this post, I could not help but reminded of Madoka’s sacrifice in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It is interesting that two different magical girl anime have this similar theme in common, despite their differences in plot, characters, etc.

    I was moved when you said that sacrifice is not simply giving away downtime, which is what I have believed sacrifice to be for a long time. Sacrifice, as it applies to Duck, is costly. Many “sacrifices” I have made in my life have not cost me very much, which leads me to explore and think about what Christ truly meant when He commanded His disciples to wash feet and serve others.

    As always, thank you for the thought-provoking post!

  2. Princess Tutu is a truly hopeful show, and Ahiru remains one of my favorite characters ever. As the Princess, she is a light of purity and grace, burning with chaste, sacrificial love, corageously seeking to take others out of their personal abysses and deserts, untainted but never without compassion for those suffering of an impure heart, inviting, suggesting, attracting to the truth with delicacy and respect, going deep, fighting, shining with hope, innocent and wise, humble and strong. She reminds me of the Virgin Mary, fighting the Dragon in the biggest battle of all near her Son while at the same time living in Nazareth, unnoticed, a life of humility and obedience as an unremarkable woman of the people. The Princess is truly Ahiru, with all her feelings in an intimate, inner way, yet Ahiru is at the same time this not-too-bright, naïve, star-crossed and loud girl who will never be able to catch Mytho´s eye. And she goes further than Madoka: she truly sacrifices everything, even the Princess, even her humanity, even her friends, even Mytho, when there is so little hope.

    It is bold, I´d even say unheard of, that a story should invest so much in the hero and the heroine, and end up having them going separate ways in such a satisfactory and realistic -and sacrificial- way. Whenever I watch something by a cruel author, I will remember the fight of Fakir against Drosselmeyer, humble hope against splendid and artsy despair. And the hellish imaginery of the fight against the Raven, that can only be matched by that scene of Sleeping Beauty where Maleficient as a dragon boasts of having all the powers of Lucifer, will remain with me too.

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