Hi again fellow users! Today, I finally release a proposal for another character that has been on my to-do list for quite a long time. Once again, I’m diving into the wonderfully diverse and colorful world of anime and highlighting another protagonist, in this case, an unlikely heroine who I feel wholeheartedly embodies all the virtues associated with the Pure Good category, and also happens to come from a series I consider something of a personal favorite (the title might give you the impression it’s primarily aimed at young girls, but believe me, it’s most definitely got wider appeal than that). So let’s dive in, shall we?
What’s the work?
Princess Tutu is a magical girl-flavored anime series that was primarily created by illustrator and animator Ikuko Itoh. It’s strongly inspired by ballet and fairy tales, particularly The Ugly Duckling and Swan Lake, so it’s very reminiscent of old German fairy tales from the likes of The Brothers Grimm. Here’s the story setup; there was once a writer named Drosselmeyer who had the power to make his stories come to life. However, he died before he could finish a story called The Prince and the Raven, which left the main characters locked in an endless battle. Eventually growing tired of it, the Raven broke free into the real world, and the prince, named Prince Siegfried, pursued him, and eventually decided that the only way to seal him away was to shatter his own heart, which succeeded, but came at the cost of losing all his memories and not being able to feel any emotions. Meanwhile, however, Drosselmeyer still plots from behind the scenes as a ghost and is obsessed with finally making his story move forward and giving it an ending, preferably a tragic one since he feels like that’s the only good way to write a story. One day, he finds a little duck who’s often watching the prince, who’s now named Mytho, dance and fallen in love with him. Therefore, he gives her a special pendant that can turn her both into a girl and the fabled ballerina named Princess Tutu, who’s another character in his story. As Tutu, it’s now Duck’s job to find all the scattered shards of Mytho’s heart and return them to him. And of course, the focus of the post is about none other than our… ahem, plucky young heroine herself.
Who is she and what does she do?
Duck is, well, a duck named Duck who acts as the main protagonist of the show. She harbors an attraction towards Mytho at first and wishes to be able to dance with him, but she also notices the loneliness in his eyes, which makes her want to help put a smile on his face. Sensing this desire, Drosselmeyer gives her a special pendant that turns her into a girl, after which she is promptly enrolled into a ballet school alongside a couple of friends named Pique and Lillie (in case you’re wondering about the logistics behind that, she lives in a town controlled by stories, so when she suddenly becomes a girl and is inserted into the story, everyone just acts like she was always there). Anyway, she’s not a particularly good student, to say the least, due to being rather clumsy and easily distracted. However, she is also very kind, honest and well-meaning, and of course, as mentioned before, she also has the ability to turn into the fabled ballerina Princess Tutu, during which she becomes much more graceful, calm and mature.
She makes her debut as Princess Tutu when she saves Mytho from falling out his window in, ironically, an attempt to catch a chick that can’t fly yet, creating a bed of flowers with her dance to break his fall. She subsequently uses the pendant to track down and collect several of his heart shards, which have found their ways into the hearts of other residents who usually have some sort of longing and/or lack of fulfillment due to the heart shards that represent the prince’s more negative emotions being attracted to those who already feel those emotions and accentuating them in unhealthy ways. Whenever Duck comes into contact with these individuals, she turns into Princess Tutu and invites them to dance with her so that she can comfort them and assure that the strong negative feelings they have are not really theirs, as well as admit their true feelings and give them advice on how to solve their problems. This always ends up allowing them to make peace with their feelings, move on, and release the heart shard, which she then returns to Mytho. While it’s mostly other humans or anthropomorphic creatures, she also helps a couple of spirits in this manner, and in those cases especially, she ends up saving Mytho due to them becoming possessive of him in some manner as a result of the feeling the heart shard gives them.
At certain points, Duck wonders if she’s doing the right thing since when returning Mytho’s more negative emotions, it only seems to cause him more sadness and pain. This particularly comes to a head when she returns the heart shard of fear to him, which causes him to panic and become afraid of Princess Tutu without knowing why. This makes her feel awful and temporarily quit being her, as well as a girl, by throwing the pendant away. However, this ends up being very brief when she seems him in trouble again as a result of the heart shard of curiosity luring him underwater, so she’s given the pendant by Drosselmeyer to at least save him one more time. In the aftermath of this incident, however, Mytho expresses a desire to regain the rest of his heart, so from that point on, Duck/Tutu resolves more confidently to help him do that since she now knows he actually wants it.
Meanwhile, there’s also Fakir, an overprotective friend of Mytho’s who is initially very hostile towards Duck and actively tries to prevent him from getting his heart back since he doesn’t think anything good will come of regaining his emotions. However, as Mytho begins to express his desire to want to restore it himself, he begins to respect this and not oppose Duck attempts to help him accomplish this either as a girl or as Tutu. In fact, the two of them start to become increasingly good friends, particularly towards the end of the show’s first half. Conversely, however, there’s also a good student named Rue who, despite Duck’s attempts to get past her aloof personality and befriend her, begins to develop a more malevolent alter-ego named Princess Kraehe, a ballerina with a crow motif and an obsession to make Mytho hers alone due to her love for him. Therefore, she initially tries to oppose Tutu’s attempts to restore his heart, which comes to a head when Tutu finally tracks down the heart shard of love. When she tries to give it back to Mytho, Kraehe shows up and pulls it out, which causes him to shut out all his other emotions, as well as kidnap him.
All of this leads to the climax of the first half when Kraehe takes Mytho to an underground lake where Duck and Fakir, having now become partners through their shared desire to help him, track them down to. When confronting her, Kraehe tries to force Duck, who turns into Tutu to try and reach out to her, to confess her love for Mytho, since she’s fabled to vanish into a speck of light if she does so, by threatening to command the now emotionless Mytho to shatter the heart shard of love with a sword if she doesn’t oblige. Duck, as Tutu, is perfectly willing to do this as long as she promises to take care of him, which she does by promising to only love him more. However, Fakir stops her from doing this by reminding her that only she can track down the remaining heart shards, meaning there’ll be no one left to do that if she vanishes. He then assists her by fighting through a bunch of crows and shattering the sword Mytho had so that he can’t shatter the heart shard. He’s seemingly fatally injured in the process, but he’s later revealed to be okay. In the meantime, thanks to this, Tutu gets the idea to communicate her love for the prince not through words, but through dance, which results in a dance-off of sorts with Kraehe. While Kraehe initially has the advantage due to pairing up with the personification of the heart shard, Tutu manages to win over Mytho and the heart shard by pulling off the very impressive feat of performing a pas de deux (a dance meant for two people, usually a male and female pair) all on her own. Kraehe leaves in a dejected state (with Tutu feeling sorry for her) while Mytho finally gets the heart shard of love back. After Drosselmeyer’s puppet, Edel, makes a heroic sacrifice by setting herself on fire to guide them out of the darkness of the underground venue, which she does as a result of gradually growing attached to Duck through their interactions even though she was only meant to convey what Drosselmeyer wanted her to know, the two share a dance to close out the first half of the series.
In the second half of the show, the collecting of the heart shards mostly takes a backseat due to a new conflict arising. See, while everything seemed good and peaceful for a little while in the days, if not weeks, following Mytho regaining the feeling of love, it’s revealed that, following the instruction of the Raven, Mytho’s sworn enemy himself, Kraehe dipped the heart shard in raven’s blood before he got it back. This causes Mytho to be unwilling corrupted as it takes effect, to the point of developing a darker alter-ego dubbed the Prince of the Crows, who acts as another servant of the Raven’s. He then starts to seek out beautiful girls with pure hearts in his corrupted state to brainwash them into loving only him and hating everyone else so he can take their heart as a sacrifice for the Raven on his behalf, which he needs to break free from Mytho’s old seal on him. However, each time, Duck always arrives and transforms into Princess Tutu to remind the victims of their real selves, aspirations and/or feelings for the ones they really love, thereby helping them break free of the trance and saving them from becoming sacrifices. In this manner, she saves her friend Pique, a flower-loving girl named Freya, a local messenger who delivers love letters named Hermia, and Raetsel, an old friend of Fakir’s who’s like an older sister to him. Her appearances also help the real Mytho remember his real self and struggle against the raven’s blood. This only gets helped further when in the middle of these incidents, Duck tracks down the heart shard of pride, which had been possessing a wandering ghost knight and causing the knight to keep searching aimlessly for a purpose and cause to fight. Despite the ghost knight’s attempts to kill her, as Tutu, she’s able to talk him down, which causes him to make peace with what happened in the past, release the heart shard to her and presumably move on to the afterlife. Once she returns the feeling of pride, Mytho’s desire to fight the raven’s blood only gets stronger, which his true personality breaking through more frequently.
She has a couple of other fairly notable acts of heroism once Fakir finds outs he’s a descendent of Drosselmeyer, and remembers that he, too, has the power to write stories that can become reality. First, Autor, a classmate of his who knows of his connection to Drosselmeyer and his power, takes him to the base of an oak tree to see if he can find it and hear its voice when he touches it, which will indicate if he truly has the power. Initially though, while he does hear it, his power is so weak that he’s about to fail the test and become one with the tree. However, Duck turns into Princess Tutu and starts calling out to him, with her voice guiding him back and saving him. Later on, she also stops the same group of men whose ancestors cut off Drosselmeyer’s hands to stop him from writing stories that could become real from doing the same to Fakir under the misguided belief he would do similar harm.
To skip to all the important stuff near the end, eventually Duck finds out that nearly all the remaining heart shards are inside the 5 towers/gates surrounding Gold Crown Town, as well as that her pendant itself is a heart shard, hence why it can detect the others. However, she also finds out these heart shards are what’s keeping the Raven sealed away. She convinces Rue, who by then, has come to regret what she’s done to Mytho, especially after the raven’s blood turns him into a humanoid crow, that even though the Raven will be set free, Mytho has expressed a desire to get them back, so they should trust his will and judgement and accept that a confrontation between the two is inevitable. As Tutu, she calls out to and summons all the remaining heart shards and gives them back to Mytho. Of course, the Raven is also set free, and because Mytho is still a humanoid crow, he forcefully summons him so he can eat his heart. Thankfully, when Rue passionately confesses the love she’s always had for him, she stops this by breaking his curse and returning him to normal in exchange for being swallowed by the raven in his place, though still alive inside of him.
After this, as Tutu, she selflessly tries to give him the pendant, which is the last heart shard he needs, even though she knows she won’t be able to turn back into a girl or Princess Tutu once she does and will be permanently stuck as a plain duck again. However, she’s unable to remove it, upon which the Raven traps Mytho in a force field bubble and gives her until the next morning to relinquish it with the hope of defeating and devouring Mytho once his heart is full. Drosselmeyer then prays on this by making her believe that it won’t come off because deep down, she still wants the prince’s love to herself. He then tries to convince her to drown herself in a lake, but thankfully, Fakir stops this. He later goes to the lake himself to comfort her by saying that she’s just understandably scared about the story coming to an end, which everyone is to an extent since they’ll no longer have roles to play and may be a loss at what to do with their lives without the story to guide them. Once she comes to terms with this, the pendant comes off on its own, and she quickly returns it to Mytho to fully restore his heart and turns back into a duck.
Upon gaining the final shard, Mytho returns to his former identity as Prince Siegfried and tries to fight the raven to defeat him for good. However, it quickly becomes evident the situation is bad; one, Rue is still stuck inside the Raven, so he can’t destroy him without killing her too. Second, the Raven has just used his blood as rain to turn nearly all the other town’s residents into crows who are obedient to him, and he sics them on Siegfried knowing he’ll be unable to bring himself to hurt, let alone kill them since they’re innocent people and anthropomorphic animals alike who have been turned that way against their will. Third, Duck is now stuck as a duck. Fourth, Fakir’s power to write stories that can become reality is still too new and weak to have much of an effect on reality itself. Therefore, when Siegfried tries to take on the Raven, he’s greeted by dozens of residents-turned crows that he can only nonlethally defend himself against, and when Duck tries to help him with assistance from Fakir, her efforts to get through to the residents just causes them to mercilessly peck and toss her around. With things looking especially bleak, Siegfried considers that shattering his heart to seal the Raven again may be the only thing left to do.
However, it’s at this point something incredible happens; a distraught Duck desperately flaps and motions to him not to do that after they’ve fought so hard together to get it back, and she decides to perform a hopeful dance to convince everyone to not give up. At first, the Raven simply responds by having his minions continue to toss her around and peck her, with Fakir unable to stop it due to, again, his writing powers mostly just being able to follow what’s actually happening rather than being able to change it. However, despite being badly beaten, Duck just keeps getting back up and resuming her dance of hope, with Fakir catering to this and supporting her by writing how she refused to give up despite the pain due to her strong determination to save everyone. Eventually, she succeeds in reaching the hearts of all the residents, causing them to break free of the raven’s blood and return to normal. Meanwhile, at the same time, her will also both inspired Siegfried to keep fighting and not give up hope. Since the residents-turned-crows were distracted by her dancing, this also allowed him to finally reach the Raven, go inside him and save Rue, then destroy him for good by attacking his core. In the aftermath, Fakir finds and dismantles the device Drosselmeyer was using to control the town with his stories, Siegfried/Mytho asks Rue to be his princess and they return to his kingdom inside the story, everyone else in the town is implied to go on living happier and more normal lives, and of course, even though Duck is stuck as a duck, Fakir stays by her side like he promised he would and continues to write stories to hone/develop his power and come up with a happy ending for them.
This part’s an easy pass. As a human girl in particular, Duck may have her character flaws, such as being very klutzy and bad at concentrating in ballet class, with the latter frequently irritating her teacher, Mr. Cat, but she’s got absolutely nothing resembling real corrupting factors or malice. She proves time and time again that she’s a very kind, selfless and well-meaning duck/girl who only wants what’s best for those around her, and is willingly to go to incredible lengths to help them, because that’s just who she is. Even when she briefly gave up on being Princess Tutu, it was only because she was very upset with herself when she saw Mytho’s bad reaction to being given the heart shard of fear and genuinely thought she was hurting him much more than helping him by restoring his heart. Of course, that was also very short-lived once she found out he actually did want to have his heart restored and that despite experiencing negative emotions again as a result, it was a necessary growing pain of sorts to regaining his former self. Strictly speaking, there were also at least a couple of instances when she got a little snappy with Fakir in response to his rudeness, but it never went beyond that, and even those instances were quite rare. More often than not, she was actually making an impressively strong effort to be polite and civil with him early on when he was being very rude, and at times, even threatening to her. Frankly, everything I’ve mentioned in this section is nitpicking for the sake of highlighting that yes, she’s not absolutely perfect and without flaws, but she’s undoubtedly well-meaning and pure-hearted to the core. In fact, I’d even go as far as stating she’s among the most pure-hearted protagonists I’ve ever come across.
Admirable Standard/Goodness Zone
I’d say she passes this part with flying colors too. She easily stands out as the most admirable character in the cast, with only Mytho/Siegfried, and to a lesser extent, Fakir by the end, even coming close to her. As Princess Tutu in particular, she does quite a lot; in the first half of the show, she not only both saves Mytho at least two or three times and gathers many of his heart shards for him, but she helps all the individuals who come into possession of Mytho’s heart shards while collecting them. And unlike even other similar magical girl series, she always does so in a very pacifistic way by inviting them to dance with her, during which she helps them realize the negative emotions they’re experiencing as a result of the heart shards are not their own and liberates them from those emotions, which pretty much always has the effect of leaving them happier, content, or even resolving their specific problem/conflict in the aftermath. In a similar manner, she saves several people in the second half of the series from a raven’s blood-corrupted Mytho using them as sacrifices for the Raven by reminding them of their true selves, desires, and the people they really love, while even helping Mytho struggle against the raven’s blood within him, especially after she recovers the heart shard with the feeling of pride to him. Oh, and she saves Fakir a couple of times, first from becoming assimilated into an oak tree, then from having his hands cut off.
However, even as just a duck and girl, she shows a number of admirable traits. For one thing, while she merely had a crush on Mytho at the very beginning, it quickly evolved into a genuine desire to help him get his heart, and by extension, his feelings back after pitying him for the empty expression he always had in his eyes. She was also often willing to believe in, if not actually bring out the best in others. For example, despite Fakir’s initially hostile attitude, when she found out he truly wanted to protect Mytho and help him in his own way, she generally tried to be friendly anyway and was very quick to suggest teaming up and working together, which slowly but surely leads them to becoming closer to the point they gradually become very good friends and close allies. She was also very friendly towards Rue, to the point of actively befriending her despite her initial aloof and slightly haughty attitude. What’s even more impressive is that despite her turning more and more into Kraehe as a result of seeing herself that way, as well as it being kind of upsetting for Duck, she never gave up on her and kept believing deep down, she was really Rue, which at least partially contributed to Rue realizing that the days she was living as a normal girl without remembering being raised and manipulated by the Raven were the only times she was truly happy. There’s also, of course, the fact she was willing to give up the pendant and go back to being a duck to give Mytho his final heart shard and save Rue, despite her own prior feelings, with so little hesitation or conflict (beyond some understandable anxiety about not having a defined role anymore, but that’s very understandable and sympathetic).
However, it’s her final big act, at which point, she’s stuck as a duck, no longer able to turn into a girl or Princess Tutu, that really takes the cake. Despite the final battle seeming hopeless, with even Mytho/Siegfried on the verge of shattering his heart all over again to seal the Raven, she not just inspires him, but all the citizens of Gold Crown Town who had been turned into crows, to not give up with a dance of hope. Despite being pecked and thrown around mercilessly by the transformed citizens, she just keeps getting back up and dancing, and eventually, her positive feelings actually manage to reach and save them all from the raven’s blood, turning them all back to normal. So in the end, despite just being a small and fairly fragile duck, she essentially proves that even the smallest and unlikely of creatures can make a big difference by playing an absolutely essential part in saving all the townspeople and inspiring Mytho/Siegfried to defeat the Raven, which ultimately leads to everyone having a happy ending. And really, let’s be honest; can anyone think of a more Pure Good-esque method of giving a story a happy ending then literally saving everyone with hope? Because I certainly can’t.
I know this was another fairly lengthy proposal, but one, it was another case where it was absolutely necessary to cover everything important, and two, I’m glad I did it, because Duck might just be one of the most clear examples of Pure Good, at least by the wiki’s criteria, that I’ve ever come across. Despite just being a duck who happened to be given a pendant to become Princess Tutu by a writer from beyond the grave in the hopes she would move the story along and complete his aspiring tragedy, as well as dealing with both self-doubt and uncertainly about what’s she doing at various points, she ends up leading everyone to a well-deserved happy ending. She’s one of those characters where it’s hard to come up with any possible reasons for why she doesn’t qualify. Hopefully, I came at least close to conveying that through this proposal as well as she conveyed her positive feelings through her dancing at different points in the show, ha ha. Thanks a lot for reading and all the best!