Princess Tutu (プリンセスチュチュ Purinsesu Chuchu ) is a magical girl anime series created by Ikuko Itoh in 2002 for animation studio Hal Film Maker. It was adapted as a 2-volume manga illustrated by Mizuo Shinonome. Both the manga and anime series were licensed by ADV Films. Princess Tutu follows Ahiru (meaning 'duck' in Japanese), a duck who was transformed into a young girl who takes ballet at a private school. She becomes enamoured of her mysterious schoolmate Mytho, and transforms into Princess Tutu to restore his shattered heart. Mytho's girlfriend Rue transforms into Princess Kraehe to disrupt Tutu's efforts, and Mytho's protective friend Fakir discourages Mytho's burgeoning emotions. When it becomes apparent that Ahiru, Rue, Mytho, and Fakir are meant to play out the roles of characters in a story written by a writer named Drosselmeyer, they begin to resist the constraints of their assigned fates and fight to keep the story from becoming a tragedy.
The series explores the concepts of fate and free will. Reviewers point out that although Princess Tutu is nominally a magical girl series, it is more of a "fairy tale set to ballet with a few magical girl elements mixed in," and its use of ballet dances in lieu of violence to solve conflicts carries "surprisingly effective emotional appeal."
A writer named Drosselmeyer, whose stories became reality, had his hands cut off and was killed by those fearing his power. With the story left unfinished, the prince and raven from one of his stories were trapped in an eternal battle. The raven broke free from the story into the real world, and the prince pursued to seal him away again. To do so, the prince shattered his own heart with his sword. Drosselmeyer had written about himself
before he died, and managed to continue to control events despite his death. When he sees a duck watching the sad, heartless prince Mytho dancing on the water, he decides to let the story take its own course and transforms the duck into a human girl named Duck so she can help the prince. If she quacks, she becomes a duck again, but if she comes into contact with water, she returns to her girl form.
Duck becomes a student at the school that Mytho attends, attending ballet classes with him. She learns of his shattered heart, and transforms into Princess Tutu with the aid of an egg-shaped necklace that glows red when a heart shard is near. The heart shards have found homes in people who feel a strong emotion, which then becomes enhanced and exaggerated with the presence of the heart shard. To cure the people affected by heart shards, she invites them to dance, communicating without words in an attempt to help them better understand their feelings and show them how to overcome it. Since their heightened emotions are a result of the heart shard that resides within them, they are freed of this artificial intensity when Princess Tutu removes the heart shard and returns them to Mytho.
When Mytho's girlfriend Rue realizes that Tutu is returning Mytho's heart shards to him, she grows worried that he will fall in love with someone else, unleashing her own power to transform into Princess Kraehe. Using her own powers, she tries to stop Tutu and capture a heart shard herself, so she can give it to her father, the Raven, so he can be freed. Mytho's childhood friend Fakir also attempts to stop Tutu out of fear that if Mytho's heart is restored, the story will continue on and he will have to shatter it again to stop the Raven. It becomes clear that Mytho wants his heart to be restored, and Duck persists despite Kraehe and Fakir's interference.
As the story progresses, Fakir learns that he is a descendant of Drosselmeyer, explaining his own ability to control reality by writing stories. He initially resists using those powers, though- when Fakir was a child, a swarm of ravens attacked the town. Wanting to help, Fakir wrote a story where the ravens came for him and he fought them off, and unfortunately only part of the story came true- the ravens attacked his home but Fakir was unable to stop them, and his parents died protecting him from them. Duck eventually convinces him that he must do it to save Mytho. Fakir, in turn, changes in his feelings towards Duck from suspicion and contempt, to reluctant toleration, and finally to alliance and affection as he writes a story for Duck to aid her when Duck falls into despair.
Drosselmeyer attempts to lure Duck into a selfish choice; but Duck refuses, accepting that she is a duck in reality and her status as a human girl and as Tutu is just temporary. Uzura finds the mechanism driving the story and turns it backwards, revealing secrets of the past. Kraehe learns that the raven is not her real father and that she was kidnapped by ravens as a child.
Kraehe is restored as Rue and attempts to help, only to be captured by the raven. Duck asks Fakir to write one last story for her; and then, as Tutu, restores the final shard of Mytho's heart. Tutu vanishes forever. However, Mytho is unable to fight the raven because it would shatter his heart again, and Rue is unable to escape the raven because of her despair. Duck refuses to accept this outcome, and starts to dance.
Fakir starts to writes the story that Duck requested, but finds that Drosselmeyer's story dominates everything he does and is forcing Drosselmeyer's intended tragedy. He must also fend off the townspeople, who fear that Fakir will follow in the same abusive path as Drosselmeyer. Fakir gradually wrests control of the story, and transforms it into an inspirational story with a happy ending of how a little Duck, no matter how badly she is injured by the raven, continued to dance because of her unquenchable hope. The raven turns the townspeople into ravens that attack Duck, but Duck never gives up.
Fakir's and Duck's perseverance gives Mytho and Rue the strength to defeat the raven. After the raven is destroyed, Mytho, Rue, Fakir, and Duck dismantle the machine in the clock tower of Gold Crown Town that enabled Drosselmeyer to continue to control events by mechanically writing stories, thus turning the town into a normal town uncontrolled by stories. Duck, in duck form, lives near Fakir who continues his writing. Mytho and Rue marry and return to Mytho's original kingdom.
MANGAA manga adaptation of the series was written by Mizuo Shinonome. It was published in Japan by Akita Shoten in the shōnen manga magazine Champion Red and collected in two tankōbon volumes in 2003. It was released in North America by ADV Manga in late 2004 and early 2005.
Princess Tutu was originally broadcast in two seasons. The first season, "Kapitel des Eies" ("Chapter of the Egg"), consisted of 13 half-hour episodes. The second season was broadcast as 25 quarter-hour episodes and one half hour episode, to conform to the format of the time slot, so that each episode was split into two parts. These were brought back together in the DVD release as 13 complete episodes. The second season is called "Kapitel des Junges" ("Chapter of the Fledgling") in R2 DVDs, and "Kapital (sic) des Kükens" ("Chapter of the Chick") in R1 DVDs. The anime was licensed by ADV Films until the company shut down in 2009. As of 2011, AEsir Holdings has re-licensed the anime and will re-release the series on October 11, 2011.