Princess Tutu is a fandom that I see get attention about twice a year: during halfamoon and Yuletide. Granted, most of my fandoms are Western live-action shows, but I still don't see Princess Tutu getting nearly the amount of love it deserves. I don't know if it's that it's an anime, or that it involves ballet, or that it does not at all shy away from its fairytale aspects, but I'm here to tell you a little bit about why you should give Princess Tutu a chance, even if its name makes you wince.
(Its name makes everybody wince, right up to the very end of the very last episode when you find yourself thinking, "Yeah, there's nothing else it could've been named.")
First things first: If I had to describe Princess Tutu in a sentence, it would be "A magical-girl ballet fairytale that takes everything you thought you knew and turns it upside down, then makes you cry with how perfect it is." So yes, it has magical-girl elements, ballet elements, and fairytale elements, and it is so perfect it might make you cry. (Not gonna lie, I got weepy just putting together this picspam, and I didn't even rewatch any of it.)
Also, keep in mind that I tried to avoid spoilers wherever I could, but a couple of images from later on in the show are presented out of context. Also, I describe very little of the plot, because this is mostly a celebration of the characters.
This is our main character, Ahiru (sometimes translated as Duck):
Ahiru is a ballet student at Kinkan Town Academy (sometimes translated as Gold Crown Town) at some nebulous fairytale time. She is not very good at ballet, because she is clutzy, energetic, and kind of awkward in the best possible way.
Because this is a fairytale, Ahiru is also a duck.
Don't worry, even when she's a duck she's still clutzy, gutsy, and her usual energetic self.
Ahiru has several friends at school, who are slightly ridiculous.
But they don't know that Ahiru is also Princess Tutu, a character from a fairy tale.
When Ahiru is Princess Tutu, she's not clumsy or overenthusiastic; Princess Tutu dances ballet like nobody else can, and her powers of dance and compassion are the key to the mystery behind Kinkan Town and its fairytale.
In terms of other female characters, there's also Rue, the star pupil of Kinkan Town Ballet Academy.
Rue and Ahiru begin to form a strange friendship, wherein Ahiru is overenthusiastic and Rue is slightly perplexed.
Rue and Ahiru also dance together.
Another major female character is Princess Kraehe, who plays an integral part in the mythology of the show - the fairytale of the Prince and the Raven.
This being a show with a title like "Princess Tutu," of course, there has to be at least one ballet-off.
In fact, there are several major ways that problems get solved in this show. One of them is dance.
Another is dealing with feelings.
And the last is swans.
Of course, if you're not convinced, then you could consider how this show is just really, really gorgeous.
If you're still reading this and you're on the fence about whether or not to give this a shot, let me just say that I was right there with you. Once upon a time, I looked at its Wikipedia page and thought, "Seriously?" And then I watched the first episode anyway and thought, "Huh, may as well watch another." And then I watched another, and another, and then there was a plot, and then there was unspeakably beautiful character development, and then season two came around and laughed at me for thinking I knew what to expect and then all of a sudden it was the last episode and I was crying like a baby because it was so wonderfully done.
So give it a shot. If you like fairytales, magical girls, subversion of magical girl tropes, awesome women, talking (and dancing) animals, or really, really good writing, it's worthwhile.