rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
[personal profile] rymenhild
(Or: In which [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild spends a dissertation afternoon writing 680 words of anime critique instead of analyzing medieval literature.)

In episode 15 of Princess Tutu, Fakir, Rue, Ahiru and Mytho, while standing outside in full view of everyone in the school, engage in some sort of altercation. The sequence of events goes as follows: Fakir grabs Rue's arms and shakes her violently. Ahiru wraps her arms around Fakir. Mytho steps in, places his hand on Fakir's arm and says, "Stop it." Fakir says, "Let go of me!" and slaps Mytho's face. (I'm using the English dub here, but the subtitles are more or less the same.)

That's when Mytho says, loudly enough for everyone to hear him, "Don't worry about me. I'll be just fine." Immediately, the audience to the scene begins to interpret it: Fakir's an immature brat, possibly crazy, perhaps insanely jealous of Rue (possibly because she's got Mytho and he doesn't) and he's probably attacking Rue to get back at Mytho. Mytho's mature enough to survive Fakir's betrayal.

Of course, we as the audience outside of the story, having background information that the Kinkan Academy students don't have, know that Fakir's attacking Rue because he believes that Rue drove Mytho mad. We know that Ahiru's trying to keep Fakir from doing damage to Rue, and that Fakir slaps Mytho because he's interpreted Mytho's touch as an attack. We also know that whatever else is going on, Mytho is (a) not all right and (b) telling, not lies, but highly disingenuous truths. But the audience on screen doesn't know that. Mytho's given them a narrative frame, a set of tools with which to interpret the evidence that they see, and they have no reason to realize that the frame is misleading.

Meanwhile, the scene ends (switching, significantly, to a gleeful Drosselmeyer) without another word from Fakir. Fakir could speak. He could take control of the story by offering an alternate narrative frame with which to read the scene: "Mytho is insane. He jumped from the window himself. Rue drove him mad." But Fakir doesn't. He lets the story pass out of his control.

On a second viewing of Princess Tutu, when I knew where the series was going, I was struck by this scene. The most interesting part to me is Fakir's passivity. Fakir, as you know if you followed my instructions and only clicked on the LJ-cut if you've finished season two (which reminds me that this is your LAST CHANCE TO AVOID SERIES-KILLING SPOILERS, so if you haven't finished, CLOSE THIS TAB NOW), is in the process of changing from the archetype of the Knight to the archetype of the Storyteller. The Storyteller's job is to take control of the narrative frame, to explain events as they happen and therefore cause them to happen in meaningful ways. But at this point in the series, Fakir refuses to take on that role. I'm very interested to see how the series plays it when Fakir finally does take control over the narrative. He'll have to.

Of course, all of Princess Tutu, from beginning to end, involves play with narrative frames. The fairy tales introducing each episode give us as viewers frameworks with which to interpret the events of the episode, and these frameworks are often intentionally misleading. In Episode 15, the fairy tale describes a man who loved a doll that came to life. The doll is clearly Mytho, but I had to watch the introduction three times before I realized that the man stood for Rue rather than Fakir or Ahiru. Other introductory stories are even more likely to lead us astray in our interpretations of the episodes. Drosselmeyer, as Storyteller, and beyond him, the makers of Princess Tutu, constantly want to trick us into thinking we're observing one story, when the story we're actually seeing is something else entirely.

(I admit I'm especially fond of the way that the love between Ahiru and Fakir sneaks into a story that we're repeatedly – and falsely! – told is primarily about Ahiru's love for Mytho.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 02:40 am (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] larryhammer
A good reading there -- I hadn't consciously noticed the significance of Fakir's passivity in that scene, in terms of the overall arc and the framing of the audience.

It delights me to no end how most of the introductory fairy tales can be usually be interpreted in two or three different ways, and not just the (single) naive reading they have at the start of the series.

Ahiru and Fakir's love is one level of how they escape from Drosselmeyer's original story. Along with, of course, how in the climax they become each other's muse, both of them creating and performing a new text.

---L.
Edited Date: 2009-01-28 02:41 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:11 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
Yes. Drosselmeyer tells the story of Tutu's love for Mytho, but Ahiru and Fakir reclaim their own love from that story.

I was thinking in my reply to Gramarye's comment below about how Fakir takes over the role of Tutu/Ahiru/Duck's choreographer from Drosselmeyer, and how that shift frees both Fakir and Ahiru.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 05:27 am (UTC)
gramarye1971: a lone figure in silhouette against a blaze of white light (Kurobara)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
*nods thoughtfully* Very well put, I'd say. Princess Tutu absolutely tells us that whoever is in charge of the narrative frame is in charge of the story...and by extension, the fates of everyone else within that story.

How very interesting, then, that the driving force behind the show should be ballet -- a story without words, in which the audience can rely only on the movement of the dancers and the background music to understand the narratives as they are presented. If you know the language of ballet, you should be able to understand the action on stage without an accompanying text...which is a good thing for Princess Tutu herself, because she cannot use words to take charge of her own narrative/fate or else she will vanish.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:04 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Tutu: the gears of the story)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
Hmm. Dance isn't an entirely independent mode of communication. Dances have choreographers, and most of the time Princess Tutu dances the roles given to her by Drosselmeyer. That's part of the power of Episode 13: for once, Tutu dances on her own account, independently, refusing to vanish according to Drosselmeyer's story.

In Episode 26, which of course parallels 13, Duck dances to Fakir's choreography, and the two of them together reclaim the narrative. Neither one alone could have freed the story.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 02:44 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Drosselmeyer's old pages from Princess Tutu, with text 'rocks fall, everyone dies, the end' (endings are heartless)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Un-deep, but: I looove yoooooou for doing this. :D :D (And for many reasons!)

Also, yes, yes, yes. Fakir consistently refuses to narrativize his actions - he never explains (to anyone except Ahiru the duck, who, as a nonverbal character herself, can be safely trusted not to pass it on - he thinks!) or really vocalizes much at all about what he's thinking, and much of the tension between him and Ahiru in the first season comes from this. He's never telling a story about what he's doing, which allows other people to cast him as the villain. Ahiru's language is very narrative-role-defined, too, when she talks about it; "no, he's definitely a bad guy!" she says in season one - after he has broken out of narrative 'type' for the first time by feeding her bread crumbs - and "that made you look like the bad guy" in season two, in the episode you're talking about.

(No, I didn't have to look that up. *facepalms* Is it possible that I know this series too well?)

It's interesting also, though, that Ahiru tries to take control of the story verbally and fails time and time again. She tries to tell people that Fakir didn't push people out a window, and nobody listens to her. In fact, nobody ever listens to her when she tries to explain things - for good reason, admittedly, but still. I wonder if this is partly to emphasize the fact that her role and power draw their strength from non-verbal-....ness?

(And I do not need to tell you how fond I am of Ahiru/Fakir and its subversive narrative role in the story. *giggling*)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 04:08 pm (UTC)
gramarye1971: person silhouetted against a Guy Fawkes bonfire (Bonfire)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
It's interesting also, though, that Ahiru tries to take control of the story verbally and fails time and time again.

...which now makes me look at Pique and Lilie in an entirely new light, because they are constantly redefining every single thing that Ahiru does (Lilie especially!) in light of how they see her. 'You're so cute when you're in agony!' 'You have to be even more brave so that when you fail spectacularly, it's glorious!' And it's hilarious when they do it, of course, but isn't there something slightly sinister in it as well for a character like Ahiru?

Oh! Can't forget about this -- whenever Pique calls Lilie on her more violent bouts of Ahiru-abuse, Lilie's automatic response is 'Uso!' Which the subtitles usually translate as 'No way!', but might more literally be rendered as 'Liar!' or 'That's a lie!' How's that for shutting down a narrative?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 05:47 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Tutu: the gears of the story)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
How's that for shutting down a narrative?

That is very interesting. I never thought that Lilie's behavior genuinely disempowers Ahiru, but of course it does.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:39 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (and we'll dance)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Oh, absolutely. I mean, Lilie is obviously the most egregious offender, in terms of narrativizing and dramatizing other people's lives - think about how she imagines Pique and Ahiru getting into a battle! that's epic story-creation right there - and there's a reason that I've seen a lot of people call her a mini-Drosselmeyer. *grins*

And Pique, too, is very capable of narrativizing. (It's just more sensible narration.) I love the moment when we get a Pique's-eye-view of what she sees when Tutu rescues Mytho; she's telling a story, and it's a story that makes sense, like she does when interpreting Fakir's abuse of Mytho. Pique's story about Ahiru makes sense, too - she's constantly telling her to try harder, do better, work her way up to becoming a better ballerina, and, you know, it's good advice for a girl who wants to become a ballerina, which is the story that Pique thinks Ahiru is in. It's just that in all these cases, the truth is much stranger - so Mytho can use the stories she tells to dupe her, and Lilie uses them as a springboard for Ahiru-molestation!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 05:40 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
Fakir's refusal to narrativize is, I think, an integral part of his character. He's terrified of what happens when the storytelling goes wrong, so he won't even tell his own story. Of course, when other people tell it, it doesn't necessarily work any better for him...

Ahiru, on the other hand, doesn't have the talent to tell the story. People don't believe her when she explains what's going on, mostly because her explanations make very little sense and are usually pretty unconvincing anyhow. She'd like to tell her own story, and Fakir's, and Mytho's, and maybe even Rue's, but she can't do it. It has to be Fakir's job.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:30 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (fakir you freak)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
. . . I had a whole thinky comment and I just lost it! Let's see if I can recreate it.

Yes, you are absolutely right about Fakir's refusal to narrativize. It is a huge part of his character - and even when he starts trying, he's rusty at it. (See: icon. HILARIOUSLY rusty, I would say.)

I think it's more complicated than that with Ahiru, though. She doesn't have the verbal ability to tell her own story - due to coherency issues when she's Ahiru, and the curse when she's Tutu - but she tells it through her actions, and, specifically, dance. What you have at the end is two distinct kinds of storytelling working together to inspire each other, Fakir's verbal and Ahiru's active and choreographic, in an explicit reversal of their roles at the beginning of season 2 where Fakir is all about acting and Ahiru is the one who babbles everything she's thinking to him without doing much about it. Which is an awesome partnership!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:33 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
All of the comment threads on this post are totally ending up in the same place. Go look at the rest of them.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-28 06:54 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (and we'll dance)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
I just saw! :D And I am not surprised, because it is one of the most brilliant parts of the story.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-29 02:53 am (UTC)
genarti: ([tutu] dance your own story)
From: [personal profile] genarti
I will try to come back and comment more fully, but first I must say how happy this entire post (including the comments) makes me.

:D :D :D

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-29 04:13 pm (UTC)
genarti: ([tutu] DRAMATIC ENTRANCE!)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Thank you! It's by [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe, who's put up approximately a jillion totally awesome Princess Tutu icons over the last several weeks, and it fills me with joy. (As does this one.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-02-05 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oneechan19.livejournal.com
I love the fairy tale beginnings. You are totally right, there are so many different ways you can interpret them. I think I remember which one you're talking about, and yeah, I thought it was Fakir who was the man in love with a doll. Now I want to rewatch that opening and try to see it the other way.

(I admit I'm especially fond of the way that the love between Ahiru and Fakir sneaks into a story that we're repeatedly – and falsely! – told is primarily about Ahiru's love for Mytho.)

YES.

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rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
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