It's probably no big spoiler to note that the whole story is based on Swan Lake. One character of the main cast who's completely absent in that one is the Failure Knight Fakir. Guess who ends up having the power to screw up the whole story so it has a happy ending? Also, Fakir is the first of the characters to break from his role in the story, refusing to die; even Tutu's idea to express her feelings through dance instead of words comes after that.
When he first showed up on Princess Tutu, NOBODY took Femio seriously, and his inflated sense of how awesome he is was seemingly exemplified when he paints himself in spots and does a really weird dance. His response to everyone being Blue with Shock is that he's just a misunderstood genius. Well, one day, I was browsing the LiveJournal community for the show...and somebody found this. (Warning for content.) Femio actually did a dance that nobody at a BALLET school accepted as ordinary; he really is ahead of his time! And the fact that it's such a controversial dance probably added to it.
The video has been removed, so a description of what it was or a new link would be appreciated.
Basically, Femio performed Afternoon of a Faun, a dance which drew controversy for it's informal movements and sexual overtones. So yes, his dance looked silly - but even the silliness was researched.
Also in Princess Tutu the end has Duck save the town through the power of hope, which seems cliche, until you realize the one writing the story is Fakir, who is an amateur writer at best.
Ahiru is a duck, and Princess Tutu is a swan. At first, this looks like your basic "ugly duckling" setup. But think about the Ugly Duckling story. Ducks don't grow up into swans, they stay ducks. Further proof that Ahiru's real self was the duck all along.
Rue becomes Princess Kraehe by putting on a pair of cursed slippers; in episode 10, which deconstructed Cinderella, she appears and tries to marry Mytho with Tutu, who is her rival for him, as a sacrifice. Well, what happened to the wicked stepfamily in the Cinderella tale? They had their eyes pecked out...in some versions, by Creepy Crows.
And let's not forget about what Cinderella is about: an abused girl who dances with a prince and becomes a princess through The Power of Love. And it turns out that Rue fits this perfectly!
This Troper recently took a class on the history of Dance. One thing we learned about Romantic-Era Ballet is that it comes in two acts, Light and Dark. The first act (Light) was traditionally set in a town, had colorful and predominantly light-colored costumes, and showcased a very pure and selfless love between a noble and a commoner. The second act (Dark) was usually set in a forest or graveyard, involved the death or ruin of the male protagonist, had an increased number of females, and usually had much darker costumes. Princess Tutu is set up in two seasons, which are themselves the two acts of a Romantic Era Ballet.
When Ahiru and Fakir danced in the Lake of Despair, I was momentarily confused on how Ahiru could suddenly dance so well. But then I realized that they're in water and Ahiru is a duck, so of course it'd be the one time where she could dance gracefully as a girl and not as Princess Tutu.
The Lake of Despair scene is important for another reason: Swan Lake, the ballet which Tutu takes most of its influence from, originally ends with Odette drowning herself and the prince following soon after (this usually results in the spell being broken on the rest of Rothbart's victims, and Odette and the prince ascending to Heaven together). Now apply all of that to the penultimate episode.
There's more! In Akt 14, Ahiru/Duck wonders when and if she will be able to dance a pas de deux with 'the prince' (meaning Mytho, duh) as Ahiru, not Tutu. The only time she dances in the way that she was meaning is when she danced with Fakir in the lake of despair. (This troper now ships them approximately 20% harder.)
Princess Tutu is fated to turn into a speck of light and vanish if she tells the prince of her love, right? Well, in the final episodes, by giving the prince his last heart shard, which is the pendant that turns her human, Tutu vanishes in a flash of light and goes back to being a duck. So although Duck still exists, she can no longer become Princess Tutu. Therefore, she has disappeared just as the story said she would.
In the finale, the Prince uses a magic spell very similar to Princess Tutu's "Flower Waltz" maneuver. Princess Tutu gained all her powers from a shard of the Prince's heart. So it was really his magic she was using all along!
Episode Seventeen has Fakir reading a book with a torn-out ending. What book is it? A real book, a summary of important German stories. Specifically, this is a section about The Neverending Story. It's about a young boy entering the world of story and changing that world.
Ahiru transforms back into a duck when she "quacks" and most of the times she has quacked is when she's impressed or scared; what would you scream when you're surprised? "What?!" should be the answer. The fridge brilliance comes when, if you know the basics of French you know that "what" in French is "quoi", which when pronounced sounds similar to... Quack. So when Ahiru is suprised she literally quacks and asks "what?!", and the surprise is such that she transforms back!
In Akt 7 when Duck decides to quit being Princess Tutu because she starts to worry that what she's doing is wrong Drosselmeyer uses some sort of time travel device that allows him to directly communicate with Duck. He explains that she's needed to make the story work and it won't work if she throws her pendant away. Being pretty creepy like he is he scares Duck away. Right after she runs off he says something along the lines of "I'll leave this to you". At first glance it could just seem like an odd line directed at Duck about him hoping she won't quit but the first person Duck runs into after seeing Mytho being pulled into the river is Edel (who is a puppet made by Drosselmeyer to keep the story going in the right direction) who gives Duck back her pendant so the story can continue. So Drosselmeyer was actually telling Edel to be there in just the right time to help Duck for when she decided to return to being Princess Tutu.
In the ED, duck Ahiru is sleepingly floating over a lake, then a boy in the school's uniform is reflected in the water, she wakes up and blushes. In the beginning, one could consider the boy is Mytho, but look closely, Ahiru isn't wearing the pendant pointing at the ending of the series. She gave up the pendant to return Mytho's last heartsharp, Mytho left with Rue and everyone forgot her, except Fakir, who promised to stay by her side and Ahiru's feelings for him have grow stronger.
Princess Tutu ends with Ahiru/Duck remaining a duck for the rest of her life. This is mildly horrifying if you know anything about the rape-riffic "love life" of ducks and the evolutionary arms race in their genitalia. Sleep tight.
Her last scene sees her lounging in the water near Fakir, right? She'll be fine.
Seconded. I really doubt Fakir will let Ahiru wander too far and too long from him, and even then if there's problems he'll jump to protect her ASAP.