Magical Girls for Grownups
August 23, 2012 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Six years ago, Hold Me Now -- an AMV for the anime Princess Tutu -- won best of show at Anime Boston. Edited to the song Håll Om Mig by Nanne Grönvall, it was enthusiastically passed around among anime fans, many of whom had never seen the show before and knew little or nothing about it. Princess Tutu has since gained moderate popularity, and many of its fans cite Hold Me Now as their motivation to seek it out.

Princess Tutu -- a magical girl show that follows the story of a duck who turns into a girl who turns into a magical ballerina whose fate is controlled by a malevolent narrator -- defied many viewers' genre-based expectations. Part of the success of "Hold Me Now" in helping the show find an American audience was due to how it hinted at a darker, more complicated and sometimes heartbreaking story behind the adorable ballerina girl on the cover.

This subversion and exploration of the magical girl genre continues in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which won the SF-centric Seiun Award for "Best Media of the Year" earlier this month. Contrary to the tone its opening sequence, Madoka Magica has been described as transforming the magical girl genre in much the same way that Neon Genesis Evangelion once redefined "giant robot" shows. Like Princess Tutu, it explores themes of identity of fate, and how the unexpected weight of responsibility affects the lives of young people.

And just as "Hold Me Now" once inspired the fan community to pick up Princess Tutu, perhaps Mahou Shoujo Requiem -- which won Best in Show at multiple conventions after its premier in 2011 -- will now do the same for Madoka Magica.
posted by Narrative Priorities (16 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is great. I went into it expecting nothing more than an only slightly clever subversion of the genre, then got to the episode with the AMAZING SF-ISH REVEAL and completely fell in love with it.

I was also once a fan of AMV's, but I hadn't seen this one. The phenomenon of people becoming interested in an anime through an AMV is actually more common than you'd think. Back when I was into the scene, there were a ton of people who started watching RahXephon after a particularly popular AMV of it did the rounds.
posted by anaximander at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh man, you mean the Euphoria RahXephon vid?

CONFESSION: I still have a copy of that on my computer that I downloaded from back when it premiered. In 2003.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2012

OMG, I adore that machinema! I found the show first (I am a magical girl addict) but that ranks high in my favorites. How funny that people found the show through that - it does get really, really dark and philosophical (but I'm growing to expect that for these shows - Ouran High School Host Club does the same thing, and so does Fruits Basket - especially the manga).
posted by Deoridhe at 10:52 AM on August 23, 2012

That was great.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:55 AM on August 23, 2012

Oh, Mahou Shoujo Requiem is beyond good. (it has spoilers, of course, but it actually tells a bit different story than the series does.) I'll grab any excuse to praise that video. The series is excellent, too. Sort of the Watchmen of the magical girl genre.

Back to Princess Tutu, though, I've seen a couple of AMV's from that series that I've liked. (For Example) The dance visuals lend themselves very well to that. I actually think the AMV's are better than the show itself (which is odd, coming from a huge Utena fan.)
posted by tyllwin at 11:15 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Puella Magi is the first and only magical girl anime I've seen, and it is freaking incredible. It feels like it's kind of slow and meandering at first, but in actual fact is extremely tightly plotted; everything you're seeing is important.

It's easily spoiled, so I'd suggest avoiding most discussion on the show until after you've seen it. Just be aware that, while it looks cutesy and kid-friendly, it is not. I don't think I'd want kids much under 14 or so watching it. Some of the material would be screaming-meemie nightmare fuel for youngsters.

I'm kind of afraid to watch anything else in the genre, because it feels like it's probably all downhill from there. Maybe I'll give this one a try though. It does have a good song, so what the heck. :-)
posted by Malor at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Malor, one of the reasons it seems to meander a bit is that it's hitting a bunch of genre cliches on the way. So, if you've seen some the genre "canon" before, you're diverted during that buildup by watching it deliver a few back-handed slaps along the way.
posted by tyllwin at 11:27 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Puella Magi Madoka Magica.. man. That anime blew my mind. Mostly because I've always been a big fan of the magical girls genre. I am a giant proud sailor moon fan, if that tells you anything.

I had a ton of people tell me I should watch it before I ended up doing so. Then it was like.. holy crap.

I haven't seen Princess Tutu.. makes me curious enough to check it out. (Like I need another anime to watch, ugh)
posted by royalsong at 11:54 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wrote my college senior research paper on feminist postmodernism in Princess Tutu. I didn't even do the show justice, but by GOD it was the highlight of my semi-professional LIFE thus far. I vow to achieve respectable fame in some vague paying capacity ostensibly so that I may create a literary legacy and achieve health insurance and blah blah, but honestly about half of it is so that some unsuspecting schmuck will give me a microphone so I can gush about Princess Tutu being awesome. For hours. With handpuppets.

Total honesty, Narrative Priorities, I'd been seriously thinking about making a PTutu post this week and nostalgia-watching "Hold Me Now" obsessively. Curse you, clever like-minded person with excellent taste in ballerina princess superhero duck sagas!
posted by nicebookrack at 3:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Did anyone else click on this expecting a completely different song to play?

It's a great AMV, though I was never all that into... [ERROR: commentor is now a duck]
posted by trackofalljades at 3:48 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is that Princess Tutu research paper online anywhere? Because now I really want to read it. *__*
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2012

More Princess Tutu fabulousness:

The special DVD trailer with fugly purple subtitles

In a warm fuzzy way, I like to think that Princess Tutu paved the way not only for Madoka Magica but also for rise My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and bronies embracing the "proudly pink yet AWESOME" aesthetic.

Also, did you know that Gold Crown Town, PTutu's dreamy fairytalesque setting, is 
heavily based on the equally gorgeous Nördlingen, Germany? It was built inside a meteorite crater!
posted by nicebookrack at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

NP: mwaha, thanks! Sadly think I posted it friendslocked if at all, but I should have a copy somewhere I can MeMail you. I had a tiny nervous breakdown writing it; senior freakout + first ADHD diagnosis + perfectionist writer's block = I can basically never look at the paper again for "Forgive me Tutu I have FAILED YOOOOU" reasons. On a do-over, I'd turn in some decent Titus Andronicus litcrit, call it a day academically, take a nap, and write the Princess Tutu meta for fun.

Drosselmeyer: "You're trying to be responsible about writing, aren't you? THAT'S WHY YOU CAN'T WRITE!"
posted by nicebookrack at 4:24 PM on August 23, 2012

I remember having the AMV shown to me by friends, a girl and a guy, from two completely separate interest circles. I'd seen the actual show by that point, but I let on that I hadn't just to see how they described Princess Tutu after the AMV led them to it.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is another shoujo series that gets unexpectedly dark.
posted by vaghjar at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Madoka was my introduction to the Magical Girl genre, which is rather like having The Wire be your introduction to the TV cop drama genre. Kind of awesome, yes, but also kind of depressing, because most everything else you see afterwards won't measure up.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:28 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Utena is my point of reference for twisted Magical Girl shows. Watching these AMVs make me 1) want to watch those shows, 2) watch Utena again, and 3) dig up the list of "AMVS to make" that me and a college room-mate made up. We had piece of paper taped up in our apartment, and the list got pretty long. We never even tried making one, which was probably good for our college careers, as our anime watching was bad enough.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:32 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older The Bain Files   |   Ancient Siberian Tattoos Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments