High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.
You might be wondering why I’m following up with Mytho, instead of Ahiru. After all, she’s the protagonist, and the one he falls in love with (shut up, he totally does!). Well, there’s two reasons. First of all, yes, Ahiru is the protagonist, and as such, she grows a lot through her interactions with others, so it would be better to showcase her character after the other three mains have been thoroughly deconstructed. And the second… well, it’s because, had Tutu not been the 26 episode piece of awesome that it is, Fakir and Mytho would have been the sweethearts of the fandom.
Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about.
In other gender-equality related news, look, men can hug too!
Now, when it comes to Mytho, or prince Siegfried, as it is later revealed, the “cross between Bella and Rei from Evangelion” comparison is actually pretty accurate. Much like Bella, Mytho needs to be constantly rescued, and much like Rei, he considers pants to be an optional when it comes to in-house attires. For the first thirteen episodes of the anime, he has little character to speak of, and is usually seen as a helpless victim, rather than a love interest.
Actually, Mytho is where the show most stuck to the stereotypes in shojo. He’s an insanely handsome prince, with whom half the school is in love with (the other half’s in love with Fakir, and the two halves meet after class to argue who’s hotter and collaborate on slash fanfiction), and he’s selfless to the point of perfection. He even has his own “Dark Prince” arc, ala Endymion from Sailor Moon (because the only way to make your male lead even hotter is helping them discover evil and guyliner). But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Mytho starts off as the protagonist of “The Prince and the Raven”, who shatters his own heart as part of a ritual to seal the beast away. Years later, he hasn’t aged one bit, and lives day after day without experiencing any kind of emotion. He’s protected by Fakir and loved by Rue, but once Ahiru starts restoring his heart, he begins to recover his character and resolve.
Of course, since this is Tutu, Mytho exceeds all stereotypes, but in a very subdued way.
First of, even if he has his own dark prince arc (where he dons feathers to steal girls’ hearts), there were hints in the first half that he wasn’t as perfect as he was presumed to be. Ahiru returns his insecurity, loneliness and fear first, and the fact that he has feelings like that to begin with is pretty telling.
Which brings me to the actual dark prince “arc” - Mytho becomes evil after Rue, who is also princess Kraehe (Tutu’s rival) infects one of his heart shards with raven’s blood. In the anime, the Raven is never really ever show - just bits and pieces and outlines. He’s less of an antagonist as he is a symbol, and a pretty ambiguous one at that. He’s the evil which we ourselves invite, through our own fears and insecurities. All characters fall victim to despair, Rue most of all, but I’ll get to her in more detail later on.
Point is - Mytho becomes evil through magical means, yes, but he would not have succumbed unless he had those weak spots in his heart to begin with. Throughout the second part of the anime he’s the Dark Prince: he seduces young girls and tries to get them to sacrifice their own hearts to the Raven, and is foiled constantly by Fakir and Ahiru. But even more telling are his interactions with Rue - in a horrifying parallel to the first half of the show, he turns the tables on her, becomes domineering and emotionally abusive.
Rue, for her part, is probably one of the most complex antiheroes I have ever come across, bar none. She’s supposed to be the antagonist, and for the first half, she is, but in reality she’s just a girl who lets her insecurities get the better of her. As she witnesses Mytho’s antics, she grows more and more scared of him, and regrets the things she does. However, Mytho reacts to her attempts to reach out to him with mockery and contempt.
Meanwhile, the blood slowly turns Mytho into a raven. Goodbye, dark-rimmed eyes, hello, beak! And, I gotta tell you, his raven’s form is pretty darn scary. The only thing that can break the curse is if a girl sacrifices herself in his place - originally, that was supposed to be Tutu, which woulld complete Drosselmeyer’s tragedy, but in a surprising turn, it’s Rue who does it, and once Mytho is free from his curse, he stands up to fight the raven.
There’s one last element that needs pointing out - Mytho tries to shatter his heart twice in the series. The first one is early on, where he still hasn’t got many emotions returned and is still a puppet of other people’s whims. The second time is right after Rue has sacrificed herself - he has regained his heart, but he is outnumbered and the raven is about to rain chaos and destruction on everyone. Both times, he tries to do the same thing, but knowing the kinds of insecurities he’s dealt with, it goes to show that he did some growing of his own.
Of course, because Ahiru is awesome, she manages to help him, even if she herself is now no more than a duck, while Fakir supports her from the sidelines (fangirl swoon). With their help, Mytho manages to save Rue and they defeat the raven together. And, in the end, he marries Rue because damn it, she may be the raven’s daughter and she should have been the antagonist, but he loves her anyway.
(image via Photobucket)
Actually, like Fakir, Mytho demonstrates his biggest growth as a character through the admission of his insecurities. After the final battle, when Rue confesses that she’s ashamed of the things she has done and that she doesn’t feel worthy of love, Mytho says that he himself isn’t completely free of the raven’s blood (aka the fear and insecurities), but he will not let it stop him from doing the right thing, and encourages Rue to overcome her own fears.
So yeah, damsel in distress prince actually turns out to have some profondeur to him.
Still don’t know how to end these things, but here, have a video of our prince and princess! Also, comments and suggestions are all welcome, and if anyone wants me to tackle any specific anime characters, feel free to suggest them to me - I wouldn’t mind recommendations, or to make this feature a habit. :)