Princess Tutu is a forgotten diamond of an anime series that can combine multiple contrasting themes and motifs into a single beautiful story-line; which is something I wish anime and non-anime fans would watch, because it’s definitely worth the time and money. The idea of using classical ballet and old-style fairy tales, in a TV show much less an anime, sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in this instance, is done masterfully. It may seem odd to use ballet and a mixture of quasi-therapy as a means of solving conflict but by the fourth episode, it feels very organic, as opposed to just a gimmick; the manner of which emotions (particularly painful ones) are worked through is genuine (as opposed to shallow, which is so regrettably common) and rather heartwarming.
Also, other than the works of Hayao Miyazaki, this is the only movie/TV show that has the same feel to it as an old fairy tale. As I watch it, it is very evocative of the stories of Hans Christian Anderson or George MacDonald. Princess Tutu demonstrates a better understanding, I think, of fairy tales than Walt Disney or for that matter how to utilize classical music in an animated medium; how the show weaves various classical pieces into the story-line is done so well, you do not think anything sticks out oddly even when they play extremely well-known pieces of music.
I would recommend buying the DVD set, since it’s cheap firstly, but also it has a wealth of useful special features (although I believe it can be stream via Amazon). As to what age group this would be acceptable for, 12-13 would be fine in my opinion, although perhaps using it for an elementary music class (both my parents are music teachers ergo the scenario of using this to expose children to classical music instantly crosses my mind by reflex) but I would advise wisdom and discretion first (although the outtakes and commentary of the special features are a definite TV-14 rating I’d say). The things that will make you want to watch a few episodes before you decide if your kids can watch this show are thus: what may be referred to as ‘chaste nudity’ which is apt (effectively brief partial nudity/ nude silhouette) but there is no hint of sexuality during the entire series, so I may to some be making much ado about nothing, I believe a few instances of mild cursing, mild violence, and some ‘dark’ subject matter ::MILD SPOILER:: ( a character is motivated by fear of a controlling ‘father’ figure).
All in all, this is a fantastic series for just about everyone that I can’t recommend highly enough, but for children 12 or younger, you will want to make sure you deem it appropriate yourself; although I think this series would make an excellent introduction into the world of classical music and dance (Some of the special features look like they were probably made for that purpose in mind). Fundamentally, Princess Tutu gets fairy tells right because it leaves in all the strangeness and sometimes difficult subject matter that makes the old stories so powerful and entertaining.