First of all, I really have to say thank you to all the people who were talking nicely about Hugtto, without them I wouldn't have given a chance to a franchise that is now giving me endless hours of fun between all the entries. I hope this review helps other people to do the same.
As I did with the provisional version of this review while the series was airing, I want to tackle some points that people have against giving a chance to Hugtto, or this franchise in general:
- "This is a kids show": Locking yourself to demographics is such a waste, a good
story is good be a seinen, a shoujo, or whatever it is. Precure in special also falls into a fantastic spot where it pleases fans of cute girls anime due to the lovable and funny character interactions the characters have, fans of actions series that want to see great fight scenes, and also to people who don't care as much for those thanks to the (completed!) story and nice drama and character development. Hugtto in special delivers with that touching some controversial themes that left me so satisfied with the execution. And as with all the entries I watched so far, it's not afraid at all to get dark whenever the story requires so, delivering hard hits that left me wondering if kids are really the main target audience.
- The mascot characters: I could understand it for some Precure entries, but that's definitely not the case for Hugtto. Hugtan is a well done baby character that is 100% adorableness 0% annoying crying, and Harry is far from being just a mascot, he's a fantastic character that adds so much to the cast and the story.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the series.
The story of Hugtto is focused on the Criasu Corporation, an evil company that tries to stop time and put an end to the future of the planet, Harry and Hugtan come from the future to avoid this with the help of the Precure. This anime is not afraid of going in the dark direction showing the danger of the villains while at the same time being honestly fun characters to watch, one roots for the protagonists but still enjoys the interactions with the bad side.
The big theme of this story that I adore and in my opinion had flawless execution is about moving forward and keep dreaming despite the fear for the future. The characters in this story have their traumas they can't deal with and/or fears for what might await for them as time passes, this is especially visible for the villain side, who I found myself really emphatizing with after we got to know more and more about them. This theme hits close home for most people (myself included) and this anime can really give a push of motivation to any watcher who can relate to the characters and how they feel.
I only have good things to say about the villains and so I feel about the good side. The main characters of the series are fantastic, having likeable personalities and very solid development with honestly one of my favorite character arcs in anime included for one of them. Their interactions are lots of fun to watch and both comedy and drama moments coming from them are a blast to watch. The protagonist of the story, Hana, deserves a special mention after becoming one of my favorite characters, her cheerful and lovable personality only does but increase how hard it hurts the drama focused around her and how painful is to see her working so hard to make everyone happy when she herself is one of the characters struggling the hardest.
After this we get to the fights, Hugtto did a very nice job at keeping the story and development always going, with close to zero episodes feeling like filler, but that doesn't change the fact that the episodic action scenes are a staple of the franchise and this anime hasn't changed that, nor it needs to because they are awesome to watch. The animation is constantly great for them (and honestly the whole show looks nice, it feels so alive) and so much fun to watch, this also includes the mandatory transformation scene before the fights that are sooo good looking, Precure knows that they will be reutilized a lot so they go full power on them to make them look as great as possible, and I can say they deliver.
With that said, I will go for pretty much the only complaint I had for Hugtto: the fights sometimes felt unnecesary and out of place. This is a small issue but one that Hugtto in special suffered compared to the rest of the franchise I watched so far due to its big focus on character drama. Some episodes delivered really emotional moments to then make the monster of the week appear out of nowhere into transformation into fight (sometimes shorter than the transformation) to end the episode. I wish they had just kept going with what the plot was delivering instead of the mandatory fight, although sometimes they managed to make the fight add to the meaning of the episode so this wasn't always a bad thing at all.
As I already briefly mentioned for the fights, the art and animation quality are very nice and consistent, and I'm also impressed with the direction of this show which delivered fantastic execution of scenes, especially in dramatic moments where it provided great shots that added so much impact to them. The music comes from Yuki Hayashi (which you might know from other works like Boku no Hero Academia, Haikyuu or Death Parade), and as with those, he did such a great job in that department, giving us some very memorable songs.
I hope the points made in this review convince you to give Hugtto a try, I really don't want to see a franchise as fantastic as Precure stay this ignored here in the West as it currently is, and if my reviews of the series help changing that even if just a bit I will be so happy.
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Synonyms: Hugtto Precure
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Feb 4, 2018 to Jan 27, 2019
Premiered: Winter 2018
Broadcast: Sundays at 08:30 (JST)
Licensors: None found, add some
Studios: Toei Animation
Theme: Mahou ShoujoMahou Shoujo
Duration: 24 min. per ep.
Rating: G - All Ages
Score: 7.791 (scored by 43744,374 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.