Futari wa Precure protagonists Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro are about as different as two people can get. Nagisa is the captain of the lacrosse team, a lover of food, and a hater of homework. Honoka loves to learn, working with the science club and earning the nickname "The Queen of Knowledge" from her fellow classmates. Their lives are unconnected until one day, when a mysterious star shower unites them.
Nagisa and Honoka meet Mipple and Mepple, two residents of the Garden of Light. Their homeland has been conquered by the evil forces of the Dark Zone who now have their sights set on the Garden of Rainbows: Earth. With powers from the Garden of Light, Nagisa becomes Cure Black and Honoka becomes Cure White. Together, they are Pretty Cure! Now Pretty Cure must locate the Prism Stones, the only power strong enough to defeat the Dark Zone and repair the damage done to the Garden of Light. Will these magical girls be able to protect their home from the evil that threatens it? Or will they be sucked into the darkness?
We've reached the end of magical girl month, so let's dive back into the Precure franchise. It wasn't that long ago that I looked at Doki Doki Precure, one of the more recent installments in the franchise. This time let's go far, far back to 2004 when Toei animation first started the franchise with Futari wa Precure. Was the series as good back then or is this one of those franchises that got a rough start? Let's take a look and find out.
Young Misumi Nagisa is in her room when she notices falling stars. One of them crashes into her room, hits her in the head and turns out to be a strange creature that had turned into a cell phone like device. He calls himself Mepple and asks Nagisa to take him to Mipple. She goes out, following his directions only to run into a classmate she barely knows, Yukishiro Honoka. The two are attacked by a strange villain called Jean Luc Pisard, who looks like he belongs in a Kabuki theatre. To fight him, they hold hands, go through rainbows and transform into Precure. After fending him off they find out that Mepple and Mipple are denizens of the Garden of Light, which was invaded by the Dark King. In order to save it they have to defeat his minions and get the seven Prism Stones, two of which they already have.
Let's open, as usual, with the narrative problems. The first is that the story arc is kind of bizarre. It's like the writers thought that the series was only getting twenty six episodes only to find out that it was going to be nearly twice as long when they'd already set everything up for the finale and they had to backtrack to rekindle the conflict. I'm glad that the series has the extra twenty three episodes because a lot of them are really good, but they still involve a lot of re-treading, at least in terms of the conflict. Another issue is that the characters who are supposed to be aiding them are frequently pretty useless. Take Wisdom as an example. He's so useless that the one time he actually does anything he has to be told to act by Pollun of all people. Bloody Pollun.
Now, I'm going to talk about the gratuitous romance separately since I wouldn't call it bad, but I also wouldn't call it a good element since it is pretty pointless. However, it is kind of interesting in its execution. What do I mean by that? Well, it has to be the most passive aggressive inclusion of a gratuitous male love interest ever. It's like the writers were told that they had to include a male love interest but they didn't want to so they gave the guy a boyfriend who would always be by his side and engage in typical romance story tropes with him. Like one running happily to the other and apologising for making him wait. They sometimes bring up Nagisa's crush on him and then use it as an excuse to develop her relationship with Honoka while avoiding doing anything between her and him. It's like they're actively sabotaging it with the combined power of yaoi and yuri. To be fair to the writers, if I was writing something for a studio and they insisted on it having het I'd do pretty much the same thing and it does lead to some funny moments.
There's a lot about the series that's praiseworthy. Futari Wa has a lot of really fun and funny moments, including an episode that focuses on Honoka's dog taking care of a puppy. More magical girl series need episodes about dogs. But it's not all fun. There's some emotional depth to the series. It manages some really good tragic moments. Sure, they're used sparingly, but they're still there and they really work. There are some good tense moments too. The series is also good at building up major plot points and giving them a strong payoff.
Nagisa and Honoka are really strong leads and they have an excellent dynamic. Their families and friends are well fleshed out, with pretty much all of them having verisimilitude. There are also some strong interactions with them and their family and friends that really help flesh out their characters. I even like Fujimura and his boyfriend, and it's rare to find a likeable character who is technically there as a gratuitous love interest.
The villains are the big weakness. They're largely pretty one-note characters without much personality. To be fair, there is a reason for their actions that makes sense, but they still aren't developed or interesting in the least. There is one major exception with a sympathetic villain who gets complexity, but I won't spoil who it is. I also kind of like the two butler Zakenna. They aren't developed but they are pretty hilarious. The Garden of Light denizens are another weakness. Most of them are just bland. The exception being Pollun. If he's not as annoying as Ai was in DokiDoki, he comes really close. He's bratty, obnoxious, frequently throws tantrums where he repeats the same phrase in the most grating manner possible and just causes problems for everyone. Especially the audience.
The art and animation are largely really good. Futari wa has good designs, except for the second set of villains who just look boring. It also has really good physical action sequence and detailed backgrounds. The monsters are nice and creative and I do like the little black stars who start apologising when they lose. They're simple but well done. It does suffer a bit from repetitive stock footage. Especially in terms of special attacks. Nagisa and Honoka have two major attacks they use in the series and the animation used for them setting up even looks pretty similar. The big difference between them is what kind of beam gets fired. They get downright lazy with the Queen of Light too. Her design is pretty cool, but she doesn't really move or change expressions.
Honna Youko and Yukana both deliver strong performances as Nagisa and Honoka. Really, most of the cast does really well in their roles. Sendai Eri and Kiuchi Reiko both do really well too and Ono Kenichi makes for a pretty intimidating villain. The big issue is Ikezawa Haruna. She's not a bad actor, but she does voice a character who constantly whines, yells and is generally just painful to listen to. Honestly though, I don't think anyone could have done better with a character like Pollun since his main purpose as a character is to be an annoyance. The music is stellar and there are several cases where they incorporate lyrical works into episodes to great effect. The choir episode in particular.
I touched on this a bit when talking about the romance, so I'll refrain from repeating too much of that. For ho-yay we've got Fujimura and his boyfriend. There's a bit of les-yay between Shiho and Rina. The main source of les-yay comes from our leads, Honoka and Nagisa. Even ignoring the rainbows and hand holding, though they hold hands about a hundred and thirty three times, there is a lot of homo-eroticism between them. For every awkward scene that goes nowhere with Fujimura, Nagisa gets ten really adorable scenes with Honoka. These two talk about how close they've gotten and share a bed while holding hands. They also play Romeo and Juliet and Nagisa forgets her lines and speaks purely from the heart in an amazing scene. Even with the gratuitous male love interest, the series earns a 6/10 for ho-yay.
Futari wa Precure is a really strong series. It has a nice level of emotional depth, it's fun, hilarious. a lot of the characters are well developed, the action is great and the acting is strong. Still, it does suffer from some story issues, Pollun, bland villains, Pollun, over-used stock footage, Pollun and some laziness. My final rating is an 8/10. I do suggest checking it out if you're a fan of magical girl works or if you like super subtexty les-yay. So, that's it for magical girl month. Next week we'll open February with Natsu no Arashi.read more
A lot of the older "fighting hero" type shows have something about them that all the modern day ones do not. While I'm unsure what that is, it always seems to be the 90's shows that entertain me no matter what their target demographic is.
Pretty cure is almost exactly what you'd expect a magical girl anime aimed at pre and early teens, to be. Each and every episode is an excuse to kick ass. However unlike some shows of this age, Pretty Cure ties it all in despite being 49 episodes long, making it seem like there are no fillers and every episode, whether it even just be character development, is there for a reason. They go though their everyday school life while dealing with things an everyday student of that age would deal with. Only, to make it more entertaining, they throw in magic powers and someone to beat up every episode with the final battles spanning over a few episodes.
The art, for today's age cant be held much for trail as what's released today is much sharper and higher quality, not to mention the animation progressions allow more moving objects to be on screen at any one time. However for it own time of the late 90's, this is surprising well done, even for a childrens show. The occasional 3D for some items or major beings, while is clearly noticeable in the show, it still blends in astoundingly well. From there the rest of the animation can be jumpy at, time of large battles and seem like too much is happening too fast. However rarely does the animation noticeable stand out from the background and scenery as it all blends well and makes it all seem it was made together and not animations done over a still canvas. But then comes in irritably noticeable time scenes are reused. Some to the point where you lose count and just make you skip past it back to the actual show.
Music was very off and on. Many times were themes reused every single episode. Although there were a few themes that will actually make you move to the beat they're that catchy. Whether you like rock, jazz, orchestra or something more funk. Precure has it and it does it well.
Character is everywhere. From main to secondary and villains. Everyone has their own personality and for a school setting, they're played amazingly on key, its astounding how relate-able they can be. While there main two heroines are the shows main focus, there are episodes where even the secondary character get a lot of character development and it really works with tying into the main characters story line as it is called upon and mentioned in later episodes.
Enjoyment is... Well quite touch and go, while it has many entertaining parts. It has just as many cringe worthy moments that made you want to skip ahead. They seemed to go quite hand in hand as every second episode one or the other seems to happen. Lastly while each episode, when you take out the into and endings, is about 21 mins you still end up skipping more when you take into account the reused scenes that get really freaking boring to see every single episode.read more
NOTE: let me just say that i watched the Dub on YTV first,then i started with the subbed version since i was tired of waiting for the new episodes on YTV.
Ok.Pretty cure.How did i start watching it? Oh thats right.Because of the lack of anime on Bionix,YTV put pretty cure on.
The story is your typical Magical Girl anime. Save the world with frilly outfits,abnormal powers,and beat up bad guys. But there is one aspect of pretty cure that sets itself apart from every other magical girl anime out there. The fighting. the fighting is much more shonen (like punches,kicks,throws) yes there is a huge amount of rainbows and light and sparkles,but Cure Black and Cure White can only use it when their together,unlike anime like Sailor moon,when each girl can use their power wherever,whenever. Also,another huge aspect in pretty cure is the fact that no boys come to the aid of the superheronies,nor do they really need it. In most magical girl anime, there is a boy doing the whole puch-out! aspect,while the girls use a magical spell or wand type thing to help out the guy. Pretty Cure do it all on there own.they destroyed a huge minion of the dark side by using a really cool attack called "pretty cure marble screw!" No boys allowed to interfere. the Art is so-so,but none the less pretty.The sound is average(in the sub) but if you seriously want to try this out,DO NOT WATCH THE DUB.IT SUCKS!! The voices and script are totally mixed up,and the opening is trash.just don't.please.the characters are also quite average,but Nagisa and Honoka cannot be one without the other.
Overall I very much enjoyed this anime,untill the second half,when the whole Pretty Cure thing got boring and i dropped watchnig it. If your looking for a fresh,new twist on magical girl genre,watch pretty cure,or even shugo chara!read more
I am on episode 26 and thus far it is a fine show. the story is your typical mahou shoujo setup with the all the standard fare. i would attribute the story's downfall to the fact that the target audience for this show is probably that of a much younger age group.
my issue with the "story" would be that there is never a time when you can emotional invest yourself in the lives of these magical girls, and that is a real shame because Honoka and Nagisa, as character types, have great potential. i wish i could say the same for their furry friends... at times i wish that they would dispose of their cell phoned sidekicks-mepo!
the girls transform together, they call on their powers through an elaborate creature-infused cell phone & card system. with one swipe, journey through an epic transformation with music to match. the way they fall into place right before they let you know who they are and what they plan to do with you, is thee sweetest part of the transformation for me.
the battles happen according to a formula that you pretty much get by first couple of episodes and it DOES get stale. i wish their attacks had been upgraded by now or they would get new ones.
what i would like to see are more episodes that deal with the girls' daily lives with no episodic battles... they have 49 episodes i am sure they can find a way to spare a few.read more