The 15th anniversary season of Pretty Cure was a special one personally. Not only was it the first season where I covered all episodes (Even ones I did not care much for) but it was the most active season on the blog to date discussing this franchise. Question is whether this meant the season itself was something special or just another good season? Let us find out as we take a look at Hugtto! PreCure.
One important thing worth noting before starting the review. Newcomers need not have seen any of the previous installments of Pretty Cure to understand what is going on. Each season tells its own story and while there are references to past seasons they are far and few most of the time. The only reason the past is referenced more often this season is because it is the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Even so they remain references and do not play a major role in the main plot of Hugtto! PreCure.
Genres: Action, Magical Girl, Comedy, Slice of Life, Magic, Supernatural
Themes: Coming of Age.
Number of episodes: 49 + 1 movie.
Plot Summary: 13-year old Hana Nono, a girl who aspires to be seen as mature, begins Middle School when she encountered a strange baby named Hug-tan and a Hamster-like fairy named Harryham Harry who had appeared out of the sky. But amidst the encounter, Hana learned from them that they were pursued by the Criasu Corporation, an evil conglomeration from the future who wants Hugtan’s Mirai Crystal and alter the present to suit their needs. Hana’s desire to protect Hugtan causes her to gain her own Mirai Crystal which transforms her into the Pretty Cure of High Spirits, Cure Yell. Together with Saaya Yakushiji and Homare Kagayaki (and some others) they form the Hugtto PreCure team in hopes of protecting everyone’s future.
With Hugtto! PreCure being the 15th anniversary of the franchise one may expect something big to come out of it. Let me put it this way. This show is one of the best celebrations of a franchise’s history I have ever seen along with having a pretty good main story and cast. Long story short this is my favorite season of Pretty Cure to date (a title formerly held by Mahou Tsukai PreCure!). Best part is the celebration was part of the show itself and not in the commonly accompanying All-Star movie as it usually is.
I have explained this on past PreCure G-Views but here is a brief summary of what Pretty Cure is about for newcomers (For more details check out my first review of the franchise DokiDoki! PreCure):
Think Power Rangers/Super Sentai but with a team of cute magical girls. A team of crime fighting cuties come together to face an evil organization/empire by fending off its episodic monster attacks, eventually getting to fight the evil generals, then the leader, culminating in an usually epic final battle against a scary end boss. Sometimes there is a twist in the final battle but most of the time the final boss is a very intimidating being or monster. When not fighting for justice the Cures spend their time doing whatever they feel like doing that day or struggling with personal obstacles to overcome.
Speaking of 15th anniversary, THIS IS HOW YOU CELEBRATE A FRANCHISE’S HISTORY POWER RANGERS! Not like how you guys did in the poor excuse that was Power Rangers Megaforce.
The above mentioned personal obstacles revolves around the main theme of the season, “Destiny”. See, each season of PreCure has a main theme. The main theme in Huggto! is dreams and aspirations for the future. Basically “What do I want to do when I grow up/with my life?” For most of the cast this revolves around a career choice, such as an actor, professional athlete or musician to name a few. It shows how many different career paths there are for girls (and boys I suppose) besides the stereotypical ones. There are many options and the show encourages young (and even older) viewers to follow whatever dreams and aspirations they strongly feel they can accomplish. The whole “connections and stuff” are also briefly mentioned but of course the emphasis is on what the person can accomplish with their own power. However, it is not as simple as “What do I want to become?”. Our heroines must also overcome trials set by their families. Some examples include prejudices, misogyny, poor communication and of course lack of faith in one’s self.
Then there are some serious moments that, while not new for the franchise, went beyond what was expected this time around. For example, characters entering a comatose state in kids’ shows is not uncommon but the character who went in a coma this season was most unexpected. Then there was one shocking scene that might as well have been a death (Not a villain’s defeat). Again, this may be a show for children but the fact the show at times went in directions (while brief) that even diehard PreCure fan seasons Heartcatch and GO! Princess did not really delve into is commendable.
For readers worried after showing great disapproval of the combat in the previous season, Kirakira ☆ PreCure a la Mode, rest assured the fighting in Hugtto! went back to its Dragon Ball Z style hard hitting awesomeness. I dare say Hugtto! has some of the best fights in the franchise (That I am aware of. I have not yet seen every season. About half of them.) But yes. Newcomers should know the fights between the Cures and the Monsters of the Week or higher ranked enemies are all fast paced and hard hitting with the Cures showing incredible feats of strength and quickness. Not speedsters or DBZ levels of quickness but quite fast. It is one of the main reasons besides character arcs that the franchise is held in high regard by fans. It’s like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on but with a dash of shounen action scenes.
The animation, as is often the case in Pretty Cure, is very bright, cheerful and colorful. Even during darker moments when things get dire. The soundtrack is a mix of cute and badass, as is expected from Pretty Cure. Not quite up to par with Suite PreCure (Still has my favorite soundtrack in the franchise) but pretty good.
Next let us go briefly over several cast members:
First of all the main trio:
Hana (Cure Yell) is the optimistic team captain. Her catchphrases are “Mechokku” and “Fure! Fure! Watashi!”. She is arguably the funniest and one of the most badass leaders in the franchise. It is difficult to describe but something about Hana/Cure Yell’s badass moments stand out from other Cure leaders in the past. Her character arc is obviously the longest on the show and revolves around her finding a purpose in life more than anyone else.
Saaya (Cure Ange) is the second in command. She is very intelligent, astute, adorable, competitive and has interesting fascinations not culturally common or stereotypical for girls to have (Again it is part of the main theme). Her character arc revolves around a family legacy.
Homare (Cure Etoile) is the cool girl of the group. While her character arc is another really good one…she sadly suffers from one of Pretty Cure’s most well known weaknesses. That being its poor het romance subplots. I am not just saying this as a yuri fan. I legitimately do not think, from what I have seen, there are any good het romance subplots in the Pretty Cure franchise. Even fans who do not mind them can agree they are the weakest part of each season that includes one for whatever reason. Anyway her character arc revolves around her goal of becoming a professional ice skater and whether she has what it takes to go for broke. Think of her arc as a mini sports anime plot.
Next are the token mascot characters.
First up is the infant (Most seasons include a baby or infant (human or cute creature) alongside the talking animal/s) Hugtan. She is arguably one of the best infants in the franchise. I would say she is up there with Haa/Ha-chan (Yes. I am a huge Ha-chan fan. #DealWithIt). Her powers are interesting in many ways. She is also responsible for some of the most interesting events/episodes in the season.
Next is the animal, hamster this time, Harryham Harry. Long story short he is okay, apart from his romantic subplot with Homare. The least interesting romantic subplot of the season as is to be expected.
The villains this season are the Criasu Corporation. As antagonists they, along with their leader, are decent. There have been better baddies. I mean this as opponents for the Cures, not as characters. They become much more interesting as the show progresses is all I will say about that.
Next are interesting side-characters.
Noticeable ones include a cute yuri side-couple who rarely appear but when they do are adorable. Our heroines also have, for the most part, interesting families. However, the undisputed most interesting side-characters are the following duo:
I will not spoil why but Masato and Henri are arguably two of the best side-characters in the franchise. Funny thing is they both make very unflattering first impressions but make no mistake. As their stories progress, and are interestingly intertwined with the next duo, their story is a noteworthy one for the history books. Patience will be rewarded with these two. Trust me. The impact they made separately (more so Henri) and together will be in the minds of many open-minded Cure fans for years to come.
And now for the main event. The duo I dubbed my #1 yuri couple of 2018.
Emiru and Ruru. From the episode when they first met all the way to the very interesting conclusion to their story their romance is in my mind the BEST one of not only PreCure history but also of 2018. I love these two THAT MUCH! Hardships aside what makes their love so beautiful is how simple and pure it is. Whenever they struggle with their relationship it is understandable. It is thanks to both their hardships and happy times their love grows stronger featuring such lines as “Every time you tell me how much you love me, I feel invincible!” Yes the F word is thrown around but only people in denial could not see the obvious. Besides, who better to be your best friend than the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? I said this in my Top 10 Favorite Anime of 2018 list. If Kase-san were a 12-13 episode anime like Citrus and Bloom Into You, it would have easily become my #1 anime of the year. It still got a great movie. EmiRuru filled the role of Kase-san and Yamada for me that year. They also did the impossible by beating Mirai X Liko from Mahou Tsukai PreCure as my favorite couple in the franchise…just barely.
Ah yes. Emiru and Ruru as characters. Without spoiling anything Emiru is the 2nd funniest character on the show and Ruru 3rd.
Emiru started off as someone obsessed with the safety of others to a comedic degree. She was still concerned for the safety of others as time progressed but greatly lessened her strictness. Her character arc revolves around interpersonal expectations vs intrapersonal aspirations.
Ruru, again without giving anything away, is the most interesting character on the show. Put simply her arc is learning about life and everything it has to offer alongside what it means to be in a romantic relationship.
Flaws on the show are what one would expect from a series with many episodes. Not all of them knock it out of the park. Episodes that do not progress the story much are either fun to watch or duds. The duds usually being related to an aforementioned subplot. Then there is the time travel stuff. My advice would be to treat it the same way Dragon Ball Z treats its own, best not to think about it too hard. It is a kids’ show. Heck, the time travel in the Ben 10 series is full of plot holes. Time travel storylines have always had inconsistencies, hence why I personally am not bothered by it very much and prefer seeing it on the surface level over going deeper. Of course this is not the case for people who have a need to nitpick every little detail.
Overall Hugtto! PreCure is obviously not perfect but even so is currently my favorite entry in the Pretty Cure franchise. How it celebrated the series, went back to its awesomeness after Kira Kira PreCure a la Mode (Though I thought that season was not as bad as many others believe it to be), the story, cast and presentation are great, the action is some of the best in the franchise (I believe) and most important of all…EmiRuru. For nowcomers to the franchise this is an excellent starting point. I highly recommend this season to most veterans. I won’t guarantee the same amount of love I experienced but at the very least a good time will be had watching it.
PS: Click on this link where I briefly discuss the interesting epilogue of the show. SPOILERS! (Obviously)