Pretty Cure is a magical girl anime franchise, and this spotlight is focusing on the first series, Futari wa Pretty Cure. The anime was produced by Toei Animation and was directed by Daisuke Nishio. The 49 episodes in this series of the Pretty Cure franchise aired on Japanese television from February 1, 2004-January 30, 2005. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the streaming rights for Futari wa Pretty Cure in North America.

This series of Pretty Cure focuses on two girls: Nagisa Misumi (an athletic girl) and Honoka Yukishiro (an intelligent girl), who are in the same class at school but aren’t friends at the beginning of the series. One day, when Nagisa is wishing on a falling star, an object that looks a lot like a flip phone flies through the air and bonks her on the head. A cute creature named Mepple comes out of the object. At the same time, Honoka is looking through her grandmother’s storehouse and finds a package. Inside the package is an object that looks similar to the one that Nagisa received, and this one comes with a cute creature named Mipple.

Fate brings Nagisa and Honoka together, and Mepple and Mipple explain that they now have the power to transform into the emissaries of light. Nagisa transforms into Cure Black, while Honoka transforms into Cure White. Mepple and Mipple explain they’re from the Field of Light, and that they need the girls’ help to fight against Jyaku-King and the forces of the Dark Zone. Jyaku-King is desperately trying to get a hold of the seven prism stones, so he can use the Power of Creation to regain his strength and spread darkness. Jyaku-king has five of the stones, and Mepple and Mipple each have one in their possession. This new partnership between Nagisa and Honoka starts out kind of rough, but by the end of the series, the two girls have become genuine friends.

During the first half of the series, Nagisa and Honoka have to deal with five of his servants who keep trying to get the final two stones by causing trouble, so they’re having to protect their town while keeping the fact they’re Pretty Cure a secret. It turns out one of Jyaku-king’s servants disguises himself as a student at Nagisa and Honoka’s school, and he starts changing thanks to spending time around Honoka.

At the halfway point of the series, the girls manage to acquire all seven of the prism stones, and they are taken to the Field of Light. This leads to a confrontation with Jyaku-king, and it seems like Pretty Cure defeat him with help from Queen, the ruler of the Field of Light. Unfortunately, Jyaku-king splits himself into three parts, and sends these seeds to Earth.

The second half of the series sees these three seeds bloom into humans, who regain their memories of Jyaku-king and being tasked with getting a hold of the Power of Creation for him. A new character named Pollun is also introduced, and he’s the prince from the Field of Light. When Wisdom, the keeper of the Stones, has to infuse the stones into Pollun in order to keep them safe from the new enemies, Pollun provides a new power-up for Pretty Cure. Poor Wisdom is captured by the enemies and is kept in a birdcage for most of this portion of the series. The second half of the series ultimately leads to a climax that sees Pretty Cure fighting against Jyaku-king once again.

I started watching Futari wa Pretty Cure because my 18-year-old daughter was interested in seeing it. I knew that the franchise is aimed at an audience younger than me, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or not. However, after watching the first few episodes, I found myself legitimately enjoying what I was seeing and looking forward to watching more. After watching all 49 episodes, though, I have to say that I liked the first half of the series more than the second half. When we reached the halfway point, it felt like we were reaching a spot to wrap everything up, but I knew there were still more episodes to go. From the point where Jyaku-king split off into three parts until the end of the series, it feels like it was a story that was “tacked on” in order for the series to keep going. The three new villains never really did much for me. I especially got annoyed by the running gag of Regine speaking quietly and the other two asking her to repeat what she says, and then she suddenly yells out what she says, causing the other two to react in surprise. It was slightly amusing the first time it happened, but it lost its humor pretty quickly. Then again, this might be due to the fact that I’m not in the demographic that the Pretty Cure franchise is being aimed at, and that the writers felt this gag would work with the younger demographic they were aiming for.

When it comes to the villains, though, my favorite was Kiriya, the one who disguised himself as a student at Nagisa and Honoka’s school. It was surprising to see him return near the end of the series, though, since it seemed like he had disappeared forever during the first half of the series. He says he walks between the world of light and the world of dark, so I guess his exposure to Honoka kept him from being completely swallowed up by the darkness, unlike the other four villains from the first half. Unfortunately, this is never outright explained, so this is the best guess I have for this.

What surprised me, though, was how much I came to like the character of Fuji-P, the boy that Nagisa has a crush on throughout the series. I found myself shipping these two and wishing they’d get together by the end of the series. Spoiler alert: They don’t, but I think it’s more realistic this way. Since he’s a year older and graduating from their middle school in the last episode, he wouldn’t have been likely trying to start a relationship with someone who would still be at the middle school the next year.

When Pollun was first introduced, I thought he was a little on the annoying side. But I had to keep reminding myself that he’s still a kid, and he was acting the way a young human child would at that same stage of development. Pollun does develop as a character, although most of that development happens right near the end of the series.

I have to add that I like how the idea of opposites keeps appearing in this series. The girls’ personalities are opposites, and the fact that one is Cure Black and one is Cure White also highlights the concept of opposites. There seems to be a “yin and yang” theme going on with this series, and I think that it works well.

Prior to watching Futari wa Pretty Cure, my main exposure to magical girl series was through the Sailor Moon franchise and the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. Pretty Cure relies on many of the magical girl tropes, but that’s to be expected. When it comes to the animation trope of the transformation sequence, having a sequence that can be reused on a regular basis helps to keep the budget down. Although, I give the animators for Futari wa Pretty Cure a lot of credit, because they were willing to reanimate parts of the transformation if the girls are wearing clothes that they don’t normally wear when they transform into their alter egos. I appreciated that, because it allows for more of a sense of continuity in the episodes. A lot of series that rely on reused footage, such as mecha transformations and magical girl transformations, tend to not go to that much effort to maintain continuity between the episode and the transformation sequence.

I’ve heard a lot about the Pretty Cure franchise for years, and I’m glad I was finally able to give Futari wa Pretty Cure a chance. I hope at some point that Crunchyroll can get the rights to Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart, the direct sequel series to Futari wa Pretty Cure. After seeing how the first series ends, I’m very curious to see how the story with Nagisa and Honoka continues.

If you have an interest in magical girl stories and haven’t had the chance to watch Futari wa Pretty Cure yet, I’d suggest checking it out. The Pretty Cure franchise has become such an important part of magical girl anime, and this series is where this franchise got its start.

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