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Dated 13 February 2004: Introducing Futari wa Precure

Pretty Cure title
Futari wa Precure

All you need to know about Futari wa Precure, also known as We are Pretty Cure, is that it's kinda like Ikaruga except with magikal girls.

Simultaneous White Thunder and Black Thunder attacks
Simultaneous White Thunder and Black Thunder attacks. Cool.

It is a children's show, and rather charming at times, but plagued by soulless marketing gimmicks and annoyingly "cute" sidekicks that I hate already. The transformation sequences are also really long, but I'm undecided as to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Cure Black
Cure Black

Chances are I'm not going to continue watching this, but I do think it is a good concept, what with the Cure Black and Cure White characters complementing each other. The end credit sequence also SERIOUSLY ROCKS. I especially like the part when all the bad guys cakewalk though the set together.

Antagonist Strut-Fest
The Bad Guys' Strut-o-rama

This would be a much better show if it had older characters, no stupid familiars or blatant marketing gimmicks, and a lot more magikal-girl-fu. I'm serious when I say it's a good concept. This could become a good show. The problem with it through the first two episodes is that it wavers too sharply from being excellent and entertaining to being trite and tiresome.

Cure White
Cure White

If they cut out all of the stupid parts and just crammed each episode into fifteen-minute blocks of pure awesome, then Pretty Cure would be badass. Okay, maybe not badass—I mean, it is what it is, and it is a children's show aimed at little girls—but it would be pretty fun to watch, at least. Yeah.

Futari wa Precure
As far as I can tell, "Futari wa Precure" means...

In other news, somewhat curiously, Momotato Daioh, Jascii, and I all seem to have independently chosen many of the same screenshots as each other to illustrate Futari wa Precure. Either it's just an odd coincidence or Pretty Cure has a lot more posing than I had realized. On a related note, is it just me or does it seem like there are a damn lot of anime blogs around nowadays? I kinda miss the old days when all I ever wrote about was cats getting stuck in funny places and crap like that. But I digress.

We are Pretty Cure
"We are Pretty Cure"

Oh, and the Pretty Cure plot? I dunno. Magikal girls... fighting creampuff bad guys and their fantastic, harmless evil... something like that. Well, unless it pulls a Narutaru on us, that is. Fuck, now that I think about it, that particular twist would be totally awesome.

Dated 30 October 2004: Pretty Cure Romeo and Juliet

I think I might be the last person on earth still watching Futari wa Precure. I readily admit that the show is generally pretty mediocre, but there are occasionally some brilliant moments.

Episode 37 features the school play. Not just any school play, mind you... motherfucking Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, Nagisa (Pretty Cure Black) plays Romeo while Honoka (Pretty Cure White) plays Juliet.

Nagisa as Romeo and Honoka as Juliet
Nagisa as Romeo and Honoka as Juliet

Having cross-dressing magikal girl anime characters poorly recite Shakespeare (in Japanese) while badly butchering the balcony scene is curiously hysterical. It's such a pity they didn't attempt to perform the play in thickly accented English, though.

It's not nearly as good as the Cinderella episode of Cardcaptor Sakura, but for an otherwise crappy show, episode 37 is a rare gem.

Dated 15 August 2008: Pretty Cure was better during the "Marvelous Screw" era

Cure Test.

I'm using MEncoder for the first time, and seeing how much bandwidth embedding my own videos will cost me. Ergo, this entry is more of a test than anything else. Nevertheless, I figure it's as good a time as any to ask if any of the post-Max Heart seasons of Pretty Cure have had any Cure White or Cure Black cameos. Y'all know where to find me.

Dated 10 February 2009: New Cure Order

Love, the first of the Fresh Cures.

The first episode of Fresh Precure is all kinds of different. First, the art appears strangely bland with much less detail than I expected. Second, the characters look considerably older despite being the same age as previous Cures. And I'm not just saying that because Miki has legs that go up to her neck. Third, the mascot characters aren't nearly as annoying as I had anticipated. So far the ferret-weasel guy seems kinda all right, possibly because of his thick accent.

Dated 16 February 2009: Fresh Pretty Cure paces itself

Cure Berry
Cure Berry, part of a nutritious breakfast.

Another episode, another Cure called. Miki is tall, athletic, and hopes to be a model. She also has a kid brother who suffers from the vapors. Really, there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy about the episode. Well, ferret-weasel-mascot extraordinaire Tart with the Osaka accent still manages to not be annoying! Am I really watching Precure? A non-annoying mascot character? Inconceivable! Even the baby/runt mascot hasn't been annoying yet, probably because it doesn't talk. Thank Haruhi.

Easy East doesn't look evil. Maybe she's just hung over.

Oh, and the first mini-boss is Easy East, a mildly sadistic gal who hides her shame with a cape fastened in two places in the front instead of getting properly dressed. I probably should have captured a screenshot of that.

Headless dancers
Low budget like not bothering to draw the heads on these dancing characters.
I suppose they would have been outside the frame during the broadcast, but still.

The production values still seem very low. There's not a lot of detail and the look of the show just kinda suggests they're trying to save money. This is somewhat unexpected, because I was under the impression the Pretty Cure franchise was a cash cow. Maybe they're diverting all the funds towards Pretty Cure All Stars, which will hopefully be one EPIC crossover movie. I'm hoping Cure White chokes out a rookie Cure in the first five minutes. EPIC.

Dated 9 March 2009: Fresh Precure is the same as it ever was where it matters

Buki, Miki, Chiffon, and Love
Buki, Miki, and Chiffon are aghast at Love's funny face attempt.

So, just as it was back when the original Futari wa Pretty Cure aired, I have gone back to watching Fresh Pretty Cure raws. Like the original, this is a pretty easy series to watch sans subtitles. They could be speaking Latin and the viewer should still have no difficulty following the story. This is a show for little kids, after all.

Love is love.

Through six episodes, Fresh Precure does feature a number of differences with the original Precure. First and most obvious is the newfangled character designs. As I have commented before, the Fresh girls look considerably older than the original Cures despite being the same age. For example, Love is practically the same height as her mother. [Update: Wait, no she's not. I guess it was just the angle.] It is as if Toei saw the fan art designs for Dark Dream and had an epiphany.

Dark Dream
Dark Dream from Yes! Precure 5 GoGo!
(Non-canonical version.)

Second and perhaps most importantly, the mascot characters are not annoying! Moreover, both have already been spotted in the open by non-Cure-type regular people. Tart the talking weasel with the Osaka accent is lying low as Love's pet ferret à la Yuuno Scrya from the Nanoha series.

Tart makes himself at home.

Chiffon is a little annoying, but Chiffon doesn't talk and isn't nearly the troublemaker it could be. It's almost too good to be true, really.

This is as bad as Chiffon far.

There are other assorted differences, but the one that bothers me most is the CGI ED. This is a departure from the original series (and from the clips of the other Precure iterations' EDs that I have seen). It kind of freaked me out at first, to tell you the truth, but I have since decided it does not look so bad at HD resolutions—even upscaled.

Cure Peach
CGI Cure Peach knows no nose.

The Fresh all singing all dancing CGI ED strikes a blow in the battle between computerized Idolm@ster-type idols versus human-type live idols. In fact, I will go on record as saying the first casualty in the War Against the Machines will be meatspace synchronized dancers. A seemingly innocuous casualty with the extermination of the human race on the line, but a sure one. Just watch the Vocaloid cover of the Cyndi Wang cover of the ABBA song "Honey" and tell me I'm wrong. But I digress.

Vocaloid all stars
Vocaloid Army, assemble!

Ultimately what will make or break Fresh Precure for me is the quantity and quality of magikal girls getting really pissed off. And lots of hand-to-hand combat. This is a formula that had better stay true to form during the quickly-approaching All Stars movie.

Cure Berry, Cure Peach, and Cure Pine
For no reason, here is another look at the CGI Fresh ED, arena version.

In fact, I'll make it easy for Toei. Here is a partial list of my wholly reasonable expectations for the Pretty Cure All Stars crossover movie:

Cure Black
Speak to Cure Black with respect.
You don't want rebar to the face.

  • Honoka goes ape shit again and chokes out one of the Yes! Cures for having the gall to address her as "White" instead of "Cure White-sama."
  • At least three or four of the newer Cures should idolize Nagisa and follow her around offering to carry her gym bag and such, crooning "Cure Black-senpai" this and "Cure Black-senpai" that.
  • Bring back David Bowie.
  • NO PORUN. And none of the that other annoying mascot that drives even Porun crazy.
  • Some moment where Cure Black and Cure White Marvelous Screw Rainbow Storm some deadbeats square in the face while rookie Cures stand back, mouths agape, whispering, "Is this the power of the Yakin Due veterans?"
  • Cagalli throws The Ring into Mount Doom. Wait...

I am calling the transformed version East and calling the
plain-clothed edition Easy. It's entirely reasonable, okay?
[Update: Eas/Easy in battle costume, Setsuna in street clothes.]

In other news, I am fully prepared to declare Easy the best Pretty Cure villain of the franchise. Even better than David Bowie. True story. Your mileage may vary (and likely turn on whether or not you consider Dark Dream a villain or not).

Kaoru ogles the girls
I admit that does look like a good donut.

In other other news, I am not so sure it is appropriate for Love to address Mr. Heart-Shaped Donut Vendor as "Kaoru-chan." Then again, it's probably not appropriate for him to be selling donuts out of the back of a van, so I guess it's a wash.

Dated 21 April 2009: End of season review, Winter 2009

Gainax Kick detected.

The biggest surprise of the Winter 2009 season was the rise of Shikabane Hime: Kuro and the fall of Toradora! in the final rankings during the last weeks of the season. As expected, it was a rather weak season overall, but it had its moments.

Makina has a bad day.

I had fully expected to drop Shikabane Hime after four episodes during the Autumn 2008 season, but I was hooked by the characters (except for Ouri) and the mystery. It helped I was spared the loathsome shounen jive conventions I despise so much.

Goro and Kaoru
I hereby nominate Shimizu for Best Girl of the Year.

The second-best series from Winter 2009 was the first half of the fifth season of Major. Besides being a solid sports anime, it's also starting to delve into relationship drama, although with its own flair, and thankfully without the typical animeisms that plague relationship stories. Maybe it's because the characters in question are no longer in high school, so they aren't expected to act like twits. Whatever the reason, it's refreshing.

Nobue calls these days "weekdays."

Taking the third spot is the first Ichigo Mashimaro Encore OVA. I should probably not include OVAs in these rankings for numerous reasons, but I'm making these rules up as I go along. As for the first Ichigo Mashimaro Encore OVA itself, it was another solid block of entertainment and charm that make the series so enjoyable. Pity the title unfairly carries with it all that baggage it can't seem to escape. You know what I'm talking about.

Suguru and Sachiko
This is the weirdest bathroom. Is it at the end of a hallway?

In fourth is the latest offering of Maria-sama ga Miteru. I didn't care for these episodes as much as the previous seasons, but that's probably because of their Touko-centric nature. On the other hand, these episodes also elevated Touko three positions in the Marimite rankings. Congratulations, Touko. I no longer like you least.

Ami and Minori
Ami is stunned to discover she's the Toradora! Best Girl after all.
And how odd. Minori is usually much more genki.

Everyone else's favorite, Toradora!, only managed to take the fifth spot, despite leading most of the season. As astute readers surely realize, this sudden drop is largely due to the dramatic turn towards the end of the season. Most people who really like Toradora! seem to really like the relationship drama aspects of the final episodes, but I felt they were ham-handed at best. Maybe it's because these are high school relationships in question, but I couldn't help thinking the principals were utter twits. As others have pointed out, this isn't really drama; it's melodrama. And it tastes like high school.

How odd. Shion is usually much more genki.

I'm not a huge fan of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode, but it is pretty good at what it does. Were these rankings based solely on my interest, it would probably place lower in the standings, although at no fault of its own. Then again, if these rankings were driven by my appreciation of Chiba Saeko, it would place higher. So let's just call it a wash, eh.

How odd. Kotori is usually much more genki.

Da Capo If is another OVA ranked entirely on the strength of a single episode. Like with the Ichigo Mashimaro OVA, that's probably not fair, and I should probably exclude it entirely, but I waited a long time for a Kotori route, so I'm going to include it, God damn it. Also, Da Capo If reminds us Horie Yui can really act when she wants to.

Kyon, you know this can't possibly end well.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan shorts are genuinely amusing. They pulled away from their Nyoron Churuya-san counterparts with that episode where Asahina Mikuru just starts crying from confusion and never looked back.

Torigaya? and Washizu
Washizu Vision?

Oh God. Asu no Yoichi!. Hey, some of the middle-laterish episodes are all right, and that running gag with Washizu's crony had a great payoff that came completely out of left field. The best part is everyone else dropped this show after episode two, so they have no idea what I'm talking about.

Love is all right for a rookie Cure
How odd. Love is usually much more genki.

Fresh Pretty Cure is fresh. Love is love. Tart is the least annoying Precure mascot thus far. Kaoru-chan probably wants to get into the girls' pants. Easy is the best Precure villain except for that that one movie where Cure White is tempted by the dark side and beats Hell out of Cure Black. Aside from Buki being a sort of useless religious fanatic, this show is all right.

Quit while you're ahead, Tsuruya.

Nyoron Churuya-san needs more variety in its jokes, nyoron.

I've decided Marisa is my favorite Touhou character. Entirely arbitrarily.

Rounding out the final spot among shows I watched during the Winter 2009 season is the unofficial Touhou doujin anime. Despite all the hype, it was merely adequate, which I guess is pretty good all things considered. I wanted to like it more, but I can't claim it's even as good as the classic Yakumo/Chen bit with the KCY and all.

How odd. Hokuto is usually much more...wait, no she's not.

I also dropped a bunch of shows, but there aren't any additions or changes from the earlier list

Dated 16 May 2009: Easy is the freshest part of Fresh Pretty Cure

Easy is the best Precure villain of all time—even better than David Bowie.

My favorite part of Fresh Precure is the primary villain, Easy. Ostensibly, Easy (or Eas, as some insist) is just one of Moebius' hoodlums along with Wester and Souler (East, West, South...har har) working to fill this gigantic container with Unhappiness Juice that drips in whenever the three of them manage to ruin someone's day. However, Easy is clearly the lead villain just as Love is the lead Cure and presumptive main character of the series.

Love, Setsuna, Miki, and Buki
Mark my words: This four-leaf clover pendant is going to
represent unity far more than the One Ring ever did.

But Easy goes about her task so half-assed. After episode 15, that Unhappiness Juice container is still about 95% empty. (5% full if you're an evil optimist!) She's figured out that things would go a lot quicker if Legendary Warriors Pretty Cure didn't thwart their evil plans every time. She's figured out the three Cures' secret identities. She's even figured out all she need to do is keep them from transforming by stealing their magic cell phones. Nevertheless, Easy can't be bothered to do more than make token attempts at doing so. Maybe she's union. She's protecting their job security at least.

It's five o'clock somewhere, Setsuna.

And considering her co-workers, I can't really blame her for not trying very hard. The occasionally overeager Wester means well, I suppose, but he needs to learn to stay in his lane. It's only a matter of time before Easy punches him in the mouth. And Souler with his My Little Pony hair is just a complete tool. I'd be filled with despair too if my job performance in any way depended on the contributions of a guy like that. No wonder Easy would rather go bowling with the Cures than carry these two douchebags.

Miki, Love, Buki, and Setsuna
Easy could checkmate Pretty Cure in three moves if she gave a damn.

Oh, that's the thing. Easy has a street-clothes, secret-identity alter ego also that goes by the name Higashi Setsuna. (Higashi means east, eh.) As Setsuna, Easy met Love in the first Fresh episode and has periodically approached her (while the two were in their respective civilian forms) to supposedly attempt to eliminate the turbo-genki Pretty Cure obstacle to her boss' evil plan...but really it just looks like an excuse to hang out and eat doughnuts.

Setsuna wonders how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Five will get you 10 that Easy switches sides and becomes the missing fourth Cure before the end of the season. There were definitely four color-coded Cure dongles during the opening bit of the first episode. So far, the pink (Peach), blue (Berry), and yellow (Pine) dongles are accounted for, leaving the red one still in the wild. Initially, it seemed Miyuki from Trinity would inherit the fourth Cure role, but episode 15 suggests it could be Setsuna/Easy. During the bowling scene, each Cure picks a bowling ball matching her outfit (and mahou shoujo battle costume). Setsuna (wearing red) hesitates when choosing between the red ball and the black one before ultimately settling on black, matching her Easy outfit, which is mostly black, although it does have red accents.

Love does the moe, moe...kyun! bit, sort of.

Speaking of which, episode 15 was amazing. It had a lot of really good sight gags and some genuine plot advancement—which is pretty damn important in a genre that tends to consist of 90 percent filler, even when said filler consistently benefits from numerous shots to the face. With episode 15, 10, and all the ones with Setsuna slumming with Love instead of doing her job, I'm elevating Fresh Precure to the third non-baseball, non-OVA slot of the season.