Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

14 May 2018: Hugtto! Precure is a mixed bag

Cure Ange, Cure Yell, and Cure Étoile
I can't claim these are the most memorable Cures of the franchise.

Hugtto! Precure is about a quarter of the way through its (presumably) year-long run, so we should have a pretty good sense as to what sort of Pretty Cure it is. In contrast with its predecessor, Kirakira☆Pretty Cure à la Mode, Hugtto! is notably more violent. At least there is significantly more melee in the fights again. This was immediately apparent in its first appearance during the crossover cameo at the end of the Kirakira run, as that series quite obviously avoided direct punching and kicking—probably more so than any other Precure generation thus far. (Kirakira sure was happy to lean way into the emotional trauma side of things, though.) In any case, the return of fancy beatdowns is a welcome development.

Homare, Hug-tan, Saaya, and Hana
Bring it down a notch, girls. This ain't DARLING in the FRANXX, eh.

Unfortunately, Hugtto! Precure also has some aspects which I'm not fully on board with. Most notably, there's a damn magic baby, and we're not talking a magic baby like Chiffon in the Fresh Pretty Cure sense, but a full-on magic baby. I guess everyone needs to do their part if Japan hopes to ever reverse its declining birthrates, but I could do without Hug-tan. (Why does nobody find it weird that the baby's name is Hug-tan?) At least nobody gives a shit that Hug-tan is (as far as they know) the child of a scruffy-looking single dad who spends all his time exclusively with middle-school girls. The people in this town are not very judgmental.

Lulu's design, on the other hand, is a game-breaking home run.

With regard to the Cures themselves, all of them are reasonably endearing with suitably complex personalities (at least compared to woefully one-note predecessors such as Cure March or Cure Honey). I guess I need to mention that Hugtto! Precure also marks the return of "pronounced bosoms" which have been more or less absent since Fresh Pretty Cure. Thankfully, nobody seems to care one way or the other (at least in the sliver of the English-language community that I see), and most comments about the character designs focus on Cure Yell's fucked-up bangs (which I guess will never grow back) and Cure Étoile weirdly unmemorable design and strangely grown-up face (like a stewardess wearing too much makeup) which seems out-of-place compared to essentially everyone else in the 15-year Pretty Cure pantheon.

Emiru and Lulu
Seriously, though. You can trust Emi on this.

Overall, I'm mostly positive about Hugtto! Precure, despite the prominent placement of the magic baby. It also has a Yukarin-voiced robot who may or may not end up as a future Cure, so I think it mostly balances out. I also enjoy the return of corporate villains, such as we had in Yes! Pretty Cure 5. Ultimately, I think it's important to acknowledge at this point that Pretty Cure has been running non-stop since early 2004, so it's remarkable that it is still as good as it is. I don't know how much longer we can reasonably expect the franchise to run, but its momentum does not seem to be flagging.

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