Rawle Nyanzi on ‘Pretty Cure’

Rawle Nyanzi, who blogs both on anime and on Appendix N (that is, those fantasy works that inspired Dungeons & Dragons), noticed that I was preparing to review Glitter Force, which I will seriously get to after I’ve cleared some other things off my plate, so he tried his hand at watching the original Futari wa Pretty Cure.

His comments are amusing. He writes,

It was the worst series I ever saw.

This show’s crime? It was too repetitive. Most anime, even formulaic ones, change up the action every few episodes or so. Not Futari. Every episode went the same way: the Zakenna shadows would possess a person or object, the two girls would transform to fight the creature, they would struggle at first, then there would be a last-minute save allowing them to use their Marble Screw finishing move. The shadows would retreat, then the girls would go back to their lives.

There is zero variation on this. Even near the end.

I accept no blame for his lack of enjoyment. I recall saying that Pretty Cure is a landmark in the history of the magical girl genre, but I don’t recall saying it’s any good. In my opinion, Futari wa Pretty Cure has the following redeeming qualities: 1) likable protagonists, 2) fetching character designs, 3) good action sequences, and 4) a catchy theme song. That’s not much to hang a series on.

The writing is as bad as Rawle says it is. Even the action sequences only show up about once every three episodes, so the viewer has to sit through approximately seventy-five minutes of bad cartoon to see about thirty seconds of good Kung fu. To some of us, your host included, that’s worth it. To others, not so much.

I think Pretty Cure became a big deal not because it was high-quality, but because it was attempting something new, an action-focused magical girl title. It has certainly been successful in Japan, but a poor reception in the English-speaking world may explain why such an enormous franchise has been neglected by Western distribution companies for a decade. It may also explain why Saban, when porting Smile Pretty Cure! to Netflix, elected to disassociate it from the Pretty Cure brand and change the title to Glitter Force.

According to my observation, even diehard Pretty Cure fans are willing to admit that the franchise is fraught with problems. Typically, I see HeartCatch PreCure! named as the best in the franchise, though I have also heard good buzz about the current series, KiraKira☆Pretty Cure a la Mode.

I would also say that Glitter Force is considerably better than Futari wa Pretty Cure, though it has its own issues. I’m only through the first season (approximately the halfway point); the first five episodes are rather dull as they plow through the origin story we already know has to happen, and after that the show settles into a repetitive structure with some occasional good action. The twentieth episode, which is the midpoint climax and the season finale of the English version, is a sight to behold, with five mano a mano fights going simultaneously, including a meticulously animated sword duel. But to many, it probably wouldn’t be worth it to sit through nineteen episodes just to get there.

  • Nathan Housley

    If I remember correctly, Nanoha overshadowed it stateside when the fansubs were flying and the taste in fandom was due moe and bishoujo. I also saw more Precure memorabilia in Germany than stateside as well. Can’t remember how the English release fared, especially after Mew Mew Power soured the magical girl market for a bit.

    • That’s a good point. In Japan, the two shows were aimed at different demographics, but in the States, they would have had to compete for the same one.

  • UncleverHans

    So, Glitter Force did well in Japan, even though it was mostly bad? Something isn’t right in the heads of the Axis Powers.