Gradually, I have been watching each season of Pretty Cure. Since each one is around 48 episodes long, this is something that has taken quite some time. It certainly doesn’t help when there is a series that I don’t enjoy too much, but I’ll get into that in a moment.
Rather than review each season of Pretty Cure, I figured I would just collect together my thoughts here and share them with the readers of this blog.
I’ll go through each season in chronological order, grouping together the seasons with direct sequels. After I’ve shared my thoughts on all of them, I’ll list each season from worst to best, in my opinion.
I should mention that Go! Princess PreCure won’t be on this list, as it it still currently airing at the time of writing.
Futari wa Pretty Cure and Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart
The first and second seasons of Pretty Cure. This is where it all began, with Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro – Cure Black and Cure White, respectively. Their fights rely heavily on physical combat, and there is the yuri subtext between the two lead characters.
A new ally, Shiny Luminous, is introduced in Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart, who acts as support for Pretty Cure.
Naturally, I started with these two seasons when deciding to watch all of Pretty Cure. The music played during the transformation sequences is great, and battles are fun to watch – probably because they were directed by Daisuke Nishio, the director of Dragon Ball Z.
Cure White is my favourite Cure in this iteration. Though Nagisa possesses boundless energy, I tend to prefer calmer characters who possess intelligence. Still, both Cures are certainly capable of holding their own in a fight.
Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star
The third season of Pretty Cure, featuring Saki Hyuuga and Mai Mishou – Cure Bloom and Cure Egret respectively. At the beginning, it just seems to be Futari wa Pretty Cure all over again. However, it outgrows that phase and gains its own identity.
This is one of the darker series of Pretty Cure. Once the dark magical girls are introduced and Saki and Mai become their own characters, things improve a lot.
Of particular note is the final battle, which is incredible. Take a Dragon Ball Z fight, condense it into one episode and you almost have something as incredible as the final fight.
Cure Egret is my favourite Cure from this iteration, particularly as she enjoys drawing and becomes so focused on things that she misses the obvious.
Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Go!Go!
Next up are the 4th and 5th seasons respectively. I felt that watching all these episodes was a chore, as one of the reasons I was drawn towards watching Pretty Cure was the yuri subtext. There is a lack of that in these two seasons.
As you may guess from the title, there are five members of Pretty Cure in this iteration. This leads to some ridiculously long transformation sequences, which gets worse in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO! with the addition of Milky Rose.
The usual Pretty Cure fight scenes make this one a little more bearable, and there is one guaranteed in each episode. Cure Aqua gets a great one in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 which involves a horseback battle.
My favourite from Pretty Cure from these seasons is Karen Minazuki, or Cure Aqua.
Fresh Pretty Cure!
The sixth entry in the franchise, featuring Love Momozono, Miki Aono and Inori Yamabuki – Cure Peach, Cure Berry and Cure Pine respectively.
They got the electric guitars out for this soundtrack, and that’s something I certainly enjoy. Also, the mascot characters, Tarte and Chiffon are also a lot more tolerable than those from previous seasons.
Another part that stands out for this entry in the Pretty Cure series is the arrival of a fourth Cure.
That particular Cure, Cure Passion, is my favourite character in this series – she doesn’t officially debut until just before the half-way point, but the arc detailing how that comes to pass is great.
The seventh series begins with the defeat of Cure Moonlight at the hands of an enemy known as Dark Precure. From there, it focuses on Tsubomi Hanasaki and Erika Kurumi who transform into Cure Blossom and Cure Marine respectively. Later on, Cure Sunshine joins them as well.
Once again, the soundtrack goes surprisingly metal. Of course, I’m particularly fond of that type of music, so no complaints from me.
Arguably the best part of this series of Pretty Cure is the series-long subplot that concerns Cure Moonlight. Due to this, Cure Moonlight is my favourite character in this series. I can’t really say too much more about it here with delving into spoiler territory, and I wouldn’t want to ruin things for anyone.
Entry number eight in the franchise. This time, it starts out with two main characters – Hibiki Houjou and Kanade Minamino, who transform into Cure Melody and Cure Rhythm respectively.
Joining them later is Cure Beat, and they are watched over by aloof ally Cure Muse.
This particular series doesn’t get as dark as Fresh Pretty Cure or HeartCatch PreCure!. However, there is an incredible amount of yuri subtext between Hibiki and Kanade – some might even say it is actually just text. Oh, and the mascot character is a cat. Cats are great.
Cure Beat is my favourite Cure from this series. Her attacks are powered by an electric guitar, and her circumstances are similar to Cure Passion’s.
Hang on, hang on… Hibiki, Kanade… music… there’s a Shirabe, too… this all sounds somewhat familiar, no? If not, go watch Symphogear…
The ninth entry of the series. Once again, a team of five Cures are featured. They are Miyuki Hoshizora (Cure Happy), Akane Hino (Cure Sunny), Yayoi Kise (Cure Peace), Nao Midorikawa (Cure March) and Reika Aoki (Cure Beauty).
There aren’t many side characters in this one, meaning that there is a lot more focus on the interactions between the five girls – naturally, this means plenty of opportunities for yuri subtext.
This series reaches a climax around halfway in, which could easily pass for a finale. Instead of starting a new plot, Smile PreCure! resumes with exactly the same plot. The reason for this is that the people in charge wanted to keep it simple, but that does lower my opinion of this one somewhat.
Cure Beauty is my favourite Cure from this series. Her designated opponent is the best villain, and anyone who wields a sword (even if it is made of ice) is all right in my book. She also has the tranquil and elegant thing going for her.
Also, this one is getting localised as Glitter Force on Netflix, with the number of episodes and episode length cut down. This will probably cause ire for some fans, but it’s not something that particularly bothers me. If it had been HeartCatch or DokiDoki!, however…
Entry number ten in the franchise. The Cures in this series are Cure Heart (Mana Aida), Cure Diamond (Rikka Hishikawa), Cure Rosetta (Alice Yotsuba) and Cure Sword (Makoto Kenzaki). Later on, they are joined by a fifth Cure, Cure Ace.
There is a myth arc that runs through this series, which means that there is something in every episode that is relevant to the main plot – it could be a minor event, or it could be the main focus of an episode. This is one of the reasons it is my favourite iteration of Pretty Cure.
Another reason is that this could easily pass as a yuri harem anime – you can’t have Pretty Cure without lesbian subtext, but this takes it to another level. So far, it’s the only iteration of Pretty Cure to have its own Ho Yay page on TV Tropes.
My favourite Cure from the DokiDoki! team… I don’t really have one. I like all all of the Cures in this series, though I guess it is Cure Heart who is responsible for the whole yuri harem feel this show has…
The eleventh season of Pretty Cure has previous Cures celebrate the tenth anniversary of Pretty Cure with a quick thank you message before the beginning of each episode.
The new Cures in this season are Cure Lovely (Megumi Aino), Cure Princess (Hime Shirayuki/Himelda Window), Cure Honey (Yuuko Oomori) and Cure Fortune (Iona Hikawa).
For something that’s supposed to commemorate a ten-year anniversary, I feel like HappinessCharge PreCure is somewhat disappointing. It has some neat moments, such as PreCure Hunter Phantom and the international PreCure. However, it just doesn’t quite live up to it’s predecessors.
If I had to pick a favourite Cure from this season, I’d have to say Cure Honey. This is because I don’t really think much of the other three Cures, but then again, I don’t think much of HappinessCharge in general…
When it’s good, Pretty Cure can be really good. However, it also has low points. Still, the music and fight scenes are consistently good throughout, and the finales can be spectacular.
As I stated before, I will now list each series in order from worst to best in my opinion (excluding Go! Princess PreCure, as it is still ongoing).
Yes! PreCure 5 and Yes! PreCure 5 GO!GO!
I don’t like Cure Dream, I don’t like the fairies, and I don’t like the fact that this iteration of the series got two seasons, making it feel like it runs on forever. The yuri subtext in both seasons is pretty negligible too.
This was disappointing, since you’d think the tenth anniversary celebration would be something better. Still, it did have enjoyable moments, and the lead Cure is a little more tolerable. Totally think the big good and big bad should have settled things with a Pokémon battle (because they are named Blue and Red, respectively).
Pretty much episodic, reaches a climax halfway and then resumes with the exact same plot. It’s not too bad, but it’s a shame that it didn’t go with something else after the first climax.
Futari wa Pretty Cure and Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart
This is where it all started, with Cure Black and Cure White. I think the first season has some of the best music (the transformation and opening themes in particular), and there’s the yuri subtext between Nagisa and Honoka that’s pretty much become a prerequisite for any iteration of Pretty Cure.
Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star
Sure, it appears to be a carbon copy of the first and second seasons at first. However, it outgrows that phase and comes into its own. This season has my favourite finale from the whole franchise, for the reasons detailed above. Some people will prefer Cure Black and Cure White to Cure Bloom and Cure Egret, but I’m not one of those people.
Fresh Pretty Cure!
With tolerable mascot characters and a neat character arc for Cure Passion, as well as a mighty find soundtrack, Fresh Pretty Cure! was a welcome presence after enduring Yes! PreCure 5 and Yes! PreCure 5 GoGo!.
The yuri subtext between Hibiki and Kanade is what gets this one placed here. Also, Hummy is the best mascot – I’m totally not biased or anything due to a love of cats, I swear…
The top two on this list are both incredible; I would even go so far as to state that they are required viewing for fans of the magical girl genre.
Cure Moonlight’s story is incredible, and definitely one of the finest plots in the entire franchise. The other characters are great, too – it’s a joy watching the shy Tsubomi blossom into a competent warrior. Plenty of yuri subtext to enjoy too.
I can’t really think of this as anything other than a yuri harem – though it actually has a myth arc running throughout, which none of the other iterations of Pretty Cure have done.
Still, many girls are drawn towards Mana, and the reason I watched Pretty Cure was for the yuri subtext. I do particularly like the relationship that develops between Mana and Regina.
There we have it. If you want to get into Pretty Cure, you’ll need to set aside a lot of time – after all, you’ve got 10 years worth of stuff to watch. If you do intend to watch all of them, it’s worth noting that finding episodes from earlier seasons might be a little difficult. Still, this is the internet, and I’m sure people know how to find something they want to watch…
Though Go! Princess PreCure hasn’t finished airing yet, I have to say that I’m finding it most enjoyable. It’s definitely a strong contender for breaking into that top five.
Each season of PreCure has it’s own film (well, Max Heart had two films, but there wasn’t any for the very first season). All of them except for Suite PreCure♪‘s are non-canon, though they all do have their own neat moments.
There’s also the All Stars films – again, non-canon but features all the different Cures teaming up.
To sum it all up – watch HeartCatch and DokiDoki!, Go! Princess PreCure is good and the Pretty Cure 5 stuff is a waste of time – everything else is all right, I suppose.