Maho Girls PreCure! is the thirteenth instalment of Izumi Todo’s Pretty Cure franchise. It has 50 episodes, and was directed by Masato Mitsuka, written by Isao Murayama and character designs were by Emiko Miyamoto. The studio that produced the show was Toei.
There is also a film, but this review will be focusing solely on the TV series.
Maho Girls PreCure! begins with Mirai Asahina spotting something falling from the sky. She takes her stuffed bear, Mofurun, to go and investigate and ends up meeting a magician called Liko. Liko is searching for the Linkle Stone Emerald, but so to are a group known as Dark Magicians.
Mirai and Liko encounter one of the Dark Magicians, Batty. When they hold hands, they transform into the legendary magicians Pretty Cure, allowing them to fight against the Dark Magicians.
Mirai Asahina is a thirteen-year old middle school student who lives in the No Magic World. She possesses boundless energy, and is very excitable. She takes her stuffed bear, Mofurun, everywhere with her and it is thanks to Mofurun that she is able to meet Liko. Thanks to her fateful encounter with Liko, she is able to transform into Cure Miracle.
Liko (who later adopts the surname Izayoi) is a thirteen-year old girl from the Magic World, and a student of the Magic Academy. Whilst she is an exemplary student when it comes to studying, she isn’t so good at actually using magic. Her journey into the No Magic World results in her meeting with Mirai and gaining the power to transform into Cure Magical.
As is customary for each iteration of PreCure, there is a mascot character. Howeve, Maho Girls PreCure! takes a slightly different approach than typical in that the mascot isn’t actually a fairy. Rather, the first time Mirai and Liko held hands and transformed, Mofurun came to life. She is a key part of the Cures’ transformation. Like a lot of the other mascots, she does have a verbal tic: she often ends her sentences with ‘mofu’.
Early on in the series, Mirai and Liko discover an item called the Linkle Smartbook (or Smartome if you go with what the fansubs had), in which their resides a baby fairy called Haa. As such, Mirai, Liko and Mofurun end up raising the baby fairy, who happens to go through some rapid growth due to the involvement of the Linkle Stones.
There’s plenty of side characters to talk about, but first it’s probably worth mentioning that there are two different worlds in this particular series of PreCure – the No Magic World and the Magic World. The No Magic World would be the world as we know it, whereas all sorts of magical creatures reside in the Magical World – you’ve got pegasi, dragons and mermaids to name a few.
Of course, humans reside in the Magic World too, and there’s an entire Academy dedicated to teaching magic to the youth that live there. In fact, there’s many different places in the Magic World that each have their own season throughout the year – it’s always spring at the Magic Academy, whilst Icy Isle is eternally in the grip of the freezing winter.
The characters travel between both worlds over the course of the series, though arguably the episodes that take place in the Magic World are more enjoyable than the ones that are set in the No Magic World. The whole fantasy feel that the Magic World has going for it helps with this. It also helps that the show takes the opportunity to give us lore about the Magic World – latter parts of the series even delve into its creation. The two different worlds is definitely one of Maho Girls PreCure!‘s strong points.
All right, back to the characters. Another PreCure custom is having a ‘big good’ – Maho Girls PreCure! is no exception to this.
The headmaster of the Magic Academy is the greatest magician in the Magic World, and is the one who suggests that Mirai should enrol in the Magic Academy after he discovers that she and Liko are the legendary magicians Pretty Cure. He shares a few things in common with another headmaster of a fictional magical school – effectively, he is Maho Girls PreCure!‘s version of Hogwarts’ Dumbledore.
The Magic Academy classes that Mirai and Liko attend towards the beginning of the series see them joined by three other students – Emily, Kei and Jun. Part of what makes the Magic World episodes so enjoyable are these three. They are recurring characters, and as the series goes on we get to see them develop as characters.
As you’d expect, there are teachers at the Magic Academy – one of whom is Liko’s sister, Liz. Liko really looks up to her older sister, though the downside of that is explored in one of the earlier episodes. There are other teachers at the Academy, of course, and each one has their own unique personality and mannerisms.
The Magic World isn’t just limited to the students and the teachers of the Magic Academy, either. Mirai and Liko meet all sorts of people when they explore the shopping district, and they also meet various magical creatures throughout the course of the series.
On the villainous side of things, we have the Dark Magicians. They are also seeking the Linkle Stone Emerald. Some earlier episodes suggest that one of the Dark Magicians might be manipulating things from behind the scenes, but that idea is soon laid to rest. Still, the Dark Magicians have some pretty neat designs, with each one being based off of a different animal. At least a couple of the villains also happen to undergo some growth over the course of the series – though they do end up getting replaced, they still have roles to play.
Whilst the Magic World episodes do tend to be more enjoyable, that’s not to say the No Magic World episodes don’t have their moments.
In particular, almost anything involving Kana tends to be enjoyable – magic is supposed to be kept secret in the No Magic World, but Kana keeps witnessing all sorts of magical events. Thing is, she tends to be the only one – it becomes something of a running gag.
For the No Magic World, Mirai’s family and some students of Tsunagi First Middle School are the side characters who tend to get most focus. Most entertainment comes from the aforementioned running gag.
In fact, the trouble with the No Magic World episodes is very much there in the name of the world – there’s no magic. The Magic World is something that is very much unique to Maho Girls PreCure!, and as such it adds to the charm of the show. The plots that take place in the No Magic World could happen in any iteration of PreCure, and we will probably see them again in the future.
The more enjoyable No Magic World episodes tend to involve magic being used in some way to have an effect on the plot, too.
Maho Girls PreCure! follows standard PreCure formula – which is pretty much your typical magical girl monster of the week fare. Of course, there are some exceptions – climactic confrontations tend to span over the course of two episodes or more.
As is par for the course, Maho Girls PreCure! has fight scenes that involve physical combat, which always tend to be capped of with use of a special attack. Here’s where another thing that makes Maho Girls PreCure! unique shows itself – Cure Miracle and Cure Magical gain access to four different forms known as Styles as they collect the Linkle Stones.
Not since Splash Star has there been Cures who have access to different forms that they can use for combat. In the more recent previous instalments of PreCure, different forms would almost exclusively be used for special attacks. This isn’t the case here – instead, each Style has its own unique abilities and finishing move.
Diamond Style is the first transformation, and in this Style the girls can use the Linkle Stones to use all sorts of techniques – as their collection of Linkle Stones grows bigger, so do does their Diamond Style repertoire.
Ruby Style is the transformation that grants Cure Magical and Cure Miracle great strength, allowing them to overpower foes with sheer willpower.
Sapphire Style grants the Cures speed, and allows them to fly without the aid of their brooms.
Finally, Topaz Style gives the Cure access to yellow orbs of light that they can shape into anything – weapons, barriers, platforms, etc. This is a rather versatile Style.
Having the different Styles means that we get varied combat scenes – one episode you’ll have an aerial battle with a high speed chase thanks to the Sapphire Style, and the next you’ll see Miracle and Magical using Topaz Style to smash their foes with big old hammers.
Another PreCure mainstay is stock footage – transformation sequences and special attacks are examples of that. To give Toei some credit, each Style has its own unique sequence, and the finishing moves do look spectacular.
Something else that is fairly typical of PreCure is yuri subtext, and Maho Girls PreCure! has that in spades. Before we get to the that, though, it’s worth mentioning that we even get some yaoi subtext of all things during the course of the show – it involves the headmaster and a close friend of his.
Going back to the girls, there’s no lack of yuri subtext between Mirai and Liko, but before we get to them I’ll be giving a shout-out to a couple of others.
Mayumi and Kana share quite an interesting relationship – Mayumi is fully supportive of Kana’s aspirations to meet a witch, and in turn it is shown that Kana really cares for Mayumi. The two always seem to be together, as well.
Still, the yuri subtext between Kana and Mayumi pales in comparison to what we get from Mirai and Liko. Here’s just a few examples:
Copious amounts of hand-holding, life being created from their love and wanting to be together forever – I think that’s more than ample evidence of the love between Mirai and Liko. They bring up a baby fairy together, and let’s not forget one episode has an entire montage dedicated to their hand-holding. In the earlier parts, Liko is something of a tsundere towards Mirai – but she soon warms to her and thus a great relationship between the two is formed.
Maho Girls PreCure! does occasionally have some sillier episodes.
Some of the sillier episodes feel just like filler – the Hallowe’en one with the ‘brush your teeth’ moral is probably the worst offender. Nothing happens in that particular episode to push the plot forward. Whilst the Magic World episodes do tend to be more enjoyable, there’s always bound to exceptions…
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also get some really well done emotional scenes – this is particular evident at the end of the series.
Actually, these emotional moments really bring out the yuri subtext, too. It’s made pretty clear that Liko has had an incredibly profound effect on Mirai, and the thought of them ever having to part is unbearable to her.
From an emotional perspective, the ending of Maho Girls PreCure! is definitely up there as one of the best. The confrontation with the final enemy is anti-climactic to say the least, but everything that follows on from that makes up for it in a way.
Maho Girls PreCure!‘s 50th episode is pretty much an epilogue. It does do something that no other PreCure series has done before, but to say too much else about what that is would be spoiling things.
So, to summarise – Maho Girls PreCure! tends to be at its best when the story is happening within the Magic World, the No Magic World episodes are hit and miss and there’s an assortment of silly and serious episodes to keep things entertaining.
When combat happens it is enjoyable, particularly with the varied Styles and the special moves look impressive. The final confrontation was anti-climactic, but the emotional stuff that followed that was great.
Finally, Mirai and Liko stand as shining examples of the yuri subtext that one would come to expect from PreCure, comparable to (or maybe even better then, depending on your perspective) Suite‘s Hibiki and Kanade.
There was a fear that Maho Girls PreCure! wouldn’t be able to live up to its predecessor, Go! Princess PreCure. For me, I definitely feel that it has surprassed it – but than again, I will always pick magic, witches and wizards over princesses.
Maho Girls PreCure! creates an entire fantasy world and builds lore for it – the appeal of witches and wizards could be considered to have a broader audience than princess. This is probably helped by things like Harry Potter and Little Witch Academia. Admittedly princess tend to be a staple of fantasy as well, but Maho Girls PreCure! brings in a whole lot more from that genre.
The characters are great, too – Mirai and Liko’s developing relationship over the course of the series, the mascots are amongst the best of the franchise, the side characters are fun and even some of the villains get development.
For those who are keen on magical girl and fantasy genres, Maho Girls PreCure! is well worth watching.