Hugtto! PreCure is the fifteenth entry of Izumi Todo’s Pretty Cure series. A magical girl series that clocks in at forty-nine episodes, the show started airing in February 2018. It also happens to be a celebration of PreCure‘s fifteenth anniversary.
The directors for this season of PreCure were Junichi Sato and Akifumi Zako, whilst the writer was Fumi Tsubota. The studio that produced it, was of course, Toei Animation.
There’ll most likely be spoilers in this review, though it does concern stuff that is pretty much common knowledge by this point. Still, thought I’d give a fair warning just in case.
Hugtto! PreCure starts when a girl named Hana Nono encounters a baby called Hugtan and a hamster-like fairy called Harry. The two are being pursued by the Criasu Corporation, and fled from the future. Hana’s desire to protect Hugtan causes her to transform into Cure Yell, allowing her to fight Criasu Corporation.
Hana is joined by Saaya Yakushiji and Homare Kagayaki, who transform into Cure Ange and Cure Etoile respectively.
Much like previous seasons, Hugtto! PreCure follows the same monster of the week formula. Still, with 49 episodes, there’s plenty of chances for each of the main characters to get fleshed out.First up, Hana Nono/Cure Yell. She is the lead Cure for Hugtto!, and a girl who really doesn’t know what she wants from her future. Hana is one of the funniest characters in the entire PreCure franchise – right up there with Erika Kurumi/Cure Marine from HeartCatch PreCure!.
Of course, there is more to Hana than just being the amusing one. She has a cheerleader motif going on, which would generally be considered more of a supporting role. She makes a worthy leader, though.The second member of the Hugtto! team is Saaya Yakushiji, who transforms into Cure Ange. Out of the initial trio, she arguably has the best character arc. There are two paths laid out before Saaya in terms of her future; acting, or medicine. Her episodes tend to be some of the best that Hugtto! has to offer. That’s a good thing, because she doesn’t seem to get too much attention when it comes to group episodes.Finally, we come to Homare Kagayaki. She transforms into Cure Etoile. Homare has my least favourite character arc in this season, particularly because it reminds me of Yes! PreCure 5 and I really did not get on with those seasons. Her ice skating stuff is fine, its her falling in love with the mascot character that doesn’t sit well with me.
To be fair, though, Harry isn’t a bad mascot – leagues better than Coco and Nuts from Yes! PreCure 5, at least.
Also, long time watchers will be pretty familiar with Homare’s debut as a Cure. Quite a few seasons have seen a character wanting to become PreCure, but having something hold them back.
That covers the main trio, but this is PreCure, so of course that means that the team grows a bit roughly around halfway through the season. This is one of the things I had in mind when I mentioned spoilers in my intro, so I shall be reiterating that warning here. That’s just in case – as I’ve already mentioned, these two characters being Cures is common knowledge by this point.Ruru Amour and Emiru Aisaki, my favourite characters in Hugtto! PreCure. They transform into Cure Amour and Cure Ma Cherie respectively, both known as the PreCure of Love.
Emiru is first introduced as a classmate of Hana’s sister, who is very conscience about safety and comes across as quite strict due to that.
As for Ruru, she starts as a member of Criasu Corporation, but some befriending soon sees her joining PreCure.
Emiru and Ruru absolutely bring out the best in each other, and are quite simply one of the best yuri couples that have ever appeared in the PreCure franchise – or anime in general, one could argue. Definitely for 2018, at least.
One of my main reasons for getting into PreCure was because I learned of its yuri subtext (which is just sometimes text, just look at DokiDoki and Maho Girls for blatant examples of that). Hugtto! PreCure absolutely delivered that with EmiRuru.
The two are seen together very often, and especially towards the end, they always seem to be in each other’s arms. They also start a band together, and if Kindred Spirits on the Roof and BanG Dream! have taught me anything, it’s that I really, really like lesbian bands. The songs that EmiRuru compose together are pretty much love songs, too. KiraKira gave us AkiYuka, but that sort of ended up going nowhere. Fortunately, EmiRuru do not suffer the same fate.
I could probably spend the rest of this review going on and on about how incredible EmiRuru are, but there are other points that I should probably bring up as well.
A couple of other yuri ships are teased throughout – Hana has moments with both Saaya and Homare, but nothing quite compares to the magnificence of EmiRuru.Let’s shift focus to the mascot characters. Playing the role of cute animal fairy is Harry, who is able to transform into a human form. Male mascot characters tend to be a bit hit and miss in the PreCure franchise, but for what it is worth I like Harry. He has an interesting backstory, and is even capable of holding his own in a fight if it calls for it.Our other mascot is the baby Hugtan, who holds some kind of power – because of course she does. Much like the other characters, she grows over the course of the season. Not as much as a certain fairy baby, but it is there. Actually, Hugtan is definitely one of the better baby characters in the franchise, and the catalyst of something that was very, very good for longtime PreCure fans.
Whew, that covers the central group of characters, but what about the supporting cast? I won’t go into detail for each and every one, but I will bring up some highlights. Hana’s classmates Aki and Junna, for example. Hana’s family, too – they’re all pretty great characters. However, the best supporting cast members are a couple of characters who had rather negative introduction, but they managed to turn it around.I am referring to Masato Aisaki and Henri Wakamiya. Masato is Emiru’s older brother, whilst Henri is Homare’s longtime ice skating rival. Masato is somewhat misogynistic when he is first introduced, firmly believing that girls should not play guitar.
Henri is rather condescending when he first appears, and it doesn’t make for a particularly good first impression. However, Masato and Henri happen to meet, and honestly that is the best thing that could have happen to the both of them.
Yaoi ships aren’t typically my thing, but Masato and Henri end up with great chemistry between themselves. Henri is a particularly notable character. One of his earlier episode basically has the message that boys can be princesses too if they so choose – this certainly got Hugtto! PreCure onto a lot of people’s radars with that positive message. Henri also provides a first for the franchise, but that’s all I shall say about that.On the enemy side, the forces of Criasu use monsters called ‘Oshimaidaa’. These are typically humanoid foes, though there are a variety of shapes and sizes. Combat is much more physical than it was in KiraKira PreCure a la Mode, which is welcome return to form. Of course, a typical fight involves some fighting, followed by a finishing move. There are some pretty good fights.
The monsters of the week have to be summoned by someone, and that role falls to Criasu’s leaders. As far as villains go, they fairly decent. Most of them even manage to get even better after being defeated, which is always nice.
Hugtto! PreCure is the fifteenth anniversary celebration of PreCure, and there are plenty of nods to previous seasons scattered throughout. However, the epitome of this comes in episode 37. That episode has to be seen to be believed.
HappinessCharge PreCure! was the tenth anniversary celebration of the franchise, and quite frankly it was something of a let down. Hugtto! PreCure absolutely blows that out of the water with a single episode.I could praise Hugtto! PreCure a lot more (and I will), but it does have some downsides. Not every episode is a winner – but what do you expect when there are 49 of them? I’ve already mentioned the HomaHarry stuff, which isn’t great. There’s also the time travel aspect, which can cause some confusion – are Criasu from the distant future, or is it closer than we think? What happens to people who return to the future?
Much like with Dragon Ball Z‘s time travelling stuff, it probably isn’t worth thinking about too hard. PreCure is a kids’ show, after all.For a children’s show, Hugtto! PreCure has some very, very dark moments. We have implied attempted suicide, Ruru shutting down (basically a death scene), and Hugtan falling into a coma. Whilst not exactly dark, we do also get a couple of instances of characters going into labour and giving birth onscreen, with any explicit details being shown.
Moments like those are what make Hugtto! PreCure stand out in the franchise, though. On top of the celebration of fifteen years of PreCure, it is made very easy to look past the flaws that are present.
I won’t spoil the ending here, but I will say that it certainly went with a very bold move. That’s another thing that stands out about Hugtto!.
Hugtto! PreCure is pretty much the epitome of what PreCure can be, even with its flaws. An utterly brilliant celebration of fifteen years of Pretty Cure, and easily one of the best entries in the entire franchise. Also gave us EmiRuru, which is the most important thing really.