From classics like Sally the Witch all the way to deconstructions like Madoka Magica and Mahou Shoujo Ore, it’s clear that the magical girl genre has been a beloved part of the anime world for a very long time. But strangely enough, the Western world has had very little exposure to one of the most prominent magical girl franchises of the past few decades – Pretty Cure.
Today, we’re going to take a short look at a hidden gem of anime, often overlooked because of its young demographic. But trust us – there’s more to it than just cute costumes and toys. We’re entering the sparkly world of Pretty Cure~!
What is Precure (Pretty Cure)?
Pretty Cure began its life back in 2004 when Toei Animation released its aptly named first installment Futari wa Precure (meaning “The Two of Us are Pretty Cure”). It tells the story of two young girls who must work together, despite their conflicting personalities, to defeat the evil monsters threatening their world by transforming into the superheroes Cure Black and Cure White.
This kind of concept had obviously been done before, but the two things that set Precure apart were its focus on character relationships and, most importantly, its surprisingly intense fight scenes. Cures Black and White didn’t just fire spells at their foes; they punched and kicked and got right up in their faces. Seeing these cute girls beating the crap out of their enemies was what made adult anime fans sit up and pay attention. Who knew girls in frilly outfits could throw down like they’re in Dragon Ball Z?
Something for everyone
As of 2018, Pretty Cure has 15 installments covering 13 different teams of Cures (Futari wa Precure and Yes! Precure 5 had second seasons). Like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, each new series exists in a separate continuity, so you can pick one at random without needing any context. They all have different art styles, themes, and team structures, so you’re bound to find one that fits your style. Be sure to check out “Finding the Right Precure Series for You” for detailed recommendations!
One of our favorites is Smile Precure (Glitter Force), which features a five-person team themed around storybook tales. It’s a great place for a new viewer to start since it uses a more familiar Sailor Moon/Super Sentai team structure and strikes a balance between traditional magical girl cutesiness and kickass intensity. And since it’s from 2012, the CG during transformations and the end credits dances is crisp and beautiful. If you’re looking for a good introduction to the franchise, you can’t go wrong with Smile Precure.
Why haven’t I heard of it?
Unlike Super Sentai, which was adapted into Power Rangers, Precure hasn’t seen much popularity outside of Japan. Futari wa Precure got a Canadian English dub in 2009 (which was pretty faithful to the original, despite some Westernized names), but its limited success meant that Western fans had to rely on fansubs for every series afterwards. That is, until Netflix came into the scene.
Saban, the localization company behind Power Rangers, dubbed Smile Precure as Glitter Force on Netflix in 2015. It’s a pure ‘90s-style dub, with American names for everyone and episodes chopped up to create new narratives. It’s not the worst thing ever, but unless you’re watching with your little sibling, it’s best to stick to subs for this franchise.
Despite its primary demographic of little girls, Pretty Cure has a lot going for it that the adult anime fan can enjoy. You do have to be on board for a lot of moe cuteness and routine episode formats, but the amazing fight scenes and emotionally powerful character moments make it so much more than just another magical girl show. So strike a girly pose and check it out!
What are your thoughts on Pretty Cure? Had you ever heard of it before? Does it sound like something you’d like to watch? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!