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Anime: Futari wa Pretty Cure aka: Futariwa Pretty Cure Max Heart
"The beautiful souls of Pretty Cure-"
"-shall crush your evil heart!"
The first series in what would become the Pretty Cure franchise, Futari wa Pretty Cure ("The Two of Us Are Pretty Cure") is a Anime FirstMagical Girl show done with a modern, self-aware approach to an old genre.Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro are two eighth-grade girls who normally would have never become anything more than passing acquaintances. Nagisa is an energetic jock and ace of the lacrosse team, loved by all the girls but secretly wishing for a male admirer straight from a romance novel. Honoka is the star pupil and class president, incredibly popular with all the guys but not too fussed about acting upon it.That was until the day Nagisa made a wish on a shooting star and (violently) came into contact with Mepple, a fairy on the run from the sinister agents of the Dusk Zone. Fleeing from the Dusk Zone's monsters, Nagisa runs into Honoka, who happens to have Mepple's partner (and lover) Mipple. To defend themselves, Nagisa and Honoka use the fairies' power to transform together into Cure Black and Cure White: the Emissaries Of Light, Pretty Cure.After an initial awkward phase with involuntary catchphrases and their new Super Strength, Nagisa and Honoka learn about the seven Prism Stones that protect the Garden of Light, Mepple and Mipple's homeworld. Dusk Zone has already captured five of the Prism Stones, and seek to consume both the Garden of Light and Earth once they have all seven. Mepple and Mipple have the remaining two, but need all seven to repair the damage done to the Garden of Light. Thus, the stage is set for the conflict between Pretty Cure and Dusk Zone.Pretty Cure was aimed at both young girls and young male adults, and the amount of Post Modernism awareness of the Magical Girl genre and Parental Bonuses shows it. Nagisa in particular is flabbergasted by the silly clichés of the genre, reciting a prolonged post-transformation catchphrase and then blurting out, "Wait, what am I saying?!"Pretty Cure bucks the formula in other ways. The girls are very physical when fighting: leaping, punching and kicking their foes and reserving magical attacks for the final blow. Both girls possess super-strength and agility, making them far more formidable in hand-to-hand combat than the usual magical girl. It's worth noting at this point that the director of Pretty Cure was Daisuke Nishio, whose resume also includes Dragonball Z.All their magical abilities come from teamwork: they have no solo attacks and cannot even transform into their Pretty Cure forms unless they do so in unison. The show focuses heavily on the developing friendship between Nagisa and Honoka, even throwing in some blatant yuri subtext for the older audience. From an animation standpoint, the show seemed to have an aversion to Stock Footage: if Nagisa and Honoka were in different clothes when they transformed, a new transformation sequence would be animated. All of this makes for one of the more unique Magical Girl shows to come along in a long time.The show proved so popular that a direct sequel, Futari wa Pretty Cure MaX Heart, followed immediately afterwards. Following the finale of Futari wa, the Queen of Light is forced to shatter her own essence and scatter the pieces to Earth. Nagisa and Honoka are recruited once more by the Garden of Light, given upgraded powers and tasked with finding the twelve "Heartiels" that make up the Queen's heart. Aiding them is a Mysterious Waif called Hikari who transforms into Third Ranger Shiny Luminous, and avoids the usual problem with new members by acting as more of a Support Party Member to Black and White. Opposing them are the remnants of the Dusk Zone, who are seeking a way to revive the Dark King.4Kids Entertainment originally had the US license (in the same package deal rumored to also give them One Piece and Magical Do Re Mi), but they dropped the license before they did anything with it for unknown reasons (possibly due to the failures of DoReMi and Mew Mew Power). YTV then signed a deal with Toei to air the show in Canada in 2009 where the English dub (produced by Toei/YTV and Ocean Studios) debuted. Additionally, it has aired in this form in Australia and New Zealand on Cartoon Network; and in the UK on PopGirl. And if you live in America, you can legally watch the subtitled version from Toei right here, right now.Compare to Mai-HiME and its successor, Mai-Otome.Amusing tidbit—in interviews, Eiichiro Oda mentioned his daughter enjoys this show over his own work.
This program provides examples of:
Action Girl: Cure Black and Cure White regularly kick monster butt on a weekly basis.
All Your Colors Combined: A mixed example. The Marble Screw plays it straight as can be. But some of the later attacks (namely Rainbow Storm and Rainbow Healing) somehow make rainbows out of adding black and white.
Nagisa's friends and her brother serve as her buttons: harm them, and your life is forfeit, as Gekidrago learned the hard way in episode 11.
Later, in episode 42, when Honoka/Cure White is in serious danger, Nagisa/Cure Black (after initially panicking and crying) fights the bad guys on her own and shows of a LOT of power, especially considering she and Cure White are supposed to get their powers from teamwork.
Big Bad: The Dark King is the ruler of the Dusk Zone, and all the villains do their evil deeds for him.
Big Eater: Nagisa can scarf down lots of food in little time, sometimes taking Honoka's when she doesn't want it.
Big Fancy House: Honoka's home is a traditional Japanese dwelling with a garden and walled yard, but is also located in the middle of a city; upon just seeing the gate Nagisa realizes that she's way out of her economic stratum.
Big Guy, Little Guy: The Butler Zakenna have this dynamic. The big one is an idiot who often makes more of a mess than what he cleans while the little one tries to keep him and Hikaru under control.
Brand X: Honoka has applied "PRE-Q BAN" brand adhesive bandages to at least two different people's minor wounds.
Calling Your Attacks: Black and White always call out their attacks in the Stock Footage before using them. Shiny Luminous follows in their footsteps with her attacks.
Catch Phrase: Nagisa is fond of shouting "I can't believe this!" (Arienai!) It's even in the theme song. You can even make a Drinking Game out of it too.
Clark Kenting: Subverted for the most part. Nagisa and Honoka have minimal physical changes, and the bad guys regularly attack them in civilian form. They don't fight in the open either, so they don't have to worry about being seen by civilians. Still, they aren't recognized the few times they are seen in Cure form, so it still applies to them occasionally.
Downer Ending: The first season has Mepple, Mipple, and Porun fall into an eternal sleep in order to stay with the girls, to their dismay. It gets reversed at the beginning of Max Heart.
Down to the Last Play: Each season has about 3-4 Lacrosse matches, all of which are won by Nagisa at the last second.
Except one match, which was won by Shiho at the last second.
Do Wrong, Right: Episode 11 has an instance where Nagisa's dad catches her using a grappling move on her brother. Instead of scolding her for tormenting her Annoying Younger Sibling, he corrects her technique and goes on his way.
Early Installment Weirdness: The earlier episodes have the two demonstrating abilities like producing a barrier and the Rainbow Therapy that they never use again in the later episodes.
The End of the World as We Know It: The Dusk Zone plans to annihilate Earth, and the heroes frequently get a glimpse of the ruins of what their world would be like if the Dusk Zone won.
Every Car Is a Pinto: When she was pissed in episode 42, Cure Black's Battle Aura was the bolt in the differential necessary to destroy an entire subway car, making this one Every Subway Car Is A Pinto.
Gotta Catch Them All: Used differently than in most series as Pretty Cure makes no real effort to collect the Heartiels near the end of the series it's revealed they never intended to revive The Queen and are in fact offended by the idea that they would be willing to sacrifice anyone.
Gratuitous English: The Cure's names, transformation phrases, and attacks are all in English.
Heel-Face Turn: Done twice, first by Kiriya and later, in part, by King Haaku, whose life makes the turn and splits from him.
Ignored Enemy: In episode 8. Nagisa and Honoka are bickering while casually dodging Gekidrago's attacks, and when he demands they stop ignoring him, they shout "Be quiet! We're having a very important conversation here!" and blast him into orbit.
Invisible to Normals: Subverted most of the time. Whenever Mipple, Mepple or Pollun decide to pop out because they want to have fun along with Nagisa and Honoka, the girls have to cover up and pretend that they made whatever noise the mascots made.
I Have the High Ground: The villains tend to take a high perch when they make their entrance and summon a Zakenna.
Japanese Stock Phrases: You can make a Drinking Game out of it: Take a shot every time you hear someone say "Even if you say that..." and not finish the sentence, and you'll need a new liver in short order. (Take a shot every time it's clear what the speaker means, and... you'll die of thirst. There's such a thing as an overly literal translation, after all.) The series is also fond of This Is Unforgivable! before fight scenes, and "Don't say unnecessary things!" when someone has said... pretty much anything the other person doesn't like.
Lampshade Hanging: So much of it going around due to Nagisa that it deserved having it as its own trope.
Lonely Rich Kid: Honoka is very wealthy, but also somewhat isolated from her peers due to not being very social, though she does have friends in the Science Club, particularly Yuriko. When she befriends Nagisa, she also gets absorbed into her circle of friends.
Never Say "Die": "Returning to the darkness"; Mipple and Mepple assure Honoka that they haven't really killed their enemies, but later on, the villains treat it as punishment and Kiriya once mentions it in a context that sounds like committing honourable suicide.
This becomes a plot point later on when Kiriya manages to communicate with the girls through a rift in the darkness.
The Power of Friendship: Very important in the series, as the Cures' attacks are powered by their friendship.Even when they're arguing/yelling at each other, they can still manage to dodge all the enemy's attacks — in perfect sync — and pull together long enough to defeat it.
Snot Bubble: Mepple does this, sometimes with added drool.
So Last Season: Zig-zagged. Once the Seeds of Evil show up, Pretty Cure seem to be helpless against them without the Pretty Cure Rainbow Bracelets. However, the regular old Marble Screw still works just fine against Zakenna, and eventually they can win against the Seeds without the bracelets as well.
For that matter, the Marble Screw was already pretty much useless against Ilkubo several episodes before the Bracelets were introduced, forcing Pretty Cure to rely on luck and tactics to survive against him.
Then when MaX Heart comes along, they use an upgraded version of Marble Screw, but that too is eventually outclassed by Extreme Luminario . . . and then Marble Screw is upgraded again.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Nagisa. She's tolerable in the first season, but in MaX Heart, she gets more episodes than Hikari and Honoka combined and then some. The first Non-Serial Movie is nothing but Nagisa doing cool things while Honoka and Hikari are barely more than Living Props. Averted in the second movie, however. Worse, Saki and Hibiki are both expies of her and both do this too. But the good thing is, at least they're not creator's pets like Mana.
Stock Footage: There's the usual stock footage (transformation, attacks), and some surprise ones, like Nagisa's lacrosse goal.
Super Cell Reception: Played with. The protective forms that Mipple and Mepple have to take on during their stay on earth resemble girly cellphones, resulting in everyone assuming that Nagisa and Honoka already had cells and didn't need new ones. However, Mipple and Mepple only look like cellphones, and can't be used to communicate.
Title Drop: Borderline example, and the dub every instance of Pretty Cure being uttered counts since the title is shortened to simply "Pretty Cure". The girls' In the Name of the Moon speech finishes with the exclamation of "Together We are Pretty Cure!", making this a Once an Episode occurrence.
Too Dumb to Live: After about the tenth time weird things start happening around them and they don't immediately transform, but instead decide to investigate in their normal unpowered state, you start to wonder what is wrong with them. You have superpowers, girls. If everyone around suddenly gets turned to stone, you should probably USE THEM! Even Mepple starts calling them out on it by midpoint. They don't listen.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Zakenna butlers live through both seasons and are never shown being killed, yet their fate at the end of Max Heart is left unaddressed. They are last seen at the mansion.
Writers Cannot Do Math: Subverted. The infamous "You should be able to solve this◊" screencap (the equation resolves to 0=26) is taken from seconds before Honoka points out that the equation can't be solved—it's the in-universe math teacher who made a mistake, not the writers.
Year Inside, Hour Outside: Though they left a day apart in their world, over a century passed between Mipple's arrival on Earth and Mepple's.