It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.
The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.
Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.
As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.
Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.
Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.
Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.
Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.
Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.
Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.
The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.
After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.
The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.
The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.
Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.
Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.