Futari Wa Pretty Cure

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Well. Here we are. The beginning of an amazing and very big franchise. It starts off so simply, Cures Black and White, The Garden of Light and the Dark Zone, the forces of good and light vs. the forces of evil and darkness. Nagisa and Honoka are a great duo and well worthy of being the first Pretty Cures. But just how is the rest of the show? Now for the season that started my all time favorite anime franchise let’s take a look.

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The first episode is a very standard affair, it’s a nice simple introduction to our two leads, with an ultra catchy opening theme song to boot. The opening theme song would also bring us iconic moments for the season and franchise with the jump from the explosion Nagisa performs used repeatedly as well as the scene of her pulling Honoka up from the rubble. The first episode gives us such things as a glimpse of Fujipi, the introduction of Nagisa’s friends Shiho and Rina, and some running gags like Nagisa messing up words and Honoka’s science experiments going awry. And of course Nagisa getting love letters from girls which is not often brought up again. And who could forget this?

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The birth of a meme.

When Nagisa gets home she’s witness to what she thinks are some shooting stars, only for Mepple to fly into her room and smack her on the head. Which in a way is a fairly iconic running gag for the franchise as well. Mepple’s appearance also wakes up Mipple as Honoka finds herself drawn to the storage shed where she’s been kept in slumber for many years. Nagisa’s scared reaction to Mepple is hilarious and very normal compared to how other lead Cures would react in later seasons.

After following Mepple’s instructions to meet Mipple Nagisa finds herself at an amusement park, along with the first evil minion from the Dark Zone, Pissard. Who is not remotely scary, intimidating, or funny. After a brief meeting between the two girls they transform and it’s certainly a memorable transformation. The liquid metal effect and the music is pretty good and the outfits are nice and simple. The fight begins shortly and it’s worth mentioning that we are gifted with the best battle music in the very first episode. And not just for Futari Wa either. It is the best battle music any season has ever had. Unfortunately the action itself is very floaty and not particularly good, a problem that would repeatedly plague the franchise pretty much all the way until Fresh. The Zakenna however has a good design, in general most do, Pissard summons it with a strange speech in his episodes but this is dropped shortly and doesn’t happen much later. The fight ends anti-climactically as the girls don’t even really win the fight or beat up the Zakenna, they just use their attack Marble Screw and kill it without a fight at all really. This is a problem Futari Wa would have a lot of. But at least Marble Screw is a pretty cool attack.

They manage to drive off Pissard with that, and everything magically resetting so no damage is actually permanent, and the episode ends with Nagisa not at all happy with the recent strange developments in her life.

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It’s a pretty good first episode. Not the best the franchise has produced but it does everything it needs to and has some funny moments. The ending theme song is also very cute and catchy. Poisony’s hair is a different color in it early on as well, don’t know why they cared enough to change it but whatever.

Episode 2 begins with Mepple setting a trend of fairies annoying the hell out of and bothering their Cures in the middle of class. Excellent. The Dark King appears for the first time as well and I really love his design. The fire at the bottom and the chains reaching out through the Dark Zone are really cool. I could see him genuinely being scary and intimidating to little kids who watch the show. He wants the Prism Stones from the Garden of Light to live forever and be able to cover the universe in the Dark Zone. As he is now his own “Power to Consume All things” is even dangerous to himself.

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Anyways it’s nice to see Nagisa and Mepple together since they have a funny, negative, relationship. Unlike most other heroines who are from the very beginning super concerned with their fairies homeworld and whatever dangerous thing is happening Nagisa really couldn’t give two shits, blah blah Garden of Rainbows (aka Earth) blah blah Prism Stones blah blah, etc. She is so resigned and annoyed about what is going on it’s great. Honoka however is much more enthusiastic, and honestly a little weird about it.

This episode Pissard decides to gather the energy from humans for the Dark King instead of fighting Pretty Cure directly. This idea and concept is completely meaningless and only brought up sparingly. It seems to me the creators may not have been entirely sure about the direction they wanted to take the show and this episode definitely has hints of early Sailor Moon in it. The fight this episode is visually unimpressive but has some cool moments, the instrumental version of the opening theme is played for the first time, and then at the end the girls hold hands and suddenly have a completely random rainbow colored shield around them that protects them from the Zakenna’s energy blast. This is not commented on and rarely seen again. Curiously as well when Nagisa attacks the Zakenna she leaves a shoe imprint on it from a kick which remains on the object after it’s “cured”. Which is somewhat strange when everything else gets reset.

The next episode is a more formal introduction to some of the school characters like the Principal, Vice Principal, and Nagisa and Honoka’s teacher. We also learn that 5 of the 7 Prism Stones are held by the Dark Zone while the last two are in the hands of Mipple and Mepple. The fight this time around is more entertaining with the Zakenna taking over a bunch of gym equipment but still ends poorly as Black and White simply get tossed around the whole fight before just Marble Screwing it.

Episode 4 is a field trip to an art museum and it’s definitely the best of Pissard’s episodes. It’s also the first real appearance of the other evil minions of the Dark Zone. What’s weird about the episode though is that the Dark King says it’s Pissard’s last chance and if he fails he might as well be dead. And the way the episode ends makes it look like Pissard is completely blown away by the Marble Screw but then he just turns up next episode fine and begging the Dark King for one last chance. Either way it’s a very funny and enjoyable episode, we also learn that Mipple came to Earth 100 years before Mepple, and the Zakenna this episode takes over everything in the museum which is pretty cool.

Pissard only got a mere 5 episodes of life. The least of any minion in the franchise. In his last episode we get a little more Fujipi, which frankly is too much Fujipi but whatcha gonna do. Two high school or maybe even college aged guys also hit on Nagisa and Honoka which is weird but funny because of Honoka’s angry and confused reaction. We are also introduced to Akane and her takoyaki stand for the first time. Overall this is a very cute episode as it’s basically just Nagisa and Honoka hanging out together all day. Eventually though Pissard comes in and corners Honoka when she’s alone, taking Mipple from her. But when Nagisa comes he actually allows them both to transform to prove that he’s strong and can beat them at their strongest after getting humiliated by them repeatedly. Unfortunately the fight choreography still sucks and it’s just a rather anti-climactic end and death for Pissard. The girls are worried about killing him too but since this is a show for little kids it’s excused away with “he just returned to the darkness and wont return again”.

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And as the girls soon realize Pissard left them with a Prism Stone upon being blasted away.

And that’s how Pretty Cure begins. It’s not the strongest start, since Pissard is just mediocre as a villain. Obviously they just wanted to go for the straight, generic bad guy before getting into the more quirky villains but it still doesn’t do any favors to the first 5 episodes. Now I’m just going to take some time to talk about Futari Wa in general before getting into the next story arc, just a brief discussion of the characters and parts of the world. First off I’ve always thought Futari Wa looks older than it actually is, almost like something from the 90’s, or like, a step above the first season of Digimon. It does not have particularly good animation or art. In fact the art is very bland and boring, Futari Wa really has no flavor of style of its own and aesthetically has basically nothing going for it. Of the other early seasons Splash Star has a certain vibrancy and atmosphere to it and Yes5 has its strange European style city. Futari Wa is generic. And that’s true of more than just the art as well. The villains and theming in the season are all very generic and uninteresting (from a thematic/visual viewpoint) but some of the villains personalities are fun. It’s the most basic theme you can get in a show like this, the simplest version of Good vs. Evil there is. From a design view there’s nothing that ties the villains together either, they’re all just generic evil people. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the greater themes and morals in Futari Wa because everything done with them is so very basic and when the villains go on monologues about them it’s difficult to care. There’s nothing special here.

Aside from that stuff Nagisa is an excellent main character, she’s so different from every other lead Cure purely because of just how pissed off she is about having to be a Cure and fight monsters. She’s selfish and a complete jerk to her little brother and has great chemistry with Honoka. Honoka is weird. Cute, fun, and weird with a cute dog. I love them both and their relationship and how it develops is the best thing about Futari Wa. Negatives with Nagisa are Fujipi, I just can’t stand how much time is spent on him compared to how little is gained from it. And sure, she may become a screen hog later but damn if she isn’t always fun.

So onto the next group of episodes! Introducing Gekidrago:

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Not the sharpest tool in the shed. His first episode is also the one which introduces the Prism Hopeish where the Prism Stones are kept for safekeeping as well as the Guardian who watches over them for safe keeping. The Guardian is a fun character and his VA would later go on to voice Tarte in Fresh. Gekidrago is also definitely more fun than Pissard and his episodes and fights are generally a little better as well. In episode 6 a bear is used as a Zakenna so Pretty Cure use their new ability Rainbow Therapy to heal it instead of attacking it directly. Rainbow Therapy would only ever be used again 2 or 3 more times before being forgotten.

Episode 7 is the first of many lacrosse episodes where the trusty ace Nagisa has to carry her teammates. Unfortunately for everyone at the beginning Nagisa is troubled because she sees Honoka chatting amicably with Fujipi and gets worried and jealous over their possible relationship. This sets up what happens next episode. In a good bit of comedy the Vice Principal is turned into a Zakenna this episode and after annoying Gekidrago, gets decked.

And that all brings us to episode 8. An important early episode it’s  also one of the more memorable and classic episodes that would have its format repeated frequently enough in other seasons. Nagisa still can’t help but be jealous and worried over Honoka and Fujipi, even knowing they’re just childhood friends, and after Honoka accidentally embarrasses her in front of Fujipi she lashes out at her.

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This really hurts Honoka because she had already started to see Nagisa as a real friend. The fight they have even gets her to question being a Cure because she now thinks they don’t fit well together and are too different. Of course they’re soon enough dragged into a fight with Gekidrago, which is pretty funny since they’re just completely ignoring him as they argue back and forth with each other.  They eventually come to an understanding that despite all their differences what they both share in common is the desire to become friends. It’s a really good episode, easily the best so far. And after this they start referring to each other by their first names instead of “Misumi-san” and “Yukishiro-san”.

Episode 9 has Mepple being sick, the episode is a pretty standard “bonding” type one. Nagisa and Mepple’s relationship doesn’t really change after it but she does grow to care for him a little bit. Another thing one might’ve realized while watching Futari Wa is that the subs for it are not the best, that becomes exceptionally apparent this episode. And in a bit of karma Gekidrago gets crushed by his own Zakenna during the fight. But the fights are still a big problem for Futari Wa at this point. In that Pretty Cure doesn’t actually win the fights, they just end. The girls decide to do Marble Screw at any possible or sudden point and blam, end. It gets better about this but no season has this problem nearly as much.

Gekidrago’s last two episodes are used for building the familial relationships of our leads. In episode 10 Honoka’s parents come home for her birthday, it’s an alright episode, has some sweet moments. And it has Honoka getting pissed off at some robbers. The girl really operates on a different wavelength from everyone else. But episode 11 is the real main event. Focusing on Nagisa and her brother, they all go on a trip to an aquarium. Like the Mepple being sick episode this one is used to show that despite their antagonistic relationship Nagisa still cares for Ryouta as her little brother. We also get to see Nagisa’s dad for the first time. He’s a fun character and in my opinion one of the better Pretty Cure parents. And we also learn that Ryouta has a little crush on Honoka. Gekidrago of course appears soon enough, ready to unleash his full power. And this happens.

Yeah.

Yeah.

But a note to villains: DON’T PISS OFF CURE BLACK. When Ryouta is hurt in the fight Black and White give Gekidrago a very nice beatdown. It’s the first good fight in the show and has some nice animation in it too. Gekidrago’s end is definitely much better than Pissard’s.

And now is where Futari Wa starts to get better.

The next episode brings in Poisony as the main villain. She is from the get go much better and more fun than Pissard and Gekidrago were. And again the episodes with her are of a generally higher quality than the ones before. Poisony likes to do trickier things in her episodes, she messes with the girls much more. In her first one she steals Mepple and attempts to steal Mipple as well, but is thwarted by Honoka’s grandmother who is really just an awesome character. We learn this episode that her grandmother was the one who found Mipple many years ago and has kept her ever since.

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And episode 13 is where Kiriya comes to the Garden of Rainbows as well. He transfers into Nagisa and Honoka’s school and comes off as the typical “perfect transfer student” he’s amazing at soccer and aced the exams to get in. It’s nice to have two villains at once like this, they play off each other well and have some nice scenes and funny moments together. Poisony and Kiriya also have a sort of brother and sister relationship and get along much better with each other than the others did.

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Honoka’s science club this episode is putting on a presentation in a competition, during which a Zakenna attacks. In the attack two girls from their school see Black and White fighting which leads into our next episode. The girls who saw them decide to dress up and put on performances in the park for kids, it’s a pretty fun episode with how exasperated Nagisa and Honoka become after getting worried about someone possibly having seen them fight and know who they are and then thinking about how there might be another pair of Cures running around. The two girls later get mind-controlled by Poisony and are used as hostages and to fight against Black and White. It’s a pretty good scene. That random shield from way back in episode 2 appears again as well to help them block an energy blast.

Next episode is one of my all time favorites from Futari Wa. Nagisa and Honoka each coincidentally wind up at the same lakeside inn on their vacation. The episode does a good job of showing how “meta” Futari Wa could be as the two of them realize that them meeting up like this must mean that the Dark Zone can’t be far behind. And Poisony’s appearance shoved hidden inside a cupboard is just hilarious.

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The episode is all around good, Nagisa’s dad is funny and it ends up being a kind of sweet development episode for the two of them. The fight is one of the better ones from early Futari Wa and the Zakenna are cool looking. It’s a solid episode from beginning to end. The episode right after introduces us to a minor character called Yuka, the Madonna of Verone, who’s rich and perfect. She appears again once more later on in the season and then again in Max Heart. Yuka gets mind-controlled by Poisony which makes it three times Poisony has done this. She then makes Zakenna from her shadow in her image and sets them to terrorize people. Well, terrorize is hardly accurate. They just go around annoying people by acting out Yuka’s desire to just be able to play and mess around like an ordinary girl. It’s an alright episode.

The next two episodes are the ones which develop Kiriya for his character arc. Kiriya who has done absolutely nothing since episode 13. Episode 17 is also a Fujipi episode, Honoka likes to help Nagisa out with her feelings and invites her to work on a farm where Fujipi will be working to help out his friend. Unfortunately with the stuff revolving around Kiriya is that his development and interest in Honoka is to sudden. It isn’t really believable. Kiriya and Poisony separate Black and White when Poisony attacks but Kiriya falters when he sees White hurt and allows Black to rejoin her. All of this completely unknown to Black and White of course who are none the wiser to Kiriya’s true identity. Episode 18 opens with the Dark King ranting about the Prism Stones and his power again. It’s getting kind of old. This episode works more to developing Kiriya again, 17 and 18 are the only ones that do this, the others involving him have nothing like this. This time Kiriya is being made to understand other peoples feelings and how his careless words and actions can hurt people. It’s not badly done but his latent feelings for Honoka and his emotional outbursts still are hardly believable for his character. The fight in episode 18 is really cool, Poisony pulls Black and White into a mirror labyrinth and starts fighting them directly. It’s things like this that put her above Pissard and Gekidrago. Like last episode Black and White are unknowingly rescued by Kiriya again.

And then we hit episode 19. This is the first episode where Black and White are confronted by Irukubo. The strongest warrior from the Dark Zone who has decided to come to the Garden of Rainbows  himself due to no one else accomplishing anything.

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Mepple and Mipple also go over the seriousness of what’s going on and how bad it would be if the Dark Zone ever actually got the Prism Stones (also touched on briefly is how all life in the Garden of Rainbows has its own power, which is a theme that will become somewhat important down the road). Combined with Irukubo’s appearance this makes it the first episode with an actually serious feeling and atmosphere to it. People start to fall unconscious, flowers wither, and time stops as Irukubo sucks all the energy and life force out of the city. Irukubo is the first villain who is genuinely strong, smart, and threatening. He’s a real danger and the girls instantly realize this. He’s honestly one of my favorite of the more serious villains in the franchise because of how simple and effective he is. After a hard fought battle where Pretty Cure nearly loses and only the courage of Mepple swings it Black and White are just barely able to drive him off.

Episodes 20 and 21 are the conclusion to Poisony and Kiriya’s time as the villains. Poisony’s final episode is a good one, she disguises herself as Honoka in an attempt to steal Mepple. Nagisa actually figures it out pretty quickly which is nice. The fight is also good, best one so far. Kiriya’s reaction to Poisony’s death though is honestly more funny than sad or anything. Just the exaggerated way he cries out in anguish. Episode 21 is the conclusion to Kiriya’s character arc. He finally reveals the truth of his existence to Honoka and while it’s a pretty good scene I just don’t care enough about Kiriya to be moved by it.

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Anyways after telling Nagisa the two of them confront Kiriya. An insert song is used in the fight, which I believe is the only time this particular insert song is used. And it’s not a bad fight but the words thrown around have no weight as this just hasn’t been a particularly well done redemption arc. Everything feels hollow. When you don’t care about Kiriya it’s hard to be invested in the rest of the episode. It ends abruptly and it’s just kind of anti-climactic as Kiriya willingly heads back to the Dark Zone allowing himself to “return to the darkness” and die essentially. But it is nice to see how his sacrifice and act of giving up his Prism Stone before he goes gives Nagisa and Honoka renewed vigor in their struggle.

And then we get one of the weirdest fucking episodes. For some reason we get to hear Chuutaro and an accidentally abandoned puppy converse through the episode as Nagisa and Honoka attempt to find the puppy’s owner. Nagisa and Honoka are still feeling down about Kiriya at this point though. Eventually they find themselves at a local planetarium in search of the dogs owner who used to frequent it. There they get attacked by Irukubo but as soon as they reveal the fact that the other Prism Stones are safely guarded by the Guardian Irukubo also reveals that he knows this Guardian, that he resides in a crack between worlds to keep the Stones safe, and that the Guardian’s real name is Wisdom. So Black and White probably should’ve kept quiet about the existence of the Guardian. So Irukubo leaves to prepare himself for later to get the Prism Stones. Shortly afterwards the girls find the puppies owner and they lived happily ever after. Oh yeah Honoka cries at night over Kiriya until her tears dry up.

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Starting next episode Irukubo begins to head out to battle Pretty Cure and get the Prism Stones. But not before the Dark King warns him not to underestimate the light. FORESHADOWING! Meanwhile Nagisa and Honoka are both at a summer camp with their clubs. Shortly a lake dries up, leaves begin to change color and tress fall over for no reason. Irukubo is again sucking up all the energy of the area. He acts somewhat suspiciously when confronted by Pretty Cure, calmly asking them to transform, but they have to transform anyways to fight. They do pretty much everything he wanted them too, as the transformation causes a reaction in Wisdom everytime they do it and Irukubo can feel this reaction. After a cool but obviously one-sided fight Black and White attempt the Marble Screw on Irukubo, who effortlessly defeats it. He then uses its power to drag Wisdom out of his hiding place and take the Prism Stones, this exhausts him so he leaves promising to return for the last two Prism Stones in Pretty Cure’s possession.

Episode 24 gets into it real fast as Irukubo puts everyone at the camp to sleep except for Nagisa and Honoka and the fight begins right away. And it’s very lopsided again. It’s kind of disappointing how impotent Black and White feel without outside help. They don’t feel like they could ever credibly defeat the Dark King at any point in the show, much less defeat him or Irukubo right now. The way so many of the fights went with them just getting tossed around and not even really winning just didn’t make them come off as capable Cures. And it’s not even played for comedy like some other seasons nor does it even seem like they get stronger over the first half of the show or ever really without their powerups. Like yeah, it’s not bad that the fairies and the Queen of Light as well give them a lot of help and power (since for most seasons that’s still a mainstay and theme of the show) but it’s sad how weak they feel without it.

Anyways Irukubo turns the landscape into a destroyed city, showing them what the future holds and how they’re powerless to stop it. It’s pretty cool. But Nagisa gives some nice reassurement to Honoka and they’re briefly able to fight back against Irukubo and even hurt him a little. But he’s still way too strong for them and he ends up taking both of Mepple and Mipple’s stones away through sheer force. However at this point a secret power of the Prism Stones awakens since all 7 of them have been brought together.

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The stones drastically weaken Irukubo and the two return to Mepple and Mipple. Irukubo was a really strong and competent villain and now only loses through not having knowledge of this secret effect the Prism Stones have on the servants of darkness. The stones power up the Marble Screw and Pretty Cure are finally able to defeat him and gather all 7 stones.

And at the end of the episode the lovable and totally not ever annoying Porun appears.

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The Prince of Light who will guide the way to the future

This is his lovable and totally not annoying way of asking Nagisa and Honoka to come to the Garden of Light with him. Isn’t he cute?

Well he starts off episode 25 immediately throwing a tantrum because Nagisa and Honoka weren’t immediately excited to go to the Garden of Light. But of course they all still end up going, it’s a pretty place but there are numerous areas that have been devastated by the Dark Zone. At the palace they meet the Elder, who continuously screws up their names, and they also meet other fairies who chew out Mepple for being a jerk all of the time. Next they are finally introduced to the Queen of Light, who is gigantic and unfortunately made by some rather ugly cgi.

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Her design in general is very off-putting as she never moves her face when she talks or opens her eyes. At least the Dark king is completely faceless to begin with but with the Queen it just looks weird. So afterwards the Elder and Porun take Nagisa and Honoka to enshrine the Prism Stones at a special altar so they can summon the power to create all things and heal the damage to the Garden of Light and defeat the Dark King. However before they can complete the ritual the Dark King sends a revived and powered up Irukubo to the Garden of Light to stop them. Nagisa and Honoka transform to fight him but he’s super strong and he easily manages to take the Prism Stones with the Guardian and them to the Dark Zone where the girls meet the Dark King for the first time.

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The fighting begins immediately next episode and Irukubo’s new form makes him look like the offspring of Cthulhu.

Iructhulhu

Iructhulhu

He utterly dominates them in the ensuing fight. And the beatdown he gives them is actually pretty brutal. Pretty Cure can do absolutely nothing against him. Which of course just makes the problems I was talking about earlier worse, I mean how can we expect them to defeat the Dark King when they can’t even scratch Irukubo now? But in his rampage Irukubo accidentally almost destroys the Prism Stones so the Dark King kills him. Woo, temporary crisis averted. Black and White actually get upset at his death, angry that the Dark King would just kill one of his comrades to protect the Stones. Which is incredibly silly and the Guardian fully calls them out on this. This kind of reaction happens in plenty of shows but it’s always so silly.

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The Dark King then tries to break their will by telling them that everything will end in darkness and that everything they do is meaningless since destruction is the fate of everything. This is actually repeated as a central theme in Splash Star where much more is done with it. Here in Futari Wa it’s pretty one-note and isn’t really dwelled or expanded on much after this episode.

Of course though Black and White don’t take his crap at all, they’re Pretty Cure and they tell him that they’re going to defeat him. But alas Marble Screw has no effect on him and he just effortlessly swipes them away. However there is hope as the Queen of Light finally stops being lazy and travels to the Dark Zone herself to help Pretty Cure. The Dark King and her converse for a little, talking about how they’re two sides of the same coin and if one of them is destroyed the other will be as well yada yada yada. All of their banter has so little emotion or power behind it, it’s very droll. Then we get the insert song “Shining Star” start playing. It’s a good insert song, really fun to listen to. And the Queen powers up Pretty Cure’s Marble Screw and they blow up the Dark King rather quickly and anti-climactically. But then these three dark objects shoot off from his body, suspicious…

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So they go back to the Garden of Light and redo the ceremony for the Prism Stones, the power of creation then heals all the damage done by the Dark Zone. Shortly after Nagisa and Honoka have to say farewell to Mepple and Mipple, it’s a pretty sad goodbye and it shows how even with all their arguing Nagisa and Mepple do care for each other. And then two minutes later Mepple and Mipple arrive happily back on Earth to still live with Nagisa and Honoka. Oh yeah Porun is with them too.

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And that’s the first half of Futari Wa. It has issues to be sure but is a highly enjoyable experience as well. I’ll just give a general overview of the first half now.

First. The fighting is garbage. For a franchise that built its reputation off of having cool action scenes in a  magical girl show they really aren’t here. It has some good action, some cool stuff, but is largely bad when it comes to this part of the show. It’s hampered not only by poor choreography but a lack of satisfaction in many fights. As well as just general lackluster animation. Secondly the Kiriya arc is a poor redemption arc. He does not have believable development nor enough time spent towards him. Pissard and Gekidrago are not good villains, the Dark King is bland and despite the screen time does not have the sort of presence nor did he do anything particularly nasty to make me interested in him or really care about him being defeated. He needs just an extra bit of flair and personality to be good, as he is he’s done well but never exciting or interesting . There are several dropped ideas or things that end up meaningless such as the energy gathering for the Dark King and powers that disappear after only a few uses with no explanation. Futari Wa is also not visually appealing that much, there is a lot of gray and a lot of times the color looks very washed out.

Onto the positives. The music is excellent. All of the music is great. The humor is excellent, the exaggerated facial expressions are hilarious. There are several great episodes. The family and side cast are well developed in the first half as well. Nagisa and Honoka’s relationship develops in a great way over time. Poisony is really fun. Mepple and Mipple are also good fairies and Nagisa and Mepples constant bickering is great. Futari Wa also feels the most down to earth of probably any season as well. The simple art style and normal city helps it here as well as the character design. It feels the most like “normal girls trying to live normal lives while getting dragged into a mission to save the world”. Later seasons especially spend much more time on just the cast of Cures or villains and a lot more time is spent talking about “Pretty Cure things”. There’s less of that in Futari Wa and more normal everyday life type of stuff. Even Smile which spends a lot of its time on the girls just messing around is still so insular around just the core cast. In Futari Wa the “real world” with lots of other people is always around them.

So the next batch of episodes deal with the three Seeds of Evil that the Dark King shot out into the Garden of Rainbows upon his “death”. They’re already beginning to bloom and the Queen sends Porun to Nagisa and Honoka to help them since he has special powers of foresight to tell when something bad is happening. So the first seed blooms and possesses an ordinary office worker. It then erases every memory and trace of of his life. The scene is actually fairly shocking and intense when this happens. He then changes form and starts to absorb the wind from a typhoon going on to gain strength, all of the seeds have an elemental connection like this, Juna’s here is wind, Regine’s is fire and Belzei’s is lightning. But they don’t use elemental attacks all that much aside from Juna using a wind blast.

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Meanwhile Porun has wandered off alone. So very helpful. Juna finds him around the same time Nagisa and Honoka do and a fight ensues, as expected he’s very strong but they drive him off. Juna is a very serious no-nonsense type of villain, even more so than Irukubo was. Also starting here the action in general improves, Juna’s first fight is pretty cool.

Next episode begins on a somber note as we have a flashback of a man carrying a crying girl up a hill where a large keyaki tree stands overlooking the city below. This girl is holding Mipple in her phone form in her hand, I wonder who she could be…

Back to the present and Porun is constantly whining about something while the second Seed of Evil that will give birth to Regine begins to awaken in a lone woman wandering around the city in a daze. This episode is actually pretty damn good despite Porun, it has some good comedy and some nice scenes between Nagisa and Honoka. Then Honoka’s grandmother tells them a story of when she was a child trying to live after the war. She traveled to that keyaki tree she visited with her father, with many other lonely children who had nothing left followed her. Seeing the devastation of the city from the top of the hill almost crushes her but she’s able to hold onto hope when Mipple’s voice reaches out to her.

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Certain themes and ideas brought up from this scene will come back in a much, much later episode in a big way.

Nagisa and Honoka then decide to go see this keyaki tree but unfortunately at the same time the woman is there about to awaken into Regine. The two of them transform to fight a group of Zakenna protecting her, it’s a pretty cool fight too. But while they’re fighting Juna takes Regine and gets her to absorb all the power from a volcanic eruption and the two of them leave for now.

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Next up the last and strongest seed blooms. Belzei is awake immediately and unlike the others he uses his powers to alter peoples perceptions and take the position as director of a hospital. Of course though everything that happens this episode that has to do with the hospital is completely meaningless, the secondary plot is used as an excuse to get Pretty Cure to the hospital but so what? Nothing happens anyways and then at the end Belzei drops the charade and leaves just like the other seeds. But he still fully gathers his powers from a lightning storm that starts up while everyone was at a summer festival. So they’re all at full power now.

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This guy would go on to be the voice of Moebius in Fresh

And lastly we see them gather at a hidden mansion in the middle of a forest. Which has a parrot.

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This group of episodes has been good and it’s a nice set-up for the second half of the show. After meeting the three seeds Nagisa and Honoka call on the Guardian for advice, Porun then immediately starts to mess with and annoy him. Asking about the Prism Stones the Guardian tells Porun of their importance and:

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FORESHADOWING

Meanwhile the Seeds of Evil are conversing about reviving the Dark King and getting the Prism Stones, seeing no point to reviving the King now they decide to go defeat Pretty Cure and take the stones. Porun at this time decides to stow away to school with Nagisa, where he once more immediately starts causing trouble. The Seeds of Evil show up shortly and just like Irukubo rip the Guardian out of his interdimensional hiding spot. Nagisa and Honoka transform to help him but the seeds are way to strong to beat all at once, they even rip apart the Marble Screw which is pretty cool. The Guardian is able to temporarily escape though and comes across Porun. I’m sure he’s happy about that. He then hides the power of the Prism Stone’s inside Porun using a secret spell and is then immediately capture by the seeds. However the power of the stones and Porun’s desire to protect Pretty Cure gives birth to the Rainbow Bracelets.

A nice and simple power up

A nice and simple power up

They get faster and stronger and their new attack Rainbow Storm is strong enough to make the Seeds of Evil retreat for now. However no one has realized yet that the power of the stones has been put into Porun.

And now the second half of Pretty Cure really begins. Episodes 27-30 were sort of like an interlude and starting now is the real Part 2. We’ve gotten to the main plot of the second half, which is the power of the Prism Stones are stuck inside Porun, that goes on until the finale. All the episodes of the interlude are good, Belzei’s is kind of lacking though, and it starts off a general increase in the quality of the action and the villains characters. The seeds are all strong threats and they have their own story and character traits which make them somewhat more intriguing and compelling. Regine can be funny and soon we get the comedy antics of the Zakenna butlers as well. Futari Wa’s second half definitely improves in some ways but also gets worse in others as after here… nothing really happens for the next fifteen episodes. There are some great episodes on the way but also a couple bad ones, Futari Wa now is just a stretch of bad to great episodes with slightly improved action and villain antics and no ongoing plot development. Nagisa and Honoka’s relationship development has essentially finished as well and Porun doesn’t really develop at all. I’ve been ragging on Porun a lot but I would like to say that I don’t personally find him especially annoying anymore. Possibly because I’ve watched Futari Wa and Max Heart so many times and have gotten used to him, and maybe because I’ve seen so many other magical girl series and have seen plenty of other annoying fairies and mascot characters. But of course even then Porun and Lulun from Max Heart are two of the worst. And yeah, Porun never really has great development or anything. There is some minor stuff with some side characters and Nagisa’s family but not to the level that the first half does. And there’s really no indicator of when things will “happen” or get real either. There’s nothing like having one more Prism Stone to gather or anything like that, so there isn’t really a sense of tension until much later.

Now to start off the new direction of the season we get two episodes focused on Porun in a row!

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Hope you like screaming fairies. Well in truth if you don’t prepare to not like the second half of Futari Wa. So to kick off the episode the three seeds realize that the power to create all things is no longer in the stones and the Guardian isn’t coughing up what he’s done with it. Porun meanwhile is being obnoxious and I at one point considered this episode for my “15 Worst Episodes” list but in retrospect it’s not that bad all in all. Porun just isn’t used to not being surrounded by other fairies and being able to play around at will, and considering his obviously very young age his behavior is perfectly natural. But it’s still annoying. Porun also doesn’t remember that the Guardian placed the power of the stones in him so the Elder has to fill them all in on this. Porun then runs off for absolutely no reason but luckily this scene doesn’t go on for very long, they could’ve easily made this the whole plot of the episode, and Honoka has to do some embarrassingly funny things because of it as well.

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The fight has some cool stuff but isn’t particularly good in any way. Juna tries to get info out of them but they just send him away with Rainbow Storm. And at the end of the episode the Seeds of Evil gather in the Dark Zone and resurrect the Dark King. It’s kind of lame. Yeah they’ve always been stated to have this power but it still feels kind of silly and anti-climactic that they can just revive him at full power so easily. And all it means is he’s sitting around in the Dark Zone doing nothing until the finale anyways.

In the next episode Porun is still feeling lonely. And uh… yeah. Nothing really happens. The girls visit the amusement park they met at in the first episode with Porun. Regine’s habit of suddenly screaming is funny though. At the end Porun stops being sad from loneliness but doesn’t stop being selfish and annoying. It’s a really “blah” episode. Episodes after that are of a similar state, we have a Shiho and lacrosse episode, an episode about the sports festival and relay race where Yuka appears again, and an episode where one of Fujipi’s underclassmen becomes interested in and asks out Nagisa on a date on her birthday. These aren’t even bad episodes but they’re just plain. It’s just a group of episodes where nothing really important goes on. Yeah you don’t need plot to make a good episode but Futari Wa’s episodes just aren’t always good enough in other areas to carry themselves. It’s just to different from the first half, where things actually happened and there was more character development and world building to be had, now we’ve just hit a brick wall on any sort of progress or change. Many seasons will have some sort of change up in the second half (sometimes big enough to almost make it feel like a different show) or new plot point to focus on but rarely do we hit a full stop on everything like what happens in Futari Wa.

Finally though we get to some good things again.

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These are the Zakenna butlers, they are fun and stay with us through Max Heart. Their first episode does a good job of showing off their characters as they are quickly and easily tricked by the Guardian and allow him to escape the mansion. He’s able to temporarily contact Pretty Cure and they try to rescue him, coming across Belzei when they do he fights them personally and although they can drive him off thanks to Porun the Guardian still ends up getting recaptured. Something I didn’t mention earlier but really like is how Marble Screw is still used often and not just tossed aside for Rainbow Storm.

Then we get our very cute and funny Romeo and Juliet episode. Where unsurprisingly Nagisa has been cast as Romeo and Honoka as Juliet.

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In this episode Belzei also starts to be slightly insubordinate to the Dark King and not caring about how well informed he is on things. So while the play goes on Juna decides to crash it and sends a group of Zakenna soldiers out onto the stage. Romeo and Juliet then end up turning into quite the pair of action heroes.

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It’s just a highly enjoyable episode. Unfortunately right after is the episode where Ryouta gets lost trying to deliver something to his dad at work. And his voice is all weird for some strange reason. I talk about it on my Worst Episodes list and there really isn’t much more to say about it than that. The biggest thing to note is the short part where the Seeds of Evil start to wonder about Porun and why he has such a strong and unusual power. Right after that comes the episode where Nagisa and Honoka’s teacher is getting married, it’s an alright episode.

In episode 40 Honoka’s grandmother is visiting an old friend so Nagisa, Rina, Shiho and Yuriko come to stay over.

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Honoka ends up reminiscing over Kiriya in this episode after the topic of conversation drifts to “Is there anyone you like?”. And later when Nagisa and Honoka are getting ready to sleep the two of them think about all their time together, the good and the bad, and how they were able to become true friends. It’s very sweet. Belzei then attacks them in their dreams but Porun is able to send Mepple and Mipple in to help.

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Yuri fans liked this part

And the episode ends on this cute note. Next episode we have the lacrosse finals. Belzei is beginning to worry about his future, which puzzles Juna, and the Power to Consume All Things that the Dark King has inside him. Confused by what he thinks is Belzei’s cowardice Juna goes to fight Pretty Cure during the game. But in the middle of the fight he begins to spasm and a torrent of dark energy begins to overflow from his body.

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The torrent of energy actually completely overpowers Rainbow Storm and would’ve killed Nagisa and Honoka but the Power to Create All Things suddenly reacts to this dark energy and dispels it. Juna now realizes what Belzei was worried about, as Belzei reveals to him and Regine the Power to Consume All Things is in them as well and just like the Dark King they will be consumed themselves without the power of the stones. And from what just happened earlier Belzei now finally also knows where the power of creation has been hidden. And lastly, Nagisa is able to make it back to the game just in time to score the winning goal for her team in overtime.

And now we get to THE episode. Episode 42:

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For anyone who’s watched Futari Wa this is probably the episode that first comes to mind when anyone thinks about it. The Seeds of Evil realize that they need the power of creation or they’ll die just like the Dark King, they now decide to betray him and when they get the power will keep it for themselves. But first Pretty Cure must be defeated.

Meanwhile Nagisa, Honoka, and Shiho and Rina are in the local park eating takoyaki at Akane’s stand and wondering about what the most important things are to them. After a short conversation Nagisa and Honoka find themselves beset by Juna and Regine.

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The villains realize they need to separate the two of them and quickly abduct White. Belzei has a special thing prepared for White where she is enclosed in darkness in old subway tunnels below the city, this darkness saps her power and harms her and Mipple. Eventually it will consume her entirely. A big theme of this episode is how Pretty Cure can’t do anything by themselves and as Nagisa is searching for Honoka she is constantly degraded by Regine and Belzei, being told that she’s useless alone, and that she’s only searching for Honoka for her own sake and to feel good, that she doesn’t actually care about Honoka. This causes Nagisa to get depressed but as she’s reminded of how Honoka is in danger and how important she is to her she gets back up and searches on for her. She realizes that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to help Honoka for her own sake, Honoka is precious to her. And as the villains realize, Pretty Cure aren’t powerless on their own and they didn’t learn a very important lesson: DON’T PISS OFF CURE BLACK

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After fighting through Juna, Regine, and an army of Zakenna she’s able to rescue Honoka before the darkness consumes her. It’s a pretty awesome run she goes through and their reunion is very touching. Finally the two of them engage in a real battle against Juna and Regine. And the creators must’ve known as well that this was the star episode of the season since the animation and fighting is the best it ever will be for the season. The music is great too.

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This is really an amazing episode. It’s the perfect way to show how close the two of them are, how much their relationship and love for each other has grown while at the same time just being a really kickass episode that shows how awesome Pretty Cure can be. It accentuates the best parts of what a season of Pretty Cure should strive to be.

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Nagisa learns a great deal about herself as well. It’s funny how Futari Wa, despite largely not being one of the better seasons, can make an episode like this that is so good and much better than near everything to come after.

The next two episodes are kind of like a pseudo- two parter dealing with Nagisa and Fujipi. In the first one it’s almost his birthday and Nagisa learns that another girl in her class also likes Fujipi. He has a small injury before a game and Nagisa writes him a letter of reassurance  but then tears it up out of frustration. Episode 44 then is the Christmas episode, Nagisa is happy to learn that after the other girl confessed to Fujipi he turned her down for unknown reasons. Kiriya gets brought up this episode as well since Fujipi and everyone else still remember him. And while all this stuff is happening with our heroes the Seeds of Evil (more specifically Belzei) note that they’ve become stronger from their experiences with Pretty Cure while in the Dark Zone the Dark Kings power is overflowing and random planets in the universe are getting blown up from it. He also still doesn’t realize the seeds plan to betray him and take the power of the stones for themselves. Belzei then comes to the school while their Christmas party is going on and attacks in search of Porun. After Black and White fight him off and destroy his Zakenna something strange happens…

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A distortion between the light and darkness opens up and Kiriya appears briefly. He cryptically states that something different might now happen between the powers light and dark before leaving.

The last episode before the finale has Nagisa and Honoka’s class in a choir competition. Huh? Um… huh? This choir competition was mentioned before but still, why is this the last episode before the finale. It even has moderate focus on a new random character of the week. I don’t understand the logic behind this. This is another problem Futari Wa has, there’s no real build up to the finale, no actual final arc or anything. Yeah certain small things happen,  details are dropped, and plot points minutely develop enough that make it obvious things will come to a head soon, like Kiriya’s appearance last episode, but the episodes themselves are pretty much normal episodes like any other. There’s no real change in Futari Wa. The finale just kind of happens after we get 3 random normal episodes in a row. I much prefer when there’s a real final arc and a real sense of tension and things winding down to a big finish. Splash Star, Smile, Fresh, etc. they all have that. A couple other seasons have the same problem as Futari Wa (Heartcatch most notably) where something different will happen and then it just goes back to mostly normal episodes before the finale randomly begins.  At least they sing the cute ending song at the competition. So there’s that I guess.

The Finale

So here we are.

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The Seeds of Evil just go right into action and decide to get the power of the stones from Porun. They’re stronger now but are starting to be consumed by the darkness so need to act quickly, they bring the Guardian along with them since he has the Prism Stones with him at all times even if their power isn’t inside of them. Both the Dark King and Queen of Light can feel things coming to a head at this point. As the Seeds easily trounce Pretty Cure when they fight Porun tries to come out and help them but Belzei simply grabs him.

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And while he had the Guardian captured and under watch Belzei apparently found out the spell to transfer the power of the stones out of Porun and back into the Prism Stones. Which makes absolutely no sense even with the explanation he gives. The Guardian would never just randomly recite those words at any point. Still though they get the power and leave with the Guardian.

Nagisa and Honoka decide they have to try and get the Guardian and stones back somehow, with Mepple, Mipple and Porun giving their support as well. We also get a sweet montage of the girls reminiscing about their school days. As the two of them prepare to leave we get the song “Shining Star” to start playing again as the Seeds also now begin to draw out the power of creation.

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And now things really begin. The finale of Futari Wa is, to put it bluntly, not the best. In fact I see it as the worst finale of any season. It doesn’t have a bunch of dumb and annoying stuff like some others, and while it has some really bad plot devices and deus ex machina power ups that are worse than normal for Pretty Cure that’s hardly a unique thing either. What makes Futari Wa’s finale bad is that it’s just dull. It’s meh. The action is meh, the banter between the villains is meh, the Dark King is never good enough to make me care about the fight against him when the action is already subpar. The final attack is meh. The conclusion to the Seeds of Evil is disappointing. The epilogue has several problems. It’s just not a good finale.

Anyways next episode begins with Black and White crashing into the mansion as the Seeds are trying to fully draw out the power of the stones. However the Seeds actually wanted them to come.

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They’ve constructed a pseudo-altar like the one found in the Garden of Light and force Pretty Cure to participate in the ritual needed for them to get the power. With the Power to Create All Things fully drawn out and absorbed by the Seeds the Queen of Light begins to exert her power to stop the worlds from falling into disarray, something which could kill her if she keeps it up for too long, while the Dark King now fully realizes that the Seeds of Evil have betrayed him. In his anger he forcefully drags them all into the Dark Zone with only Porun and the Guardian being left behind.

Black and White attempt to stop the Seeds again but are completely outclassed.

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Black makes a speech about how she just wants to live a normal life and not have to deal with these evil people anymore, which resonates very well considering who’s saying it and how clearly pissed off she is at everything going on right now.

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Fusion’s older brother

As the Seeds of Evil confront the Dark King he attempts to absorb them into his body to just get the power of creation that way. But the three of them combine into a single giant gray humanoid. AND THEN SUDDENLY!

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Imagine if it was a character I cared about

Kiriya appears and brings Nagisa and Honoka to a safe place. While he does this the Seeds of Evil begin a short fight against the Dark King. Kiriya explains to the two of them that he’s been in a crevice between Light and Darkness with no place to go ever since leaving earlier. With everything going on distortions have popped up all over and he’s been able to fully return. Black and White then decide that even though they’re incredibly outmatched they have to go back and fight. They start to fight the Seeds again while the Dark King watches but are just hopelessly outmatched, Porun meanwhile tries to send his power from the Garden of Rainbows but cant since the power of stones was removed from him. Also at this point the Queen is doing everything she can just to keep the worlds stable which is why she can’t go to the Dark Zone and help Pretty Cure directly like she did before. However she and the Elder tell Porun and the Guardian to combine their power in an effort to help Pretty Cure. It works and the two of them are able to send Rainbow Bracelets into the Dark Zone, with the help of Kiriya to make sure the bracelets get past the Seeds. This… doesn’t really make any sense either. The Rainbow Bracelets were from the power of creation not Porun’s or any other random power. If Pretty Cure had just been “powered up” or something it would make a little more sense but it’s still a pretty poor development. As I said earlier the show just didn’t ever make Black and White strong enough or look strong and good enough on their own to be able to fight the Dark King and others without a really contrived power up like this happening or loads of outside help. Pretty much every other finale power up or something similar is done much better than this because it actually makes sense and follows the themes of the show. This does not.

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We then get a cool but unfortunately short battle between the Cures and the Seeds. They use Rainbow Storm to force them back and weaken them, and then the Dark King makes his move. He uses this opportunity to absorb the preoccupied Seeds and the Power to Create All Things inside them. Farewell Seeds of Evil, you were pretty good while you lasted. Now the Dark King finally has what he’s always wanted and is well prepared to destroy Pretty Cure and all of creation.

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Pretty Cure are just barely able to escape him and get transported back to Earth where they meet up with Porun and the Guardian. But the Dark King comes to Earth himself, no longer shackled to the Dark Zone, seeking to destroy Pretty Cure once and for all.

The final episode begins bleakly with the Dark King beginning to destroy Earth and Black and White aren’t near strong enough to beat him. They get swatted around a lot as the Dark King tries to tell them how they don’t have any hope to beat him. This brings Black to actually say she’s glad she became Pretty Cure cause it means she can defeat him with her own hands. Way to go Nagisa. Still though they just can’t harm him at all and Porun realizes this. He draws out more power than he ever has before and awakens his true power due to his love for Pretty Cure and fully owns up to his title as the one who will guide the way to the future. Okay.

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He neutralizes the Dark King’s power temporarily and gives every last ounce of strength to Black and White. Making the Rainbow Bracelets more powerful than ever. Somehow.

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How tall would he be if he had legs?

A final giant Rainbow Storm later and the Dark King is destroyed. For good?

Kiriya then also disappears quietly, having come to terms with his life, and the Dark Zone gets bathed in light with much of it seeming to disappear. The struggle is over for now. Which means that Mepple, Mipple, and Porun enter a deep slumber. It’s the price for having to stay in the Garden of Rainbows. They’ll be eternally asleep but always with Nagisa and Honoka.

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It’s a really nice scene and would be even better if it wasn’t completely undone in one episode and made entirely irrelevant at the end of Max Heart. Then as the school year is coming to an end Honoka gives the valedictorian speech to the graduating class, imparting the knowledge she’s gained through all her experiences the past year. Finally as the two of them walk through the city Honoka spots a boy who bears a striking resemblance to Kiriya but doesn’t seem to recognize her as he walks away with his family. A coincidence? Some strange reincarnation? No one will ever know as Nagisa tells her she’s sure to meet him again someday.

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And that’s Futari Wa Pretty Cure. The show that started a massive and amazing magical girl franchise. It did a good job of setting up the general format and style of Pretty Cure, showing off everything it means to be a season of Pretty Cure. Showing how it’s different from other magical girl anime. And even with my criticism of it it’s hardly a bad show and has a lot to enjoy, it’s still one of my all time favorites after all. It’s just that as a season of Pretty Cure and comparing it to the other seasons it is most definitely near the bottom (only above the irredeemably awful Doki Doki Precure). I also unlike with Yes5 and GoGo always put it and Max Heart together as one since they are much more directly connected than those two and Max Heart has some actual loose ends to tie up. Otherwise even as much as I like it good ol’ Max Heart would be the worst season. Now you can head on over to the review for Max Heart and see the true finale to the beginning of the Pretty Cure franchise.

 

 

 

 

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