Futari Wa Pretty Cure Max Heart

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With how popular Futari Wa was I’m not surprised they chose to make a direct sequel. And there were a couple loose ends at the end of Futari Wa that needed attention, so it at least has genuine reason for existing. It was made clear that dark and light are two sides of the same coin and that if one was completely destroyed the other would be as well. So the Dark King can’t just be completely obliterated like that or it would spell the end for the Queen of Light as well. So obviously something needs to be done about that since Pretty Cure just straight up killed him in the last episode of Futari Wa. And Mepple and Mipple falling into an eternal slumber is just too sad isn’t it? Can’t have that. So that’s where Max Heart starts off. On it’s way to sort things out.

The first episode begins with Nagisa and Honoka getting ready for their first day of school as third years, the two of them sentimentally say good morning to the sleeping Mepple and Mipple before heading out. Then the revamped opening theme song plays and I definitely prefer it to the original opening. The Max Heart version just has so much more oomph and excitement to it and the accompanying visuals are better as well. Then we get to see that in the Garden of Light the Queen is “dying” so to speak. In his final moments the Dark King shot out a last piece of dark energy that gravely wounded the Queen. He also apparently transferred his life force away and isn’t really dead. The Queen must now change to a different form and one day be returned to normal.

This. Is. STUPID.

They basically retcon and edit the last episode of Futari Wa for this plot. And what makes it doubly stupid is that they already had a plot thread from the finale where the Queen was overexerting herself to stop the worlds from being destroyed so they didn’t even need to add in the Dark King somehow attacking her as he blew up. They already had something they could’ve used to justify why she’s weakened and needs to revert to this other form. But they didn’t. Why would they do this? I feel like I’m losing my mind and it’s only the first episode.

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Anyways she reverts to the three things she’s made from. Her heart, her life, and the twelve Heartiels that make up her will. These things then shoot out into the Garden of Rainbows. Back in the Garden of Rainbows Nagisa is the new captain of the lacrosse team and both she and Honoka are welcoming new students into their clubs. After school they both meet up and share how they still keep Mepple and Mipple with them and talk to them even though they’re asleep. It’s pretty sweet honestly.

Hikari is pretty cute truth be told

Hikari is pretty cute truth be told

Meanwhile a strange girl appears on a riverbed. While walking through the city Nagisa and Honoka briefly lock eyes with her. Suddenly the sky darkens and street lights start falling over with a Zakenna suddenly appearing from nowhere. I’d like to say here that from an animation point the first episode is definitely better than the first episode of Futari Wa and the fight is better as well. So Mepple and Mipple wake up because of the Zakenna appearing and we get our new transformation and outfits. I think they’re an improvement. The transformation is good and the outfits are just much better and more colorful. I know a lot of people were upset to see Nagisa’s bare midriff go away but her new outfit is still much better looking. Honoka’s has more color as well, they’re just much more pleasing to the eye. Their new attack Marble Screw Max is also fine, generic beam attack but cool looking enough.

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As Nagisa gets home she oh so happily learns that the Elder and Guardian are going to be living in her apartment for now as they search for the Queens life and heart. Porun is also awake. Yay, I guess.

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The first Heartiel, Seekun, is found very quickly as she just comes right to them. Then we get to see a familiar mansion with a duo of familiar butlers inside. As the two of them go around cleaning the mansion doors swing open and a mysterious young boy enters.

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And that’s how Max Heart begins. It has some nice comedy moments but is overshadowed by the mindbogglingly stupid plot. The ending song is good, very cute, but the first version of it is kind of crappy since the visuals are just repeated scenes from the episode. When it gets its own visuals later on it becomes one of my favorite ending songs from the franchise.

Next episode opens with the strange girl wondering about who she is when the disembodied voice of the Queen tells her she is Hikari and is soon going to have an important encounter with two special people. She then proceeds to brainwash Akane to make her think she’s her cousin so she can live with her. No one ever actually seems to have a problem with this when they learn about it.

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Nagisa, much to her chagrin, has to deal with the Elder, the Guardian, Seekun, Porun and Mepple all living in her room. It’s really funny and makes the beginning of Max Heart much better. Speaking of the Guardian we learn that the Prism Stones are keeping everything together right now in the Garden of Light with the Queen’s absence. The Elder believes that with the Queen gone the power of darkness might become even stronger so they need to act quickly. Seekun of course though has left without anyone noticing, she’s the will of exploration and search and is naturally curious after all. Searching for her Nagisa and Honoka run into Hikari, but she just disappears after saying some mysterious things to them. The next day Nagisa meets Fujipi at school. JOY. He’s in high school now but unfortunately still a boring love interest. But Honoka teasing Nagisa about him is funny. Hikari also appears at school as a new first year student. After school they learn she’s living with Akane.

At the mansion the butlers are playing with the child while in the Dark Zone a new figure appears.

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Nagisa and Honoka then go searching for Heartiels and the Queen, and find Seekun again, but then the new guy attacks them. He creates a Zakenna and they fight briefly, when the Zakenna is destroyed he goes to the mansion to meet with the young boy. Telling him that he and his comrades are going to be there to teach him to destroy the light.

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As Nagisa and Honoka go to school in the next episode they run into Hikari again, who has two new friends, they obviously can tell something is odd about Hikari but just can’t put two and two together. Porun has also stowed away to school today, he’s been going on about “awakening” in some way. Hikari is still confused about her life and who she is but the Queen’s voice reassures her again. Porun runs off later and meets Hikari but because of Akane has to leave again. As Nagisa and Honoka search for him a Zakenna attacks again. Hikari is witness to their transformation and fight and has no idea what the hell’s going on.

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In episode 4 Porun is feeling down because he didn’t awaken. But he knows something important happened when he met Hikari. Nagisa is really at wits end at this point with everyone living in her room and takes them all to Honoka’s place so they can stay there instead. The voice of the Queen again speaks to Hikari and urges her to meet up with Nagisa and Honoka. She talks to them after school about Pretty Cure but runs away in hesitation later. Seekun at this point also leaves Honoka’s house in a rush. As Nagisa and Honoka meet up with Hikari at a local shopping center another Zakenna attacks, Nagisa and Honoka decide to transform in front of her and fight. Then the new villain guy whose name we still don’t actually know comes to fight as well, he overpowers Pretty Cure but it isn’t super one-sided like the initial fights against Irukubo were. Porun then appears and jumps into Hikari’s arms as light envelopes the two of them…

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Hikari transforms into Shiny Luminous with Porun, turns out he’s her personal fairy. Not much to say about the transformation itself. Very simple. The three of them then use their new attack, Extreme Luminario, to defeat the Zakenna and make Mr. As of yet Unnamed leave. The attack is alright, kind of cool. They’re all pretty sure now that Hikari is the life of the Queen. So now they just need the heart and the Heartiels. But the Elder can also tell after all of this that the power of darkness is increasing as well. He and the Guardian travel back to the Garden of Light to keep things safe there. Nagisa and Honoka ask Hikari about being the Queen but she doesn’t know herself. She’s confused over all of this stuff.

Later on No Name attacks again and the episode ends on a cliffhanger as they all prepare to fight. And now with Hikari’s individual transformation (even though it’s short) there’s almost a little too much stock footage. The instrumental version of the opening also plays in this fight, after this the opening theme song is only ever once used again in a fight in Max Heart. But it’s quite the special occasion at least.

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Well that cliffhanger is completely ignored and we never see the conclusion to that fight as episode 6 starts up with villain guy standing around in the mansion. Maybe they didn’t feel like animating two fights this episode. A new villain appears and promptly destroys the door he walks in through due to his huge size. His name is Uraganos and he easily becomes the most fun villain of the season. People might recognize his voice as that of Onizuka, among many others, and he later goes on to voice Bunbee in Yes5. Back with our heroines some old friend is visiting Akane and asking for her help on something but we don’t learn any details just yet. She decides to send Hikari with Nagisa and Honoka to go shopping. Hikari gets lost and after a while Seekun decides to help Nagisa and Honoka find her, normally this sounds like an annoying plot but it’s not. Uraganos attacks them briefly but they use Extreme Luminario to destroy his Zakenna and that’s that for now. At the end of the episode a new Heartiel appears, Passion.

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The first 6 episodes are basically the beginning of Max Heart and now things settle into normalcy. If it wasn’t for that stupid cliffhanger I could say episode 5 is where the beginning ends. It’s actually a better start than Futari Wa and if not for the stupid stuff in episode 1 I would say Max Heart has a pretty damn good start in all, the action and animation is better, in general things look a deal sharper and the episodes actually flow really nicely together and have an important story that’s developed and resolved quickly with them finding the life of the Queen in Hikari. I wish the Elder and Guardian stuck around in the Garden of Rainbows longer though. It was fun while it lasted.  Another thing of note is how because Nagisa and Honoka are now third year middle school students they’re actually two of the oldest Cures in any season because most of the rest are all second year students.

Next episode starts with Nagisa having to do all the housework while her parents ae busy. Being the jerk she is she initially forces Ryouta to do everything but after he constantly screws up she decides she has to do it all anyways. It’s a fun episode and the villains antics as well are pretty hilarious.

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Later on Seekun feels the presence of Passion and all of them meet up. The Zakenna and fight this episode are good as well and Luminous uses her attack Heartiel Action for the first time, it’s strictly a support attack as it stuns and weakens the enemies. We learn at the end of the episode that Akane’s old friend Nakao wants her to close down Tako Cafe to come work on a project started at her old firm. Next episode though she decides to turn him down, except on the possibility of going out on a date with him. She might still accept that.

Uraganos and He Who Has Yet To Be Named are talking about Pretty Cure and Shiny Luminous. Apparently the forces of evil are looking for a specific thing and “energy” and wonder if Shiny Luminous is what they’re looking for. Porun also this episode is being super spoiled and whining about how Hikari won’t get mad at him when he does something bad, he thinks she doesn’t care about him because of that. He runs off for a little bit and then Uraganos comes to fight them, we learn that Luminous can also make shields and she pushes him back with it. Then she learns that Porun has made a huge mess of the cafe and gets pissed at him. But the moral of this episode is all messed up as she actually ends up apologizing to him for not getting angry earlier. It’s just… weird.

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Next episode the new villain Viblis appears and oh my god we finally learn the first guys name after 8 episodes. It’s also Honoka’s birthday so her parents are visiting, as they go throughout a mall Seekun can feel the presence of a new Heartiel, earlier everyone was wondering about the Heartiels and the Queen’s heart but no one really knows anything so they’re still just blindly looking, but they don’t meet up and we don’t learn the name of this new one yet either. Nagisa’s gift to Honoka for her birthday is also hilarious.

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Just… just how do you spell your best friends name wrong?

Next episode we get a field trip to a cake factory. That’s about it. Viblis gets pissed off because Uraganos eats the strawberry off her slice of cake, so she also goes to the cake factory. The villains antics and interactions in Max Heart are much funnier and more entertaining than in Futari Wa. This episode the girls officially meet the new Heartiel, Harmonin.

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Then we get to episode 11 which is infamous for its off-model animation and poorly drawn in characters.

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Honoka, what happened to your leg?

This is also a lacrosse episode and in it two of Nagisa’s teammates are arguing with each other and she needs to get them all to work together. Harmony has been a theme in the episodes with Harmonin as a new arrival and this carries over to other Heartiels as well, the episodes will usually have something to do with what the Heartiel represents. Hikari at this time also finds a strange object in her bag. At the end of the episode it transforms into-

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The Queen Chairect. Which is where the Heartiels go into, except for Seekun who goes in last for whatever reason, and is where the Queen’s heart is as well.

At the start of episode 12 a new villain named Baldez appears in the mansion. The other villains seem to be wary of this guy for some reason. Akane also invites Hikari, Nagisa and Honoka to a festival to sell her food. The episode is mostly cute fluff and shortly enough the new guy appears. He doesn’t fight them directly though, merely summons a Zakenna and leaves shortly afterwards. However he does seem a bit more knowledgeable than the other villains as he pretty clearly surmises that Hikari is the reincarnation of the Queen. Also in the fights White now has a tendency to do sort of a spinning kick attack, it gets used fairly often.

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Now that all four of the villains have appeared it’s time to ask: “Who the hell are these guys?” And the answer is I have no clue. Yeah they’re villains from the Dark Zone and must be some sort of spawn of the Dark King but really, where’d they come from and how were they made in the first place? The Dark King couldn’t have actually made them could he? Since he got destroyed and what’s left of his life force is a small oblivious child. They obviously didn’t exist back in Futari Wa yet either. Could they have come into being from the residual dark energy of the Dark Zone? Maybe. Hell if I know.

So anyways next episode Nagisa and her mom get into an argument and we learn that when she was young Nagisa would constantly get fevers and was very sick so her mom always worries extra hard over her. The villains are also contemplating that they may need to kill Luminous so she won’t interfere with the growth of the boy.

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A new Heartiel also appears and Circulas happens to see it. Wondering what it could possibly be. Next episode is a Fujipi one, he has a soccer game and Nagisa promises to come cheer for him. We learn the Heartiel’s name is Puran and she’s always gushing over “Pure hearts” so she likes it whenever Nagisa is thinking about Fujipi. Anyways Nagisa decides to make a huge flag to cheer him on. It ended up as a better effort than Honoka’s birthday present.

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So you don’t misspell his name huh?

Next Hikari is asked by her two friends to come to a flea market. The sporty one, Nao, adores Nagisa while the other, Miu, adores Honoka. Miu’s VA would also go on to voice Erika in Heartcatch. She has a very unique scratchiness in her voice that always seems to break through even when she isn’t doing it on purpose. Nao also happens to like the guy who asked out Nagisa in Futari Wa which is pretty funny. Hikari and the two of them end up running into Nagisa and Honoka later and Nao ropes Nagisa and Hikari into playing basketball against some high school kids. It’s cute. When Circulas inevitably attacks he’s noticeably angrier than normal, I guess the constant failure has gotten to him. He seems to get angrier and angrier as the season goes on as well.

Next the midterms are coming up and Nagisa is also having unusually good luck lately. Her luck is so good that she decides to rely on it and not study properly. There are many dumb Cures in the franchise but few are as willfully idiotic as Nagisa. Anyways Baldez thinks that they should all let Shiny Luminous grow instead of killing her now, he thinks it may help the growth of the boy in some way as well. They then decide who gets to go fight this episode through rock-paper-scissors.

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A new Heartiel named Intelligen appears. Fitting for what’s going on this episode and the next one as well. She immediately takes a liking to Honoka for her studious attitude and is quite dismissive of Nagisa because… she’s Nagisa. And of course Nagisa ends up doing terrible on her tests as well, a lot of the humor in Max Heart comes at the expense of Nagisa. Next episode deals with Honoka’s science club and the same competition they entered in the first season. It seems like Max Heart has toned down Honoka’s weirdness a little, she’s more normal. But it’s still nice to get an episode like this since Nagisa gets a lot more screentime and episodes more about her than Honoka this season. And our villains this episode are worrying about letting the boy out of the mansion. They don’t know what could happen but think it’s probably inevitable that he needs to leave eventually.

After this we just get 3 more kind of “blah” episodes. Episode 18 has everyone end up on a camping trip while the boy in the mansion is getting curious about the outside world. While camping the girls come across an illegal dumping site and the episode takes this so super seriously, super moral of the week style. Intelligen at the end gives all the girls new notebooks as well. Merchandising! Next episode Nagisa misunderstands her father talking about something and thinks she’s moving to Osaka, Hikari then overhears her lamenting about it and gets worried too. Of course it turns out Nagisa’s dads boss is the one moving. And I almost fell asleep watching this episode. Episode 20 things finally start up again at the end but the main plot for the episode is that Rina is taking care of an injured baby racoon she came across in the woods and is sad that she’ll inevitably have to let it go back into the wild. I feel the writers were starting to run out of episode ideas.

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A new Heartiel, Wishun, appears as well and makes some ominous statements as the boy from the mansion’s desire to leave has grown and he finally steps off of its grounds for the first time. The problem with Max Heart lately is that it feels like nothing is happening even though that’s not the case. Technically important things happen but it just doesn’t seem like it. The Heartiels appear at regular intervals even though it’s still basically random but maybe because nothing happens with them until they’re all gathered it just doesn’t feel like a big deal when a new one appears. Especially since they don’t bring anything like a powerup either. It also doesn’t help that there isn’t really any character development to be had aside from small bits with Hikari since her transformation. At this point Max Heart is just like the second half of Futari Wa except with less villain intrigue. Even though the new guys are funnier it’s so incredibly vague and random what they’re even doing for the entire season. Ever since Hikari became Luminous the show has meandered without any real direction or structure. Other seasons have this exact same problem at parts but have other redeeming values (Suite, Happiness Charge) while even a few others actually don’t have anything going on but the individual episodes are so much better it’s still good (Yes5, Smile). But now as the boy leaves the mansion something major is finally happening.

The villains know he’s left and Circulas and the Zakenna butlers go to watch over him for now. The villains think his awakening might be close at hand. Hikari ends up meeting a runaway boy who got in an argument with his mom. The episode uses this to make Hikari very appreciative of Akane. At the same time Wishun is going on about how “something is coming near” and the “truth will be revealed”.

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Nagisa and Honoka, Hikari, and the boy all end up meeting at once. And then something weird happens as the surrounding landscape completely changes. The sky doesn’t just darken or anything like normal but the buildings and ground completely lose their distinguishing features. The boy collapses upon seeing Hikari and an image of Shiny Luminous so Circulas comes down to fight to protect him. He kind of loses it a little since instead of just taking him to safety like he could’ve he tries to kill an untransformed Hikari and fights Pretty Cure while Viblis (who came after sensing the disturbance) yells at him and takes the boy back to the mansion herself. At the end of the episode both the boy and Hikari are shown to be fine but wondering about just who the other is.

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So after last episode Chin Man decides to defeat Pretty Cure himself. He’s serious and threatening in the same way Irukubo was when he first fought Pretty Cure. For this fight the animation technically isn’t bad but it still looks awful because of how poorly drawn the characters are. And then it will have some shots that are actually well detailed and then others that look like they were rushed as hell. Still has some cool stuff in it though like when he punches Marble Screw Maw and destroys it and part of the city.

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It weakens him a little as well though so Hikari transforms and the three of them use Extreme Luminario. However even this is barely able to match his power and while Baldez leaves temporarily they know they need to get stronger.

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Seekun and Intelligen then try to find out a way to beat Baldez. There must be some sort of power for Pretty Cure? Hmm, I wonder what Pretty Cure could possibly use to defeat the powers of evil. What could it possibly be…

Anyways Intelligen mentions some place of shining earth in the Garden of Rainbows surrounded by six pillars, some place that has been touched by the power of light. They all soon realize that they need to travel to the place Mepple dropped the Prism Hopeish when he came to Earth and where Nagisa and Honoka first discovered it in the first season. The girls search for this place for a while before finally coming across it.

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Pretty inconspicuous

So they all begin a ritual to summon a new power for Pretty Cure. They begin to call forth the Power to Create All Things from the garden of Light and the Prism Stones begin to react. Oh right! Prism Stones! Those things. You may have noticed by now but they haven’t been written about much at all in this review (in stark contrast to the first season). That’s because the stones are a non-entity this season. The power they have is still important but no one on the villains side actually gives a shit about them or the power of creation anymore. It doesn’t make any sense. They’re trying to revive the Dark King again but how does that matter at all if he doesn’t have the Prism Stones? How is he even supposed to be as powerful or as dangerous as he was at the end of the first season now? NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE. Even if the Queen isn’t around at the same time we saw at the end of the first season that Pretty Cure don’t need her to defeat the Dark King.

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So Baldez comes in the middle of the ritual and they fight. He knocks the girls around pretty easily but with the damage his dark power is doing to the Garden of Rainbows the Prism Stones react even stronger and a new power shoots out into the Garden of Rainbows and Pretty Cure are revitalized and given a new power-up. Pretty Cure Sparkle Braces. Like the Rainbow Bracelets it’s a nice and simple power-up. With them they’re able to overpower Baldez and even completely blow him away with their new attack Marble Screw Max Sparkle. Which is one of my favorite attacks actually and I really like the music for it as well.

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This honestly surprised me when I first watched Max Heart. I thought they had done something unusual and different and actually killed off the strongest most dangerous guy first. And that’s the first half of Max Heart. Nothing happens and then something happens and the plot doesn’t make any sense.

So episode 24 happens to be the return of Yuka-senpai and the final time she appears. It’s the science and lacrosse clubs joint summer camp and Hikari is also tagging along with Nagisa and Honoka since Akane is in charge of the lacrosse club for this outing. And I must say I really like Max Heart for giving us so much more of Akane. She’s a fun character. At the mansion the other villains are wondering what happened to Baldez and are quite perturbed by the possibility that Pretty Cure may have actually defeated him. Uraganos decides to set out for them. At the camp we are also treated to quite the funny dream Mepple has.

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While Yuka and Nagisa are practicing lacrosse together Nagisa ends up fainting, she was exhausted from a lack of sleep because she was so busy figuring out the practice schedules for camp. Yuka decides to open up to Nagisa while she’s asleep and we learn that she’s still insecure about herself and wants to be more like Nagisa, she came to the summer camp despite being in high school now because she wanted to see Nagisa and cheer herself up. Uraganos then attacks and actually tries to block their new attack. This fails horribly for him and while he isn’t killed he actually goes missing for several episodes. FOR NO REASON. After things go back to normal Yuka and Nagisa end up talking all night and Yuka is able to leave the summer camp (and show) happy.

Also of importance is that the power of the Sparkle Braces seems to be somewhat more tied into nature than just the Prism Stones and how the Rainbow Bracelets were. Baldez’s destruction of much of the forest last episode helped the Prism Stones act and this episode Seekun has Pretty Cure wish to the power of all living things around them to draw out the Sparkle Braces again. This ends up being an important theme at the end of the show. Although Pretty Cure fighting for the “lives of all things” against the darkness has been brought up before this adds to it and makes it a stronger theme.

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Next episode this new Heartiel appears and Hikari is worrying about her usefulness. Now with Black and White powered up she thinks she’s just not contributing as much and just getting saved by the two of them. She wants to be more useful. Nagisa is also lounging around at Honoka’s house on this hot summer day, completely procrastinating with her summer homework as expected. Hikari comes over and then she, Honoka and Nagisa and Honoka’s grandmother all go out to the lake to relax for a bit. There Hikari gets some good advice from Honoka’s grandmother and we get some referencing back to the keyaki tree from episode 25 in the first season as well as the themes and ideas brought up in that episode. “No matter what you mustn’t give up hope.”. This cheers Hikari up quite a bit but soon after Viblis attacks them on the lake. She’s been wondering where Uraganos went off to after last episode and for some reason Circulas is also nowhere to be seen for the next few episodes as well.

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They fight on and then beneath the lake in an abyss and it’s got some kind of cool stuff to it. But the fight ends fairly abruptly as well. Episode 26 is then the summer festival episode. Same one as last year in the episode that introduced Belzei. Nagisa now is thinking about her dreams for the future and is worried that she doesn’t really have any idea of what she’s going to do. It’s actually a kind of sweet episode as Honoka and Mepple try to cheer her up and reassure her about things. Anyways Fujipi is also at the episode just like last year and he ends up cheering her up completely since he also doesn’t really have an idea for the future and is just doing what he enjoys now, which is soccer, so Nagisa realizes that Honoka and Mepple were right and she should just focus on what she likes and is good at now. Lacrosse. Viblis also attacks again and unfortunately instead of actually fighting with the Sparkle Braces right after they call them forth they just use Marble Screw Max Spark to end the fight. Happened last episode too. Episode 27 has Nagisa forgetting all about the independent research project she was supposed to do over summer. Luckily for her Akane is going to a pear farm for new menu ingredients so all the girls come along as well and Nagisa figures she’ll do her project about this. And dear god this is a literal nothing happens episode. Like every season has filler and honestly filler isn’t even a bad thing for these types of shows, filler was the best part of the original Sailor Moon anime, but this aint good filler. It also has Viblis as the antagonist for the third time in a row which is pretty unusual.

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Just look at that gigantic chin

In the Garden if Light the Elder and Guardian are wondering about the Prism Stones and Power to Create All Things when suddenly something uses the stream of light from the stones to shoot up into the Garden of Rainbows. While on the other side of things in the Dark Zone a strange figure lies in the dust with the wind rolling over it. On Earth Shiho and Rina are freaking out over some haunting/ghost stuff going on at Verone. After school Nagisa, Honoka and Hikari meet up and Circulas finally returns after apparently just wandering off for the last 3 episodes to let Viblis monologue on her own. The fight begins and there’s some nice animation to be had but the fight itself is lackluster.

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The Princess of Light Who Weaves the Future

And then Lulun appears… sigh. Porun does not seem happy to see her as well. Circulas is fought off and the girls all learn that Lulun was responsible for the ghost rumors floating around as she did a bunch of weird stuff looking around for Porun in the school. She really, really likes Porun. As annoying as Lulun is (since she whines as badly as Porun used to) it is funny to see Porun get a taste of his own medicine as he can’t stand Lulun.

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Episode 29 has the Elder and Guardian wondering why the Prism Stones would send Lulun to the Garden of Rainbows. They think it must have something to do with the future being decided by what will happen in the Garden of Rainbows and as the Princess Who Weaves the Future Lulun will be playing an important role.

But you know what I’m wondering? WHERE THE HELL WAS LULUN IN THE FIRST SEASON? I mean, pretty sure we would’ve seen her when Nagisa and Honoka first travelled to the Garden of Light. Especially since she can’t stay away from Porun. Lulun is just never mentioned or even remotely implied to exist before episode 28. I’m just nitpicking when I complain about her absence in the first season but she still just comes from nowhere and her character and personality make it really hard to just ignore her absence before this.

Well we also have Uraganos returning this episode with no fanfare since his disappearance after episode 24. When Nagisa and Honoka briefly take Lulun away to Nagisa’s apartment Seekun meets her, they both have a strange feeling when meeting each other but neither can place just what it is. Uraganos then attacks Hikari but Lulun unleashes a new power and emits a power light from her body which hurts Uraganos and gives Pretty Cure the opportunity to defeat him. Episode 30 has Nagisa and Honoka decide to take Hikari to the local amusement park for some fun. Although Nagisa’s motivations most definitely are not entirely selfless. At the amusement park they ride the roller-coaster that was made into a Zakenna in the very first episode.

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Shortly in though Lulun gets herself lost and Circulas comes in to attack and captures her. However upon seeing Luminous fight to save her she emits her special power again and then shoots a new power up onto Luminous giving her a gigantic and super strong shield. Also, Circulas kind of loses it.

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Kind of sort of coming undone

There’s some really nice animation and action this episode, some of the best in Max Heart, and Circulas gets blasted away.

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The gigantic chinned figure (aka Baldez) in the Dark Zone has now risen up. This episode Nagisa’s team has an important lacrosse match. However in the middle of it she, Honoka and Hikari are all transported to a football field where they are greeted by Viblis, Circulas and Uraganos. They want to settle things today and we’re treated to an all out fight between the two groups.

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The villains summon an army of Zakenna to fight with them but Pretty Cure fight with an intense passion and actually end up essentially defeating them without even needing to use the Sparkle Bracelets. There’s some cool action this episode and it’s a pretty good and enjoyable one overall. After they send off the villains Nagisa is brought back to the lacrosse match just in time to help her team win.

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A new Heartiel, Bravun, appears and Baldez reenters the mansion in the forest.

Next episode has Nagisa forgetting yet another assignment she was supposed to do. This time for the school paper. It seems Nagisa’s dumbness and unreliability makes her reliable in the way that it can always be used to make an episode. Which is actually kind of funny but anyways the girls all end up going to interview the old owner of a dango shop. And it’s just like the pear episode basically. Nothing happens and it’s just boring as hell. This episode is like watching paint dry. And then stepping on a nail. Viblis comes and tells Pretty Cure that Baldez has returned and that’s it. It’s so boring.

Episode 33 is Nagisa’s birthday episode, it also revolves around Fujipi who’s worrying over something. Meanwhile with the villains Baldez tells them he can feel the pulse and voice of the Dark King, something has happened to him and things will apparently be changing soon. After meeting up and conversing for a bit at his practice Fujipi tells Nagisa that he isn’t doing well and is losing confidence in his ability to play soccer. Nagisa then does an excellent job of making a fool of herself and actually cheers Fujipi up.

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For all the agonizing she does over Fujipi, not just in this episode but the entire season, it’s so annoying to see how nothing comes of it. And of course Uraganos then shows up right as she’s about to confess to him. The fight is crappily animated and that’s all there is to say about that. Afterwards she still can’t find it in herself to confess and just says she’ll be cheering him on instead. One good thing about this episode is the sweet surprise party her family throws for her at the end.

Episodes 34 and 35 are about Nagisa and Honoka’s class trip to Kyoto. In the first episode Hikari is stuck back in town and spooky things start to happen to her. The Heartiel Wishun then comes out of the Chairect and everyone knows something is up now. So Hikari knows she has to go to Kyoto to be with Nagisa and Honoka. Baldez is also now letting the Boy roam freely and wants him to meet up with Hikari again. You know… what the villains actually want to happen with the boy and Hikari seems to constantly switch back and forth. Uraganos ends up attacking Nagisa and Honoka in Kyoto but Hikari shows up to help. The three of them wonder about all the weird stuff that’s happened and we see that another Heartiel is hanging around as well.

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Lastly we see that the Boy is also in Kyoto. So episode 35 starts with our heroines having to explain to the teacher why the hell Hikari is here. thankfully it’s resolved without much trouble. When the three of them start to talk about Cure stuff Wishun goes on about “the truth” again. They know what’s going on must have something to do with the boy. Hikari ends up joining them for sightseeing and while out they end up meeting the new Heartiel, Prosun. Uraganos then attacks again and while Pretty Cure are fighting him Hikari and the boy come face to face and the same thing as last time happens. To get away from Uraganos and find Hikari Black and White actually fake doing Marble Screw to trick him into ducking out of the way, it’s pretty funny. Hikari and the Boy then fall unconscious from their meeting. Viblis is there and leaves with him while Black and White drive off Uraganos.

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So in episode 36 they’re all back in town and Lulun is annoying the hell out of Porun. Porun runs off to get away from her and of course she follows him, they end up getting found by a little girl and she takes them back to her house. We learn that this girl broke her dads model car while he was away on a business trip and she runs out of the house with Porun and Lulun in guilt when he’s about to come back. While they’re out Porun and Lulun secretly help the girl out and get her to apologize to her father. Oh yeah Viblis also attacks but that isn’t important.

Next episode is the school festival and just like last year Nagisa and Honoka’s class is doing a play with Shiho as the director. She’s really pumped up cause she wants to become a movie director. They’re going to do the story of when Ushiwakamaru met Benkei. Nagisa volunteers to be Ushiwakamaru and Honoka volunteers to be Benkei after the rest of the class is not especially enthused by the idea. Fujipi is there to see the play on the day of the festival and Nagisa gets nervous and makes some rather funny mistakes.

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Easily the best Max Heart villain

Uraganos comes to attack and he is also quite funny this episode. After a bit of a hectic battle Pretty Cure win and then Nagisa and Honoka go on to pull off the rest of the play without a hitch. At the end of the episode we get the new ending song which is winter/Christmas themed. And very cute as well but I still prefer the first ending. Not sure why they’d put in a new ending just for the last 11 episodes but whatever it’s a good song. Next up has Honoka considering moving to Paris because of her parents. Honoka gets a little upset after Nagisa carelessly says it’s totally okay for her to go, apparently without worrying at all. Nagisa then is troubled over what she said without thinking.

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New Heartiel, named Hppynen, too. Later on Nagisa and Honoka play catch together as they talk, just about normal stuff, nothing heavy, the two of them are just spending time together. It’s cute. Circulas then appears and crushes the ball. Just to be a total dick it seems. Pretty good fight ensues and they drive him off. Honoka then decides to stay in Japan.

Episode 39 is the lacrosse championship match. The lacrosse stuff is pretty fun and Nagisa of course scores the final goal to win the game. Episode 40 has Ryouta going to a badminton practice to tryout for a local club. Nagisa ends up going with him and she calls Honoka and Hikari over too. She then proceeds to embarrass the hell out of him. It’s kind of a boring episode though. Viblis attacks then and she’s pretty pissed after not understanding why Baldez continues to just do nothing while Pretty Cure gets stronger and nothing happens with the Boy.

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Baldez then appears and stops Viblis from hurting Luminous, telling her she’ll understand in time. Ryouta also ends up losing his practice match but is still asked to come and practice for the club. Episode 41 is Fujipi’s birthday episode. Nagisa is thinking about getting a gift for him while Hikari is thinking about much more important things. She’s been worrying over the Boy in the mansion a lot. Baldez appears later in front of them and mentions how both the Boy and Hikari are nearing completion. The things needed to revive the Queen are almost all in place. And as they fight it becomes obvious that the more power Luminous unleashes the more power will awaken in the boy, light and dark are intrinsically connected and both Hikari and the Boy grow equally. Soon Baldez looks to have the darkness quash the light once the Boy has gotten to full power. There’s some pretty cool action this episode as well. At the end Nagisa is actually able to give her present to Fujipi and a new Heartiel appears, Lovelun.

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After that we get more Fujipi! Hooray! He invites Nagisa to the amusement park on Christmas Eve and she thinks it’s a date of course. But Fujipi had naturally invited Honoka and his friend Kimata as well. Now Hikari and the Boy actually start seeing and hearing each other randomly and Uraganos attacks Nagisa and Honoka as Nagisa was getting ready to confess her love to Fujipi. As Luminous uses her power this episode when she enters the fight a blast of dark energy erupts from the Boy in response. It doesn’t do anything major though and Pretty Cure go on to defeat Uraganos. Nagisa then decides to yell out to Fujipi that she loves him, but she does this from a distance since she still doesn’t have the courage to really confess to him. And he doesn’t seem to realize her feelings for him at all either. Allow me to get back to this after I go shoot myself.

And at the very end when everyone’s together it begins to snow. And as it snowed it’s said that Baldez’s chin grew three sizes that night.

So the last episode before the finale has Nagisa and Honoka already handing off the positions of captain and president of their clubs to younger members. It’s almost graduation after all. The two of them go on to reminisce about their time in the clubs the past year and what they did in charge, Nagisa then gives some advice to the new captain. it’s pretty sweet stuff. Meanwhile the villains all realize that the boy is about to awaken completely and he and Hikari then have a strange vision. Hikari sees the Dark Zone suddenly while the Boy sees the Garden of Light. The science and lacrosse clubs also end up holding a party in honor of Honoka and Nagisa but Viblis crashes it. The power of darkness from the Boy actually erupts again briefly, and it curiously works to save Luminous from Viblis, as if it doesn’t want her defeated yet. Finally Lovelun goes into the Chairect leaving only one more Heartiel besides Seekun to go.

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And now we’ve finally gotten to the finale. But before that let’s go over some things. First the positives. The comedy of Max Heart has been good. Even in bad episodes there’s usually some good humor or gags to be had and the villains are far funnier and more entertaining than the first season ones. They’re not on the level of Splash Star, Fresh, Heartcatch, etc. villains but they’re good. And Nagisa is just great. It really can’t be understated how good and fun of a character she has, how much more enjoyment she brings to this season. Honoka is also very good and does this to an extent as well but just not to the extent as Nagisa. Which can probably be somewhat attributed to the fact that more episodes directly focus on Nagisa but still. Hikari is a cute and nice character and brings a different personality and dynamic to the good guys for Max Heart. The animation and action is also generally improved. However at the same time there’s a higher tendency for the characters to suddenly look awful and poorly drawn in as well. Especially during the fights. And while it’s better on average in this area nothing ever gets to the level of episode 42 in Futari Wa.

Of course there’s also the fact that nothing ever happens or changes in Max Heart. As I said earlier with the Heartiels while they arrive in regular intervals nothing happens individually with them (Besides Seekun, Wishun, and Intelligen they rarely have anything to offer whatsoever) so it doesn’t feel like a big deal at all until the end. Max Heart then has the same problem as Futari Wa where there are minute developments that move the show to the finale but no special episodes and barely anything tangible to show that things are about to climax. The biggest actual event or change in the show before the finale is the arrival of Lulun and even that doesn’t really make things different nor does it herald in new character development. Porun doesn’t exactly grow up so much as he gets tortured into submissiveness. And the lack of character development in Max Heart is a huge problem for everyone. It just isn’t there anymore like it was in the first season. Hikari’s development as a character and her personality is essentially finished by the time she actually becomes Luminous. There’s so little going on with anyone or anything throughout the season that actually matters in a big way.  Fujipi gets a lot of screentime but Nagisa still never moves forward with him nor does anything he does really cause a development or change in her. And finally:

KIRIYA IS NEVER MENTIONED IN THE SLIGHTEST THE ENTIRE SEASON

Now, the finale. It’s often said in Pretty Cure fan groups that Max Heart has a great finale. This is not true. Max Heart has a great final episode. The rest of the finale is fine but not great. However it’s still easily in the top half of the finales for the franchise since half the seasons of Pretty Cure don’t even have especially good final episodes. Higher average than Kamen Rider at least.

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Episode 44 starts off with Nagisa and Honoka worrying about Hikari. Hikari is worrying about the strange things that have been happening to her lately. In the Garden of Light the Elder and Guardian know the Dark King is close to being resurrected. They then see a vision of the Garden of Rainbows and realize that the balance between Dark and Light is faltering, causing the worlds to start to fall into turmoil. The Dark Warriors discuss the Boys awakening and Uraganos ends up seeing a vision of the Garden of Light and the Boy disappears. However Bladez seems perfectly fine with this. Nagisa and Honoka meet up with Hikari at Tako Cafe, Seekun can feel that something really big is about to happen. Nagisa and Honoka see a vision of the Dark Zone and Hikari suddenly disappears as well. Nagisa and Honoka start to search for her but the Dark Warriors, minus Baldez, come to attack. As they fight we see that Hikari has woken up in a foggy landscape, and the Boy is with her as well. Back to the fighting the last Zakenna ever seen outside of crossover movies is a snake Zakenna made from leaves that can split in two and breath fire. Pretty good.

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Black and White call forth their Sparkle Bracelets and defeat it and drive the Dark Warriors off. Even all three of them can’t stand up to their attack. Hikari and the boy talk to each other and Hikari comes to realize that she and the boy are actually pretty alike. She wants to protect him too. The boy though is afraid, he feels like he’s going to disappear soon as a voice in his head gets louder and louder.

Akane is in a funk next episode and feels like something is missing. She’s forgotten about Hikari. Hikari’s two friends from school have also forgotten her. On a side note the Zakenna butlers appear for the last time this episode. Afterwards we have no idea what becomes of them. The power of darkness is overwhelming the light and the Elder realizes this. He knows the Dark Zone will start consuming worlds again and probably start with the Garden of Rainbows. Eating all life and starting an eternity of dark chaos. Only the resurrection of the Queen can stop it. But if they resurrect the Queen that means goodbye Hikari. And why wasn’t this ever talked about more? Why didn’t they bring this fact up more often, that the Queen’s revival means Hikari will “die”? It’s important and it’s not a secret so why does no one ever talk about this more? This is something that really needed to be thought over by all of them a lot more and much sooner than this.

Anyways a strong power is also churning inside Baldez as well. Suspicious.

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When Hikari and the Boy makes physical contact dark tendrils and a strong light comes forth from them. Baldez then appears where they are. Hikari starts to lose her strength, the power of darkness is too strong and it’s sucking out her power. Maybe this is how the Dark King is supposed to be as strong and dangerous as he was at the end of Futari Wa? By absorbing the power of light from Hikari he now has both types of power like he did with the Prism Stones. Even though that still wouldn’t really make sense since it was the Prism Stones and the power held within them specifically that he needed and not just any old random power of light. Whatever. Anyways Baldez says it’s his duty to ensure that the Boy reaches his full power. The Boy is the life of the Dark King, this is the first time this is directly stated but it’s very obvious anyways. Hikari tries to stop him from getting the boy and outside this place Porun and Lulun use their power to try to reach Hikari. When this happens the balance between Dark and Light breaks completely and Hikari is transported back to the Garden of Rainbows. But she isn’t moving and appears dead, Porun and Lulun cry over her and she wakes up to comfort them. It’s short but sweet. And finally the last Heartiel appears. Eternalun.

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The Boy and Dark Warriors then show up. Everything is now ready for them to move into endgame and the Dark King begins to rise behind them. Baldez asks if Hikari will become the Queen now in response (Since apparently he had no real plan for this situation which is really really stupid as you’ll see later) but Nagisa and Honoka don’t want that to happen obviously as Hikari would be gone. They say they’ll protect the world and all life on their own.

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The Dark King takes full root in the Garden of Rainbows and everyone transforms to fight. Pretty Cure start to do battle with the Warriors while Luminous tries to save the Boy. The fight between Black and White and Circulas, Viblis and Uraganos has some nice action.

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Luminous however can’t stop the last bit of power from the Boy going into the Dark King. Baldez makes sure things go smoothly and as the power reaches the Dark King he now has his full power and the sky darkens above all of them. Luminous tells Seekun to enter the Chairect. The Chairect then reacts with the Prism Stones and it and Hikari, Lulun and Porun vanish into light.

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Luminous hears the voice of the Queen again. She can’t become the Queen yet because she’s too attached to the world. She loves the Garden of Rainbows and Nagisa and Honoka too much to leave them even though she wants to save them all and knows she has to become the Queen to do it.

Circulas, Viblis, and Uraganos then pull out their full power since they can’t beat Black and White with the Sparkle Bracelets normally. They refuse to stop even after Baldez tells them it’s okay because their honor won’t let them. They must defeat Pretty Cure. It’s cool to see this camaraderie between them. They weren’t as strongly allied as the Seeds of Evil from the first season but they got along better than the first group of villains.

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Speaking of which I like to think that their undersuits they fight in when unleashing their full power is a nod to the Seeds of Evil jumpsuit designs. The three of them then combine their power to counter Marble Screw Max Spark. They know they’re gonna die so they put everything in to simply pushing through the attack and reaching the Sparkle Bracelets Pretty Cure wears. It’s a suicide attack.

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And it works. They die but are successful in destroying the Sparkle Bracelets. Black and White are completely exhausted after this and can do nothing but lie on the ground. At which point Baldez comes in ready to deliver the final blow.

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The Final Episode

I said it in my top episodes list. The final episode of Max Heart is so good it would make you think Max Heart was the best season if you only watched it. It doesn’t really make any sense, after a largely meandering and dull season with numerous plot holes and poor development how could the final episode be so good? Well, it just is. It’s just an amazing episode.

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It starts with what appears to be a flashback as Honoka’s grandmother gives a young and tearfully sad Honoka advice. Her parents have just left on a business trip so her grandmother tries to comfort her. Everything from all the way back in episode 25 of the first season comes in full force here.

Baldez then blasts Pretty Cure into submission.

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They lie amongst the rubble of the city, battered and broken, unable to do anything. Crying at their helplessness as the Dark King consumes everything around him. Mepple and Mipple try to comfort them in their last moments saying they’ll always be together as the four of them get blasted by a quake and fall into darkness. The emotion is real and perfect.

Nagisa then has a strange dream. She sees back when she fell in a track meet as a little kid years ago. Her parents try to cheer her up, they tell her that not everything goes exactly as planned all the time, you have to have the courage to accept that there are bad things in life too. And her father and mother speak to her directly as Cure Black, standing there as if she’s really in the flashback. And maybe she is. Is it an illusion? Hallucination? Has the power of light brought her this gift, these comforting words from her parents?

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Cure White is also there before her grandmother, listening to her words and remembering the lessons she’s learned to never give up hope. If she doesn’t give up hope tomorrow is sure to be a wonderful day.

All of this allows Black and White to come back from the brink and bring forth their Sparkle Bracelets again. Which makes complete sense since they are directly tied to the Power To Create All Things and the Prism Stones are tucked away safe and securely in the Garden of Light. Sorry Circulas, sorry Viblis, sorry Uraganos. It was cool but it was all for nothing.

Pretty Cure rise up from the darkness to battle with Baldez again and for the first time since episode 5 the theme song plays in battle! But not just the instrumental version, oh no, the true opening theme song with lyrics plays as they fight! It is the most stand up, satisfying, awesome, heart pounding moment of the season. They tell Baldez’s big chinned face that he’s not just fighting Pretty Cure but fighting the life of the entire world when he fights them. Which brings us back to themes and ideas brought up in earlier episodes.

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They use Marble Screw Max Spark on him but something strange happens. He’s still alive.

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Turns out that Baldez is the new Dark King. That power inside of him was the Power to Consume All Things. And this makes sense. The Boy from the mansion was the King’s life so naturally something else must be his Will and Heart. After Baldez was initially defeated by Pretty Cure (it’s uncertain if he was resurrected from scratch in the Dark Zone or if he managed to retreat there at the last second after almost dying) he comes back in the Dark Zone after basking in its power and becoming the vessel for the Power to Consume All Things. And Black and White are in trouble.

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Luminous has at last come to an understanding. She has struggled with what to do but with the Queen, Porun, and Lulun she finally comes to an answer.

Dark King Baldez thrashes Black and White and knocks them all over the city. The two of them come to rest under the old Keyaki tree as Baldez gleefully destroys stuff around him, not seeing Pretty Cure as a threat anymore. Black remembers she forgot to do some of her homework, typical, and White remembers she needed to buy clams for the soup she was going to make tonight. They think about these things that they needed to do before all of this happened, the things important to them if they actually have a future and come to a realization. They’re free to live and think as they want. And as long as they can they’ll fight, as long as any sort of courage or hope exists inside of them they’ll never give up and they’ll never lose to the darkness.

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“Servants of the Dark Power… Return to the Darkness from which you came!”

This causes the Power to Create All Things to act. The Prism Stones shoot out all of their power to the Garden of Light. Black and White are finally able to overpower Dark King Baldez, drawing on all the experiences and all the emotions they’ve had throughout everything. Everything they’ve been through becomes the power they need to strike him. They knock him back and hit him with a jump kick that shakes the entire planet.

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That’s new

But he then grows far bigger than ever before and prepares to crush the Garden of Rainbows! When suddenly-

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The Queen of Light finally returns. Luminous has done what needs to be done as much as it hurts and as much as Black and White are saddened by it. And this is why Baldez is an idiot. He pretty much had no actual plan for the Queen actually reviving and figured the Dark King would just be stronger anyways. He did nothing to stop it even when he easily could’ve and already had everything he needed from Luminous. This was seriously just like Dr. Evil. “I’m just going to assume it all goes to plan”. And also stupid in the same way for how the Prism Stones were ignored by the villains. Anyways Luminous stands with Black and White and they destroy the Dark King for good with Extreme Luminario Max, which is so powerful and bright it lights up the entire solar system.

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All of this lasts much longer than the battles in other final episodes of the franchise so we end up getting a rather short epilogue. Which is not a problem at all since it manages to still be very sweet and do everything it needs to. Nagisa and Honoka graduate, and have one last little problem with their graduation photo, and head over to Tako Cafe. They’re both very sad about being separated from Mepple and Mipple and Hikari. However…

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This makes sense if Hikari has no more power and is just a normal girl. And since the All Stars movies are non-canon for a wide variety of reasons I think it works well enough. And of course the Boy needs to be alive in some form or else the worlds will all be destroyed because Darkness and Light must still exist in balance. So what we’re left over with is the innocent life of the boy from the mansion, now Hikaru. And apparently Akane will forever be brainwashed into thinking they’re her relatives.

Mepple and Mipple are back in the Garden of Rainbows as well and everyone lives happily ever after.

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And this is kind of why Futari Wa’s ending is even worse in retrospect cause now Mepple and Mipple can just live with them without any trouble. So all that stuff that happened last season, eternal slumber and all that, is pointless and makes no sense. But this last episode is just so good. You have to experience for yourself how touching and emotional everything is. Everything is just so perfect. I’m constantly amazed by how Max Heart pulled this out at the end. It makes everything worth it. If you’re ever watching Max Heart and are having trouble getting through it just remember that the final episode is amazing.

And that’s Futari Wa Pretty Cure Max Heart. Nagisa, Honoka, and Hikari have started a phenomenon. The three of them would return with others in due to time for the crossovers but this is still the end of their true journey. As bad as Max Heart is I like it. I enjoy it overall and there’s plenty of good to be found. It’s still Pretty Cure and has all the charm and uniqueness that that means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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