Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time! Today we’ll be returning to Hugtto! Precure, where when we last left off, Henri was busy destroying the gender binary. After Emiru’s brother attempted to lecture him on how girls aren’t allowed to be heroes, Henri confronted him in a full dress, and said that boys and girls are allowed to be what they damn well please. Even when held in the grip of a giant monster, Henri somehow kept his cool, and actually reached out to the monster with such empathy and understanding that he essentially won the fight himself. Hugtto! has always preached kindness in a general sense, but I was delighted to see it celebrate Henri’s specific, vital kind of self-love and tolerance.
With Henri having instilled that self-love in Emiru as well, she is now capable of admitting her own desires. Emiru wants to be a Precure, and goddamnit, we’re gonna make her a Precure. Let’s get to work!
As opposed to a greeting by the leads, we open on a genuine recap. Like Sun and Moon, this show is generally episodic enough to not need recaps, but Emiru and Lulu’s ongoing conflict demands a dash of continuity
And so our conflict is set: Emiru and Lulu have decided to become Precure, but there’s only one PreHeart left. And of course, these two are such loving friends that Lulu will likely offer it to Emiru, but Emiru will refuse to take it without Lulu beside her
“Cure Ma Cherie and Cure Amor. Hooray, Hooray, the Precure of Love!” Episode title please, can you leave us like an ounce of suspense
The fact that these two are going to collectively become the “Precure of Love” is amazing, though. And what an adorable pair of titles to celebrate it
Terrific Hana expressions as she attempts to split the PreHeart into two smaller PreHearts
“Emiwu! Wu! Togever!” I agree with the baby
Even Emiru and Lulu’s distinct clothing styles feel like a reflection of how “perfectly mismatched” they are. The two are unbelievably adorable together, and Hugtto itself seems to understand it’s stumbled upon something really special here
Their halting goodbye is painful. Becoming Precure together would have been a natural continuation of their friendship, but now they’re both uncertain as to how they might stay close
I’m glad that Homare at least is starting to call Harry on his bullshit. He’s revealed far too little about his plans and the future he comes from, and now he’s introducing arbitrary restrictions like “we’ve run out of the devices I was brought here to specifically recruit warriors with”
Ominous shadows, low-angle shots, and the deliberate avoidance of his face all lend an air of suspicion to this man at the store
Hugtan senses his evil vibes, but plays it cool
We stop by Criasu Corp, and learn a couple key pieces of information. First, unsurprisingly, Papple’s on the chopping block – if she screws up again, that’s it for her. But more importantly, it seems like Criasu Corp’s grand arbiter is basically a Wizard of Oz situation, where one of the upper managers just programs in what the big angry head says
Apologies to anyone if I just spoiled The Wizard of Oz, an eighty-year-old film that literally inspired the phrase “man behind the curtain”
I actually really like that choice. Corporate evil is not fanciful, or inflicted from some elevated, distant antagonist. It is mundane and formless, sustained by the fact that no one person can be deemed responsible for the evil a company inflicts while pursuing a profit margin. It is a manager behind a desk who is very sorry to hear that, but that isn’t actually his department’s responsibility
Hugtto’s sketch-and-watercolor backgrounds are as delightful as ever. The bright, soft colors of Hana’s house make for a striking contrast with Criasu Corp
The Hana faces are on fire this episode!
Ooh, clever trick here where they essentially reduce the shading and flatten the perspective of how Hana is animated. Because she’s sick, she’s literally unable to hold her generally well-animated form
Nice to touch in with the girls from episode sixteen as we return to the school. Hugtto isn’t big on ensemble continuity in the way something like Doremi is, but even small reminders of other characters existing help give this world a sense of depth and consequence
And a wonderfully delicate energy as Harry and Hugtan look after Hana, complimented by this gentle guitar melody
“We can’t see miracles. We have to believe in them.” For these girls, the personal transformations that Hana’s confidence instilled in them were miracles. They couldn’t overcome their insecurities, but then they did – there was no material shift in their situation, but the support of a friend genuinely changed their perception of what they could accomplish. That sounds like a miracle to me
And of course, now they’re paying that support forward, as they revisit the moments when Hana inspired them
“I’m sure the rival we battled at full strength can become our best friend!” Lulu’s misgivings about competing with Emiru are rightly defused by Saaya reminding her “remember like four days ago, when you were trying to kill us?”
Aww, this is so sweet. At Henri’s prompting, Emiru’s brother actually gives her some concert tickets, and suggests she bring Lulu. Henri MVP once again, of course, but it’s also great to see Emiru’s brother understanding how badly he was in the wrong. After last episode, it seems likely that he actually went to Henri for help, since it had become clear how well Henri was supporting his sister. He doesn’t fully understand his sister, but he certainly wants her to be happy
Emiru’s look of joy and relief at having finally gotten through to her brother is so good. “I’m so glad I never gave up”
“Since becoming friends with you, I feel like I have even grown to like myself a bit more.” True for both of them. Each of them inspire the other towards the person they wish they could be, while also assuring them that the person they already are is deserving of love
“Lulu, would you like to write lyrics for my song?” THEY ARE SO ADORABLE I AM LOSING MY MIND
They’re really building up the tension as we pass the ad break, contrasting the nearly silent prep of Homare and Saaya
Along with echoing Emiru and Lulu’s drama, Homare and Saaya’s challenges also conveniently make them unavailable for this episode’s final battle
I know Precure isn’t really interested in exploring the broader social implications of living in Precure World, but it’s still funny to see the news reporting on a monster attack as if it were a spot of bad weather
Loving Hana lecturing on the meaning of friendship as she beats the shit out of this monster
They pray for a miracle, and… the gods actually grant them one? I’m not sure if this spirit lady is from the future or the realm of the gods or what, but as long as she’s got a spare PreHeart, I’m not asking questions
“As I love you, I will love myself.” What a beautiful sentiment. They’ve certainly earned that Precure of Love moniker
And even their transformation sequence is combined! Love how joyfully they dance together
Jeez, the animation for the final stages of their transformation is incredible. Remarkable fluidity as they curve around the camera, combined with complex shading and a real sense of volume. Obviously they’re going all-out because this footage will be reused, but it’s nice to even have such excellent bank footage!
And of course their fight is to the song they wrote together. This arc is perfect in every way
I like how the background texture of their transformations and attacks echoes their combined fashion sense
THEY DID IT. THEY’VE MADE IT! OUR GIRLS ARE PRECURE AT LAST! That episode was elegantly constructed and full of poignant moments by any metric, but it’s hard not to simply cheer at Emiru and Lulu finally, formally joining the team. Hugtto has dedicated almost half of its episodes so far to illustrating their journeys, treating their insecurities with great respect, and consistently demonstrating all the ways they make each other strong. This episode was a glorious culmination of those journeys, demonstrating the life-changing power of their mutual love, and reaffirming Hugtto’s fundamental philosophy in the most poignant, uplifting way possible. I’m so happy these two are getting all the tender focus they deserve!