Hugtto! Precure – Episode 23

3 months ago 54

Hello everyone, and welcome on back to Wrong Every Time. Y’all ready for some Precure? Considering last episode featured the original Precure tumbling out of a wormhole because Baby Said So, it would seem presumptuous to offer any kind of confident predictions about what happens next. That said, it does seem like we’ve reached a turning point in the narrative. Our full Precure team has at last been assembled, and with Emiru having resolved her immediate anxieties, it’s looking like they’re ready to turn towards the future. At the same time, Popple’s defeat clears out the initial wave of Criasu Corp antagonists, and opens the door for her mysterious benefactor’s actual debut. Given all that narrative board-clearing, I’m actually expecting this episode to be a light one, and serve as a sort of palette cleanser before we get into the next major arc. The crew has assembled and there’s evil afoot, so let’s dive right back into Hugtto!

Episode 23

Even the cold open seems to imply things are moving, as we receive a pan down an ominous throne room that seems to once again evoke the Wizard of Oz. Our prior “mastermind” is here bowing at the feet of the man in the throne. He states that they “have so far discovered ten mirai crystals,” and that the plan is proceeding perfectly

Hugtan has learned to say “thank you,” which she seems to pronounce as “hugata!” I’m so proud of her

Lulu confesses that she has no idea why Hug-tan must feast on the blood of monsters to grow big and strong

Ahaha, the OP now just slides Emiru and Lulu in front of the others on a separate layer. Well, it’s easier than making a whole new OP!

“Maximum Trouble! President Kurai Appears!” Yep, we’re in for it now. The “assembling the crew” stage has been complete, so the narrative can now shift up a gear

I’m generally just kinda weirded out by human babies, but Hugtan’s chewing cycle is the cutest bit of animation ever, so I’m feeling conflicted here

Hugtan has also mastered the art of the selfie. Kids these days, learning selfies before they can even talk

Emiru and Lulu have also settled into a comfortable default rapport, where Emiru’s panicked energy is undercut by Lulu’s deadpan response. It’s interesting, the difference between a show’s “character drama dialogue” and its “sitcom dialogue” – sitcom dialogue is generally just a comforting, familiar refrain rather than an actual conversation, used in long-running narratives that keep returning to a dramatic neutral

The other classmates are all raving about Precure. Hana is briefly ecstatic, but a mention of how Yell “faces down opponents who are so much bigger than her” prompts a flash to her in an empty classroom

The clocktower in town seems to possess similar visual motifs to the symbols hanging over the villain’s throne. That seems appropriate; their power is time stasis, after all

Hana’s putting on a brave face, but the narrative’s setting her up for a fall again. As with her last moment of self-doubt, she’s harshly confronted with her friends’ theoretically “superior” talents, as they all have important plans that preclude hanging out. This fragility within Hana is one of the most human things about her – at times she can feel confident in her power to cheer others on, but at others, she can feel understandably insecure that her friends are leaving her behind

She sketches out pictures of herself in a variety of uniforms, underlining her indecision regarding her future. And very appropriately, it begins to rain

The music fades. As always, the entrance of the mysterious man is prefaced by a change in atmosphere, as the fog creates a sense of ominous mystery, and only the rain punctures the silence

“I don’t like umbrellas. I find them oppressive.” Mystery man has some bold and unconventional opinions

“When you’re surrounded by adults, you often get told you have to do everything properly”

“I also have a dream. A perfect world. A world where everyone’s heart can be at peace, where smiles can last forever.” Classic villain motivation. The “I want a perfect world” villain comes in a variety of flavors – “I will combine everything to ensure total mutual understanding,” “I will destroy everything so the world will be free of sin,” or this “I will freeze the world in stasis, so no one will be unhappy every again”

Back at Criasu Corp, Chief Daigan starts talking shit about his failed coworkers, and thus gets his own chance to beat the Precure

“Now that I, Daigan, am on the project, it will be done in just five minutes!” Daigan, you gotta moderate your boss’s expectations if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Even if you are that fast, you don’t want your boss to know you’re that fast!

“Now then, how did this go again?” Daigan seems to be the classic middle manager type, all arrogance and no experience

Dear lord his requisition dance is terrible. Bring back Popple!

Nice, they’re actually weaving Emiru and Lulu’s bank footage in with the others now, creating a far more unified transformation sequence. Though this is quite early in the episode for a battle by Hugtto’s standard; I wonder what else is coming?

Precure presents an empowering fantasy of a world where you can wipe your hand across your face and your makeup is just fucking done

But Daigon is mysteriously struck from behind! Who is this?! It’s the nefarious DOCTOR TRAUMA!

Can’t believe they actually set up Daigon as a fall guy to hype Doctor Trauma. Precure is basically pro wrestling

“You weren’t friends after all?” “Oh young lady… no such thing exists to us who are over 30.” THE AWFUL TRUTH. Seriously though, keep in touch with your friends, it’s hard to make new ones as an adult

I gotta admit though, Doctor Trauma puts way more effort into his requisition transformation. No surprise he’s Daigon’s superior

Doctor Trauma powers up the existing Oshimaeda. The idea of a “power up” is interesting here, because Precure’s fights have so far worked on a mostly emotional basis, and eschewed the idea of meaningful “power levels.” Presumably this means they’ll all be earning some new tie-in accessory?

Ooh, I like the unique effects animation style they use for this creature’s fireballs

At last, the mystery man’s identity is revealed: Criasu Corp’s president, George Kurai

He steals all their got dang mirai crystals

“When great hope is shattered, tremendous negative energy is released”

His end result embodies the lethargy and slow decline of complacency, rather than the difficult but ultimately fulfilling process of striving for a greater tomorrow

Only Hugtan remains unfrozen. Oh god, she’s learned their names so well, it’s just devastating hearing her yell out for each of them as she’s captured

After pre-reinvention Hana was isolated for sticking up for a kid at school, it was her mother that reaffirmed to her that this sad moment will pass, and that her future is still limitless. Now, she must carry on that inspiration, and use her signature power to inspire the whole world back into movement

Lots of nice cuts of the Precure diving into the frame for this battle

Trauma seems to recognize Harry

Hah, and now the Twin Love Guitar is basically fitted in as one of the group’s signature finishing moves

And Steampunk Grandpa is defeated!

Kurai recognizes Hana as his rival, someone competing to define the future in their own image. See Hana, you’re far more powerful than you realized!

And then the Wizard of Oz-esque head of the boardroom meetings heads to a prison cell, where he tells “Bishin” it’s time for her to be released. I’m really appreciating all this intrigue and faction development among the opponents here! Popple was already one of Hugtto’s most compelling characters, and it seems like they’ll continue to dig into ways the corporate hierarchy and results-based society alienates people

Homare has noticed Harry’s unease, but he’s unwilling to share his thoughts

And Done

Hoof, that was a doozy of an episode! As expected, the story has surged forward now that introductions are complete, with this episode not just pushing us through two new episodic villains, but also revealing the identity of the masked man, and introducing even more ambiguity regarding Harry’s intentions. On the emotional side, this one felt a little disjointed; it initially seemed like we’d be digging into Hana’s lingering feelings of inferiority, but then the battle just sorta consumed most of the episode, leaving little time to resolve her conflict. In light of that, I’m hoping the next episode will slow down a bit, with her mixed feelings about Kurai perhaps leading into a more general reflection on their objectives as a whole. Either way, Hugtto continues to overflow with charming character moments and beautiful battles, so I’m sure the path ahead is a bright one!

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