The Pretty Cure! is a magical girl franchise with a huge following due to its themes, action, and art direction.
While it may look like a typical frilly romp, PreCure has always been about challenging social norms. Every entry showcases girls pursuing goals outside of romance and beauty, having assertive personalities, and even exploring sexuality. However, the newest episode is starting a conversation related to boys.
Hugtto! PreCure has a recurring male character named Henri Wakamiya and he loves wearing dresses.
Now, cross-dressing isn’t too taboo in the anime world, but it isn’t typically shown in a positive light. Otokonoko, or traps, have been growing in popularity in the 2010s. The problem is that these type of characters are treated as perverts, objects of assault, or offensive caricatures used to mock cross-dressers and homosexuals.
Hugtto! PreCure is challenging these stereotypes with Henri. The newest episode featured Henri defending his fashion choice, saying, “So what? I’m dressed the way I want to dress. Putting restrictions on your own heart is a waste of time…and life.”
— プププ プリキュア (@love_prelive) June 10, 2018
Later in the episode, Henri is captured by a monster while wearing a dress – to which he quips, “Wait, doesn’t this mean I’m like the princess in this situation?”
— がっきー0724@くそりぷ魔人 (@RIPGL) June 12, 2018
Shortly after, Hana Nono exclaims, “That’s OK! Boys can be princesses too!”
— 【大いなる】キュアしろたん【希望の力】 (@cure_shirotann3) June 12, 2018
The episode’s message was powerful enough to win a positive reception on Japanese social media. Many net users believe the message positively encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to be themselves. It’s especially powerful for children and teens as they navigate their youth before entering adulthood.