If I were to poll the community on the most impactful magical girl series, odds are Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Sailor Moon would come out on top. Both works challenge our biases on the genre and explore dark topics for what’s considered a childish genre. However, I think Hugtto! PreCure deserves the crown.
That’s right, the latest installment in the Pretty Cure franchise deserves your respect. Pretty Cure, in general, is criminally overlooked by fans outside of Japan. It may have to do with the pastel color scheme, young cast, or the fact that there are so many damn entries, but you need to stop ignoring it.
Hugtto! PreCure is centered around a simple catchphrase: “You can do anything, you can be anything!” It’s a corny message aimed at a younger audience, but it also gives way to the franchise’s most impactful entry yet.
First off, Hugtto! PreCure condemns Japan’s modern work culture and how that capitalism exuberates these issues. Criasu Corporation is an evil conglomeration that wants to alter the present. Their unchecked greed and inhuman treatment of people left the future in disarray. They to the past to prevent Hug-tan from inspiring hope in fear of losing their influence.
That’s a pretty heavy setup for a kid show — one that reflects reality. Dark Future not only represents Japan’s work culture but of that around the world. Despite technological advances, many people are overworked and underpaid, which has led to a global increase in depression and suicide rates.
It’s telling that many of the anime’s monsters are born from by stress, and they face relief after being defeated by the Cures. Another interesting thing is that the anime highlights the importance of non-corporate jobs. Many episodes feature our heroines working at small locations and showing the joys of non-corporate life.
However, Hugtto! PreCure biggest wave comes from challenging gender roles. Henri, one of the main male characters, loves figure skating and effeminate clothing. He’s been bullied but comes to accept himself after the girls encourage him to be true to himself.
The girls themselves also face being boxed in by society and face ridicule for not living up to girly stereotypes. Authority figures are constantly discouraging the girls from being heroes and to pursue more traditional hobbies — which the anime gleefully tears down.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem much, but these messages are important for younger viewers to hear. You don’t need to conform to tradition to be successful or happy, just be true to yourself.
The optimistic message may annoy jaded viewers, but it’s an important one for the youth. Hugtto! PreCure tackles many mature topics plaguing Japan — such as those of gender roles and traditional jobs forced upon women. Why must girls be pushed to become teachers or nurses? Why can’t they be symbols of inspiration and heroes — roles generally occupied by men.
Hugtto! PreCure doesn’t stand on a soapbox to lecture its audience, and respects that viewers can understand the nuance of the message between surprisingly amazing action scenes. It’s a surprisingly heavy story for such a mainstream anime.