The Beginner’s Guide is a series of posts on Cure Blogger that introduces new/prospective fans to the different series that make up the PreCure multiverse.
Futari wa Pretty Cure is the first series ever created in the PreCure franchise, and is the only series in the franchise to be licensed and dubbed in English overseas. The show follows the lives of Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro, two popular eighth-graders at Verone Academy. Nagisa is cool and athletic, the ace of her Lacrosse team, and very popular amongst other girls. Honoka is bright and cheerful, a studious member of her science club, and is constantly confessed to by boys in her grade. The two originally lead separate lives, but are brought together by a chance meeting with Mipple and Mepple from the Garden of Light, and awaken as Pretty Cure.
As Cure Black and Cure White, the two girls search for the seven Prism Stones, the keys to saving the Earth and the Garden of Light, while at the same time combating with denizens of the Dusk Zone. With the seven stones, Black and White aim to save the Garden of Light from the Dusk Zone and defeat the Dark King once and for all.
As the first-ever PreCure franchise, Futari wa Pretty Cure set the stage for what would become a decade-old franchise, finding enough success to warrant a direct sequel series known as Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart (the only series in the franchise other than Yes! Pretty Cure 5 to have a sequel). Max Heart follows Nagisa and Honoka as they aim to restore the life-force of the Queen of the Garden of Light, meeting a mysterious girl named Hikari Kujou along the way. Cures Black and White returns to action against new enemies, but with the help of a new ally named Shiny Luminous.
Nagisa Misumi/Cure Black: Nagisa is athletic and highly sociable, as noted in her role on the lacrosse team as well as her numerous friends at school. While she’s lax in her studies, she’s not as ditzy as the other lead cures that would follow in later PreCure series. Instead, she’s more of an awkward goof with a romantic streak, having a crush on an upperclassman named Fujimura, who is also Honoka’s childhood friend. She has a loving family with a younger brother who annoys her quite a bit.
As Cure Black, Nagisa is a formidable fighter, and cares deeply about the wellbeing of her PreCure partner, Cure White. Black’s mascot partner is Mepple, a loudmouth who often derides Nagisa and her love-struck tendencies. They have a love-hate relationship, but for the most part, stick up for each other when the going gets rough.
Honoka Yukishiro/Cure White: Honoka is the quieter and more reserved girl between her and Nagisa, but is no less popular amongst her peers at school. She leads by example, having high grades and is looked up to by her fellow members at her science club. Her parents are often overseas due to work, and lives with her grandmother and dog, Chuutaro.
As Cure White, Honoka is a capable warrior, showing a more graceful elegance in combat, often doing twirls as opposed to Cure Blacks numerous back flips. She often finds herself in a pinch and is usually saved by Cure Black, but White has a determined attitude and often talks down her enemies with righteous furor. She develops an interesting and notable relationship with one of the Dusk Zone’s young emissaries, Kiriya.
While there was no PreCure metaseries at the time of Futari wa Pretty Cure’s production and airing, the show did incorporate a running theme into its storytelling approach, related to the duality of yin and yang. Most obviously, the cure names of White and Black are related to this, and are reflected primarily in the differences between Nagisa and Honoka. Nagisa is the brash and tomboyish, while Honoka is reserved and ladylike. Nagisa is sociable and has a large family, while Honoka lives alone with her grandmother and keeps to herself.
The series itself explores the relationship between these two girls who start off as leading different lives, but come together as PreCure. Their relationship is awkward and superficial at first, as they do not know much about each other outside of their public personas at school, but with each episode, their differences are celebrated as complementary traits rather than opposites. Cures Black and White grow increasingly fond of each other, and depending on what sort of goggles a viewer ends up wearing, are a natural ship.
Those who are interested in watching Futari wa Pretty Cure (amongst other series) for the first time may be overwhelmed by the number of episodes in the series. Included in this section is a selection of episodes from the show that are not strongly dependant on understanding of the main plot, but are representative of what you can expect from the series.
Episode 18, Heart-throbbing! Midterms are a Love Labyrinth: In episode 18, the girls are trapped in a mazelike world by the trickster warrior of the Dusk Zone, Poisonny. They fight their way through the maze, as well as confront the villain head-on in a pretty great fight that nicely incorporates the battlefield into the action. Of particular note is the developing relationship between Kiriya and Honoka.
Episode 22, No way! Chuutaro Becomes a Mom: Episode 22 is an interesting spotlight on Honoka’s dog, Chuutaro. It takes place during Tanabata, and features Ilkubo, the Dusk Zone’s last warrior subsequent to Kiriya. There isn’t as much action in this episode, as a significant amount of time is spent reflecting on Kiriya’s last battle, and what it means to be a PreCure.
Episode 37, First Stage Performance! Romeo and Juliet: As the two most popular girls in class, Nagisa and Honoka are cast as the titular characters of Shakespeare’s play for an upcoming school festival. They are a perfect pair on-stage, reflected not only through their chemistry, but their ability to kick Zakenna butt as well!
Episode 42 ,Together We are One! Nagisa and Honoka’s Powerful Bonds: The Dusk Zone separate the two girls by capturing Cure White, and it’s up to Cure Black to save the day. There’s a real sense of urgency in this particular episode, and the resulting battle is perhaps the finest in the series, simply due to the emotional payoff that coincides with it.
Episode 45, Sing, Sakura Class! The Choir’s Courage: Nagisa and Honoka’s class represent the school in a district choir competition. They prepare for the event by learning a new song, which so happens to be the ED of the series. The ending theme is perfectly weaved into the episode, and is arranged really nicely into a choir performance that capitulates the fun spirit of the series.
Futari wa Pretty Cure is a very rewarding show to watch. It is PreCure at its “purest,” featuring the two-girl relationship that is no longer fully examined in contemporary series. The production is up and down at times, but for the most part is fairly solid for what would become the first of a long-lasting franchise. It isn’t necessarily the ideal show to watch as a viewer’s first PreCure, but should be of immediate interest to anyone who is already familiar with one or two series in the franchise, such as the recently completed Smile PreCure! and currently airing Doki Doki! PreCure. At ten years and counting, the series has aged more like a fine wine than anything else.
If you enjoyed Futari wa Pretty Cure, consider watching these other PreCure series as well:
Suite PreCure is a contemporary attempt at the two-girl dynamic that was made popular by the original Futari wa Pretty Cure and its early successors. It follows the lifelong friendship between Hibiki Hojo and Kanade Minamino, who live in a music-themed city called KanonTown. The relationship between Hibiki and Kanade is examined through a music theme, emphasizing harmony between the two girls who are always bickering. The relationship between the two takes a backseat as more PreCure are added to the cast, but the homoerotic undertones of Black/White live on in Melody and Rhythm.
Futari wa Pretty Cure: Splash Star
As the first true alternate continuity to Futari wa Pretty Cure and Max Heart, Futari wa Pretty Cure: Splash Star appears at first glance to be a mere reboot of the original, with characters and settings that strongly resemble its predecessor; however, the show eventually grows into its own approximately a quarter of the way in, with the introduction of Michiru and Kaoru. Splash Star takes on a different theme from the yin and yang duality in the two-girl dynamic; while Saki and Mai are still a duo as Cures Bloom and Egret, the show examines nature and animism, as reflected by the Japanese idiom, “flower, bird, wind, moon,” and as such, subtly hints at the potential for what would eventually become the multiple-girl cast of PreCure shows today.
Futari wa Pretty Cure: Max Heart
Max Heart is one of only two series in the entire franchise that is a direct sequel to a pre-existing PreCure series. It revisits Nagisa and Honoka as they search for the heartiels, missing essences that make up the now-lost Queen of the Garden of Light. It also introduces Hikari Kujou, the Life essence of the Queen herself. She awakens as Shiny Luminous, and acts as a support character for Black and White, without getting too much in the way of the two’s further developing relationship. The show itself is very rough around the edges, as the success of the first season led to a sophomore slump that the series did not grow out of until partway through Splash Star. That said, if you loved Nagisa and Honoka as characters, you can’t go wrong with more episodes featuring the two of them.