In the world of Maho Girls, good things come in pairs. The introduction of Mirai Asahina and Riko as Cure Miracle and Cure Magical sets the stage for a highly enjoyable friendship between the two girls.
The spirit of PreCure is rooted in the power of friendship, and its roots run all the way back to Futari wa Pretty Cure, featuring the iconic Yin and Yang of Cure Black and Cure White. While idea of friendship has developed over time to expand out into a more general dynamic across an ensemble cast, the two-girl dynamic not only has its place throughout PreCure history, but is reflective of the work from which it is displayed.
Across the franchise, the power of two PreCure, whether it be through mandatory transformation or a powerful combination attack, is drawn from their friendship. This friendship is represented in different ways, and collectively forms the foundation through which we can understand the novelty of what Maho Girls is trying to do.
Classic Yin and Yang
There is no PreCure without the bond of friendship that was forged between Nagisa and Honoka in Futari wa Pretty Cure. The two girls come from completely opposite backgrounds; Nagisa is athletic and popular, a bit lazy, but well-intentioned and passionate about her friends and even her crush, Fujimura. Honoka is intelligent and reserved, leads by example and is guided by her own introspection. The two are polar opposites, and Futari wa explores this contrast incredibly thoroughly.
It is through this contrast, however, that the girls are able to fight as capably as they do. They literally require each other’s presence in order to transform, as well as perform all of their signature attacks such as Marble Screw. The show explores how these two girls come together from out of nowhere to become the formidable duo that defeats the Dusk Zone.
Episode 42 is the highlight of this dynamic, where the villains clue in on the girls’ weakness. They isolate and capture Cure White, leaving Cure Black with the task of rescuing her best friend and partner in crime. The sense of urgency stemming from their separation is what brings out the best from both girls, which allows them to each singlehandedly defeat their respective opponents in separate duels ensuing the successful rescue.
Futari wa pretty Cure Max Heart strays away considerably from this running theme as it introduces Hikari Kujo/Shiny Luminous, but still manages to take time to remind the audience of the strength of Nagisa and Honoka’s friendship, after the journey that they have taken up to that point.
Friendship Made in the Heart
Even with PreCure expanding out into the ensemble format, it still manages to find the right moments to explore the dynamic of two friends of contrasting personalities. The relationship between Tsubomi Hanasaki and Erika Kurumi is established rather early in HeartCatch PreCure. Tsubomi is the new girl in school, incredibly shy and eager to change her image. Erika is popular and outgoing, but relies on someone like Tsubomi to keep her grounded.
Unlike Futari wa, HeartCatch’s characters find themselves questioning their own individual worth, noted as early as episode 4. Tsubomi is worried that she’s so weak that she’s unfit to be Erika’s partner, but the two eventually recognize their mutual usefulness and eventually combine their powers through Floral Power Fortissimo.
Floral Power Fortissimo is an ability in Heartcatch that denotes the strong bond between two characters, and Cure Blossom and Cure Marine’s usage of the signature move is a staple of both their repertoire and their relationship as the series progresses into the four-member group with Itsuki and Yuri joining the fray. When the spotlight moves on to Yuri in the final arc, the acknowledgment of strength and friendship between Yuri and Tsubomi allow them to transform against Dune, and form their own Fortissimo in the next stage of the brilliantly choreographed final battle.
If You’re Do, Then I’m Re
The love/hate relationship between best friends Hibiki Hojo and Minamino Kanade takes up most of the first half of Suite PreCure♪, a clear throwback to the classic days of Nagisa/Honoka and even Saki/Mai from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star. Suite throws a bit of a wrench into Cure Melody and Cure Rhythm’s dynamic by making their relationship intense in its turbulence. The two start off the series as distant, in spite of their amicable childhoods. They learn to understand each other and why they drifted apart, allowing them to reunite and awaken as PreCure.
Suite’s strength is its relentless oozing of theme and motif throughout the show. As the music-oriented series, Melody and Rhythm’s power is drawn from synchronicity in their movements in battle, as well as their friendship outside of it. Like Black and White, the two need to be together to transform, and they must work together in sync in order to use their dual-attack, Passionato Harmony. Their reliance on each other is again their greatest strength, even if they show difficulty at times in harnessing it.
With the addition of Cure Beat and Cure Muse, Suite’s emphasis on Hibiki and Kanade’s harmony takes a backseat to the overall dynamic of the entire cast, and the exploration of the their friendship ceases at the expense basically all of Kanade’s screen time, effectively rendering her as comic relief, a tragedy for a second-in-command Cure. Taking one for the team, Kanade’s stepping back allows the two-note harmony to expand into a rich chord instead.
Which Friendship is Witch?
It’s too early to tell where Mirai and Riko’s friendship will fall into this spectrum, as their story has not that much in just the first episode. Yet, minor tidbits dropped in the episode and their respective backgrounds form a fairly reliable base for their relationship to develop. There’s already a clear mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other; Mirai pulls Riko away to run away from the henchman, Batty. In return, Riko entrusts Mirai to ride backseat on her broom, despite having no experiencing flying with a passenger. This mutual trust is what allows the two to awaken as PreCure without the help of a fairy whatsoever. It’s their transformation into PreCure that enables Mofurun to talk.
Cure Miracle and Cure Magical have not displayed any co-operative powers, but their transformation alone is enough to suggest their reliance on each other to gain their power. Not only is their power-up phrase spoken in sync, but the transformation sequence itself is mirrored in its entirety.
The best thing about this reexamination of the two-person dynamic is how this show as a relative contemporary to Suite and HeartCatch has incredible opportunity to take this concept in different directions. As seen in DokiDoki! and HappinessCharge, PreCure has shown its hand with their novelty in executing well-known conventions. For all of its familiar charm, Mahotsukai has sidestepped numerous PreCure tropes. Mofurun doesn’t appear until the end of the episode; a main character is from a different world; even civilian bystanders can see the monsters. Miracle and Magical are naturally in sync right from the get-go. The most intriguing thing about all of this is that Mirai and Riko might not even be polar opposites at all. They’re from different worlds, but they share similar motivations when in danger.
The Maho Girls are natural partners; they’re more similar than they realize, and they kick butt pretty hard because of it.