If for some reason all your doing is coming to this review for a recommendation of whether or not you should watch Futari wa Precure then yes. Go watch it. Right now. I dont even care if you think it looks like a stupid lighthearted magical girl anime which it absolutely is. I can honestly say that it is the most underrated series of anything Ive ever seen ever and that the rest of this review will mostly just be analyzing and dissecting the characters and monster of the week tropes ect. So you have my permission to stop reading now and just go watch the anime preferably the English dub. I seriously dont mind waiting for you to come back later. But seriously GO WATCH IT. I got into anime 6 years ago now when I has 12. I started off with the usual stuff. Naruto bleach yugioh that kind of stuff. As a hopeful 12 year old I of course did what anyone else in my situation would do. I flicked through some TV channels in the hopes of finding some anime to watch. Being a beginner to anime I was only really aware of what I know know as longrunning shonen battle series so I certainly wasnt expecting to run into a shoujo magical girl anime. Or more specifically two of them. I live in the UK and as such there used to exist a channel here called POPgirl in the UK. Most people can predict exactly what Im about to say but other than reruns of mediocre Disney style sitcoms popgirl also aired the two magical girl anime mew mew power and pretty cure or as they are more commonly known Tokyo mew mew and futari wa precure. I even remember the episode of precure that was airing when I happened to land on it after switching channels it was the one where Nagisa jumps into a river to save a drowning bear only to realize that she herself cant swim. I should have changed the channel. It was a generic girly show that should have been of no interest of me but Im really glad I didnt. By the end of the episode I found myself surprised. The episode was actually really entertaining. The characters interesting and the fight far better than it should have been compared to my very little experience with sailor moon in the past. I brought up tokyo mew mew being aired with it and thats what made me know futari wa precure was special. You see at first I just assumed that I had grown a guilty pleasure for magical girls but then when I thought about tokyo mew mew and how mediocre and forgettable it was I knew that it must have been something about futari wa specifically that I was so fascinated by. I can hear you screaming nostalgia at me but once again I liked futari wa this much when I first watched it AND I didnt feel that anything was special about mew mew which I originally watched at the same time as futari wa. Enough of this backstory nonsense onto some thoughts on the anime itself. The Story: The overarching story is simple. But it works massively in futari was favor. With monster of the week shows like futari wa it doesnt matter what the long running plot is. Its what you do inbetween the instances of plot and the changes that you bring to the genre that matter. Especially since this is the first series of a massive franchise youve got to keep the original simple and just present the main ideas of your franchise and what makes it stand apart from say tokyo mew mew sailor moon and other similar shows like super sentai and kamen rider. So basically you dont need to have an overly complicated plot for the first series unless the series forte is overly complicated plots. Before we go further we need to establish what it truly is that it is that precure does different to similar franchises or at least what futari wa says it is. And that would clearly be that the magical girls actually fight their opponent rather than just running around getting caught and then being reminded by male love interest or cat that they have a 1 hit kill attack. However there is a second thing and that second thing is the focus on characters but well get to that in due time as there is a lot to say regarding the subject of characters. As the first series in a franchise futari wa precure needs to build up a mythos. What is mythos? Mythos is a set of new words and phrases invented specifically for that franchise that the marketing team hope that the general audience use in eveyday use. An example of this would be the franchise power rangers that coined the term morpher as in that thing that the characters use to transform with. Shows like sentai and kamen rider had the morphers before power rangers but power rangers was the one to give a name that actually caught one who actually calls them a henshin device?. Futari wa attempted this too with its names for the universes. The garden of light the dark zone and the garden of rainbows. The disappointing thing is that none of the series to my knowledge past max heart actually use any of this mythos. They just call earth Earth and not the garden of rainbows which breaks continuity since mipple and mepple say that every dimension calls earth the garden of rainbows. Back onto the story the best part of the simple story is the way its told and how much time is left for character development in every single episode. The overall story is told to us slowly over time by mipple and mepple and not just frontloaded during the first few minutes of the first episode. The first episode is just used to introduce us to the characters and get the audience interested enough to want to watch more the series. Its only once episode 2 starts that we actually learn anything about the characters other than obvious information such as honoka being smart and nagisa being into sports. and the actual plot with the prism stones and mipple and mepples backstory. Then in later episodes we learn even more like the existence of the prism hopeish and the painter that used to own mipple. Futari wa precure takes a lot of magical girl or anime in general tropes and pulls a clever spin on them that are genuinely subtle and well executed. Why arent the characters attacked by the villain during the massively long transformation sequence? Well it shows a light that is created by the morphers and you see pishard cover his eyes as if the light is blinding him. Show dont tell. Even better though theres even more to it than that. Yeah. Not only do the morphers expel light upon activation but also heat. Heat that can burn someone alive if they come too close to it so even if pishard didnt care about his eyes he would still be burned alive if he tried anything. Wow sometimes even Im impressed after all these years by the attention to detail. Ok so what about the catchphrases and slogans that the magical girls call out and the characters blank expressions during the transformation? Well Nagisa even says herself that the morpher forced her to do it. Remember the previous sentence I typed out though there yet another clever twist to it that Ill come to later. I cant say too much more about the plot and structure of the show without going into the characters first so please bare with me as I attempt to find a decent way of structuring this write up. The characters: Where do I even start with the characters? Well Ill talk a little about the structure of the show and how it helps the characters and then follow it by talking about some of the more standout characters in more detail. Because of the loose story that keeps coming back every few episodes see also: Sense of progression and the collection of prism stones the structure villains ect ect. All of this culminates with a show with a lot of down time and scenes with characters just chilling out and having some small talk. This and the series only having two magical girls is the best thing the show has ever done. Why? It means that there is a massive focus on characters their personalities their interactions their everyday lives and everything else that can be associated with that kind of thing. From my point of view the character focused and slice of life elements of futari wa precure are actually more important that the action sequences a million fold. Many shows and anime before have taken ordinary people and put them in life and even world threatening situations that they have to fight their way out of but futari wa precure is the first to truly feel like it. Theres so much time spent on menial tasks like winning a sports game falling out perusing a crush putting on a play and even littler tasks than that so that when a villain enters the fray and things go down it feels purposely juxtaposed and feels like cure black and white are really normal people that are trying their hardest to save people. Theres things at stake and you truly want them to win. Its not just a case of a bunch of personalityless characters that dont even care about the fight or the villain that always win with zero struggle. Nagisa: Nagisa is the main character of the series. You see most of the series from her point of view and its assumed that shes the leader of precure even though they dont really need a leader since theyre a duo not a team. Shes into sports and usually acts like a klutz but my favorite thing about her is her reaction to getting her precure powers. She doesnt feel good enough to get the powers. She talks about how she doesnt deserve the powers since she can barely even do her homework on time let alone save peoples lives. She takes the powers 100 serious when shes transformed witch juxtaposes with her lighthearted mood the rest of the time. She looks up to Honoka and sees Honoka as perfect and better than herself in every way. She envies her witch leads to their fallout early in the series. For a duo like this to work they need to see each other as equals. She has a crush on a guy names Fuji P but that relationship is mainly used for jokes and as a catalyst to progress the characters and create situations but it does have enough nice and slow moments for it to be worth it overall even if it is a little cliched. Honoka: Otherwise known as the best character in anything ever. Where do I even start? In episode 1 we see her from Nagisas point of view as the perfect person. Shes smart shes rich shes kind shes selfless. But its not until later that she truly shines and we learn more. Shes not a flawless marysue and is actually kind of envious of Nagisa. She has bad anger problems and blows her top more than once. Shes not even remotely athletic and cant quite control her emotions not matter how hard she tries. She reacts to getting her powers with positivity and thinks the whole superhero thing is really cool shes such a genuine nerd and doesnt quite understand what shes getting into when becoming a cure. She tries her hardest to be nice and get along with everyone but she does have to deal with some pretty big problems deep down like her parents always being away and her relationship with Kiriya. Her relationship with Kiriya is almost the exact opposite of Nagisa and Fuji P. Its not used for jokes. Its does actually have an arc with an end. Kiriya and Honoka bring out the best and worst of each other with their arguments and ideals. They dont quite understand each others problems but still try to help each other anyway. Despite trying to suppress her emotions she isnt afraid to tell someone off and put them in their place. Got stuck in a bank robbery on your birthday? Why dont you just yell at them and establish dominance. Show them whos boss and dont play the poor victim. The guy you have a crush on just horribly reject your competition in the love triangle? Yell at him and tell him that he was too harsh to her even though shes your only competition. Its absolutely fascinating to she how she reacts to things. The animation: I remember for the longest time not careing about the animation. I thought that it was serviceable but nothing spectacular. But then I put two things into consideration. 1This anime aired in 2004 2This was animated by Toei. If you know anything about animation then you know that Toei are garbage when it comes to animation and the more recent the anime the worse the animation by toei. They do have some strong anime when it comes to animation like early one piece and dragonball but over time theyve gotten lazier and lazier using repeated animation and excess CGI. I know that some people dont mind CGI but its the absolute bane of my existence and just looks bad when used in anime. But I hear your cries Futari wa does include CGI The queen of light is almost entirely CGI Fine then I wasnt going to give my thoughts on this specific use of CGI since its far too overcomplicated and honestly a waste of time but if you really are trying to find every flaw possible with this write up and dont understand that theres an exception to every rule Ill gladly explain. I usually hate CGI when its used only to save money. CGI models are cheaper than 2D frame by frame but theres a reason. 2D actually looks far better unless youre pixar but thats pretty much the only exception because its so much more expensive and takes far longer to do. Im gonna backpedal a little now because Im terrible at structuring this write up and mention that when a character is designed they are designed with a certain art style or animation type in mind. Anime characters usually look better 2D whereas the characters in Inside Out for example are designed to look better in 3D animation because thats the style of animation they were created to be used in. Lets take Go Princess precure and assume that the characters were just like every other character from everything ever designed to look in one animation style. Im going to assume 2D since we mostly see them 2D but when they are in 3D scenes form changes charge up attacks ect they look atrocious because they wearnt designed to look good. They were designed to look good in 2D and the CGI was just used to save money. Do you see where Im coming from here? The constant switching feels juxtaposed and takes me out of my immersion. Ok then what about futari was use of CGI then? Well to my knowledge the CGi is only used on two characters throughout the entire series. The dark king and the queen of light. Can you see something in common with these two characters? They are from different dimensions to the two main characters and carry an immense amount of power. The CGI is used specifically to make them juxtaposed. They are supposed to feel out of place and stand out compared to the other characters because of their power and otherworldlyness. The anime used a simple animation technique to make us feel exactly what the two main characters feel. The characters feel that the queen of light and dark king have a strange presence to them. But what about the scene where the queen of light shrinks down to help cure black and white fight? She changes to 2D animation. Yes I admit that she does look a little better 3D since she was designed to look good 3D but Ill let it slide since it serves a purpose. Cure white an black no longer feel an otherworldly presence from her since shes now come down to their level and are directly helping them. Looking back on it it was far too much effort to explain that but yeah overall the animation is pretty good considering the animation company and the year it was released. Designs: The character designs look great. Each character looks different enough for you to be able to tell them apart. But at the same time theyre not blindingly bright and colorful with bright pink obnoxious hair. It matches the tone of the show because each character looks like an actual human with how they dress and their hair design apart from the villains but thats kinda the point the villains arent supposed to look human. but at the same time they do all look like different characters with real thought put into their designs. The only real repeated features is that one of the side characters has the same hair as Nagisa but its addressed and theres a reason for it so its fine. The costume designs just like everything else in the anime have had far too much thought put into them. For example the first time you see Honoka shes in the science class with a crowd around her yet she stands out because shes the only one wearing a lab coat. In an instant we know that shes the smartest one there one of the main characters and should be the main focus of the shot. We know all those things about her just because shes wearing a coat. Show dont tell. Same with her and Nagisas casual wear. Honokas civilian form is more timeless and plain but still says a lot about her and that she doesnt care too much about trends and prefers something more timeless that wont go out of date. Whereas Nagisas clothes look outright awful because she does care about trends and more complicated clothes meaning that in the over a decade since it aired her clothes did get outdated just like Nagisas personality. The costume designs werent chosen to necessarily look good but to give yet more subtle insight into the characters and what they would actually wear back in 2004. Im willing to bet that if the series was released this year instead Honokas clothing would look almost exactly the same whereas Nagisa would be wearing current trendy clothes. The sound: Im going to talk about the dub and sub in a different category. This is exclusively for the music. There are two separate openings the japanese opening and the english opening. Each being a completely different song. The Japanese song took a long long time to grow on me. It seemed far too generic and just not very good. It did grow on me after these 6 years but Im still not the biggest fan of it. But thats fine though because I love the English opening. This one really might be because of nostalgia but theres something about the more chilled out guitar focused slightly alternative rock vibe that I love. It hits the right middle ground between saturday morning cartoon and song that I would legit listen to and it never grows old. Its highly underrated and the best opening in the entire franchise. The ending theme the english version didnt get a seperate ending theme is pretty good. Its better than the Japanese opening but its not often that Ill be in the mood to listen to the ending theme on its own. The vocal album is an alum consisting of the japanese opening and ending theme the insert songs shining star and Darkness and some other vocal songs created specifically for futari wa precure even if they werent created actually used in the anime. The albums hit and miss honestly but that was to be expected considering my taste in music. Songs like Darkness are truly epic and I dont mean that lightly. Shining star gets me pumped up every time I hear it but the rest of the album is mediocre over all. One special shoutout goes to the song Arittake no Egao de. I really really like that one. Again though Im a fan of chilled out stuff so this one is great and the song from the vocal album that gets listened to the most often. The soundtrack itself is not hit and miss though. It is entirely hit and one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. The use of violin is godlike. The character themes perfectly sum up each character. The mood given off is perfect and nostalgic. It builds up tension it compliments calm moments it can sound grandiose. Its just really really good. I really mean it when I say that its one of my favorites. The Dub: This category wont just be looking at the english dub but the japanese dub too. Im sorry but Im going to have to be controversial here. I like the english dub more than the Japanese. Im not the biggest fan of he Japanese voice acting but I do have a theory why. I originally watched the english dub which means that I got attached to the characters with their english voice. Whenever I saw Honoka I expected to hear her english voice not her Japanese voice so it felt jarring when I heard these characters I already knew but with unfamiliar voices. I do also have to say that there are some nitpicks I have with the Japanese such as the constant lesbian jokes and once again the voices not sounding right theres no way honokas voice is supposed to be that high pitched. It barely sounds human and kinda ruins my favorite character of all time. The english dub on the other hand is really good. I hate it when english dubs just use the same voice actor for absolutely everything because the character sounds more like johnny yong bosh rather than Ichigo Kurosaki if you understand what I mean so Futari wa precures use of almost exclusively unheard of voice actors and giving them exposure is fantastic. Because these actors have been in virtually nothing before this they have to actually try to act rather than phone it in because everything is riding on this for them and they want nothing more than to be a breakthrough. And Im going to admit it Michelle Molinuex is my favorite voice actor. Her voice is perfect for honoka you can tell shes actually trying really hard and shes an amazing singer for all ten seconds of singing she gets anyway. The rest of the casting is great too though with no real weak or forgettable performances.