Pretear

Pretear

pretear6Himeno Awayuki appears to be living a charmed life. Her father has recently married the wealthiest woman in Japan, they live on their own island and everything is named after them. She goes to an exclusive academy, and has two new stepsisters who are near her age. But Himeno’s new family is indifferent to her, and she is constantly bullied at school. When she thinks things can’t possibly get any worse, she quite literally runs into a very strange (albeit very good looking) man named Hayate who claims he is a Knight of Liefe, born to serve and protect the destined heroine Pretear. Much to Hayate’s dismay and disgust, Himeno is the Pretear he’d been looking for.

Now Himeno has to fight alongside the Knights in order to prevent the world’s life energy (called Liefe) from being sucked away while trying to bring her new family together. It doesn’t help matters that Hayate is her father’s new assistant, and that he is constantly insulting her. Will Himeno ever be fully accepted as the new Pretear?

I remember discovering Pretear many years ago. I’d watched and read a lot of magical girl and shoujo drama at the time and I remember the cover of the DVDs piquing my interest. Once I discovered that it was a combination of romance and magical girl genres as well as taking inspiration from the fairy tale of Snow White, I knew that this one would be right up my street.

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The Leafe Knights were my favourite characters here. Their varying personalities and ages (so glad that they aren’t a massive Leafe harem for Himeno) more than make up for Himeno’s ridiculous family. Her parents are a write-off from the start – not doing anything more than acting stupidly in love until they end up getting captured. Himeno’s ‘wicked’ step-sisters Mayuri and Mawata aren’t more than vehicles for the plot, really. Mayuri is your typical lofty ojou-sama, complete with elaborate pink hair and that “Oh ho ho ho” laugh that immediately indicates which kind of archetype you are dealing with. But this is fine with me, because one of my least favourite characters of all time is actually Mayuri’s younger sister Mawata. She’s mopey about practically nothing and ends up being a pawn for the Princess of Darkness and ends up having to be saved by the very step-sister that she despises. I remember her being one of the first anime characters that I could hardly stand.

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Mirroring the blossoming romance between Himeno and Hayate is the tormented one between Sasame and the Princess of Darkness – the previous Pretear who fell into evil and shadow before Himeno. Even though Sasame pretends that he is happy and positive on the outside, he pines for his lost love and keeps his feelings hidden so well that not even his fellow Leafe Knights know what is in his heart. Using his feelings, the Princess of Darkness is able to lure him to her.

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The animation for Pretear is also above average for TV animation. Every one of Himeno’s transformation sequences is unique, and the CGI filters used for special effects aren’t conspicuous. If there were any parts of the show where the designs and cel-count lagged, they are not noticeable. The opening song by Ishida Yoko is energetic and catchy; an appropriate lead-in for the show, and the rest of the music is just as fantastic. It’s something I remember quite vividly about this series.

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Pretear has incredibly witty dialogue and a truly unpredictable story line, which is very hard to pull off in the magical girl genre. Even the ‘monster of the week’ is integral to the overall story arc, and just as you think you have figured out what is going on, the show throws you for a loop. The character interplay is also very believable and well done. Pretear could have very easily fallen into the ‘everyone is in love with the main heroine’ trap, but it manages to side step it by having all of the Knights vary in age. The younger Knights see her as a really cool big sister, and a couple of the older ones see her more as a friend or equal, and not as a potential girlfriend.

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Pretear is a fairy tale for the new millennium. It is a great combination of classic fairytale and has similar elements to it that make it resonate akin to Sailormoon (and everyone knows I’m a huge fan of this). It’s not just some cheap magical girl scam off, but the main characters hold real warmth and put a great anime spin on a classic fairytale.