For all five of you who read the last review no doubt are wondering something(maybe) and that is Pretear is a weird way to spell Gata-Pishi. Don't worry I haven't had a massive brain hemorrhage and forgotten how to spell,yet. No, apparently Glass Wings is the only one of Misuzu Asaoka's works that has any form of translation and I can't read Japanese. So instead we'll continue our journey through the land of Shojo with Pretear.
Pretear comes to us courtesy of Junichi Sato who serves as the manga's writer and Chief Director. He's probably better know for his work on fellow Magical girl shows Sailor Moon and Princess Tutu. Though he had no part in writing those books. He's also responsible for great comedies like Sgt Frog and abysmal ones like Slayers Premium.
The show is loosely based on the legend of Snow White and asks what if the seven dwarfs were good looking men. Hey get back here,I know that does sound a little silly but I swear it's not what you think.The story has some surprising depth dealing with loss of a parent and identity in ways I would not think a show like this would handle it. Sadly it is marred by some shallow ends,which you will see as we go on. So is Pretear worth your time or did I waste twenty bucks at a used bookstore?
As I mentioned about three sentences ago,the story does get some depth but sadly it's mostly on the character side and leaves the story to play out as a typical magical girl show. It follows the monster of the week plot,introduces a dark magical girl and then ramps up for a decent ending. It actually flows well and while it is a bit by the numbers it manages to be interesting. The big hook is the transformations which are done by combining with one of the seven bishonen knights. This gives her a separate costume and power. It's similar to the later(and decidedly more sexual) Uta Kata .The different costumes do lead to a few scenes that screams we wanted to show this costume off this episode.. Love is a big component in this show and as such it contains a few love triangles. To the shows credit, it is worked seamlessly into the story and adds to some characters.
The Snow White connections are are more thematic and character based than truly story based(with exceptions). There is the obvious seven dwarfs to knights all with a predominant element as opposed to a temperament. Sato himself compared the life force,Leafe,to the poison apple from the original story with one half of the apple giving and the other half taking life. The other ties to the plot and characters will come up later in the review.
The plot doesn't pull any real horse hockey outside of the ending. Even then it comes of as more of the didn't say it couldn't happen or makes sense if you remember Snow White. The show does shine in it's more comedic moments with some great running jokes,slapstick and refuge in audacity. A particularly great moment is the chauffeur taking casually to these massive animals while everyone else is panicking. Though maybe only I find that funny. However it does go into the darker elements with little mood whiplash. Overall it's entertaining and serves as a nice backdrop for the much better characters.
Himeno is our leading lady and predictably is one of the more developed characters. She's fairly mature for a sixteen year old but they characterize her as odd any way so that just adds to the it. She's also given above average strength and uses it to great comedic effect .Her willingness to take up the Pretear mantle does show how much she wants to be needed. As the series progresses she does cling to this role(detrimentally)and her short depowering gives her perspective on family and her own self worth. By the end she becomes the strong person she was destined to be and fulfills her role as a Pretear..
The secondary female role is played by our dark magic girl,The Princess of Destruction. She plays the evil queen analogue here with a more tragic bent. Right now I'm going to just throw up a spoiler warning for this entire part because to talk about her is massive spoiler territory. I'll mark when they end for the people who don't want the story ruined.
Now we come to the Seven Knights who are the protectors of life and help Himeno along the way. They are Hayate,Sasame,Go Kei, Mannen,Shin and Hajime all with various degrees of characterization. The main two are Hayate and Sasame who are interconnected in terms of powers wind and sound respectively. They are also a big part of the love connections that run through out the show. They are a shining example of what the anime excels at and that is personal relationships. Without saying anything it is easy to tell that these two are close friends. However they are used to show how you can not truly know somebody even if you think you do. They do have the more angsty of the back stories being involved in a love triangle with a former Pretear. However I still liked them as they felt like people and it never felt melodramatic. The remaining 5 knights have base personalities and their interactions are nice if lacking. They all play off of Himeno well enough that this isn't a huge issue. I guess it's the curse of not being a true lead of which only Mawata escapes.
Speaking of Mawata,Himeno's family also plays a mid-sized role in this tale. Her father,step mother, and stepsisters along with a chauffeur and a maid comprise the household. I will say those last two are more comic relief and semi-mentor respectively and leave it at that. The older stepsister,Mayune, gets nothing in personalty besides being a jealous jerk Her father and mother bring more of the great relationship pie to the table playing the part of love struck newly weds. It is sadly under utilized as we see some hints of bigger issues that are never explored. They are a good example of how broken their family is literally and figuratively. They are never abusive just stupid,failing to realize that their daughters are hurting. Himeno also has this friend who is a romance novel otaku and her silly theories on love are actually pretty funny,nothing else to say about her.
Moving on...wait I'm forgetting something,eh probably nothing.
Oh yeah Mawata the best supporting character in this show. She gets to deal with the death of her father and what happens when you try and be the emotional rock for too long. Her struggle with grief and identity are central to the show. Even when she begins to open up to Himeno, a relatively minor incident sends her off the edge. This along with her inability to communicate with her family and never properly grieving her father opens her up to manipulation by the Princess of Destruction. Her attraction to Sasame is lovely as they both have the same problems but fall into the same pitfalls due to their own stoic traits.
There isn't much to say about the art: The girls are cute,the guys are hot and the monsters are terrifying. It's animated well and looks good for a 2001 anime The various costumes worn by Himeno are great looking and not to ostentatious,Ice and Sound being my personal favorites. They reflect the person she combined with wonderfully and her last dress is fantastic in it's simplicity. Even her regular casual wear is really nice with the colors complimenting each other. The rest of the cast dress like you'd expect them to with the knights getting suitable fighting clothes based on their role and element. There is also a subtle nod to the original story's dwarf house that I thought was clever despite it being a tad out of place.
What have we learned today besides useless trivia about a director? That Pretear is actually an enjoyable watch and a great entry into the Magical Girl genre. That aside if you like magical girl then go out and find this sucker and if you hate it then you probably haven't read all the way down here, you losers. Oh and this probably won't endear you to the genre.If you're neutral to this type of show then also check it out.
Till next time: Don't die.
As always comments,requests and death threats are welcome and encouraged
Next time:Something completely different.