Pretear: New Legend of Snow White
Awayuki Himeno 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 the same age as her. 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?
Just say the phrase, and most anime fans run for the hills screaming. You either love them or hate them. Only once in a while is there a magical girl show that reinvents the genre, and can appeal to both girls and boys, no matter their age. Sailor Moon was one such show, and now, ten years later, we have Himeno, who is in every way a non-typical mahou shoujo as Usagi/Serena is.
Himeno is SCARY. She is loud, spazzy, tough as nails, swears like a sailor, and not afraid to beat the Knights into submission! (Well, ok, so it's only Hayate she beats up.) But she's also very sweet, empathetic and determined. She may not like the idea of being a Pretear, and thinks it's perverted to merge with a Knight as she transforms, but she doesn't fully reject her duties. The Knights are also not your typical bishounen harem. Hayate is a snarky bastard, Sasame has no concept of 'personal space', and Kei, by far the prettiest of the bunch. is an incredibly vain and successful ... video game programmer!
The animation for Pretear is also above average for TV animation. Every one of her 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. I so want the soundtrack!
Best of all is the writing and directing. 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. It has just the right balance of humor, romance and drama, and the directing (by Satou Junichi of Sailor Moon and Magic User's Club fame) is fantastic - not overdone, not rushed, just perfect. I think we shouldn't expect anything less from Satou, with the track record he's put together in the last decade.
The only flaw I can find with Pretear is that is it so short. I would have loved to have seen more! However, the show tells the story it set out to tell in the time given and wraps it up nicely. Pretear is a fairy tale for the new millennium, and it wasn't meant to be the new Sailor Moon. Had Pretear continued beyond episode thirteen, it probably would have been stretched too thin. It is far better to have thirteen episodes of great anime than twenty-six episodes of a mediocre one.
Even THEMers who claw their eyes out at the mere mention of magical girl anime adore this show. In fact, it was none other than our own Jason Bustard, who definitely does NOT like 'girly' anime, who strongly recommended this title to me in the first place. To be honest, if that right there isn't a prime example of how special Pretear: New Legend of Snow White is, then I don't know what is!
Definitely not your mother's magical girl show! — Christi
Recommended Audience: Since it's a magical girl show, there is the standard nudie magical transformation sequence (but nothing is detailed or graphic) and monsters turning into dust. But the last couple of episodes are more intense than the rest of the series. There is one on-screen death of a main character, and the action gets pretty rough, but it's never graphic and surprisingly bloodless. It's about on par as the later episodes of Sailor Moon, which means it's fine for those over seven.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Pretear: New Legend of Snow White © 2001 HAL Film
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