All, Review

Hugtto! Precure – Episode 28

Alright everyone, pile on in and welcome to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be returning to the epic trials of Hana and her companions, as the team attempt to find their destinies, save the world, and keep Hugtan happy all at the same time. Our last episode was a particularly charming excursion, featuring the triumphant return of Hana’s father Hug Man, who did his best to make a father out of their homeroom teacher. The episode culminated in a delightfully ridiculous battle outside the hospital, wherein Dr. Traum proved he was at least enough of a gentleman to keep it down for the sake of the babies.

And now, sweet continuity! After a series of episodes that mostly saw the Precures faffing about without much narrative direction, last episode’s conclusion revealed that Traum is actually Lulu’s father (or creator, I’m not really sure of the nomenclature when it comes to robot daughters). With Traum having repeatedly proven he possesses a tad more moral complexity than someone like Charalit, and Harry’s old friends still bound to the will of Criasu Corp, I’m hoping we’ll learn more about our villains’ motivations over the episode to come. But either way, it’s hard to have a bad time watching Hugtto, so let’s get to it!

Episode 28

Hello Hana, and hello to your weird robo-walk as you rush the camera

We open the episode focusing on Homare’s dog, whose name is “Mogumogu.” I can already tell this is going to be a good episode

Mogumogu has… fallen in love with a pet food brand ambassador cat. I suppose even dogs have grand dreams and ambitions

I like the distinctive costumes of the whole cast in the OP. I always appreciate when an anime cast actually has a sense of style and actual wardrobe to draw from, rather than just a default outfit. That necessarily demands a lot more work from the character designers, but it does a terrific job of making the characters and their world feel less static, while also quietly revealing things about their personality through the ways they present themselves

This Abbey Road-style shot of the gang crossing the street is a perfect example. Hana and Emiru dress in loose forms that allow for lots of movement, with their overall style feeling a bit more childish than the rest. In contrast, both Saaya and Lulu have more form-fitting, adult-seeming outfits with heels, befitting their more reserved personalities. Meanwhile, Homare straddles the midpoint of a tomboyish bomber jacket with a skirt below, while Harry brashly announces his presence with an extremely loud blue-and-pink suit. All of their costumes tells us at least a little about their self-image, or what they prioritize in terms of freedom versus elegance

Also love this sequence of the villain squaring off with Hugtan, purely because it is very silly. Watcha gonna do Hugtan, your arms are like four centimeters long

“Catch That Heart! Hooray, Hooray, Mogumogu!” YES DOG ROMANCE EPISODE I AM READY

Saaya is very excited about Mogumogu’s crush

And then Lulu analyzes Mogumogu’s vital signs, deducing the source of his fascination. Lulu applying her robotic faculties to their mundane conflicts is always great; frankly, the contrast between her deadpan affectation, sentimental personality, and superhuman abilities is so naturally, discordantly amusing that it’s hard to conceive of a “bad Lulu episode”

Emiru drops the hard facts: that cat’s a celebrity, way out of Mogumogu’s league

Oh my god, she imagines the cat’s bodyguards as cats too. Bless you Emiru

And now Mogumogu’s in a victory headband, striking poses alongside Hana and Hugtan. This is a special show

The scene ends on a solemn shot of Lulu. I could see this ludicrous conflict tying into Lulu’s personal drama, in that Mogumogu’s quest might end in a “you can’t be a cat, no matter what you desire” conclusion that echoes Lulu’s attempts to become human

Now they’ve put Emiru in a tiny Godzilla costume. 10/10 episode, no notes

Apparently Emiru used this costume to scare her brother long ago. Love the detail of the kaiju costume with crossed-out eyes after he bonks her

“I will bring Mogumogu to the wild side!” says the three inch high hamster

Harry dresses him up like a particularly gaudy ‘80s yakuza

Lulu briefly brings up her misgivings, and now we’ve got a full emotional thread. Doesn’t take much to create a dramatic throughline in an episode, just a couple moments of escalating repetition

“Can Mogumogu’s love truly be requited?” Alone with Emiru later on, Lulu at last shares her natural concerns

Yep, it’s what I expected. She sees herself in Mogumogu, and doubts her ability to connect with her human friends

Some really beautiful backgrounds for this sequence, as well as more ambitious camerawork, like this near-perspective shot essentially setting Emiru as the setting sun. This team always goes all-out for these two

Aw, these two. Their friendship really is more fully realized than any other relationship in this show; this scene alone sees Emiru demonstrating awareness of Lulu’s unspoken feelings, sensitivity in listening to her concerns, and a thoughtful response reflective of their unique relationship. Delightful to see Hugtto articulating the give-and-take of actively sharing and respecting your partner’s feelings

Meanwhile, Bishin’s on the hunt

Emiru and Lulu put on a goddamn concert for the dog

Ahaha, even Hana refers to the other defeated villains as “Papple’s minions” at this point. Sorry boys, if you wanted to make more of an impression, you should have conducted your own doomed love affair with the final boss

Of course, she’s got her own shades-wearing dog who’s competing for the advertisement spot. This show certainly knows not to waste a good villain!

Conceptually, it’s not that surprising that former antagonists frequently make for excellent future friends/rivals/lovers/etc. While friendship between fictional characters can easily be assumed through generic friendly language, your hated rival generally possesses a much closer relationship with you. They hate you for your strengths, scorn you for your weaknesses, and frequently gauge their own worth in terms of their relationship to you. Additionally, they tend to be the people who see you at your weakest, and vice versa, and thus have learned to “accept” all of you. When a former villain turns to the heroes’ side, there’s generally a massive amount of mutual history and understanding that can now inform their relationship as friends

God fucking damnit. They do a whole “seductive leading man eyes” thing with Papple’s contestant Haru, and the judges are uniformly won over by his charms. What is this episode

Mogumogu almost chokes in the physical contest, but the sight of his lady love propels him to victory. I feel weird just describing the events of this episode

Ooh, Bishin’s got a wonderful requisition cut. Love the use of their bandages to facilitate a sort of ribbon dance

“Owners, please pretend to be attacked by our burglar machine.” What

The burglar machine predictably gets negative power-infused, but frankly, it was terrifying right from the start

Papple trips on her heels and is immediately abandoned. Papple and her minions are essentially this show’s Team Rocket at this point, and Papple herself makes for an excellent Jessie

And as the beast approaches a young girl, Mogumogu sees his chance for heroism! Go to her, gallant Mogumogu!

“Harry is our friend!” “We may be different species, but our bonds are true!” Saaya helpfully articulates the third representation of this episode’s central theme

Aw shit, the cat Lily actually lives with the girl Mogumogu saved. COULD LOVE STILL BE IN THE AIR???

And Done

Oh my god that episode was so good. What the hell happened back at Toei, that they are now offering us such dementedly charming episodes one after another. Centering an episode on the star-crossed romance of a humble dog and a celebrity cat was already a perfect conceit, but then this episode went above and beyond in its embracing of Mogumogu’s absurd journey, while also offering us a bunch of great Emiru/Lulu material. And Papple was even there, having clearly settled into her role as the team rival. With a surfeit of ridiculous ideas and plenty of great individual character moments, Mogumogu’s adventure counts a clear high point in the Huggto journey!

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