Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today an overbearing cloud bank promises an altogether gloomy afternoon, so I’ve decided to rally against the weather with a sunny episode of Hugtto! Precure. Our last episode offered a generous buffet of Halloween-centric designs and festivities, while once again offering a humanizing splash of frustration and regret to the show’s former villains. While Hugtto’s young leads are largely preoccupied with the intimidating open canvas of their encroaching adult lives, its older villains serve as an encouraging reminder that even adulthood is a process rife with mistakes and reinvention, and that nothing about our future is ever truly set in stone.
Whether in context of the Precure’s villains or their parents and community guardians, I remain greatly appreciative of Hugtto’s acknowledgment of the conflicts and anxieties that carry on into our adult lives. The show celebrates finding a place you belong without framing dreams as destiny, a balancing act that encourages exploration and self-discovery rather than anxiety over your “one true path.” Let’s see where their passions take our heroes next as we return to Hugtto!
We open on Hugtan demonstrating new talents, as she stands, sings, and dances all at once
“Hugtan just keeps on growing, thanks to you all.” Hugtan serves as a living example of the pride and satisfaction that come from dedicating yourself to your work, be that work parenting or anything else. Though Hugtto encourages exploring widely to discover your passions and proficiencies, it also emphasizes the counterbalancing fact that finding the joy in some pursuit often takes time – both the skills needed for and rewards gleaned from many activities must be nurtured to be fully realized. It’s one of the reasons young students are often assigned plants to grow and take care of; it’s difficult to understand how satisfying steady labor with a clear goal can be until you’ve seen the fruit of that labor flower in front of you
Harry still seems to be in a somber mood, but then Lulu and Emiru totally crash his pity party with a mountain of pancakes
Excellent Hana face as she takes a massive bite of pancakes, leading into a unique static fuzz effect as the party is mysteriously transported elsewhere
Oh my god, they’ve been teleported to Harihari Township, Harry’s hamster hometown. This is going to be an incredible episode
“For the future… Together Into Tomorrow!” An episode title that describes Hugtto so broadly it makes me assume we’re moving into the endgame, with this disturbance serving as our entrance to the show’s final act
Omigod, their whole township is like five tiny buildings on a mound in a vacant lot
Emiru immediately poisons the hamsters with her terrible pancakes
There are so many of them! “Just, like, all the hamsters we can fit,” what a good episode pitch
Harry attempting to make an ominous expression with his little hamster face never fails to impress
A brief jump to Criasu HQ catches George asking Listol “do you hate me?” Yep, seems like we’re honing in on the relationship of our final antagonists as well
But enough of that, let’s get back to the adorable hamsters. We’ve got baby hamsters asking Harry to give them piggyback rides! We’ve got lop-eared hamsters pulling on Hana’s stretchy cheeks!
Suddenly the hamsters collapse in unison, all seemingly stricken by some mysterious illness. Bishin is here as well, and seems to believe that Dr. Traum and Criasu Corp will save them. So I assume the hamsters were basically forced into wage slavery by Criasu in order to stave off the effects of this illness? That is a remarkably bleak backstory for a village of talking hamsters
Jeez, jumping to bank footage a mere five minutes into the episode. Are we in for an episode-long battle of some kind?
They’re barely shortening the transformations at all this time either, which frequently means the rest of the episode will be lavished with particularly impressive cuts of animation. A fairly common trick in Toei shows and otherwise, to save animator time with an under-animated or bank-reliant first half in order to properly prioritize a visually taxing second half. I can’t count the number of One Piece episodes I’ve watched where the relative lack of animation in their first half actually serves as a way of hyping up whatever spectacle was approaching
“I’ll save you for sure!” In a brief flashback, we see Harry fleeing with a Precure, attempting to preserve his future’s hope. So I’m guessing this Precure is actually Hugtan, who presumably reversed in age when Harry journeyed back to Hana’s era
It seems to be a trend for these shows to have baby characters who ultimately age up to join the main cast as full allies. I suppose that speaks to the expected ages and experiences of their audiences – many of Precure’s viewers presumably have very young siblings who they currently see more as pure dependents than people, but when you’re only five years old yourself, it doesn’t take that long for a baby to become a proper sibling
“Pain, pain, go away!” Hugtan can really talk at this point! They’ve done an excellent job of gradually improving her vocabulary and grasp of sentences
Listol has trapped the Precures in a dimension of visual illusions and staircases to nowhere: The Infinite Labyrinth. A prison designed to embody the sensation of constantly exerting effort but getting nowhere, the most fundamental professional fear realized as a physical maze
“Dr. Traum’s invention. A little overly fancy, but that is his way.” And we love him for it. Still reeling from his sound-proofed robot he designed for fighting in the vicinity of the nursery
HOLY SHIT LISTOL IS A HAMSTER. LISTOL HAS BEEN A HAMSTER THIS WHOLE TIME
I guess that explains George’s question earlier
HAMSTER BATTLE. THEY’RE SQUARING OFF, THEY’RE THROWING DOWN
My god this is amazing. Bless you Hugtto
I was expecting a dynamically executed battle, but could not possibly have guessed that battle would be between two hamster combatants. This show is too good to us
And with Hugtan guiding them, the Precure break free of the labyrinth!
Really liking the layouts in this episode overall; lots of long shots that create a strong sense of space, mixed with stark battle-ready profile shots
Also nice dramatic shading on our heroes as Listol reveals the true, bleak face of this city
Nice choreography combined with a touch of soft focus as Listol summons an Oshimaeda. I imagine this cut will be cropping up a few times as Listol takes over episodic opponent duties
I wasn’t really serious when I guessed this episode’s early bank sequences were preceding an episode-long battle, but apparently I also wasn’t wrong!
“This is not Criasu’s fault. The future cannot simply deliver us the world we were dreaming of.” In a flashback, Traum seems genuinely sympathetic to the plight of these poor hamsters
Listol’s position also seems understandable – having once attempted to seize the future alongside his community and seen his dreams turn to ash, he now believes only the overwhelming power of Criasu can offer salvation. Still a little unclear what precisely happened to this hamster village, but I suppose a children’s show can only go so far in depicting the tragic ruin and destruction of a village of adorable animals
Sometimes all you have is hope, but that just so happens to be Hana’s specialty
“Harry! Even if you helped Criasu in the past, your future can be different!” A line that lands with real impact coming from Lulu, and a welcome reprise of Hugtto’s general insistence that even as an adult, your future is always malleable and within your control
“I made up my mind to believe in the future. Overwhelming power or not.” This episode is really demonstrating Harry’s strength too, that he fled from this hopeless future and still mustered the optimism to draw our whole Precure team together
“What would a child like you know!?” After maintaining his cool affect for so long, seeing Listol snap like this really emphasizes the sense of hurt and despair informing his allegiance to Criasu
Some nice ambitious camerawork as these two exchange blows. Their combat is different from the show’s usual style – rather than focusing on effects and shading, this is all single color fills and simple line art, making it much easier to facilitate swooping camera movement
“I have no use for a future filled with despair.” Rather than accepting ruin, Listol would prefer no future at all
Having come to cherish Hugtan’s progress and take pride in her own part in supporting it, Hana now frames her hopes for the future in terms of Hugtan’s development, saying she loves the future because that’s where Hugtan will reach her full potential
A massive deity-like Precure appears, to which Listol offers the curious exclamation “Mother!”
Neat trick of making this celestial Precure seem all the more ethereal through the absence of line art
Having his hope rekindled, Listol can now admit that he truly despises George
And we end on Dr. Traum stopping by, hoping to reconnect with his daughter. Just one confrontation after another!
Whoof, what a tumultuous episode! That frankly felt like it could have been the series conclusion, what with the reveal of Harry’s backstory, battle across dimensions, and ultimate summoning of the gargantuan Mother Precure. As expected, the episode’s heavy helping of bank footage was indeed followed by a marvelous bounty of action choreography and storyboarding, with lots of actual martial back-and-forth and a variety of distinctive aesthetic flourishes. And beyond its visual generosity, the human (well, hamster technically) despair of Listol solidified his position in the pantheon of sympathetic Hugtto villains, as a man (well, hamster) who’s simply experienced too much loss to bear the agony of new hope denied. A bombastic and character-rich episode, and one that’s clearly setting us on a crash course for Hugtto’s dramatic conclusion. Excellent work, Pretty Cure!