Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to dive back into Hugtto! Precure, as we race towards the conclusion of this heartwarming, far-reaching journey. After coming to know our heroes, their ambitions, and their whole larger community over the course of various adventures, our last few episodes have seen histories unveiled and secrets revealed, as we came to know the fate of Harihari Village, the true identity of Listol, and the nature of the bond uniting Lulu and Dr. Traum.
Beyond simply filling in our missing backstory, those episodes have also proven some of the most emotionally impactful of the show so far. Our last episode in particular was a major highlight, merging Lulu’s consistently poignant personal growth with Traum’s misguided yet deeply human desire to regain his lost daughter. The two of them struggling towards a shared idea of family was a painful, hesitant, and deeply sincere process – in other words, it was Hugtto at its best, hoping for a happier future while acknowledging the road forward is littered with hurdles and disappointments. Let’s see what awaits our crew next in a fresh episode of Hugtto!
We open on the sobering realization that concluded our previous episode, as the gang commiserates over the fact that Harry, Hugtan, and Lulu will eventually all have to return to the future
Granted, considering the age difference between Hugtan and Cure Tomorrow, it’s not like they’re traveling that far into the future – perhaps twelve to fifteen years at most. I’m sure that seems like an impossibly long time to our young heroes, but by the time you get to adulthood, a decade between friends isn’t the biggest deal
The fact that Lulu doesn’t age could also be a problem, but Traum’s statements from last episode seem to mitigate that issue – he’s already stated that she was designed to age up maturity-wise over time, and could presumably have her body retrofitted to match her evolving personality
In-episode, Emiru is basically repeating the same process I am here, seeking ways to rationalize or reject this inevitability. You can’t split these two up, Hugtto!
After Lulu flatly declares she is returning to the future, Emiru replies “well of course you are” with an exaggerated smile, attempting to act strong for her friend’s sake. You’re so brave, Emiru!
“Emiru’s Dream. Your Soul Will Shout!” Oh no, this episode’s gonna break me
“I’m a hero. My feelings…” You shouldn’t have to reject your own needs to be a hero, Emiru!
Over at Criasu, we see Bishin staring out across a vast chamber filled with glass medical vats, Listol suspended in one of them. The hamsters seem to have only survived by embracing George’s philosophy – becoming essentially suspended in amber, living without moving forward
The animators clearly love Bishin’s design. Rich shading and luscious hair as they rage over everyone they love leaving them
As Kotori greets Emiru on their way to school, we see that Emiru has adopted some kind of bizarre cat face affectation
Kotori informs Hana and Saaya that Emiru is broken
“Save the future… there’s no doubt that’s what we want to do. But if we do so, Lulu, Harry, and Hugtan will have to go.” Obviously most adolescents don’t have to grapple with the imminent return of their friends to some future timeline, but coming to accept that unwelcome change and personal separation are also a part of growing up fits neatly within Hugtto’s overall thematic wheelhouse. That’s frankly one of the hardest things about time’s passage for me personally – I am most comfortable with a regular, adjacent community of close friends, and have a tough time maintaining that effortless familiarity with people once time draws us apart. Eventually you come to understand that turnover of your day-to-day personal relations is an inevitable fact of life, but until you graduate from high school (or middle school, for many Japanese children), it’s easy to avoid considering that the relationships you consider fundamental to your daily life, even to your own identity, will eventually alter as you each go off on your own paths
Henri asks Homare what’s wrong. We better be getting another big Henri episode before this show is done – he’s one of the show’s best characters, and we last left him on a dramatic cliffhanger regarding a potential alliance with Criasu
“It’s not really something that can be fixed.” Yep. Attempting to cling to a vanishing comfortable paradigm will only limit your ability to embrace everything the future might offer
Meanwhile, Bishin is off… spearheading potential business partnerships for Criasu? What do Criasu even produce, beyond monsters and negative energy waves? So I assume they’re hitting up defense contractors?
Apparently this CEO is Emiru’s grandfather
Hana decides the only way to fix Emiru is to dress up in a kappa costume. Sure, why not
“Oh, I get it, that’s what passes for a joke in your world.” Just an absolute merciless burn by Henri
“No, I can’t. Everyone’s being so brave. I have to be brave too.” Oh, Emiru. Always taking the weight on herself, always trying to live up to her lofty ideal of heroism. Her friends would actually prefer it if she let the pain out and admitted to her ostensibly “selfish” feelings, but she of course thinks that would be a betrayal of their own efforts to be strong
And having failed to share her feelings with the one who shares her heart, Emiru’s Mirai Crystal disappears
Her voice is also gone, a fitting curse for the girl who’s always expressed her true feelings through song
The gang swiftly calls Popple to inform her of the situation. I’d sorta forgotten she was actually their band manager, nice to see that thread maintained
Even now, Emiru is apologizing for causing a scene. She’s just too damn selfless!
Suddenly her grandfather stomps in, certain Emiru’s problems are all stemming from “this guitar nonsense”
“You should stay with just us, your family, from now on. Then you wouldn’t have to go through such hardship.” Her grandfather essentially preaches the same doctrine as Criasu: change is painful, so it’s better to remain in stasis, where you at least cannot experience further suffering
He jumps directly from “this is for her well-being” to “Emiru, put my poor heart at peace” without a hint of self-awareness
“Can’t you go back to being the good little girl I once knew!?” The cry of every conservative parent whose children have outgrown their view of the world
“Don’t use family as an excuse to smother people’s hearts!” Emiru’s brother demonstrating his laudable growth throughout this series
“To be touched by another’s heart and have it open the door to a whole new world… No one, not even family, can stand in the way of that.” Gallant words. And considering his bond with Henri, this obviously applies to far more than just preferring electric guitars to classical instruments. The bigoted parents of queer youth will frequently blame their children’s friends for “poisoning them,” refusing to accept their own narrow philosophy simply cannot withstand the illuminating influence of a broader, kinder world
Such a good moment for Masato! His journey across this series has been one of its quiet highlights
And Emiru roars, taking Lulu’s hand and embracing her feelings!
And of course, this conservative grandpa becomes our next Oshimaeda. Some really powerful subtext to the older generation attempting to sever the bonds between Masato and Henri, or Emiru and Lulu. It still is subtext, but it’s hard not to draw a progressive takeaway from this illustration of young folks with ambiguous gender relations rebelling against the ideal of being “polite, perfect children”
His oshimaeda form is an octopus with their house atop it – the expectations of their grand family lineage articulated as a beast using its tentacles to drag them back to their traditions
Lulu takes a powerful blow for Emiru!
“Don’t mess with a best friend’s heart-to-heart talk!” Magical girl shows are really something special
“Is it really okay to burden you like this?” To the end, Emiru still refusing to “burden” others with her own desires
And so Emiru admits her “selfish” desire to stay with Lulu, and Lulu relates her desire to share their music and love with the people of the future
Their foe is thus swiftly defeated, and the Twin Love concert goes off without a hitch
The group share a collective cry backstage, prompted by Lulu’s own sadness over leaving. The separation of aging is hard!
We end on the cruelest of stingers, as Henri fails another jump and once again looks towards that Criasu business card
The hits keep coming! With an episode concept as painful and universal as “the inevitability of separation on the path to adulthood,” this episode was already dealing in some weighty territory, but using that theme as an affirmation for not just Emiru and Lulu, but even Masato’s journey pushed this one right up into the top tier. Hugtto has never felt more urgent than it did during Masato’s speech, more determined to promote the cause of a brighter future in tangible, socially relevant terms. And through the difficult process of Emiru coming to accept this eventual separation, both the inherent tragedies of aging and the significance of Emiru’s bond with Lulu were validated with compassion and understanding. We do indeed lose things as we grow up, but we have to hold onto faith in a brighter future – and that we’ll meet again one day, somewhere down the road.