New Anime

Hugtto! Precure – Episode 42

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to dive back into Hugtto! Precure, where I’m frankly hoping for some kind of irreverent, nonsensical side adventure, perhaps one starring our former villains and the hamster villagers or something. After the one-two punch of Traum’s reunion with Lulu and Emiru’s grappling with this story’s conclusion, I’m just not sure my heart could take much more of the heavy stuff. Can’t we just hang out and maybe beat up an Oshimaeda or something?

Of course, given last episode’s allusions to Henri’s physical injuries, I imagine we’re actually on the verge of a heel turn by our young ice skater. And to be honest, I’m actually fine with that. I’ve long felt that Henri’s character and arc embodied Hugtto’s most thoughtful instincts, exploring not just the difficulty of defining yourself outside of society’s expectations, but also the challenges of aging out of your preferred self-image, and grappling with the frequently undesirable changes of puberty and adulthood. Henri carries Hugtto’s general focus on finding hope for the future into challenging, deeply personal territory, and him stumbling here would serve as a natural continuation of the world-weary ambiguity that has always attended his episodes. Let’s see what’s in store in a fresh episode of Hugtto!

Episode 42

A cold open emphasizes the importance of an upcoming skating event, where both Homare and Henri will be competing to appear in the championships. Not one to miss an opportunity to wear a fun hat, Hana takes this chance to transform into a full artist getup complete with beret, as she paints advertisements for the coming showdown

Hana’s drawings of Henri emphasize his embracing of androgyny and typically feminine accessories, with a prominent bow and tiara. It’s never acknowledged directly, but Henri’s story seems almost unmistakably intended as an allegory for embracing your sexual identity, as most clearly articulated through the journey of Emiru’s brother

That subtheme makes sense given Hugtto’s general concerns; “embrace hope for the future” means “embrace change,” and Emiru’s conservative grandfather has already been characterized as an antagonist specifically because of his refusal to accept new modes of presentation and personal bonds for his grandchildren

“One Yell For Another! This Is My Cheer!” So will Henri briefly consider embracing Criasu, but ultimately resolve to accept his changing body with grace and cheer for Homare?

Henri immediately rejects Hana’s costume designs, saying that “they’ll be too hard to skate in.” He nonetheless appreciates Hana coming to understand his aesthetic sensibilities

“This is Wakamiya Henri. Nice to meet you.” Henri often seems a bit more mature and self-confident than the other characters, which makes sense – he’s likely used to being challenged on his presentation, and has had to develop a thicker skin earlier as a result. But he hasn’t let that make him cynical; instead, he tries to foster confidence in others, and make that same road easier for them. He’s a really good guy

As the girls mob Henri, Emiru’s brother Masato rushes in to defend him. I feel like their grandfather is going to end up funding some “Precure made my kids gay” political campaign

“It’s not the same Homare’s skating, but I can’t say it’s all bad.” Henri’s comments on Homare’s skating seem intended to assuage his worries about his own, something that Homare immediately picks up on

“I’ve already had the surgeries. They told me competing as an athlete would be difficult. But I just want to do this last one.” This aspect of Henri’s journey also feels unusually sharp-edged – finding your dream is difficult enough, but what if you find your dream, begin to pursue it, and are then arbitrarily denied the ability to continue? As with his gender presentation, Henri is being forced to deal with life’s disappointments younger than his peers – he’s dealing with the sort of necessity-of-reinvention drama that characterizes Hugtto’s former villains, all while still a young teenager

“Just let me be Wakamiya Henri until the last moment.” An indication of how deeply he identifies with skating – Henri is a skater, and when he finishes this competition, he’s unsure who he’ll even be anymore

Risutol awakes from what looks to be some sort of cryogenic container. Like the other hamsters, it seems he is still burdened with whatever plague forced them to side with Criasu

Ooh, nice background as we return to Hana by the seashore. Always pleasant just spending time in this world of soft watercolor pastels

Oh hey, it’s Charalit. Maybe he’ll add some irreverent nonsense to this increasingly heavy episode!

“Even the tiniest little comment, ‘hey keep it up,’ is enough to keep me smiling!” Nope, he’s just here with some thoughtful advice on how our assumptions regarding helping others are often wildly out of step with their actual feelings

“Your cheers are plenty cool! Believe in yourself a bit more, okay?” Charalit paying back the encouragement Hana once offered him. His reflection that “even those who seem confident sometimes need encouragement” applies to both Henri and Hana herself – even Hana, who is defined by her capacity to inspire others, needs to be inspired once in a while

“One last time, the Prince of Skating, Wakamiya Henri, will take the ice and win!” Henri recites his intention to his reflection in the glass, willing himself to maintain that familiar reflection for just a little while longer


At the hospital he can barely speak, but still manages to ask if anyone else was hurt. You’re too good for this world, Henri!

“And here I always thought it would end on the ice…” He is denied even the chance to end his career on his own terms. If he accepts Criasu’s offer, it’ll be hard to blame him

Even Henri can hardly keep his poise at this turn, eventually telling his friends to leave so they don’t see him cry

“Why did this have to happen? At least let it end on the ice!” Henri had come to accept that this was the end of his skating career, but having his cathartic final performance denied is just too cruel. How can he happily move on from this, with his dreams ending in a senseless whimper?

“If only I had started getting my ankle treated sooner! If only I’d left the house earlier! If only… if only… if only…” The randomness of failure is one of the most painful things about it. Ten thousand things could have gone differently and resulted in Henri still skating on that ice, but our narrative-minded dreams of “personal destiny” are often thwarted by the ultimately chaotic nature of the universe. Life does not care for destined ends; it will come at you sideways at the most inopportune moments, painfully reminding you that you have only so much control

And in his moment of despair, Risutol appears

Aw jeez. And of course, Risutol gets to empower his latest Oshimaeda with an entire stadium’s worth of despair

The resulting Oshimaeda takes on the form of a lily, echoing Henri’s general symbolism. Lilies are often used to represent purity or innocence – a flower that blooms briefly in youth, like Henri’s talents

A perpetual source of amusement to me, how Emiru and Lulu are forced to share a quarter of the screen during these mass transformation sequences. You should have gotten in earlier if you wanted better seats, girls!

“Do not think I led him down this path against his will.” Like Risutol himself, Henri was forced to embrace Criasu for his own reasons

“Who are you?” And now Risutol doesn’t even recognize Harry

“Perhaps you wish to say ‘This is not the Wakamiya Henri we wanted’?” Risutol echoes both Henri’s fears and Charalit’s earlier advice. We often cannot realize how significant simple gestures of support can be to the people we love

Hana admits that she doesn’t actually know what to say to make this better, she just can’t help but want to cheer Henri on when he’s sad. Sometimes that’s all you can do – there are no “right words,” no way to actually fix a situation, only your ability to be beside a friend in need

“I can only imagine how much it hurts. But to destroy your own future… don’t say such things!” Their greatest challenge yet, finding hope in the future even after your dreams have been denied. Sometimes hope is all you have – senseless, directionless hope, an indomitable belief that things will one day be better than today

Driven on by their support, Henri realizes that even more than the skating, it was making people feel happy through his efforts that truly inspired him

The girls join together to attack Henri’s cage, but it is crucially Henri himself who breaks through, reaching out to join hands with Hana

And Henri gets his own goddamn Precure transformation, as he switches into the costume Hana designed for him! He even picks his own Precure name, designating himself “Cure Infini.” A natural expansion of Hugtto’s themes, and a perfect evolution of Henri’s story – he can be anything he wants to, including a Precure

Even the Oshimaeda is flustered by Henri blowing it a kiss. Dude’s just too suave

Masato catches Henri as he falls from his dreamlike final dance. These two are adorable

Back at Criasu, George is actually impressed by Yell’s success, by how “like Mother” she is

And Henri even gives Hana’s name a new meaning, stating how “Yell” is like the French “aile” for wings

And Done

Fantastic work, team! Henri’s stories have consistently been some of the most poignant, sharp, and thematically charged adventures in Hugtto, and this episode sent him off in style, embracing everything that has made his journey so special. Henri was able to find hope for the future without abandoning his fundamentally sarcastic nature, accepting that his dreams as a skater might be behind him, but holding faith that he will still be himself, regardless of his body’s changes over time. Seeing him actually become a Precure also felt like the ideal conclusion to his character’s persistent challenging of conservative, binary concepts of gender and sexuality; ankle problems or not, he is still a shining star of nonconformity, and an inspiration to everyone around him. The future is yours, Henri – now take a rest, you’ve clearly earned it.

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.