Pretear Volume 4

Prétear has been a fun, if slightly melodramatic series; bringing the kind of adult themes to a genre previously dominated by pretty dresses and funny hair-cuts.

Picking us up where the last volume left off, Sasame’s defection to the ‘Princess of Disaster’ is still yet to really sink in to the Leafe Knights. Dazed, hurt and confused, Himeno has left home to help prevent her family becoming involved, but alas, it’s not long before she’s called into action again.
For Mawata has now been isolated for days; and with no one around to notice her pain, she is just sinking deeper into depression.
Sensing this darkness in Mawata’s heart, the ‘Princess of Disaster’ becomes set on twisting Mawata’s despair into her own devious devices.

In a way, I was sad to see Prétear concluding in this way after only 13 episodes. The story could have really used at least another 13 episodes, if just to add a few more layers onto the already complicated characterization. Prétear is littered with little sub-plots and dramatic moments that really deserve more time to be fully developed.

Taking for example the relationship between Hayate and Sasame; the friction between these two is barely hinted at until the last few episodes or so, when Sasame finally snaps and defects over to the evil side.
Sasame’s multi-layered personality could have really used a few extra episodes of development, especially since he is perhaps the most interesting and conflicted character in Prétear.

That’s not to say Prétear isn’t an accomplished anime series. For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed this. The moments of comedy are well scripted, the Leafe Knights are a likable bunch and the dramatic scenes carry a strong punch.

Prétear was never really about the action, and it seems fitting that the story would conclude on a suitably down-beat note; with Himeno et all winning battles not physically– but psychologically. While the world crumbles around her, it’s great to see Himeno stick to her gut reactions right the way through until the end.

So for what its worth, did Prétear finish well?
I would say yes, though it would be have been cool to see the theme of ultimate sacrifice carried through with proper conviction. And while the love story between Himeno and Hayate feels a little tacked on and “plastic’, the majority of the finale is understandable and perhaps even moving.

What did I take from my time with Prétear? For one, a fine unit of characters that are both likable and realistic. And I was impressed with how the story attempted to tackle adult issues (such as depression) without forcing an easy answer.
Just as convoluted were the villains, who were given real motivation for their actions– and as a result; felt ‘wronged’ and conflicted, instead of just being a cliché ‘evil’ person for the sake of the story.
Not forgetting that the music, which does well to add emotion to the serious and important scenes.

Really, my only problems with Prétear are the limitations and clichés taken from its “Magical Girl’ roots. Thanks to these, Prétear will often end up being lumped in alongside the likes of Sailor Moon, when really, what we have here is a much more psychological and adult take on the Magical Girl genre.

In Summary

At its best, Prétear is an enthralling drama anime, which just happens to contain things like demons and knights.
And to be honest, I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed watching it; seeing the characters grow and emotions flutter.

My only real regret is that Prétear isn’t longer; 13 episodes just aren’t enough to sustain the multitude of interesting character histories and revelations.

If you find yourself growing beyond Sailor Moon, Prétear should be your next stop.

8 / 10

Paul

Washed up on the good shores of Anime UK News after many a year at sea. Also known as @bateszi, Paul has been writing about anime for a long time here at AUKN and at his anime blog.

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