Ever since it burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, Pretty Cure has been winning over fans all over the globe. However, fans in the US have had few to no options when it comes to legal acquisition of the show. After a few false starts, it looks like this season could be the beginning of a way forward. But what will it take to make this latest attempt stick?
For those who’ve missed the boat, Pretty Cure (often shortened to PreCure) premiered in 2004, directed by Dragon Ball Z and Kindaichi Case Files director Daisuke Nishio. The story hit all the usual modern-day magical girl points: animal mascots, marketable transformation items, and monsters of the week leading to a series finale end-game. But PreCure poured attention into two other areas. One was the friendship between its leads, Nagisa and Honoka, who had to transform together. The other? The sheer degree of intense, heart-pounding action.
After a second season for the pair, the franchise moved on to Futari wa PreCure Splash Star, a similar-but different take on the original run. From there, each season changed up more and more while retaining the basic tenets of friendship, frills, and over-the-top fighting. It began to align more with Super Sentai in its sensibilities, like Sailor Moon before it but more so. It has its own Red Rangers (or Pink Cures), who do a “baton pass” segment at the end of each season. Each season has a theme or combination of themes — like Healin’ Good‘s theming around looking after animals and nature. And there are team-up movies and specials, which went into overdrive during the show’s 15th anniversary last year.
With only a few exceptions, there’s only been one way to get your hands on PreCure in the U.S. — and that’s fansubs. The first two seasons have been available legally for some time, with a long period of nothing after that. Hasbro attempted to bring the franchise into their universe under the title Glitter Force, starting with Saban’s localization of 2012’s fairytale-themed Smile PreCure! But they only made it as far as the following season, 2013’s Doki Doki PreCure, before letting it loose. As of 2018, the Glitter Force trademark has been abandoned.
With the arrival of Healin’ Good on Crunchyroll, there’s a bit of promise… but it may be a bit touch and go right now. Fans have long wanted the anime streaming service to bring more (and more recent) PreCure to its platform, and Crunchyroll has been more than happy to oblige as soon as the opportunity presented itself. At present, only the most recently episodes are available, with the first 12 being backfilled as we speak. Should the stream go well, could there be a chance of more PreCure available to stream legally? Well, that’s the hope.
Right now, the big thing is demand. If a streaming service offers the show, the best way to keep it there is to watch it legally from said streaming service. This goes for any show on any service — if you like something on Funimation or Netflix or Hulu, watching it legally on said service is the best thing you can do for it. If studios know there’s a point in continuing, there are better odds that they’ll continue. And if PreCure‘s loyal fanbase shows up for this latest attempt, they could make some magic for their favorite show.
There’s no telling where things will go from here. But if you’re a PreCure fan, the best thing you can do right now is take advantage of this opportunity and watch legally. The better it does, the more reason Toei has to keep putting it forward… and I don’t know about you, but right now we could all use a major dose of magical girls in our lives.