Prétear – The New Legend of Snow White
新白雪姫伝説プリーティア (Shin Shirayuki-hime Densetsu Prétear)
NARUSE Kaori (manga), SATOU Junichi (creator)
Shoujo – Magical girl, romance, action, reverse harem
4 Volumes (complete)
Himeno’s father has just remarried a wealthy woman. But Himeno just can’t get used to life as a rich princess. One day, after meeting a little boy, a group of men introduce themselves as the Leafe Knights and claim Himeno is the Prétear, the one who can revive the source of life (leafe) stolen by the Princess of Disaster.
The director of the first two seasons of the original Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon anime created the basis for the Prétear series. Together with Naruse, the concept was turned into this manga. Later, the manga — heavily changed at times — inspired an anime. (When I first read the manga version of Prétear, I assumed the anime came first.) But regardless of whether you judge the Prétear manga on its own or compare it to the anime, this series, while having an interesting concept, just has too many plot holes that greatly affects my enjoyment of it.
Probably the biggest weakness of the story is the unsatisfying ending. Without spoiling too much, the main enemy possesses someone. While the conflict with the possessed person is resolved, we do not know what happens to the Princess of Disaster herself. With the way the conflict resolves (and the Princess of Disaster’s backstory), it just doesn’t seem right not to have a definitive answer. It’s not an open ending; it’s just incomplete.
Another issue is the break between volumes two and three. Himeno enters her powered up form in volume two with little explanation, and nobody really questions if she can do it again. The third volume’s opening chapter is almost like the story is entering a new arc, but it’s just a continuation of the same battle.
It’s really too bad these points affect the overall story. Prétear starts off as the reverse of the Cinderella story: a poor girl gains the riches, but she also gets a stepmother and stepsisters she doesn’t get along with. And while most Cinderella versions have the titular character wanting to break out of her current situations, Himeno wants to fit in to her new family. Prétear then crosses into Snow White territory and meets seven knights. However, unlike Snow White, Himeno is the one who is doing the saving instead of the dwarves protecting Snow White. It’s a nice mix of old and new tales.
I will say I really liked how Himeno’s personal problems were a key part of the story. Many magical girl heroines have ups and downs in their lives, but a lot of their problems are cause by themselves (not studying, staying up too late and oversleeping, etc.). Himeno’s major personal conflict is adjusting to her new family, and it is just as important as the battle against the Princess of Disaster. Her new stepsister Mayune is the stereotypical evil stepsister, but Mayune’s younger sister Mawata is a much more complicated character. Meanwhile, Natsue, Himeno’s stepmom, struggles with the fact her husband has given up writing. Again, it’s a mix of the old and new. Most Cinderella stories portray the stepmother as someone who married for money. Natsue clearly loves Kaoru, and she (and others) question the reason why her husband married her.
Meanwhile, the Leafe Knights have a mix of older and younger warriors. Two of them are the most prominent to make up the traditional shoujo love triangle. While Hayate is pretty much a stereotypical tsundere, I wish the creators could have dove into Sasame’s character more. I would have liked to learn more about past events from his point-of-view. Will he ever express what he truly wants, or will the past repeat itself? The other males do not have romantic feelings for Himeno, and while one of the younger warriors helps the past get revealed, they are all pretty one-dimensional.
The art has some excellent details and designs. I’m sure drawing Natsue’s hair was a pain, but her curls are not a style often seen in manga. Shin’s design on his outfit almost sparkles right off the page. However, just something about the art just seems off to me. I think the major problem is the paneling. When the Knights discover a seed, for instance, they contact Himeno telepathically. She could be at school, and she is almost immediately at the scene of battle. By the time she gets home, I can’t tell what time it is. Did she go back to school and then home right, or did the battle rage for so long school’s already over? The other issue is the character poses. They look beautiful, but they’re not exactly natural. Even the attacks have limited visuals. There are limited screentones and effects, and this makes action scenes look unimpressive. The art has its charm, but it is also lacking impact.
No honorifics are used. “Ojou-sama” and the -sama honorific are usually adapted as “Miss”. One good thing about the same company licensing the anime and manga is the terms are (or rather SHOULD) be consistent. In this regards, from what I remember about the English dub and subs, Pretear is a success. However, ADV chose to keep many, many lines written in Japanese and provide a “subtitled” English translation next to it. I can understand leaving the Japanese text in some cases, if it is part of the artwork or if the text is drawn (as opposed to typewritten). In this case, if they are just basically going to leave a good portion of the text as it is, ADV should have just launched a line of bilingual manga. (Well, bilingual manga usually replace the Japanese text with English and provide the Japanese written to the side, but still…) Anybody who can read kana should be able to read the Japanese as it is, so it’s almost pointless for both Japanese and English readers. Keeping the Japanese also exposes some of the lines that I just didn’t like adapted. For example, Himeno in ADV’s translation says she wants to be considered important, while in Japanese she says she wants to be needed. It’s close, but I feel there’s a big distinction between the two versions. Every adaptation has things others wish was handled different, but keeping the Japanese just brings these things to the forefront.
There are a couple of aspects in which the manga is superior, but it is not necessary for anime fans of Prétear to track down the manga.
Each volume contains color pages, a nice bonus.
The anime was originally released in the US by ADV Films, but now the license is owned by Funimation. The DVDs haven’t been rereleased, but both the subs and dubs are available to stream on Funimation’s official site, YouTube, and Hulu. While I like some story aspects of the manga better, the ending of the anime is much better. The opening song is excellent.
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