Preatear is the Imadoki of anime. And Imadoki is the Pretear of manga. What? It's all circular? Hmm. Guess it is. You'll just have to watch Pretear or read Imadoki now to get what I mean, don't you?
The actual Japanese name of this title is Shin Shirayuki Hime Desetsu Pretear. While I try to stick to the Japanese titles as much as possible, this time I'm going for the English version :P
This anime has a lot of bishies. Some are more bishie than others. For instance, the two most powerful Leafe Knights are cuter than the rest. Then again, three of the seven knights are kids. Anyway, this can be considered an anime of the male harem variety because of all the bishies surrounding Himeno. It's sure nice to watch a girl being surrounded by men for a change, what with all the other anime out there focusing on a guy surrounded by a bunch of girls.
Pretear had 13 episodes and ran from April to June of 2001.That kind of surprised me. I actually thought this anime was older than Sailor Moon. Don't know why. Maybe it's just because it seemed so simple and straightforward compared to the convoluted storylines of other anime out there. Pretear was directed by Sayama Kiyoko. Its four-volume manga, which was made by Sato Junichi and Naruse Kaori, came out earlier. It was already licensed by ADV in North America. Whee.
Then her father fell in love with a rich widow, Natsue, and they eventually got married. Himeno and her father then moved into the new wife's mansion with her two daughters, Mayune and Mawata. These two daughters were not pleased with their new family members at all. Mayune set about trying to make Himeno's life miserable, which didn't work out most of the time because of Himeno's unsquashability (is that a real word?). It sure does sound a lot like Cinderella, huh?
Meanwhile, in another world called Leafenia, seven cute guys are running around in a state of panic. The Princess of Disaster has escaped and plans to take over the world (well, okay, generally speaking). These seven cute guys are actually the Leafe Knights, and it is their job to contain the Princess of Disaster (and keep the world safe). They knew that their only hope was to awaken Pretear. The knight of wind, Hayate, was reluctant about this and was not reserved in voicing his disapproval.
Nevertheless, it was Hayate who located Himeno. It was not under the most conducive circumstances, which became one of the reasons why she couldn't get along with him as well as with the other Leafe Knights such as Sasami, the knight of sound. Naturally, Himeno was taken aback upon finding out that she's Pretear and is destined to fight evil with supernatural powers. She was taken aback even more when she found out that in order to acquire supernatural powers, she had to merge her spirit with that of a Leafe Knight (the term used was "pret").
As fate would have it, the first knight she had to pret with was Hayate. Himeno's attacks would differ depending on the knight she would pret with. Also, the knight would act as a shield and protect Himeno during battle. She found out about this the hard way when she was hit during battle and Hayate was the one who sustained the injuries. This certainly did not help cement a warm and fuzzy friendship :D
Over 13 episodes, Himeno learned to be a "real" Pretear (well, enough to meet Hayate's standards) and also resolve differences within her new family. On the side, the story also looks at Mawata's depression and Sasami's obssession. Oh yes, and let's not forget the romantic element. The series also shows how Hayate slowly let his guard down for Himeno. Actually, the anime goes into why Hayate was so guarded in the first place. All stories of various characters eventually converge, culminating with Himeno's confrontation with the Princess of Disaster and Pretear's final form.
Anyway, I think Pretear did a pretty good job delivering what it's supposed to deliver (except a very romantic storyline to appease the sappy shoujo anime fans, but let's not go there). In 13 episodes, the anime showed how Himeno grew up and accept her role as Pretear. It also did a good job showing Mawata and Sasami's downward spirals. It did an okay job showing how Hayate eventually lightened up around Himeno (don't go there, don't go there, don't go there...).
Pretear tried to offer some variety in form of seven Leafe Knights, all of whom serve and protect Himeno. As such, it may be criticized as attempting too much, but it seemed to work, especially since only two of the Leafe Knights were really dominant and the five others appear to work as one. Initially, I thought that there were a lot of different main characters in the show because in the opening sequence, there were a lot of girls who looked like Himeno but wore different outfits. It turned out that they were all Himeno, and her outfit, in addition to her powers, depends on the Leafe Knight she works with for a given battle.
As for eye candy, Hayate and Sasami are cute. Note I said "cute" and not "hot." They do appear different from the typical bishounen, perhaps because of the artwork. But for the most part, they're easy on the eyes. At the onset, I already knew Sasami's cute. Hayate took some getting used to, but the longer you look at him, the better he looks. Not to mention he has this brooding demeanor that makes him pretty sexy (a regular bishounen formula). Himeno, on the other hand...she's cute. By the end of the first episode, you won't even notice her pink hair anymore. But yeah, she definitely falls under the cute-but-not-beautiful heroines such as Usagi, Miaka, and Miki.
In a way, Pretear is pretty similar to Fushigi Yuugi. Notice the similarities? Seishis and Leafe Knights? Girl becoming the Chosen One and having to prove herself? Even Hayate and Tamahome's outfits are sort of identical (blue coats). Oh yes, and there's certainly betrayal in both series. So if you want to watch something reminiscent of Fushigi Yuugi, Pretear's a good bet. You can even think of Pretear as Fushigi Yuugi deluxe.
Pretear music is quite catchy. Listening to the first episode's "White Destiny" actually made me excited about this anime. The opening sequence itself is actually quite cute too. It's your typical magical girl opening sequence, but for some reason, it was just refreshing to watch how it was done in Pretear. Perhaps it's because it looks so nice and sweet and squeaky clean, which is kind of what the entire series is about. The closing song, "Lucky Star," was cute also. It kind of struck me as cheerful, wistful, and secretive all at the same time. Definitely Himeno. At 13 episodes, there's not enough repetition to get sick and tired of the music. But I found out the hard way that if you actually listen to it often enough, it can be sickening. Then again, any music would probably be sickening if you repeat it 300 times and play nothing else for two weeks (which is how I play my favorite music). Candy. That's it. Pretear music is like candy. The entire series is like candy. In small amounts, it worked great. Glad there were no sequels. Ah, closure!