Anime & Manga Blog | 50% Anime Analysis, 50% Ogi

Precure is Not a Lesser Sailor Moon


A few months ago at Otakon, I was talking with Alain from the Reverse Thieves, who had attended a panel about magical girls and feminism. He had described how the presenter went through the various series she’d be discussing, but made specific mention that she’d be omitting Precure from the discussion, citing the fact that she wasn’t particularly impressed. Although I did not attend the panel myself, I found that to be unfortunate, not because of the dismissal of Precure by the presenter in isolation, but because this stance on the long-running magical girl franchise is not that uncommon. Among many fans, presenters, and even scholars, Precure is assumed to be bland and generic and not worth discussion.

In my opinion, that kind of thinking is a mistake. Precure is not only the biggest and most popular magical girl property of the past ten years, eclipsing even Sailor Moon in certain ways (sales, longevity on TV, etc.) and therefore worth observing for its cultural footprint, but it is also a fount of positive imagery for girls. While there are certain elements that can remain issues, such as the increasing ubiquity of pink as the only possible color for the main heroine and the fact that a lot of the magical girl outfits have high heels, Precure utilizes strong female characters by default, rather than making a big deal out of their existence. What’s more, because the series refreshes itself every year or two, its variety results in different approaches to characterization of female characters and themes pertaining to feminism. You have weak girls who become strong over time (as well as a nuanced exploration of what it means to grow), heroines who are more ideals of human potential, and even characters who try to reclaim the term “princess” to mean something more than “demure.” Even the very first series is significant due to its portrayal of girls having aggressive, hand to hand fights (in a show for young girls, no less), and the fact that its two main characters are more about their life goals than pining at the boys around them.

I have my suspicions as to why Precure has ended up with this reputation, and a lot of it has to do with Sailor Moon. It was the first of its kind, the sentai-inspired battling magical girl genre of which Precure is a part. In terms of cultural influence around the world, Sailor Moon has crossed the barrier from niche interest for anime fans only to seminal work, and is frequently cited as a pivotal show in the development of many young artists. Just the fact that it portrays these mature-looking girls who fight and win is on a basic level empowering and inspiring, and so any similar series gets compared not only to Sailor Moon but also its presence as a kind of nostalgic defining moment where any weaknesses it possesses as a series are forgiven. It’s also very important to point out that, especially in the US, Precure is just plain hard to come by. As a result, for English speakers it has much less potential of becoming part of the fabric of one’s upbringing, with the possible exception of Smile Precure!, which has been loosely adapted to become Glitter Force on Netflix.

I get the feeling that, when the Sailor Moon generation typically sees Precure, a common process occurs. First, they see that Precure is similar, and that its story (depending on which version they watch) is often more lighthearted initially. Second, they see that the character designs are younger-looking, and so it seems less mature as well. Third, they might do a bit of research and become aware that the franchise is also popular with adult men, lending a sort of “creepy pervert” vibe to their impressions. Finally, they fill in the blanks, and without watching much more, jump to the conclusion that the franchise can’t possibly do things so differently from Sailor Moon that it’d be worth looking into more, or that it’s only for sad otaku (unaware that Sailor Moon was the show for doujinshi in its heyday). Moreover, because Precure doesn’t have the more immediately apparent dark appeal of a Revolutionary Girl Utena or a Madoka Magica, it’s further assumed to be generic kiddie fare. That’s not to say that the series isn’t for children, but that the type of maturity it carries is more in how it approaches the task of trying to show strong images for a female audience. As discussed above, I believe Precure does this to great success, and to see it brushed aside saddens and angers me.

I like Sailor Moon, and I don’t mean to paint fans of that series with the same brush. However, because it is a defining magical girl show for a lot of people, it gets written about as if it is the be-all, end-all of its particular brand of mahou shoujo. The reputation of Sailor Moon surpasses what is actually in the series in a certain way, and it casts an unfair shadow on Precure when Precure does many things that I would argue are improvements or directions that Sailor Moon never goes. This is especially the case with its feminist qualities. My hope is that, when people think about progressive portrayals in anime and the magical girl genre, they not only remember that Precure exists, but are aware of all that it offers.


If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.


12 thoughts on “Precure is Not a Lesser Sailor Moon

  1. Like you said, I think the main thing is that hardly anybody in the U.S. has seen Precure. It’s hard for anybody to really talk up or get excited about series that has multiple seasons and settings that is not (well, now hardly) available.


  2. If I could only watch one, should I watch Sailor Moon or should I watch Precure?

    I’m asking because I genuinely want to know; I appreciate the historic value of both and would like to watch at least some of one or the other. I read a bit of the Sailor Moon manga for a research project once, but that’s about it. So, which would you recommend I watch given the choice?


    • Keep in mind that there are multiple versions of Precure and that they can differ pretty significantly. Also, it depends on what you’re looking for.

      Because you’ve already read some of the Sailor Moon manga I think it’d be worth your while to check out Precure, even though the Sailor Moon anime differs in a lot of ways from its manga counterpart.

      The first Precure series is interesting because it’s fairly unrefined, and carries a certain appeal as a result.

      If you want the best of the best, I recommend Heartcatch Precure, which I think is one of the best anime made, period. As a warning, if might actually make the rest of Precure feel much worse by comparison.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: All Points Bulletin: Emoji!!! on Ice – Reverse Thieves

  4. Pingback: ‘Tis the Seasoning: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for December 2016 | OGIUE MANIAX

  5. SORRY but sailor moon is just better than precure and characters are greats and better than cures SO PRECURE IS GOOD BUT SAILOR MOON IS THE BEST YOU SAD OTAKUS


  6. Navibestgirl, you are sooooo WRONG Precure is so good. Sailor moon is a total loser I totally agree with precure fans.Sailor moon is just so weak and weird sorry to burst your bubble.Sailor moon is useless against precure. Besides what is sailor moon known for anyway?? Precure is known for colourful transformation and powerful attacks.sailor moon is just so is the worst.PRECURE IS LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!Trust me. U watch it U love it


  7. BTW here are some reasons why u should be watching precure and turn AWAY from sailor moon:1.they have a lot of movies but Sailor Moon they only have two. seriously?!pretty cure has a lot more movies than Sailor Moon.actually pretty cure has 28 movies.google it up yourself girl.2. pretty cure has such colourful transformations Sailor Moon it looks like they came out of the dumpster!!also pretty cure the transformations also, for total hairstyle change Sailor moon their parents could just recognize instantly.three Sailor Moon is just so weak if you just watch precure group attacks on YouTube And watch them you will see how powerful they are compared to stupid moon come on girls admitted Sailor Moon is nothing but a priceless piece of junk.BTW I have a question and I would really love it if someone posted a reply to my comments but how did sailor moon get those hairstyles? They look like it just came out of the DUMPSTER!!!!!!! 🤣🤣🤣Nice try Naoko Takeuchi but your so called anime series is nothing compared to the best anime on this planet,Precure


    • 1) Wrong usage of priceless
      2) Just because precure is great doesn’t mean Sailor Moon is trash. Don’t get me wrong, I love precure far more than SM, but I don’t have anything against SM.

      Darrell, I’m sorry. I hope you know that most precure fans aren’t like this- in fact, a lot of them are also SM fans. I hope you can still enjoy the series.


  8. I don’t agree with either side, really. I think Pretty Cure is more entertaining for me personally, and don’t like Sailor Moon much, but I wouldn’t go so far to say that Sailor Moon is bad. I have reasons for why I believe this as well.

    Each Pretty Cure season (except for GoGo and Max Heart) offer a new set of characters, but still all follow a loose pattern so that you can feel comfortable with it (like it’s not new to you) but still get to know a whole new cast and setting.

    Another thing is the transformations. I love the Pretty Cure transformations. Some good examples of this are Aguri Madoka/Cure Ace’s, the entire Star Twinkle team’s, and the Mahou Girls’ Topaz Style.

    The fight scenes are what drove me away from Sailor Moon. In Pretty Cure, fight scenes are fast-paced, (slightly violent), interesting, and combat-filled. Normally, the cures will engage in physical combat (punching, kicking) before delivering a magical girl move, more fighting, finishing move. They use their powers as a sort of help during their physical combat and to ultimately defeat the monster. Meanwhile in Sailor Moon, the girls ONLY use their magical attacks, and if they don’t work, oh well, we’ll just get beat up by this villain until Tuxedo Mask the big strong man comes to save us. It’s infuriating.

    Villains/monsters are another stance. I think there’s good to both sides. In Sailor Moon, they have a new antagonist every episode, who is summoned by constant antagonists who we see little of. In Pretty Cure, the same antagonists come every episode, taking turns summoning similar monsters which aren’t as interesting as Sailor Moon’s. They’re formulaic, but they allow us to get to know the villains better, as we see them every episode. Some villains even get so much development that they have a redemption arc and become pretty cures! (Eas/Setsuna Higashi/Cure Passion, Siren/Ellen Kurokawa/Cure Beat, Twilight/Towa Akagi/Cure Scarlet, Ruru Amour/Cure Amour, and soon (there have been leaks), Gentlu/Amane Kasai/Cure Finale).

    In terms of design, I can’t compare them. Sailor Moon typically has more classic/plain designs (not that they’re bad) and Pretty Cure has extravagant ones. I can’t compare them, though, because Pretty Cure has too many seasons. If Sailor Moon was against Splash Star, Sailor Moon would win, but if it was against DokiDoki, DokiDoki would win.

    The same goes for character arcs. If Sailor Moon was against MahouTsukai, Sailor Moon would win, but if it was against KiraKira or Star Twinkle, Sailor Moon would lose. Due to these contrasting things, I can’t determine a clear winner.

    Tell me if I missed anything! I hope I helped someone decide whether to watch Pretty Cure or Sailor Moon- but really, you should try both before coming to a conclusion. If you’re starting Pretty Cure, try Heartcatch, Go! Princess, Healin’ Good, or HUGtto. I recommend them the most!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: