"Leafe-it is the source of life. Leafe-it's a power all living things have."
I have to thank Melissa H. for turning me onto Pretear. This fantasy/action/romance anime has some elements I find endearing, and is the second anime series I saw from start to finish. Himeno Awayuki is an energetic and sometimes ditzy high school student whose father, a widowed romance novelist and sculptor, has recently married the wealthy widow Natsue Hojo. As a result, she finds herself living on a wealthy estate and near a city where the nearby businesses are all renamed after her father's surname. However, Mayune, the long pink-haired stepsister, is a meanie with an obnoxious and loud laugh, who specializes in ridiculous practical jokes against Himeno, most of which backfire on her (e.g. a gigantic tube of mayonnaise). The introverted and soft-spoken stepsister Mawata, on the other hand, is somewhat withdrawn and indifferent to Himeno. This is different from the original manga, where Mawata was actually as bad as Mayune. In the anime, she is someone to be pitied, not hated.
Meanwhile, the seven Leafe Knights of the world of Leafenia, are out to stop Fenrir, the Princess of Disaster from conquering the Earth with her demon larva. When mature, they are huge slug-like monsters with tentacles and demonic reptilian eyes, absorbing the Leafe from all living things to feed Fenrir. Trees and flowers blacken and wilt when touched by a larva. The Knights' powers are limited, so in order to combat this menace, they need a chosen woman to "prÍt" with, a Pretear, the Princess of Light. A Knight and the Pretear merge together, where the Pretear defeats the demon larva with weapons created from leafe, energy from living essence. Well, Himeno is the chosen one, and she is overwhelmed at being needed by the Knights, as she is still trying to find her place in a new family, home, and school, where she is shunned. Each Knight has a special power, be it ice, fire, wind, sound, etc. The child Knights, Mannen, Shin, and Hajime, take to her and even call her "naychan" or big sister. The dashing and quiet Sasame is an isle of reason and kindness, helping her in her training or being someone with a sympathetic ear. He's empathic, hosting a radio program, and replying to postcards, among them being from Mawata. However, the brooding Hayate arrogantly dismisses her, saying that she doesn't have what it takes, saying that they don't a Pretear, which isn't the case. Himeno's not that crazy about him either, and a state of mutual contempt exists between them. That starts to thaw by the end of Episode 4, though Hayate gives her a funny nickname based on her hairdo-"tulip head," which she isn't too chuffed about.
When Himeno prets with a Knight, there is a transformation scene complete with fanfare, where she is surrounded by coloured bubbles, reemerging with a colourful costume. Kind of a throwback to Sailor Moon, but minus the "moonlight crystal power makeup" schtick.
Once, I noticed the full title, "Pretear-The New Legend of Snow White" and it made a lot more sense. Think about it-Himeno's stepmother is mean, with two stepsisters. Then the Leafe Knights number seven. Aha! But there is an environmental message as well, on protecting the Earth from things that threaten to drain the life and life force from living things. Plus, the Knights also detect the presence of the larvae through their jobs, ever alert to a high level of depression in conversation.
Pretear also sports a host of well-known voice performers. Mikage the kindly maid is voiced by Yui Horie, best known as Tohru Honda in Fruits Basket and Naru in Love Hina, while Yuji Ueda, who is Kaoru, acted opposite Horie in Love Hina as leading man Keitaro. Satsuki Yukino (Mayune) was also in Love Hina as Mutsumi, but also in Ai Yori Aoshi as the energetic Tina Foster. Himeno's voice actress, Sayuri Yoshida, also sings the catchy ending theme song, "Lucky Star," but it pales compared to the energetic techno opening theme, "White Destiny," sung by the one and only Yoko Ishida. And Takahiro Sakurai (Sasame) is also Kamiyama in Cromartie High School. Finally, Kikuko Inoue (Natsue) voiced the landlady Hibiya-san in Chobits.
A great start for the 14 episode series.