Image source: プリキュア公式YouTubeチャンネル on YouTube

In it’s 15 year history the Pretty Cure franchise has never seen a male Pretty Cure or a male character on the same level as the female heroes. But, in the most recent series, Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode, the idea of a male Pretty Cure has been toyed with. But, is this male character really a Pretty Cure?

In Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode six girls fight the evil forces of the villain Noir by transforming into the legendary warriors called Pretty Cure. It’s soon revealed one of Noir’s generals is one of the Pretty Cure’s younger twin brother. But, as the forces of good, the girls have to defeat him and put him in a long slumber. Now, he’s awoken with powers that strangely resemble the Pretty Cure’s and he fighting along side them.

The Pretty Cure franchise, much like the Sailor Moon franchise, is first and foremost as series for very young girls. So, the heroes of the franchise reflect this with strong female leads. But, that doesn’t relegate the male character to an insignificant role within any given series. They act more as supporting characters and help every once in a while. And in some cases the male characters have special powers and use them to protect the girls more so than to attack the enemies. However, we come to a very serious impasse with the male character Julio from Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode. He’s one of the very few male characters who has special powers, can transform, and has attacked the enemies of the series.

Image source: 東映アニメーション公式‏ on Twitter

Does this, then, make Julio the first male Pretty Cure? It’s a fascinating question because it forces us to sit down and really consider what makes a Pretty Cure a “Pretty Cure.” Is it their appearance, what they fight for, special powers, the items they use? Or perhaps it lies in something completely different. And even within an individual series what constitutes a Pretty Cure changes.

The general theme, though, is a Pretty Cure member is: a second-year female middle school student who fights the forces of evil to protect people’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations. True, there are cases of younger and older girls as well as fairies becoming Pretty Cure’s. But, they tend to be outliers and only appear every second or third series. So, based on the most basic commonalities, Julio can’t be a Pretty Cure because he doesn’t fall into all of those categories—especially the female category.

Image source: 東映アニメーション公式‏ on Twitter

It’s those pesky caveats that throws thing off, though. We’re actually interested two caveats in relation to Julio: what it takes to become a Pretty Cure and how fairies have become Pretty Cure’s in past series. Examining the later first, Julio is actually a good fairy who is turned bad because of his jealousy towards his sister, Kirarin. And what can Kirarin do? She transforms into Cure Parfait. Thus, it’s been established in Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode fairies can turn into a Pretty Cure. So, it stands to reason Julio could become a Pretty Cure as well—provided he has what it takes to become a Pretty Cure.

Image source: 東映アニメーション公式‏ on Twitter

Becoming a Pretty Cure is where things become messy. What we’re shown in the very early episodes of the series is people with strong heats who make sweets can become a Pretty Cure. Julio, though, at one point in the series had a heart blacker that coal. Hence, he can’t become a Pretty Cure. Case closed. But, again we come to a serious roadblock. Julio’s heart is cleansed of wickedness and the original Legendary Pretty Cure (of this series) revives him. As in, the progenitor of this series Pretty Cure gave Julio the power he needs to help the girls. Add on top of that he’s loves making sweets with his sister and now has a pure heart. If, that’s not a resounding endorsement, I’m not sure what is.

Image source: 東映アニメーション公式‏ on Twitter

However, the most compelling argument for Julio being the first male Pretty Cure is actually his appearance when he’s revived in the 39th episode. He pops up wearing a nice white uniform, is holding his own version the girl’s main weapon—the Candy Rod—and performs a small special attack. Almost everything you’d expect from a Pretty Cure member.

But, this is where we have to look back at past male characters in the Pretty Cure franchise to see if Julio stands apart from them and can be called “The First Male Pretty Cure.” There are many instances were the male supporting characters are able to transform and have their own special weapons in the Pretty Cure franchise. The principal in Mahotsukai Pretty Cure (2016), Prince Kanata from Go! Princess Pretty Cure (2015), and Johnny from 2013s Glitter Force Doki Doki (Doki Doki! Pretty Cure in Japan) are some of the male characters in past Pretty Cure series who have their own alternate costumes and specialized weapons.

Image source: 東映アニメーション公式‏ on Twitter

There is even an instance where the real-life comedian Takayuki Haranishi from the comedy duo FUJIWARA “transforms” into “Cure Gorilla” in the 17th episode of 2012s Glitter Force (Smile Pretty Cure in Japan). The thing is, none of these character are in any way considered Pretty Cure’s. Sure, they enter the fray of some battles, but they’re more or less supporting male characters who have special powers, like Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon. Julio easily falls into this category as well since he’s got special powers, but in the end is a side character. So, if the precedent stands Julio isn’t the first male Pretty Cure. He’s just another male support character

When we take all the factors that go into Julio being a Pretty Cure into consideration, the final decision is very difficult. Julio looks and acts the part of a Pretty Cure, but past cases show he may not be one after all. One thing is for sure, though: at the very least, he’s a male support character with special powers.

Kira Kira Pretty Cure a la Mode is currently unavailable outside of Japan. Glitter Force is currently available on NetflixGlitter Force Doki Doki is also available on Netflix.

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