Friday, October 16, 2015

Fairy Tale Media Fix: Pretear.

Prepare yourself for possibly the most unusual adaptation of “Snow White” you’ve ever seen.

But before I get to that, I’d like to say how glad I was to find this series.  When I was first pondering the idea of this blog and thinking of subjects to write about, one of the first things I looked up was manga (Japanese comic books) based on fairy tales.  In every internet list I perused, there was one title that kept appearing at the top: Pretear.   So, I checked everywhere to see if I could find a copy of the manga to review.  Alas, it seemed that Pretear never made it into English translation and onto American shores.  So, imagine my surprise when I’m scrolling through the anime choices on Hulu and find Pretear the animated adaptation.  Now, I can take a look at this elusive series for myself.

Pretear started out as a manga series written by Junichi Sato and illustrated by Kaori Naruse.  The original manga ran from May 2000 to July 2001.  The animated adaptation ran from April 2001 to June 2001 and clocked in at exactly 13 episodes.
Picture by Madjester Designs.
The story concerns a young girl named Himeno Awayuki who is trying to adjust to a new life now that her father, a romance novel writer, has married a wealthy businesswoman.  In addition to a mansion home and a new stepmother, she also has gained two stepsisters, Mayune and Mawata.  As Himeno is trying to adjust to a life she doesn’t feel suited to, she becomes embroiled in a conflict between the Leafe Knights and Fenrir the Princess of Disaster.  The Leafe Knights protect Leafe, which is kind of like the world’s life force.  The seven Leafe Knights are Hayate (Knight of Wind), Sasame (Knight of Sound), Kei (Knight of Light), Go (Knight of Fire), Mannen (Knight of Ice), Hajime (Knight of Water) and Shin (Knight of Plants).  They let her know that she is the Pretear, a woman who can bind with any of the Leafe Knights in order to unleash even greater power.  Realizing that they need her, she embraces her destiny as Pretear.  However, things prove to be harder than she thought as one of the Leafe Knights changes sides, her stepsister Mawata gets drawn into the conflict and she finds out the truth about Fenrir, that she used to be a Pretear herself.

Not quite as handsome as Leafe Knights.
Junichi Sato’s intention for the series was to write a manga for women that featured good-looking men.  That is essentially what this is.  There are parallels to the tale it was based on.  The Leafe Knights take the role of the Seven Dwarfs, and the Knight Hayate also takes the role of the prince.  The idea of Leafe was supposedly inspired by the apple in the story, given its ability to take and restore life.  There are other nods to the tale throughout.  At one point, the Leafe Knights build a cute little house for Himeno to live in, which looks how you might imagine the Dwarfs’ cottage to look.  There’s the infamous sleep and a kiss to wake Himeno.  There’s also something akin to a magic mirror.  Overall, the show mainly takes the story as a jumping off point and creates a whole new thing out of it.  Possibly one of the biggest deviations that will likely get noticed by those who watch it with the tale of “Snow White” in mind is the identity of the villainess.  Though Himeno has a stepmother who seems a bit cold at first, it turns out that she is not the Princess of Disaster.  However, by making Fenrir a former Pretear herself it highlights something present in the original tale that isn’t addressed often: the similarity between Snow White and the Evil Queen.  Both are royal ladies known for incredible beauty.  However, the Queen is aging and beauty fades with time.  With Snow White being pronounced as more beautiful by the magic mirror, the Queen succumbs to vanity and seeks to eliminate her competition.  Heck, in the first edition by the Grimms the Queen has a biological connection seeing as she’s her real mother.  Not to turn a happy ending into a sad one, but one wonders if Snow White might end up like her stepmother someday.

Evil Queen or Snow White in the future.
Overall though, like many girls’ anime, Pretear hinges on the idea of emotions.  Not just Himeno’s emotions or Fenrir’s emotions but also Mawata’s.  It’s those emotions that drive the story and are what will likely draw viewers in.  Pretear is a very girly anime with a lot of pretty boy types in the cast, but it’s still a good anime and a good example of how someone can take ideas from fairy tales and turn them into something else.  If you want to see the show, you can find it HERE on Hulu.  It’s also been posted to YouTube by FUNimation.


  1. Well, I know what I'm watching this week! I just watched the intro song and it looks a LOT like the Sailor Moon theme song segment. Thanks for the tip, Adam!

  2. Sounds wonderful! I must check it out. You might like to take a look, if you haven't, at Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper And The Spindle, in which a young queen, clearly Snow White, preparing for her wedding, leaves her nice young Prince to go off with the dwarves on a quest to investigate a kingdom where everyone is falling asleep, before it can spread. And Sleeping Beauty is not what she seems... A gorgeous book, illustrated by Chris Riddell.

    And a YA novel by Sophie Masson, Hunter's Moon, set in a Victorian era country, in which Snow White/Bianca's father is the owner of a bunch of department stores, her very competent fashionista stepmother the annual "fairest" in a newspaper called the Mirror. No actual dwarves but she does have help.

  3. Have you seen the spanish Blancanieves? It's Snow White set in 1920s Andalusia and she's a bullfighter! The only real downside is that it's a modern day silent film (which I don't mind, I love silent films). It was made in 2012 and it won several awards and accolades.

  4. Y'know, shortly after posting this one and saying that the Pretear manga never got an English translation, I actually ran across an English translation of it at a nearby library. I wonder if I should edit my post.