Extra: Isolation

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Pretear]

isolationAnime very rarely takes extreme isolation too seriously. More often than not, it’s used as a joke. But I am happy to see, no matter how awkward the attempt, some shows face it head on.

For all its creepiness, and oh how very creepy it is, Pretear did manage to pull of one stunt I don’t often see in shows. How self-isolation pits you against everyone and drives you into madness. Now that sounds pretty simple. Of course you’d go mad if you’re always alone. But you might be surprised how often people pull away from the world, shutting themselves in their rooms, avoiding family and friends, and honestly see no harm in the action.

As someone who is an introvert and thus needs alone time more than some, I’m going to call that out right now. Shutting yourself off for long periods of time is not healthy. I’ve done it myself and let’s just say the person I became wasn’t the nicest person around. Even shallow acquaintances started to notice my attitude. My smile disappeared, I snapped at people when I was around them, I was pessimistic 24/7 and I was flat out unhappy about life. A little alone time is good, even necessary. But isolation isn’t like alone time. It’s when you push people away, usually gradually, with no intention of getting close to them again. Eating meals at odd times to avoid family, telling people you’re busy all the time when you’re not, and feeling like people are always judging you the rare times you are with others. It doesn’t feel like you’re cutting yourself off in the moment, but when you haven’t been interacting with and enjoying time with friends in many weeks and don’t like the mere idea of spending time with your family, those are red flags.

As eerie and, well, pervy, as some of the stuff in Pretear is, they did manage to show us a character who wasn’t isolating herself as a joke. In fact, she had very real reasons for cutting herself off. Her father was gone, she felt he was being replaced by someone she didn’t know or trust and no one bothered to even ask her if she was okay with changing her name, family life and nearly everything else at the drop of a coin. Little wonder she was upset and even less of a wonder why she pulled back and shut the door in her family’s face. And it wasn’t long before her sorrow turned ugly. Now, sure, you might not be taken over by some evil entity when you isolate yourself. But you’re not going to be fully you, either. Numerous studies have shown that humans aren’t made to be alone for long periods of time. We’re built to be loved and to love others. Isolation is in direct conflict with that inner drive. But, for some reason, it’s a topic no one likes to take too seriously. Perhaps because it’s an issue that’s so gradual that many don’t notice what’s happening until it’s too late. Or perhaps it’s because there’s no good solution to the issue unless the isolated individual wishes to change. Like depression and anxiety, there’s no easy answer.

But just because the answers aren’t easy, nor pretty, doesn’t mean it’s a topic to be ignored.

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Pretear Review

Story:
Himeno’s used to a simple life with her father, an often down on his luck novelist. But after he marries the love of his life, a rich widow, life changes forever. Now Himeno lives in a mansion with stepsisters who not only don’t understand her, but also dislike her. And if things couldn’t get any worse, she then finds out that she’s the mythical Pretear, fated to do battle alongside the Knights of Leafe.

Violence:
Most of the fighting is “magical,” so there’s not a lot of actual physical damage done overall. That said, when there is damage done, the show isn’t afraid to have a large amount of blood covering a character’s side. It’s not that realist though. Think typical nineties era anime blood here (if this happened in real life these people would be worm food).

Language:
Another reason this got slammed with YA: first episode brings out the b-word. However, it is debatable how often this occurs in the original Japanese version versus the dub. There’s a slight difference in how often this happens. It’s nothing excessive, but it’s not under YA level stuff either.

Nudity:
So, right off the bat, we get a very odd explanation about Leafe (see below) and how, when this power in both men and women is combined, it creates a new power. yeah,t he old “two become one thing.” Not awkward at all. Although we always get the typical magical transformation sequence where the bodies are outlines only, this show sets itself apart for perhaps the most “revealing” transformation sequence in a TV14 show. The heroine always must transform with a knight. The knight becomes light and… she holds it and… transforms. Yeah, it’s very weird and earned this a place as one of the more pervy magical girl shows out there. We never actually see anything, but it’s still very strange and uncomfortable and this title gets slammed with a YA rating just for this awkwardness alone (the ending theme also has naked cherub versions of the main characters which is yet another form of awkward I never thought I’d see. I stand sadly corrected).

Theology/mythology:
Weird stuff here, but common to magical shows. Leafe is like a life force kind of thing, an energy existing in all living things. This is where the powers of the knights and the pretear supposedly come from. There’s also, of course, a great evil that was sealed and escapes. This isn’t really a religion, but it does seek to explain how things in this world work so it’s somewhat a part of the story. Somewhat.

Personal impression:
This show is such a strange combination of amazingly cliche and awkward and, yet, so very dated that I actually enjoyed it a bit. Although, likely for all the wrong reasons. I laughed at things that probably weren’t meant to be funny. Which was pretty much all of it.
That said, perviness aside, this is a pretty traditional magical girl show. Really the only deviation is in one of the side characters. One that becomes more major by the end and tries to address isolation and depression (a turn I actually didn’t see coming simply because I expected that character to magically “get over it” as so many characters do in these stories). So if you like magical girl shows, you’ll probably enjoy this title. But this isn’t the, uh, safest? No. cleanest? No. Well, it’s the not the best pick for a show where anyone can just walk in on. That awkwardness up there isn’t an exaggeration. I wouldn’t be surprised if the animation studio was full of giggling animators the whole time and the show was more of a joke than anything else.
(side note: this title used to belong to ADV Films before it went under and now belongs to FUNimation, although for how long it will be produced on DVD is debatable)

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): magical girl, romance, comedy
Company: FUNimation
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
 photo p1_zps92432ef9.jpg photo p2_zpsb306f62b.jpg photo p3_zps6ca68e2e.jpg