Pretty Cure encourages boys who feel like it to wear dresses and be princesses, hotel apologizes for not being progressive enough.

As Japan’s most popular currently airing magical girl anime series, Pretty Cure is generally pretty formulaic in its storytelling. Villains appear, and the protagonists change from their ordinary schoolgirl personas into their brightly costumed, superpowered alter egos, with the power of friendship often being the deciding factor in saving the day.

But PreCure (as the series is known to fans) is also willing to deal with social issues, and in recent years the series, which is primarily marketed to young girls, has been challenging ideas about gender roles and identity. The concept that girls can be heroes has always been one of the show’s core themes, and the franchise also seems OK with women loving other women in a romantic sense.

However, the latest episode of Huggto! PreCure (the newest arc of the franchise) takes time to espouse the belief that boys, too, shouldn’t be constricted by traditional gender roles. One of Huggto! PreCure’s supporting cast members is Henri Wakamiya, a blond-haired half-Japanese, half-French boy who’s sometimes depicted wearing a dress, as in this preview for Huggto! PreCure’s 19th episode, which aired last Sunday.

Not everyone is supportive of Henri’s fashion choices, though. His classmate Masato, for example, berates him for “looking like a girl,” eventually prompting Henri to fire back with “So what? I’m dressed the way I want to dress. Putting restrictions on your own heart is a waste of time…and of a life.”

However, during the course of episode 19, Henri winds up getting captured by a monster, while still wearing his dress. When the PreCure girls come to save him, he laments “Wait, doesn’t this mean I’m like the princess in this situation?”

To which Hana Nono, a.k.a. Cure Yell, responds:

“That’s OK! Boys can be princesses too!”

Nono’s words were powerful enough that they’ve prompted an apology from the lakeside Ike no Taira Hotel in Shirakaba, Nagano Prefecture. For the last few years, the hotel has been offering a PreCure-themed hotel room, aimed at families traveling with young kids who are fans of the anime. The hotel also has a Kamen Rider-themed room, decorated with artwork from the popular live-action martial arts franchise, and in one of its commercials, the hotel proudly touts “For girls, Huggto! Pretty Cure, and for boys, Kamen Rider Build!”

However, on June 12, two days after Pretty Cure declared that “boys can be princesses too,” the Ike no Taira Hotel issued an apology through the official Twitter account of its mascot character, Pota.

“Recently, we have received complaints that the statements made in a TV commercial for our character-themed rooms has made some people uncomfortable. We regret offending our customers, and deeply apologize.”

While the tweet doesn’t mention PreCure specifically, the timing makes it difficult to see the hotel’s message as referring to anything other than its tie-up with the magical girl anime. In a follow-up tweet, the hotel also said it will be taking the ad out of circulation, and will bear in mind the feedback it received in designing future advertisements.

Online reactions have been mixed, with some applauding the move and others saying it’s an overreaction to baseless complaints, as the hotel doesn’t seem to have had any policy barring families with boys from staying in the PreCure room. Still, the hotel wants to make doubly sure that people know it supports young boys who find Pretty Cure’s sparkling aesthetics (and the merchandise that comes with a stay in the room) alluring.

Meanwhile, the hotel is mum about all the legal trouble Kamen Rider has been getting into lately.

Source: Twitter/@ikenotaira via Hachima Kiko
Top image: YouTube/プリキュア公式YouTubeチャンネル