I first met Hitomi when I started going to karate class. I was a grade school student at the time, as was Hitomi. That day marked the start of a beautiful friendship.

After I got changed into my pink gi, I started stretching. I had done it before; my mother's exercise tapes were a must back at home, and lately my folks had been worried that I was getting out of shape.

Some minutes later, a boy with red hair and glasses showed up. After getting changed into his blue gi, he approached me. "Do you always warm up like this before a karate class?" he asked.

I looked up and said, "This is actually my first class."

"Same here," the boy said. "The name's Hitomi. What's yours?"

I said, "Tsumugi."

Then the instructor came in.

OP: "Yatta! Rhythmic Pretty Cure"

My name is Nikaido, Tsumugi Nikaido.

Nowadays, I'm still a karate student. But I'm also studying rhythmic gymnastics. I'm also an amateur at the culinary arts… and surprisingly good as far as they go.

When I signed up for the rhythmic gymnastics division of Altair Private Academy at my mother's urging (she was a talented rhythmic gymnast), I got my uniform from the school store, just like the others on the rhythmic gymnastics side. There was a wide selection, yes. Oddly, they had jean shorts in stock. I just picked up a pair and also selected a tank top. Apart from the requisite pink tights and ballerina shoes, of course.

On my way in, I saw someone who vaguely resembled Hitomi. During homeroom on the first day, a guy in pink came in, and lo and behold, it really was Hitomi. I said to myself, "I knew it all along!"

After classes were over that day, we went to our karate class as usual. Karate is on Mondays and Thursdays. On our way home from that, we were jumped by a strange and malevolent woman who called herself Basilisk the Sculptor, and she turned my right leg into stone! Fortunately, Hitomi became something called a Pretty Cure and defeated her, healing my leg in the process.

Now, I'm a fan of Pretty Cure, tuning in to TV Asahi every Sunday morning since I was very young. So obviously, I'm familiar with how Pretty Cure works: frilly clothes, flashy attacks, best of friends, the whole nine yards. Still… I never thought Pretty Cure would exist in real life. And yet here I am, friends with a real-life Pretty Cure.

"The Baton of the Fighter"

As usual, I got up at 6:30 the morning after my boyfriend became a Pretty Cure, and after tying my hair in my usual preferred style, started practicing on my guitar. Rock happens to be one of my interests, and I decided I would start a school band when the time came.

Afterwards, I changed into my rhythmic gymnastics clothes–tank top, shorts, tights, and ballet slippers–and prepared my breakfast and lunch, the latter which I put in my lunchbox. Following breakfast, I made a mad dash for the school from my family's modestly-sized mansion.

Oh, in case you were wondering how we could live in such a place, my mother picked up an inheritance from a deceased relative some time before I was born, and she had made a good amount of money from writing books on rhythmic gymnastics and the Olympics even before then and still writes such books today. We're not quite upper class, I'll admit; I believe we're closer to the higher end of upper middle class than anything. For that I feel obliged to thank my mother's financial sense; a penny saved is a penny earned, after all.

Homeroom was uneventful that day, though I kept thinking about the previous day's events. My other classes were business as usual, from classic Japanese to social studies.

After the next-to-last class of the day, I headed for rhythmic gymnastics class early, and there I saw Hitomi and another good friend of mine, Saeko. By all rights, we had half an hour to fool around and/or prepare for class, and every so often, I'll admit, I got the urge to dress up Saeko. This has always gone on for as long as we knew each other, and though Saeko doesn't mind, she's still easily frightened, and today, when I forced her out of her tutu and put her in a nurse uniform, she actually dragged me into the dressing room.

The reason: Hitomi.

OK, he wasn't the only reason; in fact, Saeko had dragged me into the dressing room before, because if I was going to dress her up, she'd prefer it be done in private, and not in front of the other students. She was definitely sensible in that regard; there was even a mechanism for locking the door to the dressing room from within.

Yeah, I like cosplay. I even dressed up as a Red Ranger at the most recent anime convention in town. You know who the Red Ranger is if you're familiar enough with Super Sentai. He's the head honcho and the leader of every Super Sentai team Toei had concocted.

"It's your lucky day, Hitomi!" I said. "This is the first day you get to see my friend Saeko in costume!"

Hitomi just said, "…I don't know what to say. Who do you think you are, Haruhi Suzumiya?"

"Actually," I said, "I don't see why you should compare me to an anime character."

"It's just that… you and Saeko like that remind me of Haruhi and Mikuru."

Saeko asked, "Who is this Mikuru?"

Hitomi said, "Apparently, she's some moeblob in some anime series about a reality-warping girl and her special club dedicated to looking for aliens, time travelers, sliders and ESPers."

"Now that you mention it," I said, "might there be any aliens, time travelers, sliders or ESPers in this class?"

"Doubtful," said Hitomi.

"If you ask me," Ana said, "Saeko is basically Mikuru with shorter hair and less talent."

"Hey!" I yelled. "How dare you mock her flat chest!? As they say in Sunshine Town, a flat chest is a status symbol! Extremely rare and valuable!"

Looking at her own chest, Ana said, "Yeah, that was hypocritical on my part."

Itsuko came in and chuckled to herself, saying, "It looks like you're all having fun today."

Hitomi said, "If your idea of having fun is dressing up Saeko in different costumes and being the pot that called the kettle black, then yeah. That was sarcasm, for those wondering."

I looked around and noticed that the coaches hadn't shown up yet. "This is the part," I said, "where Coaches Napier, Nashton, and Navarro show up to mock what we had just said."

"Gossip about people, and their shadows will appear!"

As the coaches walked in, I asked, "Do you have to say that every time you come in?"

Miss Nashton said, "I couldn't help myself, Miss Nikaido; you were talking about us just as we came in."

Mr. Napier barked, "Get in formation, you maggots!"

Mr. Navarro just glared at us and said, "I'll be looking forward to teaching you today."

Yeah, Mr. Navarro is pretty damn serious, or at least he tries to be.

Following warm-ups, the whole class–all 15 of us, myself included–went through half an hour of ballet exercises. I personally wouldn't have attempted ballet myself if not for the circumstances. For all I care, I'm glad we of this class got to wear the same clothes we've been wearing as students here. As the school handbook notes, the rhythmic gymnastics side alone has no set uniform; the only constants are pink tights and ballet shoes.

During the tendus, Miss Nashton got on to me again. This time, it wasn't about my tank top, but rather, something else: the way I was doing them.

"I see you tucked your shirt in today, Miss Nikaido," she said. "Good for you. However, you need to be more gentle with the tendus. Easy does it."

After all that, as Miss Nashton had promised us the day before, Mr. Navarro taught us about jumps and leaps. "Be careful, though," she told us. "I wouldn't trust him to not pull a Harpo Marx on us somewhere down the line. For all we know, he could teach you how to trip and fall."

Mr. Navarro shot her a glare and hissed like a cat. "Speaking of which," he said, "the first jump we're going to learn today is the pas de chat, or, as my English colleague would call it, the cat leap. It's been said that cats will always land on their feet. That is how a cat leap–"

He then demonstrated one.

"–is done. You don't do it on your hands, you do it on your feet! One, two–"

As he picked up both of his feet, he tumbled and landed on his ass. Ouch. Miss Nashton was quick to comment on it. "See? I told you."

Mr. Navarro motioned to Miss Nashton as if to say, "Te estoy vigilando, inglésita."

"As I was saying," he went on, "when both your feet are in the air, they're the first to hit the ground. Not your rear ends, your feet. One foot in the air, jump, that foot is the first to touch the ground. Miss Mitaka, Miss Godai, Miss Osaka, Miss Murasaki, Miss Fukuda, you five, to my understanding, are the only students to have had any prior formal ballet training, so you will be the first to demonstrate the cat leap, since you may be familiar with it from your dance classes. Un, deux, trois!"

And the five did so. "Whoa! Did you see that?" I promptly asked Hitomi.


"Saeko's really a pro at this!" I exclaimed as Hitomi and I, along with three others randomly selected by Mr. Navarro, prepared for our cat leaps. "You really should stop by the Fukuda School of Dance tomorrow, see how she does it."

"Un, deux, trois! Mr. Ichinose, that was not bad for a first try. You might want to lift your leg a bit higher in the future, though. Miss Nikaido, Miss Mitaka must've been a really good BFF to you."

"I call it luck," said I.

"In my experience," Mr. Navarro countered, "there's no such thing as luck. Miss Hisakawa, you will do well to land on the raised foot instead of the launching foot in the future. Miss Yotsuya, Miss Tsuwabuki, Miss Kitamura, Miss Watanabe, Miss Yukihiro, you're next. Ready? Un, deux, trois!"

In the same fashion, we learned chasses, hitch kicks, step hops, straight jumps, and the like. It took about 15 minutes. Then spoke Miss Nashton.

"Well! Looks like we got through that quicker than I had expected. Mr. Navarro must really be putting up an effort to teach you here, because, after a brief discussion between myself and Mr. Napier, the pivots and turns have been moved to today; likewise, balances and flexibilities have each been moved up a day ahead of schedule, though your teachers will be the same. Friday, we will start learning how to use the apparati of rhythmic gymnastics.

"Right, then, we'll start with basic tiptoe turns. Really, they can be done any way you want them to, but for today, arms en haut. Obviously, you need to be en releve to do this either way."

She then demonstrated a single tiptoe turn. "Row 1, on your toes. Everyone, when I call your names, you will do two of these turns to your right. Row 1, arms en haut. Everyone ready? Saeko!"

Saeko, who was directly in front of me, performed two tiptoe turns almost immediately after her name was called. "Yasu! Hikari! Row 2, on your toes!"

As a girl with her hair tied back in a bun wearing a purple tank unitard performed her two tiptoe turns, Hitomi and I shifted our weight to our toes, as did the others in our row. "Anzu! Itsuko! Row 2, arms en haut!"

Almost as if on cue, I raised my arms above my head, forming a circle, as did Hitomi and the others in the row. "Lisa!"

That was my cue to turn twice, and I did just that. After the second turn, I lowered my arms in front of me. "Hitomi! Sakura! Row 3, on your toes! Mika! Chiyo! Row 3, arms en haut! Akiko! Ana! Shoko! Row 1, arms en haut! Row 2, arms en haut! Masako! Inori! Arms en haut, everyone, now everyone do two tiptoe turns to their right!"

We all did so in unison. By the way, Tsumugi is simply my Japanese name, given to me by my father. My mother, a former Olympic rhythmic gymnast from Australia, gave me a name that was more adherent to the standards of the Western World from whence she was spawned. My actual name is Lisa Scarlett Serena Logan Nikaido; however, most just call me Tsumugi, though I'm OK with either name.

"Your mother would be proud of you, Miss Nikaido," Miss Nashton said. "She won the silver at the Seoul Olympics. So far, you show promise. Mr. Ichinose, I could say the same about you, if not more. Your mother was one of the best competitors in the Dream City regionals."

Hitomi said, "You didn't know my mother, Professor."

Miss Nashton said, "But I know that a drive to succeed apparently runs in your family. Plus, when I signed on to become a teacher here, I took the opportunity to read through a local history of the sport at the city archives. She was almost consistently in first place each year. She never gloated about it. When interviewed one year, she credited her success to hard work and perseverance, among other things. She's a good person, it would seem. Right, then, let's get back to class and not waste time talking about our family histories."

Afterwards, we learned chaine turns and pirouettes (or, as she called them, passe pivots).

"Like I said earlier," she finished, "balances will be learned tomorrow, flexibilities on Thursday, apparati manipulation on Friday and a special three-hour class on Saturday, followed by the gala. Be there, and be sure to show up looking nice. Dresses, of course, are not mandatory, but you've got to look sharp! Understand?"

Mr. Napier yelled, "Dismissed!"

As the students departed, I said, "Hey. Hitomi, I've got a friend from karate class who will teach you the basics of spear martial arts. She knows and understands just as well as I do, mate, about how you hate to hit most people of my gender, and I called her about your situation. She agreed to train you in spear martial arts with the naginata for an hour every Tuesday after school at the gymnasium."

Hitomi asked, "Is she a rhythmic gymnast, too?"

"Well, it's funny you should ask, mate," I said, "because actually, she's on the general education side. Look for a girl wearing black hakama pants. Come, I'll take you to the gymnasium."


As we continued down the halls, I said, "And be sure to meet me at the Fukuda School of Dance after you're done."

"I thought Saeko's ballet class wasn't until tomorrow?"

"Actually, it's my younger brother's ballet class. I have to walk him over to the Fukuda School of Dance later today for his class. Of course, it's not for another couple of hours, so you'll have plenty of time with my friend Kanako."

Hitomi asked, "Why is your younger brother taking ballet classes?"

"Long story," said I.

Suddenly, we stopped. "Listen," I said. "Do you hear that?"

Hitomi said, "It's the Texas A&M fight song, why?"

Almost at once, a black blur zipped by from out of nowhere and almost knocked me and Hitomi down. I asked, "Who the bloody hell was that!?"

Hitomi said, "Didn't you see his uniform? He's on the American football side."

ED: "Ganbalance de Dance Rhythm"

Next episode: "The Ball of the Dancer"

With the voice talents of:
EMMA WATSON as Tsumugi
YUKO GOTO as Saeko
CHARLOTTE BELL as Rattlesnake
PAT STARKE as Hebinodoku
R. LEE ERMEY as Coach Napier
LENA HEADEY as Coach Nashton
CHRISTIAN BALE as Coach Navarro
WENDEE LEE as Madame Fukuda
BRIANNE SIDDALL as Hitomi (younger)

Original Japanese voice cast:
HIRANO AYA as Tsumugi
GOTO YUKO as Saeko
NONAKA AI as Itsuko
TANAKA ATSUKO as Rattlesnake
HAN KEIKO as Hebinodoku
SAITO HARUHIKO as Coach Napier
KITAMURA ERI as Coach Nashton
YAMAJI KAZUHIRO as Coach Navarro
MINAGUCHI YUKO as Madame Fukuda
KATO NANAE as Hitomi (younger)

Voces de doblaje:
LAURA AYALA as Rattlesnake
ROCIO GARCEL as Hebinodoku
LAURA TORRES as Coach Nashton
MATIAS QUINTANA ORTIZ as Hitomi (younger)

Series director:

Episode director:




Character design:

Art director:

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