Edit: When I have the time I’ll try to write another guide, as after quickly updating it on March 2018 I’ve grown dissatisfied with it.
To celebrate how it’s been 7 years since May 2010 when I started this blog, I’m publishing a “‘how to get into the Pretty Rhythm franchise” guide.(that’s pretty much just a pretext, I don’t care about anniversaries)
I see a lot of Japanese fans writing guides like this on Twitter so I thought I’d do one too. If you only saw the Kinpri movie and want to see more
if you watch PriPara and want to know what was the series that originated it
if you like Bakemonogatari and want to watch more things with Watanabe Akio designed characters
If you like Love Live or Shortpants no Kuni, and wondering how the director learned to make good CG scenes
if you like Aikatsu! and a friend just taunted you saying “Pfff, Aikatsu! copied everything from Pretty Rhythm”
If you want to watch Pretty Rhythm and don’t know where to start, this is the thing you need, perhaps.
First off, the airdate order of Pretty Rhythm is:
2011-2012: Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, (shortened to AD)
2012-2013: Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future (shortened to DMF)
2013-2014: Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live (shortened to RL)
2014: Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection(recap with fun new SD short segments. There’s a movie titled Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection Prism Show Best Ten which is a recap as well except for a new comedy scene at the end)
January 9 2016 KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm (movie, shortened to Kinpri)
June 10 2017 KING OF PRISM -Pride the Hero- (movie, shortened to Kinpri2/Kinpra)
Which season should I start with?
DMF is a direct sequel to AD, so you need to watch AD first or you won’t get the story.
Kinpri is a direct sequel to RL. The first Kinpri movie quickly reexplains the story so it’s not mandatory to have seen RL, but I heavily recommend it. There’s many points you won’t get unless you watched RL.
AD+DMF and RL+Kinpri aren’t connected which each other and take place in different universe. But RL and Kinpri has tons of references to AD and DMF and a multiverse ongoing subplot. Kinpri 2 has been confirmed by Sugita to have tons of references to past works as well.
As such, you can start watching Pretty Rhythm with either Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live or KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm.
The director of the series once said on Twitter it’s okay to start watching with RL or Kinpri. Which one you choose depends of your tastes.
First of all, don’t listen to the people who say Pretty Rhythm is only drama and suffering. There’s also scenes much funnier than anything you’ll see in tons of other “comedy” anime.
Aurora Dream or Rainbow Live?
I’d say AD and RL are equal, with different strengths and weaknesses balancing it out. AD is more a character driven story, with pretty funny, wacky and well developed characters. Their issues from parental abandonment to love problems and stuff are what makes the show going.
RL is character driven for the first half, then more story driven in the second half, which makes it seems as if a few characters are less developed than others, including the main heroine. It’s not that she’s not developed, but that her story and development is much more subtle and in retreat compared to how a main character in a children show usually is. This isn’t a blunder, the director said in interviews he wanted things to be this way.
Unlike AD, for RL only two characters left a very strong impression on me: Bell and Hiro. RL’s 1st half is also one of the least funny kids shows I ever watched, besides some scenes in serious moments deliberately made funny in a telenovela way, mostly scenes with Hiro. It also has a big emphasis on human drama, and while this is also true for the other seasons, in RL it’s not counterbalanced by the hilariousness and ridiculousness of some of the events, except for the jumps which are always over the top in all Pretty Rhythm works.
The main character of AD is very fun and a cinderella type of character. The main character of RL is very fun as well but very different from the usual mold of the main character in a children show. Aurora Dream has original character designs by Watanabe Akio. Rainbow Live has original character designs by Okama, except for the male characters.
Rainbow Live got the best animation out of the three seasons by far. AD and DMF are full of SD character transition and cheapness, until their second halves where the animation gets better. The CG in Rainbow Live is also much better than in past seasons. Seeing it when the show aired made me think it was the first genuinely good and impressive CG I saw in an anime.
Lastly, I’ll add that AD is very aggressive in it’s marketing during the 1st half. Aira constantly rambles about clothes and basically acts like girls who don’t wear the latest fashion are trash. DMF has a focus on clothes design, but that one aspect is removed. And in RL, they barely talk about clothes design and fashion in general. If this kind of thing bother you, you might want to start with RL. I think that kind of thing didn’t bother parents in Japan because most already do that in the first place: teaching their kids fashion is ultra important and must be followed from a very young age, accepting anything their kids ask and buying them makeup etc. There’s actually a lot of things I don’t agree with from a morals standpoint in Pretty Rhythm(well, like a lot of other anime) and that’s why I wouldn’t recommend showing it to kids until you know they have a criticism sense.
All three seasons are 51 episodes long.
If you want a good story, with good characters (except the main heroine and some others), no fun allowed for most of the time, an okay start but keeps getting better and better, good animation and CG, go for Rainbow Live
If yo’re still undecided, start with KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm. It’ll be the most over the top incredible anime movie you’ve ever watched and motivate you to learn more and watch the rest.
(DMF is actually my favorite season out of the three, with everything good in AD except even better. It also has one of the best main characters I’ve seen in anime.)
If you like choosing in terms of seiyuus:
First of all, you should know that all seasons have multiple main characters voiced by Itou Kanae. Hye In and Kaname you see above are both main characters voiced by her. Pretty Rhythm is a must watch if you’re a fan of her. All seasons also have a character called Akaii Megane who is voiced by Itou Kanae. She’s still in PriPara and Kiratto Pri☆chan as well.
Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream got Asumi Kana as the main character, plus Akesaka Satomi, Yonezawa Madoka, Hayamizu Risa, Kondo Takashi, KENN, Chiba Susumu…
Aurora Dream also has the very first role in anime of Uesaka Sumire, she voices one of those random rich girl eating with Mion during the above scene seen in episode 25. She has a few lines, maybe even speaking Russian too. Though I never deciphered what language it’s supposed to be, and as the random girls are called “rich girl A-D” in the credits, I’m actually not even sure the one speaking the mysterious language is the one voiced by Uesaka. In any case you can’t call yourself a true fan of Sumippe if you haven’t seen Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream.
DMF being a sequel, almost all the characters/seiyuu from AD are present as well.
Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live especially got an all star cast: Katou Emiri as the main character seen above, Tomato Haruka, Komatsu Mikako, Shishido Rumi, Sakura Ayane, Kakihara Tetsuya, Masuda Toshiki, Maeno Tomoaki, Morikubo Showtaro, Toshihiko Seki…
There’s also Miki Shinichiro voicing the villain.
Almost all the seiyuus who voiced main characters in AD and DMF voiced side characters in RL, like the main characters’ parents.
Kinpri has new characters which brings in new voices like Hatanaka Tasuku, Takeuchi Shunsuke or Shota Aoi. Kinpri 2 will even have Sugita.
In summary, RL has the strongest cast of seiyuus, but others seasons have some good ones too.
Which Pretty Rhythm season should I start with if I don’t like to have boys in my anime?/What’s the deal with the Kinpri movies being male character focused?
All shows have male characters and they’re all great characters. The male characters in Aurora Dream and Dear My Future has less focus on them than the ones in Rainbow Live. But they’re still there and important. If you can’t stand male characters, Pretty Rhythm isn’t really for you.
Kinpri is the sequel to Rainbow Live, but focuses on Rainbow Live’s male characters because their story wasn’t over yet at the end of RL. It’s also because one of the biggest themes in Pretty Rhythm is young people solving adults’ problems, and those adult characters in RL are males contrary to AD DMF where they were women.
Kinpri 1 was only made possible thanks to the fans support and the unyielding staff who bet their jobs on the line. Even then, it still had a very reduced budget and staff, and is actually only “half a movie”, or a prologue. And it’s only thanks to the movie’s incredible performances in theaters, thanks to the “ouenjouei” screenings of the movie where you can come cosplayed, scream and cheer during scenes, that the sequel Kinpri2 was greenlighted. You can find all the background info about Kinpri’s production by reading my newsposts and interview translations here.
Unlike previous seasons, Kinpri also has a lot of male sexual fanservice, with bath scenes and fujoshi pandering. These kind of things were actually already present in the TV series, but got upped. Besides that, it still retains the same things that makes Pretty Rhythm so good. Even if you have no interest in BL, if you liked Rainbow Live and want to see what happens next, you’ll love Kinpri. The director of the Pretty Rhythm series always said he and the writers wanted to make a show for everyone rather than just a show to sell toys, and I think they did a tremendous job. While Kinpri is definitely more for older girls than for little girls, (the staff acknowledged it multiple times in interviews) it’s still for “everyone”.
Which Pretty Rhythm season should I start with if I like PriPara?
Most people I’ve seen who are PriPara fans and want to watch Pretty Rhythm tend to start with Rainbow Live. The animation and CG is of very good quality like in PriPara, so it’s a softer transition compared to going to Aurora Dream. In terms of ambiance, I think AD is much closer to PP though, so I personally recommend starting with AD if you like PP.
Which Pretty Rhythm season should I start with if I like Aikatsu! ?
I haven’t seen Aikatsu! past the first season, and I’m not watching Aikatsu Stars either, so my opinion on this matter is limited.
All Pretty Rhythm seasons are very different from Aikatsu!, but I guess Aurora Dream is the closest to Aikatsu!. I guess the biggest differences with Aikatsu! I can think of right now is that Pretty Rhythm got main male characters, most of the time acting as love interests, and how there’s 3 episodes long tournament arcs in almost every cour. Pretty Rhythm is more like a shoujo sports show from the 80’s rather than an idol show. It also has a more wider appeal to older men and women than Aikatsu! in my opinion.
Which Pretty Rhythm season should I start with if I like Love Live or Idolm@ster or Wake Up, Girls or any idol show?
I never watched Love Live, I’m not into Idolm@ster, I haven’t seen WUG either. I’m actually not a fan of idol anime, and for a few years now I almost never watched any anime focused on idols or music. I guess the biggest difference between all these is that Pretty Rhythm has male characters that are inherent to the story. Again, if you can’t stand male characters Pretty Rhythm isn’t really for yo.
If you’re a Love Live fan in particular, I strongly recommend watching Pretty Rhythm. Love Live’s director Kyougoku Takahiko worked on Pretty Rhythm’s CG, and he considers Pretty Rhythm’s director Hishida Masakazu as one of his masters. They both get along really well. Kyougoku learned many things and skills while working on Pretty Rhythm’s CG that he later reused on Love Live. He also got permission to reuse some CG assets from Pretty Rhythm in Love Live. For example the CG feathers you see in Love Live 2 ‘s ED animation are from Pretty Rhythm. He once said it on twitter.
In 2020 it should be the anniversary of when the first Pretty Rhythm arcade game launched, and in 2021 the anniversary of the first anime. If they ever do a big Pretty Rhythm/Kinpri/PriPara crossover project, it’ll be then.
If you still can’t make your mind between Aurora Dream and Rainbow Live, I personally recommend starting with Aurora Dream and watching everything in production order. That way you’ll enjoy each show to the fullest, being able to get every reference to past works. That way you’ll be able to fully enjoy KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- as well. Director said on multiple interviews that it’s the culmination of everything before so you should watch all seasons before watching it. And then when you’re done watching everything, you should check out this page with tons of cool background info on the series.