Smile PreCure! Episode 14: Divide and Conquer!

The PreCure settle into a nice serving of Takoyaki, and have settled into a groove in their own show.

After 14 episodes, we’re well past the first quarter of Smile PreCure’s televised run, and settled into what to expect from the show. With a wave of introductory character episodes, a cycle of spotlight episodes, and a recently wrapped-up vacation arc, we’ve come to know quite a bit about what this show can and cannot do. At times, it lacks punch, quite literally, in the action scenes, but the cast has a lot of personality and is well-balanced, as seen in this week’s foray intoOsaka.

Synopsis

The girls arrive atOsakafor the final half of their class trip. They begin their day with a self-guided tour ofOsakaCastle, but the group is separated during the visit. Nao, Akane, and Reika continue onwards while Yayoi and Miyuki are left behind. Yayoi and Miyuki try to continue on with the tour plans and hope to catch up at Tennouji Zoo, but are constantly sidetracked by their interactions with a number of local Osakan women who give them candy.  While the two girls visitTsuutenkakuTowerin order to get a beter view of the city, the other three continue their exhaustive search and are stricken by hunger. Majorina appears inOsaka, looking for candy, and when she is unable to obtain the local delicacy, she casts Bad End on the city and transforms Tsuutenkaku into a blue-nosed Akanbe, trapping Miyuki and Yayoi inside. All five girls transform separately, and Cures Sunny, March, and Beauty break out Cures Happy and Peace after using the Butterfly décor, granting them the ability to fly. They disorient the Akanbe and force it to spit out the two trapped Cures. Finally together, they vanquish it with Rainbow Healing.

As mentioned above, we are already a quarter of the way through Smile PreCure, so let’s take a look at each of the girls and their contribution to this episode as well as how they’ve progressed throughout the series so far.

Miyuki/Cure Happy

Miyuki genuinely enjoys her role as the leader of the PreCure.

Miyuki has certainly grown on me throughout the show’s run, so far. My initial impressions were that her hamminess would take up most of the spotlight as a result of her being the designated leader of the group. However, with strong personalities across the board, coupled by the carefree nature of Smile PreCure itself, Miyuki’s overacting is hardly noticeable, if she does so at all.

This is especially the case in this episode and last. She was the centre of the story in Kyoto, but the other characters stood out more. This week, she took a step back and let the other girls run the show. She still gets face time as the leader, and has presence by default, but it was a nice change of pace compared to last week. Going forward, I would definitely like to see her take on bigger leadership role, probably towards the end of the series. Fairy tales are Miyuki’s forte, and I will definitely buy into whatever plot twists that relate her to the fate of Marchenland and the Bad End Kingdom.

Akane/Cure Sunny

Akane is the cornerstone of the group with her kooky personality.

Akane is a very interesting character, even this week. She has a remarkably goofy personality that lends well to her boisterous Osakan background, but again, it balances well as part of an ensemble. I wouldn’t be able to take her seriously as the leader, even though she does have some genuine moments in her own spotlight episodes. Her passion gives her great presence in the group, even if she doesn’t have major involvement in a particular episode.

In this week’s episode, it was interesting to see this in play. Taking place in Osaka, and with the appearance of a number of Osakan side characters, Akane fit in well within the setting, possibly to the point where the backdrop serves as a natural extension of her personality. I particularly enjoyed the moment during the Akanbe battle where she gets the butterfly decor powerup and taunts the Akanbe while flying around. The voice acting for the three girls were top-notch in this segment.

Akane is the rock of the cast, adding a very strong dynamic to the team that really defines who the PreCure are. She, along with Yayoi, are audience favourites, and she definitely deserves that recognition. As a character, there are a lot of sides of her that can be potentially explored. While she deeply cares for her friends, I’d like to see her continue to explore her individuality, as she did in the Okonomiyaki episode.

Yayoi/Cure Peace

When Yayoi is excited, the audience is excited as well.

Holy. Mother. Of. Crap. Yayoi. Is. Too. Cute. Is this the era of the moefication of pretty cure? With the advent of Kise Yayoi and the infinite droves of fanart on pixiv and the like, there’s very little to change the minds of naysayers who predict the cancerous death of this magical girl franchise. While there is some cause for concern in this line of thought, Yayoi does have a lot of personality traits that I don’t see in your typical database moeblob.

For one, her fascination with all things superhero and other games makes her a unique and genuine brand of nerd that is relatable, but doesn’t flirt with the line of otaku-ness. This particular fawning was in full display in Osaka, comparing her and Miyuki’s situation as an RPG. There’s an immaturity coupled with that geeky passion that the audience just loves, but with immaturity comes the potential for maturity down the road. Can she truly take on the responsibility of being a superhero? Can she bear the weight of people who put faith in her in the same way she does in her tokusatsu role models? I love seeing these kinds of character progressions in a long-running series like PreCure.

Nao/Cure March

There’s a lot to love about Nao, but there’s a lot that she’s yet to reveal about herself.

I have a special place in my heart of hearts for Nao, in regards to having her as my favourite character in Smile PreCure, and with it comes high expectations, not only with regards to what she brings to the PreCure team dynamic, but also overall performance and believability of character. I raised issues early on about her being somewhat redudant compared to Akane, but recent developments have set Nao apart from her fiery friend, particularly with regards to their relationships with others and themselves.

Nao is slowly but surely coming to grips with who she naturally is, compared to this image of being the family-first, strong leader of a woman that she sets out to be. She’s afraid of bugs, she succombs to hunger. She is more of a girly-girl than her athletic tomboyish reputation led on in her introductory episode in episode 4. I’d love to see her strive to find out who she really is, where she fits in the world of PreCure, and have her accept the role that she plays in the struggle ahead. There’s a lot of potential within March, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the iceberg.

Reika/Cure Beauty

Prim, proper, and just a slight pinch of preposterous.

Speaking of ice, Reika is the iceberg of this cast of characters, who seems to get hardly any focus or screentime. As I’ve complained before, her supposed spotlight episode was overshadowed by Candy and the Rainbow Healing upgrade, and we never really get to know much about Reika other than her student council exploits. Her intelligence has been pointed out numerous times, but in the spirit of how silly Smile PreCure is, her intelligence is often coupled with a slight lack of common sense, just enough to allow her to be the smart one of the group, but still show potential for silliness.

This week did a great job at highlighting the contrast between her cool, smart, exterior and what she could potentially be when she eases up on the princess act. Desparate to find Miyuki and Yayoi, Reika let her guard down, particularly during one exchange where she chides Nao for complaining about her hunger, only to have her own stomach grumble just as loudly. I really enjoy this side of Reika, but I can understand why the writers may be holding a bit back. She’s the high-strung type who is easily prone to defrosting the ice queen treatment, which, combined with the nonsensical approach that Smile takes, can have interesting possibilities in its execution.

PreCure Power Rankings, Episode 14

1. Yayoi/Cure Peace – I lost at Jan Ken Pon again, but her enthusiasm really carried throughout the episode.
2. Nao/Cure March – Getting dragged around Osaka was out of her comfort zone, and was highly entertaining.
3. Reika/Cure Beauty – I really loved her playful teasing during the Akanbe fight. “Kocchi desu yo!”
4. Akane/Cure Sunny – Cure Osaka was literally at home with this episode. She fit the setting like a glove.
5. Miyuki/Cure Happy – She took a back seat to Yayoi’s antics, which wonderfully balances out last week.

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2 thoughts on “Smile PreCure! Episode 14: Divide and Conquer!

  1. Miyuki/Cure Happy– Yarrr pink is the leader! Unlike the power rangers with awesome red, but Miyuki this week like you said took a back seat and was stuck with Yayoi, however I think when you are lost in a unknown area it is best to have someone like her around if only to lighten up the mood…then again I always see those two characters as being a bit similar in a few ways like both being hyperactive in some earlier episodes? As for leader material I agree she will slowly become the epic leader towards the middle or near the end of Smile, but he movies always do a good job showcasing the “pink team” becoming awesome.

    Akane/Cure Sunny— fufufufu yeah she was a lot of fun to watch this week! For some reason I just feel she is way more tomboy than Nao, but maybe that is why the yuri artists ship them together so much? Either that or they are fans of the Green/red combo? Anyway I loved the moment when the girls got their wings! So cool and lots of Hnnggg with catch me! And over here! Lololol good ring tone material right there. Akane is still my 2nd favorite on my list of “cures that rock” but with each passing episode I feel it could change at any moment.

    Yayoi/Cure Peace— Oh to be lost in japan with someone as exciting as Yayoi! I.WOULD. DIE. FROM. THE. CUTE…yes! Yayoi was reaching some hnnngggg power levels this week, but yeah she does channel the nerds in all of us doesn’t she as in being a fan of games, super heroes and lots of other otaku things, however you are right on about how immature she can be at random moments in the series so far. I have a feeling she will eventually change and become more mature, but maybe she will hang onto some of her childlike ways? Every anime team out there needs a character like Yayoi to break up the serious moments as I have seen with One Piece, Gintama, Fairy Tail and maybe something like Space bros? I would say I would fit that role ahaha well maybe xD

    Nao/Cure March— When I discovered how she reacted around bugs she made me laugh so much only because well I share similar reactions to them minus the normal biting kinds of bugs! That said I still haven’t found her to be super interesting yet, but she still has plenty of time to grow and stand out on her own. For now she remains my 4th favorite just based on how she can be serious one moment and then BLAM! A total wreck in a matter of minutes <3

    Reika/Cure Beauty— Hell ya! I am with you her episode was like ten mins of her problem and then she was pushed aside as the new rainbow attack was introduced! I was looking forward to seeing her get some focus time…maybe they will try again with her later on? I can imagine the writing staff like "No! We must wait and center an episode around her new ice sword!" I could see them spinning that into something special for Reika, but for now I always see her as the 2nd in command as far as the team setting goes I mean she is smart and uses her head. This week she killed me with her hunger reactions! I was like ahahahah nice I love seeing the serious characters fall into the gag role even if it was only for a few seconds.

    I beat Yayoi this week! Or maybe I let her win? Wuahahahah.

    • Miyuki has great chemistry with Yayoi because they both have that hyperactivity going, but there are a number of things that set them apart. Miyuki is more outgoing with her latent natural leadership skills and love for her friends, and she is overall more optimistic with the “Ultra-Happy” catchphrase that she has. Yayoi tends to be more shy and introverted, keeping to herself with her manga drawings and closet nerd interests, and has a bit of a issue regarding her confidence in her own talents and overall self-worth. The two have some neat contrasts, but the added commonalities results in that chemistry that works really well; I’m actually surprised that these two aren’t shipped in fandom as hard as Akane/Nao as you said.

      That said, Akane/Nao is a completely different shipping animal altogether. I don’t feel as much chemistry between them as much as I do between Miyuki and Yayoi, but there’s a similar blend of similarities and convenient contrasts that the latter pair has. Akane and Nao are both athletic and strong-willed characters, but as you said, one’s more of a tomboy while the other is starting to show her girly-girl side. Akane likes to emphasize her own individuality and independence, whereas Nao is more of a nurturer of her relationships with her family and friends. Nao is a bit more grounded in her own actions, but Akane is completely wild and free. Overall, both are driven by their emotions and passions, which is probably one of the enticing aspects of the ship itself.

      Looks like Reika/Beauty gets relegated to mascot buddy status, even though Candy and Miyuki already have that dynamic going. And this is on top of the lack of screen time that she’s gotten so far. It could be a blessing in disguise, though, since there are a lot of ways to make her stand out on her own. As you said, there’s still the whole Ice Sword thing, which always is a good ace in the hole to save when the Smile fandom starts getting uppity about the lack of love that Reika gets in the show. That said, one episode is definitely enough to redeem a character’s lack of screen time, as seen with Karen in Yes 5 and her EPIC JOUST BATTLE.

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