Smile PreCure! Episode 14: Divide and Conquer!
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.