12 Days of Anime #10: PreCure Opens My Heart

It’s not every day that an anime comes along that takes the magical girl genre and turns it over its head. In January, fans were treated to a series that was dark an edgy, dealing with themes such as character death, the end of a crapsack world full of problems, parental issues and abandonment, and solves all of the above with a message of absolute hope that spreads throughout the galaxy at the final episode.

My dear reader, were you thinking about Madoka Magica? Oh heavens no, I was talking about Heartcatch PreCure.

Considering my praise this year for Suite PreCure, 2011’s iteration of the Pretty Cure franchise, it’s hard to forget that before the show began, a much superior continuity had been winding down to its most fascinating conclusion. In January, episodes 46-49 of HeartCatch PreCure aired, not only cementing the show as the golden standard for the magical girl genre, but making a lifelong fan out of yours truly.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Madoka. I love the approach it took, and the commentary it made on mahou shojou conventions, but as I mentioned in my review of the series, it’s more of a series about magical girls, than a magical girl series itself.

The last arc of the series saw the following (beware major spoilers):

The world turned into a vast desert, and mankind is crystallized by the earth’s desertification.

The heart tree is destroyed.

Redemption and death of the two remaining henchmen, Kumojacky and Cobraja (the third henchman, Sasorina, was defeated in an earlier awesome episode).

Cure Moonlight’s missing father is revealed as her enemy, Professor Sabakku.

The dark magical girl, Dark PreCure is Cure Moonlight’s twin sister.

Dark PreCure dies without redemption.

Sabakku is killed, sacrificing himself to protect the PreCure from the series’ big bad, Dune.

Dune transforms into a planet-sized final form, and starts PUNCHING THE SHIT OUT OF THE EARTH.

The PreCure transform into their final form, a fused being of infinite love and hope named Infinity Silhouette, and PUNCHES THE SHIT OUT OF DUNE.

It was this penultimate eleventh-hour superpower that I was oh so reminded of when I watched the final episodes of Madoka, which was also galactic in scale. The infinite hope and infinite love of the PreCure triumphs over the uncurable heart of Dune, a being of pure, utter hatred. The ending is happy, but there’s a feeling of how grave things had to be before it got better. It’s the kind of treatment that seemed almost over-the-top in Madoka, but the sweet spot was hit with Heartcatch.

If Madoka Magica is considered to be the Evangelion of magical girl series, then PreCure is by far the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

PreCure, open my heart!

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20 thoughts on “12 Days of Anime #10: PreCure Opens My Heart”

  1. YES! Another person with a 12 days of anime post about Heartcatch! Well I already had a review on Heartcatch so the post was about my love for the Precure franchise in general. This is such a great show, heck it’s my favorite anime now I think.

  2. I’ve said this previously to Anya, but I guess I’ll say it again: this Precure franchise really seems to be the “defining” mahou shoujo show. Tempted to check it out now, seeing how similar, yet contrasting it is from Madoka.

    1. Indeed. They both looked at certain conventions differently, but had different commentaries about them. In the end, the common message is that hope triumphs all. Both shows did an awesome job in conveying that. Madoka did so through her final wish, and HeartCatch did so through their eleventh-hour transformation into infinity silhouette, a deity of the same level as Godoka.

    2. I think on close examination the similarities are superficial — because Madoka borrowed the trappings, but not the substance, of the base genre — while the differences are substantial: duration, airing time and audience (size and nature), animation approach (tableaux vs. flow), profit model, things like that.

      As I understand it (and I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know) right now Precure is probably the big name in the Cutie Honey/Sailor Moon conflict-driven magical girl tradition. Certainly it sounds like it makes Toei a lot of money.

      1. Precisely. As I mentioned in my post, I likened to Madoka as a show about magical girls, rather than a magical girl show in itself.

        At 10 billion yen per series (except for the Splash Star), yes, it’s quite a bit of money.

  3. Yes, the climax of Heartcatch is terrific and all, but the icing-on-the-cake-and-cherry-on-top was how well they handled the falling action/epilogue. It hit the right tone of looking forward, sweet nostalgia, and doing justice for each of the major characters’ development during their time as Cures. The swell of satisfaction from a perfect ending will make Heartcatch stay with me for a long time.

    1. “hit the right tone of looking forward…”

      Especially this. Considering the major emphasis put on the idea of multiple generations of cure, this was such a fantastic touch, especially with Tsubomi’s sister.

      Looking back now, the final battle only took place in the first half of the episode. The entire back half was spent on epilogue, which was a very smart move. It tied up pretty much everything in that show, which is a feat in itself, considering how much happened in those previous 48 episodes.

  4. I remember watching these final episodes! Sooooo bad ass! And I can’t forget the that super transformation at the end…so amazing 😉

    I SECOND THAT KRIZZ! PIERCE THE DESERT WITH YOUR FIST! ❤

  5. The galactic end seems to be kind of a must of in many mahou shoujo. I remember Sailor Moon SS ending. Other than Madoka mahou shoujo lately seem to leave me a bit uninvolved. I have a hard time with all the ribbons and vibrant colors and the sugar-cotted messages. Precure has become a trend but I’m not sure, if should try watching it. I’d rather start GINTAMA for example. Hm…

    1. I can imagine how you would have a hard time accepting the overall tone and theme of these types of shows. Just take into consideration that these shows are aimed at certain fanbases, so I’m not surprised at the least that someone who is well beyond her childhood days would not want to take an interest in such shows. Gintama is great for a laugh, though.

      1. Hm, I really like how Totoro makes me feel for example. But when I tried watching some Pokemon movies with my sis, we got so disappointed. I’m not sure why this inconsistency… Yes, GINTAMA must be good. I was recommended and watched some episodes. I just need to find the time and braveness to start such a long series.

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