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!