Watching episodes like this week’s PreCure makes me undeniably ecstatic about blogging Smile as I have so far. There was a little bit of everything, from new characters to the good old antics that we’ve come to expect after 6 installments. This is the first episode that puts all five characters in an equal position of exposure, and there are lots of things to like when they’re together. With a new, fabulous villain, and a pretty great one-off side character, Smile still has a long way to go with regards to introducing its full cast, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Despite celebrating the formation of the new PreCure team, the five members are still curious about their role as legendary warriors. Candy’s older brother, a lion-like samurai fairy named Pop, appears before the girls, and after taking them to the mysterious library back in episode 1, he explains the story of Marchenland, Bad End Kingdom, and the PreCure’s mission. Meanwhile, Joker makes his first appearance in front of the Bad End Trio, and Majorina wins a game of cards, as well as an opportunity to gather Bad Energy from the townsfolk. The PreCure’s plans to come up with a transformation catchphrase are interrupted by Majorina’s presence elsewhere, and use the bookshelf portal to stop her. Miyuki gets distracted in her concentration and accidentally teleports to the South Pole. With the help of Pop, she finds her way back to Majorina and the other girls, who are being chased by an Akanbe. They transform and come up with a catchphrase, but are attacked by Akanbe at the end of their pose. Pop saves them by transforming into a giant pressing machine, and Miyuki finishes the monster off with a Happy Shower. Pop leaves for Marchenland again after leaving a few words of encouragement for his little sister, Candy.
I wanted to use a catchphrase here as a cute transition to my five thoughts this week, but I clearly fail at coming up with something. Here they are:
The PreCure series story arc is nothing new, but is revealed in a pretty way.
This week placed a fair amount of emphasis on establishing the actual backstory of the entire show. The first five episodes of Smile was spent on assembling the team, and while they were pretty neat in their own way, it didn’t do that much in the way of actually revealing much about the story. This was pointed out quite effectively at the start of the episode when Candy embarrassingly was unable to answer the girls’ questions about PreCure. With Pop making an appearance as the exposition character, there was a possibility that this entire segment would be a dragging infodump.
Wonderfully enough, it wasn’t. As is the theme of this year’s show, a fairy tale approach was taken in explaining the series backstory, with a neat little storytime segment that not only painted a picture of the fall of Marchenland and the emergence of PreCure, but does so with gorgeous storybook illustrations of the events. I particularly loved how the story ended with a blank page, and Pop explaining to them that it is up to them to write the rest through their actions. It makes the magic of Candy’s book have a pretty nice little fate element to it, much like Ringo’s Diary in Mawaru Penguindrum, or even the Death Note.
Joker is immediately the best villain in the show, and arguably the most fabulous in the franchise.
I had completely expected Joker to make his appearance a bit later on in the show, as last week’s previews indicated that the focus would solely be on Pop, Candy’s older brother mascot character. Him showing up at all, then, was quite the pleasant surprise. And by pleasant, I mean OH MY GOD I CAN’T HANDLE ALL THE FABULOUS.
Forget everything you may possibly remember about Moerumba from Splash Star or, more recently, Cobraja from Heartcatch. The Joker is one fine ridiculous jester with all his twirling, jazz splitting, and OH MY GOD HIS ENGRISH IS SUPERB. He may not have Cobraja’s glorious vanity, or Moerumba’s burning passion, but he has a pretty great sadistic streak to compliment his insanity. A more flamboyant version of a Joker of the same name, there’s so much to love here. Fans of Milky Holmes can immediately hear the Twenty in Joker’s voice, but wikipedia and ANN give seiyuu attribution to a different individual altogether, Yuji Mitsuya.
Regardless, Joker immediately injects life into this villainous trio, who already meshes well together with last week’s introduction of Majorina. He has yet to play any of his cards, but I can definitely see him pulling a Full House on the PreCure. As they say, deuces are wild, and the right-hand man to the main baddie Pierrot is already pulling all the stops as a likeable vaillain.
Pop is a fantastic mascot character, and he makes Candy even better.
From one character introduction to another, we have Pop, the newest addition to the protagonist side of Smile PreCure. Candy’s older brother, Pop provides a more serious balance to Candy’s happy-go-lucky nature of your typical PreCure mascot character. Like all others before him, he has a verbal tic, de gozaru, which is easily the coolest tic one could have. De gozaru is an archaic, military-like tic used by retainer-type characters, and Pop naturally fulfills that type of personality due to his relationship with Candy.
Candy’s affection for Pop is nonstop throughout the show. He hangs onto him dearly whenever he’s around, and when Pop leaves at the end of the episode, she has a really nice moment with him that doesn’t come off as overly dramatic, but still pretty toothachey in its sweetness. Naturally so, since her name is Candy, after all.
Pop looks to be a recurring character in the series, despite having left for Marchenland at the end of the episode. He’ll make contact with the Cures and with Candy through the Cell Phone decor, making him a bit of an expository mentor character for the rest of the series. I’m completely fine by this, as my favourite mascots are often the ones who have reduced screentime in comparison to the others (i.e., Coupé from Heartcatch, and Tarte from Fresh, in relation to Chiffon.)
Smile continues to do a fantastic job at not taking itself seriously.
The Smile gang spent quite an exorbitant amount of time trying to come up with a catchphrase of all things, yet that was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sheer amount of silliness that this show provides. How about the name of the Cure Décor holder, the Décor Décor? The villains playing Old Maid during their downtime? How about Joker, period? There’s just so much nonsense that’s happening in this show that, if looked at individually, would probably ruin any other precure show like Futari wa or Heartcatch. However, the juvenile motif of fairy tales really meshes well the notion that Smile should be the PreCure show to be utterly silly.
Such trivial treatment of the franchise allows Smile to point out the flubs of tropes in PreCure in general, and the most notable example this week was the missile explosion right after the girls’ first transformation together. Think about it this way: Candy spends a whole FIVE episodes looking for the legendary warriors known as the Pretty Cure, and now that they’re together and fighting for the first time, they immediately succumb to a monster missile barely five seconds after transformation.
This penultimate event is the result of an entire episode’s worth of “useless” attempts at coming up with a catchphrase. And yet, the moment Miyuki reaches an epiphany with what they should do, it literally blows up in her face. A lack of fisticuffs aside so far, how could you not love this show?
The newest PreCure All-Stars is shaping up to be the most interesting one yet.
It just makes sense that the more series there are in a particular franchise, the more exciting the possibilities are with regards to Bat family crossovers, especially when the family is as large as this one. The novelty of All-Stars has long since worn out, but there still remains a fantastic concept of an alternate continuity where all the Cures get together and save the world with the power of friendship and audience participation.
That said, I was very happy with how DX3 turned out, with a focus placed on Heartcatch and Suite, the two most recent shows at the time the movie was released. While I’m intrigued by the Suite PreCure’s role in New Stage, and the potential interactions between Hibiki, Kanade, Ellen, and Ako with Miyuki and the Gang, I’m actually more intrigued by the interactions between Miyuki’s group and Nozomi’s from Yes 5. Not counting Milk’s inclusion as the spoileriffic sixth ranger, the five on five vibe is a pretty interesting one indeed, considering the immense similarities between the two groups.
Other than Smile, Yes 5 competes with Suite for second place on the silliness rankings, with its intrinsic slice-of-life approach to their weekly episodic format. Having a focus on these two instead of Suite and Smile would make for a more interesting movie, but alas, a bro can dream.
(Did you get the pun there? Cure Dream, etc., bahaha!)
PreCure Power Rankings: Episode 6
1. Reika/Cure Beauty – Intelligence is relative, and while her reasoning that coming up with a catchphrase is good for teamwork is pretty damn silly in itself, she still comes off as the sane one.
2. Miyuki/Cure Happy – The driving force behind Smile’s mockery of the PreCure franchise, everything revolved around her, expectedly, and she did a really good job at taking the wheel.
3. Yayoi/Cure Peace – Had some nice individual moments with Miyuki and Pop. It speaks volumes about her character when her Jankenpon is a weekly spoiler in the fandom.
4. Akane/Cure Sunny – It felt like she was fighting for lines with Cure March. She emerged victorious, but at what cost?
5. Nao/Cure March – Her only lines were pretty much echoing statements of whatever Sunny said. Together, they’re great, individually, she was lacking. At least she got featured in the eyecatch.