With seven episodes under our belt, we have an initial idea of what kind of show Smile PreCure is all about, particularly in relation to the other cure shows. While each continuity follows a strict formula, the exact formula differs from series to series. With Smile PreCure, the identity falls upon the cast itself, with all five girls going about their lives as PreCure, with the bare minimum in monster-of-the-week shennanigans. This means reduced emphasis on combat, which seems to go against the grain of the identity of PreCure as a whole. However, the increased focus on the characters themselves is very rewarding; with such fantastic voice acting, we get to know the characters more each day, despite barely scratching the surface of the show’s overall plot. Smile has become the magical girl equivalent of K-ON, and I’m quite fine with that.
Unable to find a private place in school to discuss PreCure-related matters, the girls go on a mission to find their secret base. They meet up at the mysterious library, but due to the somewhat hazardous environment, they try to search elsewhere for their ideal base. Reika takes the team to the top of Mount Fuji and gives a speech about the PreCure journey, which goes over the heads of the others. Yayoi takes the team to a futuristic command centre, but the place is revealed to be the set for a superhero film. Nao finds a nice comfy little room with stuffed animals, but it turns out to be a display for a stuffed animal store. Akane leads her friends to a gorilla exhibit at a zoo, and they get chased away by a zookeeper. Miyuki proposes a secret base in the woods that she used as a child growing up, but upon arrival, she discovers that the secret base has since been occupied by two little girls playing house. Wolfrun appears and casts his Bad End aura over the kids, transforming a tree into an Akanbe. Miyuki and the others transform into Smile PreCure and defeat the Akanbe using Cure Happy’s Happy Shower finisher. Resuming their search, the Precure settle for the mysterious library as their home base.
This episode was interesting in that it showcased the five girls selecting places that they would deem fit for a secret base. These settings act like an extension of the characters themselves because of their attraction to it. Here are my thoughts on each character and their secret base choices after watching this episode.
1. Reika/Cure Beauty -Mount Fuji
Despite establishing herself as the intelligent straight arrow of the group, Reika’s relative weirdness blends in very well with the rest of the group. This is further shown in her decision to make MountFuji the home base for the Precure. She remains utterly serious throughout her entire declaration ofFuji as her home; she is initially depicted in an inspirational light, carrying a scroll and giving a speech about obstacles and character development as a team of heroes, all with dramatic wind and accompanying music.
When her communicative efforts fails to reach the rest of the cures, Reika’s sudden embarrassment regarding the impracticality of her choice leaves her blushing behind her scroll, which is remarkably endearing, considering exactly how far out she was and how much it failed to reach the others. She is a fish out of water with the rest of the group, falling somewhere between boke and tsukkomi, and can fill both roles quite well, when the need arises.
2. Yayoi/Cure Peace – Superhero Headquarters
I can’t help but feel that Yayoi is slowly come out of her shell, perhaps for the better. Throughout the entire episode, Yayoi is the straight girl in the group, commenting on the ridiculousness of the other girls’ behaviour. Her reaction toMount Fujiwas rather interesting coming from her. She takes control over the situation and supposedly brings them to a “real” secret base. It certainly is the closest one in practical terms, but the reveal that it’s simply the set of a superhero show is quite revealing of her penchant for the whole superhero bit.
She has a hard time admitting fault for the less than ideal selection of her base, and withdraws back to her pouty routine as a defense mechanism. It’s a really interesting take on the crybaby role, which I had initial doubts about. The juxtaposition of this hero and victim role is a back-and-forth internal struggle that Yayoi is trying to resolve. It’s quite fascinating.
3. Nao/Cure March – Stuffed Animal Room
”]”]I had doubts about Nao’s character design, particularly in relation to Akane. On the outside, they have a number of similarities, most notably their athleticism and passion, which may appear as redundant. This is especially troublesome for Nao, who doesn’t stand out as much as Akane due to the latter’s highly defined mannerisms and personality (kansai-ben et al.). Smile needs to establish a sort of character spectrum between Akane and Nao, with Yes 5’s Rin right in the middle, as Rin filled both roles at once, taking the best parts from each character.
As such, I was very pleased with Nao’s choice of the room with stuffed animals as her secret base of choice. She really showed her selflessness and her outwards feelings towards her comrades in her gestures. Nao sat down in the host’s seat at the table and invited the others to sit around together. She also had the picnic basket and was set to distribute the food around. Nao is a natural leader and has a maternal instinct that is absent from Akane. If you think in Magic: the Gathering terms, Nao definitely shows her Green side in contrast to Akane’s Red side.
4. Akane/Cure Sunny – Gorilla Exhibit
Continuing with the Magic: the Gathering comparison, Akane’s Red personality is all about self-indulgence and individual freedom, compared to that of the community and group that Green likes to emphasize. We see this in her selection of the Gorilla exhibit as her personal base. Having previously hinted at her affinity for stuffed animals during Nao’s scene, Akane’s first instinct is to have a similar environment, except more real, more visceral. Her dream to cradle a real animal (as opposed to the stuffed variety) shows her desire for instant gratification.
This comes at the cost of disregarding the others. Much like Reika’s preference forMount Fuji, the other girls are immediately unable to see the value in Akane’s ideal secret base, and they react accordingly when Nao, Yayoi and Reika scramble to find a way out of the place. Akane is adorably silly in this scene, which makes her selfish behavior immediately forgivable. It’s an extreme version of herself, and her everyday self is but an attempt to hold back from her true feelings, probably for her own good as well as everyone else’s.
5. Miyuki/Cure Happy -Forestfrom Childhood
Miyuki is the last girl of the bunch to reveal her ideal base, and quite appropriately, it is a selection that relates back to her childhood and is connected to the story. She is the leader, after all, and of all the girls, it would be her broadening and development as a character that relates to the overall plot of good vs. evil. It also connects with the central theme of fairy tales and fiction due to her idealization of the relationship between Anne and Diana in Green Gables. Miyuki seeks to find that same relationship with her new PreCure friends, and her opening up to the rest of the group about her childhood is a step towards that end.
A pretty great bit of writing happens when they reach the secret base in Miyuki’s hometown. When she sees the new children using her childhood base in the same way that she used to, she says nothing at first. We see a shot of her holding candy, and squeezing her slightly tighter. We don’t see Miyuki’s eyes when her friends approach her, but her subtle change in expression is a nice little touch, especially with the slight blush. Less is more, and her short lines telling the other girls to head back speaks volumes about how she potentially feels about having to move on from her childhood. It’s a different side of Miyuki that I really appreciate. It’s a side of Miyuki that will probably come out when she’s tasked with decisions as the leader of the group. It really worked for her, and I loved every moment of it.
PreCure Power Rankings: Episode 7
1. Reika/Cure Beauty – Chewed the scenery in the best way possible. Seriously funny.
2. Miyuki/Cure Happy – Showed a lot of growth as the lead, using very few lines.
3. Nao/Cure March – Set herself apart from Sunny. Showed a new side that was always there.
4. Akane/Cure Sunny – Utterly adorable. She was really monkeying around this episode.
5. Yayoi/Cure Peace – Straight character + Short spotlight scene = last place, naturally.