The freaky friday flip is a commonly done trope in fictional media, where two characters of reasonably different personality swap bodies due to some freak incident; the two characters for the most part retain their personality and mental processes, but taking over the other person’s body has major ramifications, and hilarity almost always ensues.
This is especially true for the PreCure franchise, and with this week’s episode of Smile PreCure in the books, the trope has been done twice in two different continuities: Fresh in episode 10, and Smile in episode 8. When I watched Fresh’s take before, it was immediately my favourite episode in the entire series; the same is certainly true for Smile.
On the way to school, Miyuki and Candy discover a pair of rings. After curiously looking through them, the rings clamp on to their respective fingers and the two swap bodies. The other girls are puzzled by the occurrence, and they try to go through the school day with Candy attending class in Miyuki’s body. Hilarity ensues, with Candy failing to act like Miyuki during all of her classes. Miyuki admonishes Candy after school for messing everything up, and the latter runs away, distraught. While Miyuki and the others try to look for her, Candy plays with little kids at a playground. She is discovered by Majorina, who notices the switch, and casts Bad End on the playground. The other cures show up and transform except for Miyuki, but are handily dispatched by a nimble Akanbe. Miyuki stands up for Candy, and her smile pact activates. She transforms while in Candy’s body, turning into Cure Candy, and defeats the Akanbe with Happy Shower.
As I’ve mentioned already, the freaky Friday flip happened twice in the Pretty Cure franchise, and there are some differences between the two with regards to the trope’s execution, resulting in two distinct, yet equally memorable episodes. The freaky Friday flip has a number of recognizable elements: the cause of the flip itself, the contrasting characters involved, lifestyle adjustments, realization of perspective leading to the flip back. Let’s compare the different elements:
Smile’s flip was caused by Majorina’s “switcheroo” rings, while Fresh’s flip was caused by the monster-of-the-week, which took the form of a slot machine. Smile’s only affected Miyuki and Candy, whereas Fresh switched a large number of people with random animals, and by extension, Inori and the ferret-like Tarte.
Smile’s switch was caused by the trickster witch, Majorina, who originally created the rings, but lost them due to fellow Bad Ender Aka Oni’s tomfoolery. Majorina’s pride in making the rings is observed hilariously when the other villains knock her for her uncreative naming conventions for her inventions. This is repeated with the PreCure when they knock her for her name for the antidote. Overall, Majorina’s role in the flip really brings out her goofiness, especially when she tries to look for the rings. Her tendency to be mistaken for an old granny instead of a devious witch is played with again in this episode, this time by a random police officer. She was really enjoyable throughout.
The tension in Fresh was focused mainly on the city-wide chaos that was caused by the Nakewameke. Countless people were switched, and examples were shown of different people that were switched, capitulated by Inori and Tarte’s switch. This was an effective way of advancing the series’ plot for Fresh. While the Bad End Kingdom’s gradual revival of Pierrot is repetitive and minimal in its devious impact, Labyrinth’s weekly plots to fill the sorrow gauge are done in different ways, with the citywide freaky Friday flip as not only one of its methods, but also one of its most visually apparent and effective.
Smile’s switch focused on Miyuki and Candy, the main Cure character and the Cure mascot for the series. Fresh’s switch occurred to many individuals, but mostly focused on Inori and Tarte, a supporting character and mascot, respectively.
Miyuki and Candy’s differences aren’t as extreme or polar with regards to general personality; they’re both relatively airheaded, and often get into trouble. The main difference shown in the flip is the differences in maturity. Candy really shows her infantile behaviour in her actions at school, as well as the park aftwerwards, where she plays with like-minded elementary school children. Miyuki acts like the mother in this episode, which really shows her mature side, especially when they reconcile for Miyuki’s scolding. I really enjoyed that part of her character that was brought out.
Inori and Tarte’s differences, on the other hand, are as clear as night and day. Inori is the chick in the trio at this point of the series, and she is deathly afraid of ferrets (and Tarte, by extension). Tarte is brash, speaks in a Kansai dialect, and acts like a complete guy while in Inori’s body. The contrasts are played with hilariously amongst the citizens of clovertown, particularly with Kaoru, the cuckoolander who runs the donut shop. While Peach andBerrysearch for the Nakewameke, they assume that Kaoru remains unchanged, but in reality he’s swapped with an American bullfrog, which results in minimal differences, but maximum comedic effect due to this observation.
Dealing with the adjustment is quite a task for those involved in the switch, not only between the switched individuals, but those who are aware of the switch itself. In smile, the other Cures have to deal with Candy by keeping it a secret, whereas in Fresh, the other Cures have to fix up the entire town while Inori’s parents are left to deal with her and Tarte.
Smile’s switch had hilarious consequences at school; Candy’s antics was displayed through a wide variety of classes, including homeroom, classical Japanese literature, social studies, science, and even gym. The other girls have extreme difficulty keeping up with Candy’s boundless energy, and their facial reactions are effectively comical and expressive, probably a high note in art quality for the series so far.
Fresh’s switch was made more hectic due to the city-wide switch, but was capitulated by Inori and Tarte’s switch. The potential repercussions of the switch are imagined by Inori’s friends, Love and Miki, who worry that they will be unable to go to dance practice or perform as PreCure. Their imagine spots of Weasel!Inori going through the motions leaves them with utterly hilarious reactions, which by this point, is a radical departure in facial animation in the series. It’s more apparent in this show at this point, but becomes a more regular feature later on, much to Fresh’s benefit.
Realization of Perspective
The realization of perspective allows the flipped characters to see through the eyes of each other, resulting in a newly formed bond between the two. In terms of PreCure, this allows them to transform despite having switched bodies.
In Smile, Miyuki is able to transform into a PreCure while in Candy’s body due to her realization of Candy’s great, yet futile efforts at school, resulting in the hilariously awesome Cure Candy. As Cure Candy, Miyuki uses her ears (Hair? Ears? What exactly are those, anyway?) as limbs for fighting, which she utilizes for maximum effect. This is also the first episode in the series where a fully choreographed fight finally shows up. Cure Candy fights a lot like Yoda in the new Star Wars movies, fast and nimble, but remarkably strong and skilled. Cure Candy still uses Happy Shower, but the variation in her attack animation is noticeable but still awesome all at once.
Fresh’s realization of perspective happens to Inori while she is treated for a wound on her tail. She has a word with her dad, a veterinarian, who explains to her that animals have different sensory thresholds than humans. Inori, having learned that her fear of ferrets stems from a childhood incident where she was bitten by one, which she knows now from first-hand experience, that the bite didn’t mean to harm. She learns to get along with Tarte, which enables Tarte to transform into Cure Pine while in her body. It turns out that Tarte is just as capable a fighter as the girls, which is a breath of fresh air for the viewers. While Cure Candy is a more stark departure in animation, seeing Cure Pine fight with Tarte’s voice is pretty damn cool in its own right.
Looking at both shows, it is very different at first to determine which episode I liked more. I’ll have to give the nod to Smile, simply due to the large amounts of comedy that the situation provided from both the good guys and bad guys’ perspectives, as well as the remarkable action sequence that finally showed up in the series.
However, I still really like Fresh’s freaky Friday episode, which I realize now is the reason why Inori is my favourite character on the show. She really came out of her shell as the timid type in this episode, and going forward, she really became her own character within the cast. It’s still my favourite episode in the entire series.
Even though both shows had the same premise, their differences in execution, as well as their respective abilities to execute those differences in a very competent manner, manage to keep the trope…
*puts on sunglasses*
PreCure Power Rankings
1. Yayoi/Cure Peace – she didn’t hog the limelight, but her reactions to the situation were quite hilarious, and the best of the group.
2. Akane/Cure Sunny – unlike Yayoi, she hammed up the episode big time, and really provided the energy that the episode needed to provide the comedy.
3. Miyuki/Cure Candy – she was the central character of the episode, alongside Candy. Their relationship was examined well enough, but could have used more.
4. Nao/Cure March – she played the straight character in this comedy of errors, and for the most part, she did a great job at showing how ridiculous everyone else looked.
5. Reika/Cure Beauty – while she was a bit of the odd one out during the flip, she had a pretty great physical exchange with the Akanbe during the fight.