Yayoi Kise, Cure Peace, is a very interesting case in the PreCure fandom. From one look on pixiv and zerochan, it appears that Peace has the most fanart of all the Cures so far. Implying a relationship between fanart and actual fan following, it is interesting to note the positive reaction towards this character despite not having any particular spotlight episode to date leading up to this week’s episode. She intrigued me in this regard, and her entrance into the Cure franchise turned out surpass my initially low expectations from this character.
Miyuki and Akane discover Yayoi’s interest in drawing superheroes, and nominate her to draw her class’s poster in an upcoming contest. Yayoi enlists the two to help her with her painting, and puts significant effort into its completion. The poster only wins a consolidation prize, and after being teased by art club’s president and his posse, Yayoi rips her poster off the wall and runs away. She is attacked by Red Oni, who creates a Bad End aura around the school. Miyuki and Akane transform, but are unable to defeat the Red Oni’s Akanbe. Yayoi awakens from the Bad End aura and discovers the girls’ identity as PreCure. Despite her fear, she gathers courage to come to their protection, awakening as Cure Peace in the process, using PreCure Peace Lightning to vanquish the Akanbe.
As always, here are five thoughts on this week’s episode.
1. Yayoi more than surpassed my expectations as a crybaby character.
Like the idiot hero Miyuki, I was a bit apprehensive about having a fragile flower archetype in the show (a character who is quick to burst into tears). A few tears here and there for a normal character are fine (see Tsubomi in Heartcatch PreCure), but a character defined by crybaby tendencies immediately raises red flags for me.
This wasn’t the case with Yayoi. She has a quick trigger for tears, sure, but a lot of the triggers that caused her to cry so far have been of reasonable substance. Her crying because of the overwhelming feeling of happiness from befriending Miyuki was very straightforward and reasonable. It wasn’t like she was crying because she spilled a glass of milk, or because she fell over and scraped her knee. She didn’t show similarities to Usagi from the Sailor Moon anime (the character that made me grow an aversion to crybaby characters in the first place); Yayoi is a girl who reacts to her emotions and frets over her goals and dreams.
One particular Yayoi moment that I liked was the way she came to Happy and Sunny’s rescue. Her facial expression was hesitant, and she eventually decided to run after them. That single action had more impact character-wise than Yayoi explaining herself later that she would protect them. I suppose that sort of writing is unavoidable in a kids’ show, since it’s easier to present aesops to kids that way, but it’s nice that her actions back up her words.
It is said that two is company, and three is a crowd. With the introduction of Cure Sunny, we were able to see an initial glimpse of the cast dynamic between her and Cure Happy, and the focus was adequately split between the two of them. With Peace joining the fray, we’re finally starting to see roles form within the group of three. Miyuki is showing competency as a leader-type character, encouraging Yayoi to participate in the poster contest using an interesting speech about art as a mirror into the soul. For a kids show, it’s quite profound, especially coming from someone as airheaded as Miyuki herself.
With Akane out of the spotlight, she is brought back down to a supporting role, but still manages to command attention with strong lines from her seiyuu, Asami Tano. Akane’s boisterous nature stands out with minimal screen time, but doesn’t hog the spotlight in any way. Sunny fans were served rather well this week, and should look forward to similar performances in the future.
Another seiyuu performance I actually overlooked up until now was that of Yayoi, who is voiced by Hisako Kanemoto, best known for her roles in Ika Musume and Sora no Woto (as Kanata Sorami). She is remarkably talented despite her short list of character credits. She uses Ika Musume’s voice and replaces Ika’s stubbornness with a more grounded, reserved personality for Yayoi’s character. When Yayoi transforms into Cure Peace, I can hear the invader’s confidence come through wonderfully. I can see Hisako playing around with Yayoi’s character a bit more in future episodes, best fitting for her dynamic in the group going forward.
With Marina Inoue’s episode coming up next week, I am looking forward to what she can possibly bring to the table. With great performances from Peace and Happy, I am relieved that March doesn’t have to carry the talent load in this show. The voice acting overall is great and very balanced so far. I am a huge fan of Marina, so I’m more curious of Reika/Cure Beauty’s seiyuu, Chinami Nishimura, known best in the titular character in the Aria series.
3. Aka Oni isn’t any better of a villain than Wolfrun.
I had some sliver of hope that the giant red bruiser would display some sort of personality compared to the flat performance that Wolfrun gave. Red Demon was just as generically menacing as his lupine counterpart, though he does have the edge with regards to actual abilities. His club is used to a small extent in his encounter with Happy and Sunny, but other than a wind gust, he didn’t really inflict any particular harm compared to Kumojacky’s various Big Bang attacks or any other Heartcatch henchman for that matter.
I’m mostly disappointed in Smile’s henchmen with regards to their personality, for the most part. The writers could have played the sluggish bruiser character as straight as any other of the archetype, and made Aka Oni a bit more imbecilic, but instead his lack of intelligence seems to stem from simple incompetence as a villain. Wolfrun’s appearance gave him no particular indicator of personality, but there was plenty to be had from Aka Oni, but nothing was followed through in that regard. The henchmen are regrettably forgettable in this series, and compared to Suite PreCure, even trio the minor had more personality. At least with the trio, their incompetence stems from personality, not the other way around. And they eventually did grow on me eventually; I just hope the same goes for the bad guys in Smile. Still, there are plenty of episodes left to turn things around.
4. The Art Club posse is full of assholes.
When it comes to actual antagonism, I saw most of that from the art club posse than from the actual bad guys in the series. In a short little exchange between the art club Presdient’s cronies and Yayoi, they easily made themselves out to be terrible people. Its execution is as simple as it comes, since bullying the main character (in this case, a lovable crybaby in Yayoi) by telling her that her art sucks is the equivalent of kicking a puppy. It’s so easy to do, and yet its occurrence here in the episode came as a bit of a shock either way.
Firstly, I never really saw it coming from the first place. The art club president was first depicted as an eccentricity along the lines of mad scientist Rintaro Okabe during Yayoi’s initial description of him. But seeing him with a posse later was a bit of surprise, and the gesture of having his underlings bully for him is an extra touch to how much of an asshole he is. I’m still reeling from it, and it’s because he betrayed my initial impression of him as a cool mad scientist; instead I got a sunovabitch.
5. There was a lot more derpy character animation this week than what I’m used to with this franchise.
I’m not one to usually complain about art and budget, and easily the last person to notice QUALITY in an anime, but this week was so apparent in its drop in animation skill, that even I noticed. The worst offender this week was the scene where Akane and Miyuki help pose for Yayoi’s poster. It’s a critical scene, because it’s an establishing character moment that even Reika looks in on from afar (perhaps with massive yuri undertones, but I’m not ready to admit that yet), and it’s a scene that Yayoi looks back upon when deciding to save her friends from the Akanbe. Miyuki just looks ridiculous in her facial expression, especially with regards to the way her eyes are drawn.
I understand it’s a lot harder to draw characters that are in the distance, but couldn’t that simply be fixed by having them shown more close-up? Some of the most cleanly drawn frames are of Yayoi’s face when she’s ultra-close-up. It’s probably too close for some people’s comforts, but I liked how the storyboard called for a higher number of close-ups for Yayoi’s episode compared to the last two. I think it’s a Yayoi-specific thing, since it helps highlight a timid character during her spotlight episode.
I shudder to think how derpy Reika and Nao would look in future episodes. So far, they’ve been drawn adequately, but mostly due to a lack of screen time. When they get their spotlights, I hope more care is taken of them. What sense would it make to have Cure Beauty look anything but beautiful?
PreCure Power Rankings
1. Yayoi/Cure Peace – It was her episode, and she really came through with great voice acting.
2. Akane/Cure Sunny – Boisterous characters always stand out, and Sunny did so without taking the spotlight from Peace.
3. Miyuki/Cure Happy – I’m warming up to her goofiness, especially after she tried addressing Sunny as a junior, even though she only has one day of experience over her.
4. Reika/Cure Beauty – She was her usual class president self. I liked how she peeked in on the other three when they were on the roof.
5. Nao/Cure March – She only had one line in the entire episode, and it didn’t really stand out.