I apologize for the delay in this post, as well as what I suspect will be the shoddy quality of the post itself. I’ve been sick for the latter half of the week, which, combined with the onslaught of some very enjoyable Spring season anime, have made me put off the writing of this post. However, do not let that be an indicator of my impression of this week’s Smile PreCure; it was pretty damn great, and Akane had a lot to do with it.
Akane takes over her dad’s Okonomiyaki shop after he injures his back. She invites the other girls over to sample her cooking, and while they are enamoured by her cooking abilities, Akane’s brother, Genki, points out that her Okonomiyaki is not the same as her dad’s. Akane vows to try to find the secret to her dad’s cooking so that she can make a good impression on the neighbourhood association when they visit during an upcoming weekend. With the help of the other girls, she experiments with different recipes. When the Hino family sets up shop outdoors during a neighbourhood event, Wolfrun attacks and casts the Bad End aura. He summons an Akanbe that snares most of the PreCure with glue-like projectiles. Wolfrun puts down Akane’s cooking efforts by saying that food is meaningless. Cure Happy retorts that Akane put her feelings into her cooking, which makes Akane realize the secret to her father’s cooking. She breaks out of her trap with Cure Beauty’s Beauty Blizzard. She lays a beatdown on the Akanbe and destroys it with Sunny Fire. Akane uses her new cooking knowledge to cook a wonderful Okonomiyaki feast for her neighbourhood association.
Because of the timing of this post this week, I’ll only have a few brief thoughts on the subject.
Akane’s family is an extension of who she is as a character
You can learn a lot about a person by looking at the people who he or she is closest to. In the case of PreCure, the concept of family plays an important role in defining the girls in relationship to each other. As far back as Futari wa Pretty Cure, the relatives of the girls are recurring side characters, and aren’t simply mentioned in passing like in other anime (parents in general tend to be completely absent in most cases). We’ve already seen a bit of this with Nao’s siblings, and to a lesser extent, Yayoi’s mother in last week’s episode.
This week, Akane’s family is featured in full, and outside of the Akanbe battle, are more vital to the plot than the PreCure themselves. The first scene in the episode is of Akane’s dad throwing out his back, and the scene afterwards is Akane’s family in the hospital room. Even without the collectively heavy Osakan regional dialect, you can see where Akane gets some of her characteristics from, heredity-wise. Physically, she resembles her mother, who has the red hair and million-dollar smile. Personality-wise, she takes quite a bit from her dad, who is as cheeky and sarcastic as parents go. I’m most intrigued by her sibling relationship to Genki, which takes on a completely different dynamic than Nao and her numerous younger siblings. Akane and Genki look to be pretty close, and have a respectful rapport as far as bratty little brothers and big-headed big sisters go. I’d like to see more of these two in the future.
The PreCure girls could use some other clothes
Continuous usage of the same wardrobe week in and week out is an indicator of limited budget in animated works, and PreCure is often guilty of this. For the most part, all continuities tend to be guilty of general repetition, but for the most part, there are some novelty weeks where the girls wear something rather different. Even in Heartcatch, which placed a thematic emphasis on fashion, the girls wore the same clothes, despite being in a club that crafted some unique designs.
But since this is a 5-man continuity, it’s easiest to compare Smile with Yes 5, whose greater tendencies to change up the main characters’ wardrobes make Smile’s static outfit choices much more apparent. While the differing fashion sense of each of the girls this year is apparent (and nonetheless impeccable individually), after 10 episodes of seeing the same orange dress over capri pants on Akane, the same green button shirt and short camo-green shorts on Nao, and Pink EVERYTHING on Miyuki, it’s about time we start seeing something different.
PreCure Powers were used quite creatively
I really enjoy the dynamics and in-universe rules regarding the finishing moves that the PreCure have this year. Unlike previous generations, they can only use their finishing moves once, before succumbing to fatigue and inability to fight. This creates a sense of tension with regards to the timing of the usage of their powers, and also a sense of power regarding the effectiveness of the penultimate attacks in their arsenal.
What takes this interesting concept even further is that due to the team concept of this year’s iteration of PreCure, there are a multitude of ways that the powers can be used. Each girl gets one shot, but in total, there are 5 opportunities to use the powers, meaning that things can be switched up here and there. This week’s episode saw Cure Beauty use Beauty Blizzard on Cure Sunny, which made for some interesting fire/ice interaction, adding yet another element to the equation. The occurrence wasn’t exactly unexpected, but it was a pleasant surprise that the girls are able to find applications of their powers to other things than simply trying to vanquish the Akanbe straight-up.
PreCure Power Rankings, Episode 10
1. Akane/Cure Sunny – She took the spotlight, ran with it, and hogged it all for herself. I don’t mind. It is Akane, after all. Her family was pretty cool, too!
2. Nao/Cure March – She had quite a few lines this week, which probably made sense, considering that she’s often played rather closely to Akane.
3. Reika/Cure Beauty – Beauty Blizzard was pretty damn cool. Other than that, we didn’t get to see a lot out of her.
4. Miyuki/Cure Happy – She paired up with Yayoi this week and for the most part played a redundant role. Was pretty much useless during the Akanbe fight.
5. Yayoi/Cure Peace – I threw paper and tied again. I’ve been tying with Peace for the longest time, and I’m beginning to get frustrated in the best way possible.