At 12:11am on Monday, this is easily the latest I’ve ever started on writing for a Smile PreCure post. However, don’t let the tardiness of this post be an indicator of the quality of this episode. It was remarkably fun, and despite a lot of silly nonsense that would shatter most people’s suspension of disbelief, there’s enough laughs and Fuck Yeahs to not make it a big deal. Nao fans were treated to a delightful show this week.
Nao trips over a tiny hammer that resembles that from the fairy tale, the Inch-High Samurai. Candy plays with it, but the hammer causes the girls to become tiny. Candy runs around the school looking for the girls, and they follow her to try to get her attention. The girls face several gigantic obstacles that obstruct them from catching up with Candy. The girls also discover Nao’s fear of insects, which are found everywhere. Nao is overcome with fear and faints. When she comes to, she notices the community of insects and bugs around her. Majorina appears, who has been looking for her hammer that makes things small. She discovers the girls in the grass, casts Bad End on the bugs, and summons a flower-shaped Akanbe. After transforming, the PreCure get roughed up by the Akanbe, but March defends the bugs and leads a counterattack against the Akanbe, finishing it off with March Shoot.
It’s late night right now, but not too late to post! Five quick thoughts on episode 11!
1. Marina Inoue is doing a fantastic job as Cure March in this series.
Back in episode 4, I gushed quite a bit regarding Marina Inoue’s performance as Cure March during her character episode spotlight, and it seems like we’ve come full circle again to yet a different side of Nao’s character. While I’m a bit suspect as to how well Nao’s fear of insects in relation to her other personality attributes, I feel nonetheless that Marina did a fantastic job showcasing the different side of Nao’s emotional spectrum. This seemingly over-the-top fear of insects is not unexpected in such a show, but Nao’s seiyuu takes to task. Her reactions are wild, her whining complaints are expressive but not too annoying, and like the Miyuki and Akane, Nao knows how to chew up the scenery.
However, this isn’t necessary the full extent of Marina’s vocal range this episode. When Nao comes to her character realization during the Akanbe fight, her speech feels very heroic, and that justice-seeking side that Nao was initially promoted to have comes out in spades here. This week’s episode was quite effective at showcasing March’s different emotional sides, though this unseen side of her would have been more believable if it incorporated more of what we already knew about her, such as her strong sense of familial ties. Her interaction with the pillbug family after the eyecatch should have touched a bit more on this, but at this point, it doesn’t make that much of a deal for me. As a hopeless Marina fanboy, I can’t really help it.
2. I’m growing really fond of Cure Happy’s seiyuu.
On the other side of the Smile seiyuu spectrum is Misato Fukuen, who plays Miyuki. Leading up to the show’s debut, Misato’s defining role in her career was arguably Yin from Darker than Black, which is a complete departure from the scenery-chewer that is Miyuki Hoshizora. It took a while for me to warm up to her, but apparently, her ability to ham up her lines has bode her well in other roles. She’s currently working on a number of roles this Spring season, most notably as Momoe Okonogi from Dusk Maiden x Amnesia and Baabu from Sankarea.
In Dusk Maiden, Misato’s portrayal of the energetic and easily startled Momoe Okonogi is very similar to Miyuki in Smile. However, the supernatural/suspense element of Dusk Maiden really lends well to a hammy style of acting, since Momoe’s character is understandably prone to overreacting to the concept of the supernatural. I have absolutely no problems with Misato Fukuen’s role here, since it feels more natural given the genre of the show. The best part is that she took what she learned from her experience so far in Smile and made that style work in other shows. In Sankarea, she has a more limited role as the main character’s zombified cat, Baabu. Her lines are limited to cat meows, but with Misato’s enthusiasm towards the lines she has, she really…brings that character to life.
3. The action in Smile PreCure really stepped up this week.
Not since the remarkably awesome sequence in Miyuki’s switcheroo in episode 8 have I seen a pretty great fight scene. However, where episode 8 featured Cure Candy and a well-choreographed individual fight, this week’s Akanbe fight featured all of the girls, with March at the lead. This teamwork-based fight really made use of the environment in which they fought, jumping around flowers and avoiding the Akanbe’s spores, which were shot out like macross missiles.
The fight, despite taking place between a miniature PreCure squad and a miniature Akanbe, made use of what would normally be small props and making them much bigger than what they would be. In particular, Sunny and Happy’s tag team attack with the soda can was a pretty nice touch. It is reminiscent of a super-hero fight with the brute strength character throwing a car, bus, or other large vehicle. Throwing a soft drink instead of a soft drink dispenser really puts emphasis on the scale of the fight. It was a lot bigger than what it was, but the action was as frantic as PreCure fights go.
4. Majorina makes the show passably, yet entertainingly stupid.
This week’s episode of Smile PreCure really cemented Majorina’s role in the show. The inclusion of a trickster witch allows for such . This is the second time that she had a hand in putting the girls into strange circumstances, the first being the body switch between Miyuki and Candy, which made for some humourous antics. This week brings a similar situation, this time with the girls magically turning tiny. Given the nature of the magical fighting girl genre, one would think the presence of magic would allow for more odd magical twists that would form the basis of a one-off episode, but genre conventions would lead us to believe that the rules of magic in these particular universes only govern the girls’ powers and nothing else.
PreCure is pretty good with this, though in Fresh’s case, the justification of outrageous magical effects was that they were due to the magical effects of the Nakewameke monsters, causing utter chaos and thus filling the sorrow gauge. The burden of justification falls solely on Majorina in Smile, but the potential of her abilities are obfuscated by her own stupidity and ineptitude, making these odd occassions much more amusing than they really should be. Smile hits the perfect balance between plain unbelievability and ridiculousness. Handwaving is easy as ever in PreCure, thanks to this show. Something impossibly stupid happened to the precure?
A wizard Majorina did it.
5. Where are the recurring side characters?
I’m a bit concerned about the lack of major supporting characters introduced into the show so far. We are already 11 episodes into the series, which is reasonably close to 1/4th of the way through, and no single side character has yet to have a spotlight episode. I’m a bit surprised that Smile would go so far as to include two cycles of main character spotlight episodes (1-5 and 8-12, though calling episoden 12 a Reika episode is a bit of a stretch), since it effectively passed on an early opportunity to introduce a recurring character.
In Fresh, we had a number of characters introduced relatively early on, including Love’s dance instructor (and incorrectly speculated 4th PreCure) Miyuki Chinen and donut-retailer Kaoru Tachibana. Yes! Pretty Cure 5 had the scene-stealing photographer/journalist with a puntastic name, Masuko Mika (derived from masukomi, Japanese for mass communications/media), who had her own spotlight episode before the second round of main character spotlight episodes. The monster-of-the-week format of Heartcatch PreCure lies on the showcasing of its many side characters. Considering all of this, smile is surprisingly absent in this regard, and I have a bad feeling it will end up being one of the show’s major faults.
PreCure Power Rankings
1. Nao/Cure March – Made good use of her spotlight episode. Not too much at the forefront, but a good amount of attention was paid to her.
2. Miyuki/Cure Happy – Definitely her strongest episode in a non-spotlight role. A great balance of having presence as the leader character without taking too much attention away from the spotlight character.
3. Reika/Cure Beauty – Her interaction with Nao during the episode was nice, and showed lots of chemistry. Her save during the Akanbe fight was pretty damn baller, too.
4. Akane/Cure Sunny – The delivery of her manzai reaction was a bit off this week, though her dialect carried her throughout the episode. She did have that cool moment with the can during the Akanbe fight.
5. Yayoi/Cure Peace – Had a few cute moments while small, but did pretty much nothing after her transformation. Losing to her at Jan-ken-pon sealed her fate at 5th place.