Cure Blogger is back with a new post on the most recent episode of Smile PreCure, as I will resume blogging this super-fun series from here on out. It’s been a pretty great ride ever since episode 17 where I last left off. A whole 17 episodes later, we’re finally at the Nanairogaoka school festival, and a fashion show that attempts to encapsulate the cumulative tone of the show leading up until now.
Like all other stock episodes in the franchise, the school festival episode is always a treat to watch in PreCure because it happens in the later half of the series, and usually starts the run of episodes leading up to the show’s finale. In addition to Smile, let’s take a look at a few other series that centred around the school festival.
Futari wa Pretty Cure: Romeo and Juliet
The first PreCure school festival happens at Verone Girls’ Academy, and based on the school’s name, there’s no surprise that the culture festival activity that Honoka and Nagisa’s class participate in is a production of Romeo and Juliet. Unsurprisingly, the two girls are cast as the titular characters, with Nagisa naturally cast as the boyish Romeo and the elegant Honoka as the prim and proper Juliet.
Nagisa struggles with memorizing her lines as the class makes preparations for the production, but her friend and director, Shiho, is already making modifications to adapt the play differently to incorporate more action. The Dusk Zone appears at the performance itself, and the ensuing conflict is comically played out at the audience’s confusion, unsure whether or not the scene is actually part of the play. Despite an off-stage transformation and a lot of Cure kickassery, Nagisa and Honoka are able to conclude the play with a riveting performance based on the feelings that Nagisa developed as she fought as Cure Black.
To the audience’s confusion, the play is received remarkably well, and the episode itself is one of the highlight spots in the second half of the show, not only with regards to the fight scene, but also with regards to the great chemistry between Nagisa and Honoka.
Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star: School Monument
In Splash Star, the school festival episode centres mostly around Mai, and the honor bestowed upon her by her art club to design a monument to symbolize her school’s culture festival. An open-ended project with countless possibilities, the pressure of designing something that truly encapsulates the school (and by extension, the show itself) keeps the prodigious Mai up at night. Saki takes a supporting role, helping out with her class haunted house project, but lending a word of advice to Mai whenever she seems to need it the most.
While Splash Star isn’t exactly the highlight of Pretty Cure franchise in relation to the other series to date, it still stands out with regards to the “purity” of the show itself; that is, it’s the only show to stick to the original pretty cure formula of two girls who are “best friends” and protecting their ideals of friendship and justice from evil. While the original Futari wa formed this concept, Max Heart added a third character, ostensibly disrupting the original feel of the franchise. An episode like this serves as a wonderful reminder of the relationship between two girls of nearly opposite personalities, and the chemistry that exists between them. It’s no wonder, then, that the resulting piece that Mai designed is a pose of two girls holding hands and flying high. Pretty Cure ideals at its purest form.
Heartcatch PreCure: Light Music Club Live + Fashion Show Collaboration
Heartcatch is critically the most well-received series outside of the fandom, and episodes such as this one serve as a very sharp reminder of the sheer quality of the show throughout its run. The school festival arc is my favourite in the series, and the Fashion Show episode is perhaps my favourite episode in the entire franchise. Heartcatch sets the stage for a wonderful performance by doing what it does best: highlighting the plight of side characters, and weaving in the main cast in relation to the dilemmas at hand.
The vocalists for the school’s light music club have cold feet, and chicken out of their performance at the school festival, further disrupted by the appearance of the Desert Messengers and a guitar-themed monster of the week. The Heartcatch girls handily dispatch of the enemy, saving the vocalists’ heart seeds and allowing the culture festival to resume. Despite missing what would otherwise be the light music club’s last chance at a performance, Erika proposes a wonderful idea of combining both shows into one.
And what a show it is! A spectacular display of lights, wonderful music highlighted by the melodic tones of series theme mainstays Mayu Kudou and Aya Ikeda, who guest star as the vocalists of the band. The fashion club, who have worked hard all series long, finally get to show off the fruits of their labour, and are welcomed by their friends and family. Catching glimpses of the crowd, you can feel the sense of community that Heartcatch established with its emphasis on the loads and loads of side characters that appear week to week, but at its core, the main group of girls gather in an emotionally captivating show at the end of the episode. The feeling of satisfaction is simply overwhelming.
Smile PreCure: Fairy Tale Fashion Show
Tempering my expectations for this episode was rather difficult, as the concept of a fashion show still left me with images and memories of the wonderful fashion show featured in Heartcatch PreCure as mentioned above. Yet, having watched both episodes in tandem made the differences in quality quite clear. The music in Smile was not as intense as the insert song in its predecessor. The animation wasn’t as crisp and fluid, and often resorted to panning stills. And the characters featured in the show (outside of the main girls) weren’t familiar enough to form any sort of emotional payoff.
That said, the fashion show itself was quite indicative of what Smile was all about: a fairly established fairy tale motif, and the wonderful individual characters that make up the main cast of Cures:
Despite the comparisons drawn between Smile and Heartcatch, Episode 34 nonetheless stood out on its own, and really drew attention to the girls and their personalities were brought out visually in a really cute little fashion show that they could call their own.