Smile PreCure! Episode 43: The One True Path

"Beauty Blizzard Arrow!"

“Beauty Blizzard Arrow!”

Cure Beauty is perhaps the most overlooked character in the Smile PreCure cast. She doesn’t get much screen time in the general episodes, and out of the four cycles of character spotlights (Episodes 1-5, 8-11, 35-39, 40-44), her spotlight episode was missing in the second cycle (the one after the first wave of introductory episodes), which was instead replaced by the episode where the girls obtained PreCure Rainbow Healing. In order to make up for this, Beauty was bestowed with superior PreCure ability, marked by her villain rivalry with Joker, the leader of the Bad End trio.

In episode 43, Beauty gets the literal spotlight, and it is perhaps the best episode in the series to date. Presented with an opportunity to study overseas in a prestigious student exchange program, Reika is faced with a decision to accept the offer at the cost of having to leave the PreCure. Her contemplation throughout the episode is muddled by the intervention of Joker, who plays a wicked devil’s advocate, demoralizing Cure Beauty to the point of losing her transformation. She breaks down to tears and sobbing after realizing that she does not want to leave her friends, and resolves to defeat Joker and his mirror Hyper-Akanbe in the best 1-on-1 fight in the series.

"Good Morning, Aoki Reika."

“Good Morning, Aoki Reika.”

I’m not going to get into the details of the fight itself, as it is an instant addition to my 12 Days of Smile PreCure post series, but what makes the fight more noteworthy is the context that sets up that sequence. Interestingly enough, the entire episode hinges upon a single plot point of Reika decision to either leave or stay. Very little time passes by in this episode, as she simply goes home from school, spends the night thinking, and then goes to school again the next morning for archery practice, where she is confronted by Joker.

A good amount of time in this episode is spent showcasing Joker’s pointed monologue attacking Reika’s character as the upstanding individual of the group. She has a responsibility to her friends and family, but to the point of putting them before herself. She was recognized for this in her previous spotlight episode involving the student council election. When you stretch this strength to an extreme, you get a fascinating weakness where extreme selflessness begets self-neglect, which Joker tries to proliferate. He guilt trips her into the mindset that turning down her acceptance will “betray the expectations” of her family and friends. I’m not sure if this was the literal meaning of the words he said, but Doremi did an excellent job at selecting this particular phrase to describe Reika’s dilemma.

Joker’s strategy was perhaps too effective. If he had simply sowed seeds of doubt, it would have strained Reika’s dilemma to the point of absolute indecision, which would likely result in her going along with her peers’ assumption that she would eventually leave. However, by driving her to the emotional limit by revealing the true feelings behind her friends’ support, it ultimately allowed her to make her choice even if she had to suffer for it.

"I cannot bear the thought of having to separate from all of you!"

“I cannot bear the thought of having to separate from all of you!”

This is why I love the way Reika was established as a character in this series. Despite being the token smart girl in her group, she’s more than just a walking encyclopedia. She uses thought to dictate her day-to-day life, as well as her long-term outlook. This whole concept of the path is one that involves a spiritual type of contemplation as well as reasoning based on facts known to her reality. She doesn’t let instinct drive her like Nao does, nor is she governed by emotion like Akane. However, she was only able to discover the right path after succumbing to her emotions at the prospect of having to leave her friends.

Having only previously shed a single tear in response to emotional moments, this picture of Reika sobbing and unable to process the concept of a life without her friends is a conscientious writing decision, and pays off remarkably well. She needed to tap into her feelings in order to find her path, despite spending the entire series depending on her thoughts.

"My name is Aoki Reika. Also, Cure Beauty."

“My name is Aoki Reika. Also, Cure Beauty.”

What emerges from this crumbling shell of a broken Reika Aoki is a balanced, grounded Beauty, who, like all other legendary PreCure before her, is empowered by her own enlightenment, and is bestowed a new power, Beauty Blizzard Arrow. It’s unlike any of the other abilities learned by her peers. It is without flash or firepower. It is simply a single lance of ice shot from her bow, traveling in a single, decided path to its target.

3 thoughts on “Smile PreCure! Episode 43: The One True Path

  1. You are spot on about Reika being the most overlooked character in this series thanks to lack of having dedicated episodes for her, but I think this one alone for her was amazing! While personally she isn’t my favorite it was great to see her emotional side because most of the time she keeps that part of her in check, so yeah for me this was the best emotion filled episode <3

    Reika's fight with Joker was awesome! Sure he spent most of his time screwing with her mind aka trolling her hardcore and YES her solo fight vs the Akanbe this week was so damn epic, but when Joker fused with the Akanbe that looked fantastic and them my mind went to Warcraft mode with Reika as a DPS warrior fighting Joker as tank class…yeah…my mind is a strange place xD

    Bows or swords which do you like? I kind of enjoyed both of them~

    Also I guess Miyuki's Cinderella themed episode was just an extra for her? I assume because she is the leader so she might get more attention? Either way we have one or two episodes until the main boss appears which has me excited.

  2. The Reika episode. Well, I think all the previous character centered episodes are decent, but this is the best one so far.

    Reika picking up ice swords as she fights the Joker is a neat idea, and she has her character song playing as well! Would have to say that Joker is a fitting villain for this series, very evil and cunning. Too bad for him at the end, even his room seems to agree with Reika – in the last parts of the battle there are spotlights which revealed Joker’s location, making him an easy target.

    1. Reika’s episode was definitely the best. Her character song was a splendid choice, as those types of moments suddenly has more impact when the right music pops up. Having her fight against Joker just adds to how powerful she is and how intense the fight turned out. The room thing was a really cool twist, as it further indicated how powerful Cure Beauty has over Joker’s domain after her turnaround. The spotlight thing was just too awesome. Thanks for commenting!

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