PreCure Rainbow Burst (and its subsequent upgrade, Royal Rainbow Burst) is the penultimate stock animation sequence in Smile PreCure, and it is one of the most well-done stock sequences in the entire franchise. It feels a bit weird mentioning this particular moment as a memorable highlight of the series, since it’s something shown at least once per episode for the entire second half of the series (never mind Cure Peace’s jankenpon, which at least changes from week to week and keeps the audience guessing), but it’s because of the fact that it’s shown over and over again that makes this particular moment quite amazing.
The mark of a well-done stock animation is how it can be shown repeatedly without the audience getting bored, but even beyond that, a well-written show can bring different meanings to the same sequence when it shows up. In the case of a transformation, as 8C puts it, the insertion of the transformation sequence essentially transforms the story the same way it transforms the character or characters involved. In Smile PreCure, Rainbow Burst is a combination of both transformation and attack. It elevates the girls to a level beyond magical, and it culminates in a triumphant victory over the monster of the week. The magical girl finishing move is an “I win” stamp for the audience, and Rainbow Burst emphatically depicts this week in and week out.
It begins with the transformation. Unlike Heartcatch Orchestra, which also features a second transformation before attack, Rainbow Burst highlights this transition beyond a straightforward flash into the second form (Princess Form for Smile, Super Silhouette for Heartcatch). Taking continuity elements from Suite Precure’s 4-person transformation, all five girls are shown transforming in bits and pieces within the same continuous shot, and announce their new personas after powering up, Pegasus scepters et al.
The girls fly around while riding their own pegasi, forming the constellation of their attack (a pegasus for Rainbow Burst, Phoenix for Royal Rainbow Burst, both taking after actual constellations), coming together into a single line, like a single light that disperses into different colours after moving through a prism (except in reverse). The girls call down their move, and the mythical beast shoots an esoteric blast. Princess Happy blows out the flame on her scepter like a cowboy after shooting a pistol. They add a “facing away from explosion” type of line akin to “Finale!” from Suite, except the explosion takes the form of a giant fucking heart.
Rainbow Burst as a designed stock animation sequence was produced remarkably well, but was made even better by its debut in episode 23, the midway climax arc, which was amazing in itself. Without that entire arc, Rainbow Burst wouldn’t be as good as it is, yet the rest of the show does justice to its inclusion in nearly every episode from that point onwards.