Amidst the hype of the NCAA national men’s basketball tournament, there is always a proliferation of offshoot pop culture tournament brackets. Whether it be Star Wars, video game characters, or even swear words, the concept of pitting icons and concepts against each other always involves the idea of determining superiority amongst a collective group through a series of binary oppositions. It’s an effective way of determining who or what is the best in a group, and it’s a fun way as well.
In the case of the Pretty Cure franchise, the collection of Cures in the valhalla of Toei’s magical girls have finally reached a tidy number of 32 with the addition of Dokidoki! PreCure and its cast of colourful characters. Determining which legendary warrior will rise among the rest is a tough process, but when placed in a bracket in the same style as the NCAA tournament, a clearer picture is put into place, and girls across the history of the franchise can finally put their legacies to the test, at least in an arbitrary manner.
The manner in which I seeded the bracket below was as follows: I first selected what I perceived to be the four “best” PreCure across each series, based on some combination of popularity and character merit, taking into account such things as character iconography and even weighted demographic appeal (combined popularity between younger girls and older otaku alike). I assigned each of the four a number 1 seed in each of the four different regional brackets of eight, named after the villains from Fresh Pretty Cure. I did the same thing for the next seeds 2-8 in each bracket, and arranged the individual matchups in each bracket as 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5. The resulting bracket can be seen below; behold my Excel printscreen skills!
Let’s take a look at each of the regional brackets and examine them a little bit more closely.
Notable seeds: Marine (1), Peach (3), Sword (4)
The Northa regional is an interesting mix of matchups that include Cure Marine’s 1v8 match against a Dokidoki girl, Cure Rosetta. Despite recency bias, I still seeded Rosetta as an 8 as she has yet to see much screentime so far. The matchup is very tough, as Marine is nothing short of super-awesome. Sword makes an appearance as the 4-seed, going against another really cool character in Cure Sunny. Strength of (broadcast) schedule isn’t a factor of comparison here, as they are both very intriguing in their own ways and in their own shows. Looking at the bracket, I can see Marine making it out of the group and representing the (Final) Fresh Four.
My pick: Cure Marine
Notable seeds: Passion (1), Heart (3), Bloom (4)
It makes sense that the “Big Eas” representatives would include the character that was formerly Eas herself. Cure Passion is a wonderful combination of intense character arc, amazing stock transformation and attack sequences, and all-around popularity and shipping potential in Fresh. The 4/5 matchup in this group is another intriguing one, as it pits both Splash Star girls against each other, Cures Bloom and Egret. Cure Heart has the highest seed amongst the Dokidoki PreCure, but has a tough competition in Cures Melody and Passion in the later rounds, should she be able to take care of her match against Lemonade.
My pick: Cure Melody
Notable seeds: White (1), Sunshine (4), March (6)
The Soular Regional might as well be called the Heartcatch Regional, considering that 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seeds in this bracket contain 3 of the four girls from the afformentioned series (Cure Marine being the odd girl out as the top seed in her own separate bracket). The seeding process, combined with the worst kind of luck, kind of screwed the other three Heartcatch girls in this regard, but even with the iconic Cure White in the mix, it’d not to pick the field between White and the other three Umakoshi Cures. While 3rd and 4th seed underdogs are a sexy pick for most brackets, it’s hard to make a case against any one character from Heartcatch, but when pit against each other, the relative underdog in the group would be Sunshine.
My pick: Cure Sunshine
Notable seeds: Peace (1), Black (2), Diamond (7)
If the Soular regional is the Heartcatch bracket, then the Westar regional would be Yes 5 bracket, with 3 of the 6 girls from GoGo representing the 3rd to 5th seeds. Of the three, there’s another intra-series matchup between Cure Aqua and Milky Rose, two girls who share amazing chemistry on-screen. Regardless of which Yes 5 girl comes out, I don’t think any of them have any chance against their more popular contemporary, the unstoppable moe juggernaut known as Cure Peace. A group finalist in last year’s Japanese Saimoe, Yayoi is a force to be reckoned with, even outside of the franchise, and is an easy pick to win the entire thing.
My pick: Cure Peace
This results in a predicted final four of Cure Marine, Cure sunshine, Cure Melody, and Cure Peace. I have Cure Peace beating Cure Marine in the championship match, thus becoming the winner of the 2013 tournament. Of particular note, there is a bracket already going on in the PreCure livejournal group, but polls are based on the criteria of in-canon abilities and strength/power, rather than on a meta popularity level. It also doesn’t include the Dokidoki girls for obvious plot reasons, but it’s also something worth looking into. However, the voting process has already begun, making any sort of prediction at this point mistimed. As such, I will track the results of this bracket by associating each girl with the top 32 teams in the NCAA tournament, like I did with the other bracket I made. My college basketball bracket, based on precure-based predictions turned out to be Louisville/New Mexico/Georgetown/Indiana. I don’t know anything about any of the teams here, but it certainly gives me incentive to keep track of the tournament as it progresses, and rooting for certain teams based on the girls they are representing. Go Gonzaga/Cure White!