Stock footage is the name of the game when it comes to PreCure. I really wouldn’t give a crap about what happens in a particular episode if I knew beforehand that there would be a new attack sequence, like there was in episode 13 with the introduction of the Love Heart Arrow, or in Smile’s case last year, Rainbow Healing. Both shows’ respective episodes marked the debut of their respective new attacks, and as far as stock sequence production is concerned, they were both really interesting in their own ways, despite the fact that the episodes that they were featured in were noticeably weaker than others in the same season up to that point.
It’s the anticipation of these new attacks that really take the focus away from an episode for me, which is what made Makoto’s spotlight episode in Dokidoki 15 really interesting. There was no prior notice that the PreCure’s combination attack would happen to any sort of degree, which allows the focus to be drawn to Makoto’s turn to find the next of the five crystals (the previous two were found by Alice and Rikka, respectively; Mana’s upcoming episode suggests that the spotlight episode cycle will continue in this tradition much like the spotlight cycles from Smile). While the visual quality of the episode seems a bit off (i.e., oddly high number of easier-to-draw closeup shots, a few slightly off-model drawings of Makoto herself, plenty of stills, etc.), the occurrence of the combination attack comes out of nowhere, revealing where most of the production resources were allotted.
Other than the odd lighting of the sequence itself, Lovely Force Arrow is a fantastic visual sequence, whose composition is highly reminiscent of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GoGo!’s combination attack, Rainbow Rose Explosion. Much like the Lovely Heart Arrow from the franchise’s current iteration, Yes 5’s Cure Fleurets share the same shape, but are used in unison in the same manner as Lovely Force Arrow. Each fleuret (french for foil, a type of sword) is a different colour, but is summoned and wielded by each of the Yes 5 PreCure (excluding Milky Rose) in order, much like the sequence leading up to the Rainbow Burst attack in Smile PreCure. Each Cure strikes a neat pose with their weapon as they flourish with their signature lines.
Here’s Cure Aqua’s poses, for example:
Ahh! This pose is amazing! Let’s step aside for a few moments and talk about how amazing this sequence of shots is, at least from a compositional standpoint. The first shot where Aqua shouts Tornado Fleuret is a fantastic use of the character’s body and weapon to create shapes on-screen. Aqua, who holds the sword with a forehand grip, points the sword downward while extending it towards the right part of the screen. Meanwhile, her body leans backward while facing in the same direction as her arm, her right shoulder visible on screen.
The lines formed by Aqua’s body, arm, and sword, create a striking triangle in the middle of the shot, which is accented beautifully by the flow of her hair. PreCure hair is absurdly shapely, and it is brought to light in the shot, as it curves out from her head, downwards, and not only does it curve back towards her butt, but parts of it extends past it and forwards from the front of the body, like the shot indicates. It’s a really beautiful shape, hued in the awesome blue that is the mark of the Intelligent, beautiful cures in the franchise.
The second pose is less striking, but the transition to it from the first pose is achieved by a crafty combination of character and camera movement. Aqua rotates clockwise so that by the time the camera zooms in towards her face and upper body, her left shoulder points towards the screen. The end result isn’t as visually prominent, but the movement is beautiful, albeit taking place only within a small 1-2 second timeframe.
This sequence of pose and camera/body motion is recreated (though not in exact composition) in Dokidoki with Cure Heart’s summoning of her Lovely Heart Arrow, which falls into her hand as seen in the shot above, after which she flips around into a more traditional bow-wielding stance after a neat camera transition. She doesn’t have the catchphrases that the girls from Yes 5 have, but the difference here is that this particular sequence is utilized for individual attacks, a feature not present with individual Fleurets in Yes 5. That said, when the four bows come together for the big finisher, The shots just scream, Yes!
As a really quick note about the final pair of shots, the way the single unified projectile (in Yes 5, the rose, in Doki, the heart) hits the monster of the week is slightly different from the two shows. Force Heart Arrow penetrates through the monster completely through an overkill of sorts, whereas Rainbow Rose Explosion snakes around the monster and devours it into the flower. Depending on your taste, you might favour one over the other, but personally, I love the latter more, as well as the idea that a giant rose gobbles a monster up and dissolves it completely. It adds a ferocity to the attack, as well as the signature badassery that the PreCure franchise is often known for.
That doesn’t really take anything away from Force Heart Arrow, though. It has its amazing features as well, particularly the synchronised wink as seen in the feature image at the start of this post. The way the sequence breaks away into a few split-screen shots gives a really heavy tokusatsu feel to the entire attack, which conceptually seems more fitting from a show like Yes 5 that actually has a sentai-like team of superheroines. Regardless, the striking similarities between the two finishing moves are remarkable, and it is a hallmark of how well Dokidoki remembers love for the rest of the PreCure franchise as a whole. It’s been like that since the first episode, and in bits and pieces, it’s reinforcing that quality through individual moments like these. I just can’t wait to see what other shoutouts are in store for the remainder of this really cool series.