Heartcatch Precure Is Cool
A few friends of mine — and some fine folks in the blogosphere as well — have been on the Heartcatch Precure! train for a while now, and since I enjoy the occasional magical girl series (kept up with Shugo Chara! weekly even when it turned all crappy and stuff) and also wanted something the complete opposite of the latest show I finished (Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam), I decided to hop on for the ride myself and spent the past week marathoning the series to the latest episode. And what a fun week it has been!
(Some spoilers for the series after the break.)
Although Precure seems like an underrated series (exactly 784 MAL users are watching the series, which is basically nothing lol), I don’t want to oversell its merits. Children are quite obviously its target audience basically on the simplicity of the stories and its Monster of the Week format, and the episode structure is for the most part the basic magical girl format — episode starts, character with troubles is introduced, one of the Desert Messengers (the three baddies under the command of Prof. Sabaku, who wishes to destroy the Tree of Hearts) takes advantage of the problem to turn the character into a ridiculous creature, the Precures step in and transform and rumble for a bit before talking through the problems, and everything is cool. Rinse, lather, repeat most weeks. (Lately the main story has been evolving a bit, so the show might get away from the formula.)
But I do think that the series doesn’t let its limitations be anything that drags it down; rather, the show is a lot of fun within that formula. The problems the characters have are often easy to relate with, and they address troubles kids might have without talking down to the viewers or brushing them off, even if the eventual solution is always pretty simple. The weird monsters (or “Desertarians” in the parlance of the show) usually have a cool, funky look to them, as well; actually, a lot of them remind me of the weird creatures from FLCL, or even the aliens from Alien Nine (except not as gross). Really, the series as a whole has a fun, flashy, highly appealing visual style. It’s a treat to watch.
The main characters are an appealing group, too. Like those whom they help each week, they start off with their own problems — Tsubomi (in the middle) is a shy, introverted girl who wants to become more friendly and expressive, while Erika (on the left) is a motormouth who rarely thinks about how her actions will affect other people. They’re the two Precures at the beginning of the series, while Itsuki (on the right) doesn’t join for 20+ episodes (although she’s around fairly often and is an obviously important character from the beginning of the series). Itsuki’s main issue is that she needs to find a balance between working for others and for herself.
So they have a base from which to evolve, and I enjoy how the series emphasizes their teamwork — that’s the clearest way the trio has grown since the beginning of the show. You can see how their fights evolve as the show goes along; Tsubomi and Erika (and later with Itsuki) often have to team to fight the increasingly powerful Desertarians, and when they do, it is pretty kickass. (The only exception is when one of them has a particular connection with the Desertarianized character and lands the healing blow.) I like to joke about the Precures needing more triple tech attacks to overcome the enemies, but the show really is at its best when that teamwork is on display.
Speaking of the enemies, I like them, too, even if they’re mostly specific. My favorite is the narcissistic Cobraja, who probably spends more time primping himself than he does engaging the Precures in battle. The hot-blooded Kumojacky is fun, as well, and Sasorina (who reminds me a bit of those ganguro girls from Durarara!!) has grown on me lately as well. Then there is the most powerful of Prof. Sabaku’s servants, Dark Precure, voiced by the always memorable Minami Takayama, putting on a more menacing version of her Dilandau/Envy voice.
There are plenty of other neat characters, as well, including Tsubomi’s awesome grandma, Erika’s model sister, and Cure Moonlight, the Precure who came before the current generation of Precures and whose story hangs in the background for much of the show. And I’d agree with Reverse Thieves’ Hisui that it’s refreshing how the Monster of the Week characters show up repeatedly throughout the series. One of the things I didn’t like about Shugo Chara! is that so many of the kids were one-off characters; in Heartcatch Precure! characters rarely disappear. Hell, a good number of them have become a part of Tsubomi and Erika’s Fashion Club. It’s nice to see them return and do well.
While I don’t think Heartcatch Precure! is a game-changing magical girl series that will win over tons of new fans to the genre, it’s an appealing series that has been fun through 33 episodes, and appears to be getting better from here. The show definitely deserves to be at least as popular as Shugo Chara!