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drunkenpandaren ([personal profile] drunkenpandaren) wrote2012-02-18 09:10 am
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Smile Precure Review - The Birth of Cure Happy, Full of Smiles!!

Well we're at the beginning of a new series of Precure, and there's a lot of expectations that were floating around for this new team. So lets get into it. In the beginning, we're introduced right away to the lead protagonist and the mascot; Miyuki Hoshizora and Candy. Candy is instantly completely adorable and speaks with the ending of -kuru at the end of her sentances. Let's look at her design first off.

She's pretty much your standard mascot, drawn from the primary base design of the Heartcatch mascots, you can see it in the design. Hearts on the forehead and along the eyes, but her dialect, -kuru ending and lamb-like design sets her apart from the others. And a rather fantastic voice performance by her seiyuu has given her instant adorable status.

Looking at Miyuki, her design has traits lifted from previous heroines, most notably Nozomi Yumehara. Not that it's a bad thing since the design team previously worked on Yes Pretty Cure 5, you immediately see a slight shift in the art team direction. They want to lift several traits and design qualities from previous shows and put them all into this team, most notably the pout-face that was so prevalent in YPC5, which is then used for pretty much all of the team that are prone to doing so. The pink hair in sweet-bun style is a nice design trait, and several other design quirks sets her apart from the previous pinks, including her own personality quirk of loving picture books that depict happy ends for everyone.

At the beginning of the episode, she encounters Candy in the classic method of most Precure protagonists: mascot to the face. Miyuki's reaction to be honest is something of a surprising reaction compared to previous first encounters, since she instantly thinks of Candy as an avenue to finding happiness and instantly wants to associate with her, despite Candy running off. Several previous pinks have had a reaction of "AH WEIRDO!" when the mascot started talking.

The show does a good job introducing the rest of the cast, giving them personal introductions during Miyuki's personal introduction, lovingly hijacked by Akane Hino, who would debut in episode 2 as Cure Sunny. Akane takes the time to describe the characters major traits, giving the viewer a nice look at what they're about, from the crybaby Yayoi, to the "female boss" that is Nao and the popular class rep Reika. In a show that has a lot of extras, we can only imagine that these five are the major focus and they'll give us some supporting cast once the show picks up and introduces the main five. For YPC5 there was the Lunch Lady and Masko as the main characters to be encounter. But unlike YPC5 I highly doubt we'll be revisiting the evil corporation thing as seen later.

One neat thing I found in this show was the use of a secret base, or at least some area where you could get from point a to point b in a flash. The yet to be named room of books is accessed by Miyuki, presumably using the book that Candy came out of as a key. However she dropped said book in the room and has seemed to have forgotten all about it. Like most if not all parts of Precure, these scenes are gorgeously animated with one or two hitches here and there, such as the quick three-second shot of the students leaving the school. Yeah, Precure: good looking close up, horrifying at 100 meters. Go figure.

If they revisit the secret base, I can see it being used to their advantage, at least by one or two of their members. Akane in particular since she really has the character type to abuse it at least once or twice. But I'm getting off track, so lets go back to the episode in progress.

We're introduced to Wolfrun, who seems in design to be the badass lovechild of Zafira of Nanoha fame, and Kumojacky without the super manly angle going for him. His design is well thought out, sleek like a runner and he's got an epic dick face from episode two which is one of the funniest things in the world. His goal in this show is similar to the goal of the Labyrinth Trio, in that he wants to create Bad Endings for the future, by using a magical book and some blank ink. The Bad Energy as termed by Candy, will be used to revive the Emperor of Evil, Pirrot, which to my knowledge, we haven't gotten a clown in the enemy list yet. If you discount the goofy looking designs for villains in Splash*Star. But this is Precure anyhow, most of the designs are goofy from the outlook, but it's the characterization they put into them that makes it all worth it.

Quite obviously the enemy cast in this show is based on fairy tale enemies, since Wolfrun is based on the Wolf from various fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood which they allude to during the initial chase scene, and the Three Little Pigs which Miyuki tries to take advantage of. Wolfrun gives chase, Miyuki refuses to give up Candy who apparently is delicious, and we're treated to the first henshin of the series.

As far as henshins go, it is one of the most gender polarized transformations, obviously designed similar to the use of Heart Perfumes back in Heartcatch. But quibbling aside, it is really quite nice. It's good for a first transformation, and it measures up to say Tsubomi or the Suite first henshin which we see in a two-parter episode instead of a single episode intro each one is having. It's not as gar-tastic as say Akane's which I'll get into next review, but it is really one of the nicest transformations I've seen thus far. It's designed with speed in mind, which means they can chain transformations together in either a split screen or one after another, without worry about taking too much time in the episode devoted solely for transforming.

Miyuki shows off her intimate knowledge of fairy tales and hides behind a wall. Well it was a good attempt before Wolfrun used a Cure Decor and summoned an Akanbe. Quite possibly that was one of the funniest moments in the episode, next to the attack fizzle. It's nice that he explains how he's doing this, like every show should for new viewers. Instead of 'here's a monster hit it' we have "the power of a Cure Decor can be used for creating monsters" which gives them double motivation to defeat these things. And in a moment of Wolfrun knowing his jokes, he creates a monster brick house. Irony at its best since Miyuki tried to protect herself with it.

Happy Shower, the big finisher in this episode is debuted, after one fail moment to try it out without doing the pre-requisite song and dance before the attack is brought to full bear. Something noted is that Miyuki puts a lot of spirit into her Cure Pact in order to cast this ability, and she's exhausted after it. It brings to mind the design of a Final Vent from Kamen Rider Ryuki, in which they would only have one shot and absolutely cannot miss their Final Vent, since its an all or nothing blast. I'm sure this will probably curve itself as the girls get stronger, but for now its nice seeing a limitation put on Precure powers since they are rather ridiculously hax all the time.

The episode ends with the Bad End being reversed and Wolfrun retreating for now, something that marks his first rivalry with the impending team. And it neatly segues into episode 2.

Looking back on the episode, it was done up in a very nice way, able to reference past Precure both visually and in writing. With Toei focused on Anniversary works recently, its no big surprise that they had set to work on making Smile another gateway show into the franchise. It is easily accessible by fans, both new and old, and has characters that show a lot of promise. Already Yayoi has demonstrated that the fans really like her, and many older and newer fans are clamouring over the designs and the style of the show in itself. There's many references that people are picking out in each episode and its making for a good self-referential show.

The character of Miyuki has a lot of promise as well, as she's focused on Happiness, and the gathering of said thing which is a direct contrast to the Bad Ends that the villains are focused on bringing. Design wise she has a great design in and out of the Precure form, and her energy is infectious. She bounces from topic to topic at a rapid fire pace, it's almost hard to keep up at times, but that's what happens when you have a character so incredibly focused on making people happy wherever she goes.

More will be written for episode 2 later on, possibly after the airing of episode 3 today.