As some of you may know, the Pretty Cure franchise is a mahou shoujo series of anime that targets younger audiences. I wasn’t interested in them at all, until I became addicted to this video:
MyssaRei told me that I should start with Heartcatch, since it’s meant for all audiences or something. So, here I am.
Basically, there’s the Heart Tree that gives strength and draws strength from the Heart Flowers inside people and helps to protect the world. Where did it come from? Errrrrr… Cosmic rays, a meteor, evolution gone wrong, I dunno, MADOKA DID IT. Then there are the Desert Messengers that want to turn the world into a desert. Some kind of sand fetish I guess. In order to do that they have to weaken the Heart Tree, by taking the wilting Heart Flowers out of sad people and turning them into Desertarians. The Desertarian would rampage, causing the Heart Flower to wither further while expressing the pain/sadness/worry of the person. The Precure then beat them up, shoot giant glowing globs of antidepressants at them, return them to normal, rinse and repeat. Each time they help someone the fairies shit out (seriously, I kid you not, they really do) candy-shaped Grief Seeds to put in a jar so the Heart Tree grows stronger.
Although it is said to be good for all audiences, it is still a kid’s show at its core. There are a lot of things you need to get pass that look very stupid for someone who isn’t a kid. The usual villains are idiots, and appear one at a time instead of ganging up on them with the exception of Saabaku-hakase and Dark Precure, who are powerful but usually sit back or go around doing other stuff. To quote MyssaRei, “She’s like a level 90 rogue in a world full of noobs.” There’s a “Monster of the Week”, a moral in most episodes, long transformation scenes, and the plot moves very slowly. Oh and product placement – LOTS of it.
Despite those annoyances, I love this show. Heartcatch Precure has some tragic parts to it, and I like some of the message it tries to convey. The characters are emotionally strong, and while they have their own problems they learn not to give up but to accept them and get past them. Tsubomi is a better pink mahou shoujo than Madoka!
The transformation sequences are good, and after a while you get used to the stupid villains and barely existent plot and appreciate the show for what it is – cute and heartwarming entertainment for times when you just want something happy without having to think too much about it, but you can learn from it if you want to.
The art style is unique, and (almost diabetic) cute. The faces are a lot rounder than in most anime, and everything seems almost “bubbly”. It grows on you after a while though, and I think it’s a nice change from normal styles. Heartcatch’s atmosphere and backgrounds are cute and innocent, and some places like the Precure Palace have very intricate designs. Because the show has a flower theme, flower petals often float along the wind behind the characters. There are also heartwarming scenes, usually at the end of an episode, where the colors are faded away which adds a nice touch.
The character design is decent, and I especially love Cure Moonlight. Each of the characters experience some character development, especially during the test to get the Heartcatch Mirage (another shiny new toy for you to buy!) where they have to learn to accept their past selves. It’s a common trope among other anime and movies, but for a kid’s show it’s good enough. Surprisingly, the antagonists have distinct personalities and I actually felt sympathetic towards them. The show doesn’t make you hate them, which ties into the fight-with-love-not-hate theme.
The OP and ED are written especially for the show, a rarity in modern anime. I love the second ED; it’s so happy. Precure series have a lot of dancing for their endings, and started using CGI instead of normal anime style a few series back. The CGI is beautiful, and the dances were choreographed decently for the most part.
The fight scenes are really fluent, which was unexpected for a show whose primary demographic are young girls. At times it becomes more violent than expected, with punches in the stomach, buildings being wrecked and girls being slammed into dirt. There were welcome tropes, such as their Trans-AM system where they glow red and go THREE TIMES AS FAST. Cure Moonlight and Dark Precure’s aerial battles were on par with something from Macross or Gundam, and there are certainly enough lasers flying around to cause confusion and make you wonder if you accidentally opened the wrong video file. Other popular mecha themes also appear, such as how Cure Marine’s pose for launching big attacks looks like Trans-AM Raiser and Cure Sunshine’s Sunflower Aegis which is pretty much a girly version of honeycomb barriers like the Shinkirou’s Absolute Defense. Speaking of Cure Sunshine, her Gold Forte Burst releases a huge array of flying flowers Macross Missile Massacre style. Seriously, is this a mecha show in disguise or something? I heard Nanoha is like a mecha show, but it was aimed at an older male demographic. This is a show for little girls.
Joking aside, Heartcatch Precure is a legitimately good show. It has its flaws, and we aren’t the primary demographic, so some people will find the show unsuitable. However, if you can get past that, Heartcatch is an anime that you will surely enjoy, maybe even become one of your top anime – and this is coming from someone who is obsessed with Gundams and grew up reading books by Tom Clancy!