What’s it about ?
The latest iteration of the now decade-old magical girl franchise. As usual, it’s a complete reboot, introducing new characters and a new conflict but fitting the now traditional formula.
Cure Sword, last line of defense of the Trump Kingdom… and, er, it’s clear from the action prologue that she failed. She went into hiding on Earth under the cover identity of idol Makoto Kenzaki, because obviously that’s the best choice of occupation to lie low.
Mana, our actual protagonist, is the kind of person who goes out of her way to help anyone who looks vaguely in trouble within her line of sight. She’s also her middle school’s Student Council President, as she clearly sees that as the best position for her to help everyone. Anyway, she randomly gets a power jewel from a kinda creepy dude (seriously, calling a middle school student “my sweetheart” isn’t appropriate…), and eventually use it to transform into “Cure Heart” and jump in so as to help Cure Sword.
Rikka, Mana’s best friend, who tries her best to keep her on track somewhat. It’s obvious from the paratext that she’s gonna become a Precure soon.
Alice is a super-rich girl who owns (among other things) the gigantic “Clover Tower” this episode takes place around. She doesn’t let it get to her head, though, and seems to be good friends with Mana. Again, she’s clearly our 4th Precure-to-be.
The plot here is that a couple of mid-boss-level villains are wreaking havoc on the Tower in an effort to draw Cure Sword out and get some macguffin from her. This actually sounds like quite a decent plan, and they may have gotten away with it if (1) wild card Cure Heart hadn’t shown up and (2) Cure Sword actually has the macguffin… and I suspect she doesn’t.
Contrasted. There’s a gap between the “normal” designs, which are a bit on the busier side of the Precure scale of character designs, and someone like Cure Sword, who looks like she’s on loan from Heartcatch Precure given the fluidity and gracefulness of the way she is animated. It’s especially jarring when next to the Monster of the Week, whose shoddy animation is just appaling.
What did I think of it ?
I was pleasantly surprised by this. I was all ready to drop it like a stone, as I’m kinda tapped out on the Precure franchise at the moment and I need to recharge my magical girl batteries in preparation for the Sailor Moon revival (this Summer, maybe ?). Especially as the advance promotion made it look somewhat like Suite Precure.
But this is actually quite a good first episode. It packs in quite a lot of plot, introduces all the main characters with remarkable economy, and sets up mysteries for further down the way. Moreover, it manages to instill a sense of history, like we’re picking the story in the middle of a long conflict and this is just the latest stage of it. That’s not particularly a new thing for the Precure franchise (Heartcatch did it quite well too), but it’s always welcome. And the character dynamics and artstyle are different enough for this not to feel like a retread of Heartcatch.
Damn it, I think I’m going to keep an eye on this one.