Doki Doki! Precure

(50ish episodes)

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.

Production Values

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.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 10.

Smile Precure !

(50-ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

It’s February, time for yet another iteration of the Precure franchise. (Kid-friendly magical girls, basically.)

This year, the dominant theme seems to be stories.


Miyuki, aka Cure Happy, our hyperactive protagonist. A fan of all kinds of stories, from fairy tales to TV superhero shows, as long as they get a happy end. She tends to voice her overactive trains of thought in public, which brings her tons of intrigued looks from bystanders. As it is, I can’t decide whether I’m charmed or I want to strangle her ; hopefully she’ll become a bit more subdued once the cast gets a bit more rounded.

Candy, the mandatory annoying toyetic critter. She manages to be even more ineffectual than the average (she looks for Precure warriors by randomly shouting “Precure !” in the street).

Our antagonist this episode is Wolfrun, a wolf-dude. So far, he’s utterly generic.

We also get a good glimpse of the girls slated to become the other four Precure ; there’s the hyperactive one from Kyoto, the shy one, the responsible one, and the well-bred class representative.

Production Values

Perfectly alright. This time around, we get bright colours and character designs that are way less fussy than Suite Precure, although it’s not quite as stylised as Heartcatch Precure. It’s a good balance, I think.

This is somehow a season saddled with terrible-to-bland-at-best OPs (even Persona 4 and Mirai Nikki have switched out what were the best OPs of last Fall), and this one doesn’t detract from the rule. The ED’s a bit more catchy.

Overall Impression

Well, at least it’s not Suite Precure. That was quite dire indeed.

So far, it’s off to a slow start. It looks like we’ll need four more episode until the team is assembled and the character dynamics become clearer ; there’s some promise but it’s too early to judge. And we’ve barely seen anything of the villains.

I’m going to reserve my judgement for now.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2012 – Page 10.

Suite Precure

What’s it about ?

The baddies are trying to replace the Melody of Happiness with the Melody of Sorrow, but the good guys in charged stalled them by dispersing the notes of the Melody. It’s up to two random schoolgirls to save the day !


Our heroines, Hibiki the slightly tomboyish sports player and Kanade the honor student/sweet-maker. They have a long history together, but they’ve been squabbling over petty matters for quite a while. Interestingly, it’s Kanade who has the worst temper of the two, although they’re both good at saying the wrong thing and regretting it later. Those two have great chemistry in the relatively little screentime they get.

The good guys consist of Queen Exposition Aphrodite, who seems to vaguely rule over stuff, and the cat-thing Hummy, who’s dumb as a sack of hammers.

The bad guys consist of evil lord Mephisto (so camp I have trouble taking him seriously as a threat), a trio of singing henchmen that are already horribly irritating despite barely getting three lines in the whole episode, and finally Siren, Hummy’s evil counterpart (who can actually transform into a girl). Unlike everyone else in the last two paragraphs, I actually like Siren, as she sounds like the only competent and intelligent person among all those morons. That’s charisma for you.

Production Values

Not very good, I fear. Side characters appear lifeless when they don’t speak, and the Big Bad’s design is so ridiculous it’s laughable.

The OP and ED aren’t very catchy, which is kinda disappointing in a music-themed series. And the ED’s gimmick of having CG models of the girls dance in rhythm slides deep into uncanny valley – it’s even more disturbing than the Heartcatch version.

Overall Impression

You know, this ain’t so bad. It was a somewhat ballsy move to have the first half of the episode devoted to the overall plot and the two heroines only introduced later on (especially as the overall plot is pretty crap, let’s be honest). But it’s the little things that make it work : Hibiki and Kanade feel like “real” lapsed friends, and Siren’s a promising mini-boss.

The lack of scope of the main plot is worrying, and I’m not sure about the setting (everyone seems to be living in the same partly-magical world, which makes me wonder about the “routine” episodes). But I’m probably keep following it for a few more episodes to get a better sense of it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 27.