I had rather low expectations going into this to say the least. Four Precure series so far and each one had been varying levels of poor, from awful dialogue to painfully stupid villains to increasingly contrived methods to create drama. The first episode of Fresh Precure did show some promise though. Maybe, just maybe, Precure had learned from its mistakes?
I lasted 10 episodes.
There are a lot of things Fresh Precure did right. For one, the magical pets did not have a stupid verbal tic! There were two magical pets. One of them was a wise-cracking ferret with a kansai dialect, and the other was a baby who was pretty darn cute. In short, no annoyingly squeaky voiced morons with jarring verbal tics at the end of their sentences as a substitute for an actual joke. Another improvement is the villains actually have a reason to retreat after each battle, instead of running away because they’re idiotic pussies. Each time they summon a magical creature, it is to gain magical juice of despair created from people crying because a big scary monster has appeared. When the Precures charge in and defeat the monster, it would be unwise to try continue fighting as it would not be an efficient use of their powers. They’ve got their magical juice so it’s time to retreat. I know these sound like minor changes, but they are two of my biggest problems with Futari wa Precure, which until now had been the best Precure I’d seen.
What Fresh Precure really excelled in was it had a sense of humour about itself. It knew how ridiculous the whole Precure set up was, and the characters would frequently drop lines highlighting this. For example, the Precure’s first thought upon becoming super powerful magical girls was that they’d become famous and be brought onto talk shows. In retrospect, it’s kinda obvious that is what would happen if Precures really existed, much like the plot to Tiger and Bunny, but for the show to admit that itself was pretty funny. The stupidly flamboyant villains had this trait too. One of the funniest moments in the series was the vending machine monster that sprayed its victims with orange juice, with the victims crying out lines like “that’s going to take forever to get out!” while screaming in terror. Considering these monsters are always made out of everyday items, it was nice to see the show acknowledge how ridiculous it was to be attacked by a giant vending machine, instead of the incredibly deadpan approach taken by Futari wa Precure.
There was, of course, the token bitchin’ transformation sequence, which honestly wasn’t all that bitchin’. But I’m willing to forgive them because this was the first Precure to introduce the glorious CGI dancing in the ending song. Ah yes, I was certainly prepared to like Fresh Precure after the first few episodes. If only it could have stuck to that sense of humour. You see, while Fresh Precure was great at poking fun at itself, someone at the top must have hit the staff over the head after about 3 episodes for not taking this extended toy advertisement seriously. So, begrudgingly, they started to bring in some conflict and drama which, surprise surprise, they were utterly awful at. The self-mocking sense of humour was sucked out of the show to be replaced by the same sense of humour the other Precures had. That is, none whatsoever. The drama doesn’t work either because each character is so shallow. They work as funny stereotypes, but they were incapable of holding an episode up with their frowny faces on.
And, just like that, all the old Precure problems reappeared. Contrived methods of creating drama that get ignored in future episodes. Main character relegated to utter idiot, which I suppose she always was, but now being idiotic simply to create drama and episode plotlines. Even the villains started to do idiotic Precure Villain things again. So this guy can erase anything from the world, including humans, right? So why doesn’t he, you know, erase the Precures? But no, the first thing that comes to mind for him to erase is hamburgers. My other great friend, the crowbarred in toy advertisement, makes its appearance too. Spending a good 5 minutes making fragrances with these pieces of plastic and talking about how wonderful they are. Or the Brand New Precure Power unlocked in episode 9, that turns out to be a magical wand made out of incredibly cheap plastic, with its own drawn out transformation sequence to show off that you can touch the buttons on it to make a tune. That transformation sequence was particularly funny because it had some amazingly high quality animation in it, only for the character to finish the transformation and go back to panning because they can’t afford actual character movement. I wouldn’t mind the toy advertisements if they weren’t so blatant and crowbarred in that they jar your entire experience of the episode.
Argh Precure! There’s a good series in here, somewhere. But it keeps doing the same damn awful things over and over. Futari wa Precure got the drama, animation and characterisation right, while Fresh Precure had the sense of humour and tolerable magical pets, but the same problems keep cropping up. I only have Heartcatch left, but it is the one Precure with near universal praise. I can’t say I’m expecting to be blown away by the series, but here’s a list of 8 things I would like it, and all new instalments of the Precure franchise, to include.
- Bitchin’ Transformation Sequences
- Magical pets that don’t make me want to attack their face with a cheese grater
- Fluid animation for the fight scenes
- Credible villains
- A sense of humour
- Conflicts between the characters that aren’t awfully contrived
- The toy advertisements to be integrated seamlessly into the episode
- CGI dancing in the ending song