40 CommentsPrecure / By Scamp /

I lasted a certain number of episodes into Heartcatch Precure

At last I’m here. The one I kept ignoring the various recommendations on, instead opting to plough through the various other instalments of the Precure franchise. But the time is now. Heartcatch, the most heralded series from this franchise.

I lasted…

I lasted…

Well, I lasted further than I did with any other Precure.

Heartcatch has one massive point in its favour over every single other Precure: It can do drama. It’s not stupid. I can’t stress enough how important this is. In Heartcatch, the evil monsters that fight the Precure are created using the wavering hearts of humans. What that means is every episode has someone worried about something happening in their life, and the episode tends to revolve around how they get over that problem. Usually the issue is just that they don’t have enough confidence in themselves. A girl is afraid of talking to the Student Council President she admires so much because she gets all nervous when she’s around her. A boy is afraid his mum won’t approve of his ambition to become a manga author. Very simple little stories, but each one is handled with care and enough heart, without the solution ever being something pathetic and pulled out of nowhere. Sure, the solution is generally “you’re not weak at all!”, but the solution to each problem is generally the person just needs more confidence in themselves. At its centre, that is what Heartcatch is about. Have confidence in your own mental strength and you can achieve anything.

One of these is Precure. The other is Casshern Sins. Can you tell the difference?

Another point in Heartcatch’s favour is the animation style. It’s done by the same team who did Casshern Sins, which is a bit of an odd mix. Casshern Sins is a great show, but it’s hella depressing post-apocalyptic material, and to have them do a Precure seems like a match made in “didn’t think this through properly” land. But it works, certainly in the animation style department. Heartcatch is stylish. The designs seem to be made with movement in mind, rather than other Precures where the characters don’t move freely at all and every fight scene is simply them panning across the screen (*cough* Fresh Precure *cough*). The animators are rather happy to let their characters go deformed for the sake of more fluid animation, but the artstyle suits the free-flowing designs quite well. Heartcatch’s fight scenes are far and away the best out of the Precure franchise, albeit that’s not particularly high praise. In comparison to other action anime, it doesn’t compare to Bones or Gainax level material, but it sure is pretty to look at.

The transformation sequences are…well, actually they’re not all that bitching at all. At least, the main two aren’t. They decided a cell phone was too unoriginal for this version of Precure, so instead decided to use perfume as a Precure transformation aid. Full points for originality I guess, but this does mean what you get is a spray-on Precure costume, which is rather underwhelming. It’s only until the third Precure shows up that we get a proper bitchin’ transformation sequence. I won’t link it though, for fear of spoiling who the third Precure is. Also because Toei will take down the video faster than you can say “Scamp lasted all the ways to Precure Sunshine?”.

Not that Heartcatch solved all the problems of the previous Precures. The magical pets are still as annoying as fuck. The BUY OUR TOYS still isn’t that well integrated into the plot. No really Precure, I’m cool with your amazing gospel 2nd ending song having awesome CGI dancing in it (yes, I lasted until the second ending song appeared), but it’s jarring when every instance of BUY OUR TOYS is accompanied with the product in question being in CGI itself. It makes it stand out all the more jarringly, especially when they have to go through gimicky actions that the toys can also do. Like, come on. What sort of magical girl has to wind up their wand before they can use it? But the fact that it had a brain and wasn’t painfully stupid with its episodic plotlines far outweigh the problems I had with BUY OUR TOYS and annoying magical pets.

YouTube Preview Image

And yet…

And yet…

It gets better? You swear? Skip the fluff episodes and move onto the plot related ones?

Precure is a cartoon aimed at little girls. Kids like repetition, or so I’ve been told. I did too, when I was, like, 4. Heartcatch’s non-plot related episodes follow such a strict formula that they start to get boring after a while. It’s the same problem I had with Hell Girl, and even that tried to mix things up a little more than Heartcatch ever tried to. Every episode follows the exact same damn pattern, to the point that they start to blend together. This is Not Good for an episodic show. Each episode should have something that makes it stand out from the rest. That was the one where they all talked backwards for the episode. That was the one where the colours all inverted. I dunno, I’m not a scriptwriter, but there’s nothing remarkable about most of the episodes. They don’t try to make them stand out, except on very rare occasions. Even the ones where plot-related stuff happen, the show still goes through the exact same motions. It doesn’t matter how great your formula is, it will be less interesting with every repeat of the formula if you don’t mix it up a bit.

Then there was the plot. Yeah. The plot. For gods sake, why do even the apparently good Precure villains fall foul of the pathetically dumb Precure villain syndrome? Dark Precure is Cool. She has a single black wing and is amazingly overpowered compared to our heroes. Then why does she not attack them? There is a scene where she is about to deliver the finishing blow, but then retreats because Mysterious Voice From The Sky calls her away. There was no reason for her to be called away either, she just went anyway. And it’s not like the villains don’t realise what a threat the Precures are to them. I don’t necessarily mind that the underlings are stupid, spending their time admiring themselves in the mirror. They’re meant to be stupid, and the show embraces that. But why are Sabaku and Dark Precure not attacking the Precures when they realise what a threat they are? What the fuck do they spend their time doing in the dark castle? She had no problem defeating Cure Moonlight back in the day, why not these two Precures before they get stronger? Oh wait yeah, I know. Precure Villain Syndrome. Give them a stick and a banana just out of their reach, they’ll proceed to choke on the stick.

But even the plot with the good guys is stupid. Every single revelation to the plot was lame. The revelation who the fancy man who kept saving them was an incredible anti-climax. The reveal of who the third Precure would be was a let down. Every time a plot related incident would occur in the episode, it would never result in something I particularly cared about. The plot related episodes were never particularly good, apart from maybe introducing a new bitchin’ transformation sequence or new move. The best episode of the series was the Mother’s Day one by an absolute mile, and that had nothing to do with the plot.  It was just a well-directed episode that told a powerful message. But non-plot related episodes, as I explained earlier, got repetitive and dull. I found myself watching the next episode previews to see if anything potentially different would happen. But this too was a misnomer, as new events never succeeded in improving the quality of the episodes. Next episode has a new Precure, hopefully that will improve the quality, right? Nope, still the same old stuff it has been pumping out since episode 1, except now there’s an extra part to the transformation sequence.

I reached the episode where we got the fourth Precure. But her becoming a Precure was telegraphed to us for the past several episodes, so there was no joy in seeing it be realised. How she came about gaining the power to become a Precure was done via several randomly introduced plot elements over the past few episodes, such as a magical flying castle and the fact the Heart Tree can apparently travel across time and space, and that magical pets come from heart seeds, and all sorts of totally randomly introduced plot points for the sake of advancing the plot. But it’s not like the show ever changed. The villains were still being stupid. The Precures were still going through the same routine. The end of the episode showed the fourth Precure doing her bitchin’ transformation sequence and getting ready to fight Dark Precure. I thought to myself “well that was boring, but I gotta see the next episode because she fights Dark Precure in it”

…and stopped myself. I had fallen into that trap. I’m not watching the anime to see what’s happening. I’m watching the anime to see what’s going to happen. Nothing that’s ever happening in the present ever entertains me. Only the promise of changes in the future keep me going. Even if there is something worth watching, it comes out of non-foreseeable, non-plot related events like the Mothers Day episode. And there was where I dropped it. Episode 33. At the very point of the grand reveal, I gave up.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Is this where it ends? After 6 Precure series, it ends in disappointment? This isn’t how it was supposed to go. After originally getting in because of the pretty colours, I started to see that there was promise in this franchise but constantly getting let down, until finally, at the last stage, I’m supposed to find what I’m looking for. And indeed, Heartcatch is The Best Precure. I tried. I really did. I gave it all the chance I could for it to prove itself to me. But it didn’t. None of the Precure series ever did. I guess I just don’t like Japanese Magical Girl Cartoons aimed at little girls.

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39 Comments

  1. romulus
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Nice, now I can tell apart Precure series. I never thought I would ever be able to.
    When I watched Hell Girl, I watched something else mixed in to “dilute” it so it wont get boring. That’s the way to do it since I loved all 3 seasons. Greatest anime to make you depressed/mindfuck’d.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      I tried doing that. But my gap between episodes of Hell Girl grew from days to weeks to months to never watching the next episode at all

      • romulus
        Posted June 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Then you are not the type to fully enjoy the tension which thrillers and mental torture depictions put on the viewer. Just go back to watching magical girls, will you? :D

  2. Anonymous
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    You chose (sort of) a good place to stop. The episodes between Moonlight getting her powers back and the finale suck more than the ones leading up to it. Another dumb plastic toy (Mirage), another flashy powerup (Orchestra), more backstory on the setting (Cure Ange), required “Vs Myself” episode, and the lot. The non-plot episodes really suffer from an inexplicable drop in quality. I’d blame it on saving the budget for the ending, but that doesn’t excuse the writing.

    I say “sort of” because episode 34 has the best actions scenes up to that point, but if you didn’t have an appreciation for the fights then I suppose it wouldn’t hold your attention. If you feel like finishing the series, I recommend just watching from the last half of episode 44 to episode 49. You still don’t learn out anything about Dune’s motivations (making him one of only two Precure villains without a tangible goal), but the action is great and it provides an amount of closure if you had any interest in the characters.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      I like the fights quite a bit. I especially liked the super robot logic they incorporated into their moves. They’re not quite as nice as the fights in, say, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood or Panty and Stocking, but they’re still pretty darn nice. In the end, the pretty colours were all I was enjoying about the seires

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        If you like the fights, then I have to say that you’re doing yourself a disservice in not finishing it. You already suffered 33 episodes, you might as well watch 6 more to see the glorious payoff (34, 45-end).

    • charlie
      Posted October 17, 2013 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Just watch episode 34 and the finale. Cure Moonlight VS Dark Precure was actually really well done, and I loved the finale (particularly the second half). Really great fight scenes and a heartbreaking scene.

  3. Redcrimson
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, you got further than I thought you would.

  4. Hogart
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    There are a few good episodes, and the last arc at least ramps up the excitement a little. But it’s still just a simple, formulaic mahou shoujo for kids.. just with some actual heart behind the gimmicks to sell cheap plastic toys to kids.

  5. Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Now review Shugo Chara, the bubbly mess of shoujo sparkles with way to young main characters, that started out good but became terrible in later seasons! Oh, but the manga is entertaining, and surprisingly well at characterization. But the best part of it probably the concept. I mean, you could do so much with “you transform into what you want to be”, everyone I know who watched that show has at least once told me how they imagine their Shugo Chara. It’s kinda like Hetalia, that you can do a lot with one formula.

    Oh, and Scamp, one question. Surely, in your childhood, you watched cartoons before you began watching anime in your later years. Did you like any?

    • Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Good god, if Scamp couldn’t complete Heartcatch Precure, there is no way in hell he would finish Shugo Chara!

      • Posted June 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        But I want to see him suffeeeeer~
        Also it’s only the first season.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      I am so done with magical girl anime for the rest of the year

  6. mcm38
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like Cowboy Bebop reduced to a half enjoyable magical girl anime.

    And that cgi ending looks realy nice.

  7. Posted June 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m about 37 episodes into Heartcatch right now. And while I want to finish, I feel much the same toward it and just can’t stand the stupidity of the villains. I mean it’s a kid’s show, but Team Rocket were at least properly vanquished each episode, so that’s not much of an excuse.

    I dunno, it’s certainly a decent show considering it’s aimed at kids, but it’s nothing that’d blow anyone’s socks off.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      Team Rocket > Dark Precure

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

      I’ll admit first hand that I’m a fanboy for the series, but I’m not lying when I say that at least some of it is justified by the end. SPOILERS AHOY:
      The Apostles are just advanced Desertrians, so purification via the Precure’s special attacks means their present self dies. This is why when Sasorina gets turned back first, Kumojacky and Cobraja it like a death scene.
      I liked the mention of Sabaaku calling Dark Cure back, because even it gets explained by the fact that Sabaaku is Yuri’s long lost father (I’ll save you the time, he dies).

    • Posted June 29, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      I like your icon, Inushinde.
      It reminds me that I shall read some more Franken Fran and Neuro chapters.

      • Posted June 30, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        @Scamp: Team Rocket is indeed much better than Dark Precure. At least they have a modicum of depth, even if it’s on a superficial level. That came out a lot less contradictory in my head.

        @Leah: I absolutely love Franken Fran, but sadly I haven’t read the past six or seven chapters. I need to get on that as soon as possible.

      • hikarutsukinoon'
        Posted July 3, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

        had you watch ep 47 48? if the answer is not, then you have
        no idea of who is dark precure.

      • Posted July 3, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        The Franken Fran and Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro manga are amazing.

  8. V
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I watched tonnes of magical girl anime as a younger anime fan. Can’t bear a lot of them now, pretty much permanently burnt out on them.

    But, I hope you get to see/review Sailor Moo, Ojamajo Doremi, or Tokyo Mew Mew some time. :D

    • V
      Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Urgh, Moon. Damn typo.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      Noooooooo, no more magical girl anime noooooooo

      • Posted June 29, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Do Akazukin Chacha! <3 And Shugo Chara!

      • V
        Posted June 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        And Animal Detectives Kiruminzu, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, and Otogi Himechen Lilpri for the really recent magical girl stuff. (I have friends who watch these, haha.)

  9. Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m still amazed you even set about trying to watch any Precure at all, seems like self inflicted torture to me! XD

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      It does have bitchin’ transformation sequences though

  10. Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    For Precure standards, this show is amazing.. For mahou shoujo standards, I think Heartcatch is definitely above average, at least slightly. I justdid a 3 episode sample for about 11 mahou shoujos, and this was the best one out of all of them.

    Good job getting through 33 episodes though :)
    and I agree, the Mother’s day episode is great.

  11. Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    No, Scamp, it’s not that little girls like repetitiveness, it’s that they just forget the episode after 5 minutes…

  12. Posted June 29, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Egad. You got so far! Congratulations for lasting so long and so much. \o/ You’re finally done~

    The way you describe Heartcatch makes it sound like Splash Star, except Splash Star dealt with the main characters’ stories instead of a victim of the week. I wish Heartcatch didn’t change the usual formula.

    Apparently for Precure, good plot ≠ good animation. It’s either one or the other. At the moment Suite is messing with my brain…would be fantastic if the writing weren’t so bad.

    Overall the Precure series have lowered my expectations with anime.;; When I watched Danball Senki which is so full of plot, I was amazed just because of all the plot. orz

    Now I’m going to link you to whatever transformations you might have missed. And some attacks that might be bitchin’. I suppose.

    Max Heart everything (these are rather boring mind you)

    Cure Bright & Cure Windy
    Spiral Heart Splash Star last ep version too lazy to look for individual ones

    Milky Rose
    Precure 5 GoGo! mirrored
    Sapphire Arrow (italian) my favorite attack ever it’s beautiful ; A;

    Cure Passion
    Fresh Precure ED 2

    thingy 5 minutes of nice animation/action/dancing to promote some arcade dancing thing

    uhh then idk about other fresh and heartcatch stuff

    and suite has a lot of attacks :Ia
    Music Rondo (Melody ver.)
    Music Rondo (Rhythm ver.)
    Miracle Heart Arpeggio/Fantastic Piacere
    Music Rondo Super Quartetto
    Sobbb they never used their first one (without the toys) again. I liked that one because of the sounds their heels made. orz
    Cure Beat arrives in a few weeks. Bleh.

  13. sarif
    Posted July 3, 2011 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    You are depriving yourself of a wonderful ending. Also there is one amazing precure left to join the fight~

  14. Loonie
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, just download episodes 44 onwards and watch 5 episodes till the end. Wonderful ending indeed. I myself stopped after the 30+ episodes, but the 40+ episodes caught my interest again. Excellent.

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