I may have humourous qualms about the format, but it’d be a shame to let the tradition lapse.
So, in one of my most (hah!) recent posts I talked about watching the original Pretty Cure. After I wrote that, I spent much of the rest of the year catching up on the rest of the franchise. Which you will find entertaining if, like me, you like violent toy shows in the problem-transformation-combat-finisher format and can tolerate the odd annoying familiar.
But there’s one exception to that judgement: Heartcatch Precure, with which the franchise comes perilously close to that rare thing, good anime.
I think of Heartcatch in terms of excess, or perhaps grace. Did it need a barnstorming four-ep finale fought above a ruined Earth? No, but it has one anyway! Much the same could be said of the beautiful stock footage and the fights, which were well wicked whenever the budget was unleashed—surprisingly often. And of the affecting one-off stories. And of the design of Erika’s face, which is hilarious.
But when I think of Cure Moonlight, I think of gaps.
For the first three-fifths of the story she’s a puzzle for the other Cures to solve – perhaps finishing up when, after thirty or so episodes of successfully saving everyone’s Heart Flowers, they see that Yuri’s is already dead.
Which I found quite startling. Particularly so because Heartcatch had said, every episode: Heart Flowers don’t die, the Cures don’t let it happen.
Here’s a decent example of the pleasure that repetition and variation can give us. It probably takes more than thirteen episodes to nail this sort of thing, and stock footage and stock ideas are positively an advantage. There, if you want one, is a reason not to condemn the year-long toy show format outright.
For recent general appreciations see blkmage, or (a dissenting voice) Sandra.
Yuri Tsukikage gets the older fans’ attention, I suppose because, as schneider points out, she’s a veteran, she’s been through the mill a bit. See Shinmaru’s highlighting of her return to the front lines.
Finally—spoilers, if spoilers bother you for this sort of show—krizzlybear praises the show’s climax.
It’s certainly a fantastic series, and the gold standard for the genre.