I give the best anime in the Precure franchise ever...a 92/100!
Back in 2010, I wasn't the biggest fan of the Precure franchise, and it's mostly because I hardly ever saw any of the shows back then. I remember watching the first episode of the first series long ago but I never went further than that because one fairy's voice annoyed the living heck out of me. But since about 2014, I've actually made an effort to watch a good majority of the shows for that franchise. So far, including this one, Heartcatch Pretty Cure, I've seen nine whole series in their entirety, though I did watch the first episodes of every series. Basically, Precure pretty much follows the same formula as Sailor Moon: a great evil and their minions try to take over the world, ditzy girls and their friends are given items that turn them into heroes by cute little animal creatures, and they defeat monsters of the week and save the world while learning more about themselves and getting along in the process. I never got around to watching the other shows, and I didn't think I'd have time to watch any of them considering how long the shows were...until I saw one of my favorite bloggers start blogging Heartcatch Precure. He really loved it and kept on praising it up the wazoo like crazy as it was airing, and I didn't have much else to watch, so why not? I saw the first episode and...wow! He really was right about it being awesome!
Long ago, a warrior named Cure Moonlight lost an arduous battle against an organization called the Desert Apostles, and before her defeat, she tells two fairies to find another girl who can take her place. That's a dream a shy young girl named Tsubomi Hanasaki has been having for some time. She and her family move to the town Kibougahana to be closer to their grandmother, and despite being sweet and loving flowers to death, she's cripplingly shy. She does, however, attract the attention of a rather loud and bossy girl named Erika Kurumi who wants to be her friend but Tsubomi doesn't like her forceful and invasive nature. Soon, she finds Erika's Heart Flower getting ripped out of her and turned into a monster called a Desertorian by some lady named Sasorina. The fairies, Chypre and Coffret, give Tsubomi an item which turns her into a magical superhero called Pretty Cure, just like in her dream, but she calls herself Cure Blossom. Soon, she's joined by Erika, who becomes Cure Marine. They have to save people's heart flowers and restore the Heart Tree back to normal so that the Desert Apostles can't destroy the world. But it's going to be a tough and perilous task, especially considering how high the stakes are for everyone.
Unlike the first few series, which had the exact same animation style, Heartcatch's animation and character designs are completely different and go into their own direction, and it's a very welcome and refreshing change. There's lots of varying facial expressions, the movement is more dynamic and fluid, the colors are more vibrant, and it conveys more emotion and life than the other series. There's hardly any wasted frames here. Not only that, the anime doesn't just make the characters look good, the animators actually go way out of their way to bring the characters to life in the best ways possible, which really shows in both the every day scenes and the transformation scenes, the 3rd Pretty Cure's sequence being the best animated, the most fluid, and the best looking out of all of them. For fans of Ojamajo Doremi out there, you may notice that the character designs here are very similar to those of Doremi's. That's because both series had the same character designer, Yoshihiko Umakoshi, who also directed the animation for both series. So the two shows have a lot of things in common, from the character designs, the overly cartoony facial expressions, and...well, being magical girl series made by Toei. Thankfully, both series are able to carve out their own identities so they don't come off as ripping off one another despite having a lot of similarities.
The soundtrack is where things start to get tricky. Pretty Cure is notorious for reusing pieces of background music in their shows, often starting from series where they switch to a new composer and then re-use their music every time they hire that composer back for whatever shows follow until they're done with them. I haven't seen the original Futari wa series, Yes Precure 5, or Fresh Pretty Cure, and from Fresh to Smile, Toei had Yasuharu Takanashi do the music for those four Pretty Cure seasons. Since Heartcatch came right after Fresh, I can imagine that this series reused music from Fresh. But again, I haven't seen Fresh, so I don't know specifically which pieces they used from that season in here. But on its own, I think Heartcatch's soundtrack is pretty nice. The opening and ending themes are standard cutesy J-pop fare, which is no surprise there.
(more to come soon)