I’m Pretty Cure this is the best Precure cast ever.
Despite what demographics might suggest, it shouldn’t come as a surprise by now to see an overlap of elements from the mahou shoujo and super sentai genres. Over the years, Toei’s Pretty Cure franchise has achieved a harmonious balance between its frill-clad warriors’ school and superhero lives – to the point where it’s become somewhat of a household name for little girls and grown men alike. True to its roots, Yes! Precure 5 is a season that exemplifies the franchise’s core strengths. Between its delightful cast of diverse personalities, convincing coming of age moments and plenty of baddie beat downs, this is one installment fans of either genre won’t want to miss.
Carefree but clumsy, Nozomi Yumehara is an average middle-school student with few dreams or talents – that is, until she crosses paths with an unbelievably handsome guy…err fairy from a magical land. After hearing his plea, her resolve to restore his ruined kingdom that was destroyed by the evil organization, Nightmare, causes her to awaken as Cure Dream. However, in order to do so, she must capture 55 magical creatures called pinkies which will then grant any wish.
Although the show’s premise may hint at it being nothing more than a drawn-out fetch quest, Yes! Precure 5 thankfully settles in on a more character-centric approach by pushing the pinkies to the periphery. With five Cures compared to the previous installments’ two, the diverse cast becomes, without a doubt, the show’s main selling point. As likable as she may be, Nozomi’s enthusiastic behaviour is only one of many personalities in the crowd. Amongst Rin’s tomboyish attitude, Urara’s sweet charm, Komachi’s quiet, yet perceptive outlook and Karen’s cool and collected demeanour, there’s plenty of spice to give this group its needed flavour.
With the team fully assembled after a mere 6 episodes, most of the focus is on the Cures pursuing their dreams and maturing. A typical plotline will focus on one or more of the girls as they encounter some sort of adversity in their life, be it a disagreement with another team member or difficulties in achieving their goals. Ultimately, what separates Yes! Precure 5 from other entries in the genre is the realism present in each of the girl’s stories coupled with their excellent characterization. For instance, the episodes centered on Komachi striving to become an author detail her personal growth exceptionally well. Being the most soft-spoken member of the group, Komachi tends to be more reserved and spends her time writing stories. However, it is only after bonding with one of the other characters that she confronts her weaknesses and finds the internal strength necessary to protect her future. What is especially satisfying about Komachi’s resolution is how understated many of the moments are; emotions are conveyed through realistic body language and effective cinematography, while dialogue is used sparsely to reinforce the closeness between the cast. With such convincing scenario writing, it should come as little surprise that many of Yes! Precure 5’s character arcs excel in a manner similar to Komachi’s.
That being said, the season does not solely succeed on the basis of its strong writing. Rather, the storytelling combined with the unity of the Cures’ group dynamic rounds out the final product. Being the appointed leader of the team, Nozomi often behaves in a manner that is less than befitting of her official title. Once Nozomi gets an idea in her head, she’ll simply shout “it’s decided” without consulting anyone else’s opinion. As a result, her unpredictable nature tends to single-handedly dictate the group’s course of action. While Urara is more than happy to join in on her schemes, Rin has no shortage of snarky remarks to tease Nozomi for her thoughtless decisions. Of course, this is all part of the group’s appeal, as the show has a good sense of when the Cures are simply engaging in a bout of lighthearted fun; their ritualistic bickering, laughter and goofiness is all confirming evidence of their closeness. In time, the gang’s more subtle idiosyncrasies start coming to light, making it a true delight to watch their daily lives.
However, what really defines the cast is the fact that each character has a distinct disposition towards one another. Karen, for example, acts very composed when she’s around the entire group, partly due to the fact that she’s in the presence of the younger girls. She’ll only display a more vulnerable side of herself when confiding in her best friend, Komachi. On the other hand, Karen adopts a friendly rivalry with Rin which ranges from the two arguing about trivial matters such as favourite juices to competing while fighting their foes. Initially, the two don’t have much in common, but over the course of the show their rapport slowly evolves. Although their bickering never really ceases, Karen eventually comes to respect Rin’s determination to achieve her goal and vice versa. Similarly, watching the natural progression of each character pair adds a great deal of depth and enjoyment to the show.
Being the first instance where Toei diverged from some of the franchise’s traditions such as the two Cure setup, Yes! Precure 5 also delves deeper into the romance. While previous and even future installments would just have the Cures’ crushes going nowhere by the end, the relationships in this season are better realized. This is due to the primary love interests being relevant characters that are tied to the Cures’ development. For instance, Nozomi gains confidence in her own abilities and discovers her passion only through bonding with Coco. As the show progresses, the two characters help each other work through their problems and become closer as a result.
Although it all sounds good on paper, there is a bit of an unfortunate twist here. Specifically, the writers chose the mascot characters, Coco and Nuts, to become love interests for two of the Cures. While the show does steer clear of some controversial topics by having the little critters shape shift into young adult men, numerous discrepancies arise as a result. For one, the Cures only become infatuated with the guys when they are in their human forms, leading to some romantic inconsistencies down the road. Additionally, Coco and Nuts’ portrayals vary largely between their two forms. While they are quite mature and knowledgeable as humans, both characters possess the mentality of fluffy, woodland creatures as mascots – making it difficult to swallow, at times, that these are the same dudes the Cures have fallen head over heels for. However, if one is able to look past these shortcomings, the romance aspect provides plenty of additional exposition to the select Cures’ characters.
Being an almost mandatory staple of mahou shoujo and super sentai shows, Yes! Precure 5’s villain troupe, Nightmare, certainly deserves a mention. While their primary purpose is still to wreak havoc by summoning monsters each week, Nightmare’s organizational structure provides an interesting departure from the genre’s norm. Specifically, their establishment closely mirrors that of the corporate world, complete with grunts placing their lives on the line to earn their next paycheck; it’s a nifty little metaphor for the harsh reality of the real world and provides some darker contrast to the Cures’ optimism. Sadly, beyond that, there really isn’t much else going for Nightmare that makes them stand out as villains. Aside from the aptly named Bunbee, who fumbles his way down the corporate ladder as the season progresses, the majority of the other villains are about as clichéd as they get. With few qualities that would make them likable or endearing, most of them end up as nothing more than glorified punching bags. As such, once the Cures permanently banish them to the realm of unemployment, they’re often not worth remembering.
With regards to the show’s production values, Yes! Precure 5 tends to look quite good on average for a 49 episode series. Character designs are very appealing while the show’s backgrounds are so vividly detailed, they’re almost picturesque. Although there are a few noticeable drops in quality at times, the show knows when to really go full throttle with its art direction. During key moments such as the Cures’ resolutions, greater attention is given to the accompanying lighting effects and expressions of the cast, intensifying the impact of these scenes. Unfortunately, the main area where the animation quality becomes a letdown is during the fight sequences. Outside of a handful of them, there’s a general lack of fluid animation used to detail the Cures’ martial arts, resulting in many of the weekly battles being anticlimactic. It’s a bit of a shame, as the fights are otherwise well scripted; featuring plenty of teamwork and diversity between the Cures’ unique powers.
Having worked on the soundtracks for the previous Precure seasons, Sato Naoki’s talents as a composer also really shine in this installment. The prevailing classical tone of his musical score complements the show’s characters and events; a gentle ensemble of flutes is used for Komachi’s theme whereas the roaring sound of trumpets can be heard during fierce battles.
All things considered, Yes! Precure 5 is a season that definitely makes its mahou shoujo and sentai forefathers proud. Nozomi and the gang’s superb group dynamics along with the resounding impact of the Cures’ character growth make for a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging Precure experience. Although the mascot characterization and villains are lacking in comparison, fans of either genre still unsure about watching this installment should be given this answer.