Smile Precure vs. the World: Deceased Parent Edition

smile-titlePretty Cure is a franchise that is infamous for reusing certain plot elements. And of all its more than 10 seasons, the worst offender is Smile Pretty Cure. But is it fair to call the episodes of Smile that reused previous episode plots lazy or repetitive? Did the soft reboot episodes do anything different with what was previously done with the same concepts? Are rhetorical questions annoying?

I’m going to be taking a look at episodes of Smile Pretty Cure that are essentially remakes of episodes of older seasons, and comparing them to see what they did differently, what makes them distinct, and then giving a half-assed and arbitrary opinion about which one is better. Be prepared, because we’re in for a ride. Welcome, my friends, to “Smile Precure vs. the World”. Why is it called that? Because 1) it’s a catchy title, and 2) “Smile Precure” has the same initials as “Scott Pilgrim”. Now let’s get started!

ypc519-titleThe subject for this inaugural installment is the Yellow Cure’s deceased parent, first dealt with in Yes! Pretty Cure 5, and then tackle again in Smile Pretty Cure, both in their 19th respective episodes. I highly doubt that overlapping number is a coincidence. First up is the challenger, the Yes! Precure 5 episode, “Search for Urara’s Secret!”

So the episode begins at the jewelry store and the season’s all-purpose hub Natts House, where the girls are doing whatever, when Urara Kasugano proceeds to leave first. But before she can, Nozomi Yumehara bursts in, shouting that there are suspicious people right outside the store.

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Why yes, I can confirm from experience that staring at desks is a worthwhile and fulfilling activity.

The girls overreact, as usual, by going into stealth mode, but Nuts, ever the blunt guy he is, straight up goes out to confront the two guys standing outside in sunglasses. Turns out they’re actually Urara’s grandfather and father, who claim that they were just “passing by”.

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You mean passing by looking for a Mr. Anderson?

After the opening credits, the girls and the Urara’s guardians properly introduce themselves. Urara’s father, Michel is actually French, but his Japanese is good enough to be voiced by a Japanese voice actor (who also voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic X). And Urara’s grandfather, Heizou, looks like Stan Lee, who I imagine Toei must still be enamored with.

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Given France’s stagnant economy, high unemployment rates, and general levels of dissatisfaction among the populace of the direction its going, that sounds like pretty faint praise.

As Urara’s guardians are about to leave, Urara confronts them, asking why they’re really there. Suddenly, Urara’s manager, Washio bursts in with a new acting gig for Urara, only for him to also question why Michel and Heizou are present, again for them to reply with the “passing by” line for the third time. Apparently Urara has been acting strange, which is the real reason why Michel and Heizou are there.

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Well, what other purpose could you possibly have in this show?

Meanwhile, with out villains at Nightmare, Bunbee is rather amusingly expressing concern for his lackey Girinma’s previous failures to take down the Precures while evil-sounding tense music plays. I like to think that even the score is mocking Bunbee for being, well, Bunbee.

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That’s why we regret to inform you that you have been demoted to working on Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Mr. Shibata!

While the girls continue discussing the quirks of Urara’s guardians, the subject of her mother is brought up, in which she finally confesses her deceased status. However, Urara reassures her friends that she’s not lonely, because she has some pretty colorful people taking care of her. With that, she makes the departure that she was supposed to have done like 20 minutes ago.

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There’s the Kamen Rider henshin pose, sneaking its way in again.

The girls have also noticed that Urara is behaving rather peculiarly, so they join up with Michel, Heizou and Washio to snoop on what exactly Urara is doing. Naturally, Urara and her group of stalkers are the only ones moving in the bustling marketplace, because hey, gotta save some cash, no?

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Meanwhile, all the running has given Coco and Nuts a concussion.

Washio points out that Urara is putting a high amount of concentration into her shopping. It’s around this point when Girinma has also found Urara and is ready to attack from his position on top of a tower thing, heavily banking on Precure characters’ inability to look up.Specifically, his plan is to take Urara’s notebook, which would make Urara feel kinda shitty, and that’s really the ultimate goal in every episode.

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Well, there are definitely buildings, and they are probably rectangular-shaped.

Upon looking back from their hiding spot and discovering that Urara is no longer looking at the map, the group discovers Urara’s bag and groceries, but not Urara herself. The girls know that someone from Nightmare is responsible, so they split up with Urara’s family to go where she is actually being harassed by Girinma.

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Well, it’s no wonder the employees at Nightmare are notorious for being single.

Naturally, Girinma has Urara captured at the abandoned warehouse district. The rest of the girls transform, and go inside after Girinma. Girinma uses Urara as a hostage for the girls handing over the Dream Collet, which of course they refuse to do. So Girinma uses Urara’s notebook to make a Kowaina, because one made out of a sack of potatoes would have been harder to design. Turns out that the notebook actually belonged to Urara’s mom, so she begs the girls not to harm it.

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I dunno. I think they’re pretty useful for when you have appointments or other commitments.

As usual, Girinma talks about how sentimental memories are pointless, and the girls become more fired up, as well as more adamant about their policy of not forgiving people.

It takes the Precure about two seconds to obtain Urara back from Girinma, and shenote transforms into Cure Lemonade, too. It takes them another two seconds for them to defeat the notebook Kowaina. This is why I love Yes! Precure 5 so much. Not flashy, and to the point. Like a Bruce Lee movie.

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Still not used to the braces coming off…

Urara meets back up with Michel, Heizou, and Washio, the latter who proceeds to lecture Urara about how much she means to her father and grandfather and whatnot. Michel notices Urara’s mom’s notebook, leading to a flashback of one special time when Urara’s mother was alive that the whole family ate curry together, and Urara was somehow even more adorable than she is currently.

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Plus she still used the patented Toddler Spoon Holding Method.

Turns out Urara was shopping for ingredients to remake the curry from that day. Upon hearing this, Urara’s family and the girls are ready to try Urara’s attempt at making curry. Naturally, everything goes wrong and the curry ends up as an unrecognizable black heap that practically burns out everyone’s tongues, but because Urara gave it her best shot, and put her feelings into it, all is still well and good.

Just kidding.

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The thing you should know about me is that I am never serious.

Moving on.

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There should be a drinking game in which one reads through a list of titles of Precure episodes and takes a shot every time one reads the word “treasure”.

This episode of Smile Precure begins in class on a rainy day, when the class is assigned to ask about the meanings behind their names. As an aside, mine means “late”, referring to certain circumstances of my birth 😛 The class starts talking about the assignment, except for Yayoi Kise, who as usual is sitting there silently pondering about her name.

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Well, that is one way to get kids to pay attention.

After the opening credits, there’s an amusing scene in which Wolfurun looks through a book of baby names and is surprised to find his own name is listed. The book proceeds to say that Wolfurun means “impatient, violent, liar… No one loves him so he loves no one back”. Aside from being nice foreshadowing to later events, it’s hilarious to even think that that was even listed. I mean, imagine if some normal kid was named Wolfurun and read this?

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And then he spontaneously quotes his favorite Miyazaki movie.

That night, while making dinner, Yayoi asks her mother the requisite question about her name. Turns out it was her father who named her. And well, since he’s passed away, talking to him is kinda out of the question. Though Yayoi’s mother adds that before his passing he had actually mentioned the reasoning behind his daughter’s name, but she was five when it happened, so she doesn’t remember.

What follows is a montage of the other girls’ considerably more conclusive forays into learning about their names. This scene is wonderful, showing the different types of interactions between the girls with their fathers stemming from their different lifestyles. This ends with Yayoi looking up her name in an dictionary, finding that it means “third month of the lunar calendar”.

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I’m wondering in what context a picture of him was taken pondering deep questions about the universe.

Yayoi suddenly has something of a flashback, but it’s not much to draw conclusions from. The next day, Yayoi’s presentation of her name makes no mention of her parents, and is simply a statement of the definition of her name. Yayoi tells the others about the circumstances after class. As Yayoi confides in her questions about what her father thought of her, MMiyuki reassures her that he loved her more than anyone else. I have to wonder if Yayoi being a superhero whose primary power is to be really good at rock paper scissors has factored into Yayoi’s considerations at all.

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To be honest, a blue heart is the last thing I’d want for my children.

Yayoi resolves to talk to her mother about her father again. Apparently Yayoi’s mother works for a children’s fashion company, and in a nice touch, at one of her events Eirika’s Theme is playing from Heartcatch Precure. And one of her clients is named “Mrs. Kurumi” too. Toei, quit trying to convince us that your properties are shared universes, they’re so full of holes.

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That’s meta even by this franchise’s standards.

She notices Yayoi standing outside, and the two talk (with the other girls eavesdropping, because in then it’ll be slightly less convenient when Wolfurun attacks and all five of them are there). To help with Yayoi’s increasing feelings of loneliness, her mom gives her her father’s treasure, a card and paper fox that Yayoi had made for Father’s Day way back when. Because she just carries that wherever she goes, I guess.

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So, if you think about it, your existence is kind of a miracle!

Yayoi’s mom mentions that after receiving the gift, her dad said that no matter how hard his day was, being with Yayoi always calmed him down. And also, there was some secret between the two of them that Yayoi’s mom doesn’t know and Yayoi herself has long forgotten. This triggers a clearer flashback from Yayoi, who gets the feeling that she is about to remember something.

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That’s the angelic face of insincerity.

This is the point when Wolfurun makes his move, as he had been hanging out on the rafters above the Father’s Day fashion show taking place. Because of all places, that’s naturally where he’d be hanging around. He makes an Akanbe out of Yayoi’s paper fox, and since all the girls are there, they transform. But once again, since the paper fox is a sentimental item to Yayoi, the girls once again find themselves reluctant to attack.

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Just kidding. Again.

Actually, it’s only Yayoi who really hesitates to attack; the others all try to get their hits in, but largely fail due to the need for the show to pretend they might not win the battle. When the Akanbe punches Yayoi far back a fair distance her memory of the incident from when she was five finally fully formulates. Note that these are cartoon characters, and that in real life such methods for memory-jogging are not recommended.

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As it turns out, being awkward at expressing love runs in the family.

The “secret” from earlier turns out to be the mock wedding that Yayoi shared with her father at the empty church that one day. It was here when Yayoi’s dad explained the reasoning behind her name. He wanted her to become a kind person like her mother, so he gave her a name representative of spring, just like Chiharu, Yayoi’s mom’s name.

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Cure Peace: the walking, talking, punching after school special.

Armed with the knowledge of her secret with her father and the power of love and everything, Yayoi gains the resolve to blow her paper fox into oblivion with lightning right after delivering a speech about kindness and love. And then she proceeds to wonder with her mother in front of the church later if she has become kinder. If that’s how you want to measure it, then be my guest!

It’s definitely a bit tricky to compare these two episodes, because the Yes! Precure 5 episode is more of an “average” episode as far as that season goes, whereas the Smile episode is an exceptional episode that is generally atypical of an otherwise very lighthearted series. Of course, the implication is that the point this time around goes to Smile. Even though Smile Precure was silly most of the time, when it got serious it was masterful at bringing out touching moments, and getting its characters to learn more about themselves. On the other hand, this time around it feels like there’s not much more to Urara beyond her getting to cook some curry. As much as I love YPC5 as a show overall, its competing entry this time around simply cannot compare with a cream-of-the-crop masterpiece.

That’s not to say that “Search for Urara’s Secret” is a bad episode by any means. Precure 5 is a series I hold to a very high standard, so a more “average” episode is still one with many merits. In particular, I like how unlike the Smile episode, we never do actually get to see Urara’s mother’s face. That adds a lot of mystique to the person she was, and is a more powerful demonstration that the memories of a loved one can oftentimes transcend the person. “Yayoi’s Treasure” is much less subtle about this, going more for sensationalism, but the thing is, it’s well done sensationalism. “Urara’s Secret” mostly stands out because of its ending, but “Yayoi’s Treasure” was unique for the show from the very opening shot.

Next time: A samurai shows up in the most vile color ever to be created by nature. Until then, stay safe, smile and be ultra happy and stuff.

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