This time around, a competition between two episodes about competition. Which one will win? Let’s start with the original version of this banter-heavy subject:
Episode 8 of Yes! Precure 5 begins with Rin rushing off to the Natts House to present her tulips, which she plans to decorate the store with. Right outside, she bumps into Karen, who is carrying Chinese bellflowers. The immediate result is an epic staring contest, which I’m sure must have been a load off the backs of the animators.
After the opening credits, Nozomi, Urara and Komachi raise the items they brought in a horrifyingly unified, sanitized way, like they’re in a really cheesy commercial. Rin and Karen are also setting their respective flowers up, but quickly get into an argument about which color flower suits the store the best, Rin’s red tulips or Karen’s blue bellflowers.
The other girls try to defrost the situation, but eventually the argument spirals back up, this time about Karen’s greenhouse gardening, and the dubious appropriateness of growing summer flowers out of season. After the girls settle down to eat Komachi’s snacks, the argument then turns to which beverage to consume them with. Nozomi finally settles the deal by deciding to mix black tea, green tea and milk together 😛
The feud continues with Rin and Karen struggling to store their collectible plot devices into the Dream Collet before the other, which turns into a polite fight of who’s going to LET the other go first.
Meanwhile, at Nightmare Headquarters, Bunbee gives his subordinate, Arachnea her next assignment, which is really her first assignment; get the Dream Collet. She sets out by levitating through the ceiling, because I guess Nightmare’s walls have this special property or something.
The next day, the two subgroups consisting of Nozomi, Rin and Urara, and Karen and Komachi, respectively, are discussing Karen and Rin’s antagonistic relationship. When all five girls get together, they can’t even discuss the weather without Rin and Karen verbally sparring again. Trying to turn the subject to food just results in a massive eating contest between the two, with both even managing to out-eat Urara, a rare occurrence on the show.
As the remaining three girls and Coco are discussing how to find something that Rin and Karen actually agree on, Coco senses Arachnea’s presence. And since she laughs quite evilly and loudly, everyone can easily sense her too, with their ears.
Arachnaea quickly captures Cure Dream, Lemonade and Mint and drags them into the nearby sewer, leaving Coco to get the two remaining Cures. He catches the two running into each other and exchanging their usual passive-aggressive banter. After explaining the situation, the two immediately go together to save the others without missing a beat.
Rin and Karen finally make it to where Arachnaea is holding the others hostage in her spider web of doom, and transform into Cure Rouge and Cure Aqua. The Kowaina this time is one of the sewer pipes. Amusingly, Rouge and Aqua pretty much instantly get passed the beast and go right for Arachnaea herself, though the monster manages to get in its requisite pre-ass kicking beatdown.
Rouge and Aqua are quickly able to turn the tables on the fight, their need to outperform the other greatly elevating their combat capabilities. After easily dispatching the Kowaina, the other three girls manage to escape from their bonds, and proceed to kick Arachnaea’s ass as well, all the while giving a speech about how differences make people stronger and shit.
Afterward, Rin and Karen each admit that other was pretty awesome in the previous fight, and manage to high five each other. This newfound respect even extends to accepting each others’ flowers on display at Natts House. Of course, anyone with a basic understanding of storytelling knows that this peace is not to last, particularly not with two girls who REALLY don’t like to lose…
On to this round’s Smile Precure episode:
Smile Precure‘s 25th episode begins in pretty typical fashion, with Miyuki excitedly explaining summer vacation to Candy, while generally acting like she’s six, which in real life would probably raise a few eyebrows.
Turns out Miyuki didn’t actually have any summer plans, which is totally the way to go for me, but that doesn’t matter because Akane invites her by phone to go to the beach. Guess how Miyuki reacts.
With the villains this time around, Akaoni decides to go to the beach himself, basically because he’s bored. You know, I like to think that villains are often scarier when their intentions are essentially boredom, but I don’t think that quite fits the mold. When Miyuki finally finds Akane, she quickly discovers her and mutual hotblooded sports girl Nao Midorikawa getting in fierce competition over their respective food stalls, Akane selling okonomiyaki and Nao selling shaved ice.
The competition comes to a breaking point when Yayoi Kise arrives, trying to decide between the two food items. Hilariously, Akane and Nao both shout out their food items before even realizing it’s their friend. The timing of the line delivery is just perfect in both cases.
The meeting of all five girls is interrupted once again by the call of business rivalry. When Miyuki reacts to this in a confused manner, Nao’s assistant Reika Aoki draws the same conclusion that Nozomi did in the YPC5 ep from before: that Akane and Nao are natural rivals who don’t like to lose.
Even when the two competitors have the opportunity to take a break, their activities involving Miyuki’s beach ball prove to rather violent and aggressive. They also have another eating contest similar to Rin and Karen’s lunch showdown, this time with watermelons. Followed by a sand castle building contest. And eventually a wrestling match. Yeah, I WISH the latter happened.
Eventually the games are interrupted by the image of Akaoni surfing into the scene. Honestly, he’d probably be fine if he didn’t do anything villainous, but unfortunately for him his idea of “creating summer memories” also involves making bad ones for humans. I kind of wonder if this extends beyond simply wanting to do recreational stuff? Like, the villains can volunteer in soup kitchens or donate large sums of money to charity as long as they sap away people’s positive energy as they’re doing it?
The girls meet up with Akaoni pretty quickly and transform. Akaoni creates a Super Akanbe out of shaved ice, which Cure Sunny and March rush up to to fight on their own, to predictably limited success. Things don’t go much better even after the other three Cures are encased in the Super Akanbe’s hardened ice head thing.
After their elemental powers fail to work, Cure Sunny and March deduce the usual lesson that their powers on their own are not enough to triumph, and decide that combining their powers by holding hands is the best option, in a scene that just screams a certain Whitney Houston song. I can definitely say that this whole sequence is very characteristic of Pretty Cure in general.
Anyway, Precure Rainbow Burst takes care of the Super Akanbe as always, but Akaoni is still satisfied at having made “amazing summer memories” due to now having a light tan. I’m still having trouble being convinced that he actually did anything remotely evil this episode. I mean, sure, he did try to make everyone chronically depressed and everything, but that’s such a non-factor in his motives. At least Arachnea had a real agenda!
Yes! Precure 5 episode 8 has to be one of my favorite episodes from that series. Every scene, every line and every situation seems to be in the right place, making for a hell of a fun episode. While in Smile the competitive nature of Nao and Akane largely boils down to business and sports, with Rin and Karen EVERYTHING is turned into a contest. The spontaneous nature of their rivalry makes for a somewhat less predictable and stale episode.
But what truly sets the YPC5 episode apart is the final fight. It is great precisely because of how masterfully it defies audience expectations. One would expect something more like what happens in Smile, in which the two rivals’ antagonism interferes with their combative abilities. In keeping true to the post-modern spirit of Pretty Cure, Cure Rouge and Cure Aqua skip this part entirely, taking the audience by just as much surprise as Arachnea herself.
This is not to say that Smile doesn’t have its moments. In particular, the combination of Cure Sunny and Cure March’s powers is one of those magical moments in which something otherworldly happens, in which the lack of explanation adds to the mystique. No words are exchanged, but the way that the two affectionately look at each other is all that it takes to sell the scene (something that Saban apparently felt the need to script over for the dumb Americans here). But the rest of the episode is pretty standard formulaic stuff, which is pretty characteristic of Smile Precure overall.
Next time: Something completely different, but familiar. Until then, be safe and get along with your own friends!