Okay, okay, calling Heartcatch PreCure “Yuri” is just wishful thinking at this point, but 13 weeks into it, this classic magical girl anime leads the pack for this season.
First of all, I must give a shout out to Komatsu-san, who has been gently trying to get me to love PreCure as much as he does for some time now. I watched the original PreCure (free on Crunchyroll!) which was fine, and liked what I read of Splash Star, but Max Heart and GoGo 5! were unwatchable in my opinion, and Fresh PreCure was…okay. Nothing really hooked me. Because of Komatsu-san, I checked out the website for the new series, but wasn’t very impressed with the art. But when he gave me a few of the episodes to watch, I found myself humming the opening theme for about a week. That’s *usually* a good sign that I enjoy an anime series.
And then Yuri popped on the screen and I was officially hooked. I mean that literally and figuratively, by the way. One half of the Yuri couple is cleverly named Yuri. The naming sense in this series is a nailbat of obviousness, as you will see.
The stars of Heartcatch are Hanasaki Tsubomi, whose parents run a flower shop and who becomes Cure Blossom. (Ow!) Her next door neighbor, best friend and partner in Precure, is Kurumi Erika, whose mother designs clothes and whose father is a famous photographer and whose sister, Momoka, is a famous fashion model. Erika becomes Cure Marine.
They are opposed by monkey-like mooks, tools of the Desert something-somethings. No one watches PreCure for the bad guys. They are totally forgettable…until Dark Cure, with her gothy one tattered batwing and one laser-beam eye and angst enough for a gaggle o’preteens shows up.
By herself Dark Cure is moderately amusing. So end-of-the-world and all that. But the screen heats up when, while facing down Cure Blossom and Cure Marine, Dark catches sight of…a girl. This girl is slightly older than the current PreCure, totally untransformed – and the two of them stare fixedly over PreCure’s head for a long time. The girl is Tsukikage Yuri (Ow! Watch that name bat, will you?!) voiced by Hisakawa Aya, which I think is a knowing nod to the adult portion of the audience for this series. (Dark is voiced by Takayama Minami, who you might remember as the former Rosa Gigantea, Sei’s onee-sama, in Marimite.)
So, okay, I was watching this scene thinking, “yeah, I can get into this.” But it was really icing on the cake.
There were a number of things that set this series apart from other PreCure and from other magical girl series. Firstly, Tsubomi’s grandmother had formerly been a Cure, which I think is a great touch. It gives Tsubomi a mentor and a source of info that isn’t passing for a stuffed animal during school hours. And both Erika and Tsubomi have dreams of the epic battle between Dark and a previous guardian, Cure Moonlight. Because I am not 4, it was instantly obvious that Yuri is/was Moonlight and that there’s a whole arc in whatever lay between her and Dark. I am tempted to write a fanfic of what *I* think that story is, before the series goes and ruins it for all of us. lol
Did I mention that Dark carries around half of Moonlight’s gem that broke during their epic battle? Well she does. Yuri carries the other half, of course, which means we’ll get a double redemption at some point.
Oh, and I completely forgot, the Student Council President is a cross-dressing girl. This is covered early on and it was pretty obvious that she was a girl (well, obvious to me, but I am not 4).
Yuri is also, just to make sure the doujinshi artists have a multitude of choices, best friends with Momoka, Erika’s sister.
Taken as a whole, I’m still making up about 97% of the Yuri in my head, but for a kiddy show, there’s enough to keep me watching for the rest of the season.
Art – 7 It took me a while to get used to it, but when you get into the right headspace, Yuri is attractive enough.
Story – Monster of the Day, blah blah.
Characters – 8
Yuri – 5 as long as there’s ambiguity
Service – 1
Overall – 7
I’ll never love PreCure as much as I do Sailor Moon, but Heartcatch is at least in the same folder in my head now.