Imagine for a second, your favorite cartoon as a kid, turned into a dark adult novel. Okay, well that doesn’t work for me, because my favorite kid’s cartoons were already pretty dystopian, like Star Blazers and Thundarr the Barbarian, but you take my point.
The PreCure franchise has been Toei’s leading girl’s cartoon series for more than a decade. Each series has some commonalities, but the main premise is that a series of bad things are stopped by the legendary warriors PreCure (which originally stood for Pretty Cure, but that’s basically fallen out of the story.) The first series is streaming on Crunchyroll and, until the current series, Mahoutsukai PreCure, the formula does not vary too much. A magical creature finds a girl, tells her she is a legendary warrior, they have to find the thing and save the kingdom, you know how it goes.
In 2010, the franchise piqued my interest with Heartcatch Precure!. Six years ago, really? It was, I think, the best season of the show so far, although the seasons that have come after Heartcatch have almost all been watchable by my standards.^_^
Imagine my surprise to have heard that a Heartcatch Precure novel was being published. Thank you Komatsu-san for keeping me up on important news like this!
And so I have read the Heartcatch Precure! Novel (小説 ハートキャッチプリキュア!). Which brings me back to the beginning of this blog.
In the Heartcatch anime, the lead character is Tsubomi who, along with classmates Erika and Itsuki, fight the evil Dune, with his right-hand man Professor Sabaku and his henchmen Cobraja, Kumojacky and Sensorina. It was a very gay series, even when it wasn’t really gay, but what made me most intrigued was the inclusion of an unusual character, Tsukigage Yuri, voiced by Hisakawa Aya. Yuri was a very unusual character for PreCure – a little dark, without being evil. (Her name mean’s “moon shadow”, so let’ call it moon-behind-the-clouds dark. But then, a character who was so dark, her name was Dark Precure, started targeting her and the story got really good.
The Heartcatch Precure Novel takes a look at the whole anime from the perspective of Yuri and, as a result, is somewhat darker than the anime.
We meet Yuri when she is first tagged as a Precure, watch as she struggles alone against the Desertrians…and, as she burns out completely. Although her fairy, Cologne begs her to find allies, Yuri insists on fighting alone. She meets her match in Dark Precure, but it’s Sabaku who defeats her, destroys her gem and kills Cologne.
We watch Yuri fall into depression, Erika’s sister Momoka drag her partially out of it, and her involvement with the next PreCure to be discovered. As you can imagine, her reaction is not joy to see she has been so summarily replaced. But slowly she comes to like the girls and eventually a desire grows in her to fight again….only, without her gem, she cannot transform.
The rest of the story follows the anime closely as Yuri meets Cologne again, her gem is revived and she is once again able to transform into Cure Moonlight. The four PreCure meet and are defeated by Dark and Sabaku, power-up and are able to defeat them, in the process learning their true identities. Sabaku is Yuri’s long-lost father and Dark the clone daughter he fabricated.
And, finally, they defeat Dune, save the planet and live happily ever after.
Despite it being an almost literal rendering of the anime, with the grim opening and an added epilogue, the focus on Yuri makes the book rather grimmer than one might expect from a PreCure series.
Interesting to note that in the book – all of Sabaku’s henchmen and Kaoruko notice Dark’s resemblance to Yuri and comment on it. Former PreCure Karuko tells us, the reader, that she thinks Sabaku is Professor Tsukikage well before the reveal.
The added epilogue is edifying, as well. Tsubomi does indeed make into NASA, Itsuki becomes a fashion model, Erika a designer and Yuri, a scientist, like her father. We also see Yuri and her mother visiting her father’s grave, something that they would never include in the animated series, although he dies in the final battle.
Despite this being a character novel for a children’s cartoon, there is no doubt that the intended audience is teens/adults. No illustrations grace the pages here and there’s very little furigana. Clearly this is for those of us adults who watched the series and thought “I wonder what this story looked like from Yuri’s perspective?” The answer is “It looked a story of a fall from pride and redemption through friendship.” With a creepy cloned sister.
Honestly, I enjoyed this book and not just because I liked Cure Moonlight best (which I did.) The book was well surprisingly well-written, with a constant emotional shadow and a slightly-grownup feel. Not too grownup, mind you, it’s a book about Cure Moonlight, after all. ^_^
Overall – 8
A surprisingly good read that I often found myself lingering late to get another page or two read before I went to sleep.
For hardcore fans only, obviously. Who else would read this silliness? ^_^