- HappinessCharge PreCure!
- Happiness Charge Pretty Cure
- Episode 1: "I Love Love! Cure Lovely is Born!"
- Episodes: 49 x 24 minutes
- PreCure season 11
- Keep watching:  bwahahaha +  obviously, yes
- One-line summary: magical girl + lazy writing
- CURRENTLY WATCHING
FIRST VIEWING (MARCH 2015)
It's the eleventh Pretty Cure series, in a franchise that's over 500 episodes. It's a magical girl show that I'm trying very hard not to call a rip-off of Sailor Moon. (I'm sure that would show my ignorance.) It's energetic and colourful, with occasional strong bits, but I found it too silly to watch except in Irony Mode. The characterisation's glib and the target audience seems pretty young.
The lead character is a Princess called Princess. (Her name's Hime, but that means "princess".) She's also basically Sailor Moon, because she's a rubbish magical girl and keeps losing and running away. Even other PreCures don't like her, blaming her for filling the world with Terribads. These monsters are being sent by Queen Mirage of the Candy Cane Kingdom, whose speech at the beginning can be summarised as, "I'm the villainous gloating villain with no motivation and I'm going to be evil!"
Its real name isn't "Candy Cane Kingdom", though. That's just what it looks like.
Anyway, Hime has:
(a) a talking animal, which calls itself a fairy and looks like a ladybird, panda and/or teddy bear.
(b) a magical mentor, who's a beautiful young man with blue hair and no personality.
Blue Boy tells Hime to find a friend, whereupon both Hime and the audience reel in shock. Talking to someone I don't know? You mean, I could dare to try to make a friend? (Blue Boy gives Hime some tie-in merchandising.) You mean with this, I can make a friend?!?
It would be possible to make this beat work, but the character writing would need to be less glib and bouncy. If you can believe in that moment, I have a bridge to sell you.
We now meet the non-superhero Aino Megumi, which I misheard as "Aino Megami" (i.e. "Goddess of Love") and nearly died. I liked Megumi. She's friendly, she's loved by everyone and she helps small children retrieve things that fell in the water. (People in the PreCure universe don't remove their shoes when wading into streams, apparently.) Later, she tries to defend Hime from a Terribad, which is almost emotional in a way that they'll never be able to recapture, since she's about to get superpowers and a costume. She'll be a series regular. Here, though, she's just an ordinary girl and so her courage is more powerful.
She does, though, have a dumb character beat. Hime wears cute dresses and Megumi dresses practically, so Hime lectures her on fashion. Megumi responds with ecstatic near-worship, not at the silly fashion ideas but at being given permission to dress up and be girly! "You think I can wear cute clothes too?!?" The strength of her reaction suggests a social leper, which she plainly isn't.
Other important facts is that mobile phones are part of your magical transformation. You put PreCure cards in the PreCure mirror and make a call. The post-transformation girls look like dress-up dolls, but with a wristwatch so cheap-looking that it can only be spin-off merchandise. There's also creepy CGI dancing in the closing credits, although at least it's better than the slow-motion zombies of Aikatsu.
In summary, yikes. It's dumber and aimed younger than I'd expected, while the names are brain-damaging. Watch this show for the repetitive girly superhero adventures of Cure Lovely, Cure Princess, Cure Honey and Cure Fortune!
SECOND VIEWING (MAY 2020)
This episode was my first exposure to PreCure, many years ago.
Now, though, I'm watching the whole franchise. I've seen thirteen seasons and well over 600 episodes of PreCure, so what would I think here?
For starters, it's a poor introduction for newbies. It jumps straight into a battle with a monster-of-the-week, expecting you to know the show's format already. What's different here is that Cure Princess is rubbish. She loses, runs away and gets blamed by a more competent PreCure for the world being overrun by villains. That's startling, actually. We've had flawed PreCures before, but they could all at least fight monsters.
Cure Princess is also a slightly off-putting combination of gloom and pessimism (at her own uselessness) and loud, cartoonish ego (about being pretty and stylish). Oh, and she's an idiot. On being told to recruit an ally, she throws a crystal in the air and chooses the person it hits.
The art style's slightly childish. I'm sensing a conscious echo of HeartCatch PreCure. (That even includes the title, plus the ways in which Cure Princess is deliberately breaking the expected characterisation for Blue PreCures.)
She's not the heroine, though. That's Megumi, who's an ordinary girl and much more likeable. She helps a child pull a hat from the water. Overall, the show looks fine. The writers made some startling choices in creating Cure Princess, but it's not as off-putting for me as the squabbling in Suite or the cooking in Kirakira a la Mode. Happy to continue with this.