MahoutsukaiChiemi ChibaHisao EgawaHaruka Fukuhara
KiraKira PreCure a la Mode
Medium: film
Year: 2017
Director: Kouhei Kureta, Yukio Kaizawa
Writer: Jin Tanaka
Actor: Chiemi Chiba, Daisuke Hirakawa, Haruka Fukuhara, Hisao Egawa, Inori Minase, Junko Minagawa, Karen Miyama, Kenjiro Tsuda, Mika Kanai, Nanako Mori, Ryota Takeuchi, Saki Fujita, Tomo Muranaka, Yoku Shioya, Yu Mizushima, Yuji Ueda, Yuriko Yamaguchi
Keywords: KiraKira a la Mode, Mahoutsukai, PreCure, anime, magical girl, rubbish
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: PreCure season 14, 49 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=18962
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 31 August 2020
KiraKira PreCure
I'd been expecting it to be tooth-clenchingly terrible, but in many ways it's okay. It's pointless and eventually attention-repelling, but not painful if you've got something else to do while you're sort of vaguely watching. I sat through it all. Natsuki (age 7) and Misaki (age 2) both enjoyed it.
It's still worthless, though. The girls love sweets! They make sweets. They talk about making more sweets. They open a patisserie to sell sweets. The first attempt at giving emotional weight to this cooking is in ep.31. They try to grow a dramatic spine in the second half of the season, but it's a doomed attempt, like building a house on marshmallow. The show's already dead. We're just watching the corpse twitch.
It's like Mahoutsukai, but upside-down. That series had an excellent first half, then turned to sludge. This show starts with six months of sludge. PreCure's lightweight at the best of times, but this is drowning the audience in 25 episodes of nothing.
(NOTE: my definition of "empty" refers to dramatic content. Drama is what happens when characters are challenged by obstacles, which can be anything from Nazis to your dog stealing your knickers. The stakes can be as high or as low as you like. They can be internal, e.g. your protagonist's own flaws. However, there's no drama if an episode passes with everyone happily doing what they want with no obstacles.)
GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS SHOW
Cool music and title sequences, especially the second closer.
The character designs might be the best ever. The girls are animal-themed and have world-class hair. The villains look well above average too.
The characterisation is fine, with the large team size helping to give the false impression of life. (You'll only find a bigger average team size if you treat Yes! PreCure 5's second season as a standalone.) ICHIKA (rabbit, shortcakes, pink) is a normal Pink Leader. HIMARI (squirrel, puddings, yellow/orange) is the timid, scientific-minded one, which is pretty normal for a Yellow Cure. TATEGAMI (lion, ice cream, blue) is the most energetic character and brings the show alive for one-and-a-half episodes after I'd just about died from Ichika and Himari's introductions. KOTOZUME (cat, macarons, purple) is the cool, enigmatic, sexy one who's usually the cleverest person in the room but is impossible to nail down. The dashing AKIRA (dog, chocolate, red) is strongly coded as male (but is female), is voiced by a Takarazuka actress and will form a romantic couple with Kotozume. She's a fun addition to the group dynamic, but also a thin character with very little under the handsome surface. Finally, CIEL (pegasus, parfait, rainbows) is, um, the sixth one.
(In practice, alas, the characters are only good nominally. They have personality and potential, but they're being undercut by the series to the point where it's a turn-off to see them in All/Dream Stars team-up movies.)
Vibry is wasted in this show. I'm close to calling her the only good thing about it, frankly. She's a villain who ends up joining the good guys, which is common in PreCure... but she never gets a personality transplant. She's the same vicious-looking grump even when working at the girls' patisserie.
As for bad things... well, there's not much point in listing them. The show's three-language catchphrase of "Let's la (something)" would have killed me in a better show, for instance, but in this one, who cares? ("Something" could be either a verb or noun, incidentally, in any grammatical form and any language.)
So we're watching a cooking show, not a drama. What about the PreCure elements? They save it, right? Nope. They're so limp in the early episodes, in fact, that you're likely to get annoyed at the throwaway PreCure shoehornings that are intruding on what's otherwise a passable if often empty cookery slice-of-life. (Ichika is a terrible cook. The show never acknowledges this, but she must be since she fails at everything she tries. This formula makes her cooking scenes not unwatchable.) The show doesn't even have a villain until ep.10.
PreCure is famous for its fight scenes, but KiraKira only has two-and-a-half fights. They're in ep.48 (when the girls finally let rip in the season finale) and ep.49 (thanks to Cure Yell from Hugtto!). Maybe also ep.10. I believe Toei had heard that Go Princess's fight scenes had scared small children, but here they overcompensated to the moon and back. This show has anti-fight scenes. The girls anti-fight a monster every week. They don't punch. They don't kick. Everything's non-contact. They'll shoot whipped cream or ice cream. This is far, far worse than cutting those scenes entirely.
NOTEWORTHY EPISODES (I didn't say "good")
Ep.11 = gives Ichika characterisation, getting teenaged towards her dad.
Ep.13 = why choose the paralytically shy Himari to be your TV presenter? It's stupid. It makes sense only as a writer's idea for "this could be a Himari episode!"
Ep.25 = one of the Kotozume-Akira relationship episodes. (There aren't many of them, but they make their point with a sledgehammer.) A prince wants to marry Kotozume, which annoys Akira. The lesbian romance scenes are reasonable, but the prince is painfully cartoonish.
Ep.31 = the show's good episode. Watch the animation of Ichika when her mum comes home.
Ep.32 = a hill that looks like a naked breast. (It even returns, e.g. ep.46.)
Ep.34 = if you want a Yukari episode, try this. She gets transformed into a cat and, of course, finds it amusing.
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS
I like the zombie fan clubs of Kotozume and Akira. (They're obsessive blank-eyed schoolgirls who follow them everywhere.) Incidentally, I sometimes found Kotozume herself a bit plastic and vacant. She's meant to be catlike and inscrutable, but this can shade into "dead-eyed".
Ichika's trademark arse-wiggle in the end credit dances makes sense. That's what you'd do in that dress. She's a human bell, so she's ringing.
I'm running out of things to say. I didn't care. Sitting numbly in front of this show was dead time and I'd sometimes make notes like, "OH GOD NO, don't watch this episode. There's almost nothing in it. But plot-important." (That was ep.7.) The PreCure elements are sometimes just a cameo, with the non-fight in ep.6 being so brief that I missed it and had to rewind. I wasn't enraged, though. I plodded through. Besides, theoretically, the second half gets good. It starts introducing important things, e.g. plots. Several episodes are actually okay... but for me, it was a lost cause. I'd long ago stopped caring. PreCure-ness had always been so poorly integrated that it was too late to play catch-up. (Natsuki and Misaki didn't share my objections, though.)
Even the core concept is anti-PreCure. To quote the producer:
"Running a Sweets Shop/bakery is one that many girls have dreamed of when they grow up, and that is a good theme for the next series. However, deciding on how fighting elements would fit in a Dessert-themed series is hard and is not compatible with Pretty Cure or any fighting girls series."
This series is already its own parody, except that they should have been fat from all those sweets. Useless heroines, anti-fights and cooking, cooking, cooking. (There's nothing else in PreCure like those anti-fights and they really do hurt it.) CONCLUSION: avoid this series. If you can't be dissuaded, skip the first half and start at ep.26. If your imagination fills in the gaps, the good stuff in the show's second half might work.