Futari waSmileHappinessChargeGo! Princess
Pretty Cure All Stars: Spring Carnival
Also known as: Pretty Cure All Stars: Haru no Carnival
Medium: film
Year: 2015
Director: Junji Shimizu
Writer: Mio Inoue
Actor: Haruka Tomatsu, Hibiku Yamamura, Masumi Asano, Megumi Han, Megumi Nakajima, Rina Kitagawa, Yu Shimamura, Ami Koshimizu, Asami Tano, Atsuhiko Nakata, Fumie Mizusawa, Hitomi Nabatame, Kanae Oki, Minako Kotobuki, Misato Fukuen, Miyuki Kobori, Nana Mizuki, Naoko Matsui, Nao Toyama, Orie Kimoto, Shiho Kokido, Shingo Fujimori, Tomokazu Seki, Youko Honna, Yukana, Yuko Sanpei
Keywords: Futari wa, Splash Star, Yes! PreCure 5, Fresh, HeartCatch, Suite, Smile, DokiDoki!, HappinessCharge, Go! Princess, PreCure, anime, magical girl
Series: << PreCure team-up movie >>
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 75 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16727
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 8 October 2016
It's the seventh Pretty Cure All Stars crossover film, starring every PreCure from every series to that date. Mind you, that date was 14 March 2015, so the current series (Go! Princess PreCure) had only reached ep.7 of its fifty-week run and so even Kirara's only been a member of the core team for a couple of weeks. We thus only have Haruka, Minami and Kirara... but that's not counting forty-ish other magical girls from earlier seasons and a similar number of fairy sidekicks. Here's the list:
1. Futari wa PreCure! (2004)
2. Futari wa PreCure Max Heart (2005)
3. Futari wa PreCure Splash Star (2006)
4. Yes! PreCure 5 (2007)
5. Yes! PreCure 5 GoGo! (2008)
6. Fresh Pretty Cure! (2009)
7. Heartcatch PreCure (2010)
8. Suite PreCure (2011)
9. Smile PreCure! (2012)
10. DokiDoki! PreCure (2013)
11. HappinessCharge PreCure! (2014)
12. Go! Princess PreCure (2015)
That's a ridiculous number. I was looking forward to seeing how anyone could cram that many heroines into one film, since I didn't think it could be done. I was surprised, of course. They do it. It's quite elegant, in fact. They pull it off by barely having a narrative at all. Here's a synopsis:
Haruka enjoys singing, but she's getting nervous about a singing test at school. This is sensible, since her singing so far has been terrible. So far this looks like a standard episode of Go! Princess Precure, starring only the franchise's current heroines. Mind you, this film went into production before the TV show had even been announced and so the characterisation's a bit off-model. Minimi's super-intelligent, while Haruka and Kirara are idiots with P.G. Wodehouse-like comedy overreactions. It's fine, though. They're still basically themselves.
Then an invitation falls from the sky! We're invited to the Spring Carnival in the musical kingdom of Harmonia! (Yes, another king and queen. Democracy and republicanism don't exist in PreCure-land.) Shockingly, though, two lovable comedy villains (Odoren and Utaen) have stolen the kingdom! Yes, an entire country. They'll be posing as government ministers and running the carnival. Odoren learns that all the PreCures are invited and instead of filling his pants and running away at top speed, thinks this is his chance to crush them. The guy's an idiot. Forty PreCures working together could probably beat the entire U.S. armed forces. Anyway, why should Odoren care about crushing superheroes in the first place? He's just a thief, not a supervillain.
Anyway, the PreCures all go to Harmonia. Yes, all of them, ever. Haruka, Minami and Kirara are still the film's main characters, though, as is right and proper as the then-current incumbents on TV. Their predecessors the year before from HappinessCharge PreCure! are detectably in second place behind them, incidentally.
We then get over half an hour of musical numbers.
Firstly, the fairies sing. Then all the PreCure teams take turns to do their own songs, except that the Princess PreCures don't perform here because the film's saving them for the end. Even the villains sing! Fortunately there are breaks in the singing, with banter and comedy chat so that all the teams can have had some time in the spotlight. There's also a smattering of insignificant villainy as the thieves steal the PreCure's transformation objects.
Fundamentally, though, it's light entertainment. It's like a variety show. It's a bunch of musical numbers, with only the faintest suggestion of a dramatic narrative... and this works! It's good. I enjoyed it. The characters are bursting with energy, the songs are fun and the whole thing whizzes along at lightning speed. (If it hadn't, this would have been a four-hour film.) It's like a bunch of musical showreels or trailers for lots of shows I wouldn't mind watching. It's a straightforward way around the problem of giving enough screen time to such a ridiculous number of characters, whereas the brain reels at the idea of trying to tell a straight 75-minute crossover adventure story with forty heroes. It could be done, of course. Nothing's impossible. However you'd bet money on such a story being laughable fanwank without the slightest dramatic merit, so why not short-circuit the problem entirely and forget about having a plot in the first place?
The villains are surprisingly nifty, incidentally. There's a bit where the short baddie admonishes the girls. Nothing will be conveyed if you just appreciate someone in your heart without expressing it! Well said, evildoer! You tell 'em! There's also a pantomime-like bit of fourth-wall-breaking, when the villains realise that we've seen them being villainous and ask us not to spill the beans.
Eventually all is revealed, though. At the 45-minute mark (yes), the singing and dancing ends as the PreCures realise that the villains are villains! However their transformation keys have all been stolen! They can't use their superpowers! What can normal girls who can't transform do? This is actually the film's theme. "Normal girls can do anything." I admire that, actually. Soon only the three Princess PreCures are left... and Haruka wants to sing. "I believe in the power of song and dance!"
Haruka's singing opens the villain's treasure chest and releases the transformation keys. I am in awe.
We then have fight scenes. I'd been wondering if the film was going to avoid them entirely, but no. It's PreCure. Brick walls are about to get punched down. The villains have lots of scarecrow golems that need beating up. The girls knock aside hails of rockets and face a Gnashing Teeth Corridor. We also see Cure Lovely's "Lovely Beam", which is... bloody hell. I'd been assuming that most of the PreCures would retain their usual groupings for battle purposes, but interestingly the two most recent teams (Princess and Happiness) get mixed up. (It's possible that others got mixed up too and I simply didn't realise, though.)
That's fun, but then we meet a big purple dragon-god. "Big" means "the size of a small town". Its breath vapourises castles. Fortunately though this god loves singing and dancing.
It's brilliant. Total nonsense, obviously, but it knows it and it's light-hearted in all the right ways. I was thoroughly entertained. I think Pretty Cure All Stars films 1-3 and 4-6 might be trilogies, incidentally, so it's pure good luck that the one I watched happened to be standalone. I chose it simply because I'd just seen Go! Princess Precure, obviously. Recommended!