I liked this film on first watching it in 2019, after I'd only watched four PreCure series. I then marathoned all fifteen series up to this point, rewatched this and loved it.
We begin with a Godzilla-sized kaijuu for the Futari wa PreCures to fight. They've got me already. I love Honoka and Nagisa. (And they even have Shiny Luminous with them.) Team-up movies are ten-a-penny in PreCure, but it's unprecedented to make the current team co-star with the originals from 15 years earlier. THANK YOU, TOEI.
After that, a Teru-Teru Bouzu shows up. These are normally little handmade dolls you hang up as a good luck charm against rain. This one might be the toughest enemy ever faced by a PreCure. It can steal your memories and superpowers. It's already drained all the other PreCures between Futari wa and Hugtto, regressing them into brainwiped toddlers. (It's even liable to quote their catchphrases, in between blasting you with their special attacks. I laughed when it did Tsubomi's "kanninbukuro no o ga kiremashita!" from HeartCatch.)
We then return to Hugtto-present. Happily, that's all five of them, including Emile and Ruru. Hello, Mr Teru-Teru Bouzu. (His name's Miden.) The threat is fought off... but Hana now has a babysitting headache. If you've ever found your friends annoying, count yourself lucky that they hadn't been transformed into screaming babies.
Thematically, this is interesting. In a 15th anniversary nostalgia reunion film, the villain is all about memories and returning to early childhood. Cameras and photos are integral too.
The film then develops in two directions.
EVERYTHING YOU'RE EXPECTING
There are wacky callbacks, with a sweets kingdom (Fresh PreCure?) and a magic kingdom with a rampaging monster Mofurun and a tidal wave of frozen mandarins. There's Baby PreCure comedy. I love the little snapshots at the end and the remix of DANZEN for the end credits.
Then, of course, there's a battle. We work backwards through the teams, each accompanied by the appropriate theme music. Even on first viewing, this was surprisingly powerful and made me decide to watch all the PreCure series in order from the beginning. 400+ episodes. No problem. I did it. Now I know who everyone is, this film's battle sequence just about annihilated me. Damn, all that music.
I love the little nods, e.g. Cure Lovely's eye beams (HappinessCharge), Tsubomi's "oshiri punch" (HeartCatch) and that flashback glimpse of Kaoru and Michiru (Splash Star). Toei even gave every single PreCure dialogue, which is something they'd not done for a while. Yes, with all the original voice actors.
(Incidentally, the KiraKira PreCures are effective in battle... but against mini-opponents. It's a swarm of dinky teru-teru bouzu.)
Also, the use of those silly fourth-wall-breaking Miracle Lights is sort of brilliant.
WHAT YOU'RE NOT EXPECTING
She wants to help everyone, even baddies. She feels sorry for the Teru-Teru Bouzu. How far she goes to try to help it... wow. Her determination gets Honoka and Nagisa zapped. She's going to help Miden even if he's killing her. For that, I admired both her and the film.
This film's use of Hana is what makes her special.
It's an all-CGI film, but you might not guess. It's full of character and looks hand-drawn, although it's also capable of standout shots like the one at 45 min. where the camera revolves around a traumatised Hana in mid-battle. The gem world and other fantasy realms are also beautiful.
I loved it. It just works. By the end, somehow, it had lodged in my brain and wasn't letting go. I dissolve into a happy puddle at the end titles. DANZEN! It's a nostalgia-fest, but also more than that... but it does help to have watched all 15 years and 750-ish episodes of PreCure to that point.
Previous review: 4 June 2019
I got confused and watched the Hugtto! films out of order. PreCure seasons since 2009 have been accompanied by two movies, a fan-pleasing crossover and a standalone for the current team only. Hugtto!, though, had two crossovers. (This is supposedly for the fifteenth anniversary, because everyone gets excited about that number.)
Pretty Cure Super Stars! is the crossover we'd expected, following on from Pretty Cure Dream Stars! in starring the three most recent teams only. (Here that's Mahoutsukai, KiraKira and Hugtto!.) This film, though, stars:
1. Hugtto! (the latest team, from 2018) - Cures Yell (i.e. Hana), Ange, Etoile, Macherie and Amour, plus Hariham Harry and Hugtan.
2. Futari wa (original, from 2004) - Cures Black and White (aka. Nagisa and Honoka), plus Shiny Luminous, Mepple and Mipple.
I didn't realise this counted as a crossover. Nagisa and Honoka had also made guest appearances on the Hugtto! TV series, you see, so they were part of it already. In fact, though, it's the crossover to end all crossovers (so far), because it has all the main PreCures. (The numbers would go from "ridiculous" to "brain-eatingly insane" if you included all the secondary PreCures who've ever guest-starred in anything. Those might include movie-only PreCures, grannies who used to be PreCures when they were young, international ones, dead or defeated ones, etc.) This movie took the Guinness World Record title for the "Most Magical Warriors in An Anime Film". Guinness's website says, "In order to meet the guidelines, each of the 55 characters had to speak and fight using magical powers in the film."
It begins badly. Honoka and Nagisa have an underwhelming fight scene, albeit immediately followed by a better one against a Teru-Teru Bouzu. (In motion, it looks like a spooky smug ghost octopus.) The film's inferior to the TV show so far.
The Hugtto! girls get a better introduction, just sitting on the grass and joking about unimportant stuff like whether Amour started life as a metal bolt. (Androids don't grow from babies, after all.) Then, though, the Teru-Teru Bouzu (aka. Miden) appears and the baby jokes aren't jokes any more. Five PreCures are now toddlers and Miden has stolen their memories and magical attacks.
Cut to Miden's base, which is a playgroup for almost fifty toddler-Cures. That's funny, but Miden must theoretically be one of the most dangerous PreCure foes ever.
The film's pretty simplistic. It feels more like an episode than a movie. There's some fairly good baby-minding comedy, although things get more serious when we realise that the toddler-Cures have lost their memories and don't remember their teammates. Honoka thinks Nagisa's a scary stranger. Hana's got baby experience with Hugtan, but even so it's tough looking after four suspicious toddlers who want to escape.
Dwindling numbers of heroines fight Miden and, surreally, at one point a giant Mofurun. There's a scene with eye lasers and explosions. There's a "miracle light" scene, as usual for PreCure crossover movies, in which the children in the audience are invited to wave the plastic toys they all received when they entered the cinema. (This is a very silly tradition, but it's unusually well done here. I wanted to join in!)
Then, of course, everyone turns back to normal and the PreCures all fight monsters. The film works backwards chronologically, through KiraKira, Mahoutsukai, Go! Princess, HappinessCharge, etc. Everyone's theme songs accompany them on the soundtrack. This is a simple but surprisingly powerful trick and I've decided that I need to watch all the other PreCure series (except KiraKira) in order to watch the PreCure team-up movies and know who everyone is. (I can Google them, but it's not the same.) I can manage that. No problem. It's only 400-ish episodes and eight series to bring me up to HappinessCharge, after which I was watching in real time.
You might be wondering how Amour came to have a toddler form in the first place. Answer: don't worry, there's a joke about it.
When you transform to and from babyhood, your clothes change with you. In-universe justification: magic, presumably. Real justification: what you're imagining would have been going for a different target audience.
Is this a good film? Well, it's good at what it does. Personally I think the Hugtto! TV series did it better, but this is light, confident and amusing. It was certainly a hit with the target audience. It has Yell healing the baddie. It brings back Nagisa and Honoka for a third top-billed movie, thirteen years after their last two. It has some great theme songs, obviously including "DANZEN". It's lightweight and a bit on the empty side, but it's cool if you know these girls. I enjoyed it.