Emissaries of Muscles: Pretty Cure

I might write a full review later, but for now I want to talk about a small scene in the 4th Precure crossover movie.

In the big battle at the end of the movie, the villain takes a ship and pushes it along a track of its own making, turning the ship into a runaway train. Present are four Cures from Smile Precure! and the four from Suite Precure. Working together, they’re able to slow down the ship but are knocked aside by the enemy. When all hope seems lost, the originals, Cure Black and Cure White (along with Luminous) appear at the very last moment and put a complete stop to the ship before it can crash into the city.

Where it at first took eight Cures to halt the ship, Cure Black and Cure White seemed to each have possibly five times the strength of their more recent counterparts. I’m sure someone must have been smiling at this scene.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is because I like how the crossover movies have gone out of their way to establish that the original duo seems to not only be the most reliant on close-quarters martial ability but are by far physically the strongest. It’s something I’ve talked about before, in fact. The original two series did place the most emphasis on just straight-up well-animated fight scenes, and it’s also an interesting way of making those two stand out when compared to their flashier successors.

It kind of reminds me of Simon Belmont’s boss rush in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. Taken straight from the NES Castlevania, Simon has none of the tricks or spells or fancy maneuvers of the post-Symphony of the Night characters, but he makes up for it with raw strength.

Kitchen Sinking: Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3

Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3: To the Future! The Rainbow-Colored Flower that Connects Worlds celebrates the 10th anniversary film of the series, with eight TV series and a whopping 21 Magical Girls featured. Three franchise-wide crossover films. Three instances of combined attacks. Three opportunities to focus on everyone working together, because as the number of Precure shows increases it becomes increasingly difficult  to actually have any breathing room or down time in these things.

The plot is that of every big crossover movie ever, where the girls have to join forces to defeat a powerful opponent. This time it’s Black Hole-sama, an amalgam of all of the evil energy from all of the defeated final bosses so far. Its minions are villains from the various Precure movies. Aware that being a Precure means having strong teamwork, the villains split the Cures up from their respective partners to limit their effectiveness, while pursuing the “Prism Flower” which connects all of their worlds together, like a cosmic treadmill.

These types of movies simply have no time to develop any real plot, so the main appeal is generally to show all of the characters interacting with each other and appealing to fans of the franchise. I found the splitting up of the various Cures to be an interesting mechanic to accomplish this, and though it’s been done to an extent in the previous films, this time around it’s done thematically. The first group is comprised of the leaders, the second group is comprised of the smart and supportive ones, and the third group is best described as a mishmash of the rest. Very quickly, the leader group finds that while everyone is good at taking charge, they don’t exactly understand each others’ dynamics, while the secondary group thinks before they act but realize they’re accustomed to having someone else act first. The third group is the most balanced, and seem to have the least trouble overall.

That said, even within those similar groups, the character’s individual personalities highlight a number of differences among the similarities. Among the leads, Cure Black is the first to try and come up with a plan, while Cure Blossom is a little more thoughtful. Cure Marine is more headstrong than the other “cool blue” characters, which makes her the catalyst to inspire the others in the second group to not give up. Cure Berry is a little more devious than the other cool Cures. In the third group, Cure Lemonade is the most serendipitous, whereas Cure Moonlight is the most mature. It all works pretty well.

Speaking of Heartcatch, I’ve noticed that in these crossover movies, the heavily stylized character designs have to be toned down to fit in more with the rest of the series, which removes some of their charm but is also necessary in a way. The only time you get to see the “proper” style is when they’re fighting a Heartcatch villain.

A crossover also means big fights, and the movie both delivers and doesn’t. One notable scene involves the various teams doing what would normally be stock footage special attacks, but in fact are newly animated. Rather than doing what’s expected for example, Cure Black and Cure White deliver a Marble Screw while running in unison. On the other hand, with the final combined attack, it just uses the familiar poses and footage, and the attack itself just combines into a rainbow-colored beam. It’s a pretty good looking beam, but given the variety of attacks, it feels kind of lacking because it fails to live up to the potential for a truly epic combination attack. Part of the thrill of seeing a Final Dynamic Special is seeing how all of the finishing blows interact with each other.

One problem in the previous crossover film, Precure All Stars DX 2, was that it didn’t give enough respect to the rookies at the time, which was Heartcatch Precure! Blossom and Marine often looked weak and ineffectual, and it diminished their appearance. This time around the newbies are the girls from Suite Precure, and they feel nice and strong, still the most inexperienced by far but also clearly able to hold their own. They might take it too far though, as some of the more emotional scenes seem odd when they’ve only just begun doing this.

This film also has millions of mascot characters, and that can be a difficult thing to watch for people. The audience-interaction magic wands (the kids in the theater are supposed to wave them to power up the girls) are also back.

Since the first crossover, these films have felt like they’ve been phoning it in a good deal, but it’s overall acceptable. Obvious this movie is for existing fans, and is not really recommended for people unfamiliar with Precure, as it again doesn’t really bother to have a cohesive story and is only really decent for fans who understand the existing character dynamics. A fun watch, but try the first crossover first.

The Second Precure Crossover Movie is Not as Good as the First One

Having watched Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2: The Light of Hope – Protect the Rainbow Jewel!, it lacks a lot of what made the prior movie so entertaining.

As any Dynamic Pro or Super Sentai fan will tell you, the appeal of a franchise crossover is that you get to see all of your favorite characters team up and show how awesome they all are. Precure All Stars DX 2 gets the former right, but falters when it comes to the latter.

There’s a number of problems with it, but I’m going to focus on the fight scenes in particular, as I think its faults are indicative of the rest of the movie’s problems.

The first Pretty Cure All Stars DX wherein the two Cures are about to knock some monster the hell out.

In the first All Stars DX film which featured characters up to Fresh Pretty Cure, each of of the different Cure teams are able to showcase what makes them distinct. In a single fight sequence, you get to see that the originals, Cure Black and Cure White, prefer direct physical combat, while the team from Splash Star utilizes primarily powerful force fields and the girls of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 fight mainly with elemental projectiles. Not only are they animated very well, but their methods and rhythms contrast with each other and show how when together they can complement each others’ abilities. This is nowhere near as present in the second movie, where at the very best all we get to see are fight sequences with half as much storytelling and less creative animation.

This scene from the second movie actually indicates their strength quite well, but this is more the exception than the rule.

I know what you might be thinking. “It’s just a cash-in movie that’s designed to part kids from their money.” And you’re right about that aspect, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that the first movie was so good at conveying the characters’ personalities and styles through the way they fight, and Pretty Cure as a franchise is famous for having incredibly high-quality action scenes when the budget permits.

If a third Precure All Stars DX does indeed come out, I hope that it’ll take more from the original attempt than its follow-up.

Precure Crossover Movie Trailer: Has a Newer, Slightly Different Title

It’s not Pretty Cure All Stars, it’s Pretty Cure All Stars DX: We’re All Friends – The Miraculous All-Member Grand Gathering with the DX pronounce “Deluxe,” which shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who played Game Boy Color re-releases of classic NES games or watches videos of Japanese Smash Bros Melee.

The trailer uses the same theme song as the crossover game, and the movie is set to release March 20, 2009.

With a (sort of) movie budget and Precure’s trademark well-choreographed fight scenes combined with the sheer appeal of the Crossover, I am looking forward to this.

And maaaaaybe like one or two people were concerned about this, but according to the trailer Saki and Mai still have the ability to turn into Cure Bright and Cure Windy. Not that anyone watched Splash Star.