...Speaking of which, Pretty Cure is separated into three periods by which producer is doing the show.Okay, this explains quite a bit. I would argue that Washio's signature is how grounded his three continuities feel; everything in there feels like an attempt to reflect the lives of the audience, aspirational or otherwise, while still telling a fantasy superhero story. Umezawa seems to focus more on character showcases, either by highlighting growth or just letting the fully-formed characters react in dramatic situations; notice how two of his seasons, Fresh and Suite, have major redemption arcs, how the "minion" villains in all of these seasons turn out to be decent people by the end, and how much these series are remembered for their characters and drama as much as, if not more than, anything else. Shibata's theme is simple - characters who put Mela's teeth on edge.
First is the Washio era, starting from Futari wa to Yes! 5 GoGo.
Second is the Umezawa era, lasting Fresh to Smile (currently, the producer of Sailor Moon Crystal, if you are curious).
Third is Hiroaki Shibata's era, which is also what we are currently in and began from Doki Doki onwards.
You think I'm kidding? Until his run started, there was never a character I actively hated in any Precure season. No matter how whiny Nagisa got, no matter how bratty Milk was, no matter how much Kanade was sidelined into being Hibiki's naggy girlfriend, I didn't hate them; sometimes they made me laugh, and sometimes I even related to Nagisa's "why me" annoyance or Kanade's eternal frustration. But Doki Doki gave us Cure Ace, a joyless scold of a 10-year-old whom everyone just rolls over to obey & who straight up wants to murder her "dark" sister Regina until Mana talks her out of it. And then there's Cure Fortune, a.k.a. Cure Bully, a.k.a. Cure Selfish Asshole, a.k.a. Cure Lack of Basic Empathy. Horrible character. She wages an out & out harassment campaign against a girl who is the last survivor of her people, both as a Cure and as a civilian, and actively tries to turn Hime's friends against her. Why? Y'see, the villains who are causing chaos & destroyed Hime's homeland/people were accidentally released by Hime in a Pandora's Box sort of situation; Cure Fortune's sister was another Cure who tried to fight them but got caught by the villains. So in Cure Fortune's rat brain, her pseudo-dead sister trumps everything Hime has lost & any/all efforts at making amends that Hime is doing; it also justifies trying to drive her into alienation. That they're setting her up to be a proper member of the team and have everyone just... forget her complete & utter lack of empathy/decency/heroism/redeeming character traits has made me rage quit a Precure season.
A bit of perspective. I didn't quit Max Heart or either Yes! season because they were boring. I didn't quit Smile when I started to lose patience in the stock attacks. I didn't even quit Doki Doki when it was clear that the showrunners weren't going to do anything with their best ideas and continue to dwell on their worst instead. But none of those have a character who is downright offensive. Anyone who has ever been the subject of bullying & gossip campaigns or knew someone who was will recognize Cure Fortune's behavior and should be appalled that Shibata & Co. are basically giving it a pass. I know Japan has some... wrong-headed ideas about bullying, but this is beyond the pale. Hopefully this showrunner will move on relatively soon, because if he stays longer than either of his predecessors, I will not hanging around. It's clear that the "character who sets teeth on edge" will simply increase in unpleasantness if this continues.
Life's too short to hate-watch, in my view.