Magical Girl Obsession: KiraKira Mew, Precure

Okay, so I've been putting this one off for a bunch of reasons (90% of them personal), but there's a big one - Maho Girls Precure was boring. It was DULL. And it's not because it followed in the wake of a really strong season - the fights were lackluster, the villains were rather bland, the stakes never felt dramatic in any way, and the universe didn't feel very fun (it really felt like someone had recently read the Harry Potter books & wanted to make them more cutesy). It just didn't have the humor or character pieces that even Precure's weaker seasons have managed, and it actively made me wonder if I still liked Precure at all because it was just so... blah. Somehow, blah is worse than bad, since with bad, you can at least see things that could have been executed well; with blah, there isn't even that squandered potential or that urge to rage-watch & see how much worse things get. I liked the designs a lot (especially the deliberate ridiculousness that is Topaz form), but they weren't in anything even remotely engaging on any level. And since Precure is literally the only traditional-audience magical girl show out there, being dull is not something it should be, since it's liable to take that entire segment of the genre down with it.  The boredom MahoPre has inspired is so bad that it's led me to delay this post for over two weeks. And remember - I love Leak Season.

So here's hoping KiraKira Precure a la Mode is a step back in a good direction. But... I have reservations.

So the theme for this year is animals & desserts. Like my entry title suggests, this weirdly reminds me of Tokyo Mew Mew with the whole "magical girls with animal features" element; I personally hope there won't be as much of a "green aesop" drive with it (no matter how valid & important they are, they always harm a work more than help it), but so far not much about the villains has been revealed (they apparently turn desserts into monsters). I, personally, am a little bummed largely because I had a similar fan series idea (themed around pets) that I shelved precisely because it felt too much like a TMM clone, so now it would feel like a double ripoff, but that's just me being selfish & stupid.  But there's more to the TMM thing than that.

Right now, the only non-Precure magical girl series that aren't explicitly dark or fanservice-centric are nostalgia pieces like Sailor Moon Crystal or the upcoming Cardcaptor Sakura revival. Tokyo Mew Mew is from the same generation, and it feels like having a Precure series that seems to be directly referencing it is having the series try to snag some of that nostalgia market. It even echoes the name of TMM's contested sequel.  I don't know if that's a good call - it's a market that makes more sense than some of the other periphery audiences Precure could court & significantly less tawdry - but it automatically sets up the series for comparisons to another that will benefit from that nostalgic haze. So between having a weak season prior to it, a really amazing one that preceded it, and now inviting comparisons to a fondly regarded unrelated series, it feels like KiraKira Precure a la Mode is giving itself one hell of an uphill struggle.

Right, enough griping & pondering. What about the designs?

(Apologies for the lack of civilian forms pictures; for some reason, I couldn't properly save them.)

First things first, I appreciate the mixed-age team.  I think having teams of variable ages helped make both Heartcatch and Suite more unique. The older pair (Cure Macaron & Cure Chocolat) probably won't appear until later down the line, but it's still a nice element to have for the season.  I also appreciate that Cure Chocolat (in red) is very tomboyish, with her civilian form reminding me of Itsuki Myodin or Haruka Tenoh; I dread the day we have a "magical boy" foisted into the last traditional magical girl show, and since the older pair are very much staged as a couple, it also means we avoid yet another terrible straight shoujo romance.

Let's list the things I like:
  • The designs as a whole look like a mix of earlier Precure designs. Cure Macaron (purple) reminds me of Heartcatch, Cure Gelato (blue) reminds me of Splash Star, and Cure Custard (yellow) reminds me of Yes!/Smile. It's a nice throwback.
  • With Cure Gelato, we have one of the first - if not the first - blue Cure who is feisty & tough instead of brainy/demure.
  • More magical girls need to wear hats.

Now, for the dislikes:
  • These are some busy, busy designs. I expect lots of Toei Quality moments outside of the transformations & attacks.
  • Also, there's not a lot of unity other than the animal paws on the shoes. I don't expect team uniforms to be cookie cutter, but they usually have more than one single common element.
  • Cure Custard feels like a combo of two characters from Aikatsu! (namely Otome & Kokone) in her design, right down to sharing Kokone's squirrel fondness. I don't know if it's a bad thing or a funny thing.
  • I don't care for the mascot, Pekorin. It's supposed to be a combo of a poodle and cotton candy, but it just looks like Generic Cute Thing ver. 2.7.94. It's probably a personal preference for mascots that look like an actual animal. Also, it looks like a bootleg version of Candy from Smile.
I feel like there's really nowhere Precure can go but up after the sheer dullness of Maho Girls Precure.  But they're gonna have to work hard to have KiraKira Precure a la Mode shake that off as well as dodge any (intentional or otherwise) comparisons to Tokyo Mew Mew.  Here's hoping they can pull it off and don't lead to the original audience for their genre fading away due to a misstep.

EDIT 1/9/17: Well, here's a bubble burster. Translations of the official Japanese release state that KiraKira Precure a la Mode won't have the kinetic fighting scenes that have largely defined what made Precure more than just "generic magical girl show".  They'll instead use "pop" battles, which I'm guessing will be either (a) more comedic or (b) just more "stock footage of attacks" based.  And part of what made Maho Girls Precure so dull was the latter. So a not-insignificant chunk of my enthusiasm just evaporated.


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