I’ve looked at the PreCure franchise quite a bit. With Futari wa, Max Heart, Splash Star and Doki Doki as well as three different films. This time around, we’re going back to the first PreCure series to feature a team, Yes PreCure 5. This one ran from early ’07 to early ’08. The head writer was Narita Yoshimi, who also did series composition work on Splash Star. So, that’s a pretty good sign. Let’s delve back into the world of PreCure.
We open with our main heroine, Yumehara Nozomi, running late for school. Something we’ve never seen in any anime before besides ninety percent of them. On her way there she almost trips but gets caught by a very handsome older man. Being more than a little thick, she thinks of it as a fated encounter. Even when he turns out to be a gay squirrel. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. She’s in the library, presumably for picture books, when she encounters the stranger again. The pair of them are attacked by a Mantis man and she transforms into Cure Dream. The squirrel introduces himself as Coco and tells her that they need to find the four other legendary warriors to wake up his boyfriend who’s sleeping in the Dream Collet & the fifty five pinkies to revive the destroyed Palmier kingdom.
Let’s start with my biggest problem with this series, namely, the attempts at romance. Unlike the other PreCure series we’ve looked at where the straight love interest is either absent or a largely ignored element, this one likes to push the idea that a couple of these fourteen, maybe fifteen year old girls should get together with these grown ass men, one of which is their teacher and both of which are actually squirrels.
So, it’s the worst in the franchise in that regard so far. Say what you will about Soccer boy Senpai from Futari wa or Mai’s elder brother in Splash Star, at least they were close in age to the girls who were interested in them and not in positions of power & the same species. Every single episode where they try to push the romance aspect in this series comes across as more than a bit grotty & really cringey.
There’s also the way the whole pinky thing is handled. It’s very much an element the series brings up when it feels like it. Most of them are caught off screen & they barely do anything. There’s an episode where one gets used to treat an illness and another one acts like a photocopier a few times. I think that’s actually it.
But it’s not all bad. The way the overall theme of hope against despair and the way dreams for the future factor into holding on to your hope is pretty well handled. The ending has some nuance to it and really doesn’t unfold like you’d expect. So, that’s appreciated.
The biggest problem with the cast here is that they’re very much a bog standard group. Nozomi is the super optimistic, good-natured, dumb as a brick variety of protagonist. Rin is the athletic one. Urara is the excitable, cheerful young one. Komachi is the calm older sister type & Karen is the smart one. And unlike, say, Doki Doki or Sailor Moon the characters never move beyond the most archetypical writing for those tropes in any significant way. The most interesting character in terms of writing is the main antagonist, Despariah. And that’s only because of what happens with the ending.
I will credit the series with trying to juggle the characters and give them all a decent amount of focus. I’ll also credit it with giving each of the main five their own little arc. Even if those arcs are trite. And the dynamics that aren’t pushing the idea of romance between young girls and adult animals can be fun.
One issue with the writing is that the series doesn’t know what to do with their underling antagonists. To the point where two of them exit the series in a really unsatisfying fashion. At least the others get big, final confrontations against the heroines. These two just kind of get unceremoniously axed.
The character designs are solid, especially for the villains. It also continues the proud series tradition of having very physical bouts and ending them with the big, magic attacks. The action scenes in general are nicely done. I especially like the horseback duel that Karen fights. The villain designs are quite good. The backgrounds are quite nice and, overall, the art just works well.
(They angered the Gazebo)
The performances are well done. Nagano Ai, Ise Mariya, Maeda Ai, Takeuchi Junko, Sanpei Yuuko and the other various major actors are all good at what they do. Overall, I also did like the music. One issue I do have is that they get rid of their original ending theme tune partially through and just replace it with a remix of Splash Star’s. It’s like the Toei team responsible for making the series decided the tune they had wasn’t good enough and they didn’t have time to write something new, so they just modified something they already had. Granted, the theme tunes in this isn’t as good as the other PreCure series we’ve looked at, but they’re perfectly fine.
There’s a lot of it betwixt Coco & Nuts. There are also a few scenes with Komachi & Karen where they come across as more than friends. And there are some scenes where Urara seems to have a bit of a crush on Nozomi. (Notice her, Senpai.) This series does have significantly less ho-yay than the rest of the franchise we’ve looked at, however.
Areas of Improvement:
- Get rid of the attempts at romance. Seriously, you don’t need romantic elements. In fact, they’re downright detrimental when the main stuff you’re pushing is gross in three different ways.
- Give your characters something to set them apart. I get it, this was the first time they had a team and they didn’t really know how to juggle character development for five girls. But give us something that moves them beyond archetypes.
- Give the two villains with abrupt departures proper send offs. Again, I know why they handled it the way they did. They wanted to emphasise a particular antagonist’s sadistic side with how he disposes of these two. But I feel like they could have done that and still had the send off. After all, they do with the villain who leaves before these two.
Yes PreCure 5 is not nearly the best the franchise has to offer. Honestly, it’s kind of weak. While it has its enjoyable moments and a few interesting elements, it suffers from bland characterisation, the worst romance elements in the series thus far and some aspects that just aren’t handled in engaging or interesting ways. In the end, the closest series I can compare it to is Max Heart. Like that series, it’s very mediocre. I’ll give it a 5/10. Maybe the follow up to it will redeem it somewhat when I eventually look at that, but given that it’s the series that marked the end of direct sequel series in the franchise, I’m not all that optimistic.