This being the first entry after the awesomeness that was the 15th Anniversary season I was not expecting it to neither equal or surpass Hugtto! I just hoped for another fun entry in the franchise. Let us find out what we got in the 16th installment of the Pretty Cure franchise, Star ☆ Twinkle PreCure.
Genres: Action, Magical Girl, Comedy, Slice of Life, Magic, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
Themes: Coming of Age.
Number of episodes: 49 + 1 movie
Plot Summary: Hikaru meets aliens Lala, Prunce, and Fuwa while watching the night sky. She learns of the “Star Palace,” where the 12 Star Princesses of the constellations kept the balance of the universe until they were attacked. Lala is searching for the legendary Precure warriors to help find the 12 scattered “Princess Star Color Pens” and revive the princesses. When Fuwa is captured by an enemy, Hikaru wishes to save Fuwa, and a Star Color Pendent and a Star Color Pen appear to allow her to transform into Cure Star. From then on she works to collect the pens and raise Fuwa, who is the key to reviving the princesses.
Like Power Rangers and Super Sentai this is not the first time a Precure team went to outer space and/or faced off against an intergalactic threat but it is the first entry centered around the concept. This is the “Power Rangers in Space/Lost Galaxy” of the franchise. The Cures travel to various planets meeting many aliens. This being a kids show the aliens are less “alien-y” and more “creatures found on Earth with space in their name” for example space dogs, space cactus, space squid etc. I do not mean literally “space + species name” as they all come from their respective planets and are named after them such as Sabotenians from the planet Saboten.
Some of the themes covered on the show are the following:
- Culture: Each planet has their own lifestyle, norms and values. Part of the Cures’ development comes from exploring the planets and interacting with their denizens.
- Race: Various races means different experiences, appearances, laws, languages and opinions, both good and bad.
- Family, society and intrapersonal views: Like many other entries in the franchise the Cures’ character development revolves heavily around their relationships with their families, friends, foes and each other. All of them help mold how they feel about themselves and what they want to do besides being superheoes.
There are other themes but these are the most relevant.
When it comes to pacing it is the same as usual. Character introductions, followed by contained episodes with important plot episodes when the time is right. Again, same as usual.
Not much to add that I have not already in previous PreCure reviews about the presentation. As always the animation is great with most of the battles kicking major booty. Some battles are set in outer space. While they do not differ much from ground battles they stand out. I noticed some older fans nitpicked about this season using a lot of stock footage during battles (Special moves, finishers and enemy Generals preparing for battle). To be honest I am so used to the franchise I hardly noticed if this one used more than others. It is about the same as always. As for the soundtrack the OP and ED are pretty good and some of the recurring background tunes are catchy. My favorite being “Himitsu de Prunce”.
This time the Cures’ enemies are the Notrayders, led by Darknest, whose goal is to conquer the galaxy. What is cool about the battles here is that although they keep the “Monster of the Week” format the Cures do not face monsters every episodes with the Generals occasionally stepping in. This time the baddies each have their own fighting styles and find new tactics as both sides grow stronger. For example, two of the Generals are always accompanied by “Putty” like minions, the Notrays. Two of the Generals prefer fighting the Cures head on (one of them is accompanied by Notrays though) while others either use Monsters of the Week or other means of combat. This is a nice change of pace.
When it comes to Cure baddies they either have reasons for their misdeeds, are brainwashed or rotten to the core. Without giving too much away the Notrayder Generals fall under the first category.
Time to go over our heroines and mascots.
First up is the token cute mascot, aka the most important character of the main plot, Fuwa. She is the run of the mill infant character with some incredible powers such as warp tubes and powering up the Cures. As a character she is similar to other infant mascots, cute. She is one of the better ones thankfully as there have been annoying mascots in some installments (mainly early ones).
Prunce is the token loudmouth mascot. He too is one of the better ones. I liked him more than Harry. He amuses me, thanks in due part to the excellent job by his seiyu. He ends most of his sentences with his name “-prunce/puruns”.
Now let us talk about the Cures.
First up is team captain Hikaru, aka Cure Star. When it comes to Cure leaders I noticed they fall under three categories: The righteous hothead, the growing shy girl and the cheerful comedian. Hikaru is a cheerful comedian. Like most leaders she is the heart and soul of the team. She loves everything about space and records her findings in a sketchbook. Her catchphrase is “Kira Yaba~”
Fun fact: In fan translations the most commonly accepted translation of “Kira Yaba~” is “Twincool” but as the show progressed the translators had fun with it and came up with various pun translations. Things like Galactacular, Unirrific, Planetacular etc. Another fun fact was they started with Twincool and ended with Twincool.
Lala, aka Cure Milky is an alien from the planet Saman sent on a mission to help Prunce rescue Fuwa from the Notrayders. Being foreign she uses a communicator to talk to other races besides Earthlings. At first she does not get along with Hikaru but it does not take long for the two to get chummy. More on that in a bit. She is serious, dedicated to her duties and skilled with gadgets. As the show progresses she becomes much more cheerful. She also carries a heavy burden on her shoulders. She ends most of her sentences with “-lun”. She even has her own words when agreeing or questioning something. Instead of saying “Yeah!”, “Yes” or “Right” she says “Lun”. Instead of “Oh”, “Huh?” or “Hmm” she says “Oyo”. Instead of shaking hands she uses her antennae to greet people. Lala is a historic Cure in the franchise because she is the first ever extraterrestrial to become one.
Madoka, aka Cure Selene is a polite ojou-sama, the moon of the school, one of the top two beauties and was raised to be a leader by her father. While she gladly works her butt off to be the role model her father expects she predictably struggles with being the person daddy wants and the person she wants to become. Her most recurring rival is a more traditional ojou-sama.
Elena (OG’s fav), aka Cure Soleil, is the sun of the school and the other top beauty. She is the oldest of six siblings. Her family runs a flower shop. She is multilingual knowing at least three languages. Her smile is so bright it brings joy to many. Of course there is a lot going on behind her smile. Elena too is a history making Cure. She is the first dark skinned Cure and the first Cure of Latino descent from her father’s side. Viewers will have to watch the show to find out which country dad’s from.
Like most entries in the Pretty Cure franchise there is a bonus Cure who joins the team around the 2nd quarter of the show. I know certain people will love this Cure quite a bit. She has an interesting relationship with another character.
While all the Cures have interesting character arcs, as my good friend Rory pointed out Elena and Madoka get less time in the spotlight compared to their three teammates. On the bright side when they get the spotlight the make it count big time. Perhaps it is because of Elena bias but she has one of the best arcs on the show.
Getting right to the yuri Hikaru X Lala is where it is at. How high do they rank? Pretty high I would say. Madoka X Elena have some moments in the second half while the fifth Cure has a potential honey of her own.
Overall Star ☆ Twinkle PreCure is as fun as I hoped it would be and a pretty good entry to come after Hugtto! PreCure. The space motif encourages plenty of creativity. As usual the action is on par with the top shounen anime battles at its best. The cast are likable, the presentation very nicely done and the story enjoyable. Definitely worth checking out for casual Cure fans.