Heartcatch Pretty Cure!

TV (49 eps)
2010 - 2011
Winter 2010
3.815 out of 5 from 851 votes
Rank #2,089

The legendary warrior, Cure Moonlight, was defeated and it's up to shy Tsubomi and fashion-obsessed Erika to step up and become the next Precure team. Together they must battle the Desert Messengers, an evil organization preying on the negative emotions blooming in people's hearts. They want to help their friends and the quickly-wilting Great Heart Tree by collecting Heart Seeds, but can they prevail given they are the weakest Precure in history?!

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Reviews

AirCommodore
7

StoryMahou shoujo has become a stagnant genre, full of over-used cliches, transformation sequences, and shallow characterization. It seems like lately the only way for a mahou shoujo to succeed is to parody or viciously subvert the genre (see: Madoka). Heartcatch Precure breathes some life into the archetypical formula by showing why these things became tropes in the first place: if done correctly, they work. The series begins innocuously enough- having just moved to town, Tsubomi becomes a PreCure and teams up with Eirika to revive the Heart Tree. In opposition to them are the Desert Messengers, a shady group that preys upon people's emotional distress by transforming them into rampaging Desertarians, which, once defeated, allow peace to return to their host's heart. The majority of the series is made up of these episodic tales, but most manage to avoid tediousness due to their light-hearted humor, subtly averting the expected, or impressively fleshing out the victim-of-the-week. Adroit writing ensures that the stories stay fresh even while re-treading age-old morals (Do your homework! Always be honest! No, your parents don’t love your little sister more than you!). Minor characters whose hearts have previously been healed have the tendency to show up as cameo roles in later episodes, which gives the setting a notable permanent quality. Underneath all the bright colors and cheery characters, the series is quite dark. One of the characters endures depression for more than half of the series, and issues like death and parental abandonment aren't skirted around. This keeps such a cute show from veering into the insufferably saccharine, and allows it to be enjoyed by more than just preteen girls. For all that it does right, Heartcatch still gets a few things wrong. Namely, there are too many coincidences. The baddies just happen to target the very same people that the girls have just happened to interact with. The town's denizens are also a bit too accepting of all the crazy things going on; nobody questions that their loved ones have suddenly transformed into ungovernable monsters. There's also the deplorable idea of having Shypre shit out the heart seeds (the girls' prize for healing people's hearts, and the catalyst to revive the Heart Tree), a scene which is repeated almost every episode.AnimationHeartcatch's animation is bright, cheery, and very consistent, with fight choreography rivaling the best shounen and locales like the Burton-esque villain base that ooze with creativity. But it's the slick retro feel of the character designs that stands out. The fluid effortless-looking style allows for some wonderfully expressive facial expressions and excels at showing motion. Unfortunately, these same designs betray a few of the surprises in the show, as "secret" characters fated to be mains have the more eye-catching designs. Amidst a field of sorrel and maroon, of course the girl with bright purple hair is going to be important later. The transformation sequences are similarly gorgeous and dynamic, which makes their excessive length slightly more bearable. Somewhere along the line, the producers must have decided that it wasn't enough to have some of the prettiest transformation sequences; they also needed the longest ones. Hence, every single episode featured a solid two to three minutes of preteen girls twirling around as their hair grew and their clothing lit up- a length further exacerbated when allies sporting their own sequences show up. Power-up items and other magical props look like gussied-up cheap plastic toys- a comparison hammered further home by the decision to animate them with CGI.SoundHeartcatch is gilded with a cheery and energetic soundtrack that always fits the mood. Battle sequence songs are especially awesome, and the series boasts a school festival concert rivaling that of Haruhi's. The only odd choice is the second ED- a baffling pop/gospel hybrid. Unlike many shows aimed at children, the cute chirpy voices of the leads avoid being obnoxious.CharactersShoujo series aimed at a younger demographic often doom themselves by focusing on a boring cast, a fate which Heartcatch has avoided. It helps that all the leads are flawed. They act like real fourteen-year-old girls- they argue amongst themselves, misinterpret things, and have insecurities. Tsubomi is introverted, shy, and desperate to better herself. Eirika is effervescent and amiable, but has difficulties keeping friends due to her brash nature and uncouth habit of blurting out whatever is on her mind. Late additions to the cast mix up the group dynamic with their more mature personalities, such as Yuri, the cool, strong older girl with the bad habit of keeping her negative emotions bottled up where they’re prone to festering. The leads also have lives that have nothing to do with being PreCure. They have other friends, are involved in extra-curriculars, and have close-knit families. Too many anime series have protagonists whose relatives are never mentioned. Others are free to save the world and hang out with their classmates without having to report back home. That these girls don’t fall victim to absent anime parent syndrome makes them far more believable. Even the villains are fun to watch, especially the petty squabbles between the egotistical and flamboyant Cobraja and the GAR Kumojacky, who seems better suited to star in a hot-blooded beat 'em up. The cast’s only weak spots are the mascot characters, which luckily don't get an exorbitant amount of screen-time. The fairies are too rife with cutesy attributes like ending all their sentences with "desu" to take seriously or allow any genuine character development- if only Shypre and Coffret were as badass as Coupe-sama, the partner of PreCure-turned-grandmother, Kaoruko.OverallWith a reluctance to subvert the genre's established tropes and a plot that won't surprise anyone over twelve, Heartcatch still manages to far outstrip the majority of mahou shoujo series and deliver a fun show full of heart, excellent choreography, and loveable characters. Like many shows of its genre, Heartcatch could and should have taken much fewer episodes to tell its story, but in a franchise like Pretty Cure, whose main goal is merchandizing, it's lucky they managed to churn out a quality show at all. Giving the series a 26-episode run would have whittled out all the meandering episodic fluff, making the whole more akin to its stellar finale and more palatable to a general audience. As it stands, I'm reluctant to recommend Heartcatch to non-fans: the first two-thirds will do little to change anyone's mind about the genre.

ThatAnimeSnob
6.5

Just to make it clear, I am not a Precure fan, I am not following the franchise and I haven’t completed a single season beyond this one. The reason is because I find it childish. It was fine when Sailor Moon was airing, since it was breaking the mold of what mahou shojo is all about and there was nothing else similar to it on television. After it ended I moved to the Kamen Rider and Garo franchises and left behind more kid friendly stuff like the Precure franchise, which is walking safely on the established stereotypes of Sailor Moon, only with far more watered down dark themes and way more blatant toy-selling tricks.Despite all that, Heartcatch is standing out amongst the numerous Precure seasons for its far livelier artstyle, which makes the battles far more exciting and the slapstick jokes way funnier. In other words, it’s all about the pretty colors and I’ll be damned if I say that is enough to deem the show good. Yes, it does look pretty good for a kid show aimed at little girls yet mostly watched by adult males, but what I always care the most is plot and characters. After all, the same style was used in Casshern Sins and Saint Seiya Omega, which I consider to be below average. The story begins in a promising way, as the villains defeat the heroine and take over her magic tree of happiness or something. This tells us right away that they are powerful from the get-go and that the stakes are high. The trademark mascot critters run away to find replacements before it’s too late, which leads us to the introduction of our heroines, Timid-chan and Bold-chan. They have actual names but this is how I prefer to call them since everything in these shows is color-coded and archetype-based. They make an ok antithesis to keep things funny and engaging without being something that special as a duo. Then in a typical Sailor Moon fashion the critters appear and warn the girls that they need to become magical girls or the tree will wither if the villains steal enough heart flowers and create monsters with them. A catchy detail is that the monsters are always a projection of the negative thoughts of the victim, which is a simple way of offering introspection to the cast. Not that it means much if we won’t be seeing most of the victims for more than one episode, but it’s still better than random demons with no relevance to what is going on.Another nice touch is how they bother to show you can’t instantly use newfound powers, as the girls suck at fighting at first. It gives room for improvement and development, which makes a mostly episodic series not that stale when you binge watch it. And if you are wondering how do they stand a chance against the bad guys who defeated even expert Precures, it’s because there is always a Tuxedo Mask type of character saving their asses every time they are in trouble. He is not called that by the way but that’s what he is basically and it’s still nothing more than plot armor.From there, things move in a rather standard way, as the girls go around beating monsters created out of negative thoughts and having the mascots shitting heart seeds (seriously, that’s what they do) for increasing the hit points of the magic tree. I liked how they always try to make the issue the victim of the episode is going through to be related with something they are doing, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward and predictable.You are just waiting for the villains to do something else other than attacking random civilians; those episodes are always the most exciting ones. And no, just watching the highlights is not making the show better because they are not letting you get accustomed to the characters during their moments or relaxation. That is what destroyed the Sailor Moon remake.Anyways, the big showdowns are cool but they are also coming down to last moment saves, which I hate. The Tuxedo Mask wannabe is always saving the day, and even Cure Moonlight is still alive, despite her apparent death in the first episode. The show is refusing to let bad consequences last permanently, which is also what prevents it from being anything beyond average.I mean, the villains eventually manage to wither the heart tree, which should signal the end of the world, but it doesn’t because hope exists even without magic protection. If that is the case, what was the point of going after it in the first place? Better yet, why don’t they simply kill the Precures and be done with it, since only they seem to be able to defeat their monsters, and instead just constantly defeat them before running away? Yes, one of them is a relative to the heroines and it sort of makes sense why he wouldn’t really want to hurt them, but it still doesn’t explain why the main villain didn’t make sure he was loyal or was doing his job correctly. I know it’s a kid show, I am simply questioning what the villains were trying to accomplice for over 40 episodes. Anyways, the final 5 episodes were almost non-stop action in space, and have one of the most spectacular endings in the genre. If you want sakuga, you will get it in spades. It’s just that everything plays out in a safe way and you are never made to believe they can lose, so the expected victory feels lukewarm because there is no actual tension or something bad that wasn’t undone and everything went back to normal.So my final impressions for the show are that it carries a lot of punch but has very little impact. It’s certainly very entertaining as a straightforward magical girl show but if you expect anything more other than pretty colors and a predictable plot, you won’t like it. In fact, I find it hard to recommend it even for the animation when something like Flip Flappers is airing right now and has all the fans of sakuga going crazy. It didn’t age very well, it’s not that interesting in terms of plot or cast, and if this is the best season in the franchise you can just imagine what a bore the rest of them are. Can’t recommend it as anything more than a time passer.

DGFischer
10

Heartcatch Pretty Cure taught me the importance of the precure template used in each series.  The heads and bodies are of similar design.  Factors as eyes, hair color and texture, relative size work to differentiate each girl of the team.  These external factors plus that most important internal. Personality. I was surprised at the animation style used for HeartCatch.  The characters appear more cartoonish than the precure series before and after them.  Eyes accentuate each member.  But, for the extremely different style, I would say that important changes were made with the coming of Cures Sunshine and Moonlight.  As if their entry into the plot demands a stricter presentation.  So much so, that I would have Cure Sunshine as one of the 'Five Most Stunning' Pretty Cures in the franchise.  For the record, my picks would be 1. Cure Beauty; 2) Cure Ange; 3) Cure Sunshine; 4) Cure Melody; 5) Massive tie involving 45-50 other precures (and please, don't ask me for the 'Ugliest Precure."  Such things aren't possible!).  I could offer you the rationale for these selections, but we need to get back to the important matters of Precuria. So much for intriguing animation technique.  Let's get back to the issue of personality. Tsubomi (Cure Blossom) is painfully shy to the point of introversion.  We meet her as a bookish bespectacled girl just moved to a new town with all the feelings of inferiority which meshes with being the new girl in school.  Devoted to her family and their love for flowers, Tsubomi enjoys the company of her grandmother who also has Prety Cure roots. Erika (Cure Marine) is the converse of Tsubomi.  Extroverted to the point of being pushy, Erika needs the gentle touch of Tsubomi to become more giving to her growing cadre of friends.  Her gift is fashion, and she envies her older sister because of her popularity as a renowned fashion model.  Erika wishes to be a model, too, but her talent is in fashion design.  Ironically, her older sister envies Erika because of her ability to gather friends; the life of a model draws fickle admirers, but few friends. Itsuka (Cure Sunshine) admires her older brother, but his sickly frame has disabled him to advance in his grandfather's dojo.  So, Itsuka assumes the aura of masculinity to thrive in the arena of martial arts.  But, she is a girl at heart and loves cute things as dresses and plush toys.  Still, she must maintain this act of being strong and male.  Tsubomi falls in love with the boy-like Itsuka and is disappointed when Erika tells her that Itsuka is a girl. Yuri (Cure Moonlight) is the first Pretty Cure we meet and the last one to become part of HeartCatch Pretty Cure.  She failed to defeat the forces of desertification years ago and has lost the ability to become a cure.  She has the knowledge of the legendary warrior and offers Blossom and Marine sage advice in facing the foe.  All this while enduring the depression which comes from the knowledge of failure. But, it is Blossom and Marine which motivates Yuri to strive to become the strongest precure ever.  This in light of the fact that Tsubomi suffers the stigma of being the weakest precure ever. It will take nearly the full forty-nine episodes for these girls to come together and weld into a well-disciplined fighting unit. Cure Sunshine enters in at episode 23 and Moonlight about ten episodes later.  But the glue to the team is Tsubomi's grandmother who had been Cure Flower two generations prior.  She leads the four girls into battles with self to prove their merit as Pretty Cure; Tsubomi has a particularly difficult time in facing her alter-ego, for this means the resentment of her introversion.  She must accept that personality change does not mean the hatred of self but the acceptance of the change anyone is capable. The villains are multi-faceted.  A trio of generals who are resolved to destroy the Pretty Cure.  A created cure called the Dark Precure who was responsible for the defeat of Cure Moonlight.  A treacherous professor who has conspired to destroy Cure Moonlight.  Then the ultimate foe, the world-destroying Dune who cannot be beaten by hatred, but is a poor mark for the reception of love. The plotline was strong as we watch each girl develop into a stronger personality capable of the rigors of being a Precure.  The whole series created a range of personability where Cure Marine could become the clown princess of Precuria, whose antics and facial rages would not have parallel until the coming of Cure Princess in Happiness Charge Precure.  Where Cure Blossom could be the symbol of gentility which overcomes all obstacles.  Where Cure Sunshine could find her proper role as a girl without sacrificing the power and strength of the martial arts she truly loves.  Where Cure Moonlight can recapture the courage needed to face all challenges ... and win. Where personalities, like flowers, bloom.

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