Before watching the Tropical Rouge! Precure feature movie (Yuki no Princess to Kiseki no Yubiwa [The Snow Princess and the Ring of Wishes] ... with HeartCatch Precure), I made mental notes of the Healin' Good Precure special feature (Yume no Machi de Kyun! Tto GoGo! Daihenshin!! ... with Yes! Precure Five Gogo). If there was one complaint I would have raised with the Healin' Good movie, it was the scant use of the third generation of Precure. Yes! Precure Five Gogo came in to even the sides in a fight with the team of duplicated Egoegos, got captured, got rescued, and then joined in the final battle. Not all of the Yes! team had speaking lines (mainly Cure Dream), and there was this use of the crossover concept of emphasis on the current team, focusing on Cure Grace to win the moment.
Now, I loved the use of a veteran Pretty Cure in Yume no Machi as a celebration of the Precure franchise, so I didn't want HeartCatch Precure to get anything close to short shrift. I believe Toei understood this weakness in the first effort at uniting two Precure teams from different parts of the franchise history and worked to give each team adequate exposure, with understanding that the most recent team must have the focus. This is what I experienced, and what Delicious Party Pretty Cure plans to do with their special feature ... it might be tough to top this 70-minute fantasy.
The story begins with Tropical Rouge whipping up on a motivation sucking attack of a Dunnawanna (OVA version of Yarane-da) led by Numeri. As usual, it's a poor showing for the bad guys and happy beach goers get their moxie back. These heroics do not go unnoticed, and the girls find themselves invited to the magical snowy kingdom of Shantia to watch the coronation of Princess Sharon. While there, they run into the flower-power girls of HeartCatch, both teams meeting as normal girls. Yeah, a Pretty Cure team will be shocked at seeing another Pretty Cure team. It’s traditional Precuria.
The strength of Yuki no Princess is the interplay of personalities. Of course, Laura (Cure La Mer) and Erika (Cure Marine), given their fractious natures, do not hit it off, though Manatsu (Cure Summer) and Tsubomi (Cure Blossom) mesh well, as well as Minori (Cure Papaya) and Itsuki (Cure Sunshine). But it is Laura's hybris which plays into the thickening of the plot. As queen candidate of Gran Ocean, Laura has an affinity with Princess Sharon, an understanding which will have benefits when sweet Princess Sharon goes to the dark side.
Sharon would have been crowned queen of Shantia by her father and mother ... 13,000 years ago when a comet strike destroyed her kingdom. Powered by a fragment of that comet, Sharon creates a beautiful kingdom of mild winterscapes. But the place descends into a grip of icy winter once Sharon reveals her mad scheme to repeople her kingdom with her guests. Cure Blossom understands that Sharon's heart-flower is a snowdrop, which begins to thrive as winter gives in to spring. Uniting to smash Princess Sharon's army of snow beasts, the Pretty Cure cannot win by physical force. It is up to Laura to convince Sharon to relinquish the comet fragment and bring a real spring landscape with her forsaking her position as snow princess.
While an enjoyable plot, there were holes. I mean, Princess Sharon's emissaries (little snow-like puffballs) invite Tropical Rouge to the festivities, and later Sharon is shocked that there are precure in her coronation audience.. And what was HeartCatch doing there, delivering the flowers and good fashion sense? And the prison door gag ... push, pull, or slide? A failed bit of humor.
But the animation stole the show. The Tropical Rouge transformation sequence was a slow deliberate changeover of each girl. You could catch the difference in the bits of file footage from the TV show (e.g., compare Asuka's 'hair' section to the rest of her transformation, vastly improved CGI). The same for the transformation sequences for the four-member HeartCatch, mostly file footage with some enhancements. Basic clean-up of the things that worked.
The musical selections were ideal, seeing that the beloved folksong of Princess Sharon would be a key to resolving the issue of the doomed kingdom of Shantia. Of course, the ending is an upbeat version of the melancholy song. The songs prepared for Pretty Cure feature movies are carefully themed, and some of the tenderest melodies are heard in them. Yuki no Princess was one of the better musical productions.
Yuki no Princess is a feel good approach to defeating the sinister forces of Princess Sharon. It is not a blow of a fist, but the patting of the head which dispels the ultimate evil entity reared to defend the hopeless land of snow. It is the most family friendly version I've watched. It's Manatsu's energy meeting Tsubomi's quiet shyness. The results were more than satisfying.