Star Twinkle Precure continued to be extremely lovable in the blending of the old magical girl fighter storyline and some cute girls stylings – that is something I am happy to report. It’s still adorable! Lala and Hikaru are such gems. There’s also been some interesting developments that make this feel more like a classic Precure, less like a classic Precure, and overall, more clear as an entity.
Last time, I mentioned that the Precures had only fought bosses and goons – no summoned monsters, like usual for Precure. Well, that changed almost instantly. While Kappard and Tenjo are keen to fight the Precures with a mixture of their own skills and the Nottorei footsoldiers, the cyclops loli Aiwarn ascertains the pens and uses them to summon Notorrigas out of other people’s imagination. Going with the theme, these colourful monsters feel just a little bit more creative than the recent Precure standard, if a little gimmicky. I appreciate the way that the show can show the dark side of imagination, spiralling potentially positive mindsets to despair and creating literal monsters out of them. With just enough of a tap into that line, Star Twinkle Precure is utilising its theme in subtly powerful ways.
I also mentioned last time that the formation of the Precure unit meant that it was hard to get a read into how this Precure series would set itself up. Well, after concluding the continuing brief arc of fixing the spaceship, Precure showed its hand: brief arcs or episodics set on unique planets. And I really mean unique. Of the two planets we’ve seen, one was based upon dogs (literally called Planet Kennel!), and another planet explores the difference in environments that the Precures grew up in. It’s here that Star Twinkle develops a major theme, albeit an unexpected one, utilising all the developments to truly surprise me.
But first, I should go back for a second, and mention how just a little disappointingly late that development came. The Precures teamed up in an extremely friendly environment to fix the Ship, all according to the instructions of the AI. This episode was really development for Hikaru, reminding us that although she may not be the most skilled, strong or even useful, that her creativity is, in itself, important. As heartwarming as that was, the arc in general felt like a missed opportunity to develop the ‘cures as friends and people. Elena and Madoka still felt a little like enigmas, that is, until the individual planets provided arcs that could really tap into the different people that their different environments let them become. While we were showcased their unique traits, it didn’t feel as genuine as it should… until a couple of episodes later.
Elena was gifted primary focus on Planet Kennel, and it made the show all the better for it. The Lost In Translation jokes felt even more humorous, and somewhat even more poignant, as Elena’s vastly different origin really hit home the differences. In general, this episode was very, very funny, and not all too personal – but that’s no bad thing. Elena’s a good mediator, naturally since she has siblings (unlike the other ‘cures), and she also has a good sense of justice. When the Notraiders come, she gets the star moment, but even in triumph, this comically focused episode doesn’t forget its roots for the best gag of the series thus far.
After getting home, the girls have a brief break – but sadly, there’s no such thing for Madoka. The show empathetically builds up Madoka’s internal battlefield, yet still does so with a good sense of humour. The way she gets upset about her perfect image faltering manages to be almost tearjerker territory, yet nails dramedy as it chooses some goofy situations, like non-matching socks, to get upset over. I was thoroughly impressed by Madoka’s arc, for lots of reasons. One of which is by building a tighter friendship between Madoka and Elena than the others; the Sun and Moon of Hikaru’s school are opposites, yet form a really cute respect for each other when they learn how much each other has to cope with. And, as the episodic’s fight demonstrates, the group can use all these little intricacies to form better strategies and synergise to take down the opponent – with Madoka, naturally, taking the moment. Eight pens left to go!
It’s here that the series really took me for a ride, in fact. Giving actual stakes, or even defeat, is something Precure can put off for quite some time. Star Twinkle surprises since, in the final of the few episodes I’m discussing today, the series tapped into the desire to rush. Planet Coumarin is built with a lot of sci-fi nerding (even references to Water Bears possibly being real life aliens!), but also has a greater feeling of gravity and slows the girls to a halt as they rush to find the pen. In a move that made me think the enemies are actually competent (a genuine first for Precure), they group up to actually beat the ‘cures. And, well, they do. I didn’t think the action with silly lightsabers could be so poignant, but as it tapped into its ideas of backgrounds and creativity, Kappard actually became… sympathetic, while winning. This is a rare thing to do.
There was a little stumble in these episodes as it tried to run before it could walk, but once it made some developments, it utilised them to do something really very special. This is a very exciting time to be watching Precure indeed, but it hasn’t shed any of the charm.