First Look: Tropical-Rouge! Precure

Alternative title(s): Tropical Rouge Pretty Cure
Anime original by Toei Animation
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Manatsu Natsuumi is excited to move from her island home to the big city to stay with her mother, but she’s reckoned without the machinations of the Witch of Procrastination, who looks to suck out all the motivation of the citizens. Fortunately Laura the mermaid has been sent to the surface world to find the legendary warriors who can battle the Witch and soon Manatsu finds herself fighting monsters as Cure Summer!

Zigg’s verdict: Pretty Cool

Well, we’re watching pretty much every other kid’s show that Toei air on Sunday mornings, so why not give Precure a go? Despite being a fairly long-time aficionado of the magical girl genre, I must admit I’d never seen an episode of any Pretty Cure series before sitting down to watch this, though I knew various details through osmosis. My understanding beforehand was basically that the franchise takes the Sentai-ish overtones of Sailor Moon, cranks them up to 11 and smothers everything in extremely girly aesthetics. Sure enough, that’s pretty much exactly what we get here. And it’s fantastic!

I think the thing I wasn’t expecting was how delightfully zany this setup seems to be. The script isn’t afraid to play things for cartoonish laughs, and that’s well complemented by the lovely fluid and elastic animation we get. Some scenes almost echo the best work of Studio Trigger, such is their willingness to go for dumb, limited-animation visual gags. Even when it’s not goofing the aesthetic of the show is gorgeous, bright, sunny and bursting with colour and energy. Precure has always been the favourite child among Toei’s stable of anime franchises, and the extra investment really shows in cuts like the dazzling transformation sequence. Our heroine Manatsu is somewhat generically plucky, but in a very endearing way and the care lavished on her hyper-exaggerated movements and mannerisms do a lot to sell the character, while grumpy mermaid Laura already has dark horse written all over her. This first episode was a great time and, if you can stand the overwhelmingly twee aesthetic, Tropical-Rouge looks to be a delightful way to spend a half hour going forward.

Aqua’s verdict: Tropicalifragilisticexperalidocious

Zigg and I have for quite some time been loyal viewers of TV Asahi’s Sunday morning time slot, in which the media conglomerate Toei has aired its latest toy commercials tokusatsu shows for years. Yet while Kamen Rider and Super Sentai‘s ratings have been on the decline for years, the time slot’s third pillar, the magical girl franchise Pretty Cure, is still going strong. So why is it that we’ve never watched Pretty Cure before? It features a lot of the tropes and appeal we appreciate in tokusatsu, has been getting a far warmer response in recent years than Kamen Rider, especially for its ability to make complex topics digestible for its preteen audience, and is widely seen as a breeding ground for new talent in the anime industry. Besides, aren’t we always complaining about how women get the short end of the stick in these shows? Time to put the money we would be able to spend if Crunchyroll hadn’t only licensed the franchise for the United States where our mouth is and check out its latest installment, Tropical-Rouge! Pretty Cure!

If this first episode is anything to go by — and let’s be honest, with these kinds of show it often is — we’ll be spending the upcoming year in good company. Tropical-Rouge! offers much of what the show has been praised for by its fans, from zany, frenetic animation to the kinds of character only a kids’ show airing in a time slot that still thinks it’s 1983 could come up with. Laura, the sardonic mermaid who makes no secret of her regal ambitions is set up as the clear fan favourite, but it’s our spunky main character Manatsu who truly steals the show. Though I’m not sure if it’s Precure series tradition or not, the fact that she deals with monsters with her bare fists rather than by shooting sparkles at them certainly nets her some points in my book. Speaking of the monsters, at first glance this seems to be the kind of kids’ superhero show where the baddies mostly get up to petty mischief rather than actual evil, but contrary to what you might think, this is actually a positive, as it allows for more humour and creativity, which are often the saving grace of formulaic, episodic shows such as this one.

In the end, Tropical-Rouge‘s combination of low stakes with a chaotic undercurrent, charming animation and a relaxing, cartoonishly tropical vibe reminds me of the Sun and Moon era of the Pokémon anime most of all. That show made it to our top ten anime of the year twice on the strength of its shenanigans alone, and this one seems to have shenanigans aplenty. I look forward to getting to know the entire cast already, because like its Sunday morning brethren, Precure seems to scratch an itch few other media, Japanese or other, manage to even reach. So yeah, if you think we’re gonna stop burying this blog’s reputation by heaping praise onto shows made for literal children anytime soon, you’d better change your mind. It looks like we’re officially on board the HMS Pretty Cure now. Oh dear.

One thought on “First Look: Tropical-Rouge! Precure

  1. to answer aqua’s question fist fighting is very much in precure’s DNA, mostly. usually it depends on how much toei listens to angry parents. in very rare caes though, the first 1/4 and the entirety of kira kira precure ala mode, they avoid it like the pluage. as for the tone, precure been experimenting a lot in the past 5-6 years to the point where going from one season to the next can be a bit jarring. we can go from seasons with very serious 2 deep 5 you seasons to a little plot parody seasons to ill timed seasons about pandemics to ones about protecting how good sweets are. i think that’s probably why precure is going as stong as it is. keeping it fresh is really important.

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