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Dated 11 March 2012: Smile Precure is Pretty Cure for beginners

Cure Beauty, Cure Peace, Cure Happy, Cure Sunny, and Cure March
Choosing leaders by their affiliated colors is an insane practice.

After six episodes into Smile Precure!, the introductions and basics are mostly set and viewers can probably look forward to numerous monster-of-the-week episodes as the show spoonfeeds the viewer a variety of subplots before developing the mini-boss mid-season arc in a few months' time. On the one hand, it's good that Smile Precure! got all five Cures established in only five episodes, but there is definitely a by-the-numbers feel to the entire process thus far. It is quite obvious nothing has gone at them at full speed yet. The first three episodes in particular took things very slowly, carefully explaining each new Cure's powers and expectations during linear, lackluster fights. There was a lot of standing around as each new girl found her footing, tried a practice shot, miffed, and then took a mulligan as teammates and villains patiently waited for the rookie Cure to get her act together and try again. This is basically the opposite approach from the near-hazing trial-by-fire Cure Blossom and Cure Marine received in the second Precure All Stars DX2 movie where they were thrown completely in over their heads, floundering though one predicament after another as more experienced and capable mahou shoujo bailed them out time and again.

Miyuki loses sight of the mission.

I'm exaggerating here regarding the easy time the Smile Precure! villains are giving the new girls, but only slightly. Both Cure Happy and Cure Peace are dojikkos, and at least one is a dojikko even as a Cure. They are further hamstrung by being restricted from using their special attacks more than once per episode. They also miss a lot. It appears Smile Precure! is downplaying the franchise's focus on fighting, but that also makes the weekly fights comical affairs. I thought Wester and Souler from Fresh Pretty Cure were slackers. Man, those two would be employees of the month on the Smile staff. The Smile villains don't make any effort to defeat Pretty Cure at all.

Cure Sunny, Cure March, Cure Happy, Cure Peace, and Cure Beauty
The name of the game is "Sucker Punch."

I also believe this is the most otaku-friendly iteration of Pretty Cure so far, exceeding even Heartcatch Precure! and Fresh Pretty Cure. Possibly this is due to the blatant moéification of Cure Peace, who is basically Cure Pine except without the confidence or competence. Frankly, I hope this "cute," meek, harmlessness of hers is a short phase, because she's the next Cure Blossom and Cure Rhythm, only worse. Personally, I believe a show with children as its primary demographic—and young girls in particular—should make its potential role models confident, strong, capable, and determined.

Reika, Yayoi, Miyuki, Akane, and Nao
Well, everyone else is using this screenshot too.

Thankfully, despite the aforementioned aspects that I dislike, Smile Precure! as a whole is quite good, with ample charisma among its engaging characters (despite my personal disdain for dojikkos) and a helping of the camaraderie that made Yes! Pretty Cure 5 so much fun. Probably largely thanks to the dumbed down fights and junior varsity coaching by Candy on the sidelines, Smile Precure! gets my vote so far as the most accessible "starter" Pretty Cure series that anyone new to the franchise—regardless of age—can approach and understand and appreciate without effort. It's not good at all with regard to the Pretty Cure aspects that I care most about, but it's a good show nonetheless.

Dated 30 January 2010: Ueda Kana Wins Again

Ueda Kana's two devilcats
Oh God. Ueda Kana
has TWO devilcats.

I follow three basic types of seiyuu blogs: Self portraits, corporate, and food. Among seiyuu self-portrait blogs, Inoue Marina seems the most adept. Compared to, say, Akiyama Nana, the easy-on-the-eyes idol who voiced Makina from Shikabane Hime, Inoue Marina manages interesting composition and framing in her self portraits, while Akiyama Nana consistently relies on the same trademark pose except with different outfits. Corporate seiyuu blogs such as Hocchan's and Banana Mizuki's can be identified by the mere fact most of the photographs are taken by third parties. Seiyuu food blogs contain, well, daily pictures of whatever it is the voice actress happens to be eating. Among seiyuu food blogs, Ueda Kana is without peer. From the looks of it, nobody eats as well as she does. Nobody. UEDA KANA ALWAYS WINS.