This is a general post on the first three episodes of Suite Precure; the other part of the title I’ll save for the end. (Edit: Fuck it, using subheaders.) I’m enjoying it a good deal so far and finding that besides the character designs, the series is no weaker than its predecessor, Heartcatch Precure. (That’s not to knock the designs, but Heartcatch had some of my favorites.) Much like Heartcatch, Suite has shown a surprising level of writing depth, and actually has a more mature air about it as well, with the girls even looking older than the average mahou shoujo protagonistas.
When I saw the promo art for Suite Precure, I thought that I might skip the show because I didn’t like the designs. I’m glad I watched it anyway, because like with Heartcatch, the characters look much better in the actual show than they do in the artwork. (I think it’s because the art always has the characters in these eerily plastic poses, whereas the show brings them splendidly to life.) I’ve grown to like the girls, and their casual clothes are very cute. There’s one thing I can’t get over, though: the hair.
I despise non-utilitarian ponytails. Ponytails can generally be considered to have three purposes: one is to keep the wearer’s hair out of their face, because with long hair, it takes constant maintenance to keep hair out of one’s face (I would know). The next is to make hair more manageable; long hair can be all over the place (mine, when worn down, actually gets caught in car doors), so a ponytail groups all the hair together. Even better, a braid keeps it from getting easily tangled (hence why I always wear mine in a braid). The third purpose is to distance the hair from the back, because hair is warm and in hot conditions it causes irritation.
So what the hell is the point of a ponytail that accomplishes none of those things? These girls both have hair in their face and plenty of long hair hanging loose. The only reason for it is a stylistic choice, and that’s where my personal bias comes in—I find that hairstyle ugly as sin—always have. That I can get past the hair enough to appreciate the designs speaks volumes about their overall quality.
Anyway, onto the actual show. I’ll start with seiyuu, since the casting choices are pretty interesting and do a lot for the show’s unique style.
Houjou Hibiki (Cure Melody) is played by Koshimizu Ami, who was also Kallen Stadtfeld, Anemone, Himari (from Omamori Himari, her performance being the best part of the show by far), Paraietta, Holo, Charlotte E Yeager, and Ushiromiya Rosa.¹ While her extended cast-listing shows that she’s got plenty of range, she’s best known for playing characters that are either hot-headed and stubborn or a slightly malevolent tease (sometimes both). Houjou Hibiki is her playing the hot-headed and stubborn role straight, sounding kind of like Kallen probably did when she was that age. It’s an interesting performance to me because Koshimizu makes no attempt to be “cute,” and it seems to me that regardless of personality type, that’s rare for a mahou shoujo character. It helps the character to be more believable and sell her emotional scenes (of which there have already been a few).
Minamino Kanade (Cure Rhythm) is played by Orikasa Fumiko, who was also Kuchiki Rukia, Shirley Fenette, Riza Hawkeye (Brotherhood version), Yagyuu Kyuubei, Seras Victoria, Matsuoka Miu, Katagiri Himeko, Pacifica Cassul, and Nishimura Haru.² The reason I provided such a huge list of her roles is to show the overwhelming evidence that Kanade is the opposite of her usual character types, and yet not so different that it doesn’t sound like her. Orikasa primarily plays strong-willed women, many of whom are warriors and are brimming with self-confidence (looking at that list, it’s amazing how similar the characters are when I think about it.) Besides that, in her comedy roles, she plays loud and rowdy characters, with Miu and Himeko being the most hyper, hilarious, and lovably obnoxious characters in Ichigo Mashimaro and Pani Poni Dash respectively.
Kanade, conversely, is quiet and close to a Yamato Nadeshiko type of character, though she doesn’t hold as closely to the stereotypes of her character as Hibiki does. While Hibiki is loud and sportsmanly, Kanade is quiet and known for being exceptional at baking sweets. But interestingly, a lot of Orikasa’s strong characters also have that subdued side to them, and Kanade only comes across as subdued in that same way rather than weak. Clearly she can fight as a Precure, and while she doesn’t like physical activity much, she’s still emotionally strong, even more so than Hibiki. There was one moment in episode two where Kanade got pissed and yelled at one of the bad guys, and I was surprised by how much power suddenly came through in the performance; now I see how that comes from Orikasa’s style.
Otherwise noteworthy, the cute magical assistant, Hummy, is played by OMG MITSUISHI KOTONO. Which, by the way, RUINED MY MIND to learn, because I have to consider that she’s performing the character in the same voice she used for Ebichu.
The rival character, Siren, is voiced by Toyoguchi Megumi, whose name I didn’t recognize before looking her up, and whom I now recognize as a name I should absolutely know. This woman’s range is unbelievable. She played Mimiru, Chiba Kirino, Revy, Winry Rockbell (original series), Satou Sei, and Hikari (FROM POKEMON)³, none of whom sound alike enough that I would’ve ever thought they were the same person (and none of whom particularly sound like Siren). I like Siren’s voice, as well as some of those characters above, so I’ll be on the lookout for Toyoguchi from now on.
I love the theme of music in this show. The flower theme from Heartcatch always seemed weak to me, because while they tied it together via Tsubomi’s family being florists, it rarely had jack shit to do with the story. Suite Precure takes place in a city that’s obsessed with music and actually keeps its monsters, villains, and episodic plots consistent with the theme. I also love any excuse to name the show “Suite Precure” because “Suite” is one of my favorite words.
Backing up that theme, it would be remiss for the series to have a weak soundtrack, and therefore it doesn’t. Takanashi Yasuharu does the music for this series, having also done it for Heartcatch. Heartcatch had some great tunes, but they weren’t nearly as notable (zing) as the ones in Suite. (Aside: Takanashi also did the soundtrack for Fairy Tail, which is nominated for my Acadime Award for Best OP).
The relationship between Hibiki and Kanade has been as girls-love as any I’ve seen in mahou shoujo anime, which is to say very. Embarrassing remarks are always allowed, especially from Kanade, who has a tendency to boldly declare her friendship with Hibiki and how wonderful it is. Both of them are very touchy-feely; as a matter of fact, thus far, they’ve never been shown fighting alone nor using individual special attacks, and have only been seen using their combo special, which involves a lot of hand-holding. I wonder if the friend speeches are at all influenced by having the same director as One Piece.
Another interesting story element: whereas past precures (that I know of) usually meet at the start of their respective series, Hibiki and Kanade have been friends since early childhood. However, at the start of the show, they’ve been torn apart by a dispute between them (Hibiki thus far has been shown to never get over things), and they must reconcile the problem to become friends once again. This is nice because it skips over all of the “getting to know you” tropes and focuses on “I know you, so I know something’s wrong” tropes, which I guess I enjoy more.
And just throwing this out there: Hibiki’s dad is a fucking asshole. A lovable one, but an asshole.
Lastly, I adored the eyecatch so much that I took it apart and watched/saved it frame-by-frame. I was gonna post a lot of the shots below, but I’m lazy, so here’s just one:
The Perfect Way To End A Dramatic Scene
My favorite scene in the show so far came from episode three wherein some writer created a simple yet genius scenario. Hibiki gets trapped inside of her own room when the lock on her door breaks, as was foreshadowed by a TV horoscope at the start of the episode. At the same time, Kanade happens to visit her house, carrying a cake (which Hibiki adores). Kanade’s plan is to use the cake to try to get Hibiki to tell her about the trauma that caused her to give up playing piano and start hating music five years ago. When she arrives, Hibiki is locked inside the room, so they converse through the door, and things get emotional.
The whole scene is put together well, with the voices coming through the door and such, and with the situation never quite feeling too convenient through the fact that it’s heavily involved in the dialog. When the conversation reaches an emotional crescendo, both girls put their hands on the doorknob and it clicks open (Hummy explains that their feelings “harmonized” to make it work). Both girls are excited, Kanade stumbles into the room, and then Hibiki immediately snatches the cake out of her hands, consumes the entire thing, and is ready to go.
What a lovely way to make a serious moment come down on a comedic note! The cake is there the entire time, but the moment still comes as a hilarious surprise because the viewer’s expectations are for a climax to the emotional dialog. This closer for the scene stops it from having to get sappy or repetitive and instantly changes the mood to pick up for the next scene. Brilliant!
¹ Kallen Stadtfeld from Code Geass, Anemone from Eureka Seven, Himari from Omamori Himari, Paraietta from Simoun, Holo from Spice and Wolf, Charlotte E Yeager from Strike Witches, and Ushiromiya Rosa from Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
² Kuchiki Rukia from Bleach, Shirley Fenette from Code Geass, Riza Hawkeye from FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Yagyuu Kyuubei from Gintama, Seras Victoria from Hellsing, Matsuoka Miu from Ichigo Mashimaro, Katagiri Himeko from Pani Poni Dash!, Pacifica Cassul from Scrapped Princess, and Nishimura Haru from Xam’d Lost Memories.
³ Mimiru from .hack//SIGN, Chiba Kirino from Bamboo Blade, Revy from Black Lagoon, Winry Rockbell from FullMetal Alchemist, Satou Sei from Maria-sama ga Miteru, and Hikari from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl