Heartcatch Precure

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Heartcatch Precure. It’s easily the most well received and popular season amongst general anime fandom, inside the Pretty Cure fandom it’s likely still that but it’s kind of hard to say. Heartcatch is well liked for good reason, it has great animation, a great and pretty uncommon art style, fantastic music, good characters, the best action overall for a season of Pretty Cure as well, and of course a terrific sense of humor. It got a lot of new people into Pretty Cure for a variety of reasons, one being that unlike Fresh, GoGo, etc. it was subbed weekly as it aired so it was much easier for people to watch. Another being that a lot of other anime fans who saw names like Nana Mizuki and Yoshihiko Umakoshi attached to it wanted to check it out. Umakoshi’s unique style gave him a lot of fans (he had worked on other seasons of Pretty Cure but not to this degree) so him being the character designer and animation director for Heartcatch was a big boon to it. Heartcatch is easily the most distinct season because of him. And Heartcatch was also just plain good, it’s one of those shows that gives off this very competent and well made feeling. It’s easily one of the best seasons in the franchise.

And you know what? I don’t really like it that much. Heartcatch does some things I really dislike, it does things I don’t think any season of Pretty Cure should do, it does Anti-Precure things. And I never really got attached to the characters like I did other seasons. I don’t dislike any of them, and in fact I like Erika a lot, but I never came to care about them like I did with most others. I was never involved with them as much. Which is kind of funny since the Cures in Heartcatch are very well developed and have deeper characters and personalities than pretty much all others. But yeah, Heartcatch is one of my least favorite seasons. However that doesn’t stop me from being able to see that it’s still a great show and one of the bests.

As a side note when I was first reading about Heartcatch I misread Desert as Dessert and so it made me think the villains were trying to turn Earth into a giant cake or something. So I thought the season was going to be quite different than it actually was.

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Heartcatch opens with two warriors fighting each other. Cure Moonlight seeks to protect the Heart Tree from the dark warrior facing her but unfortunately after a quick clash between them she’s overpowered. There’s another person there, an evil looking masked man who says that now with Moonlight’s defeat the Heart Tree will wilt. But to his surprise it doesn’t. Moonlight says that new Cures will appear and protect it and the two fairies hiding behind her, Shypre and Coffret, must now go to find her successors. The dark warrior gathers her power again and attacks Moonlight and the tree, Moonlight tries to stop her but can’t and an explosion occurs, her Heart Seed breaking… and Tsubomi wakes up. Tsubomi has apparently been dreaming about Cure Moonlight for a while. She and her family are moving to a new town where Tsubomi’s grandma lives and they’re opening up a new flower shop.

The opening theme song then plays. It’s very good and catchy.

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Tsubomi is an introverted girl and she’s nervous about going to a new school. And when she gets to her classroom and starts to introduce herself she keeps getting interrupted by another girl, Erika. Who’s basically the opposite of Tsubomi. Tsubomi ends up sitting next to her and starts to get annoyed by her antics, Erika starts being very familiar with her right off the bat. Erika is also in the fashion club but all of the other members quit so she tries to force Tsubomi into it but finally after being fed up with everything else Erika has done she just yells at her and runs off. Of course as the two of them are walking home from school they see that they live right next to each other. Erika’s family owns a clothing store called Fairy Drop. After hearing Tsubomi grumble about wanting to change herself to become less introverted Erika drags her inside and shows her a bunch of clothes and gives her a new outfit, but Tsubomi still gets annoyed and runs off.

We then see Erika’s sister Momoka, who’s beautiful and a popular high school model. Erika feels really insecure because of her.

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The fairies meanwhile are searching for “Cure Flower”, whoever that is. Tsubomi has been thinking about her day and everything and goes wandering around outside. Where the two fairies promptly smack into her face. They tell her they’re being chased by someone bad, Sasorina of the Desert Messengers.

Sasorina finds Erika, who also went outside to mope, and peers into her soul. Seeing the Heart Flower inside her wilting she uses her power to pull it out of Erika. Erika is stuck inside a small crystal sphere while Sasorina has her Flower. Tsubomi and the fairies see this and come out to stop her so she uses the flower to create a Desertrian.

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Heartcatch goes full victim of the week. First season to use people to create its monsters. Desertrian’s are also the first fully vocal monsters, as in they say much more than just their names, Nakewameke could be fairly talkative like this too but every Desertrian talks pretty much just like a human can. Except their voices are annoying as hell. The concept behind Desertrian’s is solid but their designs aren’t particularly good and the voices… ugh. And it’s kind of annoying when they’re made from something that has nothing to do with the character or episode in general. Like a doll? Why? That’s just random.

Anyways the Desertrian cries out in frustration, giving voice to all of Erika’s worries and her negative thoughts and feelings. We learn that she wants to be like her sister.

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The fairies say if Erika’s Heart Flower wilts completely it will weaken the Heart Tree. Which Tsubomi remembers from her dream. Tsubomi’s anger over what Sasorina is doing causes Shypre and Coffret to react and Shypre chooses her to become a new Precure. She uses Moonlight’s discarded transformation device to help Tsubomi transform. It’s a good transformation, all of Heartcatch’s are, the music and stock are both excellent. Tsubomi gets to choose her own name for herself too, it isn’t just a “What did I say?!” moment. She calls herself “The flower that spreads throughout the land, Cure Blossom!”.

And that ends the first episode. The ending theme then plays, Heartcatch Paradise is the first ending song and it’s one of my all time favorites. I love the song and visuals.

I can say without any hesitation that Heartcatch has the best first episode of any season. The beginning with the fight between Moonlight and Dark Precure hooks you right off the bat and Tsubomi and Erika are introduced very well. There’s good humor in here too. The first episode is also just very good looking, very vibrant with a lot of movement. Although you can say that about most episodes of Heartcatch. Heartcatch has that special energy to it that not every other season possesses, watch a random filler episode of Heartcatch and then one of Suite and you’ll see the difference. There’s also a moment when Tsubomi and Erika are in class where some random student is reciting lines out of a textbook about the “flower under moonlight, flower under sunlight, flower by the sea..” FORESHADOWING.

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The next episode starts with Blossom bravely fighting the Desertrian. Well not really. Blossom is a terrible fighter and is just really scared so she runs around like a chicken with it’s head cut off until the Desertrian grabs her. As it turns out Blossom is the weakest Precure ever. As she’s about to be defeated she’s rescued by some silent glasses wearing guy. He takes Blossom and the fairies to safety but doesn’t defeat the Desertrian. Tsubomi wakes up detransformed in her grandmothers greenhouse.

As a side note Tsubomi is the first Cure to regularly wear glasses.

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The fairies recognize Tsubomi’s grandma Kaoruko as Cure Flower. Tsubomi is quite shocked to learn her grandmother used to be a Cure. When she was researching the Heart Tree years ago she found the legendary fairy Coupe… who is pretty weird looking. Tsubomi asks her about the Heart Tree, it’s apparently the source of all the Heart Flowers that are inside everyone. If those Heart Flowers wilt the Heart Tree will weaken and the Desert Messengers will be able to take over the world. The Heart Tree is currently very weak but it’s not dead.

Sasorina and the Desertrian are causing havoc and they come by the greenhouse to attack Tsubomi. Erika’s Heart Flower is in danger of wilting completely and if it does she’ll never be able to get back to normal, Tsubomi also hears the Desertrian ranting about how it just wanted to help Tsubomi but screwed everything up. Tsubomi transforms again to protect her. She does much better this time but it’s only when the Desertrian also kills some flowers that Blossom really lets loose. Like always in Pretty Cure strong emotions translate to more power.

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Blossom calls forth her “Blossom Tact” and uses Pretty Cure Pink Forte Wave to purify the Desertrian. The Cure part of Pretty Cure has never been more relevant.

She retrieves the Heart Flower as Sasorina flees and rescues Erika. Erika takes this opportunity to apologize to Tsubomi for being so aggressive earlier but Tsubomi tells her not to worry about it. She even agrees to join the fashion club as long as she can also be in the gardening club at the same time. Erika is ecstatic about this and she goes back to her home. And then something disgusting happens.

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For every Desertrian that’s purified, for every Heart Flower saved, a Heart Seed is born. And they are created by either Shypre or Coffret crapping them out. Whyyyyyyyyy. It looks gross, it comes out as some yellow glob at first and then turns into the seed, later on they would change it so it doesn’t look quite as disgusting but still. Yuck.

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Coffret also brings out the Heart Pot, where all the seeds go. When it’s filled up the Heart Tree will be all better. Coffret also now wants to find a partner himself. And our two part opener comes to a close.

So we now move on to episode 3. Tsubomi dreams about that mysterious guy who rescued her, she’s developed a bit of a crush on him. At school with Erika she’s also changed her hair a bit and is wearing contacts now to help with her image change. She’s an all new Tsubomi! Somewhat. While she’s talking with Erika Erika mentions how she’s been dreaming about Cure Moonlight. So Shypre and Coffret pop out and tell her she can become a Precure.

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We then get introduced to the student council president (who Tsubomi quickly becomes infatuated with). He tells Erika that she needs to submit a member form for her club still. So Erika puts off anything having to do with becoming a Cure and goes with Tsubomi though the whole school looking for new members, but nobody wants to join the fashion club.

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We also get to see the Desert Messengers base. Looks like it’s in orbit around the planet. Sasorina is telling her boss about Blossom right now. At this point he looks like the big leader of the whole group.

Back on Earth there’s another girl who wants to join the soccer club but can’t because it’s only for boys. Her Heart Flower starts to wilt and Sasorina turns her into a Desertrian. Tsubomi goes to fight it and watching Blossom fight so hard to protect the girl makes Erika want to become a Precure too so she can protect the hearts of everyone.

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She becomes “The flower that flutters by the ocean wind – Cure Marine!”. Unlike Blossom she’s a good fighter as well, she uses Pretty Cure Blue Forte Wave to purify the Desertrian and Sasorina retreats rather than face both Blossom and Marine at once. The girl who they saved now decides to make her own girls soccer club. And as one could notice from these situations is that the victim of the weeks story parallels what’s going on with Erika and her not being able to pursue her hobby because she doesn’t have enough people for the club. Episodes will often have the main characters going though something similar to the victim of the week.

Other random notes for this episode are Marine’s transformation also being very good and the quality of Heartcatch’s action episode by episode being clearly superior to any other season. The next best season for this is probably Go Princess but there’s still a huge gap. Marine also likes to use little attacks like Marine Shot to blast the enemy with water or Marine Impact etc. Every Cure this season has their own little attacks they come up with besides the purifying ones.

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So next episode starts in the middle of a fight. Marine essentially defeats the Desertrian completely on her own. A new villain named Kumojacky is the one who made it this time. He says the two Cures are still clearly the two weakest in history. Tsubomi this episode is convinced that she’s only causing trouble for Erika because of her weakness. She continually feels inferior to her.

Kumojacky is a really fun villain. He’s a true and “noble” warrior who wants a fair fight. He’s kind of like Kintolesky except not as obsessed with working out and he fights with this sword wand thing that he can shoot energy blasts out of. He goes to fight them again this episode.

Tsubomi and Erika come across two tennis playing friends. One of them runs off upset and the other one tells them how she feels bad because she always has to rely on her. Erika keeps saying stuff to her about how maybe they need to find new partners and how breaking up could be a good thing… which of course causes Tsubomi to get depressed. She runs off to Coupe to try and cheer herself up and ends up getting reassured by her grandma to not give up so easily. At the same time Momoka talks to Erika and tells her she probably said something dumb again, as Erika is prone to do. Meanwhile Kumojacky makes the weaker tennis player into a Desertrian.

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Tsubomi and Erika duo transform for the first time to fight it. They have a great duo transformation. During the fight Marine tells Blossom that she’s the best, the both of them are Precure and Marine doesn’t want anyone else as her partner.

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They use their new combination attack, gathering the flower power in their tacts to use Precure Floral Power Fortissimo. Turning into energy they combine into one stream and shoot right through the Desertrian causing a big explosion… and then still having to spin their tacts as it floats up and gets purified. Kind of removes the impact of the attack at the end but whatever. Still a cool attack. The tennis duo sticks together and resolve their problem while Tsubomi and Erika are now best friends too.

So episode 5 has a new ramen shop opening up. The son of the owners goes to Tsubomi and Erika’s school and for some reason he’s acting all upset. This is kind of a “meh” episode because the character of the week just isn’t that interesting. It’s the problem every character/victim of the week show faces at some point. Some to a much worse degree than others. The reason this episode fails is because the character isn’t used to parallel or develop our main characters at all and it’s just not always possible to care about these practically one-shot characters like Miura all the time. He’s upset about his father not spending any more time with him or paying attention to his baseball playing because he’s so busy all the time now. I’ve seen this story too many times.

Also get some toy advertising when Shypre and Coffret need to be fed. But there is one important thing about this episode, it’s the debut of our final villain of the flunky trio that every season now has.

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Cobraja, Mr. Flamboyant, is a huge narcissist. He’s also a fun villain. And the Snacky’s appear for the first time too, they’re these weak little minions normally used in big swarms. First time Precure uses monsters like them. Not much else to really say about the episode though, Cobraja turns the kid into a ramen bowl Desertrian (the fight is pretty good) and his spirit actually starts fighting back to keep it from destroying his dads store and stuff. Marine also tries to come up with a catchphrase like Blossom’s “I’ve had enough!” but couldn’t think of one yet. After they defeat the Desertrian they leave the kid to tell his parents how he feels himself.

Sometimes in Heartcatch it doesn’t really feel like the Cures are helping to solve the victims problems themselves so much as they are just blasting them with positive energy after letting them throw a tantrum for a while and get everything off their chests as a Desertrian. But still everyone’s problems at least get solved in the end, unlike in Doki where nothing is hardly ever done to solve a characters selfish thoughts or what led to them.

Episode 6 is the introduction of Kanae. She really likes taking pictures and she’s fun and wants to take a picture of the Precure. Tsubomi also meets Erika’s dad this episode, he’s a photographer, and kind of weird. This episode… it’s hardly bad but again, when it’s not used to develop any main characters or anything it’s kind of lacking. Kanae’s story is not particularly strong either. The humor is good this episode though.

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As is the fight. Blossom uses a Heart Seed to speed up by placing it in her perfume and spraying herself. This is used a couple more times but not that much. And of course we get the Blossom Butt Punch. Yes, she actually calls it that.

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Next episode is a pretty important one. The student council president, Itsuki, comes by to tell Erika the fashion club will be disbanded if she can’t come up with more members. Tsubomi of course still has it bad for Itsuki. Anyways Erika and Tsubomi barely miss the deadline so they go to Itsuki’s house to plead with him personally. Itsuki’s family is rich and they run a dojo too. Erika at this point is trying to tell Tsubomi something important about Itsuki but she’s too lovestruck to listen… only to quickly find out that the guy she likes is actually a girl when a servant refers to them as ojou-sama. Ah, Tsubomi’s first love is dashed just like that. Not that this stops her from fangirling over Itsuki at later points. On a side note I still sometimes accidentally refer to Itsuki as a he in my head, which is stupid I know.

Itsuki does help them out with the fashion club though, cutting them some slack. After Erika and Tsubomi leave we’re introduced to Itsuki’s older brother- who happens to look like a girl and is also very sickly, getting carted around by Itsuki in a wheelchair a lot.

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In place of her brother Itsuki is taking the role of a guy and acting as the successor to their family’s dojo because of this. But Itsuki really just loves cute and girly things. She wants to be able to act more feminine. Cobraja is able to turn her into a Desertrian the next day at school because of her conflicting feelings. He also mistakes her for a guy at first too, it’s funny when he finds out the truth.

We also get to see how unruly Desertrian’s can be sometimes as this one kicks Cobraja into the sky after he annoys her. After Blossom and Marine defeat it Tsubomi asks Itsuki if she wants to join the fashion club, knowing that Itsuki needs something like it after hearing her heart cry out all of her bottled up feelings as a Desertrian. Itsuki says she’ll consider it and she starts to be a little bit more open about her love for girly things too as the episode ends. I like how they actually continue to help Itsuki after returning her to normal, it’s good.

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Episode 8 is about Momoka. We learn some more stuff about Erika’s family, her mom was a model too and Momoka got scouted when she was in elementary school. Tsubomi remembers how Erika was upset about her older sister back when she was raging as a Desertrian. Erika is just really jealous of her. I can’t imagine why.

Momoka though feels alienated and alone at her school. Everyone treats her special and they don’t socialize with her, aside from one quiet bespectacled girl called Yuri. Momoka is actually jealous of how Erika can just normally hang out with her friends. Momoka can’t do anything like that. Kumojacky then makes a Desertrian out of her while she’s at a shoot, Erika and Tsubomi are there because Tsubomi and their friends wanted to see Momoka. Erika hears everything Momoka is upset about, she learns that Momoka is jealous of her. It’s always great when a family member is the victim of the week.

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She finally comes up with her own catchphrase too. “Even someone like me, with a heart wider than the ocean, is at her limit!”. After the fight and learning about everything Erika tries to get along better with Momoka. Momoka praises her fashion designs too. She decides that since she achieved her dream of becoming a model now she’ll go for her new dream of making friends. But the two of them still argue like sisters.

Next episode an old coworker of Tsubomi’s father comes by to ask him to rejoin the company. Tsubomi tells Erika about how her parents met, they both worked with flowers. Her dad refuses to come back to the company because he loves working the flower shope right now, which makes Tsubomi happy. Obata, the coworker, later tries to get Tsubomi to convince her father to come back but Tsubomi doesn’t want him to.

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We then learn about Tsubomi’s past. Originally her mother and father were somewhat of workaholics, always busy and traveling and never really having time for Tsubomi, even though they loved her and wanted to support her with the work they were doing. Tsubomi put on a brave face but rally she was hurting inside and one day her parents see her crying over how lonely and depressed she is. What she really wanted was her parents by her side. So her parents quit their old jobs and decided to open up the flower shop. In the end they chose family over work.

Obata understands this but his failure still causes his Heart Flower to wilt and Cobraha makes him into a Desertrian (we also learn this episode that the masked villain is named Professor Sabaaku). However Obata’s story isn’t really important to the episode, it’s really about Tsubomi and her family. He’s just a catalyst. Really this is just a good and sweet episode that shows how Tsubomi came to be the person she was at the start of Heartcatch.

Okay! Onto episode 10. Where things actually happen.

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Sabaaku is talking to the trio of villains, reiterating to them the Desert Messengers goal of turning the world into a desert and asking them why Precure hasn’t been defeated yet. The Dark Warrior from the first episode decides to go and defeat them, Sabaaku tells her to also destroy all of the Heart Seeds they’ve collected so far, and she decides to bring Sasorina along to work with her.

Tsubomi and Erika go walking around the town, admiring its beauty and thinking about how the Messengers want to turn the whole world into a desert. Shypre and Coffret tell them an amazing miracle will happen if they get the Heart Tree back to normal but don’t elaborate on what this means. Later on Sasorina and the warrior start causing havoc to draw out Tsubomi and Erika…

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When they do find her we learn she’s called Dark Precure, created exclusively for defeating Precure. Tsubomi and Erika recognize her from their dreams. She tells them how they have no goals, unlike herself, and so they can never beat her. She takes Shypre and Coffret before they can transform and tell the girls to bring her the Heart Pot and all the seeds later. She also says something about how when she defeats all of the other Cures she will be the true Precure. Tsubomi and Erika go back to the greenhouse (they keep the Heart Pot there inside Coupe’s body, the big heart symbol on his chest acts as storage) and they decide Dark Precure is wrong, their goal of wanting to revive the Heart Tree and save the world is more than enough. Yuri though, who’s also in the greenhouse, overhears them. She tells them that maybe they don’t have true friendship and they need to think about that before they go off to fight again. Uhhh, okay. Apparently they don’t understand the true meaning of true friendship. Tsubomi and Erika think about this and remember what Shypre and Coffret were saying about how a trusting heart can overcome anything, they think about how Shypre and Coffret always trusted in the two of them, they risked their lives to protect them so now it’s Tsubomi and Erika’s turn to do the same.

Tsubomi and Erika go to rescue them but can’t do anything untransformed. Luckily the mysterious guy appears and takes Shypre and Coffret from Dark Precure. Blossom and Marine fight through an army of Snacky’s and Sasorina but Dark Precure is still too strong for them to fight now. They use Floral Power Fortissimo but she overcomes it with ease.

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However, before Dark Precure can finish them off she sees Yuri watching the fight. For some reason Dark Precure leaves because of her and Tsubomi and Erika are spared. Tsubomi and Erika don’t know what’s happened as they didn’t see Yuri but we get to see that Yuri is holding half of Cure Moonlight’s Heart Seed.

The first ten episodes of Heartcatch are pretty aimless. The show feels like it’s just meandering around without a well established goal. “Revive the Heart Tree” by randomly collect a random amount of Heart Seeds while the villains randomly attack people. After the beginning showing Moonlight’s and Dark Precure’s fight what the hell happens to the Heart Tree anyways? We have no idea. We saw it almost die but apparently things are a-ok and Sabaaku and the Desert Messengers weren’t able to do anything more to it. How? They were right there, did they just say “Oh well we’ll come back to the Heart Tree later no point trying ANYTHING ELSE.”. The problems with the villains up till now have been that they have a very simple goal and set up with a very unclear way of how to get there.  Our main characters are developed but until episode ten Heartcatch’s world is not very solidly set up. Thankfully the added threat of Dark Precure (and her much more personal desires) and the storyline with Yuri/Moonlight coming up more or less fixes things. There are other seasons with just as little or less going on in their plots at this point in the season but usually still have a more well defined goal or endgame. The Dream Collet, Pinkie gathering, and revival of the Palmier Kingdom in Yes5 being a good example of this.

Another thing I’d like to talk about at this point though is how Tsubomi and Erika switch the typical duo dynamic around. Both are our leads but Tsubomi (like Nagisa and Saki) is clearly the true lead of the show. However Tsubomi is the smart, bookish, relatively timid one compared to the athletic and extroverted Erika. They’re the only duo like this in the franchise so far. I think it would’ve been funny if Tsubomi was the blue one and Erika pink but the pink always has to be number 1 in Precure, thanks Toei. Thinking about it even though they are a duo for a while Tsubomi is still clearly the main character and lead in a way more like Nozomi and Love were, where you’d never say Nozomi and Love were equals to the other Cures Tsubomi is the same way to Erika.

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The next two episodes are breather episodes between the more important 10 and 13, which deal with Cure Moonlight and Dark Precure stuff. In 11 the girls are worried about how strong Dark Precure was and Tsubomi wants to learn kung fu to become stronger, so she trains with some kung fu fanatic at her school. And, uh… that’s about it. Kumojacky is pretty fun this episode. There isn’t really anything to talk about in episode 12 aside from something funny, Marine gets swallowed by the Desertrian and so Blossom uses her attack on both of them. She seems to enjoy it a lot.

Which brings us to episode 13.

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Yuri dreams of her defeat at Dark Precure’s hands. When she wakes up we see her mother and learn how her father has been missing for 3 years now. But her mom still puts a place out for him every meal, having faith that he’s alright.

At the Desert Messengers base Dark Precure is brooding over Moonlight. Sabaaku says she should be dead but she somehow survived, he tells Dark to just forget about her and focus on defeating the current Cures. After all Moonlight can’t transform with her Heart Seed broken as it is. Dark Precure happens to have the other half of it.

Tsubomi and Erika are shopping with Momoka, Momoka decides to call her best fried to see if she wants to come along. Her best friend of course being Yuri, who says she’s busy. Tsubomi then leaves after getting a call from her grandmother about how a rare flower is about to bloom at the botanical garden. Which is where Yuri is. Before Tsubomi gets there Kaoruko tells Yuri about Tsubomi and Erika being new Cures and she wants Yuri to give them advice but Yuri refuses for currently unknown reasons. Tsubomi comes in and recognizes her from episode 10. But Dark Precure then starts to attack people with a group of Snacky’s to draw out the Cures. Yuri’s mother works at a shop nearby so she runs off to rescue her. She gets there before Tsubomi and easily fights off some Snacky’s (they’re very weak) and confronts Dark Precure. Tsubomi and Erika transform as well but Dark ignores them, she just wants to fight Yuri. When Yuri asks why Dark is so obsessed with her…

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She says this. Whatever could she mean? She also reveals to Blossom and Marine that Yuri is Cure Moonlight. As she’s about to kill Yuri the mysterious guy appears again and stops her, he fights evenly with Dark and allows the others to escape before leaving as well.

Dark still goes after them though so Blossom and Marine fight her again. It’s a good fight and they put up a bit of a better one than last time but they still don’t have the power to beat her. Her Dark Power Fortissimo is stronger than their Floral Power one.

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Suddenly though Sabaaku calls her back, angry that she went after Moonlight again instead of just listening to him… even though she was about to kill Tsubomi and Erika. Like a second away from doing it. WHATEVER.

Tsubomi and Erika ask Yuri to join them and fight but she refuses. Kaoruko says how the trauma from her earlier defeat still hasn’t healed, and without the seed she can’t transform anyways.

Oh and by the way Yuri’s mom never appears again. She’s mentioned a couple times but if you thought anything else would be done with her you’d be wrong. Good job on that Heartcatch.

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Episode 14 is one of the memorable and well-regarded episodes of Heartcatch. A very touching and emotional story. It’s essentially what you would always want a victim of the week story to be like, one with strong characters and a topic that can reach anybody. It’s Mother’s Day and one of Tsubomi and Erika’s classmates, Nanami (Nami to her friends), mother has passed away. Nami has taken over the role of mother at her house. She does the cooking and cleaning and takes care of her little sister Rumi while their dad works. She’s been forced to grow up and she doesn’t have time for clubs or anything like that.

But Nami’s little sister still cries over their mom sometimes, Nami herself is sad but she cant show it. She makes sure she has to stay strong. Unfortunately when her little sister continues to act out while Nami has been going this whole time without anyone supporting her it causes Nami to finally snap and her feelings boil over. She starts to cry and she can’t keep up the act of everything being okay anymore.

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Sasorina then comes by and sees that Nami has locked up her own heart and refuses to listen to it. I wish Heartcatch did this more but oh well. She turns Nami into a Desertrian.

Rumi sees the Desertrian and hears everything her sister normally bottles up, everything she doesn’t let out because she has to be her mothers replacement and support Rumi. Blossom and Marine defeat it but before Nami wakes up she dreams about her mother. Her mother told her that what makes her happiest is the smiles of her family and that having a smile is the most important thing, Nami had wanted to forget about her mother because it was painful but she accepts everything now and she tells Rumi more about their mother as well. At the end of the episode Nami decides to join the Fashion Club.

And as a pleasant side note they changed the animation when the Heart Seeds get pooped out by the fairies so it isn’t as disgusting looking. Still kind of a gross thing though.

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Next episode! Tsubomi and Erika ask Itsuki to design some clothes for the fashion club even though she isn’t a member. Itsuki does it and comes up with a cute outfit she imagines herself wearing. She shows up at the club the next day and everyone loves her design so the club goes to a store to get fabrics and other supplies so they can make it. Itsuki is overwhelmed by the cuteness. She clearly really wants to throw herself into the fashion club and make cute clothes but her duty at the dojo interferes with it. Tsubomi and Erika learn about her sickly older brother and why Itsuki is working hard to inherit the family style.

Later Itsuki tries to say she can’t design clothes anymore, she says she isn’t cut out for it, but Erika sees right through her. They finish the dress she’s designed and have her try it on. Her brother sees and comments on this being the real Itsuki.

Some kid called Hiroto then comes by and challenges the dojo. Apparently he was a member but got kicked out for cheating and having the wrong attitude, or something along those lines. Itsuki fights against him and is doing well at first but he fights unfairly and she loses.

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Her grandpa takes this opportunity to tell her to stop training and follow her own heart. He and her older brother are grateful for everything she’s done and how she’s put the families needs above her own desires but now they want her to do her own thing. Itsuki does like martial arts though so she’s kind of upset even though it means she can do whatever she wants with the fashion club now, Erika takes the opportunity to tell her to become a fashion designer. Meanwhile Hiroto is pissed because want he really wanted was for Itsuki’s grandpa to take him back into the dojo and train him, Kumojacky then turns him into a Desertrian. Itsuki ends up fighting with Kumojacky and realizes the she really does love martial arts and wants to protect people. Blossom and Marine defeat the Desertrian and Itsuki gets Hiroto to apologize to her grandpa for his foul play and rejoin the dojo.

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Itsuki comes to the conclusion that she loves martial arts and cute things just as much. The true Itsuki isn’t just someone who loves cute clothes and stuff it’s the Itsuki that accepts and acknowledges all parts of herself. At the end of the episode Itsuki officially joins the fashion club. Good episode, good development for Itsuki.

Episode 16 then is another episode that isn’t bad (Heartcatch rarely has outright bad episodes) but is just kind of plain and the character of the week and story aren’t great. The story does at least give some introspection for Erika. Since after seeing a fellow club president drive away all of her members for being too bossy and making the club unfun Erika wonders if everyone is having fun in the fashion club since she knows how she can get and how passionate she can be.

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Onto episode 17. Tsubomi and Erika meet up with Yuri again. She still refuses to help them out and tells them that the fights will just get harder from here on out. She says she cant see strong resolve from them. She doesn’t acknowledge them as Precure. Yuri is kiiiiind of a bitch at times.

The girls then see that a local daifuku shop is having problems. The youngest chef there (his father and grandfather run it) is disappointed because his father and grandfather have never complimented his daifuku, they wont acknowledge him, they say he’s not making it right. STORY PARALLEL! Kaoruko, who has been eating daifuku from that shop for years, tries some of his and agrees that it has a long way to go. This whole episode tiptoes between being overly strict and critical and tough love.

Tsubomi asks her grandma about the Desert Messengers later. They’ve always tried to take over the world and Precure would always be born to stop them, when Kaoruko was researching the Heart Tree she got chosen to become Cure Flower and for a long while drove them off. But Dark Precure and Sabaaku didn’t exist back then, they only came around when it was Moonlight’s turn. We all know what happened there. Kaoruko says Dark and Sabaaku were unbeatable.

AND THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS I FUCKING HATE ABOUT HEARTCATCH.

I will elaborate on it later, there’s other stuff down the road that ties into this.

Kaoruko also tells Tsubomi that just getting stronger isn’t the only thing they need to do to get Yuri to acknowledge them. And blah blah blah the next day Sasorina turns the daifuku guy into a Desertrian.

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The Desertrian says he wants to be acknowledge but Blossom says that what he should really want is to make delicious sweets for people. As long as you give it your all and work hard that acknowledgement doesn’t really matter. Blossom and Marine will fight to protect everyone’s hearts, that’s what’s important. Not acknowledgment from someone but hard work, courage and friendship. Yuri jumps in and uses her Heart Seed half to generate a shield and give Blossom and Marine the opportunity to destroy the Desertrian. Yuri doesn’t give them straight up approval after this but she at least doesn’t speak ill of them at the end. The daifuku guy also realizes he was mistaken to only care about his father and grandfathers gratitude and gets to work making delicious sweets for his customers.

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Episode 18 is the introduction of Ban-kun. I feel like this episode is made in appreciation of the male and older fans of Pretty Cure. Ban-kun is a really tall and intimdating guy in Tsubomi and Erika’s class who happens to find Blossom and Marine really cute and is drawing a shoujo manga about them. He’s a fun character and he appears a few more times, the episode in general is really funny but there’s not a lot to actually say about it. Kumojacky buys some shounen manga and gets really into it, makes sense. And the Desertrian made out of Ban-kun grabs Kumojacky and uses him as a brush, in the fight he waves him around like a weapon too. Good stuff.

Episode 19 is another kind of bland but still fairly enjoyable episode. Nothing to say about the story itself, typical victim of the week stuff, but it does see the return of the red Heart Seed used to speed the Cures up that hasn’t been used since episode 6. Cobraja also mistakes a scarecrow for a person at one point. And now we get to episode 20 and the start of the mid-season climax. Yeah it kind of all happens randomly but whatever.

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The Heart Seeds the girls have collected start glowing and a new baby fairy is born from the Heart Tree. It’s a sign that the Heart Tree is getting healthier. This fairy is called Potpourri. Shypre and Coffret are fun but I never really liked Potpourri. Baby fairies are always walking the line of being annoying or not and Potpourri is no exception.

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At the same time Sabaaku gets a message from someone called Dune, obviously his superior and apparently the big leader of the Desert Messengers in general. This Dune fellow has just awoken from a long slumber. We don’t get to see what they look like but they sound like a normal person. Dune tells Sabaaku that years ago Cure Flower defeated him because she had the help of something that made her much stronger and he orders Sabaaku to find whatever it is and destroy it. He says that the Heart Tree has an important clue to it so Sabaaku sends Dark Precure to it.

This is some big foreshadowing for later down the road in Heartcatch. Also as Dark Precure is able to effortlessly find the Heart Tree it shows that they really could’ve gotten to it whenever they wanted, I guess they really couldn’t do anything more to it after Moonlight’s defeat there?

Anyways once Dark gets there Potpourri puts a big shield around the Heart Tree, Sabaaku thinks the fairy must be the clue Dune mentioned, Dark starts to break the shield so Potpourri flees down to Earth in search of Precure. Sabaaku orders Dark to continue going after the Heart Tree (which can move on its own and manipulate the clouds for cover) while he sends the other minions after Potpourri. Oh by the way there’s also a completely superfluous and unneeded character of the week this episode. Just another typical victim and unfortunately this time the episode would be much better without one. This is Heartcatch being strangled by its own format because they need a person to create a monster from and it has to be someone with a problem in their life so they don’t want to just throw some random monster made from some random no name person who the Cures will never talk to. Because then you have this sad person who you never learn the story of and might never be getting helped with their life. There are a couple times later where Heartcatch will circumvent this.

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Sasorina already went out earlier to fight with Blossom and Marine and she makes a Desertrian, in the middle of the fight Kumojacky and Cobraja come in to attack them too but Potpourri comes in and protects them. His big sunflower shields reflects attacks and when Cobraja’s weaponized photos are shot back at him we get very brief blood for the first time in Precure, barely though. Only the Doki movie also had blood in it. Kumojacky and Cobraja decide to retreat and Blossom and Marine simply destroy Sasorina’s Desertrian. They also learn the new fairies name is Potpourri, and of course they think he’s the cutest thing ever. But now they realize that Potpourri being here means there will be a third Precure soon! Time to find his partner.

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At the beginning of 21 Potpourri gets introduced to everyone, he has his own Heart Seed that will be used for the 3rd Cure. Potpourri’s power is shields and this means the 3rd Cure will be a shield warrior, the second dedicated one after Mint from Yes5. This is a pretty comical episode as the three fairies go searching for Potpourri’s partner. Meanwhile Dark Precure is apparently still chasing the Heart Tree, she isn’t mentioned this episode. The fairies go to the school to find the 3rd Cure, funnily enough Potpourri’s first choice is Tsubomi and Erika’s teacher, the episode goes back over the old victims that were also students like Kanae and the soccer girl Sayaka. And also, uh… Ban-kun

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He was practicing a pose and some lines for his made up Cure, Cure Fire. He wanted to make his own original Cure for his manga and Potpourri says he can be the third Cure for real. Clearly not thinking this through well enough. We get a pretty cool fight as well in the episode. Yuri also comes by the botanical garden at the end and Potpourri can sense a great power from her and asks her to be his partner. Naturally she refuses. Kaoruko tells him that he can’t just scout someone, it will happen naturally when Potpourri completely trusts their partner.

So then we get to episode 22 which is about the gardening club and its president. Tsubomi apparently joined it at some point off-screen. And uh, yeah. You know despite the mid-season climax technically starting with Potpourri and Dune appearing in episode 20 Heartcatch kind of takes a break on it with episodes 21 and 22. I guess the real mid-season climax is episodes 23 and 24. At least this cool thing happens in the fight:

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Kaoruko also tells Potpourri they’ll be able to feel something special from the person meant to be the third Cure… and at the end of the episode Itsuki sees Potpourri and hugs her, thinking he’s a stuffed animal, and Potpourri feels a special warmness from her. Could it be!

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Potpourri has decided that itsuki is the third Precure. Itsuki’s brother meanwhile is about to have surgery soon and is very nervous about it. Itsuki and her brother (whose name is Satsuki) really love each other. Potpourri flies off to Itsuki on his own, revealing that he’s a fairy and just asking her to become a Precure. Itsuki is delighted at the thought of getting to wear such a cute outfit but she’s worried about being able to protect anything. She knows her brother is worried and thinks if she can’t do anything about that then what right does she have to become a Cure?

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Sasorina then comes by and gets Satsuki’s Heart Flower to wilt by messing with him. It would be kind of cool if the villains did more to actually wilt Heart Flowers themselves but it just doesn’t really happen. She then makes a Desertrian out of his wheelchair. Itsuki, Tsubomi and Erika see his room all messed up with his soul being stuck inside that little crystal sphere laying on the floor. They and the fairies all go after the Desertrian and when they get to him Itsuki sees Tsubomi and Erika transform. It’s a good fight, and because Itsuki’s brother knows martial arts his Desertrian is a really tough opponent for Blossom and Marine. The Desertrian starts saying how afraid he is of the surgery but can’t let anyone, especially his little sister, see his fear.

Itsuki tries to get the Desertrian to stop but has to get saved by Potpourri, who Itsuki then protects from Sasorina. Hearing her brothers inner voice and Itsuki’s desire to protect him and Potpourri causes her to decide that she wants to protect everyone important to her. Her strong feelings make Potpourri react and a new transformation item is brought forth!

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Itsuki becomes “The flower that bathes in the sunlight – Cure Sunshine!”

She has a very well animated and detailed transformation. She beats up her brothers Desertrian using her martial arts skills and her shields and Precure powers. She can even fire a beam from her shield. Episode 24 then continues right off from here.

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There’s a little more high quality action and Itsuki tells the Desertrian that she knows her brother has the courage to overcome his fear. She then purifies it with her attack Gold Forte Burst. Instead of just a single blast like Blossom and Marine’s attacks she gets a gigantic swarm of purifying flower missiles. Satsuki is ready to face the surgery now.

Dark Precure, who hasn’t been seen since episode 20, is reporting back to Sabaaku. She can’t find the Heart Tree. Somehow. Sasorina then comes in and tells them about the third Precure appearing. Sabaaku orders Dark out again, telling her the third fairy must be connected to the Heart Tree. Which is correct as Potpourri can feel the Heart Tree calling to him, everyone now has to go to it.

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And all of a sudden the fairies can become capes and give the girls the power to fly. Which comes out of nowhere, is completely random, and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. This episode has a couple strong points emotionally and good action. Which it sorely needed as otherwise it would be fucking awful.

So anyways the girls fly up into the sky and go on their way to the Heart Tree, with Dark Precure secretly following them. It’s a pretty cute scene as they’re all flying through the clouds together though. And then they finally get to see the Heart Tree in person. Tsubomi and Erika learn that Itsuki had the same dream about Moonlight as they did when she recognizes the tree. The tree looks very healthy at the moment cause of all the people that have been helped by the girls.

But then Dark Precure arrives.

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We get a nice new group pose and the three of them do battle with her. Although I have no idea why it cuts off the top of Blossom’s fingers and the bottoms of her and Sunshine’s shoes… maybe it was just an error this episode?

So it’s a good fight between the three of them and Dark Precure but even with all of them together she’s still stronger than them. However when she uses her Dark Forte Wave Sunshine is able to reflect it back at her with her Sunflower Aegis shield, a combined Gold Forte Burst and Floral Power Fortissimo later and they stall Dark enough for Sunshine and Potpourri to create a huge shield around the Heart Tree and then teleport everything away before Dark can stop them. The Heart Tree now supposedly can’t be found by the Desert Messengers anymore, wherever they transported it and with the shield it must be impossible to track. Satsuki’s surgery also goes well and Itsuki is now fully the third Precure as the first half of Heartcatch comes to a close.

The mid-season climax of Heartcatch is not the best. The episodes aren’t bad but they lack the importance and really “climactic” events that other seasons have. Itsuki is a well developed character and her becoming Sunshine is done well and episode 23 is very good and emotional but it can’t compare to say what happened with Eas when she became Passion or what happened with Michiru and Kaoru back in Splash Star because there was still more time and more of an actual arc spent on these things. Her becoming Sunshine just isn’t as huge of an event as what happens in other mid-season climax’s, there’s usually some bigger story happening at the same time or something else going on. In Heartcatch the only thing happening is this girl is becoming the third Cure. It’s still a big game changing thing but other seasons have something more special or moving happen here.

Time to talk about some other general things about Heartcatch before moving on to the next episodes. Heartcatch’s music is soooooo good. It’s easily one of the best seasons when it comes to the music. The opening and ending songs too are just great. Heartcatch’s music really has it all, great battle, sad, uplifting, and silly music. The animation is very good and because of its cartoony style the stuff that would normally look bad looks fine, it looks silly or exaggerated instead. Leaving aesthetics behind I feel it’s important to mention that despite Tsubomi being perceived as this mellow and soft person a lot of the time in reality she’s very energetic and can be just as weird, silly and oblivious as any other Pink. She just also has that shy, timid, not especially confidant side of her as well.

And let’s talk about our villains. First off Sasorina, Kumojacky and Cobraja are a lot of fun but none of them have the character or presence that the Labyrinth trio from Fresh had (Although comparing anyone to Eas in that way is kind of unfair). They rarely ever fight the Cures directly but that’s pretty much par for the course for Fresh-onwards. They also have a pretty simple cycle where it will just be a Kumojacky episode then Cobraja then Sasorina, rinse and repeat. No one gets two episodes in a row or anything like that and Heartcatch hardly changes things up in the first half. It’s not the only season to do this though, it just gets kind of boring. Dark Precure is good, she’s threatening and used just as much as she needs to be. Sabaaku is fine too if unimpressive. But about the Desert Messengers, if they’ve been trying to take over the world for years and years then why does no one really seem to know about them? It’s the same problem in Fresh too where there’s no military or police. Kind of a whatcha gonna do problem. I’m just nagging. Another nag is me wondering why they don’t go somewhere else to turn people into Desertrians? In Fresh they collected Sorrow Energy around that city because they knew Infinity was nearby, but there’s no reason for this localized effort in Heartcatch. And finally the last thing to mention about our villains at this point is how they’re never allowed to win. Due to the nature of the monsters Heartcatch would just be too damn dark if the villains actually won in an episode, instead they get nowhere over the course of the entire season while the Cures just heal the Heart Tree more and more. It’s like the opposite of Fresh where the villains slowly won regardless of what would happen in an episode and the Fresh Cures didn’t really do anything. Suite and Smile are both much better about this.

Now I only have a few last little things to talk about. One being that Heartcatch tackles a lot more familial and personal problems than other seasons due to its character/victim of the week nature. It’s a much more personal season than even the others that also make their monsters from people since Heartcatch spends more time on its victims and making their stories. In more ways than one Heartcatch has an Ojamajo Doremi vibe to it, Umakoshi was a part of that as well after all.

Erika makes a lot of funny faces. And her mom looks like Miki’s mom from Fresh and Momoka even looks kind of like Miki herself and they’re both models… Momoka is AU Miki. And there’s a running gag of everyone responding with “Someone weird!” whenever they see Sasorina, the line occasionally gets used for other people too. Blossom and Marine’s colors and outfits remind me of Futagohime a lot too.

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The next two episodes are spent at the beach as the fashion club goes there for a summer camp. Summer in Precure is usually when things grind to a halt for a little bit and Heartcatch is really no different. Anyways these episodes are used for Itsuki to socialize and become better friends with the other members of the club. And they’re also here specifically to design the clothes they’ll be using for the fashion show they’ll be putting on at the school festival. The theme for that show is “A new myself”.

Tsubomi is still a little bit infatuated with Itsuki, she just can’t help it, she was her first love after all. But another club member called Naomi also seems to have certain feelings for Itsuki…

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Kumojacky, Cobraja and Sasorina are also at the beach for their own training camp and the next day the three of them attack and make a 3 on 3 battle. No Desertrians, just the generals. The fighting is good and the girls are clearly stronger then the generals at this point. Sunshine almost purifies Sasorina with her attack but Kumojacky and Cobraja break her out of it before it can take full effect, they then retreat to get her to safety. And with this episode we get a new ending song. It’s like a church choir song. It’s pretty good but not one of my favorites.

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And next episode the beach two-parter continues. One of the very few two-parters that isn’t plot heavy or anything like that. This episode deals more with Naomi and her confusing feelings for Itsuki. Well okay it’s not like it’s actually yuri or anything. She’s always admired Itsuki and wants to be closer friends with her. Heartcatch makes her all blushy and nervous and stuff but in the end it still aint yuri or anything, even if you wanna read between the lines. THERE ISN’T YURI IN PRECURE.

Meanwhile the Desert trio are still around-

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Er, nevermind. Sasorina is also completely in a daze to say the least after being hit by Sunshine’s attack. So it’s just Kumojacky this time. He turns Naomi into a Desertrian and Sunshine purifies it, not much to say about the fight other than it’s clear that Blossom and Marine have become more powerful lately. Later on the club has finished its designs for the fashion show and they get ready for fireworks because it’s summer and fireworks is just what you do. Naomi asks to be Itsuki’s friend and everyone lived happily ever after.

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It’s still summer vacation and everyone is going with Kaoruko to her old home, and it’s also where Tsubomi used to live before she moved and the start of Heartcatch. Tsubomi meets up with an old childhood friend and despite Tsubomi being boy crazy she can’t at all tell that this kid has the hots for her. At Kaoruko’s old home Tsubomi then finds a photograph of her and her grandfather. Who looks exactly like the mute, glasses wearing, mysterious guy that’s repeatedly rescued her. But her grandfather has been dead for years so Kaoruko tells them about him and how they met, and also about a music box he gave her as a gift that Kaoruko later gave to Tsubomi. But Tsubomi lost it when they were moving. And here’s where things get fucked up. Her childhood friend saw the box fall out and instead of ever contacting Tsubomi or sending it to her the little prick just kept it. The fuck? That’s not what you fucking do you, this isn’t heartwarming or sad or makes him sympathetic because the girl he had a crush on moved away it just makes that kid an asshole. Anyways Sasorina is back to normal evilness and she turns the kid into a Desertrian. They defeat it and he at least gives back the music box but can’t confess his feelings. This episode had sweet moments when Kaoruko was reminiscing about Sora (Tsubomi’s grandfather obviously) but the rest of it just annoyed the hell out of me.

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Next episode summer is almost over and so many kids in town haven’t finished their summer homework. So Cobraja creates tons of Desertrians out of elemtary school kids. A weird thing about this episode is that its title implies that this was Sabaaku’s master plan to wilt the Heart Tree by wilting so many Heart Flowers at once but he never appears or is mentioned in the episode proper and it seems like it was Cobraja who came up with and did everything on his own.

At this time Erika is channeling Nagisa and fully embracing the carefree summer break life. This is a pretty funny episode as Erika’s laziness and refusal to face the facts that she needs to do her homework keeps coming up and makes her react very selfishly to the events at hand. In one hilarious moment after the Desertrians march to destroy the local elementary school she asks the Desertrians if they could destroy the middle school too so she doesn’t have to worry about her homework anymore.

 

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At the end of the episode Cobraja talks to the camera and says he’s coming after all the other kids out there who haven’t finished their homework. And because there were so many Desertrians Coffret ends up pooping out a ton of Heart Seeds at once. Feels like this episode is used as an excuse to fill up the Heart Pot faster. But it’s a fun episode so who cares.

After that is the bicycle kid episode, the last one of summer. Blehhhh…

Not much to say about it. Tsubomi finishes her dress for the fashion show at the school festival. For some reason in the fight both Blossom and Sunshine use their purifying attacks, which is complete overkill since this is just an ordinary Desertrian. This episode is just another typical but bad character of the week.

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Sigh… episode 30. Potpourri is being bratty because Itsuki can’t play with him as much anymore because school is starting again and Potpourri isn’t patient enough like Shypre and Coffret to be quiet all day so he can’t come. Itsuki refuses to budge on this and Potpourri flies off crying despite Itsuki not even saying or doing anything in a mean way. Baby fairies amirite? Potpourri is honestly just annoying as fuck this episode. The girls go to school while Shypre and Coffret look for Potpourri at first, but as soon as school is over Itsuki goes out running for her.

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Potpourri meanwhile meets a girl who ran away from home after getting in a similar situation with her parents. Yuri later comes across the two of them, been a while since we’ve seen her. She gives them some good advice, you know she’s speaking from experience with this kind of thing after her father has been missing for years.

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When Itsuki does reunite with Potpourri Yuri admonishes her but isn’t exactly mean. This seems to be a touchy subject for Yuri… oh yeah there’s a Desertrian fight too but that’s not really important. The girls have way more trouble with it than they should. It’s just a single regular Desertrian, come on girls. This was also the first time Yuri and Itsuki met, I wish there was a little more between the two of them. And unfortunately although this should just be a situation where Potpourri apologizes they make it a “I was wrong too” lesson/moral thing. Which is bullshit.

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UGH.

But now things start to heat up again.

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Sasorina lately hasn’t been feeling too evil. She’s finding flowers beautiful and isn’t really into her mission anymore. In space there’s a giant asteroid hurtling towards Earth, it’s Dune’s “palace”. He contacts Sabaaku and tells him to hurry up and wilt the Heart Tree. So Sabaaku creates and gives the villains new powerups.

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This will give them complete control of any Desertrian. The first one he places on Sasorina turns her back into her normal evil self and she goes back to defeat Precure. Meanwhile with our heroines Erika is working hard on the upcoming fashion show, the other club members have the idea to get Momoka to model for it and Tsubomi wants to ask Yuri to join them too. Momoka agrees but Yuri refuses. Later Tsubomi overhears Yuri talking to Kaoruko, about how she lost her fairy and her Heart Flower is wilted. The next day Tsubomi, Erika and Itsuki are training to make a new stronger attack and Tsubomi tells the two of them what about Yuri losing her fairy.

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Sasorina makes a Desertrian out of a student at Yuri and Momoka’s school. During the fight the girls get the Desertrian to start losing its will to fight but Sasorina activates her new Dark Bracelet. She merges with it, making it stronger and angrier and hurting the soul of the kid it’s made from. There’s also some really good new battle music to accompany it.

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It starts beating them up so the fairies come out to protect them, this frightens Yuri but it gives Blossom, Marine and Sunshine a second wind and they show off their new attack. Blossom and Marine do a Fortissimo through Sunshine’s Gold Forte Burst and hit the Desertrian with all 3 of their powers at once. It’s Precure Shining Fortissimo. And it barely gets used at all. Sasorina is separated from the Desertrian and retreats. Tsubomi says she can feel Yuri’s Heart Flower and asks her to model again, Yuri says she will when her Heart Flower blooms again.

Episode 32 now is a big one.

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Kaoruko has a nightmare of Tsubomi and them getting defeated by Dune, who then kills the Heart Tree and turns the Earth into a Desert.

The girls later tell her about the new Desertrian and Shypre and Coffret mention how Cure Flower had incredible powers back when she fought so they all came to ask her how to get more powerful. Kaoruko tells them of the Heartcatch Mirage, a tool of the Precure’s that gives them unlimited power.

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She then tells them about Dune for the first time. Because who gives a fuck about warning the girls or telling them about the whole scope of the threat they face beforehand, god damn this annoys me so much and Suite is a million times worse about this, what the hell is it with Pretty Cure now having these older mentor characters that know everything but for no fucking reason never tell anyone about it. At least in Fresh it’s semi-justified by the Elder not even wanting the possibility of Labyrinth finding out Infinity’s identity and Smile fixes the problem completely but in Heartcatch and Suite you just have these people who pointlessly keep info all to themselves for way to long.

Enough of that, she mentions how in the past the two of them fought and using the Heartcatch Mirage she was able to seal away his power and make him sleep for 50 years, but she used too much power from the Mirage and lost her ability to ever transform again.

Right.

THIS IS WHAT I HATE ABOUT HEARTCATCH. THIS IS NOT PRETTY CURE.

Did I miss the meeting when Pretty Cure became Nurse Angel, or CCS, or Princess Tutu? Last I checked PRETTY CURE HAD FUCKING TEAMS.

Instead in Heartcatch Cure Flower never had a partner, she fought all on her own and temporarily defeated the big villain. It came at a cost and she wasn’t able to put him away for good but this is so obnoxious on a base level to me as a Precure fan. And then there’s Cure Ange from the movie who is implied to have not had any partners either. What the fuck? With Moonlight there’s a reason for why she was on her own that the show gets to later but for everyone else for all we know Blossom and Marine are the first actual teammates to ever exist in the Heartcatch universe. Perhaps this is a message, saying that everyone beforehand got it wrong by not teaming up, well if that was the case then why the fuck could they have been succeeding for years and years at beating and holding off Dune? Having these solo Cures (that continuously succeeded) betrays the spirit of the franchise. And you know, I always see Cure Flower and Kaoruko being praised and every Precure fan group seems to like her. But I don’t.

Right then, back to the episode.

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Kaoruko tells them they aren’t ready for it and not to use it. She says she’s worried but honestly what she’s worried about makes no sense, it’s not like using it shortened her life or anything, she stalemated for 50 years and lived a long happy life afterwards. If her reasoning for them not to use it was because of the dangerous tests to get it that would make sense but for now she’s being way to overprotective especially since she knows Dune is coming and they need more power. So of course the girls are adamant in getting it and Yuri comes by and tells them it’s all in some place called the Precure Palace. Yuri believes the girls should get it so Kaoruko takes them to a secret door in the botanical garden that can only be opened by the special Heart Seed Potpourri carries. So he really was the key to everything that Dune felt.

The girls transform to go further and they see the Heart Tree hovering above the Palace (the whole place is high in the sky and apparently can’t be reached by normal means). Yuri tells them that what happened to her to kick off Heartcatch was that she came here to take the test to acquire the Mirage but Dark Precure was waiting for her at the tree. So… the villains know about the Precure Palace? But after that they couldn’t get back to it? Huh? What? None of this makes any sense, and when Dune called back in episode 20 shouldn’t Sabaaku have realized that the Palace must have something to do with this all? And how did they get there first? Like what the hell was the plan there,”Hey Dark Precure, let’s you and me sit at the Heart Tree for however long and wait for Moonlight to go try and get the Heartcatch Mirage, that we don’t know exists, and then when she goes there you defeat her. All according to keikaku.” or were they just stalking her until she left? Fuck it, I don’t care anymore.

All of this is incredibly random in the first place, there’s no build up to Dune coming closer and kickstaring all of this. It just happened and occurred at the same time the girls in Fresh would be getting the Clover Box.

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When the girls go inside the palace Kaoruko is there. She tells them that as the previous Precure they must defeat her to advance. However since she can’t transform she has them fight the Mysterious Guy. They must prove they have strong hearts by beating him. It’s a really good fight and they hit him with all their attacks and find out-

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He’s Coupe. There are about a billion hints this is the case but if you weren’t paying attention I could see it being really surprising. Coupe for some reason can do way more than other fairies. He’s the legendary fairy but… why is he the legendary fairy? He was Flower’s normal partner too. I don’t get it but whatever. Coupe is even more special than Potpourri. Oh and of course this means that another one of Tsubomi’s loves goes flying out the window. Yuri speculates that Coupe takes her grandfathers form to make Kaoruko happy.

Of course this means the girls have passed the test and open up the way to the Heartcatch Mirage. Deeper in the palace is a room filled with statues of the past Precure and suddenly the “Will” of these past Cures speak to the girls. They congratulate them on passing the test and ask them to continue to protect everyone and at last bestow upon them the Heartcatch Mirage. Which the three current Cures believe might allow them to make Yuri a Cure again.

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Thing kind of looks like the Queen Chairect from Max Heart.

Damn. I thought Doki was the only season that could make me this mad but I was wrong. Heartcatch is a great show but it pushes my buttons when it comes to some things as a Precure fan.

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Yuri doesn’t believe the Mirage can help her because her Heart Flower is wilted. Alone she cries over her lost fairy and later Kaoruko tells the other girls how Yuri’s father is also missing after he went researching after the Heart Tree in France. But she got over her sadness and became Moonlight after partnering with the fairy Cologne. Unfortunately Moonlight believed she could do everything by herself and when fighting Sabaaku and Dark Precure at the Heart Tree Cologne was killed after blocking her from an attack from Sabaaku. He died right in her arms. After hearing this story the girls run off to comfort Yuri.

Later the Heart Pot starts to glow and Dark Precure can also tell something is going on with Moonlight because the half of the Heart Seed she has starts to glow. Kaoruko has the fairies get the girls and the Heartcatch Mirage. At the garden the girls use the Heartcatch Mirage to see to the Heart Tree. Cologne’s spirit has been brought back because they’ve filled up the Heart Pot. Before Yuri can go to him Dark Precure attacks, the other three transform and hold her off while Yuri goes to the Heart Tree to see Cologne.

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Yuri apologizes to Cologne, we see how she didn’t want partners because she says Cure Flower defeated Dune on her own. You know though I just can’t see Yuri ever being prideful like this even before she lost Cologne, it’s such a weird way to think of her. It’s also stupid to think that the fairies wouldn’t look for partners regardless of what Yuri says. What, she can dictate to Shypre and Coffret to or something? Is this just the first time there were multiple fairies and no one really knows what to do about it? How long were Shypre and Coffret around for anyways? Why weren’t they looking for partners if Cologne was?

Cologne though just tells her she did her best and she still cared deeply for everyone and wanted to protect people. She has to just accept herself now and become true partners with Blossom, Marine and Sunshine. She has to fight with everyone. If she feels this in her heart she can transform again.

Dark Precure meanwhile is beating the others, Shining Fortissimo doesn’t work on her. Yuri sees this through the Heartcatch Mirage’s viewing powers and calls upon the Heart Tree to make her a Cure again. The will of the past Precure’s speaks again and puts power into Yuri’s broken Heart Seed, she goes back to where the others are and uses the Heart Pot as her new transformation item, her Seed temporarily repairs itself when she transforms back into:

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“The flower that glistens in the light of the moon, Cure Moonlight!”

It’s an elegant and simple transformation and I really like it. I know some people don’t but I think it really fits her.

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And now we hit episode 34 which is a really kickass and awesome episode full of high quality action. More than half the episode is spent fighting and so far it’s the best fighting we’ve seen in Heartcatch.

Dark Precure vs Moonlight is great and midway through the general trio shows up. Their Dark Bracelets make them stronger as well and we get a bunch of 1 on 1 fights for the moment. Sasorina vs Blossom, Kumojacky vs Marine, and Cobraja vs Sunshine. This is where Heartcatch actually tries to make Kumojacky and Cobraja more like real rivals to Marine and Sunshine. It doesn’t really work because there isn’t enough done with it but it does lay some groundwork for stuff that happens in the finale. In the fight Kumojacky uses his new power to turn his staff thing into an actual sword too.

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During their fight Moonlight again asks Dark why she hates her so much. She doesn’t get a straight answer but Dark says that she is the moons darkness and when she swallows the light the moon can become one. They clash and Moonlight emerges as the victor after reaffirming that she’s no longer alone. Sabaaku arrives and takes Dark to safety so Moonlight then goes and defeats the generals one by one. Blossom, Marine and Sunshine then use Shining Fortissimo on them to force them away.

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Yuri then goes back to the Heart Tree to see Cologne one last time. Yeah no happy revivals here, it was all temporary. His spirit departs but Yuri is fulfilled and her Heart Flower heals, she then agrees to join in on the fashion show happening soon. That was a good couple of episodes. Which is nice because Heartcatch completely falls apart in the last quarter.

Yeah, structurally, plot and character wise, Heartcatch completely collapses after this point. There is no development or buildup towards anything anymore in the story. Yuri’s character arc stalls completely until the finale and she’s just kind of there for the next dozen episodes. Erika and Itsuki don’t really do anything for the entire rest of the show. Itsuki in particular is a non-entity in the final third. There are some GREAT episodes to come but Heartcatch completely screws up the overall quality of its final arc and finale by not correctly developing anything. The problem is that Yuri doesn’t have anything else to do, there’s nothing more to be done with her now that she’s Moonlight again except for some massive things that happen in the finale. The biggest evidence of this is how right after regaining her powers she’s relegated to basically a background character in the next two episodes. Every other time a new Cure arrives there’s so much more to do with them once they join the group but Heartcatch fucks up here and didn’t realize that there’s nothing to occupy the time between her first victory over Dark Precure and their inevitable final fight in the finale. At episode 34 she’s perfectly integrated into the group and we know everything about her already. Tsubomi is the only one to have a semblance of a moving character arc after this point. This wouldn’t be such a problem if Heartcatch was more like Futari Wa or Smile where this stuff isn’t as big a theme or focus of the show but in Heartcatch it really is and it all goes into the trash. What’s even worse is that there are several wasted and pointless episodes to come that could’ve been used to fix these problems.

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The school festival is starting soon! The fashion club is doing its last minute stuff. I have near nothing else to say about this episode, it’s basically all just preparation for 36. A  random thought that went into my head this episode is why isn’t Itsuki wearing the girls uniform now? She’s come to terms with everything about that stuff and she really likes cute clothes. As I mentioned Yuri doesn’t do much either, she’s just around to deal with the Desertrian. Also for episodes 35 and 36 we see a lot of old characters of the week. Ban-kun is selling his new manga at the festival with the help of his mom. Which is hilarious.

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The big fashion show is here! But first we need to resolve some typical character of the week stuff. Yeah. This episode is fantastic and the good far outweighs the bad but this is all unnecessary and excessive. It’s Heartcatch once again being hurt by its format when it fails to deviate from it.

So anyways Tsubomi is having a last minute freakout and is kind of nervous about going on. Everyone’s families is at the festival too, aside from Yuri’s mom of course who fell off the face of the Earth earlier. There’s also a problem with the schools light music club, their dual vocalists Aya and Mayu are refusing to perform now because it’s gonna be such a huge crowd and they’re nervous (It’s such a huge crowd because SOMEONE’S famous model sister is going to be at the festival). Tsubomi, Erika and Itsuki try to help the two with their nervousness. At least the story parallels what Tsubomi is feeling right now.

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They temporarily convince the girls to give it a shot but as the performance is starting the two are about to back out… and then Cobraja attacks anyways. He takes both their Heart Flowers and turns them into a double Desertrian. The girls defeat it though and now Aya and Mayu’s feelings have changed (as always) and they decide to put on the show. But the schedule got messed up because of the attack so Erika decides that the light music club can perform during the Fashion Show and give the whole event music. Hooray!

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Great scene, great song. The song used is “Heart Goes On”. It’s pretty much the signature insert song for Heartcatch and it’s used a couple more times in important places. It’s just wonderful to see Tsubomi, Erika, and Itsuki out on stage, fully reaping the fruits of their labor. The shy Tsubomi has certainly changed, she’s grown. Itsuki has come to terms with everything about herself and Erika now has close friends who share her deep love of fashion. Even for someone who doesn’t like Heartcatch that much the tears come close in this scene. Huge success.

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Next episode something very important happens.

Episodes 37 and 38 are another two-parter where the girls go to unlock the true power of the Heartcatch Mirage. It starts off with all 4 of them enjoying some time together in the botanical garden after the school festival. And then a meteor hits the ground.

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Out of it comes a new monster that can turn flowers and other vegetation into sand. It’s also really tough but the girls defeat it by using their 4 Forte Waves on it together. What’s left over is some kind of messenger drone that allows Dune to speak to the Cures. He tells them that they cannot defeat him and he shows them his “Castle Planet” in space hovering over some other planet. He casually turns the planet into a gigantic desert and transforms it into a Desert Seed which will then become a Desert Devil, the monster they just fought, he fires it towards Earth where it will arrive soon. Well at least in Heartcatch the big monster from the opening song actually appears, unlike Fresh. Speaking of the opening it’s started showing clips from the movie.

Sabaaku is watching all this and surmises that Dune truly plans to destroy the Heartcatch Mirage, Earth can’t be desertified with just a single Desert Devil. Obviously Earth is a special planet because of the Heart Tree and humans. Kaoruko tells the girls that they have to go back to the Precure Palace to face the final test so they can get the ultimate power of the Heartcatch Mirage. To defeat their strongest enemies they have to be willing to bet their lives.

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The 4 girls find themselves separated when they enter the Palace. They quickly come face to face with alternate versions of themselves. Supposedly the evil shadows in their hearts and they must fight them. All their negative thoughts and feelings, everything they buried in the past, it’s like if they fought Desertrians of themselves. Which is what makes Erika get it really quickly. They aren’t fighting “evil”, they don’t even need to fight, it’s their past selves that they need to face. Everything the girls struggled with in earlier episodes is brought back. But these are things they overcame once before and they can do it again. Erika, Itsuki, and Yuri can triumph over their darkness easily. They realize that it’s not about just beating the shadow but accepting them, a message Heartcatch has made many times before, accept everything about yourself, past and present. I feel like they could’ve done more with Yuri at this point though since she has some real past demons but whatever, still good stuff.

When Marine, Sunshine and Moonlight are out of the conflict after accepting their past selves they find new statues have been made of them to join the others in the Palace. But Blossom… she’s having trouble.

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That’s the end of episode 37. Heartcatch like Yes5 doing the shadow/mirror Cures that our heroines have to fight, and of course next season Suite would have a villain turn into a Cure like Fresh. Gotta keep up the pattern.

As part of Tsubomi her shadow really doesn’t want to go away, she wants Tsubomi to accept her too but Tsubomi doesn’t get this yet so they continue fighting. Kaoruko tells the other girls that Tsubomi has to accept who she is even if it’s not necessarily who she wants to be. The test gets you to see your true self and make you conquer your own heart. The others have to wait and believe in her.

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However the Desert Devil arrives on Earth right at the Palace. Dune says he’ll get back the power that Flower stole away from him 50 years ago. The damn thing is absolutely massive but Marine, Sunshine and Moonlight go and fight it. There’s some cool action here, the Heartcatch girls are actually much stronger now after passing the test but they still need Blossom’s power with them to defeat the Desert Devil.

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After struggling for a while Blossom finally gets it. She can’t just hate and seek to destroy her past self. She tells her shadow that because of everyone she’s met she has changed, she loves everyone and she can try her best because they’re there with her. With all the wonderful people around her supporting her she can become who she wants to be one day. She accepts the past part of herself, the shy introverted girl that wanted to change but couldn’t.

Cure Blossom has arrived at the battle. The true Cure Blossom. Heart Goes On plays again and the 4 girls use a double Floral Power Fortissimo on the Desert Devil, weakening it and then drawing out the Heartcatch Mirage to use their new power on it. When using it their outfits change.

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“The one flower that shines throughout the entire world. Heartcatch Precure, Super Silhouette!”

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Some sort of Precure Goddess is summoned, the will and power of the past Precure’s? The spirit of the first ever Cure, Cure Ange? Whatever it is it’s an awesome attack with great music.

Pretty Cure Heartcatch Orchestra. The Goddess slams its fist down onto the Desert Devil and purifies it. With big golden brass knuckles to boot. I like to think that the reason it keeps its eyes closes the whole time is a reference to the Queen of Light from Futari Wa and Princess Filia from Splash Star, who never opened their eyes either. It’s also kind of reminiscent of what happens with the final attack in the finale of Yes5 GoGo. I do think that Heartcatch Orchestra is the coolest normal attack in Pretty Cure. There are some finale exclusive and movie attacks that are better.

Anyways after that business is finished up Moonlight tells the other three that the whole test was probably about getting the girls to mature and that’s why they had to face their old selves, all to grow up so they would be at their best and without any thing holding them back when they face their greatest opponents. Tsubomi thinks back on how she still loves her old shy and introverted self, that’s a part of her as well.

Right after this episode 39 is a purely silly and comedic breather episode.

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Erika is being lazy and tries to clean her room with the Marine Tact. This pisses off Coffret, he takes the tact because Erika is… just so dumb sometimes. But that’s why she’s my favorite. Coffret also gets jealous when he sees how Tsubomi and Itsuki treat Shypre and Potpourri much better. Speaking of Itsuki her and Yuri hardly appear at all this episode and they don’t fight either, despite the fact that they could’ve certainly used an episode or two for themselves. Especially Itsuki. The last episode in Heartcatch that is mainly about Itsuki is episode 30. The fuck’s with that? Meanwhile Sasorina doesn’t feel like going out and fighting but a big group of Snacky’s do, they’re even led by a much larger than normal Snacky. The Snacky’s go to Earth and they take the tact from Coffret but Erika comes by to save him and get it back. She transforms to fight but the two of them still argue with each other, Coffret asks Marine what she thinks of him. Blossom soon arrives to help them out and Coffret gets hurt, this makes Marine angry because (as she says) Coffret is her precious friend. She hits the lead Snacky with Blue Forte Wave and they all run off, the leader isn’t dead though, he was just turned sheer white. You actually see him again in the finale.

This episode is pretty hilarious but it’s really problematic because it wastes a space that was sorely needed for the development of other things in Heartcatch. What happens next in episode 40 essentially comes out of nowhere when it really didn’t need to. They probably wanted a fun episode in between like this cause we just had almost ten serious and important episodes in a row but Heartcatch is at the point where having episodes like this is just kind of weird. It’s like having a filler episode right in the middle of a major fight in a shonen anime (fuck the shows that do that by the way) and with all the problems Heartcatch is about to have in the final ten episodes they clearly needed to use all that they had better.

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In episode 40 Heartcatch decides to kill off Sasorina pretty much entirely out of the blue. Guess she lost the villain popularity poll. Sasorina got a throwaway scene in 37 and 39 and fought briefly in 34 but hasn’t really done anything since episode 31. At the beginning of 40 Sasorina is fighting the girls and they hit her with their attacks briefly while she’s merged with the Desertrian. She retreats but loses a lot of the evil in her and starts acting all weird back at the Desert Messengers base. Kumojacky and Cobraja see this and believe she’s lost the will to fight completely… so why not just have more evil pumped into her again like when she first got the Dark Bracelet? Why didn’t they react this strongly when she started acting differently after getting hit by Itsuki’s attack? Instead they tell Sabaaku to demote her and send her back to the Castle Planet. But Sasorina asks for one last chance to prove herself and Sabaaku grants it, Kumojacky and Cobraja give her their Dark Bracelets so she’ll have 3 times the power but it will put a lot of stress on her body. This is dumb. Wouldn’t it have been better if she naturally over time started losing the will to fight? Maybe after having lost so many times or eventually coming to see how nice it is to be good. They could’ve used last episode to set this up but instead all we got of her was a pointless scene where she said she wasn’t going out because she hadn’t been ordered too, and even that can’t really be used as an example of her having come to lost the will to fight because in her appearance right before that one in 37 she was expressly annoyed at Dune coming in and doing stuff instead of letting them fight Precure. So it’s just random, it’s just random “Who gives a fuck let’s kill Sasorina time!”.

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Itsuki is also stepping down from the student council and there’s some stupid student who will be this episodes victim and his story is not even remotely worth mentioning here. I guess you can say this is the apex of all the school stories and the victims made from the students. So anyways she makes a Desertrian out of him and turns the whole school into it, Yuri arrives at the middle school and all 4 of the girls transform to fight it. Sasorina merges with it pretty quickly and it’s a kind of tough fight for the girls at first. I’d like to take the time here to mention that before the girls acquired the full power of the Heartcatch Mirage they were actually pretty weak. The Heartcatch team is probably the most skilled team in terms of fighting and martial arts ability but earlier they were not especially tough or strong. It’s only after getting Super Silhouette’s and Heartcatch Orchestra that they really look strong compared to some other Precure teams and they start to take out big opponents like this school Desertrian and the Desert Devils.

Anyways the power of the three Dark Bracelets is too much for Sasorina and the Desertrian to handle and the girls defeat it with Heartcatch Orchestra. Honestly this fight and her defeat were very quick, underwhelming and  disappointing and I will straight up call this a bad episode. The end is pretty good though.

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Kumojacky and Cobraja watched the fight and as she’s getting purified Kumojacky says they shouldn’t do anything, she fought bravely so they’ll let her go. They then comfort her as she “dies” – she disappears in Kumojacky’s arms and returns to being a Heart Flower. The Desert Generals are just stolen Heart Flower’s themselves. The Heart Flower returns to the original person who wakes up from what seems like some sort of coma. Cobraja and Kumojacky then say to the Cures that the time for fun has ended and next time they’ll meet they’ll be defeated, something that is promptly abandoned the very next episode.

Tsubomi with this realizes the Desert Messengers have Hearts too, but Precure still wont lose no matter what.

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Two things to note when it comes to episode 41. It has a good and very well animated fight, and Dark Precure is undergoing some sort of process to make her more powerful. The episode takes place at the kindergarten that Nami’s little sister goes to. Her teacher gets made into a Desertrian. This is pretty much a completely normal episode and Kumojacky just comes to fight them like normal. All that stuff last episode about the fun times stopping and them getting serious? Yeah fuck all that shit, who cares about any of that, time for an episode pretty much indistinguishable from any other.

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Sabaaku has Dark Precure in some sort of vat, and now she has two yellow eyes of power. Cobraja and Kumpjacky meanwhile are talking together, Kumojacky says he just wants to prove his own strength while Cobraja is looking for true beauty. In this episode there’s some kid who has a crush on Yuri and yadda yadda yadda Cobraja turns him into a Desertrian. This kid has known Yuri for years but we’ve never seen or heard of him before. It’s nice that this episode is about Yuri but it doesn’t really matter to her character arc, we learn about her past between losing her father and becoming Moonlight and the time she spent with this kid a little but this episode would’ve been better if this character didn’t come out of nowhere. During the fight Cobraja says hearts are not beautiful because they get hurt and weaken but the girls tell him that beautiful thoughts and feelings are inside hearts. This actually seems to reach him a little and he almost gets purified, this is kind of good foreshadowing for his fight in the finale, but he stops himself. Dark Precure comes in when he’s weakened and blasts all of the Cures away and takes him to safety. It’s the first time they’ve seen her since episode 34 and the girls can tell she’s much more powerful now.

I kind of feel like Kumojacky and Cobraja should’ve been killed in 41 and 42 like Sasorina was. It would’ve made sense and what happened with Cobraja would’ve been a really good spot to end him at. It’s not like he gets any further development after this until they’re prepared to finish him for good. Kumojacky never gets more development. Heartcatch could’ve just killed them as they try to avenge Sasorina and just do something else in the finale. Instead what happens in the finale causes some problems for two of our heroines.

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And then we come to episode 43, the last normal episode of the show before shit hits the fan. Tsubomi and her father are rushing through the hospital looking for Tsubomi’s mom, they come across Kaoruko and her in one of the rooms and she tells them that she’s pregnant. Tsubomi is absolutely ecstatic at the thought that she’s going to become an older sister.There’s actually not a lot to say about this episode. It’s a good episode though. Tsubomi tries to cover for her mom at the shop while she’s in the hospital and she asks her dad about when she was born. When Tsubomi was born her mom saw some flower buds outside the window, thinking how those flower buds will someday bloom into flowers that will bring happiness to everyone she came up with the name Tsubomi. During the fight this episode Kumojacky plans to use the sword his Desertrian has to cut through Heartcatch Orchestra, so for some reason they have Heartcatch Orchestra fire a beam from her hands at first and then punch and purify him after the beam overcomes Kumojacky. Okay, it was cool at least.

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It’s almost Christmas! Everyone just got down putting up a big Christmas tree at the botanical garden. There’s a girl who wants to meet the Precure for Christmas and as Tsubomi muses about that she unknowingly walks past some weird green haired guy with a weird pink lizard thing on his shoulder. It’s been 6 damn years and still no one knows what the fuck is up with that lizard.

Anyways the little girl has trouble making friends so she lies a lot and she told some other kids that she knows Precure and they can meet them too. Tsubomi talks with the girl and tells them that she’s friends with Precure and she’ll get them to come on Christmas Eve. Tsubomi does at least tell the girl to stop lying too, which is nice cause otherwise this episode would have a warped message, and the little girl agrees to cause she wants to meet the Precure.

Meanwhile Kumojacky and Cobraja are working together and turn some random guy into a Desertrian. In the fight they merge with the Desertrian together.

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Jesus Heartcatch try not to cut yourself on that edge. They temporarily defeat the girls and decide to go look for some more Heart Flowers to wilt. Because Blossom and the others are in this situation they aren’t able to keep their meeting with the girl and the other kids. Kaoruko sees this and gets an idea…

Kumojacky and Cobraja then come down right where the kids are and attempt to destroy the Christmas tree, thinking it will make people upset and wilt their Heart Flowers. Only to suddenly be stopped by-

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“The flower that shines in the holy light, Cure Flower!”

The legendary Precure who defeated Dune. She has a bunch of crazy powers like cloning herself, strong shields, etc. and she beats the hell out of the two of them easily. Yeah who the fuck needs teammates when you’re this strong. But she doesn’t have a lot of energy and so she goes back to free the girls because she can’t perform a Forte Wave herself. She and Coupe break them out of the ice and they end the battle with Heartcatch Orchestra. The girls then stay around to meet the kids for a little, but right after that something horrible happens.

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The shittiest final vil-  I mean, the King of the Desert Messengers, Dune, appears before them on Earth at last. Pink lizard on the opposite shoulder now for some reason.

In a complete reversal of last episode the beginning of 45 has Dune mop the floor with the 5 Cures. And this is without his full power. He knocks Kaoruko out of her transformation and abducts her to his Castle Planet. And he has the Heart Tree up there. Somehow. They made a big deal earlier in the show how the villains cant find it anymore and stuff. I mean this really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever but who cares. He takes the power back that Cure Flower sealed away (it was inside the necklace Kaoruko wears) and he grows a bit older and stronger looking. He breaks the shield around the tree and wilts it.

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Now without the Heart Tree he can send down dozens of Desert Devils and turn the whole planet into a desert. I guess all the Heart Seeds the girls collected didn’t really do that much. This happens just so simply.

On Earth the 4 girls see what’s happened, the botanical garden is safe because of Coupe, and they go out looking for their families but everything’s been destroyed and buried in sand with the people transformed into large crystals. However as they quickly discover not everyone is like this. All of the people saved by the Precure over the course of the show are alright, apparently immune to the effects after getting rescued from being Desertrians.

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Tsubomi is strengthened by seeing everyone together and refuses to give up. A Desert Devil comes by and the 4 transform to fight it and after they defeat it they’ll go rescue Kaoruko and defeat Dune too! It’s a pretty cool fight and we get to see the girls transform as a full group for the last time. Afterwards everyone cheers them on as they leave. Up in his Castle Planet Dune is confused at how they’re still alive and Kaoruko says that the Heart Tree hasn’t been wilted completely, people still have hope. Guess that’s where the gathered Heart Seeds come in. Sabaaku is with the two of them and he says they’ll take care of the Cures when they arrive. Oh and apparently Cures and Coupe can breath and travel in space cause they get to the Castle Planet no problem.

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Couple things to talk about before the REAL finale starts.

Dune is indeed the worst final villain and I’ll talk more about that later. Dune sucks.

Heartcatch’s finale in general is pretty sucky. It’s a good thing that much of the rest of the show is excellent and it has such great visuals/music/action.

Heartcatch’s plot and the way the story progresses is not good. The villains dick around and accomplish nothing while our heroines are not proactive in any way. We just saw that they could’ve gone up to where the villains are at any time after getting their powers of flight too. But yeah, no one does anything in Heartcatch and it’s a huge step down from how the plot in Fresh worked and how the plots in Suite and Smile will work as well.

Kaoruko is kind of a little bit of a Mary-sue. She’s older wiser and more experienced than any other hero by far though so I’m going to give her a little more leeway here. She does have some genuine reasons to be the way she is so it’s better than certain other Mary-sue characters.

Besides that there isn’t much to say that I haven’t already gone over. Erika makes a ton of silly faces and she is by far my favorite Heartcatch. At 17 years old Yuri is the oldest main Cure. I was never a huge fan of Moonlight even though lots of others seem to gush about her but she’s still cool. Some of Heartcatch’s bigger problems wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a season of Pretty Cure. But it is.

Oh yeah. Flowers. What I haven’t mentioned all review pretty much is that each Heart Flower is unique, flowers of course are a big part of Heartcatch and the language of flowers plays into it big time too. A persons Heart Flower usually corresponds heavily to their episode and the story in it.

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Episode 46 starts off the final battle. Kumojacky and Cobraja talk with each other for the last time, they both respect each other as comrades and they go down to fight Pretty Cure. Kumojacky fights Marine and Cobraja fights Sunshine while Blossom and Moonlight go on further to find Kaoruko. So at this point Marine and Sunshine are stuck in the B plot for the rest of the finale pretty much. The team is split up for too long and there’s nothing that happens with these two that has to do with their character arcs the whole finale. The finale is really all Blossom and Moonlight’s time. At least in other finales where only one or two would actually be relevant or have the story revolving around them the teams are usually still together.

So at this point Kumojacky and Cobraja are just out to satisfy their own desires. Dune gets one throwaway scene where he watches Blossom and Moonlight progress through his Castle Planet and then he disappears until midway through episode 48. Yeah gotta love that villain who barely appears or does anything for 40 episodes and then when he’s finally around goes right back to doing nothing. He’s such a nothing for most of the finale. Sabaaku meanwhile approaches Kaoruko.

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The fight between Marine and Kumojacky is excellent. Sunshine vs. Cobraja aint bad either. After going through the Castle Planet a bit Blossom and Moonlight are confronted by Dark Precure. Moonlight says she needs to defeat Dark Precure to overcome her past self and urges Blossom towards rescuing Kaoruko while she handles this. Kaoruko and Sabaaku start talking with each other and Kaoruko asks him why he made Dark Precure as a replica of Moonlight, the two of them are the sides of the same coin, light and darkness. She seems to realize something important while talking to him…

Coffret and Potpourri both help Marine and Sunshine and give them that extra push to turn the fights in their favor. Marine tells Kumojacky that Coffret is stronger than he is because he came to protect her even when he has no power. That is true strength. Potpourri tells Cobraja that Sunshine’s heart when she’s protecting everyone is the most beautiful thing in the world. And Sunshine will protect everyone’s smiles that are radiant like the sun.

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Kaoruko asks Sabaaku why he didn’t give Dark the order to kill Moonlight when she defeated her back at the very beginning, she surmises that Sabaaku couldn’t because something in his heart held him back. Do Sabaaku and Yuri have some sort of connection? Guess this explains some of the plot holes earlier in the show, even though it still doesn’t explain why they were so surprised to see Yuri still around later. In an attempt to answer a question Heartcatch just raises more… it does this again in episode 48.

Marine says she’ll continue to get stronger to protect everyone and the world and that Kumojacky, whose only getting stronger for himself, is acting futilely. For wilting all those Heart Flowers just to satisfy his selfish desires Marine is at her limit! She shatters his Dark Bracelet and purifies him Blue Forte Wave. Cobraja meanwhile finally sees the beauty of peoples hearts, the beauty that comes from struggling for and protecting others. Sunshine shatters his bracelet and purifies him with Gold Forte Burst. Just like with Sasorina their Heart Flowers go back to the original person.

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Blossom rescues Kaoruko with Coupe. Kaoruko tells them that they can use the Heart Seeds in the Heart Pot to revive the Heart Tree. So the seeds they’ve been gathering all along were only indirectly healing the Heart Tree to begin with? I would’ve thought they were connected and something more would be needed to bring the Heart Tree back from what’s happened to it. After all each time they get a seed the fairies go “Now the Heart Tree will get better!” like each individual seed is slowly healing it or it’s power was already “used” the moment they got it. But I guess not.Maybe Heart Seeds power can just be used again and again, would make some sense I guess.

Kaoruko also warns Blossom not to let Moonlight and Sabaaku fight for some reason and the episode ends with Moonlight and Dark Precure about to do battle.

Kumojacky and Cobraja’s ends were okay but… meh, I found Westar and Soular’s “deaths” and development better. Heartcatch definitely had the far superior fight though. At least Heartcatch follows its theme of understanding and reconciliation and conquering sadness, they do get developed just enough for this purification/redemption to work, you are supposed to feel sorry for them and want them to get peace just like anyone made into a Desertrian. Which is more than I can say for Dune.

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So first of all Erika and Itsuki this episode are running from and fending off hordes of Snacky’s while looking for the others. Their sequences are essentially comedic padding and don’t mesh well with the rest of the episode. Erika and Itsuki later meet Kaoruko and Coupe and transform again, cause we really needed to waste time this episode seeing their individual transformations. And because Kaoruko was already rescued literally nothing would change if these scenes were removed from the episode.

The Moonlight and Dark Precure fight is good. Blossom comes back to help her and she ends up fighting against Sabaaku so Moonlight can face Dark one on one.

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Sabaaku is strong though and he insults Blossom for still being the weakest Precure ever. But Blossom says she’s changed. She’s no longer weak and cowardly, everyone she’s met has helped her grow, especially her closest friends. Everyone she helped and met over the course of the show has given her more power because she’s seen their hearts and how much hope everyone has.

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She’ll protect everyone important to her and the whole world. Even if she’s weak she’ll protect everyone with the feelings in her heart.

Moonlight hears all this and gets a second wind in her fight against Dark. Sabaaku goes to defend Dark from one of Moonlight’s attacks and gets hit right in the face, causing his mask to break and revealing his true identity as…

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Yuri’s father. So at this point Sabaaku is dead. The character is gone and Yuri’s father is pretty much instantly back to his old good self. It’s kind of disappointing because even though this is a shocking reveal there’s nothing really “big” or particularly impactful about his return. The whole Sbaaku persona is gone, her father has no fight against it or struggle to free himself, he retains his memories of his time as Sabaaku but is back to his old self completely. And I’m gonna be honest here, when I was watching Heartcatch while it aired I completely forgot about Yuri’s missing father. That plot point just fell out of my head and I didn’t remember it until episodes 46 and 47.

Moonlight detransforms and runs to him but Dark Precure forces her away, angry that she hurt her father. Dark tells Yuri she was created by Sabaaku for the sole purpose of defeating Moonlight. Yuri is horrified to learn all of this but Blossom gets her to snap back, saying that there has to be an explanation for all of this and she still needs to defeat Dark Precure.

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Yuri transforms again and fights Dark Precure for the final time. Of course though she’ll end up having to transform again next episode, there are too many damn transformations this finale. Anyways she’s finally able to defeat Dark Precure for good with Floral Power Fortissimo.

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Next episode has Dark Precure wailing in agony after Moonlight’s attack, she collapses to the ground seemingly dead. The other half of Moonlight’s Heart Seed falls from her hand.

Moonlight then runs to her father, crying into his arms. He blames himself for everything that’s happened. He says he researched the Heart Tree to find a way to make everyone happy, despite being told that this was impossible by Kaoruko and happiness could only be gained by people bit by bit. He fell into despair when he realized his research was for nothing and Dune reached out and took control of his heart. What? How? Dune was asleep. The explanation Heartcatch gives in a few minutes makes absolutely no sense too.

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Dark Precure stands back up. Not dead yet she orders Moonlight to get away from “Sabaaku”. Professor Tsukikage walks up to her, apologizing to Yuri for ordering Dark Precure to kill her, and hugs Dark Precure, telling her that it’s all over now. He says he created Dark from a part of Yuri, she’s her little sister. So Yuri just killed the sister she never new she had. Cool. Guess this also explains the “becoming the true Moonlight stuff”. Dark Precure seems comforted by this though and she loses her animosity towards Moonlight. She peacefully smiles and nuzzles into her father before disappearing into nothingness. Blossom also picks up the other half of the seed.

Dune then appears. He mockingly claps at them and insults Professor Tsukikage, but he does say his research helped him wilt the Heart Tree. Who knows how but whatever. And this is when they hit plot hole city. Dune mentions how Tsukikage became Sabaaku on his own free will after hitting a dead end on his research in France. And just who did he meet in France? Why Baron Salamander and Olivier of course. They get shown for a split second as Professor Tsukikage puts on the Sabaaku mask, the implication being that Salamander gave it to him or led him to it or something. WHICH MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.

Salamander hated Dune, he wouldn’t help him in any way shape or form so why would he give someone something that turns them into a loyal servant working for Dune and trying to fulfill his orders? Sabaaku would’ve been a direct enemy to what Salamander wanted this makes no sense at all. And Salamander was sealed for 400 years like right before this, all of this is so fucking random and insanely contrived. And now that I’m wondering are Dune and Salamander like the last of their species? Every other villain was a Heart Flower or something like that, but there must’ve been more people like Dune and Salamander in the past right?

Whatever. Let’s move on.

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The three of them fight Dune but he’s too strong. He knocks Moonlight and Blossom out of their transformations and Professor Tsukikage sacrifices his life to weaken Dune’s next attack and keep it from killing Tsubomi and Yuri as well. Yuri gets to see her father that she just met after three years blown up in front of her, right after she also learned he was responsible for killing her fairy and creating an evil warrior out of her DNA to kill her. I can’t even imagine how fucked up Yuri is going to be later in life. Heartcatch treats her like a fucking punching bag and it’s sad as fuck because she gets nothing back.

The fight is awesome from an action perspective though. Dune is sadly just boring as shit. Anyways Yuri is understandably enraged after her father being killed but Tsubomi wants her to abandon her hate, telling her that that’s not what being a Precure is about. She says Yuri can’t walk down that path, hatred and sadness are things she needs to overcome. She gives Yuri the other half of her Heart Seed. But really… what’s with all this stuff about hate all of a sudden? Heartcatch is generally more about overcoming sadness, sadness is what makes Heart Flowers wilt in every victim of the week, not hate.

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Yuri takes it back and the two halves reform into one. The two transform together, showing us their full individual transformations and Heart Goes On begins to play again. More excellent action, Marine and Sunshine show up midway through (the two of them have no actual lines this entire episode not counting stock attack lines) and the 4 of them completely overpower Dune. He can’t do anything as the Precure outfight him in every way. He gets angrier and angrier. Eventually the girls hit him with 4 Forte Waves and then the quadruple Floral Power Fortissimo and finally finishing the episode with Heartcatch Orchestra.

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It’s still probably the second or third best fight in the franchise. The final one in Happiness Charge might be better. The first half of episode 48 is probably my favorite part of the finale. Dark Precure’s death is genuinely sad and moving. A lot of people complained about this fight against Dune because he wrecked them when he was much weaker and it’s not like they got any powerups or new super forms since then but it honestly doesn’t bother me. The girls (Moonlight and Blossom especially) are fighting in a perfect emotional state, with the most hope and love and friendship they can muster. Strong positive emotions give Precure strength.

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Dune though breaks free of the Heartcatch Orchestra at the beginning of next episode. He says his hatred will never disappear and hatred will just grow and grow until it consumes everything. Seriously, the fuck is up with this hatred stuff? Practically comes out of nowhere. Dune draws up all of his power and grows into a gigantic version of himself.

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He then starts punching the shit out of the Earth. Uh, I don’t know why exactly. He wanted to take over the Earth not destroy it. I guess you could make the case that he’s just completely enraged and wants to destroy everything now, but he didn’t even try to fight the girls after transforming either. It’s a pretty dumb turn of events. That’s the sort of problem you have when your main villain has no backstory. Or personality in general. Even less than the Director from GoGo really. What that guy did in the finale was kind of weird and almost contradictory too but it still flowed better than what happens with Dune. Yes, you know this is a bad finale when I’m praising the stupid crap that happened in GoGo’s finale. Dune’s design is kind of plain too, even his giant form.

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The girls still fly out to fight him without any hesitation though. To fight Dune they use the Heartcatch Mirage to its fullest and draw out truly unlimited power. They say that with more love they can overcome and dispel his hatred and finally put an end to it. Blossom, Marine, Sunshine, Moonlight, Buttercup, Bubbles and the fairies combine their power and hearts into one to become-

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“The grand flower that blossoms throughout the universe! Infinite strength, infinite love. The Precure with eyes shining like the stars. Heartcatch Precure, Infinity Silhouette!”

It’s basically just a giant Blossom though. Even speaks entirely in her voice. She says Dune was the one hurt most by his hatred. Something that without context means nothing. And then defeats him with a single love tap to the chest.

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Dune is so, so very bad. The problem is that what they did doesn’t work with an underdeveloped villain like him.Heartcatch is about overcoming sadness and redemption but we never learn just what Dune’s deal is or why he was the way he was. So something like this falls completely flat. Despariah’s turn was much better handled and even that had big problems. Dune was basically a generic end of the world villain and that doesn’t fit in with Heartcatch’s much more human villains/enemies and focus on personal problems. And then when they try to give him a motive it’s so obtuse and random “hatred”, “you were the one hurt most by your hatred” BUT WHY? What happened? Why is he so focused on Earth and human hearts anyways? He passed by how many planets on the way here? We even saw him destroy a perfectly green world to make a Desert Devil, just what is his goal and real deal? This isn’t dark vs light he’s not the Dark King, a show like Heartcatch needs a deeper villain than this.

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Later the girls are all happily back on Earth. A good deal of time has passed as Tsubomi’s little sister has been born and Itsuki is growing out her hair. At Itsuki’s dojo there’s a new member, Kumamoto-san, the man who Kumojacky came from. We also see that Sasorina’s person is working at the Kindergarten from episode 41 and Cobraja’s is a tailor. The girls all gather together at the place where they can overlook the whole town, talking and reminiscing about everything.

Yuri is there and she tells them that getting caught up on the past doesn’t help anything. They need to live their own lives now. Yeah I could certainly understand why Yuri would want to forget her past. Of course though we have no idea what Yuri is doing with her life now or what her dream is, don’t expect Heartcatch to give her one. Or any hobby. Or any indication that she isn’t actually suicidal. Wonder if she told her mom about her dad blowing up right in front of her? Heartcatch treats Yuri like she’s from Bokurano or something. Blah, blah blah, the Heart Tree is regrowing healthily thanks to all the Heart Seeds too.

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The girls besides the one marked with the touch of death are all going to pursue their own dreams to the best of their abilities. Then we get a little flashback of Dune’s final moments, his hatred has finally been purged and he disappears just like Dark Precure did. He’s essentially redeemed and forgiven and I’m sure Yuri especially is okay with him getting a happy and peaceful death. He even gets to die with a smile on his face.

Tsubomi wants to go back into space someday as an astronaut. She wants to make flowers grow even in the far off desolate wastes out there. She reminisces on the past year and how it has shaped her and set her on her current path. To end Heartcatch Precure we get a flash forward of her little sister seeing a picture on Tsubomi’s desk of the 4 girls together, and her little sister holding her transformation item. A story for another time? Who knows, farewell Heartcatch.

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Despite all the criticism I’ve given Heartcatch’s ending I would like to reiterate that it’s an excellent show. It will never be the best season of Precure because of the faults in its ending but so far the only season that I really find superior to it in overall quality is Splash Star, in large part because Splash Star has a perfect finale. Next in the franchise is Suite and it’s kind of funny because the relationship between Heartcatch and Suite is like that of Yes5 and GoGo or Sailor Moon S and SuperS. Suite sucks at what Heatcatch was great at and Suite is great at all the stuff Heartcatch sucked at. Which is why Suite has an amazing ending and final villain that work so well together. Even funnier is that right when Heartcatch starts to fall apart is where Suite picks up and gets better and better with a true final arc and story-line that’s always moving with no wasted time whatsoever. But of course that’s only about a quarter of the show and for the other 3 Heartcatch is way better.

Heartcatch is fun, a lot of great episodes and characters. Never will be my favorite but it’s a beyond worthy entry in the franchise that just has that really good and well made feeling to it for the most part. And I have to thank it for getting so many people into the franchise in the first place. But please, somebody just give Yuri a hug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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